Vinegar Yard. London Bridge. Image: Miller Hare

A new urban garden will be created at Vinegar Yard. Image: Plomp

Mayor of London Approves KPF-Designed London Bridge Life Sciences Hub

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has approved the KPF-designed Vinegar Yard planning application. The major life-sciences led, mixed-use development – designed in partnership with CIT Developments for St Thomas Bermondsey Limited – is one of the first buildings within the SC1 Life Science and Innovation District at London Bridge.

Vinegar Yard is designed to accommodate flexible medical use and to support the emerging Guy’s and St Thomas’s medical and research hub, alongside retail, commercial and affordable workspace. A new urban garden and additional public realm improvements will contribute to Southwark Council’s ongoing work to improve connections across the borough and regenerate the wider area.

KPF brought extensive experience of successful life sciences-led development around the world to the UK, working on this key project at London Bridge and also at Canary Wharf, where KPF was recently appointed as the architect of Europe’s largest commercial lab.

Healthcare and life sciences are rapidly evolving disciplines that require highly-resilient buildings that are designed for a loose-fit and a long-life, with the potential to be refitted in response to the changing requirements of tenants and the potential of new technologies. The design team worked closely with the GLA and Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, using the Guys and St Thomas Adaptable Estates Strategy to allow flexible medical and R&D use. This included increased floor-to-floor heights, a more rigid structure to control vibration, and spatial provision for systems to support healthcare use.

The new building sits at the heart of a district that has seen extraordinary regeneration and physical changes in recent years: the construction of The Shard, the redevelopment of London Bridge station, and the revitalisation of many of the area’s historic buildings and post-war housing estates. In response, KPF have created a building with a distinctive stepped profile, rising to 20 storeys, composed as a series of carefully assembled volumes that respond to the sensitivities of the immediate context. Inspired by traditional warehouse architecture, the facades are differentiated through subtle variations within a palette of brick, terracotta, stone and glazing.

At its base, the building is active on all sides, with retail frontages and visual and physical permeability that will animate the new urban garden and surrounding streets. Above, its stepped arrangement creates a series of outdoor landscaped terraces for use by occupants. Small gardens also animate the façade and provide additional outdoor green space.

As part of the scheme, the existing warehouse building at 9 Fenning Street will be retained and converted into a community-focussed space, with ground floor retail and a first floor that can accommodate meetings, events and exhibitions.

The design team are targeting a BREEAM Outstanding rating and WELL Building Institute Gold standard with Platinum Fit-out. A high-performance façade, mixed-mode ventilation, all electric system, air-source heat pumps and integrated photovoltaics contribute to the commitment to achieve net-zero operational carbon.

A 27% reduction in embodied carbon has been set against the GLA Benchmark and the project is targeting embodied carbon below 800 kgCO2e/m2. For a longer lifespan, the facades are composed of fixed, solid spandrels with window infills, as opposed to a curtain wall system, allowing for easier targeted repair or replacement.

John Bushell, Design Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, said:

“We are delighted that Vinegar Yard has received planning consent. It’s been a long journey, but hugely rewarding, to deliver a design that places this building at the heart of London’s new central life sciences and innovation district. Life sciences are an increasingly important element in the UK property sector, and our experience around the world tells us that life sciences innovation blossoms within a thriving mixed-use neighbourhood. That is central to our approach at Vinegar Yard, and we are looking forward to seeing it take shape.

“Connecting the benefits of the development with Southwark’s diverse community is just as vital to the success of our building and the SC1 District. We have listened and directly responded to local aspirations so that the scheme delivers lasting improvements to the borough.”

Ewen Puffett, Director at CIT, commented:

“We welcome the decision by the Mayor of London to approve the application for Vinegar Yard, a truly transformative development that will unlock this site’s potential as a place for health and creativity. It will drive improvements to health and wealth across the area, creating jobs and contributing to London’s post-Covid recovery.

“The project is the product of over five years of hard work and close collaboration with both the Greater London Authority, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Trust, Kings College London, Southwark Council, and our local community, reflecting CIT’s commitment to the area with a vision to bring a lasting and positive social and economic impact to London Bridge.”

KPF’s expertise in life sciences and innovation districts includes Channelside in Boston, CUNY Advanced Science Research Centre in New York, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Download the full press release here.