On a high-value site in the most historic core of London, the new Minories development centres around an exemplary model of adaptive reuse. It’s been overseen by architect ACME in partnership with developer 4C Hotel Group. In this article our design director Gerry O’Brien explores how looking into the past can create real long-term value for such a site’s future.
100 Liverpool Street – which is nominated for the 2022 RIBA Stirling Prize – is a cornerstone development for British Land’s masterplanned Broadgate regeneration, within the historic City of London. It was designed by Hopkins Architects. Two 1980s-era office structures have been assimilated, reconfigured and extended within the delivery of the modern mixed-use programme; the scheme adds +40% in functional area while reusing 50% of the superstructure and 100% of the foundations. Altogether, this pioneering design solution saves an estimated 7,000 tonnes of CO2, in comparison with the notional new construction.
As part of the 2022 London Design Festival, this bespoke architectural installation uses an ancient-Egyptian wall-building technique to showcase the cutting-edge carbon-neutral concrete that’s been developed by the London-based enterprise Seratech. Their team – a spin-out from Imperial College London – has developed a way of sequestering CO2 within the creation of novel, waste-free construction materials. The installation is engineered by AKT II, and has been delivered for the 2022 festival with the support of the specialist concrete contractor Byrne Bros.
Khudi Bari – meaning ‘Tiny House’ – is a modular monsoon shelter that’s designed by the Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum. It’s made for inhabitants of the country’s Ganges river delta (where entire swathes of land can flood overnight), and can be hand-assembled using local materials, with a cost of just £300. AKT II’s team was engaged to reconfigure the shelter’s structural supports so that it could be demonstrated, using the thinner bamboo that’s available in the UK, as part of the 2022 Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.
Ten years on, AKT II director Edoardo Tibuzzi looks back at the BMW Group Pavilion at the 2012 London Olympics. Has the promise of creating an environmentally friendly structure that can have a meaningful purpose after the Games been kept?
When we talk about pollution, there’s a form of it that’s almost everywhere but gets relatively little coverage: light. Artificial lighting has become integral to our modern civilisation, however its excessive use is now harming health, disrupting ecosystems, and even interfering with humanity’s understanding of the universe. In this article, AKT II’s bioclimatic associate Mattia Donato highlights the scale of the problem, and talks through what we can do as designers to create a – metaphorically – brighter future.
In central London, the new Marshall Building is a multifunctional academic facility that’s been designed by Grafton Architects for the existing urban campus of the London School of Economics (LSE). Inside, the project’s programmatic challenges are turned into a clear design opportunity, with a series of tree-like transfer structures that now form part of the building’s – and the university’s – architectural narrative. In this video, AKT II’s design directors Marta Galinanes Garcia and Chris O’Meara share some of the engineering insights behind this new ‘tree of knowledge’.
For World Environment Day, we look at the successful story behind the waterless garden in the city of Sharjah and take the opportunity to hear from Elisa Gatto – environmental biologist, expert in urban vegetation, climate change adaption strategies and land productivity – and Mattia Donato, AKT II associate on ways to synergistically produce clean energy and food.
Following on from our groundbreaking work on the South Bank Tower extension, we’re working with HCL Architects for our client CIT Group, where we are taking the same principle with an existing 16-storey tower in Islington and extending it 13-storeys. By doing so, we ended up saving 35% of the carbon footprint of a new-build.
Inner-city areas are becoming ever more densely populated. Mixed-use schemes are increasingly prevalent, while their conflicting spatial requirements are getting more and more challenging. The newly completed One Crown Place – a ‘city within a city block’ that’s been delivered by CBRE Development Management for MTD Group – exemplifies all of this very well. In this article, our design director Steve Toon shares some insight from the project’s new high-rise elements, and examines the engineering moves that have safeguarded their uses’ functionality.
The Beacon of Hope is a demountable public artwork that showcases the structural potential of Bamboo. It’s designed by artist Joseph Williams and hand-built by his Bamboology team, with some engineering from AKT II. In this video, Joseph, our engineers and Climate Art’s founding director and curator Dzmitry Suslau share some of the design innovation involved.
This year to commemorate London Climate Action Week we look at how the built environment can positively contribute to the circular economy at a macro/building scale. Here we explore five key topics which we will reflect on and learn from the past – retrofit projects – and show how we implement these today – new build projects.
Unitised façade systems allow a rapid, high-quality install with relative ease, thus saving time and money – a win in anyone’s books. These systems also make it extremely difficult to replace any of the units’ constituent components. In this latest article within our ongoing AKT II Envelopes series, our design engineer Rob Jones explores existing considerations of façade disassembly and reuse, and speculates on how façade design approaches may evolve in the future.
Responsible water management, throughout our built environment, is more important than ever. The planet is heating up, sea levels are rising, and flooding is increasing, while at the same time we must keep our cities and ourselves comparatively dry. Ironically, the natural environment may also offer a fantastic solution. In this article, AKT II’s infrastructure director Dean Cadby explores the relatively recent concept of ‘sponge cities’ – and the approach’s apparent potential to soak up both water and developmental risk alike.
Balancing the temporary nature of a façade with ever-increasing environmental and safety requirements poses a formidable challenge for façade designers. Design engineer Paul Tarand explores how we can design and construct in ways that improve a façade’s sustainability within this industry climate.
This article is the first within a series exploring what’s coming next for modern façade design.
At our latest virtual round-table, the discussion focussed overwhelmingly on one topic: can transport planners solve the problems surrounding congestion in a way that enables social growth and promotes urban development? Put simply, the answer is ‘yes, we can’.
But before providing any solutions, let’s first reimagine the question.
From star of the silver screen to a new leading role within London’s office scene: the historic Farmiloe building, complete with its impressive history, is being transformed to become the new HQ for global entertainment brand Live Nation. In this article, AKT II director Alex Widdison details how the building is being brought into the 21st century, and how its 18th-century character is concurrently being kept alive.
Finding an equilibrium between nature and the built environment requires dedication, experience, and most importantly technology. Bioclimatic design – a combination of ‘biology’ and ‘climate’ – aims to uncover this delicate balance, and helps to make cities more resilient, comfortable and safe. Here, our bioclimatic lead-designed Mattia Donato explores the wind’s profound effect upon our urban realm.
The new residential redevelopment Regent’s Crescent sits at the northern culmination of Regent Street and Portland Place, and gives identity to London’s West End. Embodying many years of history and intrigue, it’s exemplary as one of our most satisfying projects to date. Maria Camporro, our lead on the project, here details the story behind the restoration and reconstruction of the Grade I-listed façade; exploring the bones of the structure, and the ingenious solutions that have made it all happen.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Government has announced a £2 billion investment in cycling and walking. What does this mean for the built environment? Director of AKT II Transport Jonathan Rodger explains.
The human species must urgently reduce carbon emissions. With 49% of the UK’s carbon attributable to buildings, our increasingly decarbonised grid and improved fabric have made headway. But we face a further challenge: reducing embodied carbon within the building’s structure. In this article, director Nicola Carniato discusses what our industry can do to tackle climate change.
Data is one of the world’s most powerful, sought-after commodities, but how does it affect the way we design? Edoardo Tibuzzi, director of AKT II’s computational research team p.art, outlines how the technology boom has changed and enhanced how we design the built environment.
“Ipsa scientia potestas est” – knowledge itself is power. We can observe this easily when we look at the role of the library throughout history. In this article design director Valentina Galmozzi and senior engineer Danae Polyviou detail how libraries have evolved and adapted through the centuries, from the ancient world to our modern era.
Expectations of bland, monotonous, uninspired design, and of a product-driven by efficiency at the expense of quality and sensual experience, have plagued this form of construction. Although much discussed in recent times, offsite is not new. We have tried it many times in the past, and it has failed many times. It has been affected by social, political and economic cycles. It clearly has an image problem which needs to be overcome. It has not succeeded historically. So, the question is: how are we going to change this perception? How do we now make offsite succeed? Gerry O’Brien, Design Director, investigates.
The cantilever is unique in its ability to inspire awe and wonder in our structures by defying gravity. Yet so often it also appears excessive and obtuse, appropriated as a materially inefficient statement of power and wealth. It is a thoroughly modern structural element – the essential engineering problem solved by science born out of the Enlightenment period, and technologies forged during the Industrial Revolution. Design Director Martin Ocampo details what makes the cantilever unique as a structural element and why this makes it so difficult to get right.
Two near-identical structures sit side by side on the new St Paul’s School campus. The difference between them? The latest building saved over £1 million of our client’s money. Marta Galiñanes-Garcia, Design Director at AKT II and project lead, details how the team achieved this saving and the story behind the structural design of St Paul’s School – a project with a multitude of complexities and elegant, cost-effective solutions.
As we move further into the world where the embodied carbon of a building is outweighing operational carbon in its predicted lifetime, the impact of a building’s structure becomes more and more prevalent in the discussion and decision-making process of the early stage design. Design Director Steve Toon outlines how CLT/concrete hybrid structures can sometimes be more efficient than using alternate materials.
It’s common knowledge that engineers like columns. As the ‘marmite’ of the built environment industry, both clients and architects sometimes feel that columns can be limiting to their developments and designs, respectively. Often, engineers find themselves trying to hide them even or remove them. But AKT II wants to celebrate the integral structural element. Design Director Martin Ocampo makes the case for columns as an element that should be celebrated.
After a century of domination by the heavyweights of the building industry, we are now living in an age of environmental awareness, and thus the use of timber in design and construction is gaining more momentum than ever before. Design Director Rob Partridge, Director Ricardo Candel and Associate Ed Durie detail the strides made in timber design and what more can still be done.
Following on from the world and industry-wide reaction to the climate emergency, and the Architect’s Journal’s #retrofirst campaign, is retrofit truly the way forward for the built environment and to work towards achieving net-zero carbon? After AKT II’s many successful retrofit projects in London, the director of our Manchester Office, Raj Takhar, thinks so. In this article, Raj details how we can apply these successes to existing buildings in Manchester, Leeds and the entire North West of England.