Harnessing daylight in the busy and narrow streets of London is a remarkable challenge for any architect. Recently ALA met that challenge in their remarkable renovation of the 10 Hills Place office. Using a bit of ingenuity and a bit of shipmaking technology, the architects created a sculptural facade that is as beautiful as it is effective. It’s been said that you can’t judge a building by it’s facade, but for this building, that is precisely what we are going to do.

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The structure itself was an extension to an existing office building. Rather than demolish what was there, they placed a lightweight steel frame over the existing concrete structure and applied a new skin that made the old building relevant again.

The facade was inspired by the artwork of Lucio Fontana, an Argentinian Sculptor well known for his “slash” series of works, which featured holes sliced across the surface of a painting. Using that aesthetic as a jumping off point, Amanda Levette Architects created a curved aluminum-clad facade with four slashes, or eyelids, which function as skylights. This may seem like a purely aesthetic decision that risks diminishing the building’s access to daylight, but thankfully this is not the case.

Using some rather clever detailing modeled upon the building’s existing facade, the skylights are able to capture the skylight and efficiently transfer it within the office space. The glass in the facade is self-cleaning, while the clever design of the raingutters ensures that the facade is low-maintenance, something of key importance to the owner of the building. To top it all off, the aluminum cladding and sculptural shape create a memorable facade that radically changes depending on the sky conditions.

10 Hills Place is a wonderful addition to London’s urban fabric, a beautiful use of an existing structure, and a fantastic revitalization of an old, nondescript space.

+ Amanda Levete Architects