To balance the scale of the Queen Elizabeth Hall together with surrounding architecture and almost one thousand square meters of the roof surface we decided to propose a vertical feature. Beacon – a device designed to attract attention and to cradle the occupants. The structure is a 31m tall leaning tower, producing energy for the habitable capsule inside and as a dramatic sculpture by day and luminescent at night.
The Beacon is orientated towards furthermost north-east edge of the roof leaning towards the Thames. The extraordinary city landscape of this setting and panoramic views required a special geometry to entirely embrace this spectrum. The geometry of the capsule inside is designed as inverted colossal diamond strictly in accordance to diamond cut ratios. It measures 8.1m across the table, 9.4m in girdle diameter with a crown height of 2.2m and with a 4.6m tall pavilion. It constitutes a symmetrical arrangement of facets which together modify the shape and appearance creating an out-flowing spacious feeling, opening up and out in all directions and providing magnificent views. A jewel crowning the top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall displaying the ultimate luxury enclosed by brutal concrete around.
All facets are covered by lightweight glass and aluminium panels. Beacon is leaning towards the north-east so the sun can penetrate the south side more consistently therefore selected few facets will be covered by photovoltaic building glass to gain additional energy.
Diamond shape inspired us to design habitable space with an emphasis on a quality of the interior and the views. It is planned with a bedroom and bathroom/kitchenette to east and west accordingly screening the central living space which makes a perfect setting for entertaining. To contrast the sharpness of diamond cut structure all furniture is custom designed to bring softness to the immediate body contact.
To improve both impact and airborne noise nuisance floor construction is raised by 350mm and consist an acoustic underlay with underfloor heating. All services connections including a water recirculation system are placed under and are surrounded by the cedar decking all-around at 150mm above the roof level with a path towards indicated entrance point to the roof.
The Beacon’s tower is divided into 5 segments in perfect golden ratio proportions highlighted by intermediate rings in Olympic colors. The first segment is connected to the diamond at the girdle. The second segment houses the aero turbine positioned to work in winds from any direction and having a minimum 5mph per year average wind speed at SW1 will produce 1.500 kWh annually which is half of an average small household consumption in UK.
The 12 degree leaning angle is calculated so the structure being seen while strolling below, raising from 18m above, accents the perspective view of the Beacon by interlocking Olympic rings when looking from the river side walk. It is our intention to honor the 2012 Olympics as a new London landmark – an Olympic Beacon acting as a marker on the South Bank.
The entire concept is based on geodetic type of construction commonly used for the aircraft industry. The principle is to have local rigidity and distribute the stress across the entire structure. It is build up from a number of duralumin alloy extrusions forming a large lattice work giving tremendous strength while being very light. This type of construction is the most efficient structure in terms of material weight and uses only one fifth of the materials normally used in conventional architecture – it is macro comprehensive and micro incisive.
Whole structure is braced by a system of three pylons and a cradle of supporting cables in compression as well as in tension to sustain stress from lateral winds and the balance of the tilt. Under each pylon hydraulic jacks will constantly indues the tension. By having almost no visible means of support, dramatically leaning over the edge of the roof in appearance will definitely disobey gravity.
Diamond and 5 segments of the Beacon are prefabricated independently and can be lifted by crane with all fittings and appliances installed, ready to be assembled on top of the roof.
By reintroducing the vertical feature on the South Bank it is our reminiscence of British architectural and engineering heritage of 1951 Festival of Britain and The Skylon in particular.
Location: London, UK
Architect: Quixotic Architecture
Project Team: Maciej Wierzbinski & Wojciech Dziubek