Lloyd's of London
Lloyd' s is located in the heart of the City of London' s financial district. The site called for a building of quality that would contribute to the environment of the City of London.
The competition for a new Lloyd' s was won on the basis not of an architectural proposal but of a convincing strategy for the future of this key City institution. Lloyd' s had moved the 'Room', the centre of dealing operations, twice in 50 years and wanted a building which would provide for its needs well into the next century . RRP responded with a building where the Room could expand (or contract), according to the needs of the market, by means of a series of galleries around a central space, with escalators and external glazed lifts providing easy access between floors.
To maximise the usable space in the building, the practice banished the services to the perimeter. The building is twelve storeys to the north and steps down to six storeys to the south. The lower ground level houses the Lloyd' s restaurant and coffee areas, a wine bar, shops, library, meeting rooms and reception area, while mechanical services, lifts, toilets, kitchens, fire stairs and lobbies are housed in distinct service towers, easily accessible for maintenance. The 84 metre high internal atrium, staggering in its scale and verticality, owes something to Paxton' s Crystal Palace, while the use of opaque glass pays homage to Pierre Chareau' s Maison de Verre in Paris. As Rogers points out: Lloyd's is richly detailed and layered in section, offering a responsive, indeterminate architecture - a balance between permanence and transformation.'
Making optimum use of the site allowed for a high degree of flexibility and choice of alternative strategies during the design, construction and occupation of the building. Should the densely populated market expand, it is even possible to add on more service towers to provide for greater numbers of people.
In defining a strategy and not a building, a legible system was developed that broadly allocated zones, defined movement and levels so that areas could change in an orderly basis without disrupting the business. The highly articulated service towers around the perimeter lend an immediate sense of order and hierarchy to the building’s appearance.
The ground level acts as a public space, encouraging workers and tourists into the building, where a coffee house and wine bar contribute to the life of the surrounding streets.
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