London & South East Premier Construction

Canaletto residential tower

Written by Roma Publications

Accolade for ‘vertical community’ concept – Canaletto Tower

A finalist in the 2018 ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards’ Best Applied Products category, The 22,000m² Canaletto residential tower in City Road, Islington, London, employs the concept of clustering several floors together to establish a group of ‘vertical communities’.

Offering waterside living, the 31-storey tower, designed by UNStudio, incorporates 190 residential units including studios, one and two-bedroom apartments, a variety of three bedroom units, and one distinct penthouse with a full rooftop.

Canaletto also includes shared amenities such as a swimming pool, health club, spa, cinema, restaurant, cafe, and resident’s club lounge with a terrace on the 24th floor.

Main contractors for the construction project were Ardmore Construction.

Ben van Berkel of UNStudio said: “We are delighted that the project was a finalist in the awards. For us it is an acknowledgment that the right design decisions were made and that we achieved what we set out to do. This is an extremely important project for us and is our first scheme on this scale in the UK.

“The City Road Tower distinguishes itself from buildings in the nearby financial district of the City through variation; through materials, through clusters, through a scale that is appropriate to city streets and through a facade that creates its own residential identity by means of a varied and heterogeneous elevation.”

UNStudio’s design for the tower incorporates the remodelling of the facade, a streamlining of the building’s mass and a contrasting of scale and detail untypical of a residential tower.

The facade for the Canaletto tower was designed to emphasise its residential character and to define a distinct ‘Islington’ response.

In the design, near and distant townscape views are enhanced through scale, detail, and material variation. The building facade creates a modelled elevation in which clusters of adjacent floors are grouped together.

Contrasting materials are employed within each grouping, where the ‘outer’ smooth metallic element is complemented by an ‘inner’ use of textured materials.

Throughout the building the cluster concept of the facade is designed to maximise levels of transparency and frame the views towards the sky, thereby lending the tower a softer and more nuanced silhouette.

The elevations additionally offer sustainability benefits. The surface modelling creates opportunities for shading, balancing good internal daylight and views with reduced heat gains. The articulation of the facade additionally reduces wind down drafts and, in combination with canopies at the base of the building, provides an improved pedestrian microclimate.

The modelling of the balconies within each grouped cluster lends variability to the facade and the living experience for the residents in the building. As outdoor spaces play a large role in the enjoyment of living environments, the creation of unique, sheltered spaces of high quality was a driver in early design development.

The aspect of using both textured and smooth materials contrasts with the expected contemporariness of a typical high-rise metal construction and lends this facade a residential ‘twist.’

A landscaped garden on Wharf Road provides access to the residential lobby, whilst the ground floor garden frames the entrance lobby and provides a green oasis off the busy City Road.

Ben van Berkel concluded: “In Canaletto we wanted the residents to really feel like they are part of a unique work of architecture, something that is identifiably theirs and that is distinctly residential.

“It was therefore essential for us that Canaletto would have a more multifaceted reading than a corporate glass box, or a typical office tower. The same design attention that goes into designing the smallest object often gets overlooked at a larger scale.

“But with the design for Canaletto, we paid very close attention to material details and variations in the facade and drew from examples of detailing and the contrasting of materials that you would normally only find in product or furniture design.

“This, in combination with the clustering of the floors, is what makes Canaletto so distinctive and perhaps even a little idiosyncratic.”

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