An Exchange of Ideas | BCO NextGen x Fletcher Priest Architects

On 26 January, The BCO NextGens in London were delighted and inspired by the exclusive talk and tour of One Exchange Square for PNB, LaSalle and M3 Consulting.

One Exchange Square involves the creation of 420,000 sq ft of high-quality workspace and 20,000 sq ft of retail, while retaining 90% of the existing structure, keeping the carbon impact as low as possible. The design will see a total of 17,000 sq ft of planted terraces created, with access to nature from every level for all occupants. The project is targeting BREEAM Outstanding, WELL Platinum and aspires to be one of the first registered refurbishment projects in the UK to achieve NABERS UK DfP 5 Stars Rating at Design Stage. The building will have 50% less embodied carbon than a typical office building of a comparable size and exceed the Greater London Authority’s carbon targets.

Following the first of many exciting events to take place in 2023, we caught up with Snr. Project Architect and NextGen committee member Ben Simpson of Fletcher Priest Architects who lead the tour. Here’s what he had to say:

If you were to start this project today, would you do anything differently?

As this scheme won’t come to market until 2025, the brief is current and forward-thinking, so I predict One Exchange Square would remain similar. Due to our (Fletcher Priest Architect’s) work across the wider Broadgate Exchange we also had a thorough understanding of the bones of the building so the design can suit. On reflection, establishing a material passport for the materials removed due to demolition would have been a further addition to the circular economy, although we are reusing 90% of the existing structure.

What was the most challenging question you had to answer after the tour?

I hope those who had questions felt they were answered sufficiently. The most challenging question was probably technical: “What was the tipping point between double-glazed units and triple-glazed units considering the uplift in cost?”. For us this was an easy one – our digital twin model told us conclusively that the glazing upgrade to triple-glazing and the thermal efficiencies would provide a significant uplift to our DFP Naber’s rating. The client saw this as a no-brainer and chose the most sustainable path.

How does One Exchange Square play a role within this year’s BCO NextGen Focus Areas?

This year’s focus areas: The Circular Office, Social Equity & Hospitality’s role within the office are all addressed at One Exchange Square. We retained 90% of the structure and reused materials where possible. We significantly upgraded the accessibility of the building and the wider site by providing equitable access throughout the building and a significant amenity offer across multiple levels took design inspiration from the hospitality sector. Watch this space for more on that.

What are you most proud of about this scheme?

I’m proud of the team’s drive to produce a sustainable building when the market’s current inflationary pressures are significant. Having sustainability at the heart of the design from the outset has meant decisions can be benchmarked against this criteria. Personally, I’m proud to have been a part of the team from the outset as we transition onto site and look forward to another tour after PC.