55 St James Street lies at the heart of the St James Conservation Area fronting the major thoroughfare of St James Street to one side and overlooking The Ritz to the other. This exclusive 32,000 square feet mixed-use development comprises prime office accommodation over five storeys, with five high-end one bedroom residential apartments on the top floor, the Blue Posts Public House across Ground and Basement levels, and the new Portland Gallery on the Ground floor.
The traditional building design reflects the rich history of St James, with its member’s clubs, bespoke tailors and famous residences, whilst using clean lines to give it a modern feel. With the development being located in the St James Conservation Area, the treatment of the façade design was of paramount importance. The external materials palette makes contextual reference to the surrounding area through the use of Portland stone, brick and lead.
Bennet Street (North) elevation is divided into three ‘townhouses’ in order to reduce the overall mass of the building in keeping with the townscape of St James with its historically smaller plot sizes. This elevation changes from Portland stone at the St James Street end to brick at the Arlington Street end, so that the development blends comfortably within its immediate context. The overarching lead mansard roof unites these three distinct portions. By varying the materials used and incorporating distinct breaks between them, the overall building mass is broken down. Deep-set window reveals add depth, further reflecting the area’s original character.
Integral to the success of the façade design are the brickwork elevations on the corner of Bennet Street and Arlington Street, visible from key vistas. The brickwork complements the intricate detailing of the stone window bays and the stone surrounds to The Blue Posts’ shop fronts. At Ground floor, the horizontal brick courses are enhanced by the inclusion of bronze-coloured anodised aluminium channels, inserted into the coursing. These provide a key reference point back to the deep-set bronze anodised windows and other metallic features of the building, and help to accentuate the entrance to the Public House.
EPR worked closely with Northcot Brick, visiting the brickworks before selecting a blend of three different handmade bricks that would give a unique colour mix with subtle changes in texture to complement the character of the St James Street area. Known as the ‘St James Blend’, the bespoke brick mix comprised: 50 percent Stratford Mellow, 30 percent Regal Multi and 20 percent Draycott Red.
EPR was impressed with the way that the bricks could be blended together “on the palette” and delivered to site pre-blended for ease of installation. The use of lime mortar meant that large portions of the façade could be constructed without the need for vertical movement joints, ensuring that an uninterrupted half lap stretcher pattern could be maintained across the elevations.
EPR selected flush pointing for the lime mortar joints, responding to the other exemplar brick buildings in the immediate vicinity, with a natural colour that allows the variety and unique colour blend of the three brick types to stand out.
project type Architectural
bricks used Stratford Mellow, Regal Multi, Draycott Red
Northcot Brick Ltd, Station Road, Blockley,
Nr. Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9LH