The Lloyd’s Building

Rogers' Lloyd's Building reflected in Foster's Willis Building

In 1978, the year after architect Richard Rogers’ Pompidou Centre opened in Paris, construction started on his first major London project, The Lloyd’s Building in Lime Street.

Built to house the London Insurance Market, this was the first “high tech” building in the UK and there is still nothing quite like it.

The building is “inside out”, with the service functions placed on the exterior. The pipework and air conditioning ducts wrapped around the outside, the glass lifts scooting up the outside walls, the corner staircases like corkscrew metal are all still a delight to behold. But the concept is not decorative per se: it allows for easy replacement and maintenance of the facilities, and it means the inside can be open and flexible, with uninterrupted activity on each level. Rogers has designed other buildings in London since Lloyd’s, but none provoke the same sense of looking at something otherworldly.

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The Wobbly Bridge – Foster and Caro’s ‘Blade of Light’

millennium bridge from south bank

Spanning the river from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern, London’s gallery of modern and contemporary art housed in the former Bankside power station , is the Millennium Bridge – known to Londoners as the ‘wobbly bridge’, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

Designed by the sculptor Sir Anthony Caro in association with Foster and Partners architects and Arup engineers, the Millennium Bridge is a 330 metre long steel suspension footbridge with aluminium decking. It was conceived as a ‘blade of light’ across the river and used an innovative new technique which gave it a much lower profile than traditional suspension bridges.

It cost £18 million and opened in June 2000 – a couple of months late, but no big deal – but then the problems started. It swayed when people walked on it. And once it started swaying a bit, everyone on it started walking in step to the sway, which made it sway even more. So two days after opening, it closed.

wobbly bridge
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