Friday 8 February 2013


Foster + Partners is a British Architecture office based in London. It was established in 1967 by its chairman Norman Foster, and renamed to Foster + Partners in 1990, to better reflect the conceptual influence of the other lead architects.

 All images are property of Foster + Partners
Foster + Partners' headquarters in London
Norman Foster

"The only constant is change - and change is about evolution, is about innovation, is about new ways of doing things." - Norman Foster

New Wembley Stadium
London, UK 

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"Originally built for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, and in turn the site of the Olympic Games in 1948 and the football World Cup Final in 1966, the old Wembley Stadium was the most important sports and entertainment venue in Britain. The challenge in reinventing it for a new century was to build on that heritage and yet create a venue that would be memorable and magical in its own right. With 90,000 seats, standing almost four times the height and covering twice the area of the original, the new stadium is the largest covered arena in the world. Facilities are designed to maximise spectator enjoyment; seats are larger than the old ones, with more leg-room; the highest tiers are easily accessed via escalators; and the concourse that wraps around the building provides catering for up to 40,000 spectators at any one time. One of the things that make the stadium special is the retractable roof, which ensures that the spectator experience is comfortable in all weathers. When the roof is open it ensures that the turf gets sufficient sunlight and air to maintain perfect condition, while in poor weather it can be closed to cover the entire seating bowl. The roof is supported structurally by a spectacular 133-metre-high arch that soars over the stadium, providing an iconic replacement for the old building’s twin towers; conceived as a triumphal gateway, floodlit at night it is a strong symbol for the new Wembley and a new London landmark. The stadium is designed to be ideal for football. Its geometry and steeply raked seating tiers ensure that everyone has an unobstructed view. To recreate the intimate atmosphere and the distinctive ‘Wembley roar’ for which the old stadium was famous, the seats are located as close to the pitch as possible. Yet the building has also been consciously ‘future proofed’, with the ability to host a variety of events, including international track and field events to Olympic standard if required."  

Beijing Airport

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"Beijing’s new international terminal is the world’s largest and most advanced airport building - not only technologically, but also in terms of passenger experience, operational efficiency and sustainability. Completed as the gateway to the city for athletes participating in the twenty-ninth Olympiad, it is designed to be welcoming and uplifting. A symbol of place, its soaring aerodynamic roof and dragon-like form celebrate the thrill and poetry of flight and evoke traditional Chinese colours and symbols.

Located between the existing eastern runway and the future third runway, the terminal building and Ground Transportation Centre (GTC) enclose a floor area of 1.3 million square metres and will accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers per annum by 2020. Although conceived on an unprecedented scale, the building’s design expands on the new airport paradigm created by Stansted and Chek Lap Kok. Designed for maximum flexibility to cope with the unpredictable nature of the aviation industry, like its predecessors, it aims to resolve the complexities of modern air travel, combining spatial clarity with high service standards. Public transport connections are fully integrated, walking distances for passengers are short, with few level changes, and transfer times between flights are minimised. Like Chek Lap Kok, the terminal is open to views to the outside and planned under a single unifying roof canopy, whose linear skylights are both an aid to orientation and sources of daylight - the colour cast changing from red to yellow as passengers progress through the building.

The terminal building is one of the world’s most sustainable, incorporating a range of passive environmental design concepts, such as the south-east orientated skylights, which maximise heat gain from the early morning sun, and an integrated environment-control system that minimises energy consumption. In construction terms, its design optimised the performance of materials selected on the basis of local availability, functionality, application of local skills, and low cost procurement. Remarkably, it was designed and built in just four years."

Swiss Re HQ, 30 St Mary Axe
London, UK

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"Londons first ecological tall building and an instantly recognisable addition to the citys skyline, 30 St Mary Axe is rooted in a radical approach - technically, architecturally, socially and spatially. Commissioned by Swiss Re, one of the worlds leading reinsurance companies, it rises forty-one storeys and provides 76,400 square metres of accommodation, including offices and a shopping arcade accessed from a newly created public plaza. At the very top of the building Londons highest occupied floor - is a club room that offers a spectacular 360-degree panorama across the capital.

Generated by a radial plan, with a circular perimeter, 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; reflections are reduced and transparency is improved; and the slimming of its profile towards the base maximises the public realm at ground level. Environmentally, its profile reduces the amount of wind deflected to the ground compared with a rectilinear tower of similar size, helping to maintain pedestrian comfort at street 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 towers diagonally braced structural envelope 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 together 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 buildings lungs, distributing fresh air drawn in through opening panels in the faade. This system reduces the towers reliance on air conditioning and together with other sustainable measures, means that the building is expected to use up to half the energy consumed by air-conditioned office towers. 

In 2004, 30 St Mary Axe won the RIBA Stirling Prize. Accepting the award from George Ferguson, the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Norman Foster thanked the jury for acknowledging the significance of its design. Winning the Stirling Prize is a great honour, he stated, It is a credit to the commitment and vision of an exceptional client and a talented team. 30 St Mary Axe is an embodiment of the core values that we have championed for more than thirty years: values about humanising the workplace, conserving energy, democratising the way people communicate within a building, and the way that building relates to the urban realm."

Apple's New Campus
Cupertino, CA, USA

McLaren Production Centre 
Surrey, UK

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"The McLaren Production Centre is the second building designed by Foster + Partners at McLaren’s rural site on the outskirts of London. The 32,000-square-metre facility is intended for the manufacture of a range of high-performance road cars and is located to the south-west of the existing McLaren Technology Centre. The two buildings will be connected by a subterranean walkway, lined with interactive exhibition spaces. Sharing a common language of details and materials, the new building is clad in aluminium tubes, the rounded corners of its rectilinear plan reference the curves of the Technology Centre and the entrance, echoing the existing building, is a circular glass drum beneath the overhang of the roof canopy.

The MPC further develops an approach to industrial architecture that was first explored in some of the practice’s earliest projects for Reliance Controls and Renault. The roof canopy is supported by a series of slender columns based on a standard grid with repeated components and services are integrated with the painted steel structure. McLaren’s manufacturing processes are closer in spirit to an operating theatre than a factory and the new building, with its ceramic tiled floors, is designed to showcase this technology. The linear arrangement of the two-storey structure mirrors the flow of the production line: components are delivered; the cars are assembled, painted and tested, and then pass through a rolling road and car wash, before leaving the building. Below this is a basement level for storage and above is a mezzanine floor with views over the production line.

The expansion of the campus is a similarly discreet intervention in the landscape. Rising to just over 7 metres in height and embedded in the gentle incline of the site, the MPC is sensitive to its rural setting and will not be visible from the nearby road. Further screening will be provided by the extensive planting of trees and excavated material will help to conceal the building within the hill. The new building is also designed to be sustainable – the Technology Centre uses the lake for its cooling system, so the roof of the MPC supports this by collecting rainwater and implementing a low-energy system of displacement ventilation."  

Photos:Nigel Young 

Jameson House 
Vancouver, Canada

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"Rising above two existing art-deco buildings, Jameson House is a new tower located at the heart of Vancouver’s heritage district. The scheme continues the practice’s investigation into contemporary interventions within historic structures, explored previously in a high-rise context with the Hearst Tower in New York. The project is also an example of a building that combines living and working in one location, encouraging social activity and balancing energy consumption between its mix of daytime and night-time uses.

The project involves the restoration of the A-listed 1921 Ceperley Rounsfell Building – returning the entire internal double-height volume to its original configuration – and the retention of the facade of the B-listed Royal Financial Building, dating from1929. The new tower comprises ten storeys of offices, including shops and a restaurant, and twenty-six storeys of apartments with underground parking. The relatively even twenty-four-hour spread of energy demands has enabled full advantage to be taken of a central cogeneration plant – the first of its kind to be used in Vancouver. It is planned to run on bio-diesel as primary fuel and combined with an absorption cooling plant can supplement both cooling and electricity requirements for the building.

Developed in response to the local climate, the concept for Jameson House has been sensitive to seasonal sun paths, prevailing winds, humidity levels, air temperatures and precipitation rates specific to the location. Directional wind profiles and solar exposure have been used to help determine the facade design and external building form to achieve lower thermal loads and opportunities for open balconies and natural ventilation. Jameson House will also be a green building in a more literal sense. The top of the tower, the balconies, and a roof terrace at level 4 will be green spaces, introducing planting and trees to the precinct area, irrigated naturally via a rainwater harvesting system."

Photos:Nigel Young 

425 Park Avenue
New York, NY, USA

“Our aim is to create an exceptional building, both of its time and timeless, as well as being respectful of its context and celebrated Modernist neighbors – a tower that is for the City and for the people that will work in it, setting a new standard for office design and providing an enduring landmark that befits its world-famous location. Clearly expressing the geometry of its structure, the tapered steel-frame tower rises to meet three shear walls that will be illuminated, adding to the vibrant New York City skyline. Its elegant facade seamlessly integrates with an innovative internal arrangement that allows for three gradated tiers of column-free floors. Offering world-class, sustainable office accommodation, the new building anticipates changing needs in the workplace with large, flexible open floor plates. Each of the three tiers – low, medium and high-rise – is defined by a landscaped terrace with panoramic views across Manhattan and Central Park. To maximize the Park Avenue frontage, the core is placed to the rear, where glazed stairwells reveal long views towards the East River, while at street level, there is potential for a large civic plaza with significant works of art.” - Norman Foster

Millenium Bridge
London, UK 

Descriptive memory by F+P (in
"The Millennium Bridge springs from a creative collaboration between architecture, art and engineering. Developed with sculptor Anthony Caro and engineers Arup, the commission resulted from an international competition. Londons only pedestrian bridge and the first new Thames crossing since Tower Bridge in 1894, it links the City and St Pauls Cathedral to the north with the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern on Bankside. A key element in Londons pedestrian infrastructure, it has created new routes into Southwark and encouraged new life on the embankment alongside St Pauls.

Structurally, the bridge pushes the boundaries of technology. Spanning 320 metres, it is a very shallow suspension bridge. Two Y-shaped armatures support eight cables that run along the sides of the 4-metre-wide deck, while steel transverse arms clamp onto the cables at 8-metre intervals to support the deck itself. This groundbreaking structure means that the cables never rise more than 2.3 metres above the deck, allowing pedestrians uninterrupted panoramic views of London and preserving sight lines from the surrounding buildings. As a result, the bridge has a uniquely thin profile, forming a slender arc across the water, and spanning the greatest possible distance with the minimum means. A thin ribbon of steel by day, it is illuminated to form a glowing blade of light at night.

The bridge opened in June 2000 and an astonishing 100,000 people crossed it during the first weekend. However, under this heavy traffic the bridge exhibited greater than expected lateral movement, and as a result it was temporarily closed. Extensive research and testing revealed that this movement was caused by synchronised pedestrian footfall - a phenomenon of which little was previously known in the engineering world. The solution was to fit dampers discreetly beneath the deck to mitigate movement. This proved highly successful and the research undertaken by the engineers has resulted in changes to the codes for bridge building worldwide."

For more information and more projects visit Foster + Partners' website.

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