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Project in Detail

White Collar Factory

Future Projects - Experimental
London, United Kingdom
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, London, United Kingdom
World Architecture Festival 2013 - Category Winner

Aerial view along City Road © Cityscape 

Project Overview
The White Collar Factory is a new building at the heart of Old Street Yard in London’s emerging Tech City quarter. The 16-storey White Collar Factory tower will soon stand tall at the Old Street roundabout in EC1. Featuring big spans, flexible floor plates, windows that open, large volumes and robust construction, it is a ‘new’ office building that takes its cues from the multilevel factory typology. Behind, a redundant service yard will be transformed and reoriented into a new public realm that responds to the wider city, designed to attract companies of all shapes and sizes for a diverse business community. A series of new alleys and passages will connect the square and tower to two existing and three new buildings – all of four to five storeys and offering a mix of living and working spaces.

The tower will accommodate 19,984 sq m of highly adaptable workspace. A few of its façade details – inboard columns and high-performance curtain wall system skirted by perimeter trench heating – vary somewhat from lower-rise WCF variants, but otherwise all WCF principles – deeps plan, openable windows, high ceilings of exposed concrete slabs containing heating / cooling pipes and minimal mechanical ventilation – remain the same. The result is a series of simple, generous volumes that are cost-effective and inherently flexible.

A full-scale working prototype (a 325 sq m slice of an entire floor) currently stands on stilts on the site to demonstrate to prospective occupiers exactly how it looks and works. The prototype is being monitored for energy use on a daily basis, and all data will be available by the time the project starts on site in spring next year.

The White Collar Factory Concept
The White Collar Factory is an original concept for the design and construction of new office buildings that combines the wisdom of well-built industrial spaces with best practice in modern office design. Five simple principles ensure that the overall need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling is reduced, while flexibility and adaptability are nurtured. The result is a more sustainable, affordable and future proof workspace: a warehouse for the 21st Century.

The Five Principles
1. 3.5m high ceilings: Improve comfort levels by enabling better ventilation, daylight penetration and greater flexibility of fit-out
2. Concrete Core Cooling Using the structure to naturally cool the space
3. Windows that open Putting people in charge of their environment – providing fresh air and visual connections
4. Flexible occupation: Generous scale of floor plates and exposed services provides maximum flexibility to suit a wide range of users, allowing easy and quick sub-division of space
5. Stays cool, strays warm: Thermally efficient concrete structure to absorb and release heat naturally – glazing areas adjusted to aspect (large on north, smaller on south sides)

A Future-Proof Development

The White Collar Factory has been carefully designed to meet a progressive energy efficiency and carbon reduction strategy. The building’s substantial energy savings are made mostly through passive means, including concrete core cooling and natural ventilation, while renewable energy in the form of solar thermal panels supplies a good proportion of the building’s domestic hot water requirement. The building will target a BREEAM Excellent rating under BREEAM 2011 and an EPC rating of A, as well as LEED Platinum.

Externally the building will have glazing interspersed with solid areas of facade made up from anodised aluminium panels with punched holes - inspired by Jean Prouvé’s Maison Tropicale, a fifties prefabricated housing system. These panels also help control solar gain – the south facing facade will have more solid areas and the north will be fully glazed.

Like its industrial forbears, the White Collar Factory will have 3.5m floor-to-ceiling heights and full height windows to create a spacious feel with plenty of natural light. Occupiers will be able to open the windows and the all concrete construction will help keep temperatures stable inside the office spaces. A passive cooling system will be adopted, with chilled water running through pipes buried in the slab. This is much cheaper and simpler than using chilled beams and has the added benefit of directly regulating the temperature of the building’s thermal mass. Other benefits include:

- Lower carbon emissions
- Improved energy performance
- Low air movement (reduced draughts)
- Quiet in operation
- Allows night time cooling
- Works with natural ventilation and / or mechanical ventilation
- Suspended ceilings not required
- No moving parts to maintain

Lead Architect »

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
United Kingdom

Professional Credits »

Access Consultant
All Clear Designs
United Kingdom

Approved Inspector
BRCS (Building Control) Ltd
United Kingdom

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
United Kingdom

Client / Developer
Derwent London
United Kingdom

Environmental Engineer
United Kingdom

Historic Buildings Architect
Peter Stewart Consultancy
United Kingdom

Landscape Consultant
Tonkin Liu
United Kingdom

Party Wall Surveyor
Botley Byrne
United Kingdom

Planning Consultant
Tibbalds Planning & Urban Design Ltd
United Kingdom

Planning Viability
Gerald Eve LLP
United Kingdom

Project Manager
Jackson Coles
United Kingdom

Quantity Surveyor
Davis Langdon LLP
United Kingdom

Rights of Light
United Kingdom

Structural Engineer
United Kingdom