The Mercers’ Company, a City of London Livery Company established by Royal Charter in 1394, commissioned Ian Ritchie Architects to develop the space between Mercer Street and Langley Street in Covent Garden. The £22m scheme was completed in November 2016 with tenants taking occupation through to Spring 2017.
The design enhances and complements the surrounding urban realm and was applauded as outstanding by Westminster City Council planning committee when permission was granted. Simple, elegant and beautifully detailed groups of individual buildings reflect the historic typology and architectural appeal of this conservation area.
A new, contemporary central piazza forms the focal point of the development, accessed from both Langley and Mercer Streets. The development is part of a new pedestrian route from Upper St Martins’ Lane to Neal Street, with the last link from Langley Street to Neal Street yet to be completed.
The piazza is orientated to optimise sun exposure. Blue Belgian Limestone slabs and setts and white granite setts are arranged in a regular chequered pattern along the streets, giving way to a more elaborate pavement design in the piazza’s centre.
The refurbishment of 13-14 Langley Street, an original 19th Century Covent Garden warehouse, to create a new flagship retail store within visual reach of the busy Long Acre–Langley Street junction provides an architectural feature designed to draw pedestrians in from Long Acre. Brick bands on the retained east façade wrap onto the rebuilt south façade and determine the proportions of the three large, multi-story vertical and arched glazed openings whose detailing recalls the adjoining brewery buildings in Shelton Street.
The three new mixed-use buildings provide retail and restaurant space at ground and basement levels with 24 residential apartments on the upper floors. The North Building is formed around one central core. The South-East and South-West Buildings share a residential courtyard. A 4-story cast aluminium screen marks the entrance to the courtyard and creates a visual link between the central piazza and Langley Street. Behind it the buildings are linked by covered walkways at each floor.
The new buildings are faced in different colours of brick to ensure continuity with existing buildings in the area. The window reveals for each building are distinct yet subtle variations of the Georgian window style found throughout Covent Garden. All the residential apartments have external space in the form of loggias. Set back within the building’s footprint, they create a distinct language for each building.
The unusual, intricately detailed cast aluminium folding privacy screens for the loggias are a key architectural feature of the development. In various bright colours, they contrast with each individual building’s brickwork, giving liveliness and visual delight to the courtyard.
We have since been commissioned to do Phase 2 of Mercer Walk, which is the internal transformation of the building on Long Acre.