Work, leisure and domestic activities are becoming interchangeable, leading to the creation of open-ended, flexible structures such as the Pompidou Centre, the Wimbledon House, 88 Wood Street, and Barajas Airport in Madrid. These buildings, with their legible facades and logical form, relate directly to both the user and passers-by. Buildings such as these make legible the historic forces of the time: how they are constructed, their relationship with their context, and what they are used for, and in doing so, bring a new dimension to the way people interact with the built environment.
The structure of buildings set the scale, form and rhythm of the architectural environment, within which change and improvisation can take place. Scale is given as much by the design of the details as the building as a whole. Lightness of structure, transparency and layering are dominant design factors in the work of the practice. Colour is used for a variety of reasons, including to affect the mood of the building, and to humanise and change the apparent nature of materials.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are searching for a more subtle world between solid and transparent, a sequence of spaces where the eye is lead through overlapping strata, where light and shadow enhance the impression of transparency, for example in works such as the Bordeaux Law Courts, the Antwerp Law Courts, Lloyd's Register in London, Madrid Airport and Hesperia Hotel in Barcelona.
The practice endeavours to employ technologies that sustain rather than pollute, that are durable rather than replaceable, and that add value over time rather than falling prey to short term economies. Structure and the conservation of energy play a major role in giving form to our buildings. Speed, cost and energy efficiency often contribute a lightness of structure, transparency and clarity of design. Many projects have been developed that explore to a very high degree the use of alternative sustainable energy solutions. For example, the National Assembly for Wales, Lloyd's Register and the competition for Potsdamer Platz masterplan in Berlin.
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