The ambitious brief called for a new structure to accommodate a state-of-the-art information service. In addition to serving as an exemplar of sustainable design, championing accessibility for visitors and employees alike, it also required a dynamic contemporary structure to be a local landmark in its own right and interact sensitively with its historic context.
Located to the south-west of the South Transept of St Paul’s Cathedral, on one of London’s principal tourist routes, the building also sees substantial pedestrian movement. The combined sensitivity and prominence of this site posed a unique design challenge. Extensive analysis of the context and lines of sight informed the position, scale, orientation and profile; the final location ensures that the structure does not impinge on key views of St Paul’s but is calibrated to establish a dialogue with its historic neighbour.
The large spans and cantilevers were achieved using a steel frame braced by a structural ply skin and clad in externally vented stainless steel panels. The full-height glazed frontage ensures that the public front-of-house area is bathed in daylight while being orientated to avoid excessive solar gain. The yellow panels lining the interior are Trespa, a recycled timber product. Triangular rooflights draw light into the interior, and daylight sensors regulate the artificial lighting. All furniture is constructed from recycled timber. The building envelope is highly insulated, uses borehole cooling and rainwater is recycled.