Bloomberg’s European headquarters has been named the UK’s best new building, winning the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize. The 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize judges were unanimous in their decision to award Bloomberg the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize describing it as a once-in-a-generation project. RIBA President, Ben Derbyshire says it is a monumental achievement.
Designed by Foster + Partners, Bloomberg comprises two buildings, connected by a bridge, which sit either side of newly created public arcade. The arcade reinstates an ancient Roman road called Watling Street, which originally ran through the site.
Bloomberg Arcade is now a key route for people moving around the City, with restaurants and cafes at ground level, set back behind an undulating façade under a covered colonnade. Three public plazas, located at each end of the arcade and in front of the building’s entrance, provide new civic spaces in the heart of the Square Mile.
Its striking façade is defined by a structural sandstone frame, with a series of large-scale bronze fins that shade the floor-to-ceiling glazing. The fins give the building a visual hierarchy and rhythm as they vary in scale, pitch and density across each façade according to orientation and solar exposure, while being an integral part of the building’s natural ventilation system.
Art plays a central role in the project, with major site-specific commissions in and around the building. Cristina Iglesias water sculpture in three parts, Forgotten Streams a homage to the ancient Walbrook River that once flowed through the site defines the public spaces at each end of Bloomberg Arcade. The new Bloomberg building also returns the archaeological remains of the Roman Temple of Mithras to the site of their original discovery, with a new interpretation centre and cultural hub designed to give visitors an immersive experience of the temple and bring the history of the site to life.
The main entrance to Bloomberg is defined by a substantial porte-cochΦre, where the building forms two sides of a new formal city square. Arriving at the main entrance, everyone passes through the reception lobby before being drawn into the Vortex a dramatic double-height space created by three inclined, curving timber shells. From here, high-speed fully-glazed lifts with a unique concealed mechanism another innovation developed specifically for the building carry everyone directly to the sixth floor.
Central to Bloomberg’s ethos, the double-height pantry on the sixth floor is the heart of the building, reflecting the importance of sharing and collaboration at the company. Everyone passes through this animated space, increasing the likelihood of chance meetings and informal discussions.
A distinctive hypotrochoid stepped ramp, characterised by its smooth continuous three-dimensional loop, flows through the full height of the building, adding to the drama of the space. Clad in bronze, the ramp is designed and proportioned as a place of meeting and connection, allowing people to hold brief impromptu conversations with colleagues, whilst not impeding the flow of people.