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Planning achieved for landmark hotel opposite Imperial War Museum, Waterloo 

Studio Moren has won planning permission for a landmark 355-room hotel on a prominent corner in the Waterloo area of London, directly opposite the Grade II listed Imperial War Museum. Having acquired the site following previous unsuccessful attempts at securing planning, Palm Holdings appointed Studio Moren to rigorously re-evaluate the project and its context to produce a completely fresh design solution, which won over planners at Lambeth Council and the GLA.

Studio Moren saw the potential of the prominent site to support increased density in a way that was sensitive to neighbouring residents and without requiring complete demolition of the existing hotel. The winning proposal refurbishes and extends the existing six-storey hotel on the site and adds a new-build landmark 14-storey tower extension, more than doubling the existing key count. The internal layouts maximise space and efficiency, and add a dynamic combination of standard guest rooms and suites designed to appeal to a range of hotel brands.

The proposal embodies innovation in improving local public amenity to increase much-needed footfall to local businesses while showcasing how more can be done to work toward a net-zero carbon future. The decision to retain the existing building reduces significant amounts of construction carbon emissions, whilst the redevelopment as a whole has been designed to reduce carbon emissions by nearly double those required by building regulations.

“Our clients live locally and one of their chief desires for this project is for it to be a positive benefit to their community. We are pleased that their trust in our expertise and direction to fully achieve their aspirations for this site has been rewarded.”

Dexter Moren Partner Studio Moren

“We are absolutely delighted to have finally received full planning permission for the Waterloo Hub Hotel. We have worked with Dexter and his team at Studio Moren since acquiring the hotel in September 2019, undertaking a forensic analysis of the previous dismissal and developing an innovative solution to unlock the site and meet the approval of planners."

Sheetal Kapoor CEO Palm Holdings

The proposed interventions to the existing hotel focused on upgrades to its building fabric, fenestration and quality of accommodation. Studio Moren’s comprehensive approach includes a metal-clad roof extension, new accessible rooms and innovative window pods to replace the existing fenestration of the principal façades, which expand the guest rooms, give more privacy, and incorporate decentralised ventilation systems to each room.

The design of the landmark tower extension was carefully developed to gain wide-spread public support. Appreciating the history of neighbouring residents objecting to previous planning applications, the design team began to actively engage with public stakeholders including Lambeth Council, their Design Review Panel, residents and business community groups throughout the design process.

Having taken on board local concerns and feeding them back into the design process, Studio Moren successfully optimised the bulk and siting of the tower massing to maintain satisfactory daylight and sunlight to neighbouring residences and to address concerns of perceived overdevelopment.

The design of the 14-storey extension and ground-level link building emerged from an evaluation of the existing architecture on site, the emerging local character of Lambeth and the site’s history.

Lambeth’s Design Review Panel noted the potential for this redevelopment to have greater personality, character and activity owing to the prominent intersection site across from the Imperial War Museum and welcomed the design approach.

Studio Moren designed a striking, dark brick building with gold-coloured metal accents and balconies, to complement the architecture of the existing hotel, enliven all tower façades and restore a prominence to the area that the former Surrey Lodge, an ornate Victorian brick building with an arcade of shopfronts, once expressed on this site. Studio Moren took cues from the Surrey Lodge by treating the entire ground-level link with glazed active frontage to extend it visually to the public, creating a new place within the community to eat, drink and work.

Although the principle of a tall building on this site was deemed acceptable by planners, the height of the tower raised concerns with heritage bodies given the site’s proximity to Lambeth Palace and protected local viewpoints along the river Thames. The design team and Lambeth Council were aligned in evidencing that the scheme would have no negative impacts on local and national heritage assets, with the GLA commenting: “While the new hotel wing would be taller than buildings in its immediate surroundings, the step up in height is considered appropriate at this key junction and would serve to improve legibility and wayfinding as a local landmark.”

"As the hotel is close to where my family live, our approach from the outset has been to ensure maximum sustainability and proactive engagement with our local neighbours and community. This will be our legacy project for which we, the local community and all stakeholders will be extremely proud.”

Sheetal Kapoor CEO at Palm Holdings

Working together with Phil Allen Design, an integrated landscape has been created which includes converting a service yard into a restaurant garden, replacing the existing landscaped forecourt with nearly three times as many new trees and shrubs, landscaped breakout areas, and a new arrival garden on Lambeth Road. The proposal positively contributes to the Urban Greening Factor for the site, achieves a net gain of biodiversity on ground level and roofs, and maximises biophilic design features for occupants and the community.

The redevelopment is targeting BREEAM Excellent and has been designed to reduce carbon emissions by 66% over building regulations. In combination with air source heaet pumps, a substantial roof PV array and going all electric, the sustainable approach to this design will significantly decrease the energy demand typically required from the grid, an endeavour that Studio Moren Senior Designer and sustainability champion Bryan Oknyansky, AIA, notes is quickly becoming the new normal.