Light touch

The London skyline can be seen as a visual identity mark for the city. It is iconic. Skyscrapers next to historic landmarks speak of progress, prosperity, power and sophistication. New additions work within tight constraints to protect the skyline but they simultaneously have to deliver the office, retail and public space the thriving global city needs. 

8 Bishopsgate does this beautifully. It is a 50-storey, office-led, mixed-use building designed by WilkinsonEyre architects for Mitsubishi Estate London. Right to light considerations for surrounding buildings was a design challenge.

WilkinsonEyre’s solution was stacked blocks and cantilevered sections that make the building so interesting to look at. It delivers on space but it seems to not take up a lot of space. 

It’s light on carbon footprint too and is the first speculative use tall building to be awarded a BREEAM outstanding rating in the UK. This was achieved by stripping back as much as possible with a no waste approach. “The concrete in the cores and the steel frame are exposed and unnecessary linings omitted, giving a consistent, pared back aesthetic” is how the architects describe it.

We were asked to pick up the pared back aesthetic and run it through an effective wayfinding strategy to help building users find vertical access points comfortably.

In collaboration with Studio Sutherland we created a restrained and understated wayfinding scheme. It uses clean typography and iconography reproduced in patinated brass and with a sensitive colour palette. Our contribution offers another perspective on light touch: it is  sensitive, minimalist, appears effortless, unobtrusive and, above all, it works.