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On Top of the City: Behind the Scenes at the Leadenhall Building

Settled comfortably around a black conference table – the only item of furniture in an office space still lacking its carpet tiles – on the 40th floor of the new Leadenhall Building, I had the opportunity to discuss with lead designer Graham Stirk and his partner, practice co-founder Richard Rogers, the forces that shaped their new building and how they came to be working in the City of London once again.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has a rich presence in the Square Mile, including the landmark Lloyd’s of London, standing directly opposite the Leadenhall Building. The firm has specialised in assured, sometimes assertive insertions within the City’s fine, historic urban grain, and so setting aside the sheer bravura of the 52-story, 225 meter skyscraper, with its sloping glass façade to the south (giving it the popular nickname of the Cheesegrater) the first question that arose was a simple one – how did the building come about?

Hawkins\Brown Unveils Legacy Designs for London Olympic Broadcast Centre

Hawkins\Brown has unveiled designs for Here East, the redevelopment of the former Press and Broadcast Centre at the London 2012 Olympics. The design for a "world class creative and digital cluster" will feature office and studio space for both established global companies alongside some of East London's many creative start-ups. Providing over a million square feet of flexible space, the design also includes shared work spaces and public areas, and a shared yard to host events, aiming to promote sharing of ideas and collaboration between the companies at various scales that will inhabit it.

Crest / Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid Architects has constructed an experimental structure on the grounds of London’s V&A Museum, just in time for the London Design Festival. The temporary installation is the practice’s thinnest shell structure to date, testing new design and construction technologies for achieving minimal material thickness while “investigating the relationship between formal arrangement and structural performance.” 

Amazon to Occupy Stalled Foster Scheme

Amazon has confirmed plans to move more than 5,000 of its London employees into a Foster + Partners-designed office building planned for Shoreditch High Street. On hold since January 2012, the £290 million mixed-use scheme will compete with Amazon’s Farringdon office to serve as the online retailer’s new UK headquarters.

Zaha Hadid Says She "Would Love To Do a Tower in London"

Despite her position as one of the world's most prominent and successful architects, Zaha Hadid yesterday revealed that there is one thing she feels is missing from her portfolio: a skyscraper in London. Speaking to BD at the announcement of her Science Museum competition win, Hadid said "I’d love to do a tower in London but it hasn’t arrived." More of Hadid's comments after the break.

A Hidden London Will Be Revealed For Open House 2014

Lloyds of London / RSHP. Image Courtesy of Open House London
Lloyds of London / RSHP. Image Courtesy of Open House London

Open House 2014, a concept developed in London twenty two years ago which has now spread to cities across the world, will throw open the doors to some of the UK capital's most inspiring spaces and interiors this month. "Revealing", the theme of this year's Open House, intends to "shed light on issues that are relevant to local communities." In this way, the scheme hopes to examine how the built environment is evolving. Exploring the role of architects, engineers and contemporary design in revitalising places and spaces, the festival hopes to show above all "how good design can make London a more livable, vibrant and enjoyable city."

'Olympicopolis' Design Contest Officially Open

The competition to design a cultural complex at London's new 'Olympicopolis' site formally opened today, seeking to attract "an exceptional team" of architects, masterplanners, engineers and landscape designers to transform the site next to London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Organizers Malcolm Reading Associates say that the competition has already registered over 960 expressions of interest from firms worldwide before the details were even announced, thanks to their early announcement seeking interested parties in July.

How to Design Elevated Cycling Structures that Actually Work

There's no doubt about it - cycling in cities is a big deal these days. But, while cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes are all well and good for our cities, the cycling revolution hasn't yet brought us many examples of beautifully designed infrastructure to gawp at. This article, originally printed on The Dirt as "Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?" discusses two seemingly similar examples of high profile cycling infrastructure, examining why one is a success and the other a non-starter.

This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?

London Science Museum Selects Muf Architecture/Art to Design Interactive Gallery

London’s Science Museum has selected muf architecture/art to design a new permanent interactive gallery. Set to open in 2016, the new gallery will be an expansion of the current Launchpad children’s gallery, creating a larger area to engage visitors in interactive math and science exhibits and live events.

“Muf architecture/art impressed us with their collaborative approach, strong design and bold vision for the new gallery. Above all, their scheme shows a keen awareness of the prime purpose of the gallery – fostering exploration and curiosity in science through intelligent and exciting design,” Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan at the Science Museum said.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Decrease in Workload & Staffing Levels

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAFuture Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among  practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining "very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the ." Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.

UK Airports Commission Rules Out Thames Estuary Airport Plans

© Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

The Airports Commission, the independent group charged with planning the future of the London's airport infrastructure, has finally ruled out an ambitious plan for a major airport in the Thames Estuary designed by Foster + Partners and supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson. Chairman of the Airports Commission Sir Howard Davies said the proposal had been ruled out because "the economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount."

Instead, the Airports Commission will select between three options to expand one of London's existing airports at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Read on after the break for the reactions to the decision.

Capco and Bold Rocket offices / D+DS architecture office

© Tom Fallon © Tom Fallon © Tom Fallon © Tom Fallon

Translating Smiljan Radić's Serpentine Pavilion from Fantasy to Fabrication

Settled neatly in the quiet hum of London's Kensington Gardens rests Smiljan Radić's 2014 Serpentine Pavilion, an ethereal mass of carefully moulded fiberglass punctuated by precisely cut openings. Radić desired a structure that appears thin and brittle, yet was strong enough to support itself, and his affection for the rudimental layered qualities of papier-mâché - his maquette medium of choice - inspired the use of fiberglass by AECOM, who engineered Radić's wild ideas. In this article, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Paper-Thin Walls," an AECOM engineer explains their solution. Read on after the break to find out more. 

RIBA To Launch Retrospective of Edwin Smith's Photography

To coincide with the opening of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s new Architecture Gallery at their headquarters in London's Portland Place, the first major retrospective of Edwin Smith will open next month. Smith, one of Britain's foremost 20th century photographers, was considered a master of capturing the essence of the places, landscapes and buildings he documented over an extensive career. The exhibition, entitled Ordinary Beauty, will display over a hundred carefully curated black and white images from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints donated by Olive Cook, Smith's widow and collaborator, to the RIBA Library.

Beefeater Gin Visitor Centre / Lee Boyd

  • Architects: Lee Boyd
  • Location: London SE11 5DE, UK
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Paul Riddle

© Paul Riddle © Paul Riddle © Paul Riddle © Paul Riddle

Zaha Hadid to Receive Honoray Degree from Goldsmiths College

Zaha Hadid will be awarded an honorary degree and fellowship from Goldsmiths College, at the University of London, during the college’s graduation ceremony in September. Hadid was chosen because of her “inventive approach, and eagerness to challenge conventions which have pushed the boundaries of architecture and urban design," Architects’ Journal (AJ) reported.

Video: First Look Inside Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partner's "Cheesegrater"

In a short film for The Guardian Lead Architect and Partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Graham Stirk, tours Robert Booth around the almost-complete Leadenhall Building. The building is referred to as a relative of it's neighbour, Lloyds of London, which was completed by Richard Rogers's practice in 1986. Leadenhall, dubbed the "Cheesegrater" due to its angled façade, is twice the height of Lloyds and is considered to be the physical manifestation of the evolution of Rogers' architectural and tectonic language. Although less "structurally showy" than its counterpart, the building is still unconventionally bold when it comes to structural expression.

Search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Begins

The search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Awards (YAYA), organised by BDOnline, has begun. Now in its 16th year, YAYA "recognises the most promising new architectural practice in the European Union." Open to fully qualified architects who have been practising for twelve years or less, the winner of this year's YAYA will be announced at the Architect of the Year Awards gala dinner on the 2nd December 2014 at The Brewery, London.