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BUILDING
 
 
30 St. Mary Axe (Swiss Re Tower) - 'The Gherkin'
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DESIGNER
 
 
Norman Foster

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DESCRIPTION
 
London's first ecological tall building
Foster 30 St. Mary Axe Swiss Re Tower The Gherkin LondonLondon's first ecological tall building and an instantly recognisable addition to the city's skyline, this headquarters for Swiss Re is rooted in a radical approach − technically, architecturally, socially and spatially. Forty-one storeys high, it provides 46,400 square metres net of office space together with an arcade of shops and cafés accessed from a newly created piazza. At the summit - London's highest occupied floor − is a club room that offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama across the capital.

Generated by a circular plan, with a radial geometry, the building widens in profile as it rises and tapers towards its apex. This distinctive form responds to the constraints of the site: the building appears more slender than a rectangular block of equivalent size and the slimming of its profile towards the base maximises the public realm at street level.

Foster 30 St. Mary Axe Swiss Re Tower The Gherkin LondonEnvironmentally, its profile reduces wind deflections compared with a rectilinear tower of similar size, helping to maintain a comfortable environment at ground level, and creates external pressure differentials that are exploited to drive a unique system of natural ventilation.

Conceptually the tower develops ideas explored in the Commerzbank and before that in the Climatroffice, a theoretical project with Buckminster Fuller that suggested a new rapport between nature and the workplace, its energy-conscious enclosure resolving walls and roof into a continuous triangulated skin. Here, the tower's diagonally braced structure allows column-free floor space and a fully glazed facade, which opens up the building to light and views.

Atria between the radiating fingers of each floor link vertically to form a series of informal break-out spaces that spiral up the building. These spaces are a natural social focus - places for refreshment points and meeting areas - and function as the building's 'lungs', distributing fresh air drawn in through opening panels in the facade. This system reduces the building's reliance on air conditioning and together with other sustainable measures, means that it uses only half the energy consumed by a conventionally air-conditioned office tower.
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LOCATION
 
Continent
Europe
Nation
United Kingdom
State
England
Region
London
County
Greater London
Town
London
Address
30, St. Mary Axe
 
 
Website
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MAP
 
 

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TYPOLOGY
 
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for offices and professional practises
Offices
Vertical architectures
Skyscrapers
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
1997    
Realisation
2001 - 2004
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AWARDS
 
2004
RIBA Stirling Prize
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THE BUILDING IN CINEMA
 
Title
  How much does your building weigh, Mr. Foster?
Directed by
Norberto Lopez Amado, Carlos Carcas
Nationality
United Kingdom, Spain
Year of production
2010
Cast
Norman Foster, Tony Hunt, George Weidenfeld, Richard Rogers, Bono, Deyan Sudjic, Paul Goldberger, Carl Abbott, Alain de Botton, Anish Kapoor, Richard Serra, Anthony Caro, Richard Long, Buckminster Fuller, Ben Cowd, Cai Guo-Qiang, Ricky Burdett, Spencer de Grey, David Nelson, Narinder Sagoo, Nigel Dancey, Loretta Law, Mouzhan Madidi, Stefan Behling, Jurgen Happ, Gerard Evenden
Building's role
Appreciable
Annotations
Producer: Elena Ochoa

Executive Producer: Antonio Sanz

Writer & Narrator: Deyan Sudjic

Music: Joan Valent

Director of Photography: Valentin Alvarez
Title
  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Directed by
David Yates
Nationality
United Kingdom, USA
Year of production
2009
Cast
Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Helena Bonham Carter
Building's role
Marginal
Title
  A Good Year
Directed by
Ridley Scott
Nationality
USA
Year of production
2006
Cast
Russell Crowe, Albert Finney, Freddie Highmore, Marion Cotillard
Building's role
Appreciable
 
Title
  Basic Instinct 2
Directed by
Michael Caton-Jones
Nationality
USA
Year of production
2006
Cast
Sharon Stone, David Morrissey, David Thewlis, Flora Montgomery
Building's role
Marginal
Title
  Building the Gherkin
Directed by
Mirjam von Arx
Nationality
Switzerland
Year of production
2005
Cast
Norman Foster, Sara Fox, Peter Wynne Rees, Ken Livingstone
Building's role
Protagonist
Documentary (89') about the construction of  "The Gherkin"
Title
  Match Point
Directed by
Woody Allen
Nationality
UK, USA
Year of production
2005
Cast
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Ewen Bremner, James Nesbitt, Rupert Penry-Jones
Building's role
Appreciable
 
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BIBILIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
 
 
Patrick Gibson, "Forma fluens. L'architettura digitale contro il senso comune", Technology Review (edizione italiana) 2/2008, marzo-aprile 2008, "Scenari" p. 13 (10-17)
Kenneth Powell, 30 St Mary Axe. A Tower for London, Merrell Publishers Ltd, London 2006
Philip Jodidio, Architecture in the United Kingdom, Taschen, Köln 2006, pp. 108-113
Decio Guardigli, "Totem metropolitano/Swiss Re Headquarters", L'Arca Plus 45, II trimestre/quarter 2005 [Doppia pelle/Double Skin], pp. 42-49
Justin McGuirk, "Swiss Re restaurant. Foster & Partners", Icon 22, april 2005, p. 115
Rita Capezzuto (ed.), Vittorio Pizzigoni, "Pelli strutturali?/Structural Skins?", Domus 878, febbraio/february 2005, pp. 42-43 (38-47)
Decio Guardigli, "Un grattacielo eco-consapevole/Swiss Re Headquarters, London", L'Arca 197, novembre/november 2004, pp. 8-17
"30 St Mary Axe, London. Foster & Partners", GA Document 80, june 2004, pp. 84-95
James S. Russell, "In a city averse to towers, 30 St Mary Axe, the 'towering innuendo' by Foster & Partners, is a big ecofriendly hit", Architectural Record 6/2004, june 2004, pp. 218-227
Valentina Croci, "Nuovi scenari ecosostenibili/New Eco-Sustainable Scenarios", Ottagono 167, febbraio/february 2004, p. 145 (140-153)
Richard Bryant/Arcaid (photo), "Un segno urbano/A new landmark", Domus 865, dicembre/december 2003, pp. 84-87
Richard Bryant/Arcaid (photo), "Foster a Londra/Foster in London", Domus Grattacieli/Skyscrapers, supplemento a/supplement of Domus 865, dicembre/december 2003, pp. 14-17
"Foster & Partners. Sede londinese della Swiss Re, Londra" in Next. 8. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura. 2002, Marsilio, Venezia 2002, "Torri" pp. 210-213
"La torre e la città/The tower and the city", Domus 840, settembre/september 2001, "Servizi/Features" pp. 36-101
Norman Foster, "Il grattacielo 'responsabile'/The responsible skyscraper", Domus 840, settembre/september 2001, "Servizi/Features" pp. 52-57 (36-101)
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ADDITIONS AND DIGRESSIONS
 
 
June 20, 2006
Coinciding with Architecture Week (the national public celebration of contemporary architecture), Royal Mail had issue a set of 6 stamps depicting the most modern of modern British Architecture.
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CLIENT
 
 
Swiss Reinsurance Company
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Height
m. 180
Surface
sq.m. 76.400
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STRUCTURES
 
 
Ove Arup & Partners
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STAFF
 
Project
Foster & Partners, London
Design team
Norman Foster, Ken Shuttleworth, Robin Partington, Paul Scott, Simon Reed, Geoff Bee, Ian Bogle, Michael Gentz, Rob Harrison, Chris Kallan, Jürgen Kuppers, Paul Leadbeatter, Stuart Milne, Jacob Norlov, Jason Parker, Sebastian Schoell, Michael Sehmsdorf, Tim Walpole-Walsh, Helen Yabsley
Systems
Hilson Moran Partnership Ltd
Quantity surveyor
Gardiner & Theobald
Project management
RWG Associates
Van Densen & Associates
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CREDITS
 
 
Foster 30 St. Mary Axe Swiss Re Tower The Gherkin LondonPhotos © Nigel Young / Foster + Partners
Drawings © Foster + Partners
Text edited by Foster + Partners
Courtesy by Foster + Partners































If you haven't already clicked on the photo strip at the top of the page, for the gallery of photos [15 images] and drawings [11 images], enter here
 
 
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