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Filtering by Tag: Building Tour

Exchange House Lecture and Visit - 20 September

Fiona Mckay


AIA/UK gathered at Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s London office on the 20th of September to celebrate the 2015 AIA 25-year award given to Exchange House. The evening featured a presentation on the project by Kent Jackson, Dmitri Jajich, and Graham Wiseman, all of SOM representing the architectural, structural and master planning aspects of the multidisciplinary design. The group then visited Exchange House (adjacent to SOM’s office), including a tour of the lobby, award plaque recently installed on the building , and drinks in Exchange Square. 

The project was selected for the award by AIA National for its clear and elegant solution to the constraints of the site which spans over railroad tracks of Liverpool Street Station. Designed in an era when local planners favoured historicist buildings clad in stone which were sympathetic to the older buildings in London, Exchange House challenged this with a brave and direct expression of its structure. 

The team showed design studies and development of the arch shape including different heights, curved and faceted profiles, and even an inverted catenary option. The final design was selected for its optimal structural efficiency. The arches on the two primary facades were held away from the building’s glass enclosure as a means of protection from fire within the building. 

At ground level, the project helped to frame the new Exchange Square at the center of the Broadgate masterplan (also above the railroad tracks). Also, the building’s clear span has enabled a strong connection between Exchange Square and the rapidly-developing area of Shoreditch to the north. 

Exchange House is the first project in the UK to win the AIA 25-year award. The project’s completion also coincided closely with the creation of SOM’s office in London , and the creation of AIA’s UK Chapter of which SOM was a founding member.

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King's Cross Gasholders Tour - 16 September 2016

Fiona Mckay

On Friday the 9th of September 2016, AIA UK members and guests met at Argent's King's Cross redevelopment scheme to tour the Gasholder residential buildings. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre, the three building 145 unit apartment project is scheduled for completion early next year.  The tour was led by Wilkinson Eyre's project architect, Jeff Lee.  Tour attendees earned 1 continuing education learning unit for participation.  

The Gasholder project is the "jewel in the crown" for developer Argent and provides the developments high end luxury residential offer.  The estimated construction cost for the three buildings is circa £125m.  This figure includes £16m for the restoration of four gasholder structures.  Studio apartments start at £800,000 and prices rise to over £10m for a three bed penthouse.

The key feature and design driver of the project is the reuse of three 1867 grade II listed gasholders.  Although not reconstructed in their original position, the gasholders really define the project's design.  The design concept provides three drums of accommodation at differing heights to suggest the movement of the original gasholders, which would have risen up or down depending on the pressure of the gas within.  A fourth gasholder structure is located at the centre of the gasholder structural frames and forms an open courtyard.  

The building volumes are contained within each of the gasholder structural frames.  This structural expression is further enhanced by a system of operable and static metal panels that can be used to control the environmental conditions inside the apartments.  The dark steel cladding contrasts with other elements of brass and bronze. 

Inside, the apartments are linked by a series of circular walkways around a central courtyard in each building.  This brings natural light into the building's core and circulation corridors. Rooftop landscaping connects nature with the surrounding urban landscape. 

The project presented real challenges for the design team, as everything was dictated by the gasholder structures.  The result is a fantastic celebration of King's Cross' industrial heritage. Wilkinson Eyre's design has brought the gasholders back to a new life and Argent is to be commended for having the courage to undertake such a unique project!

Article by Michael Lischer FAIA

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Fiona Mckay

On the 3rd of September, Paul Jozefowski, Project Director at National Theatre, provided an inside look into the development and construction of The Shed, by Haworth Thompkins. After winning awards and accolades numbering in the double digits, including our own AIA UK Excellence in Design in 2014, he informed us that the temporary structure’s life was extended into 2017, staying open even after the refurbishment and opening of Cottesloe Theatre. Many of us have remarked on the bright red modern re-interpretation of the National Theatre – noting the clever use of a timber slat façade reflecting the Brutalist board-form concrete of the renowned 1970’s theatre. The Shed undoubtedly stands out amongst the backdrop of the NT and revitalized Southbank area. Although our curiosity has been piqued by the exterior, perhaps not many of us have found our way inside the 225 seat dark (but not black!) box.

Mr. Jozefowski described the process behind the development and execution of such an ambitious project, given the limited budget of just over £1million. The collaboration between the architects, theatre consultants (Charcoalblue) and the many National Theatre members involved in the process brought new heights to the theatre, while still being quick (one year to design and build), cheap (in construction and operation) and environmental friendly. The form derived from the structural solution to building a temporary theatre on top of a car park, creating chimneys for natural ventilation, maximizing seating and views while providing flexible space, and a direct connection to the iconic National Theatre.

While the tour group sat in the balcony level seats, the set builders and lighting engineers below were assembling the set and suspended lighting truss for the upcoming production, Pomona. Due to the unexpected support and interest in The Shed, and the apparent need for theatrical venues of this size in London, the NT management have been inspired by its success. However, Mr Jozefowski insists that we must “say goodbye” to The Shed in April 2017. The design has inspired great performances and productions inside the theatre, but also inspires all those passers-by to stop, peak in and perhaps see a show they wouldn't otherwise. If you have not already - go see it for yourself!

Author: Frederick Grier

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Fiona Mckay

On April 9th 2015 AIA UK continued our tradition of fun and educational events with a special edition of our on-going series of building tours.

The White Building, by David Kohn Architects, is a centre for art technology and sustainability.  It is an incubator for discursive and innovative thought.  It serves as a testing ground and creative laboratory for artists and creative whose work engages with technology.  It is also the home of craft brewery CRATE. The White Building was commissioned by the London Legacy Development Corporation as part of the “Olympic Fringe” – a string of small-scale projects aimed at stitching the Olympic Park into the surrounding city fabric.  

David Kohn was on hand to give us an introduction and a tour of the arts facilities and events places.  The brewery bar, occupying most of the ground floor, is build of exposed blockwork walls and steel-framed windows and was intended to act as a focal hub – to feel like a courtyard that connected to the adjacent canalside.  The arts spaces upstairs are dominated by the undulating ceiling of sheep’s wool stuffed into large red nets – crating a distinctive interior with excellent thermal and acoustic performance.  David explained that with such a tight budget it was essential to strip the design to the minimum. 

Following that James Kellow from Crate Brewery took the group on a tour of the “brew shed” and gave a presentation on craft brewing - explaining in detail the subtleties of the different beers on hand to sample as well as the process of making.  After many samples, including some direct from the giant tanks, the tour concluded with pizza and more beer back in the brewery bar. 

For those who missed it you can petition the AIA UK board to make it a regular annual feature on the calendar. Both James and David would be happy to accommodate us again.

Author: Robert Rhodes

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Fiona Mckay

Matti Lampila from Piercy&Co lead a wonderful tour of the Turnmill building in Farringdon, which recently reached PC and is now undergoing tenant fit out. Matti's discussions throughout the tour covered a range of topics from the buildings long planning journey to the iconic Roman bricks.

Everyone greatly enjoyed learning more about this new architectural addition to London and especially enjoyed the wonderful views over the city from its rooftop terrace. 

Author: Brianne Hamilton

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Fiona Mckay

On 5 March 2015, Fred Pilbrow of Pilbrow & Partners and Andy Smith, Construction Director, led an informative and inspirational tour of the Francis Crick Institute for the AIA UK chapter, which is currently under construction and in close proximity to St. Pancras station. The design of the world-leading centre for biomedical research was a collaboration between HOK and PLP Architecture while Fred Pilbrow was a design partner at PLP. PLP was invited to collaborate with HOK architects on the development of the design with a particular focus on external massing, public realm design and façade treatment. The building, which was named in honour of British scientist Francis Crick, will serve as a focal point within Camden for the talent and knowledge in the local area with some of London’s leading hospitals and universities nearby. It will also provide scholarships, lab facilities and educational seminars for young students as well as PhD researchers. 

The participants in the tour were able to view several of the labs, which will be fully secured and not open to the public when the building is open later this year. The labs in the main space are located on either side of the central atrium space, which is 40m in height and opens to a public plaza at the main entrance facing St. Pancras. The scientists within these lab areas will enjoy light from all directions and are encouraged to use the centre area as a collaboration space.  The atrium is truly spectacular and the public will be able to enter the main space to experience the grandeur. The AIA UK hosts buildings tours throughout the year to offer architects the opportunity to visit notable buildings in and around London that have particular design interest and integration into the community. The Francis Crick Institute not only stands in the forefront of design, but also in scientific research as it will bring together scientists of all ages and experience levels in order to promote and support experimental and ground-breaking research.

Author: Elizabeth Waters

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