Behind the shimmering tower of 200 Aldersgate – a modern office block at London Wall – is a myriad of streets that once served as the City of London’s trading lifeline. They wind in between Smithfield meat market, the Barbican, St Bart’s Hospital and up to the Old Bailey and the cells of Newgate Street. Currently, this 3.2 acre site is home to a number of period buildings with illustrious histories such as the headquarters of the Worshipful Company of Butchers (Butchers Hall) and NHS buildings (Dominion House).
Soon, the same development company that refurbished 200 Aldersgate will be taking up the challenge of modernising the streets behind it, opening them up for public use and creating a new community in the heart of the financial district. The 10-year project, rebranding the area Barts Square, will create 235 new apartments, including penthouses, of no more than eight storeys tall; 230,000sqft of office space over two buildings; and 23,000sqft of retail space, making it the biggest new residential scheme in the City, by landmass.
“We came upon this site by surprise,” says Nikki Gibbard, development executive at Helical Bar. “The agent saw us working on 200 Aldersgate so invited us over for a look. We went thinking it would be a waste of time, but we quickly saw it was a great opportunity. We went exploring down these small alleyways and streets, discovering buildings from different periods made from a variety of materials and just loads of history.”
Helical Bar insists its plans for the site are “sensitive”, instructing architects Sheppard Robson, Piercy and Co and Maccreanor Lavington to work within the existing architecture where possible. St Bartholomew’s Church, founded in 1125, provided further inspiration. Nuns used to live in the precincts making lace so they researched the pattern of the lace they wove and used it in the design of the balconies nearby. Johnson Naylor, which is also working on Battersea Power Station, is designing the interiors with exposed brickwork and terracotta, even on the new builds, with a neutral, earthy colour scheme. They have no small job on their hands as the style and size of apartments vary enormously. The first wave of 92 apartments, which went on sale to UK buyers on Wednesday, contains 45 different styles alone.
Now, Helical is on the hunt for a flagship restaurant and independent retailers to really earn the slogan being touted on its marketing material – “intimate new homes”.
The marketing suite opened yesterday at 56 West Smithfield. Prices £750,00 start at for a one bed.