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Edward Macintosh


Edward Macintosh

Case study : London City Hall

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01 Introduction

02 Air

03 Light

04 Earth

05 Water

06 Energy

07 Recycle

08 Conclusion

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Introduction Building Name:

London City Hall

Location and Site:

More London close to Tower Bridge

Building Occupant Name:

GLA (Greater London Authority)

Occupancy or Function Type: mayor of London

Office Building and office to the

Size (Total sq m):




Diameter of glass faรงade:


Number of floors:

10 floors above ground

Primary Project Team:


Architect: )

Fosterandpartners ( Norman Foster

Structural Engineers:

Ove Arup and partners

Planning Authority :

London Borough of Southwark

Date of Construction:

April 2000 to July 2002



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A site plan of More London.

London City Hall was part of a masterplan called MoreLondon where the famous British architect Norman Foster redesigned the area and create mainly office space but also a headquarters to the GLA which was created in 1999, at the same time as the City Hall was being designed.

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Its location is an advantage, its located a fair distance away from any major roads without being isolated, it’s on the riverside and uses the river to its advantage and its very central being close to HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge, it has the perfect situation for its needs.

London City Hall is now an iconic structure in London and has become a main attraction for tourists.

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At first I didn’t like the shape of this building, and didn’t respect it for the landmark that it really is, but as I entered and visited the famous spiral staircase and after trying desperately to get to the top balcony to admire its panoramic view of London and after researching what makes this building incredibly intelligent, it grew on me and has become maybe one of my favourite buildings for the way it makes most of nature to provide energy for the building.

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When designing this building, Norman Foster’s main focus was to reduce the energy needed in this building. He identified that controlling the air temperature uses an enormous amount of energy to cool or heat the air inside.

So this building attempts to make most of natural resources ( sun, water,wind‌) to control the temperature inside.

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The shape of the building is designed using advanced computer modelling techniques and is positioned so that the glass façade captures a maximum of sunlight during the whole day to heat the offices, and at the south façade each level is inclined at a specific angle so that the layer above provides natural shade for the level below and so the whole south façade is naturally shaded.

In Winter the heating is rarely used, just the heat captured by the façade and stored within its insulated panels is enough to heat most of the building. There is a weak point though, the external wall to the chamber doesn’t withhold heat that well so the diagrid structure is used as a giant radiator and heat convector system. In summer the building doesn’t need air conditioning, the water cooling system and the natural shading provided by the building are enough to keep the building cool.

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Boreholes are planted 3 metres in the ground that extract water from the Thames in a reserve underneath the building and then this water is channelled through pipes up the building to cool office spaces and in summer this water channelled through the building is heated using the heat produced by computers

Parts of the building are built to adapt to temperatures, in the building are heat sensors, when the building gets too hot the windows on the south faรงade open and vents in the building also open to allow cold air through the building

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This drawing shows the position of the sun related to the building at different times of day at equinox, and the shadows the building makes.

the building was modelled to intake the most natural light possible through to the public spaces, the spiral staircase and the offices.

This is a diagram showing where sun light is projected on to the roof and how the heat from the radiations is propelled through the building.

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Actually this amongst other things has been proved that it doesn't really work in the way Norman Foster planned, the building is actually a darker read and the top south facing face is yellow and is colder. So actually the heat of the building is working in an opposite way to what was planned, maybe it should have been facing the other direction or maybe the river cools the south face more than expected.

This drawing is a section from an office in the City Hall and shows how natural light penetrates the building at higher levels and I dont think that the offices get a lot of sunlight compared to other office buildings.

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As a member of public I was only allowed to visit the lower floors, so this is a ceiling light plan where I visited the building, measured light intensities and tried to represent those intensities on this diagram.

So in the daytime the lights inside are turned on but really dont need to be, in the daytime they don’t make any difference and it’s light enough in most places. And people complain that in the offices upstairs there is not enough light, surely they should be able to save light where not needed and used in darker spaces.

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I noticed a lot of these bright yellow walls everywhere, and I just think it’s a really bad choice, it feels in some way uncomfortable, and it reflects a sort of greenish yellow on the floor, these walls are always opposed to the south facade where the sun comes in so my guess is it’s intentional but I think it is a bad choice,I even talked to someone who worked there and he agreed that somehow it’s unsettling.


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This building is made mostly out of 3 main materials, concrete which forms the main backbone to the structure, steel framework supporting the concrete, and glass to create a transparent facade. All of these 3 materials were and still are modern materials in construction and are recyclable materials.

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In total 13,100m3 of concrete was used, mainly for the concrete core but also the floor is layered in a concrete mixed with all sorts of crushed recycled materials and is used for the spiral staircase. How much steel was used ? Reinforced 1950 tonnes Structural 2100 tonnes

The main steel feature in the City Hall is the steel diagrid system. The diagonal grid system, used also in the ‘Gherkin’ by Sir Norman Foster, is a technique, by creating a small triangular framework, up to 21% of steel can be saved. Although the use of steel attracted a lot of critiques as the initial manufacture of steel has very high impacts on our environment, therefore the use of steel cannot be considered sustainableThere is 3844 unique laser cut glass panels in this building.

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Four different types of glass are used in the building: EWS-1. Office cladding by Schmidlin, a triple glazed ventilated cavity cladding system with solar control louvre blades. EWS – 2 to 7. Public areas comprising of the traditional “stick” system, using minimal framing and insulated panels to attain maximum transparency. Atrium Glazing. Comprises of laminated glass panels. The system is unusual due to the double height spanning mullions which rely on the glass to structurally cross brace the system. The glass has a high acoustic specification achieved by the specialist acoustic laminate within the glass. The atrium glass is also used for internal atrium glazing, balustrades, partitions, internal doors and screens.

In 2012, after years of defective blinds, 730,000£ was spent replacing them. Norman Foster has also been criticised for designing a glass building without thinking of how the building will be cleaned, in 2012, the glass panels were costing 12,000£ per month to clean and they still weren't all clean.

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The main water feature is the cooling (and heating in winter). These boreholes reach 3m down under the building to pump up water through the building either for heating purposes or for cooling, once this water has passed through the building it is then mixed with collected rain water from the roof and channeled down to flush the toilets.

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The drainage around the building was built by acobuildingdrainage. The drains are set around the perimeter of the building and had to be exactly parallel to the glass panels to complement the buildings design.

The drains are 155mm wide, made from grade 304 stainless steel and heel safe. And water dispensers !

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At the time when the City Hall was built, energy was a major issue in our society, with a raising awareness of the quantity of energy consumed by buildings. It is believed that buildings are responsible for half of the worlds energy consommation. This building being a democratic symbol had to respond environmentally to our societies new ideology. The Building is located on the edge of the Thames, in a secluded area away from congestion and fumes, which maybe influences people working and visiting the building to commute or cycle.

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Also being next to the Thames exposes the building to the fresh air from the river and enhances the natural air conditioning system. In fact, the building doesn’t need an air conditioning system, the water cooling system and the natural shade provided by the shape of the building are sufficient to keep the temperature down. And the heating is very rarely turned on, by capturing the sun with its shape and with its brilliant insulated panels and high performance glazing. Mass amounts of heat are lost through the exposed external wall of the chamber. In order to heat the chamber, the diagrid façade structure is used as a large radiator and convector heater. the building captures enough heat to the whole building at most times of the year. Also there is a sophisticated Building Management System that regulates all the systems in the building to maximise the performance to it’s peak abilities.

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Edward Macintosh The City Hall was designed to only use a third of the energy that a regular office building of its size would use. Although that is

This is a table showing the energy used to manufacture the materials used in this building, and so yes it fits a eco-friendly build.

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The City Hall was designed to only use a third of the energy that a regular office building of its size would use. Although that is

not the result, today it uses more energy than predicted but is occupied by twice as much people than expected. Since awarded the Carbon trust status , the City Hall joins the more green buildings in London and is committed to try and reduce the energy use every year. In 2007 photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof to provide extra energy to the building. How staff travel to work is also changing with more encouraged to cycle with bike loans and pool bikes, so that between 10 to 15% now cycle to work.

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Other improvements still underway in the building will see more energy efficient lighting, which will emit less heat and use less energy installed, and a trial of more effective ways to turn off lights outside of office hours Timing controls are also set to be introduced to shower and hot water generators, to improve the energy usage around the building. This drive to identify operational efficiencies and reduce the building’s carbon output, has

led also led to City Hall being awarded an improvement in its Display Energy Certificate rating from an E to a D.

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While the building has also been signed up to the 10:10 campaign a drive to get

individuals and organisations to cut their carbon footprint by 10% in 2010. And even heat generated by computers is recycled

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In 2007 a new waste system was introduced in the GLA’s headquarters, individual bins under desks were removed and replaced by one larger bin on the floor and two recycle bin and a separate kitchen work-top caddy is provided for the collection of food waste at each kitchenpoint and additional recycling bins are provided within each photocopier room for the collection of clean, white waste paper.

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This scheme was such a success that even other buildings from the MoreLondon asked to see how they managed recycling in the building. Chairs and tables that are still in good working condition are reupholstered and refurbished using two local companies in London: Hunters Contracts of

Dagenham and Howe UK Limited of Wandsworth. centre/1

Being part of the southwark council, this is where the recyclable waste from the City Hall would be sent to, which is actually quite far.

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Conclusion Since the first stages of design, Norman Foster was designing a new landmark for London, a building that would be as symbolically intelligent as it would be visually. But the main focus still remains creating a building like none other, he wanted the City Hall to use a third of the energy that a typical building of the same size would use. So by tapping into the Thames for the buildings main cooling system,by shaping the building so that it would absorb a maximum of sunlight, and by using a circular shape to reduce surface, he

believed that this was possible. But in reality some features were a success, others not so much. And I discovered that its not as great as I thought.

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My opinion is that the London City Hall was a success in some ways, and a disaster in others. Yes even though the building uses half the energy a typical office building instead of a third as expected, the building is currently holding more than twice the capacity it was built for. But being occupied by the GLA, the people in charge of influencing people to use less energy and recycle, maybe it’s not the building that makes the difference but the occupiers, or maybe its a bit of both. The form of the building inspires shared opinions, even though now I get the impression that people admire it more than as to the time when it was built, maybe its form was to ahead of its time. Since it was built the building has had endless problems. ‘Having moved into my office on the 6th floor, the telephones do not work, neither do the computers and staff wait up to 10 minutes for the lift. My office has no natural light. Frankly it's a triumph of style over substance’. Brian Coleman, GLA, UK The blinds in the building have had to been replaced recently, and the heat in the building doesn't work to how it was planned. And cleaning the outside facade has been a big problem, maybe Foster should have thought more about that and could have someway to clean the windows using the same recycled water as used in the toilets to clean the glass.

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But I do believe that the City Hall is a brilliant piece of innovation and I believe that the ideas behind the structure are brilliant and incredibly inspiring to other architects. Not enough attention to details has been given to this project, maybe the architect focused to much on his concept. Which is most important though ? Function or concept ? For a project of this importance Both are important I think. And what I like about the building is that it is still being modified following Foster’s vision, photovoltaic panels, recycling system‌ and probably many more to come.

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