London's Victoria is abuzz with development, and what (astonishingly) used to be a somewhat overlooked part of the city centre, will soon inspire renewed excitement as a coveted spot to live, work and play.
Developer Land Securities has a central role in the area's transformation. Injecting a much-needed residential element into Victoria Street – the neighbourhood's main circulation and commercial vein – was top of their list. The first residential project to reach completion is Kings Gate, a luxurious new building comprising 100 units and retail on the ground level.
The architect, Patrick Lynch, has been working on the project since 2010 and is the brains behind its attractive, cleverly articulated facade. 'Placing a residential building, Kings Gate, onto Victoria Street was tricky in technical terms and in terms of architectural decorum,' he says. 'The challenge was to find an architectural character and scale of facade that enabled a multitude of private lives – secreted behind stone piers and balconies – to encounter the very public territory of office blocks and its immediate neighbour, Westminster City Hall.'
Lynch's aim was to create 'useful, virtuous, beautiful architecture, on the basis that these are the reasons why buildings become sustainable and why they endure as part of a city'. Producing long lasting architecture is strongly connected to the quality of its public spaces and details, such as door handles, are as important as the overall urban mass of a project. At the same time, the apartment interiors are by Millier Design.
The building forms a pair with the next-door Zig Zag Building, also by Lynch, which caters for commercial uses. 'Together they create a series of shared public spaces,' explains the architect. He is now working on detail design drawings on two more projects for Land Securities at the western end of Victoria Street, just a few hundred yards from Kings Gate. Nova Place (including a new public library for Westminster City Council) and Nova East will complete the constellation of mixed-use high-end constructions that will help define the new Victoria.
A book by Patrick Lynch, coming out this month, entitled Mimesis (Artifice Books, 2016) investigates the issues touches by these projects and the ancient question of poetics in architecture and its role in our visual imagination.