Concrete Elegance: The Soffit and The Staircase


'A facade of jenga, a soffit of jazz and a wall of interlocking treads'

55 Gee Street, London
Alfred Munkenbeck, Munkenbeck and Partners
This long, thin office building in the heart of Clerkenwell is a mixed-use building with six, high quality apartments; perched on top. In terms of design, the facade resembles a Jenga block game, made up of extruded airbricks, randomly piled up. The bricks allow ventilation through the wall without having to make the glass panels move. The glazing is set far in and fully shaded from the south sun.
The office building has an experimental air mixing ventilation system, combined with exposed concrete soffits for thermal mass. The perforated brick facade allows for natural cross ventilation which means the internal office space should not require cooling or heating whilst the outside temperature remains between 0 and 28 deg C ; which is about 11 months of the year. It is a very low- energy use building.
Main Contractor: Morgan Sindall plc

Kensington Church Street, London
Tom Holbrook, 5th Studio
The house is in the Kensington Palace Conservation Area of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. It involved the reuniting to two maisonettes in a house clumsily extended and partitioned into three separate properties in the mid-1980s. Insitu concrete was the material of choice.
Working with Sam Price of Price & Myers, who has extensive knowledge of the cantilevered staircases often seen in Georgian houses, where the ability of the treads themselves to transfer forces to the ground allows a delicacy of structure. This allowed us to make something visceral and substantial, yet light and perforated, in concrete.

Free to attend. Booking essential.