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AIA UK Building Tour - The Alphabeta Building


AIA UK Building Tour - The Alphabeta Building

Fiona Mckay

The 2016 Building Tours kicked-off with an exploration of Studio RHE’s Alphabeta Building in Finsbury Square. The building was alive with the creative activity the architects had envisioned. Coincidently four separate events were under way in various parts of the building during our visit.
Dickon Hayward (project architect for the project at Studio RHE) led the tour, beginning in the building’s vibrant and transparent central atrium. The architect pushed the developer client (Resolution Property) to change their initial thinking about the project. Rather than gutting and rebuilding the entire interior structure to a standard office module, the architects envisioned a lighter touch which could make use of the building’s existing quirks to create office space with a unique character.
Working with the existing structures created several challenges. The architects chose to leave ceilings exposed to maximise height where the existing structures had low floor to floor heights. Additional steel structure was added around the perimeter of the atrium to create more floor space and to form the delicately cantilevered projecting volumes with full-height glazing to maximise light and visual connectivity between the spaces.
A unique approach to programming was taken at ground level. The financial benefit of the building’s signature cycle ramp – suggested by the architect – had to be considered carefully by the developer, as it used prime street frontage. The developer also took a gamble by using the majority of the basement to house a co-working space open to all visitors. The building has been a financial success – fully-let months before opening, while other new buildings in the area still sit with vacancy. The developer and architect are taking many lessons from Alphabeta to future projects.
The tour concluded with drinks at Flight Club – a popular new pub in the building featuring darts!

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