Thursday, 29 April 2010

BREEAM 'Excellent' rating for One New Change

Sidell Gibson Architects' One New Change project has been awarded a top BREEAM (Offices) rating of 'Excellent' with 71.43% by the BRE under the Code for Sustainable Buildings.

Sidell Gibson Architects believe that each building should respond to its location not only architecturally, but also in terms of its environmental performance. We make every effort to ensure that our buildings are as sustainable in their use and construction as possible, and our numerous ‘Very Good’ and ‘Excellent’ BREEAM ratings attest to this commitment.

Sidell Gibson Architects are proud members of the UK Green Building Council, The Green Register and the Association of Environment Conscious Builders.
One New Change is the largest and most innovative project currently on site in the City of London and includes a very large retail component.

Sidell Gibson Architects have worked on the design from the outset in collaboration and support to Jean Nouvel's concept design and now take the lead role in delivering what is, in technical terms, a hugely complex scheme.

The route to New Change is open to the sky and orientated to create a new view of St Paul’s Cathedral framed by the building. This 'slot' extends to the crossing at the centre of the site which forms an atrium running through the building.

The central atrium also provides access to the roof where there is a restaurant and café facilities and an extensive public terrace providing extensive views of the cathedral and London skyline.
Above the retail accommodation, the building has five floors of offices, arranged around four cores with an atria punctuating the floorpates. The building is serviced at basement level with vehicular access via a ramp off Bread Street. 

The design will be based on achieving 10% of the energy needs, from renewable sources in line with the Mayor of London guidelines for major developments.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Sir John Lyon House, London

This waterside residential building with 65 flats oposite Tate Modern on the banks of the Thames has recently been completed. The building incorporates small flats for weekday use as well as luxury apartments and penthouses. Complex planning, rights to light and St Paul's Heights issues were addressed by Sidell Gibson Architects in the course of the design.

The scheme is one of the first to exploit the potential of glazed terracotta rainscreen, providing a spectacular new façade to the retained and re-used structure of concrete floor slabs and frame of the original riverside office block.
With its striking design the building has won four major awards:
- European LEAF Award for Sustainability.
- Mail on Sunday British Homes Awards - Best Apartment Building.
- Daily Mail UK Property Awards - Best Architecture - Multiple Units.
- New York Times International Property Awards - Best Architecture Multiple Units.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Kingsway: Steelwork for Rooftop Apartments

These photographs show the new steelwork structure for the residential rooftop apartments currently being installed at Sidell Gibson Architects' Crown House No. 1-5 Kingsway project in London's West End:

It is a mixed development of 8 floors of modern open plan office accommodation, street level retail units & seven high quality duplex apartments at the 9th & 10th floors, which have their own landscaped courtyard. Each apartment has a panoramic view of the skyline of central London, particularly the principal apartment which is housed within the rebuilt roof-level Rotunda (red arrow on image below) above the building's main entrance on Kingsway.

The site is bounded by Kingsway, Aldwych, Drury Lane and Kean Street in the Theatreland area of the West End in London and is within the Covent Garden Conservation Area in the City of Westminster.

Part of the office and retail areas have retained fa
çades to Kingsway and Aldwych (see image below from demolition/façade retention stage). The existing retained facades are predominantly natural Portland Stone with period metal windows incorporating large decorative spandrel panels.

The remainder of the development has a new external envelope of metal-framed windows in a red brick façade dressed in reconstructed stone window surrounds which match the surrounding architectural theme of original elevations and allow the building to fit within the urban character of the area.

The seven residential apartments are served by shared fire escape cores including fire lifts and stairs. Four of the seven apartments have been designed as duplex units and have a separate entrance on Kean St with an alternative access at ground floor level on to Aldwych.

The office building will be designed to be capable of meeting the requirements of a single or two tenants on a floor-by-floor basis.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Towards a New Garden City

The opposite pulls of living in either the city or country have changed since the proposition of the Garden City Movement in the 1890s.

The countryside is no longer available to accommodate significant populations on an agrarian model, and is now more a recreational resource as well as supporting intensive farming.

Cities are regenerating and expanding to become conurbations of regional proportion, generating stress, pollution and alienation, as well as providing a place of work, excitement and opportunity.

However, the values of the Garden City at their lowest level have produced an endless suburbia, quite different to the vision of Ebenezer Howard. Suburban development now accounts for approximately 70% of the population in the UK but suffers from being monotonous, restrictive and conformist.

The three magnets famously illustrating the concept of the Garden City have been reduced to two: The City versus Suburbia.

City Versus Suburbia
However, both paradigms require radical overhaul as desirable models for living. In this proposal the focus is on low to medium density development, now typified by suburbia and hence the need for a vision of Tomorrow’s Garden City.

In this transformation of suburbia, a sense of community and variety of opportunity must be proposed in the organisation of the physical environment. Similarly, the erosion of available land must be arrested as currently typified by the wasteful sprawl of repeated on plot detached or semi-detached houses or the rise of mini gated estates and increasing car densities.
Our proposal aims are therefore to:

- Create a better distribution of land
- Create a balance between private and communal space
- Engender a sense of community and active participation
- Create a framework for a variety of life styles and live/work
- Provide a fully sustainable and energy efficient environment

Demography and Housing Demand
Within the overall demand for housing there is a trend for smaller scale dwellings, of one and two bedroom accommodation. This is partly due to the decreasing size of the nuclear family, the needs of single parent families, the rise of young working couples or partners and an ageing population of active couples downsizing.

The categories of lifestyles requiring one/two bedroom apartments, include therefore a mixture of cash-rich, time-poor young professional single people or couples; cash-poor, time-poor single parents; and cash-neutral, time-neutral retired couples. Common to all these lifestyles is a limit of either time or energy to support the maintenance and upkeep of excessive private outdoor space, that can be generated in the front and rear garden. However, the individual’s ability to input to and benefit from outdoor space is vital, whether in gardening, recreation or the enjoyment of greenery and open space.
In our proposal we explore the possibility of a rich and inclusive community drawn from these categories of families, hence the concentration on a mixture of one and two bedroom units. However, our concept is not exclusive to small scale accommodation, and we indicate how the model can also accommodate a percentage of larger family units without prejudice to the concept.
Town Planning Issues
The need for buildings in scale with the community they serve is essential for a sense of community, rather than the repetitive expression of the smallest unit of living as the sole means of space making. The scale of a large detached or semi-detached house is a well loved and familiar element in a setting akin to the Garden City. This scale of development is something that our proposal wishes to emulate, i.e. the Villa or group of cottages.

Secondly, the rise of private transport and the need to accommodate the motor car associated with housing has further lead to the erosion of space and scale of building. We therefore propose to create more flexible accommodation for the car, anticipating a change of attitude toward private transportation and the growth of live/work activities.

The Concept

Basic unit
The basic living unit in our proposal (as stated above) is a one/two bedroom L-shaped apartment. These units are interlocked to form a central space from which each apartment is entered. The apartments are arranged over three storeys making a generic block of six units.

Atrium space
The central space created becomes a dynamic top lit enclosed communal threshold space, mediating between the outside public realm and internal private space. By combining opening lights at ground and first floor levels with opening roof lights this space becomes a cool ventilated interior space in summer, and with windows and roof lights closed in winter becomes a passive preheated area. Furthermore, the enclosing walls that form this space are proposed as unfired brick, providing a large area of exposed mass, to control the fluctuations in temperature.

Within this space, rainwater from inward sloping roofs is collected in high-level sumps to irrigate vertical planting on two internal walls, creating attractive green walls of complimentary planting, dependent on orientation. The choice of plants can range from scented and flowing shrubs, edible fruits and herbs, to mosses - all supported on frames of compost-less mats requiring minimum upkeep and maintenance. At ground level in this space a shallow pond is created to additionally provide a thermal store and to generate atmospheric moisture to promote the growth of the green walls, creating a micro garden for the benefit of the occupants. This pond also symbolises the fact of underground rainwater storage tanks used to supply private apartments with WC flushing water and to irrigate outside communal
garden areas.

The Villa
The six-apartment atrium is mirrored on plan to become the Villa, containing twelve apartments with two atria. This is the principal architectural housing component, which can be grouped to form communities of up to five or six villas in size, yielding between sixty to seventy apartments. In this manner, exploiting the need for smaller units combined in compact groups reconciles the perceived view of garden cities comprising low-density housing and the current national planning policy for higher densities. 

Each Villa of twelve apartments is provided with a simple and efficient method of household waste and refuse disposal accessed from the apartment’s kitchen door. At each floor level a screened communal recycling drum is formed with six waste chutes (noise insulated) for segregated waste disposal (household, green/organic, glass, metals, plastics, paper) that are collected at ground floor into 360 litre capacity bins for collection. Green waste is intended for making compost used in communal allotments and gardens.


Internal Apartment Organisation
The dwelling is intended to be built ‘airtight’ to control unwanted air leakage, is to be well insulated thermally to reduce energy consumption together with sufficient exposed thermal mass, combined with night time ventilation to act as a thermal flywheel. Opening windows to all spaces are triple glazed (2+1) metal-faced timber assemblies to provide controlled natural ventilation, incorporating integral night-time trickle vents. Trickle vents to the atrium space work in conjunction with solar powered rooflight actuators utilising the atrium’s stack effect to further ventilate the apartments in hot conditions. All WCs are low flush and grey water flushing and low energy lighting is to be pre-installed within dwellings as well as for communal lighting. 

Given the levels of thermal insulation, heating demand is minimal, to be provided by radiators supplied from central solid biomass (wood chips or pellets) boilers. 

Hot Water
50% of domestic hot water is provided by south facing roof mounted evacuated glass tube solar thermal panels, supplemented with hot water from the biomass boilers.
Under the strategy of 100% of the space heating demand being provided by the biomass boilers and 50% of the hot water heating demand being undertaken by the solar thermal panels the scheme will save 72,242 kg of CO₂/yr. This represents a reduction in CO₂ emissions from a Building Regulations compliant scheme of 42.3%. The reduction in CO₂ emissions from Energy Efficient base case (i.e. % reduction from renewable) is 37.8%. The biomass boiler will cope with 178,400 kWh/yr of space heating demand, whilst the solar panels will cope with 80,200 kWh/yr of hot water demand. 

As an option to natural gas, electric induction cookers are to be proposed, both from energy and safety points of view. Induction cookers consume half as much electricity as electric cookers and are more efficient in heat transfer, achieving an absolute efficiency of 84% (compared to a typical 40% for a gas cooker). Induction cooking power savings of 40-70% are realistically achievable in comparison to conventional cooktops. 

Site Planning Opportunities
Due to a definitive site not having been established, our proposal is necessarily diagrammatic at this stage. Given the imperative to make efficient use of land, we have tended toward higher density levels than existing densities in Letchworth Garden City.

Vehicular Provision and Live/Work Units
We intend that space allocated for car parking is a positive element, that can be adapted and changed by a series of add-on’s from a kit of parts, into an extension of many lifestyle activities. The basic provision is a covered space with side-walls of unfired brick. Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels provide electricity for the batteries of hybrid or electric powered cars. The enclosed volume, within each ‘car-port’ allows for a mezzanine to be added with steps up for additional space, which combined with enclosing the front and rear elevations, in either glazed or solid panels, with doors and screens as necessary allow the spaces to adapt organically into storage areas, workshops, or studio and office spaces.

Particular end units in the parking terraces are given over to communal enclosed space, to facilitate community centres associated with allotments, play groups, tenants meeting spaces, garden stores etc. Other uses for these end units are as the central biomass boiler plant and solid fuel storage. 

Pedestrian and Cycle Routes
Pedestrian and cycle routes are separate from the vehicular routes, and lead to all communal spaces. Cycle parking is associated with each Villa, provided in covered, secure shelter. The car-port/workshop units offer additional bicycle storage space. 

Private / Communal Open Space and Allotments
Private space is specific to each apartment, comprising south or southwest / southeast facing balconies. These balconies are covered to provide solar control in summer, but to allow low angle winter sunlight into the apartment. Movable planting boxes on the balconies provide the occupant with flexible, close-to-hand planting options.

The remaining released land is designated for communal use. The range of uses is open ended, but typically space for picnics, parties, sitting areas, toddlers play and landscaping are imagined. The management and upkeep of these spaces would be administered and funded by a tenants and house owners trust, who would contribute a small annual ground rent in the property deeds, combined with an equal stake in the control and management of their own local community, of say up to around 60 to 80 dwellings. Clearly, these small associations could combine if they wished to share costs of landscape maintenance or upkeep.

In addition to the shared landscaped communal space, allotments are initially provided in a ratio of approximately 1 for every 3 apartment, to provide space and stimulate active gardeners. These allotments would be leased by rotation if necessary to cater for wider demand. Recycled organic household refuse for compost is built into the system. Again, the proposal is open-ended, and can be tailored to each community’s changing needs, with the proportion of landscaped to ‘farmed’ space being evolved by the trust.

Pond, Reed Beds and Coppices
An exciting spin-off use of harvested rainwater, grey and black water recycling is the creation of a large central pond, which is designed to filter water through a maze of gabions with floating reed beds and microorganisms into a clear water pond. The pond would be fit to support wildlife and fish, and to provide a wetland habitat for locally endangered species referred to in the Hertfordshire Biodiversity Action Plan, such as the white-clawed crayfish. This pond can also support fish that can be harvested annually. In swathes of communal areas, coppice willow is proposed, as a contribution toward the fuel for the solid biomass boilers, providing additional filter beds for pond water, as well as providing habitat for biodiversity of wildlife. We believe that the coppicing can provide fuel on a three-year rotation cycle of growth, maturity, and cropping (providing between 10 to 15 % of the total demand).

Our strategy is to employ a holistic approach to sustainable development and the creation of an environment to promote a range of activities and lifestyle opportunities for the individual and the community. Our aim is to conserve energy, release time and promote the well-being of inhabitants in an environment akin to the original ethos of the Garden City Movement.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Discover Greenwich in Building Design Review

Sidell Gibson with John Miller + Partners Architects' recently openened Discover Greenwich project at the Old Royal Naval College is featured in Building Design Magazine's BD Reviews Refurbishment supplement:

New brew for John Miller in Greenwich

John Miller & Partners has transformed a collection of grade II listed buildings within the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich to house a visitor centre and microbrewery.

As part of the £6 million project, the architects refurbished the Pepys Building, which once contained racquet courts and has more recently served as a naval engineering workshop. The main space houses Discover Greenwich, which will function as a visitor centre for the history of maritime Greenwich.

The refurbishment included the conversion of a service entrance into a new public entrance adjacent to the Cutty Sark.

The building envelope has been insulated and reglazed and a rear mezzanine has been added to the Pepys Building to link into an adjacent building, which has been refurbished as an education centre.

A passive ventilation system has been introduced with underfloor heating and communications servicing beneath a new terrazzo resin floor.

The east wing has been refurbished as a dining and refreshment area. During the project the architects discovered the remains of a brewery in a derelict adjacent building which has now been refurbished and fitted out with a new brewing tower to continue the historic brewing tradition on the site.

The Discover Greenwich exhibition, designed by Real Studios, includes an overview of the architectural pedigree of the site, including its origins as the site of Henry VIII’s palace and its naval past as the Royal Hospital for Seamen.
(BD Review Refurbishments April 2010)

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Tsu Trust, Sri Lanka

When the Boxing Day tsunami so tragically overwhelmed coastal areas throughout south and east Asia in 2004 one of Sidell Gibson's founding partners, Ron Sidell, was holidaying in a beach house near Galle in Sri Lanka. As the waters surged in to the fortunately quite robust house, Ron managed to get to the tiny upper gallery and safety.

Countless others in the area were not so fortunate losing their houses, their livelihoods, their families and, in many cases, their lives. It was against this background that the Tsu Trust was born to help in the huge task of rehabilitating southern Sri Lanka, raising money in the UK, and particularly within the construction industry, to invest in small businesses, to help local schools, to build and equip fishing boats, to set up a new nursery and clinic. Designed by Ron, the clinic is financed by letting out the beach house to provide ayurvedic care free of charge for local people.

Read more about the beach house and the clinic.

The villa approached by stepping stones over water is set in a tropical garden of coconut, banana and papaya trees, with a dip pool and a gate to a secluded cove. The perfect spot for an evening drink watching the sun go down over the ocean, with, in season, the fishermen on their sticks - then buy the pick of the catch at the garden gate in the morning.

Fully staffed and with all rooms enjoying garden views the house can accommodate eight guests in cool minimalist surroundings. The bedrooms, each with terrace or courtyard are clustered around the double height sitting/dining room that has open vistas onto the pool, garden and shaded dining terrace. There is cloakroom, a well-equipped kitchen with, close by a further long dining table overlooked by the galleried library. Wireless broadband and a CD/Ipod player are available.

The property has three double and one twin bedded room, two having en-suite bathrooms with open-air showers, and two with bathrooms a couple of paces away, also with open air showers. All have comfortable seating area, beds fitted with mosquito nets, and ceiling fans.

The 24ft x 10ft dip pool is deep at one end but has at the other end a shallow platform masquerading as a childrens' area whilst really being designed for sitting up to one's neck in water with a cool drink on the side. Hidden in one corner of the garden, overlooking the cove, there is a look-out point with seats and tables and, for those wanting to soak up the sun, a peaceful non-shaded area with daybeds, close to the sea.

Then there are the spa treatments. A few steps across the garden you will find the ayurveda treatment centre with a well qualified doctor and therapists, available to house guests for both health related matters and relaxation.

Ayur - life and Veda - science. One of the oldest forms of medicine concerned not only with curing disease but also with maintaining health employing traditional methods.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Amusement Parks Saudi Arabia

Amusement Park concept designs for two sites in Saudi Arabia for a local real estate developer. Developed in co-operation with interior designers DWP's Bahrain office, the proposed concepts are for prestigious and prominent sites set along water front locations in Jeddah and Dammam. The aim was to create unique entertainment and activity centres, set in landscaped surrounding providing rich and varied experiences for the wellbeing and stimulus of young people and the families. The parks contain a central orientation point, visitor centre, retail and restaurants as well as communal facilities. Entertainment and activity zones interconnect and radiate out from the centre containing ice-skating, cinemas, go-karting, virtual games and rides together with an indoor water sports centre combined with outdoor swimming pools.

Design Concept

We have drawn inspiration from the local habitat and in particular the flora and fauna of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts and the immediate adjacency of the water itself. We have also drawn upon the existing context of the site to suggest and prompt a design response that is woven into the overall concept for each individual site. In considering the framework for the master plan, from which all the design development flows, we have chosen a geometric progression that spreads and repeats itself across the site to link both the plan form and massing of the buildings into a unified whole. The starting point is the way seeds are arranged in a sunflower or daisy. The pattern of intersecting parabolic spirals is the result of a natural growth process where new, smaller seeds emerge from a centre and displace larger and older ones. It is also the most efficient and space saving way of packing seeds in the head of the flower. ‘Phyllotaxis’ or growth processes with similar two or three dimensional spiral patterns can be found in many thousands of varieties of plants: for example in the arrangement of leaves on a stem, in cacti, in Aloe Vera leaves and in pine cones to name but a few. Phyllotaxis or Fermat spirals generated by a natural growth processes can also be found in the growth process of the Date Palm which features on the Saudi coat of arms. Similar physical and mathematical principles underlying growth in nature can be found in the famous spiral of the nautilus shell, which can also be used to explain the Golden Section. Fibonacci numbers are found in the concentric circles of the seeds in the sunflower. From the geometric rules suggested by the above principles we have created an intricate Fermat spiral geometry formed from intersecting parabolic spirals (which we refer to as ‘the orchid’) that are mapped over the sites. One benefit of this geometric pattern is that it lends itself to being developed flexibly, in many ways without loosing the sense of the inherent geometry. The orchid petals radiate from the centre creating, on a large scale, the districts and zones and with further subdivision within the geometry, the buildings, pedestrian routes and external spaces at a more detailed scale. Each option employing ‘the orchid’ approach has this as the unifying element underlying the masterplan structure. Petals rotate and spread across the site form separate buildings to edges and appear as shaded roofs on some of the high rise buildings. We have also drawn inspiration from the wildlife prevalent along the coastal edges and have also observed the numerous incidents of major sculptures in the public realm along the major freeways and corniches of Saudi Arabian cities. We have drawn these ideas together to propose one very large sculpture/building housing facilities for visitors and creating a high level viewing platform from which the radiating geometry of the masterplan and buildings can be seen as a unified whole.

Common to all the options is the concept for a separate large scale sculpture which would act both as a branding mechanism to identify the theme parks wherever they are located in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and provide an additional experience for the visitor – an observation platform high above the Theme park itself. In this instant we have taken inspiration from an indigenous water bird, the Western Reef Heron, to create a focal point to each of the theme parks on the waters edge. The heron occurs mainly on the coasts along the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf as well as in tropical West Africa and to the east in India. The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs, which alludes to the creation of an observation platform in a tower structure.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

ReVeal Bridge Concept

A bridge-design developed in co-operation with structural engineers Arup (London) for a RIBA competition for a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the river Douglas, Lancashire.


From a distance, riding or walking along the former railway embankment, the structure appears as a traditional N-truss normally used for railway bridges. The reVeal design has been adapted to provide a rigid torsion box in the shape of a V over the central span.
However, upon closer inspection, the deck gently curves through the structure, naturally increasing in width to a maximum at the midpoint of the bridge and then tapering back at the opposite river bank. Structurally this provides restraint where most required.

A simple straight truss rekindles the memory of the original bridge, providing improved access to the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park. The focus is now on the different experiences provided by the structure, whether walking through it, stopping on it or looking at it.
Only as you move across and simultaneously rise up through the structure are the full uninterrupted views reVealed in the middle of the bridge. As this is also the point of maximum width, people are invited to pause and admire the views without causing obstruction to other users.

Vertical slats help focus the views as you approach and enter the structure. This creates drama and surprise giving a sense of elation upon reaching the centre of the bridge. From the outside it seems contradictory that the vertical slats, following the curved shape of the deck, make the bridge appear the lightest and thinnest at the middle; the point where actually most structural depth is required.
The two intermediate supports appear like blades which slice open the timber deck and subsequently create a space for steps leading down to the river banks. These steps fan out around the abutments, providing a seating area below the bridge with a link to the towpaths. A full appreciation of the structure is then available providing view of the intricate steel to timber connections. The experience is complete.

Two inclined N-trusses are connected at their bases with the deck connecting them together at high level to form the top of the torsion box. The V-system over the long central span then divides into a C-section over the intermediate supports which then spans to the edge supports.
The inclined trusses in the central V-section have a common bottom chord made of a round steel section. This is the active tension member. There are plates welded to this at node locations to receive the vertical and diagonal timber sections. These are similar in style to the riveted steel connections of old railway trusses.

The top chord of the trusses is solid timber, taking compression. The deck as it rises links the vertical elements of the trusses thus restraining the top chord from buckling. The deck has timber treads which hide an in-plane steel truss completing the triangular box and giving torsional and lateral restraint. The shorter edge spans will be formed by a C-section with similar inclined timber/steel N-trusses but with moment connections to the section under the deck.

The intermediate supports are concrete supported on piled foundations. Depending on the nature of the ground these could be driven or bored piles.


A locally sourced, sustainable hardwood as promoted by the Lancashire County Council’s Woodlands Project seems an obvious choice. Oak or Larch are particularly suited for such external use. Modern timber engineering methods coupled with steel elements help to create a bridge that is a contemporary re-interpretation of traditional railway structures. A local supplier of disused timber railway sleepers has also been identified and these could be re-cycled and re-used in the decking, and would be a fitting choice of material for a bridge on a dismantled railway line.

Construction Sequence

The bridge has been designed to have high degree of standardisation. The use of a regular truss system allows the bridge to be broken into similar modules. We propose that the bridge is constructed in a factory then brought to site in sections. The pieces could either be transported by lorry or by canal if navigable fur such use. They can then be assembled on site. To simplify the construction sequence we propose that the bridge is pre-assembled in three pieces: The central span and the two side spans. The abutments and supports would be built first and when the three parts are assembled, they could be dropped into place in sequence by using a crane. The central piece at approximately 30 tonnes could be inserted by a river derrick or mobile crane if sufficient access is available.

Medina Tower

Mediterranean Investments holding (MIH), in which Malta's Corinthia Group has a 50% stake, has signed an agreement with the Economic Development Real Estate Company of Libya for the development of a 40-storey tower on the Tripoli seafront in Libya. Medina Tower, will be constructed on 12,500 square metres of land adjacent to other high-rise developments. The project will comprise 180,000 square metres of floor space spread over 40 floors above ground level and four levels of underground parking. Medina Tower will feature 336 apartments for sale, 26,000 square metres of office space for rent, 22,000 square metres of commercial, conference and food and beverage facilities, and 24,000 square metres of underground parking that will cater for up to 850 car parking spaces. At 40 storeys, the €300m (£269m) scheme will be taller than the 28-storey Al Fateh Tower, which is the tallest building in the city at present. Medina Tower is designed and planned by Sidell Gibson Architects (London) and Paul Camilleri & Associates (Malta) who have formed SidellGibsonCamilleri for this project.

The uses envisaged for this building, when operational, are various ranging from retail, financial services, professional services, restaurants and the hospitality industry. Such uses will provide employment for approximately 3000 persons. The types of employment will range from cleaners, maintenance personnel, security guards, sales staff, waiters, cooks, professionals (lawyers, architects, etc.), banking staff, financial services personnel, hospitality related staff (chambermaids, etc.) and others.

The type of building and its mixed uses will enhance Tripoli, and especially this important central part of Tripoli, as a commercial and financial services hub, not only in Libya itself but also in the region.

The shape of the building is in the form of the letter “S” on plan, and which also rises spirally from one of this “S” to the other end.

Such a footprint for this site emanated from considerations given to both the existing Al-Fateh Tower as well as, the still to be constructed, Al-Ghetthafi Tower. Both buildings are oriented into the two concave curves of the “S” shape. Furthermore such a shape attempts to enhance, as much as possible, the views of the sea, considering that the rectangular site has short side facing the sea – the curves of the “S” shape give a much longer portion of the building façade which have views towards the sea both directly opposite as well as diagonally over other buildings.

The orientation of the building starts off as being perpendicular to the “Organization of African Unity Road” in the front, but shifts, towards the middle of the site, to be oriented in line with the Mosque at the rear, and Makkah. This latter orientation, which is carried though the shopping mall, gives the required focus to this building, which otherwise could be sited anywhere in the world.

The building shape and orientation is acknowledging the culture, the features and history of Tripoli, despite the fact that very little remains in this area. As a result these acknowledgements have a strong bearing on the design of the building.

The ‘window’ in the rear part of the “S” symbolically opens up the hinterland of Tripoli; portraying the message that the high buildings being constructed on the coast are not barriers between the prime sites and the rest of Tripoli.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Medina Tower gets Planning Consent

Sidell Gibson Architects have recently achieved Planning Consent for this major property, Medina Tower in Tripoli, Libya containing 350 flats, a health club, offices and 8,000 square feet of retail space. The building is being designed for a Maltese-Libyan consortium.