CIT and Foster + Partners submit plans for first net-zero carbon commercial hub for London

With the UK’s aim to become carbon neutral by 2050, CIT and Foster + Partners want to help realise this ambition sooner, submitting a planning application for London’s first ever net-zero carbon workplace and commercial hub at Colechurch House, on the banks of the Thames.

Located at the foot of London Bridge, Colechurch House will replace a redundant 1960s office block to provide 46,200 sq m (497,292 sq ft) of vibrant space. The planned development will transform the public realm creating an abundance of imaginative landscaped green spaces and will bring together state-of-the art offices; high quality, affordable, work and arts spaces; also providing greatly enhanced connectivity from London Bridge station to the Thames riverfront and wider area.

CIT’s Development Managing Director, Steve Riddell, says: “The pandemic has amplified the need for change and given us the opportunity to reassess what we need from our work and social spaces, and how the built environment can work hard to address this change.  We are excited to play our part in a development that not only exceeds the UK’s environmental ambitions but that has the wellness of individual users it at its core. In accordance with Southwark Council’s climate emergency policy, Colechurch House is specifically planned and designed to be a catalyst for positive change in London prioritising social and environmental wellbeing. We want the development to define a new era for sustainability while being a distinctive addition to Southwark and its community.”

The new public park at street level will bring much needed outdoor space to Southwark, with the removal of the footbridge enhancing the setting and opening up views to Southwark Cathedral and nearby listed buildings.

Riddell says: “CIT has a firm foothold in Southwark and has shown a strategic commitment to the borough with More London, Southbank Tower and the proposed transformation of Vinegar Yard. CIT has a longstanding interest in developing sustainable buildings, with one of London’s earliest borehole cooled installations at More London and the reuse and extension of existing building structures such as Southbank Tower and Hylo – saving huge quantities of embodied carbon. Net zero carbon Colechurch House gives us an opportunity to continue our trajectory of delivering genre-defining buildings that have shaped London over the past twenty five years.”

Over 85 per cent of the site is dedicated to open public space in the form of three distinct landscaped areas, revealing new vistas and views to the historic Southwark Cathedral and St Olaf House. A series of landscaped squares provide flexible seating and events spaces, surrounded by retail ‘market’ kiosks and art installations that are buffered by landscaped edges from the adjacent streets.

Providing 46,200 sq m (497,292 sq.ft) of space, a vibrant mix of uses includes a new home for Southwark Playhouse Theatre and Social Enterprise Cafe, affordable workspaces for the local community, shops and a new high level publicly accessible restaurant offering dramatic views of Southwark Cathedral, the City and St Paul’s Cathedral. A new streetscape towards Tooley Street enhances the pedestrian connections to Borough Market.

The tiered scheme rises from west to east on the 0.69 acre site. Addressing the built environment’s accounting for over 40 per cent of the UK's total carbon emissions, it is topped by the landscaped roof terraces, with passive ventilation ‘chimneys’ that pull fresh air into the offices below allowing occupiers to naturally ventilate their office spaces for the majority of the year.

The workspaces also incorporate winter gardens towards the east and west on each level. The vegetation travels up through the winter gardens to the roof terrace, creating breakout spaces for the offices below.

The service core is located to the south, offering spectacular riverside views while protecting the interiors from solar gain. Environmentally responsive façades incorporate solar shading, ventilation, light shelves, water catchments and photovoltaics.

The development is planned to create 4,500 new jobs, providing robust investment into the area and stimulus for sustained long term growth.

Cushman and Wakefield has been appointed as leasing agents for the project and have worked closely with the design team to ensure the spaces meet the highest standards in this exacting market.

Luke Fox, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners, says: “We are delighted to be working with CIT on such a pivotal site in London. The project is about people and the planet, creating a new landscaped public realm over most of the ground level that opens views to surrounding historic fabric and provides a vibrant mix of uses, while also offering flexible office spaces that are underpinned by biophilia. The Net Zero Carbon project is designed to exceed all current targets, and by calculating in-depth the operational and embodied carbon, we are creating a new sustainable model for development.”