Fitzroy Robinson and Partners ,1980Angel Court
|Borough||City of London|
Angel Court was one of the first developments to introduce a showy American aesthetic to commercial office building in the City. The rather dark and stumpy tower may fail to achieve any distinction on the skyline, but at ground level the development meshes well with the historic scale of the City’s lanes and streets.
Completed for the Clothworkers’ Company, Angel Court is announced first on Throgmorton Street by a small building finished in polished purple Dakota marble and with dark smoked glass. The façade of this building is made up of chamfered bay windows and this is repeated throughout the entire development to form its central architectural motif. A gateway within the street front gives way to an intimate courtyard where the development extends north through a range of uniformly finished buildings to Copthall Avenue. The scale of this space and its apparently random geometry with flower beds matches that of the historic City lanes elsewhere in the area and marked something of a departure from the vast forecourts and decks of earlier developments such as those along London Wall and neighbouring Drapers’ Gardens. The climax of Angel Court is a rough octagon tower of 21 storeys that extends the bays and marble skywards. Its reflective windows and robust marble skin gives it an impenetrable feeling of solidity. It is best appreciated at ground level looking up rather than from afar.
Angel Court’s styling marks a shift in the architectural taste of the City. Its materials and their newness define the development rather than any structural daring. It borrows heavily from a North American sense of display and richness. This can be felt from its façade treatment, but also in the fussy ironwork around its entrances. This type of styling was to become commonplace throughout the 1980s and early 1990s via the various efforts of post-modernism to create glitzy landmark offices for the emerging dynamic free-market economy.
Angel Court also marks a shift in the City’s planning goals. Despite the sense of architectural newness, the development made late provision for the Corporations quickly defunct ped-way network. This network aimed at establishing the vertical separation of traffic and people and would have extended all over the City from the Barbican via London Wall down to the Thames. All new commercial developments were obliged accommodate the scheme from 1963 onwards until the project was abandoned during the late 1970s. This obsolete addition now blights one end of Angel Court. At Copthall Avenue a dark and sealed-off ramp rises up to a bridge over the street to an ancillary building across the street, similarly finished in Dakota marble, This bridge linked the scheme to the now demolished Drapers Garden development. However, neither were ever connected to anything else nor do they traverse any busy traffic arteries. This rather absurd situation highlights the once rigid planning aims of the City and the confidence with which they were conceived.
Angel Court today, continues to be popular with commercial tenants. Its location and shiny marble has ensured it will not age easily and its distinctive façade motifs have recently been the subject of an online marketing strategy. At the One Angel Court website, the logo of the development is formed through the highlighting of the towers’ bay windows viewed from ground level.