Metallic envelope design

Situated opposite the South Transept of St Paul’s Cathedral, the new City of London Information Centre introduces a dynamic contemporary structure to an area of exceptional architectural and urban heritage. In form, the building combines simplicity and efficiency of structure with a distinctive visual impact. The triangular plan has evolved from an analysis of principal pedestrian flows across a high-profile site.

The building, designed by Make Architects and completed at the end of 2007, has already won some design awards. It is carefully located to ensure that it does not impede any views of St Paul’s Cathedral. The folded metallic envelope is functional, and the triangular shape allows the public to use the widest section while staff facilities are housed at the tip. The full-height glazed frontage ensures that the front-of-house area is bathed in daylight while being oriented to avoid excessive solar gain. The 174 yellow panels lining the interior are made of Trespa, a recycled timber product.

The metallic envelope evokes the lightness and aerodynamic profile of a paper aeroplane, seamlessly wrapping 140 sq. metres of internal accommodation and formed by a steel frame braced by a structural ply skin and clad in externally vented stainless steel panels. The building meets exacting environmental standards and has been engineered to exceed current targets for CO2 emissions by over 20 per cent. The structure’s envelope is well insulated, the interior environment is regulated using borehole heating/cooling, and the sloping roof facilitates the collection of rainwater. Triangular roof lights draw light into the interior, and daylight sensors regulate the artificial lighting.

The City of London is concentrated into just one square mile of the capital. A major award bestowed on the City of London Information Centre recently was a Civic Trust Award for 2009 in the ‘Greater London’ regional category. Winners of these awards are projects that are recognised as culturally, socially or economically beneficial and make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the environment. Earlier, the Information Centre had won a Visit London Award for 2008 sponsored by Virgin Atlantic, for “the best visitor information initiative”.

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