Atelier Foster Nouvel, the starchitect group set up by Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel have secured planning permission for their first ever scheme - Walbrook Square in the City of London.
Compared by observers to such things as Darth Vader's melted helmet, a stereo speaker, and a sphinx, the quartet of buildings will occupy the site of Bucklersbury House, a dingy sixties building that has been the headquarters for Legal & General.
With the buildings proposed rising up to 104 metres tall, the architects aimed to create a dome-like presence on the skyline that would mimic St Paul's Cathedral whilst retaining a more futuristic organic feel to the design.
The tallest building will be dominated by a typically Nouvel approach to it with the cladding used to manipulate the effects of light, transparency and reflection. This is continued on the roofs of the other buildings however there is a clear visual division between the top and bottom sections of each block which are more structural expressionist than zoomorphic.
Part of the centrepiece of the project will be the old Roman Temple of Mithras which is currently rather tucked away and unloved next to Bucklersbury House. It will be relocated to a new square and given star billing. The only thing missing is a statue of Rick Moranis to complete the Dark Helmet theme.
Demolition on the current site is slated to begin almost immediately but construction will depend on a pre-let for the not insubstantial 95,000 square metre office and retail development.
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