Before a new development designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the existing building was destroyed from the ground up around its central concrete core, leaving it to look like an ice-lolly or unfinished game of Jenga.
The structure has since been demolished but because of the impact of recession on demand for office space, no new building has been created, work has stopped on site and it was recently announced that the site would be used in the meantime as a city farm.
There's a lot of similar temporary uses of development sites going on in the U.K. just now.
On one level, this is simply short-term commercial pragmatism: do something useful with a development site, preferably something that gets noticed and is socially useful, and so mitigate the decrease in value of the site and its surrounding land were it just to lay fallow.
But I think that there's something going on here beyond temporary measures and it's to do with an instinct for gifting now taking hold in culture - the giving of things unwrapped that don't come in paper bags.
Across culture, millions of people are giving stuff away just now - and it's across the scale.
- Hundreds of millions are sharing knowledge via links and downloads on Twitter
- Thousands of architects are gifting their skills to design structures for communities in crisis, thanks to Architecture for Humanity
- More locally, people in the London Borough of Southwark are giving time to help their neighbors in the Southwark Circle project, created by design consultancy Participle
- Choose What You Read is handing out second hand books at selected London subway stations, giving people the opportunity to choose a novel over a free newspaper
- At the London College of Fashion, M.A. student Alina Moat is running a project that leaves clothes in public spaces to be appropriated by the people who find them
Now some of this might be noticeable because of recession.
There may also be a dimension to it all of selfless selfishness: new age narcissism cloaked in humility.
But people do seem to want to use the public realm to give away or share what they own, permanently or temporarily, in exchange for something else - be it knowledge, shelter or well-being.
There's pure gratuity in here - a socially responsible variant of the early days of Facebook and its extreme-gifting of flowers and donuts.
It is affirmation that people appreciate different ways and means, different media - be it clothes, books, talent or land - to bind people together and generate value.
Perhaps it's noticeable because, like the rise in popularity of social networking, there isn't a shortage of 'content' but ways to exchange and share it, so when an opportunity arrives, it's attractive.
But what seems certain is that in an age that increasingly values social economy, people are recognizing that there's new real estate to be captured and a key to unlocking it comes in the form of a gift.
Image of ACNE bag courtesy of Lastnightstrash.