I spent this morning at TfL’s newest home, the Palestra building on Blackfriars Road. When construction began several years ago I used to pass the site every day on my way to work and wonder whether it was ever going to be anything other than an enormous hole, until one day it seemed to emerge from the ground fully formed, dwarfing everything around it.
Some local residents opposed its construction, and it’s not hard to see why: there’s nothing context-friendly about the design, and apart from anything else it blocks the river views of the buildings immediately opposite. But once you’re inside there’s a lot that’s good about it: it’s open-plan without being blandly corporate, the communal areas look like some actual thought went into how and when they would be used, and I only heard good things about the canteen. Plus, they gave me free tea and cake.
More importantly, though, everything that can be done to reduce a building’s emissions is done here. I’m told it’s 100% carbon neutral, although I can’t find any official confirmation of that. But certainly a significant amount of the energy it uses comes from solar panels and wind turbines on the roof (you can see them from the nearby railway line, if you happen to be travelling into Waterloo East). This is all good.
Even better is the view from the eleventh floor, but I’m afraid I didn’t have the guts to ask if anyone minded if I took a photo, so you’ll just have to trust me on that.