White Collar Factory

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, London, 2017


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The building sits on the Old Street roundabout in London 

Timothy Soar     Download Original

  • The building sits on the Old Street roundabout in London    
  • The area is dubbed the     
  • Perforated, solid and glazed elements make up the exterior    
  • Exterior glazing    
  • The running track    
  • The basement    
  • The irregularity of the site provided a unique opportunity to optimise structural grids resulting in RC flat slabs spanning over 12m, aided by only five internal columns    
  • The stairwell    
  • One of the workspaces    
  • The use of ‘concrete core cooling’ (dubbed CCC) takes full advantage of the concrete structure’s thermal mass by running cold water pipes through it to keep surface temperatures low    
  • Cafe space    
  • Floor plans    
  • Roof plan    
  • Long section    
  • South elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Axonometric drawing    
  • Reception desk detail    

With BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum status, AHMM’s central London office scheme has strong environmental credentials.

White Collar Factory is the product of 20 years of collaboration with Derwent London. What began as a research project into the design of an idealised 21st-century office building evolved over time into a suite of six buildings on an urban block next to Old Street roundabout. The overriding concept of WCF is for simple, stripped-back spaces that offer flexibility. This manifests itself in simple gestures such as exposed lift shafts bouncing light into office spaces or doors pushing back to sit flush with the walls in order to lure people towards the stairs, to more dramatic examples, such as the route of the rooftop maintenance unit doubling as a running track for tenants.

Suspended ceilings and the usual mechanical installations have been stripped out, creating 3.5m ceiling heights that lay bare extraction ducts, CCTV cameras and bespoke LED tube light fittings.

The use of ‘concrete core cooling’ (dubbed CCC) takes full advantage of the concrete structure’s thermal mass by running cold water pipes through it to keep surface temperatures low, while traffic-light systems dotted around each floor signal when windows can be opened in order to more efficiently cool the building, at which point the mechanical ventilation will be shut off. These 2m-high openable windows sit behind the punched aluminium sheets that cover the tower’s elevations.

When this natural ventilation is employed, 70 per cent of the floor area can be cooled, with mechanical boosts available for particularly hot days or areas. These perforated, solid and glazed elements that make up the exterior slightly shift depending on the tower’s orientation to keep things easier to control; to the north the perforated panels are slim, maximising daylight, and to the south and west there are wider, two-panel sections to temper direct sunlight throughout the day. 

In the foyer, giant pendant lights can be moved around on a snaking bright yellow rail, scissor-jacked ‘butchers’ block’ reception desks can be wheeled about and raised or lowered and panels taken from Braithwaite water tanks cover the security barriers. The concrete that dominates the exterior of the lower levels and the interiors is the result of carefully selecting a series of grains and board sizes, casting these against a REKLI liner to make a mould and then placing this in the steel shutter. The result is a highly curated and textured shuttering pattern, where one can spot duplicates of the wood textures. 


  • Begun: Mar 2014
  • Completed: Feb 2017
  • Floor area: 39,285m2
  • Sector: Office
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • CO2 Emissions: 16.3kg/m2/year
  • Address: 1 Old Street Yard, London, EC1Y 8AF, United Kingdom

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