Yesterday the company Bloomberg, who undertake all kinds of financial activities, opened a brand new office block in the heart of the City. Their European HQ is a nine-storey groundscraper, sprawled across a three acre block between Bank and Cannon Street stations, and divided in two by a central pedestrian thoroughfare. The upper levels are clad in Derbyshire sandstone with bronze fins for ventilation, while at ground level a wavy colonnade is occasionally punctuated by secure entrances, fire exits and restaurants. The building covers the site of Bucklersbury House, one of the first postwar slab office blocks, which was five storeys higher and has not been greatly mourned. The design is by Foster + Partners, and the overall cost is thought to be £1 billion.
A new green landmark has opened in the City
Bloomberg's new City headquarters claims to be the greenest large office building on the planet, with a record-breaking 98.5% BREEAM rating for its environmental impact. The deep plan interior spaces are naturally ventilated through a ‘breathing’ façade, a top-lit atrium enhances internal illumination, and smart CO2-sensing controls divert airflow to the most populous corners of the building. Less brilliantly, the lift cores have been positioned around the edge of the building so the exterior has a somewhat fortress-like feel at ground level. Most of the critics who've been inside have waxed lyrical about the architecture, including a hypertrichoid staircase vortex and integrated LED ceilings, but you won't be seeing any of that unless you're an employee of this particular company.
A new dystopian passage has opened in the City
The exterior walkway which bisects the Bloomberg office space follows the approximate line of Watling Street, and has been grandly titled Bloomberg Arcade. Pedestrians may enter at each end and follow the paved alley beneath a linking bridge, while vehicles are kept at bay by rows of pert metal bollards. Unlike the former Roman road this passageway is privately owned, part of the creeping advance of pseudo-public realm within the City's Ring of Steel. Security guards tour the exterior of the building to scrutinise passers-through, while CCTV keeps watch should potential hoi-polloi consider breaking any of the space's unlisted regulations. Bucklersbury House never had a central passageway, so technically this is an enhancement of accessible connectivity, but undesirables should expect to be moved on.
A new foodie paradise has opened in the City
The Bloomberg Arcade is home to a collection of curated restaurant brands which have got London's on-trend foodies immensely excited. Caravan are here with their casual all-day dining concept, serving brunch-type fusion dishes including squash and Stilton pizza. Vinoteca are here offering buzzy British-Euro eats to clustered punters on an outdoor terrace. Homeslice are here, maintaining culinary integrity with signature 20” pizzas and seasonal cocktails. Bleecker are here, with squirty ketchup bottles poised to douse serious New York-style burgers. Restaurants coming soon include Koya Bar, Ahi Poke, La Tristesse, Brigadiers and Michelin-starred A. Wong, one of which I made up to prove how little you know about what passes as acceptable food these days.
A lost river has been uncovered in the City
The City's lost river, the Walbrook, once flowed across the Bloomberg site. Long buried, its former existence has been celebrated in a new public sculpture by the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias. She's devised an unlikely pair ofbronze pools, called Flowing Streams, at either end of the central arcade. Gnarled metal roots thread across a depression of layered 'earth', across which water trickles and occasionally pulses, evoking an unlikely wooded pre-Londinium landscape. As low-level fountains go, it's highly attractive. Sit back on the granite surround with your sandwich, or hand-twisted spinach wrap, and reflect on a lost river dramatically unearthed.
A tube station entrance has not yet opened in the City
Come back later.
A Roman temple museum has not yet opened in the City
Come back November 14th.