10 Hills Place / Amanda Levete Architects

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Architect: Amanda Levete Architects
Location: , England
Project Director: Ho-Yin Ng
Project team: Gidon Fuehrer, Chris Geneste, Soren Aagaard, Alan Dempsey – Project Architect, John O’Mara, Michael Mitchell
Client: Clarendon Properties
Main Contractor: Powells Group
Façade: Frener & Reifer
Interiors: Windsor Workshop Ltd.
Constructed Area: 14,220 sqm
Project year: 2007-2009
Photographs: Gidon Fuehrer

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Many narrow streets and alleyways off Oxford Street, London are currently misused and underdeveloped. These under regarded areas are ideal not only for improvement, but also for relatively unconventional design opportunities. Our proposal acknowledges this by providing an architectural intervention that subtly draws attention to the building through the intrigue of a sculptural façade. Inspired by the art work of Lucio Fontana large glazed areas orientated towards the sky are slashed into the façade, maximising the natural light available in this narrow street.

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original building

This sculptural form is achieved using a system of aluminium profiles used in the production of high quality, ship hulls. The facade is fabricated using curved 140mm wide aluminium profiles that are connected together on-site, using a tongue-and-groove system ensuring water-tightness and construction efficiency. The metallic silver finish is a high performance durable paint typically used on super yachts. The use of self cleaning glass and an ingenious detail of hidden gutters within the eyelids ensures the facade remains low maintenance.

section perspective
section perspective

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The ground floor is fronted by a bespoke laminated glass in which is sandwiched a stainless steel mesh and semi opaque interlayer over a dichromatic film. This is lit from behind, using fibre optics to generate a coloured moiré pattern providing dynamic visual interest and a feeling of depth to what would otherwise be a blank wall.

Cite: "10 Hills Place / Amanda Levete Architects" 10 Sep 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Nov 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=34887>
  • SecondRate

    I want to hear what makes this more than just a Sculpture. Congrats for getting something like this built but I must say, if you have a client that is willing to go along with this, then where are the big ideas? Feels like a one liner but it may be deeper and that’s what I want to hear about. What happens when everyone has the means to do this on the ubiquitous office complex or fancy art museum? Where does this stand in the advancement of architecture? Can it hold its own? Should it?

  • Tuf-Pak

    This is one of those odd projects that seems like it doesn’t exist, even when viewed in photographs.

    It seems strangely otherworldly in scale and material.

  • jardvard

    Good industrial design, not much architecture.

  • http://www.ronenbekerman.com Ronen Bekerman

    Looks very cold and uninviting, though very interesting in the detail of the facade – but no more then that.

    • alfred

      oh boy… you could so sow much better!

    • alfred

      of coarse, maybe you could shut ???

    • Philip

      why don´t you stop saying silly things?

  • The man who sold the world

    Wow , someone has proven again that 3D prints can become reallity…good …but I have the strange impression that the building itself is absolutely ordinary ….I mean i think the facade is maybe ok, i would even say i appriciate it ,BUT this should be the result of a much stronger conceptual approach and interesting spaces..the FACADISME is a very very obsolete tool these days…i have the impreesion that all this high-tech and post-high-tech architects are using the 3D tools as an architectural dildo and forget that architecture is something that goes beyond satisfying your own formalistic needs and fantasies…

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  • Balkan

    Comparing these comments with the reader’s opinions of the same building published on Dezeen I am glad to see that people are here much more sober and critically oriented. Over there the comments seemed like written by a bunch of groupie girls.

  • joe shome

    i think its quite beautiful.

    you know these negative comments are generally from people who are very insecure especially in their own abilities. anyway i guess people dont appreciate innovation and creativity these days. anyway enough of this – time to go make “cold” uninviting industrial design. hope you guys have a good day designing boxes with pitched roofs.

    • Snowy

      Woe is Joe
      Joe you may like it, others may not. no need to start attacking people because they don’t share your opinion. especially when your opinion has so little depth “i think it’s quite beautiful” come on Joe, Why is it beautiful, What touches you. MORE INFORMATION so we can agree or disagree ???
      Seeing buildings like this make it past planning & all the other hurdles (which usually wring every last interesting element of a design out of it) is good for us all & elements of this design are striking, but is it just an office block with a punk haircut?
      Come on Joe are you & this building all facade or do you both have depths your not showing us?

  • http://www.vitsee.wordpress.com Vitsee

    it makes me feel like shrugging my shoulders.

  • rossi

    Joe shome, there is a middle, better way between designing uninviting industrial design facades and boxes with pitched roofs. No one says it isn’t beautiful, just that there should be more to it. Maybe there is, as the first commenter said. I certainly hope so.

  • joe shome

    Do I have to elaborate why its beautiful? or what about it makes me think of beauty. No not really I dont have to elaborate – first of all I dont think beauty is something that can be described through rational thought. just like love. unless you make a list of pros and cons everytime you decide to fall in love with someone. Second of all. Depth? are you kidding me? Unless you’ve never actually designed anything in your life you realize that architecture today has absolutely no depth not because the architects are so boring and uninspired but because no one wants depth. the only time you can critique depth is maybe in a museum or a theater. so yes unfortunately today its very unlikely any residential building will be anything more than a facade with floor slabs. in this case i like the way the facade affects the way the light filters into the building. it reminds me of fish gills from the exterior. second of all the reflective nature of the skin helps the building take on many different moods from cold (due to cloudy weather) to sunny and warm. and more on the windows – not only do they create an interior experience that is unique and yes beautiful and sensual. when you look at a beutiful sculpture you think poetry – you become inspired. this building does that to me.

    and yes i am bored by safe buildings. and that is enough for me. I dont need anything more. There are few buildings that can affect the experience of the street – and the ones that attempt to do that have my vote.

    • Snowy

      Thanks Joe, now I feel we’re on the same page, no need to question the security of others in their likes or dislikes, now we’re discussing your take on the design & I have to say I agree with everything you said in your second post. Boring safe buildings are the nightmare which haunts every modern city, I will join you in the fight to change that, but I will not join you in vilifying those who you may not agree with your or my point of view, as you rightly say beauty & love are in the eye of the beholder.
      The negative points you so bluntly call insecure are others points of view & so valid in the debate, if you don’t want the debate then we need to start a new thread on the pro’s & con’s of a design dictatorship. Hmm now there’s an idea…………..

      I also feel bound to point out that in your desire to explain why you don’t have to explain yourself you did explain very well what appealed to you about the building & what the shortcomings were & why you felt they were minor.

      Thanks again I always enjoy a bit of debate on a Friday afternoon.

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  • the man who sold the world again

    To Joe….
    joe sorry, but this building in its essence is also a BOX….or i am wrong ..I am more than sure that if we had a simple plan here we would have seen how boxy this building is….but as we can all notice there are only elavations..how confortable for amanda isnt it…
    About the question of beauty, that you developp so philosophically( and by the way it sounds already quite cliche) I would respond you with another cliche which is that today, especially today,a really good architect should go beyond the simple beauty or “not beauty”…i think jean nouvel is a good example from the “old” masters, BIG or Julien De Smedt drom the new “anti-masters”..
    and yeah-I think it is great how you concern the subject about the presence of the street and effect on the pedestrians…well…maybe if the building was giving something more than a facade, lets say a glmpse to a beatiful inreior courtyard or completely opening itself to the public I would agreee..But it is not-it is still a simple box , with a complex facade….I would give you as an exapmle the Frederic Borel, in order to have an idea how in a dense “wall” of boring facades, he breaks it and inroduce public spaces into his housing buildings…and this is much more effective than a simple “beautiful” facades

  • Squidly

    Whats the big debate here? The architects have taken a back door building, one that would provide basic, who knows, spec office space, and given it a facade. This is an age old problem, and one that doesn’t require the same gymnastics that designing an opera house or museum does. That said, the architects have provided an excellent solution that in a very clever way addresses the lack of natural light available on such a narrow street. It is also a clever reference to the bay window, an old solution to maximizing views and light to tight spaces.
    I think its brilliant.

  • joe shome

    squidly i give you props for being incredibly eloquent and convincing. thanks

  • Snowy

    You see now we’re having a debate!!!!!!

  • Ralph Kent

    Well, you can call me old-fashioned, but when I’m working at a desk job in London I do quite like to be able to have the opportunity to look down at street level and seem some life. I think giving the users of this building exclusively views of the sky is potentially quite a mean architectural gesture. If it was simply a matter of getting daylight in, there are easier and more effective ways to do this. But I suspect it was more about getting the building noticed for the aggrandissement of the architect’s name.

  • joe shome

    to be fair. i think most architects that are posted on this blog want to get noticed. and it is generally accepted that anything that people do from design to humanitarian aid is firstly for personal satisfaction. – enjoying yourself while designing is a good thing. being from london has absolutely nothing to do with the necesity to see people at street level. in fact – most office buildings do not give you a view of the street level unless you are on the first floor. you see other building walls mostly. or sky. or other buildings. and you can do this quite effectively without tilting your head up. (unless you are pressed up right against the wall.

  • TGIF

    really achieves its primary goal as in the description above, to draw visitors into the back streets. but the other posters have a point though. What happens once you get to the entrance? oops! this would be an even better project if the language of the formal articulation on the facade also somehow engages the ground level and narrates an experience of use/function of the building that is as unique as the facade itself.

  • joe shome

    yea the ground floor is a little weak.

  • http://www.structurehub.com/blog StructureHub Blog

    The best part about this inventive, amorphous, facade-heavy building is that it replaced an eyesore and did not butcher a historic property.

  • http://www.garalysoka.com oscar falcón lara

    Woah, all negative comments aside, viewed from a purely formal standpoint this project does stand out and shows the architects had a willingness to do something different and better yet, their client was on board, and in the end architecture practice is that way, you propose and hope your clients share your same vision to innovate and at least put forward a different building, even if it is just a facade. Their use of technique and know how cannot be denied and wanting for a building to stand out is good. I like how fluid and dynamic and un-boring this facade is which cannot be said about 90% of the buildings in London. Kudos to them.

  • Tomas_R

    Absolutely WONDERFUL BEAUTIFULL,
    Thank You AL_A … we like to see more soon.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    (for those who don´t understand to not boxed architecture – its OK. Not everyone has same capacity – its OK. Those who never tryied but know what to say OK people just go and try do better stuff and save us from your “opinions” and “judgments” please..thanx
    Same as Mozart, Gaudi… was only one, those people who know and can make it real are incredibly tallented. Are you? So show us please.

    • Ralph Kent

      Tomas_R – congratulations, you have fallen into the classic reactionary trap of assuming that anyone who doesn’t share your comment must be inferior or intellectually crippled. Equally, you criticise other for their judgements, yet are quite willing to mete out your own, not only on this project, but also against people who have commented, who you have absolutely no way of assessing. For these reasons, the quick to judge might say it you who could be lacking ‘capacity’.

  • http://www.sunflowerdesigns.hu/ Andrew Geber

    I think this is awesome.

    I’d love to live in it.

  • Frank Zappa

    “the detail of the facade” says Bekerman… Oh boy, is he a moron, or what?

  • FS

    Squidly is right in his summary. I worked on this project for a long time while at FS. The ground floor clads an existing shop which fronts onto Oxford St and has no fenestration on Hills Place. The upper stories are hemmed in on three sides with no access to light. The existing building was unlettable and had stood empty for years. We got an additional two stories on the building for the owner, and brought life back to the building. The windows were a way to throw light deeper into the space while reaching up to the small strip of sky above, and minimizing overlooking across the narrow alley. The office space is indeed spec and of a good standard, and I think the windows make it much brighter and more comfortable than if we had used an off the shelf facade. This building is a little exercise, a little reminder perhaps(if anything)that a small, simple building can be beautiful and can surprise.

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  • munter roe

    Terrible.

    Reminds me of a typical girl’s project at arch school. They only get through because they flirt with the tutor.

    Can’t believe they got this built.