Ceramic façade from NBK, designed by the architects Make
The radiance and form of exclusive ceramic elements: London Wall Place
Over the next few months, a new, architecturally remarkable building will near completion in the City of London. London Wall Place is an office and service centre situated right in the centre of the city, designed and realised by the architects Make. It is embedded in the heart of everything that makes London special, whether it’s the first-class restaurants, shopping malls, theatres, or simply the silence and stillness of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Comprising two building complexes in a rhythmic vista of ever-changing heights – one rising to sixteen storeys, the other broad and expansive and rising in places to twelve stories – this currently unfinished construction has already established itself as a new London landmark. This complex of buildings compellingly incorporates and merges itself into the more than 4,000 m2 of public green space: a park, which runs between the two buildings, and more than 3,000 m2 of further greenery in landscaped roof gardens offer residents and guests alike space for rest and relaxation among the more than 46,000 m2 of usable floor space.
In addition, the incorporation of the remains of the Roman city wall and a medieval church lend the complex a unique, special flair, which is enhanced by a footbridge that winds its way through the experiential garden landscape. Another factor that makes London Wall Place – or London Wall for short – such a sophisticated and attractive location is the design of the façade, in which deep-blue ceramic elements alternate with light-coloured brickwork enhancing their effect. These ceramic elements were manufactured by NBK Keramik, which is based in Emmerich, Germany, on the Lower Rhine. The form, colour and brilliance combine to create a ceramic façade concept marked by its quality and exclusivity.
The ceramic façade covers the slender spaces between the high window surfaces, framing the windows and creating a highly expressive profile. These vertical columns rise to a height of more than five metres between the window surfaces. When viewed in cross-section, they project outwards like a pitched roof, which not only heightens their framing effect but also increases the overall ceramic content. The ultra-exclusive appearance of the façade is further enhanced by the choice of a deep-blue glaze which is specially customised according to the manufacturer. The high-gloss finish changes depending on the weather: when exposed to strong sunlight, the façade takes on a deep-blue colour; when the sky is cloudy, however, it appears almost black. This blue-black glaze was created following extensive testing over long periods in NBK’s development laboratory. The process was repeated until the architects were totally satisfied with the colour of the glazed elements.
By August of this year, 36,000 single ceramic elements of different cuts and lengths and with three different cross-sections had been shipped to London. The total area covers 6,200 m2, as big as a football pitch of 105 x 59 metres. The special pre-assembly process on trapezoidal sheets, on which in some cases individual ceramic elements have been affixed, allowed us to achieve the maximum element lengths of 5,325 mm for the vertical columns between the windows. The complexity of this impressive façade meant that T, cross and corner elements had to be used to close the façade grid at the appropriate points.
The elegant, upward-reaching effect of the ceramic façade is enhanced by the adjacent façades of light-coloured brickwork. Their appearance uses vertical strips of wall that alternate with openings over the entire height of these parts of the buildings. In the centre, the two described façades alternate from building to building.
This interplay of façade designs enhances the attractiveness of the architectural concept, making London Wall Place a brand-new highlight in the City of London.