The first look at One Black­fri­ars

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - New Homes -

Lon­don’s land­mark sky­scrapers, specif­i­cally those in the cor­ri­dor that stretches from the City to the South Bank, tend to be named af­ter house­hold ob­jects or some­thing you might find at the back of the fridge: the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie, the Cheeseg­rater or the Gherkin.

Often these nick­names evolve in­for­mally through­out the plan­ning process, but “the Vase” – the lat­est ad­di­tion to the cap­i­tal’s hori­zon – has a more def­i­nite in­cep­tion.

One Black­fri­ars, which will house 247 lux­ury apart­ments, was in­spired by a piece of Fifties art: a Scan­di­na­vian glass ves­sel from the ar­chi­tect’s pri­vate col­lec­tion.

The project, de­signed by the Rochdale-born ar­chi­tect Ian Simp­son and be­ing built by Berke­ley Homes brand St Ge­orge, is start­ing to take shape. The Tele­graph takes an ex­clu­sive look in­side.

As the hoist lift scales the build­ing to the 27th floor (the high­est level with win­dows so far), it pulses with the boom of con­crete be­ing pumped up 120ft to feed the steadily-grow­ing core of the build­ing.

The South­wark struc­ture, at the most northerly bend of the Thames, is now up to 38 floors, and will reach 50 by the time it is com­pleted in 2018.

Of the 5,476 glass pan­els that will cre­ate the con­tin­u­ous cur­va­ture of the build­ing, 3,000 are al­ready in place, and for Simp­son this dif­fer­en­ti­ates his Lon­don sky­scraper from the oth­ers. Rather than an inan­i­mate ob­ject, he sees the build­ing as a dy­namic form, play­ing on the re­flec­tion of light from above and the con­stant mo­tion on the ground be­low.

“The asym­met­ri­cal vase gave me the no­tion that the edges of a build­ing could be smooth and dy­namic rather than rec­tan­gu­lar and mul­ti­fac­eted,” Simp­son says. There isn’t a sin­gle straight line on the build­ing – in con­trast to the Gherkin, which ap­pears rounded but in re­al­ity has only one piece of curved glass on the whole tower. “It’s an el­e­gant di­rec­tional shape which has move­ment be­cause it’s on the river and a very busy artery,” Simp­son says, re­fer­ring to the stream of peo­ple, cy­clists, traf­fic and trains along Black­fri­ars Pier to­wards the Tate Mod­ern, on Black­fri­ars Road, lead­ing to the Ele­phant and Cas­tle and Black­fri­ars Rail­way Bridge.

And it will change with the light. At sun­set the build­ing will glow red, tak­ing on a blue sheen on a clear bright day.

The sin­gu­lar ex­te­rior, with­out the usual “ex­tru­sions” (by which Simp­son means bal­conies) also has a bear­ing on the in­te­ri­ors. The slid­ing doors on the edge of each apart­ment open into your own pri­vate “sky gar­den”, an en­closed bal­cony within the curved glass ex­te­rior, with win­dow slats that can be opened.

It’s de­signed to be warm all year round. That’s if you can af­ford to bag a One Black­fri­ars pad. Prices start from £1.15 mil­lion for a one-bed­room stu­dio, £2.33 mil­lion for a two-bed­room apart­ment, while a three-bed­room home goes for £4.64 mil­lion (020 7871 7188; oneblack­fri­ars.co.uk).

The Kens­ing­ton Suite, which will cover al­most 6,000 sq ft on the 43rd floor, is priced at £23 mil­lion.

New im­agery of this five-bed­room apart­ment is be­ing re­leased to­day and the new sales and mar­ket­ing show home on level seven was com­pleted this week. De­tails of the 17,000 sq ft prized pent­house, which will take up the five top floors of the tower, will be an­nounced in the spring.

The Kens­ing­ton Suite in­te­ri­ors were cre­ated by Tara Bernard and Part­ners, the firm re­spon­si­ble for the re­design of the In­terCon­ti­nen­tal Ho­tels Group, with fin­ishes in stone, tim­ber and glass.

Light will flood into the liv­ing area through the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows and there’s a pri­vate gym with south­fac­ing views. The sky gar­den juts out over the Thames on the other side of the apart­ment. Did you know 1. The lifts at One Black­fri­ars will have a speed of 4m per se­cond; it will take only 40 sec­onds to get to the 50th floor.

One Black­fri­ars will have a to­tal of 2,500 doors, six times as many as the White House.

There will be 9,100 panes of glass in the in­ner and outer fa­cades, 13 times more than in the Lou­vre Pyra­mid.

At its peak, 1,400 peo­ple will work on con­struc­tion of One Black­fri­ars.

On a clear day you will be able to see 28 miles from the top floor – as far as Brent­wood, in Es­sex.

The 2,500 sq ft, three-bed­room show home is kit­ted out in Ital­ian mar­ble, At­lantic Lava stone and a pol­ished Greek Ve­nato Dark mar­ble. It over­looks St Paul’s Cathe­dral – but should you ever tire of the view, there are in­built tele­vi­sions in the bed­room and above the bath.

“One Black­fri­ars is very high qual­ity, the level you would find in Knights­bridge or May­fair, but with a de­sign edge,” Simp­son says.

Un­derneath the build­ing is a three-floor base­ment the size of six Olympic swim­ming pools, which will house the spa, gym, cin­ema, golf sim­u­la­tor and win­ery. The Har­rods concierge ser­vice will be on tap 24/7 along with valet park­ing.

The site it­self, once home to the head­quar­ters of Sains­bury’s, is just shy of 10,000 sq ft and will in­clude a 161-bed­room ho­tel, shops, restau­rants and units for lo­cal ven­tures such as yoga stu­dios.

It’s ex­pected to have a knock-on ef­fect on lo­cal prop­erty prices. With Black­fri­ars Road lead­ing to the huge re­gen­er­a­tion scheme at Ele­phant and Cas­tle, One Black­fri­ars is seen as the “gate­way into South­wark, which will see in­creased prices rip­ple out,” says Michael Bryn-Jones, di­rec­tor at St Ge­orge.

The project has ab­sorbed 15 years of Simp­son’s life. He had to make se­ri­ous changes to the de­sign when English Her­itage pointed out that it blocked the view of St Paul’s from a her­itage bridge in St James’s Park. “We had to lower the build­ing and change all pro­por­tions,” he says.

Love or hate the de­sign, each new sky­scraper cre­ates a pre­vi­ously un­seen per­spec­tive of the cap­i­tal and One Black­fri­ars is no ex­cep­tion, pro­vid­ing a unique van­tage point over the Houses of Par­lia­ment, the City, Ca­nary Wharf and across south Lon­don. And the re­verse view, as Lon­don­ers look up at the Vase it­self, will be pretty spec­tac­u­lar, too.

You know about the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie and the Gherkin. Anna White pokes around the lat­est: the Vase

Homely: The Kens­ing­ton Suite, above, is on the 43rd floor and is priced at £23m; there are no straight lines on the build­ing, left

Draw­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence: the ar­chi­tect Ian Simp­son was in­spired by a vase

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