New office building from Wilkinson Eyre embodies design dictated by a sustainable approach
The Crystal, a Sustainable Cities Initiative by Siemens, opened in London’s Royal Victoria Dock in September 2012. Conceived by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the dramatic crystal-shaped, glazed structure has created a new independent global hub for debate on sustainable urban living and development. The 7,300-sq-m building – which houses exhibition spaces, conference facilities and a technology and innovation centre – has been designed to achieve the highest international sustainability credentials for a building (BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum).
The brief offered Wilkinson Eyre Architects the opportunity to work with Siemens and Arup to explore how new technologies can help create a highly sustainable building without relying solely on passive systems. This exploration has led to a building where all sustainable systems are comprehensively embedded into the design informing everything from the shape of the building to the engineering methodology of the structural frame.
Designed to be an all-electric building, The Crystal uses solar power (thermal panels provide hot water and 10% of the buildings energy is guaranteed from the photovoltaic cells on the roof), ground-source heat pumps (providing 100% of all heating and 80% of all cooling), energy efficient lighting, rainwater harvesting and blackwater recycling (proving water for 100% of WC flushing) and high performance glazing. No fossil fuels are burnt in the building.
The Crystal was constructed using recycled steel and industrial by-product cement and during construction 95% of all waste products were recycled. The premise of the building is innovation and it was an opportunity to explore what is possible, challenging us as architects to question pre-conceived ideas about materials and to create new approaches to designing sustainability cities.