Introduction Heliport Heights consists of 3722 sqm GEA. It provides 2865 sqm of GIA residential space. The proposal is to build a 15-storey residential building on top of the existing structure of a 4 storey building called Heliport House. The overall height of the building will amount to 19-storeys of accommodation. The proposal offers 14 residential flats all with 2 large balconies and river views. 13 of the flats will occupy a floor plate each and the top unit will be a duplex with a large roof terrace. We also propose to enhance the existing Heliport House building by re-cladding it. Site The existing site which houses Heliport House sits just behind the Battersea Heliport on the River Thames in Battersea, Wandsworth, London.
The area along the river is littered with high rise residential blocks and a hotel. However the site is positioned on the edge of an industrial estate where Land Rover, Volkswagen and Audi have their show rooms. Concept The concept of a building over an existing building as well as the chosen materials and carefully considered forms give Heliport Heights quite an unusual appearance. We believe that these extraordinary aspects are it’s greatest assets. The design would not be as delightful and refreshing without these. We believe much like OCAD in Toronto this building will attract people from all around the world considerably increasing tourism as well as regeneration within the area.
Design - Keeping the Existing Building Keeping the existing building was part of the brief and was one of the main reasons the client commissioned Will Alsop to design the development. This constraint contributes to the creation of such an momentous piece of architecture. One of its kind, never built before in London. Building Above an Existing Building To help achieve this extraordinary architecture on such a small site, we will elevate the new building above the existing building using long steel piled stilts. Other than these stilts, the only other point where Heliport Heights touches the ground floor is the area with the lifts and the entrance lobby. Ground Floor 1. Sculptural Suspended Pod To enhance the view from the ground we have hung a pod from Heliport Height’s structure, this space will house a conference room. It will be rented out to the public and the existing offices for anything from parties to meetings, to drawing classes. It will be clad in a polished stainless steel with the aim to enchant passers by. The reflections in the curved shape will create momentary pieces of performance art, captured on its skin. 2. Ground Floor Vitrine Gallery A large shop front window has been introduced into the facade of the existing building. This is to be used as an exhibition space. A local art college or artist will be chosen each year and a programme will be implemented to show different pieces of art here. 3. Projection The core of Heliport Heights will provide the space with a perfect white wall. Here we propose to project art or films. This could be hung from below the pod. The projects could be used for a variation of different things from wayfinding to public screenings. Form The forms within the building are very important to the design. The curved plan helps to create a perfect panoramic flat. The taper towards the top and the bottom gives the overall form a beautiful shape, making the tower look elegant rather than clumsy and stocky. It also provides a perfect reduction of floor plate for a duplex penthouse. The form of the mirrored conference pod and the white ‘underbelly’ provide playful reflective surface for ground floor life. Height and Planning The planning policy for the area where our site sits has a 9-storey limit. However, we contested this recommendation with the following reasons, the planners accepted this and granted us planning permission. The site is set back slightly from all the 15 + storey buildings directly on the river and positioned amongst a selection of low rise industrial sheds. We pointed out that when facing the site from across the river as well as from other areas there is a very noticeable gap and Heliport Height would fill this gap. During the early stages of the concept design we placed the preliminary sketch model above the existing Heliport House and adjusted its proportions and scale using the rules of the golden section. The early models looked too short and squashed. We came to this particular height when the proportions worked both as a form as well as within its surrounding skyline. Layout The living space and balconies are positioned overlooking the river frontage to maximise the fantastic views. There is a central staircase which will use up the least desirable space with no light, the rest of the spaces will surround this. The position of the lift at the back of the site is deliberate as it is the area with the poorest views. Providing 1 flat per floor works well with the design of the building. The river views and extraordinary Heliport events make the site very suitable for a larger, higher end property. As discussed in the form section the building tapers at the top creating a perfect sized floor plate for a duplex flat and the roof terrace will belong to this residence. Material The materials for Heliport Heights have been chosen very carefully. Below we explain a few examples of how and why. Corten Steel / Weathering Steel For the main body of the building we chosen to use a Corten Steel rain screen cladding. Corten Steel also known as Weathering Steel has many suitable and interesting qualities. Texture and Colour - It’s character is very rough with a wonderfully vibrant colour. The texture is very soft with a sandy feel to its surface. The surface changes colour with and time and weathering. Reflection It’s lack of reflectivity is very suitable for this site and it’s immediate surroundings. It is important to maxmise nonreflective materials next to the Heliport as anything too reflective can dazzle the incoming helicopters and could be dangerous. Rain screen Cladding - The corten will be cut out of a flat sheet into a tessellated pattern and then fixed to brackets which stand proud of the insulated weather tight wall. Polished Stainless Steel A conference room pod will be hung from the underside of the new build Heliport Heights. This is to be clad in polished stainless steel. The underside will be very reflective and the upper side will be brushed to avoid disturbing the incoming helicopters. The mirror like quality on the underside will help to captivate any passers by who can watch themselves in its playful skin. Prof. Will Alsop is a prominent architect and artist who established aLL Design in 2011. He was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize for Peckham Library, London and the first RIBA World Award for the Sharp Centre for Design (OCAD), Toronto, amongst numerous prestigious accolades for a multitude of projects. His architectural work encompasses all sectors and his studio practice incorporates painting and product design. Alsop’s core values are innovation, expression and originality with an emphasis on enjoyment. His involvement of people both within and outside the arts has led to design that challenges architectural norms. His practice is founded principally to ‘make life better’, the philosophy extends from the design of individual buildings to embrace broader principles of urbanism and city development. Will sits on architectural advisory boards for Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea Councils. He is visiting Professor of TU Vienna and Professor of Architecture at Canterbury School of Architecture, UCA. He is currently designing part of the regeneration of Kew Gate district for the London Borough of Hounslow and working internationally in China, Canada and Europe.