The Music Box, Union Street, London
Already being lauded as one of London’s most eye-catching and architecturally inspired developments, the Music Box on Union Street offers spectacular views of the City’s iconic landmarks. The private terraces of the 7 penthouse duplex apartments are able to draw upon the breathtaking skyline using Glazing Vision’s innovative free-standing box skylights.
Designed by Trevor Morris, Principal at SPPARC Architecture, this mixed-use development is located in a vibrant, cultural hub on the Southbank, and was completed in late 2016 by developer Taylor Wimpey. Situated on a small plot between a railway viaduct and a prized Fifties council estate, these impressive 44-metre tall, glass building houses not only offer 41 luxurious apartments but are also the new flagship HQ of the London Centre for Contemporary Music (LCCM). This ultimately inspired the development’s name. The school, which counts Amy Winehouse amongst its alumni, is the City’s best academy for modern music students. The bottom 6 floors accommodate recording studios, rehearsal rooms, a library, and a basement performance venue, as well as classrooms and study areas.
Music as the key note
Architect Trevor Morris was keen to “reference the music” in the aesthetics of the project build, as well as bring as much natural daylight into the building as possible to create a feeling of openness throughout. A cube-shaped residential building is delicately positioned over a 15 metre high base with a large glazed section, imposing onto the street and offering glimpses into the music college. The base, which is the LCCM’s part of the building, is faced with a white ceramic brick interrupted by a textured 3-dimensional band to represent musical notes. This has apparently been arranged in a way that matches the music of Cream’s “The White Room”.
All 4 faces of the upper residential floors are distinguished by prominent, vertical enamel solar spines, which are reminiscent of piano keys and reference the music college below. These feature “fins” are intended to provide a varying appearance to the building, architecturally mimicking the changing movements in contemporary music.
Floor to ceiling windows throughout the 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments ensure that there is an abundance of natural daylight, and the spacious living areas are luxuriously furnished with discreet LED lighting, plush carpeting and high quality kitchens and appliances. Each of the 7 exceptional duplex apartments on the upper floor, which were marketed as the CODA collection, have the additional benefit of a private roof-top terrace that is accessed through Glazing Vision’s free-standing box skylight.
Glazing Vision’s free-standing box skylight unlocks roof space
The box skylight is more than simply a “glass box on the roof”. For investors and developers alike it crucially unlocks commercially valuable and highly sought-after roof space, thereby enhancing the sales value per m2, and for the resident it positively impacts on the living dynamic of the property. Ultimately, the resulting roof terrace becomes an additional “room” for entertaining and relaxing.
For SPPARC Architecture, for whom creating an energy efficient building with sustainable materials was an essential tenet of the design process, the free-standing box skylight offered the additional benefit of being thermally efficient, through the use of its thermally broken framework and the inclusion of a solar control glass coating from Saint Gobain, which reduces solar gain but still maintains effective levels of light transmission.
Glazing Vision precision-engineered bespoke free-standing box skylights to meet the unique requirements of each of the 7 roof terraces, and pre-assembled them in the factory for easy installation on site. The combination of the lack of visible kerb fixings through the use of an extruded external clip-on cover, the perfectly edged glass-to-glass interfaces and the sleek aluminium framework in a timeless slate grey exterior finish, was key to creating a contemporary, architectural roof-top sculpture that would compliment the sophisticated aesthetic of these penthouse apartments.
Furthermore, access to the rooftop had to be easy and practical – and Glazing Vision’s free-standing box skylight more than met these criteria. Access to the box skylight is by means of a small staircase from the interior of the apartments, and at a touch of a button, the sliding roof retracts to give a 50% clear opening. No need for the resident to “bow his head” as he mounts the stairs and exits the apartment onto the terrace. The operation is quiet and safe – there are solid-state controls with battery back-up and a manual override facility. A toughened solenoid security bolt guarantees security and peace of mind for each of the residents on the penthouse floor. There is also the added value that the flush glazed edges provide water run-off and easy cleaning.
The installation of Glazing Vision’s free-standing box skylights in the Music Box has provided a seamless and harmonious transition from the exterior to the interior in each of these 7 luxurious penthouse apartments. The apartments are bathed in natural daylight during the day, and crowned by stars at night. For the residents, the free-standing box skylight allows them to enjoy the stunning views of London’s inspirational and ever-changing landscape from their “outside living room”.
Client: Taylor Wimpey
Location: Union Street, London SE1