Location: London, UK
Client: P&O Development
FOA Partner in Charge: Alejandro Zaera-Polo
Project Architect: Gunter Gassner
Design Team: Laia Celma, Sukyeong Kim, David Mah, Takeru Sato, Nankuei Lin
Our proposal for the redevelopment of Elizabeth House was to deliver 1,3m ft2 of workspace in a building associated with an important transport node. The approach was to use this volume to project Waterloo and the South Bank onto the London skyline. Our ambition was to complement the existing skyline with an intricate profile, an urban sculpture creating a vertical landmark for Waterloo. Seeking inspiration in the work of Max Bill, Brancusi, and Tony Cragg, we envisioned a tower that would be a complex, shifting silhouette, changing dramatically when viewed from different points along the river. This unstable silhouette would differentiate the building from other towers in the London skyline and embody multiplicity as a contemporary urban quality.
The building would present a different profile depending on the point of observation: an “hourglass” from St James and Elephant & Castle, a “diamond” from Embankment and Southwark or a “spire” from Vauxhall and London Bridge. This unique silhouette is achieved by using a geometry which shifts cyclically in section between symmetrically-shaped diamond plans, producing a three-dimensional, faceted volume with a rigorous geometrical construction. Based on a triangular diagrid, the geometry works optimally against lateral stress and would enable us to provide totally column-free spaces, by concentrating all the vertical structure on the facade and the core.
To complement the building’s most immediate neighbours, we proposed to clad the building in Portland Stone, a traditional local material to enhance the sculptural qualities of the form and provide the building with a truly monumental quality. The fenestration pattern, made with a repetitive tiling system, will add a level of intricacy and complexity to the surface of the volume.