A Room for London perched high above the river Thames on the turning point between the City of London, Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark.
Elliptical in shape, the building is aligned as a compass, orientating its inhabitants within the city below.
The vertical timber slats that clad the building echo the timber shuttered concrete of Queen Elizabeth Hall below. Reminiscent of a bird hide, the building nestles into its surroundings allowing a secret view of the bustling Southbank, where the passerby is unaware of being observed.
The fluid shape and form of the room is at once non-directional and a prescribed journey. Entered from the south, the space is arranged about a central courtyard laid out to suit the demands of a temporary guest:
A protected walkway accompanying you to the door. a glimpse through to the private sanctuary within. a peg to hang your coat. a fridge to quench your thirst. breakfast delivered to the table. a fixed bench providing inward contemplative views. loose chairs facing outwards to gaze on the city and watch the setting sun. a social space that spreads to the courtyard on warmer days. a gallery corridor with deep framed windows provides flashes of the river as you pass. the circular plan becoming processional, as an ambulatory or cloister. the private confines of a bedroom and bathroom come into view around the bend.
The room interacts with its surroundings in the round with each external window picking out a different backdrop of the city theatre. The familiar views of London framed in each window once again orientate the inhabitant. However each viewer will engage with this vista roused with their own memories of London and the excitement of future exploration. The foreground and background of the City come in and out of focus. The Room invites the viewer to derive their own London.
Internally, the constant rhythmical flow of the courtyard provides a fluid and uninterrupted inward realm to contemplate and reflect. Each outward facing window is armed with shutters to control this relationship with the surrounding city. High level windows at the east and west mark the beginning and end of the day. Within this retreat lies the anticipation of a city outside.
STRUCTURE + DELIVERY The building is constructed from pre-fabricated elements allowing for a shorter construction period and minimum disruption to Queen Elizabeth Hall. Pre-finished and insulated solid structural timber panels form the plinth, floor, walls and roof. Installed with a small mobile crane, construction is quick and has the advantage of being easily removed. The raised walkway and plinth enable easy connection to the services.
SUSTAINABILITY - The use of wood has a threefold effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions: increases the carbon sink; replaces carbon-hungry alternatives; encourages the planting of more trees. Solid structural timber panels allow for off-site construction, helping to minimise waste and transportation. - A sedum roof will improve the biodiveristy and the thermal properties of the building and help to manage the run off of rainwater. - By designating the 900sqm roof deck surrounding the Room as a Photovoltaic host site owned by a 3rd party, electricity would be supplied to the temporary structure and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the carbon footprint of the site reduced. The PV would remain in place after the Room has been removed.