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One Bedford Avenue, an office and retail development in London’s West End, has been completed by Bennetts Associates for Exemplar, in partnership with Ashby Capital and The Bedford Estates.
The new landmark address occupies a prominent corner site at the south end of Tottenham Court Road close to Bedford Square and the British Museum. The Architectural Association is immediately to its rear. The building provides 71,000 sq ft of high quality office space over seven floors and 14,000 sq ft of retail at ground and basement level.
The form of the building has been sculpted from a single rectangular block, with the angular profiles of the upper floors created in response to Rights of Light analysis. Precast concrete fins on all elevations are identical but set in different orientations depending on context and solar shading requirements. On Tottenham Court Road the fins are positioned at 90 degrees to the façade to cut out the afternoon heat; on Morwell Street they are aligned flat against the building in response to the large amount of shade which coats the building in the morning and on Bedford Avenue, the fins are stacked into a 500mm deep framework to mitigate the high southern sun.
The monochromatic interiors have been designed to pay homage to the demise of the electronics retail industry, once the defining feature of the Tottenham Court Road. The door and washroom signage borrows from electronic diagram symbols and the reception contains a full storey representation of a computer board in patinated brass and manifestations in Morse code. The balustrades to the stairs have also been designed as Morse code: by running a stick along the uprights the ‘clicks’ spell out ‘up and up’ and ‘down and down’ on opposite sides.
Artwork by Lilah Fowler covers the Bedford Avenue façade and integrates the electronics theme with the history of the freeholder; The Bedford Estates. A quote taken from the Commonplace books of Francis Russell, the fourth Earl of Bedford (1593-1641): ‘Our knowledge is nothing but the glass of our own imperfections’ has been translated into binary code with yellow and blue LED neon lights representing 0’s and 1’s. The fritting pattern on the lower portion of the windows was derived from a lengthy process involving a collaboration with a scientist and a quantum physicist taken from a quantum key – produced from an experiment as part of a quantum cryptology process.