5 Broadgate sets a new benchmark for workplace design

5 Broadgate, the newly completed London headquarters of financial services firm UBS, is London’s biggest ‘groundscraper’. Situated in the heart of the City of London’s square mile, and designed by Make Architects for client British Land PLC, the world-class office building provides over 700,000ft2 of new space across 12 floors, and delivers exceptional trading, client and staff facilities.

The ground-breaking design of 5 Broadgate evolved through a harmonious partnership between Make, British Land, UBS, and fit-out specialists TP Bennett, as well as the consultant team and the City of London. The early stages of the design process were carried out in a restricted-access, highly interactive and creative environment that was akin to that of a major research project.

From the outset it was clear that 5 Broadgate would be a quantum-leap forward in the City of London in terms of size, materiality, and commercial and environmental performance. The building has broken new ground and turned conventional office design on its head.

The design evolved from an additive process into a reductive process. 5 Broadgate takes the form of a double cube that has been carved into. A financial engine block with an aura of vault-like security and the crafted precision of a Swiss watch, this single expression evokes a feeling of robustness and solidity, and unifies the functions of the building, creating a new language of quality and precision in the City.

A striking feature of the design is the building’s stainless steel façade, with its bold cutbacks and terraces and sophisticated mix of environmental systems. The cladding system carefully balances natural daylight with high levels of thermal and solar insulation, providing an envelope that is 65 per cent solid. Selected for its durability and aesthetic qualities, 5 Broadgate is one of the largest stainless steel-clad buildings in the world.

The building’s exterior eloquently expresses its key internal features. The angles of the escape stairs are matched by the angle of the glazed slots on the east and west elevations and internally the stairs’ steel support structure has been cranked to match these alignments. Likewise, the lifts have been expressed with vertical slots to maximise the scenic views.


The vertical arrangement of the building begins with a double-height reception and amenity volume at ground level. The section then rises through four trading floors with virtually uninterrupted floorplates, one trading support floor, two conference and visitor facility floors with outdoor terraces, four floors of general offices, and a plant level.

Key to the brief was to consolidate the majority of UBS’s London workforce. There are four football pitch-sized floors with cores pushed to the perimeter. The 13.5m x 12m structural grid ensures long-term spatial flexibility with the potential to accommodate up to 3,000 traders.

It may be one of the biggest but 5 Broadgate is also one of the most sustainable office buildings of its time. Key environmental features include the second biggest array of photovoltaic cells and solar thermal panels in the City of London, a substantial area of green roof, 70 percent waste recycling, FSC-certified timber, and a BREEAM Excellent rating. Overall, 5 Broadgate’s energy conservation level is nearly 50 percent better than required by regulations.

The scheme has also created a new north-south pedestrian link between the centre of Broadgate and Sun Street Passage, which connects to the concourse of Liverpool Street station. Make has designed an Op Art style array of coloured panels for this connection, and the scheme also features a major public artwork by David Batchelor.

Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make, comments: “Seeing 5 Broadgate come to fruition is the culmination of my 40 years in architecture. Our team at Make has been able to raise the benchmark for workplace design and produce a ground-breaking office building which has a remarkably efficient energy-use. Architecturally, there’s nothing else like this building anywhere.”

5 Broadgate represents a powerful vote of confidence in the City of London. Make’s world-class building will play a key part in the next chapter of the Broadgate success story and act as a catalyst for the ongoing regeneration of the area.

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