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?
Architects: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Location: 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4QT, UK
Partners In Charge: Andrew Morris, Graham Stirk, Richard Rogers
Client: The British Land Company plc and Oxford
Area: 84424.0 sqm
Photographs: Richard Bryant – Courtesy of British Land/Oxford Properties, Lee Mawdsley, Paul Raftery
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.
As part of the 2014 London Festival of Architecture, teams of architects from the four of the most recent Stirling Prize winning British practices were challenged with creating the most imaginative piece of a city – out of LEGO. Each team began with a carefully laid out square on the floor of the largest gallery of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, at which point they were given just one hour and 45 minutes to create an urban masterpiece out of blocks. Each group of architects worked alongside students from the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme, which offers A-level art students the chance to engage with art and architecture. An esteemed panel of judges ultimately selected the team from Zaha Hadid Architects as victorious, who “considered London on a huge scale and used curving buildings of different typologies which echoed the shape of the Thames.”
Read more about the brief and the other participating entries after the break.
Richard Rogers, one of the leading architects of the British High-Tech movement, turns 81 today. Rogers made his name in the 70s and 80s, with buildings such as the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Headquarters for Lloyd’s Bank in London, which utilized highly expressive structures that placed services on the exteriors.
In an article for The Guardian Richard Rogers questions why, with space still left in urban areas, we should build in the countryside? Lord Rogers, no stranger to political activism, chaired the UK’s Urban Task Force in the 1990s, culminating in his report Towards an Urban Renaissance. Now, over fifteen years later, his plea for denser, better designed urban environments has been rekindled as he argues that: “We can’t go on like this. The housing shortage threatens both the economy and our quality of life.” Laying out a clear argument reinforced by his forty years of experience as an architect, you can read his article in full here.
“They’ve got the mall. They’ve got the food court. Now they’ve got the multiplex.” Rowan Moore’s latest piece for the Guardian discusses the collaged plight of London’s British Museum as Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) complete a large extension of exhibition spaces. Describing it as a “composite Foster-Rogers” building, Moore argues that “a strange distribution of space” coupled with “an inattention to the cultural complexities of the modern museum” have led to “a void, wrapped in a void, with another void to the side.” Although he states that “there are many things to like about RSHP’s building”, the total compilation of spaces, extensions and interventions have led to a museum more like a mall than a house of culture.
A report uncovered by the Architects’ Journal has revealed that an experimental housing project by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has developed major problems just seven years after construction. The low cost factory-built Oxley Woods scheme won the RIBA Manser Medal for housing in 2008 but a report commissioned by the scheme’s developer has shown faults in the detailing are causing some parts of the construction to rot. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners have distanced themselves from the defects insisting that it was “Taylor Wimpey and Wood Newton responsible for the final detailed design”. You can find out more about the controversy at the Architects’ Journal and the Financial Times.
Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are among seven international practices listed to compete for a 5,000 hectare expansion that hopes to “alleviate severe congestion” at the Mexico City airport. With each team led by Mexican firms, the shortlisted architects, which also include SOM, Gensler, Pascall+Watson and Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, have been asked to envision a 70-gate, phased expansion capable of hosting 40-million passengers per year. A schematic masterplan has been provided by Arup. Completion of the first phases is tentatively planned for 2018.
The Y-Cube, a £30,000 factory-built 26 square meter flat which can be easily transported and craned into place, has been prototyped and successfully tested in the UK. The YMCA asked Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to create the Y-Cube, an affordable alternative for residents moving on from the non-profit’s hostels. And now, the YMCA wants more of these one-bedroom dwellings.
“The beauty is that the units can be moved off site as quickly as they are installed,” says Andy Redfearn of the YMCA, “as we operate on short-term leases – we expect people to stay [in the Y-Cube] for between three to five years, giving them time to skill up and save for a deposit.”
After an open competition that sought to attract “the very best British architecture can offer,” six architects – including Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers – have been selected as the potential architects of the project to rebuild the Crystal Palace in south London. See the full shortlist after the break.
Following our recent news that confirmed Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) will oversee the design and construction of two new stadiums within Caracas’ Hugo Chavez Park, details have emerged regarding the Estadio Nacional de Fútbol de Venezuela. Designed by RSHP, in collaboration with Arup and Schlaich Bergermann und Partners, the project will be the practice’s first ever football stadium.
On January 17th, the mayor of Caracas, Jorge Rodriguez, and British architect Richard Rogers signed a contract that confirms Rogers will oversee the design and construction of two new stadiums within ”Hugo Chavez” Park. Both stadiums should be completed by 2015.
The 200-hectare ”Hugo Chavez” Park will be located around the race course La Rinconada and the Museum Alejandro Otero (MAO). The project, which began in April 2013, includes the construction of a football stadium with capacity for 50,000 people and a baseball stadium with capacity for 45,000, plus a multipurpose gym and the new headquarters of the Bolivarian University of Venezuela.
Shortly after the jury demanded further work to be done on the shortlisted proposals, The London School of Economics (LSE) has selected Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) to design the new Global Centre for the Social Sciences. Besting proposals from OMA, Hopkins, Heneghan Peng and Grafton, RSHP’s winning design was also voted the public’s favorite by an overwhelming margin.
Following the announcement last month that the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) had shortlisted five designs for their new Global Centre for Social Sciences (GCSS) in London’s Aldwych, they have now revealed that “there’s not one really outstanding scheme” and “there’s some further work to do by the practices and the LSE.” Therefore contestants Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, OMA, Hopkins Architects, Grafton Architects, and Henegham Peng Architects must reconsider their proposed designs.
Inspired by the dolls’ house that Edwin Lutyens designed for The British Empire Exhibition in 1922, twenty British practices are each designing a contemporary dolls’ house in aid of the disabled childrens’ charity KIDS. Each version will sit on a 750mm square plinth to be auctioned at Bonham’s on the 11th November and contains one feature which would make life easier for a disabled child. Among the participating practices is Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. FAT will also be working with Turner Prize recipient Grayson Perry CBE, and Studio Egret West with artist Andrew Logan.
See all the entries after the break…