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L'Arca 157


Citygate Ecotower


A feather is floating around London. A feather which is actually a multi-purpose multi-eco tower looking for a place to stay in the City. Studying the photo-simulation created by the British team M3 Architects (the tower rises up in the city centre, right by the banks of the Thames), we cannot help noticing what an impact the Citygate Ecotower makes on the urban skyline. There is nothing visually gentle about this "feather", that stands out just as much as any other building on the capital's cityscape as a (calculated) gamble to create a new land-mark, a real place in its own right that can clearly be seen by anybody flying over the city or viewing it from almost any point of view. The tower's striking vertical appearance on the cityscape is contrasted by the structural and physical lightness of the project designed by the M3 team (composed of the architects Nadi Jahangiri, Ken Hutt, Anna Tweeddale, and John  Lacey). It actually manages to be conceptually as well as formally a "feather" thanks to what it represents. This building openly avows its cutting-edge ecological intentions right from the word go: it is an avant-garde low-energy machine, a feast of photovoltaic cells, ventilated facades, and wind  turbines. A complex of energy mechanisms covering 60 percent of the building's own needs.


All this while catering for clients who certainly are not inclined to take risks: as Ken Hutt says "We set out to  offer ideal "values" for shopping facilities within a design that adapts to  wind and light", viz. the energy resources in use. In a word, the building is designed to brings its "inhabitants'" needs (shops, residents, hotels, conference facilities) in line with "extreme" energy saving requirements. Here "extreme" is to be taken in the literal sense of the word: for instance, there were even plans to  equip all the rooms with laptops rather than ordinary PCs because they  give off less heat. Attention to detail is certainly one of the key features of this entire project. On the inside, three-storey "units" hold "communities" serving the same needs and purposes. The tower -108 stories rising up to an overall height of 460 metres - is also incorporated in a tube station.


The project was presented at the Art Institute in Chicago during the conference on high-rise buildings entitled "Skyscrapers: The New Millennium", held last August. Buildings capable of challenging Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur to be the tallest building in the world are: 7 South Dear Born in Chicago, Landmark Tower in Hong Kong, Sao Paolo Tower in San Paolo del Brasil, and Grollo Tower in Melbourne. All in the name of "tall is beautiful".


A Chartered Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects

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