The design plans have been unveiled for the former Marks & Spencer headquarters in London’s Baker Street, which is to be transformed into a striking glass atrium for a new development.
Design and advertising group Oracle Advertising is overseeing the branding, while Make Architects is working on the design of the building and interiors. It will be renovated into 61 735m2 of offices, 24 three-storey mews houses, leisure and retail facilities and covered public space.
The building is understood to feature glass infills that will cross between the blocks to create a new façade. It will have a central glazed section enclosing a seven-storey atrium.
Set to open next March, the ground floor will house the retail units, cafés and restaurants. At the rear, the 24 houses offer affordable, key-worker and private accommodation.
Oracle’s branding for the development was designed to be ‘straightforward’. The client, London and Regional Properties, is understood to have used the name 55 Baker Street because it would be instantly recognisable with its link to the M&S location.
‘The client wanted to keep things simple,’ says Oracle creative director Mike Souch. ‘The identity was rolled out to hoardings, promotional material, the website and the window display, but they haven’t launched a brochure because it was felt the project was so high profile, people would know about it already. At the beginning, they thought they wanted a new name so we came up with ideas, but they decided to keep 55 Baker Street because of the M&S connection.’
The site was designed and built in the 1950s and was occupied by M&S from 1957 as its national headquarters.
According to the Greater London Authority’s planning report for the building, the new retail use along Baker Street would ‘introduce active frontages, thereby adding interest to the streetscape and vitality to central London as a whole’.
The ‘innovative’ roof was mentioned as the most interesting element of the building, which was proposed as a curved roof of glass construction set back from the seventh and eighth floor.