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“Striking” plans for former City Hall unveiled

The building is being refurbished following the GLA’s departure at the end of 2021 reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The new design for the old City Hall building near Tower Bridge
The new design at 110 The Queen”s Walk. Credit: Gensler

A striking revamp plan for London’s old City Hall building has been unveiled.

The building’s private landlord, Kuwaiti-owned St Martins Property Investments, say its plan will “revitalise” the Mayor of London’s former headquarters by “transforming the building into a forward-looking, mixed-use destination”.

A concept image of the refurbished building shows the removal of the structure’s exterior glass shell, exposing the structure’s levels and creating several balconies.

St Martins says that it wishes to “improve the building’s environmental performance by replacing outdated extensive glazing with a greater balance of sustainable materials”.

A spokesman for the company said that the ground floor will include spaces for new cafes, shop and restaurants. He confirmed that there are no current plans to convert any of the building into housing, but office spaces are proposed.

The company said: “Our ambition has centred around the modernisation of the building into re-imagined, open mixed-use accommodation, all the while safeguarding its intrinsic character…

“We have appointed architects Gensler and landscape architects LDA Design to help deliver our vision. Our focus is on sustainability and an expanded, biodiverse public realm, complemented by contemporary-designed workspace, shops, cafés and restaurants. Our proposal offers a diverse array of amenities for all to appreciate.”

The building, located near Tower Bridge, has been closed to the public since being vacated by the Greater London Authority (GLA) at the end of 2021.

It was purpose-designed by Lord Norman Foster and opened by the Queen in 2002. Much like his design for Berlin’s Reichstag building, Lord Foster gave the building a glass exterior to imply transparency in political decision-making.

Former mayor Ken Livingstone referred to it as a ‘glass testicle’, while his successor Boris Johnson dubbed it the ‘glass gonad’.

The building was in 2020 reported to cost the GLA £11.1m a year, including rent to St Martins, plus service charges and rates. This was due to rise to £12.6m a year after Christmas 2021.

The decision to move the GLA’s headquarters to the Crystal building in Newham – which it owned – was made by mayor Sadiq Khan. He said in 2020 that it would “save £55 million over five years, which would help us to protect and invest in the things that matter most to Londoners, as well as supporting the regeneration of the Royal Docks.”

A planning application for the refurbishments at the old City Hall, now known as 110 The Queen’s Walk, is expected to be submitted to Southwark Council.

Public exhibitions consulting on the building’s new look and layout are to be held at Hay’s Galleria, opposite The Navigators sculpture, at 1 Battle Bridge Lane, SE1 2HD.

The exhibitions are between 12:00 and 19:00 on Thursday 7th December and between 11:00 and 14:00 on Saturday 9th December.