C.F. Møller Architects, artist Conrad Shawcross and developer Knight Dragon have completed a major new art and architecture collaboration for the Greenwich Peninsula Low Carbon Energy Centre.
The Greenwich Peninsula is one of London’s major urban development areas, including 15,700 new homes, over 300,000 m² of office space and the conversion of the former Millennium Dome into the indoor arena renamed The O2.
Committed to sustainability
Responding to a cross-party drive to increase the use of Combined Heat & Power (CHP) across the UK and to realize a vision of decentralized energy power gen-eration in London, the Greenwich Peninsula Low Carbon Energy Centre houses technically advanced boilers and CHP that provide heat energy to the businesses and homes due to be built on the Peninsula in the coming years and is part of the Peninsula’s Sustainability Strategy.
The Energy Centre is the largest new build residential heat network in Europe, saving over 20,000 tonnes of carbon every year.
The 3000 m² Low Carbon Energy Centre, situated in a prominent location at the entrance to the peninsula, adjacent to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, is a highly visible and important new landmark that demonstrates the applicants’ and stake-holders’ commitment to sustainable and affordable energy for all. Heat energy will be distributed via a District Heating Network (DHN) from the Energy Centre to each plot across the development.
Designed by British artist Conrad Shawcross, the cladding of the 49 metre high stack tower unites sophisticated engineering and complex optic research to create an impressive sculptural concept on a huge scale: The cladding for the structure is formed of hundreds of triangular panels that fold and flow across the surface of the tower forming complex geometric patterns that visually break up the flat planes to create an uneven, sculpted surface that plays with the vanishing points and perspective.
The panels are perforated so as to exploit the phenomena of the Moiré Effect, and at night an integrated lighting design produces a shifting series of ‘composi-tions‘ lit from within the structure.
The work of art by Conrad Shawcross is named ‘The Optic Cloak*
Prepared for the future
To demystify the process of energy generation, the Energy Centre’s machine room and flexible ancillary office accommodation is supplemented with a Visitor Centre offering an interactive educational experience for prearranged groups of visitors. Construction started in 2015, and was completed in 2016. The building footprint further allows for flexibility in adopting new energy technology over the building’s substantial lifetime.
Simultaneously with the Energy Centre, C.F. Møller has also designed one of the new mixed tenure housing developments within the Greenwich Peninsula site for site-wide developer Knight Dragon.
Construction of the flue tower
The structure measures 20m-wide and 3m-deep and is constructed from five in-terconnected steel ladder frames that are clad with perforated aluminum panels, each the size of a London bus. These triangular panels fold across the surface of the tower forming intricate geometric patterns that create a dynamic, sculpted surface.
The original design concept for the tower was to align the flues in a row in order to create a tower with an unusually slim profile, a fin or 'blade' on the skyline. This concept brought many structural challenges, not least the high wind loading on the long face of the structure. The tensile strength of steel, coupled with its ductility, made steel the obvious choice as it enabled the creation of a strong but slim and highly perforated structure. In addition to the structural properties of the material, the industrial aesthetic of steel lent itself to the historical context of Greenwich Peninsula. The cross-bracing inherent to the structure echoes the lattice work of the neighbouring gas holder dating from 1886. Further benefits include the ability to accurately fabricate the frame in sections off-site followed by a quick installa-tion on-site. The design has required a high degree of co-ordination between the structural design team, the cladding designers, the flue designers and the artist.
Due to the nature of the flue tower’s perforated cladding, the steelwork is exposed to the elements. For this reason all of the steelwork has been galvanized to guar-antee a rust-resistant finish and less maintenance. The ladder sections were gal-vanized after being assembled. Because of the length of the ladders, they were too long for the plant’s hot-dip galvanizing facilities. Consequently, they were dipped from one galvanizing bath, hoisted out then re-dipped from the other end.
The flue tower was fabricated and delivered to site as fully assembled ladder sec-tions. There are five ladders in total and each one arrived onsite in three pieces, which after being lifted into place and bolted up formed one 49m-high section. The 3m-wide ladders are spaced at 4.5m centres and are connected by series of diagonal cross members. Large nodes on the ladders accept these cross mem-bers with some nodes accepting up to eight members.
Pinnacle Power and Knight Dragon Developments
C.F. Møller Architects
C.F. Møller Landscape / Conrad Shawcross
C.F. MØLLER IS ONE OF SCANDINAVIA’S LEADING ARCHITECTURAL FIRMS; WITH 90 YEARS OF AWARD WINNING WORK IN THE NORDICS AND WORLDWIDE.
Simplicity, clarity and unpretentiousness, the ideals that have guided our work since the practice was established in 1924, are continually re-interpreted to suit individual projects, always site-specific and combined with sustainable, innovative and socially responsible design solutions.
Over the years, we have won a large number of national and international competitions and major architectural awards. Our work has been on show at architectural exhibitions all over the world as well as published in books and leading professional journals.
With our integrated design approach which seamlessly blends urban design, landscape, building design and building component design, C.F. Møller has received much acclaim for international projects of reference like the unique University Campus in Aarhus, the National Gallery in Copenhagen and many others.