While we’re working to change the paradigm of urban planning and development, it is always helpful to consider the language we use to further our objectives. Feilden Clegg Bradley, an architecture firm in the UK, has categorized their recent redevelopment in Swindon as a “groundscraper,” a term that encapsulates the idea of focusing on the earth in building techniques.
The building is the home of Heelis, the central office of the UK’s largest conservation charity, The National Trust. The original structure was a 19th century building owned by Great Western Railways. It sits at the heart of Brunel’s Great Western Railway complex, in a rusting industrial landscape.
The building “is reminiscent of its 19th century context but also creates a strikingly contemporary architectural language.” This lexicon includes projecting photovoltaic roof panels, inner courtyards and “snouts” for natural ventilation, and the lowest CO2 emissions of any comparable building in the UK. This is a great example of the renewal and preservation of a deteriorating industrial site through the incorporation of modern technologies and aesthetics.