Construction on the new US Embassy in London designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm KieranTimberlake broke ground this week. Slated to be completed by 2017 and located at a former industrial site in London, the crystalline cube will feature air-filled pockets on the exterior, which will help insulate the structure, orientation and shading to minimize heat gain, a large photovoltaic system on the roof and exterior of the building and a beautiful park.
Embassy buildings require an extra layer of security, and the embassy park surrounding the building is both a lovely garden space for the employees and dignitaries to enjoy as well as a protective barrier. Although there are no fences or walls, security measures have been integrated into the landscape, which also includes a half moon pond on one side of the building.
The exterior of the building is lined with air-filled pockets made from ethylene-tetrafluroethylene (ETFE), which help protect the building from the outer environment by providing optimized shade to minimize heat absorption and work as a thermal buffer. Thin-film photovoltaics will be positioned in the ETFE foils to generate energy, and will also be more visible to birds in order to reduce bird strikes. The roof of the embassy building (8,300 sq. meters) will be covered in photovoltaics, hiding the mechanical equipment and producing 345,000 kWh of energy.
James Timberlake, co-founder of KieranTimberlake said, “We wanted to create a building that would be an environment for diplomacy, but also serve as diplomacy for the environment. I think that’s the reason the jury embraced us.” The project team hopes to achieve both Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) Excellent.