55 Baker Street (2007)

Architects: Make Architects

Audio-described architecture tour for Open House London 2014 led by VocalEyes Describer Jane Brambley with Simon Lincoln from Make Architects who was the key architect for 55 Baker Street.

This radical renovation by Make Architects of a 1950s office building (formally the headquarters of Marks & Spencer) has transformed it into an important new urban amenity. While providing an exceptional range of flexible and highly efficient office spaces, the scheme enhances activity at street level by offering an enriched mix of uses and introducing a substantial new public space to the streetscape.

The transformation of the building is dramatically expressed by three glass infills or ‘masks’ which span the voids between the existing blocks to create a unified but dynamically modulated new facade. The central glazed section encloses a spectacular seven-storey atrium accessed directly from street level, creating a major new entrance to the building. The ground floor has been entirely re-clad and is devoted to retail units, cafes and restaurants which are open to the public.

At the rear of the building, a new development of 23 mews houses offers affordable, key worker and private accommodation.

In addition to the cost savings represented by retaining and refurbishing the existing building, the scheme incorporates a range of strategies to ensure that it is as energy efficient as possible. The introduction of a chilled beam system in all office spaces has considerably reduced energy use, while the double-skinned glazing masks enclosing the new floor areas are fritted to prevent excessive solar gain. The development achieved a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’. It is also notable for the speed and efficiency of its procurement and construction process.

Other notable Make buildings include: The Copper Box and the Podium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The Cube in Birmingham.

Audio playlist