Bold New Look For Old City Hall

By M@ Last edited 7 months ago

Last Updated 27 November 2023

Bold New Look For Old City Hall
New look City Hall with green plants on all levels
"The Mossy Ribcage"? Image Gensler

The former City Hall building near Tower Bridge could be getting a radical new makeover.

Until recently, the building was home to the Mayor, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority (GLA). They upped-sticks to a site in the Royal Docks in late 2021, leaving the Thames-side landmark entirely empty. That could change.

Plans have now surfaced showing a radical overhaul. Each level would be remodelled to provide wraparound balconies, while the front face would be partially hollowed out into a more open structure. The effect is undeniably eye-catching, though we can't help seeing a rib-cage, overgrown with plant life.

Old City Hall near Tower Bridge in morning haze
How the old City Hall currently looks. Image Matt Brown

The plans have been teased by the building's landlords, the Kuwaiti-owned St Martins Property Investments. We only have this one concept image to go on, and a few hints about their intent for a "forward-looking, mixed-use destination". Their scheme would see cafes, shops and restaurants at ground level with office space above. The glass cladding would be entirely replaced from the grimy-looking grey panels to something more environmentally up-to-date.

It's a particularly tough building to rejuvenate. City Hall was designed in the late 1990s by Foster + Partners for a very specific purpose: to house the Mayor, Assembly and GLA. Its sweeping spiral plan and large debating chamber don't lend themselves to obvious reuse (though, Londonist readers had a few ideas, including an indoor skate park, a cat cafe and, um, a Museum of Helmets).

The designs by architects Gensler and landscape architects LDA Design are still under development and we're some way off formal planning permission. But may we be the first to dub it the Mossy Ribcage?