Revitalised Chancery House opens above London Silver Vaults
On 21 June 2023, TOG launched a major landmark in its London portfolio: Chancery House – a revitalised and retrofitted eight-storey heritage building in London’s vibrant Midtown. Set atop the London Silver Vaults – the capital’s historic subterranean silver market – Chancery House is the flexible-workspace specialist’s largest building to date: a 125,000 sq ft sustainability-led workspace that prioritises flexibility and wellbeing.
Working on their ninth project with The Office Group, dMFK Architects have refurbished, reconfigured and extended the original building, collaborating with Copenhagen-based Norm Architects to deliver the interior concept.
Revitalising a London landmark
Stately and imposing, even among the ornate architecture of the surrounding Inns of Court, Chancery House was first built as the Chancery Lane Safe Deposit along with the Silver Vaults in 1885. Levelled by a bomb in World War II, Chancery House was rebuilt in 1953, providing offices for businesses looking for a well-located Midtown workspace.
Acquiring the freehold in 2019, The Office Group set out to consolidate the design language of the exterior to be truer to the original architecture; open up the poorly connected spaces; revitalise the dated interiors; and create a versatile, considered set of workspaces that prioritise user wellbeing and make sustainability a core principle of the design approach.
“Our first instinct is to refurbish and reposition existing buildings where we can. We’re always ambitious with each project and the scale of Chancery House presented a wonderful opportunity to create a building that is beautiful and has an exceptional range of amenities. Full of challenges along the way, it needed a true collaboration with dMFK Architects and Norm, both of whom were closely aligned to our vision.”
– Sophie Werren, lead architect, The Office Group
dMFK Architects reconfigured the ground-floor structure for improved flow, and lowered the sills on the façade to improve the building’s visual relationship with the street. An enlarged main entrance on to Chancery Lane gives Chancery House a stronger sense of occasion when arriving and departing. A dramatic metallic frame reminiscent of vault doors draws inspiration from the Silver Vaults below.
“By opening up the building and enhancing its relationship with its context, we were able to create interesting views to green spaces, bring natural light into the interior and lower floors with carefully planned courtyards and lightwells, and give the building a new lease on life. The result is calm, considered and people-centric – it embodies everything that The Office Group and dMFK Architects believe in.”
– Ben Knight, Director, dMFK Architects
Prioritising wellbeing, empowering work
Recognising that the world of work has changed since the building’s last incarnation, Chancery House has been consciously developed to deliver real choice in how and where people spend time in the workplace. Work areas and meeting rooms are available to suit every need – from configurable desk banks and executive offices to phone and focus zones acoustically optimised for video calls and conferences. Break-out and social spaces are woven throughout, including a ground-floor café, library, event space and multiple lounges across the ground and lower-ground floors.
dMFK Architects' design for the space prioritises natural light and natural ventilation, with opening windows added to the central courtyard façade, and advanced mechanisms for monitoring air quality introduced internally – helping Chancery House towards its target of Platinum-level WELL certification.4,000 sq ft are dedicated to fitness and physical wellbeing, with a fully equipped gym, including private, one-person exercise areas, as well as a yoga studio, a reformer Pilates studio and an infra-red sauna. Wellness amenities include a recharge room equipped with Bluetooth for listening to music, and a multifunctional room offering space for meditation and prayer, or for parents and carers needing privacy. Open-air terraces, planted with flowers and greenery, ensure there is always somewhere alfresco to retreat to for a mind-refreshing change of scene.
Sustainable construction and operations
As a retrofit, the development of Chancery House has focused on the reuse and repair of the existing building fabric to the greatest extent possible, ensuring that waste and carbon emissions – both embodied and operational – are minimal in comparison to the alternative of demolition and new build. One of the most dramatic changes is the transformation of a car park into a landscaped, publicly accessible urban garden, in collaboration with Spacehub, a company specialising in landscape architecture, urban design and ecology. Instead of facilities for cars, Chancery House now has improved facilities for more sustainable modes of transport, with former plant rooms in the basement converted into end-of-journey amenities including bike stores, showers and changing rooms.Other areas of greenery – including a green roof and numerous planted terraces – are watered by a rainwater-harvesting system (which also flushes the toilets). The building’s new cladding and paving is made from WasteBasedBricks® by StoneCycling, which incorporate a minimum of 60% recycled building waste. All materials used have been selected for quality and durability, maximising the longevity of the building.Photovoltaic panels on the rooftop generate clean energy for the building, helping Chancery House houses case for an Excellent BREEAM rating.
Naturally calming interiors
Chancery House’s interiors have been designed by Norm Architects. Echoing dMFK Architects' approach to the exterior, Norm’s vision is rooted in the essence of the existing building, and its connection to the architecture of the surrounding neighbourhood.
A calming, honest material palette of red brick, sandstone and concrete dominates the building’s interior, punctuated by touches of brushed and polished stainless steel in homage to the London Silver Vaults below. Looking beyond the building itself, Norm has ensured its colour and material selection references the wider setting, while also generating a sense of warmth, comfort and tactility.
“The Office Group has mastered the balance of usability and aesthetics; always rethinking how work life can be improved. Their strong focus on design is key to achieving that and, for us as designers, that makes the process a joy.”
– Sofie Thorning, Architect & Partner, Norm Architects