Welcome

Welcome to this virtual public exhibition of our designs to refurbish and extend 76 Upper Ground on the South Bank. These proposals are brought forward by Wolfe Commercial Properties Southbank Limited and designed by architects AHMM and landscape architects, Vogt. 

As you may be aware, we had previously held a public exhibition in December 2019 and submitted a planning application in early 2020. Before this application could be determined, however, the building was listed as Grade II and following discussions with Lambeth and Historic England it was agreed that a new application should be submitted, which is now presented in this exhibition.

In summary our new designs carefully preserve the architectural character of the building, providing it with a long-term sustainable future and allowing it to engage far more positively with the surrounding public environment.

We would welcome your views and comments on these designs before we submit a planning application in the Spring of 2021. Please get in touch if you would like a hard copy of the materials presented here, or if you know of a neighbour who is unable to access this online.

Share your views:

Phone: 0800 307 7987

Email: 76UG@Londoncommunications.co.uk

Online feedback form

Existing IBM Building

Proposal viewed from Queens Walk. (Please note that the existing trees in this view facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)

Providing a sustainable future for the building

Built in 1983, 76 Upper Ground, also known as the IBM building, requires major upgrade and refurbishment to provide a long-term sustainable future for the building. Our proposals will create an office environment that is reflective of modern day occupier standards and is able to attract and retain talent in an ever-increasing competitive skills market.

The South Bank area is home to some of the most famous brutalist and modernist architecture in the UK. In 2020, the building was Grade II listed in recognition of its architectural and historic importance, alongside the National Theatre.

Northern Birds Eye view of the proposal. (Please note that all existing trees along Queens Walk and facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

It was originally designed as a marketing centre and office and is still in use by IBM today. However it is outdated and does not meet the current standards of space, flexibility, light and energy efficiency expected of modern-day work space. Some of its original architectural features are seen as defensive in nature, in particular the main entrance to the building that is dominated by arrival by car and the position of the loading bay adjacent.  

Whilst other listed buildings on the South Bank have been replanned to suit the new pedestrian layout of the South Bank and/or refurbished to meet modern standards, the building remains as it was originally built. The building as it stands contributes little to the South Bank as a destination, or the public spaces surrounding it, including the public realm between it and the National Theatre and Queen’s Walk; a popular and busy pedestrian route along the river.

Harnessing the Opportunity

Upgraded workspace to maintain and attract new employers to the area

The building requires major improvement works necessary to meet modern day expectations, both in the office work space itself and the building generally to meet the respective sustainability standards. There is an opportunity to create additional office space within the building supporting Lambeth’s identification of the South Bank as a prime office location, with its convenient and efficient access due to its proximity to Waterloo Station.

Enhancing public space on the South Bank

The public space around the building will connect positively with the adjacent landscaped areas and the proposals seek to embrace many of the Lasdun features and design details, including the eastern sculptural stair which will become a new centre piece framed within the re-landscaped courtyard.

Vehicle dominated entrance from Upper Ground

The main entrance to the existing building is via a ramped access road up to the first floor. The new proposals will remove this ramp and relocate the service yard entrance, providing the opportunity for a new pedestrian entrance facing onto Upper Ground with level access from the street.

The existing building presents itself in a defensive manner

Particularly on the western edge facing the National Theatre. The new proposals will remove this element, opening up the building onto public space, activating the ground floor and creating an enhanced pedestrian route to Queens Walk.

Unused terraces

Many of which face onto the River Thames, will be brought back to life and fully landscaped, providing occupants of the building with biodiverse space and well-being opportunities to relax and use as ‘local space’, easing pressure on existing outdoor amenity space, such as Bernie Spain Gardens.

Responding to feedback, revising designs

Left: A computer generated view of the previous proposal.
Right: An updated view of the new proposal.
The images above show the previous scale of the design proposals on the left, and our new updated proposals on the right-hand side. The original proposals, developed whilst the building was locally listed, were broadly supported locally and were submitted for planning with Lambeth Council. During the determination period the building was Grade II listed and whilst some changes were developed in a Listed Building Application, following further conversations with Lambeth Council and Historic England the decision was made to withdraw the application and enable architects AHMM to revisit the scheme.

We are now presenting these new, more modest designs that preserve the architectural character of the building and respond to Lasdun’s original design intent, whilst still creating a sustainable and modern workspace that will support thousands of jobs on the South Bank and improve the pedestrian experience on Queen’s Walk and around the National Theatre.

The key changes to the design are based upon a careful and detailed analysis of archive material developed during the original design of the building by Sir Denys Lasdun and include:
  • A reduction in the overall horizontal floor extensions to keep the form of the building in concordance with the National Theatre
  • Reducing the additional height to one storey only and preserving the tower in its original form, materiality and location
  • Preserving the lower-level facades on the eastern, western and northern sides of the building
  • Providing an increase in the landscaped terrace space and a more evenly distributed amenity space aligned with a flexible subdivision of the floor plates
  • Retaining the original design details such as the brick podium and sculptural staircases on ground and lower levels to protect the architectural character of the building
  • Reduction of new retail space on the Queen’s Walk frontage

Proposal viewed from Upper Ground. (Please note that the existing trees in this view facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

Proposal viewed from Queens Walk. (Please note that the existing trees in this view facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

Heritage and design

The proposals retain and restore the more successful and distinctive parts of the ground floor of the building including the distinctive angled brickwork podium facing Queens Walk, the landscaped brick moat surrounding the building and the expressive angled concrete escape stairs to the eastern façade. Equally, the relationship of the lower floors and the way in which they present themselves to the National Theatre, ITV studios and Queens Walk have been retained in their present form.
The former pedestrian entrance staircase, unused since Sir Denys Lasdun reconfigured the lobby two years after the building was completed, is also retained within a re-landscaped courtyard opposite the ITV studios building.
The new extensions to the building have been based upon detailed research of Sir Denys Lasdun’s initial designs of the building in 1978, with wider upper floors and an additional storey. The proposed extension of the building southwards by half a bay was similarly also proposed by Lasdun during the original planning stage.

Archive material supporting a retail/cultural use within the brick podium at the north west corner facing Queens Walk will be realised in the new proposals and the empty upper terraces will be landscaped, also as originally envisaged.

The new design interventions draw upon the refined architectural language and detail of the listed building to respond positively to the changed site context and present day.

A new generous pedestrian entrance and reception from Upper Ground replaces the outdated vehicle ramp to the first floor, enlarging and activating the public space between the National Theatre and the building with a new café within the colonnade.

To one side, a new bike ramp leads down into the basement where the open vehicle loading bay is currently located. A new and more discreet enclosed loading bay is created away from the south west corner and further from the National Theatre, reducing noise and disruption.

Improving the public space

The western pedestrian walkway between the National Theatre and the building is currently dominated by the vehicle ramp which rises up to a first floor covered forecourt/reception area. The new proposals remove this ramp increasing the engagement of the building onto the public realm and in doing so, opening up and enlivening this area with access to a publicly accessible café.

The eastern walkway between the building and the old ITV studios was envisioned in the original designs as a footpath through a ‘green wedge’ of landscaping. Our proposals will realise this aspiration with new trees lining the footpath and a new greener courtyard containing and surrounding one of the most prominent sculptural staircases.

A new restaurant will be provided within the building, accessed from Queen’s Walk and offering  further choice and opportunity for office workers and pedestrians to stop, socialise and enjoy the riverfront.

Lasdun’s original designs create a private building with little interaction with the public spaces around it.

Our proposals protect the original design features, particularly at ground level, whilst opening the building and improving the interaction with two pedestrian walkways to the east and west of the building.

Proposal viewed from Upper Ground. (Please note that the existing trees in this view facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

A modern building with wellbeing, accessibility and sustainability at its heart

The refurbishment will ensure that the new building can operate in a sustainable way, reducing emissions in its operation. The scheme will aim to achieve:

 

  • A minimum level of BREEAM ‘Excellent’ with a target of ‘Outstanding’ certification, the world’s leading sustainability assessment for buildings.
  • Adoption of the Design for Performance standards ensuring that the building will not only be designed for efficient energy performance but importantly will perform to those standards.
  • WELL enabled ‘Gold’ Standard, illustrating the building’s commitment to advancing health and wellbeing of its occupants.
  • Retention of over 80% of the building’s existing foundation, superstructure and iconic pre-cast concrete granite panels.
  • No use of fossil fuels improving air quality in the location and electric fuels procured from either green energy suppliers with carbon offset.
  • Use of Blue roofs and permeable pavement where possible to retain rainwater and aid with local surface drainage capacity.
  • Photovoltaic panels providing a proportion of the building’s energy use.
  • Promote cycling: 500+ cycle park spaces for use by the occupants to take pressure off local public transport.
  • Car free scheme: No car parking provided on the site, apart from two disabled parking spaces.
  • The landscape design is predicted to achieve a minimum of 120% improvement in biodiversity value and targeting an urban greening factor of greater than 0.25, if not achieving that required by the London Plan.

Northern Birds Eye view of the proposal. (Please note that all existing trees along Queens Walk and facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

New landscaped terraces

Situated alongside the River Thames, the building is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Our new proposals will replace empty concrete and gravel areas with planted biodiverse terraces with soft landscaping selected to provide habitats for local birds and invertebrates and requiring minimal maintenance and water requirements. The terraces will be used by employees working within the building, reducing pressure on public amenity space such as Bernie Spain Gardens.

The roof level will be provided with an intensive green roof, with species selected that can grow naturally with other native flora and fauna. This will be carefully integrated with a ‘Blue roof’ assisting with sustainable urban drainage measures and photovoltaic panels providing an element of renewable energy on the site.

Northern Birds Eye view of the proposal. (Please note that all existing trees along Queens Walk and facing The National Theatre are to remain and have been removed for the purpose of the architectural Image)  

Benefits for the local community and economy

The proposals seek to extend the floor space providing space for an additional 950 workers, designed to be easily and flexibly sub-divided, if necessary, to provide floor plates to suit a wide range of companies.

There is a demonstrable need for high quality office space in the Waterloo area and the use of this building is strongly supported by local planning policy. The proposals will create approximately 39% more workspace providing the opportunity for new employment , which, together with the anticipated levies and financial commitments will help with the post-pandemic recovery of the area over the coming years.

Benefits will include:

  • Preservation and future proofing of a Grade II Listed building
  • Increase the provision of high-quality office space in the local area
  • Opportunity for 950 additional jobs
  • A further £2.5m+ annual contribution to the local economy through new employees spending in the area
  • Helping to establish the South Bank as a prime office location
  • Improvement of the public space along the South Bank
  • A new restaurant fronting onto Queen’s Walk and helping frame the space with the National Theatre
  • New landscaped terrace space, adding to urban greening, biodiversity and easing pressure on other local amenity space
  • A total £6.5m+ package of local benefits which will be delivered through CIL and S106 contributions. Including:
    • £2m+ for Lambeth Council through Community Infrastructure Levy
    • £4.5m+ of wider benefits including open space improvements, Mayoral infrastructure Levy, employment and skills contribution and Carbon offset contribution
  • Wider sustainability benefits including air quality improvement.

Next Steps

Thank you for attending this virtual public exhibition, in these difficult circumstances we hope it provides a good understanding of our updated proposals.

We would welcome any comments on our plans before we submit a planning application in the Spring of 2021.

Please get in touch if you would like a hard copy of these materials or if you know of a neighbour who is unable to access this online.

Share your views:

Phone: 0800 307 7987

Email: 76UG@Londoncommunications.co.uk

Online feedback form