When 99 Bishopsgate was completed in 1976, it had the fastest lifts in Europe, travelling at up to 6.5 metres-per-second up and down the 25 floors of the building. Designed by GMW Architects (Gollins Melvin Ward Partnership, who were subsumed into Scott Brownrigg in 2015), it is notable for a slight bulge running vertically up the centre of each facade and a horizontal black stripe around halfway up the tower. While the building is a commercial skyscraper, a public right of way exists through the building as part of the City of London ‘highwalk’ system, connecting a pedestrian bridge over London Wall to the walkways around the neighbouring Tower 42 (aka the Natwest tower). 99 Bishopsgate was heavily damaged in 1993 by a truck bomb detonated by the Provisional IRA, which destroyed the nearby St Ethelburga’s church and also damaged Tower 42. It re-opened in mid-1995 as a multi-let office tower and is currently owned (leasehold) by Hammerson and managed by CBRE Group.
Thirteen years ago I was lucky enough to live in the centre of Shoreditch. I loved the area very much and although it has changed a lot since, I have remained greatly attached to the edge of the City and its amazingly rich history. I found the location of 99 Bishopsgate extremely inspiring. The juxtaposition of verticality and horizontality is striking and I love the fact that it is a crossroad joining the futuristic side of the City to its ancient history, with resonant street names like London Wall, Moorgate and of course Bishopsgate I knew instantly that I wanted it the music to be led by electric organs, with drums and woodwinds interrupting the linear repetitive melodic lines. I had in mind a medieval procession transported into an ultra-modern architectural environment: Baroque Music by way of Wendy Carlos.
London-based French composer Angèle David-Guillou makes audacious music that explores the interaction between rhythm and melody, structure and emotion, permanence and change. Writing for the piano, string and saxophone ensembles, voices and most recently the pipe organ, David-Guillou is particularly interested in how melodies create, rather than them emanate from, rhythm and structure. She previously performed as a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter under the alias Klima, but more recently released an album under her own name, entitled En Mouvement album (on Village Green). The record finds her exploring a wide range of influences, from the music of Philip Glass and the art-house films of Andrei Tarkovsky to contemporary dance performances, Sufi writings, and Sumerian art.