Where is the nearest tube station? How far is the Millennium Bridge? How do I get to Trafalgar Square? The City of London Information Centre situated right in front of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral has these answers and more. Designed and built by international studio Make Architects, the striking modern structure harnesses an impressive list of green building strategies including rainwater recycling, geothermal energy, and locally sourced and recycled materials.
Rising from the earth in a pointy array of metal peaks, the dynamic information center makes a strong visual impact within London’s urban fabric. The building’s triangular floor plan was conceived by studying pedestrian flows across the site, and its folded metallic envelope houses 150,000 square feet dedicated to an interesting and extensive list of things to do in the British capital. The light, aerodynamic and sharp envelope is made from 220 pre-finished stainless steel panels shipped from Sweden and assembled on-site in just one night.
The City of London Information Centre meets exacting environmental standards, and has been engineered to exceed current Part L targets for CO2 emissions by 20%. The structure’s envelope is highly insulated and is heated and cooled using sustainable geothermal energy. Water is pumped 645 feet into the ground via two boreholes and cooled by the earth in the summer – in the winter the ground heats the water, which in turn warms up the building in an eco-friendly manner.
The full-height glazed front and triangular roof lights create a welcoming interior by filling the space with daylight and reducing the need for artificial lighting. There is only one hand-operated light switch within the whole building, as artificial light is regulated by daylight sensors, which raise and lower luminosity in response to changing weather conditions. The innovative information displays take the shape of dynamic posters made from ever-changing paper-free electronic screens located on the inside and outside of the building.
The yellow panels lining the interior are made from a recycled British timber material called Trespa. They are assembled together like a triangular jigsaw puzzle, creating a bright and sunny atmosphere within the sharp building. Make Architects designed the building’s roof to make use of prevalent natural resources sourced from around the Big Smoke, while its sloping shape collects and reuses rainwater for irrigating plants and flushing the toilets.
The London Information Centre’s sustainable systems-based approach to design and innovative building strategies have won Make Architects several awards, including the 2009 RIBA Awards and the same year’s London Planning Awards for the Best Built Project on a Community Scale.
All photos by Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat