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AJ Specification 06.12 - Walls, ceilings and partitions

Case studies by Christ & Gantenbein, Grimshaw Architects and Scott Brownrigg

Editorial - Felix Mara

Walls, ceilings and partitions, the focus of this month’s issue, can be as permanent as any other building element, but tend to have shorter lives and are the stock-in- trade of interior architecture, fit-out and retrofit. Although surveyors and interior designers are often well-suited to this type of work, Gropius’ model of the ‘total work’ of architecture, in which everything is controlled by one designer, remains compelling.

In the case of work to existing buildings, the comprehensive understanding that architects bring is invaluable. David Chipperfield Architects and Julian Harrap Architects’ transformation of Berlin’s Neues Museum is a good example. Planning internal layouts must be among the most satisfying activities in design, but it is also one of the most challenging: it’s easy to spot an unconvincing layout, but not always so easy to rectify it.

Our first case study is an office building in Liestal, Switzerland, designed by the Swiss practice Christ & Gantenbein. The AJ’s focus is broadening out to cover international architecture as well. Likewise, from time to time our specification coverage will be international. As one might expect, the quality of the Liestal project’s design and execution is exemplary due to the high standards of the Swiss construction industry as well as Christ & Gantenbein’s pedigree as Herzog & de Meuron alumni.

One wouldn’t expect any less from a project by Grimshaw, whose Heathrow Terminal 2 concourse is our second case study. Scott Brownrigg Interior Design’s offices for Thomson Reuters is a fit-out located in the Vintners Place development in the City Of London and draws on the architect’s expertise in space planning and furniture, finishes and fittings specification.

Office building, Liestal by Christ & Gantenbein

The six-storey office building occupies the triangular site between the Liestal station square and the head office of Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank. Due to the constrictions of the site, the building’s footprint had to be smaller than its upper storeys, resulting in a downward tapering shape, and the dark anthracite-coloured concrete conveys a sense of robustness and stability at this dynamic location.

The basic motif of the facade design results from the 2.65m-wide grid used for the office design. The facade is evenly divided into facade elements in dark fair-faced concrete, with the width of each element being that of the office grid. The grid pattern was chosen to allow the floor space to be used for different-sized units. The floor spaces are arranged around a central services core and provide the flexibility to accommodate a range of functions.

Anna Flückiger, associate, Christ & Gantenbein

Terminal 2 Concourse B: Phase 1, Heathrow Airport by Grimshaw Architects

Terminal 2, Concourse B is the first satellite pier for the new Terminal 2 at Heathrow. In its completed state, it will serve 16 long- haul stands for Star Alliance carriers. The design and construction has been phased in two key stages. Stage one was completed in November 2009 and formed the first six stands, while the final stage and remaining 10 stands will be completed in October 2013.

The BAA targets of 20 per cent quicker and 10 per cent cheaper than BAA best practice have informed all design decisions. These targets encouraged the adoption of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) leading to extensive use of large- panel modular prefabrication and self-finished building systems. These can be seen in the 3m x 7.5m unitised facade panels, 2.4m x 9m pre-finished roof panels, modular flooring system, wall linings and ceiling panels.

The design recognises that the building is experienced as an entirely internal environment, and, unusually, offers the same excellent quality of space, light and views to arriving as to departing passengers. All plant is located at ground level, simplifying the building fabric and minimising load on structural steel while enabling easier access for maintenance. The structure, services and building fabric are simple and repetitive, expressed as an elegantly detailed industrial shed.

Julian Watt, associate, Grimshaw Architects

Thomson Reuters by Scott Brownrigg Interior Design

Thomson Reuters by Scott Brownrigg Interior Design

Thomson Reuters by Scott Brownrigg Interior Design

Located on the third floor of the Vintners’ Place office development on the Thames, the expansion and fit-out of Thomson Reuters’ existing office was required after recent acquisitions and consolidates multiple London sites.

The design comprises cellular and open plan areas, meeting rooms, a project room and informal collaboration spaces. Informal meeting areas surrounding the work space provide relief spaces. The main, open plan area is next to an atrium which forms a viewing point and filters natural light.

The central tea point and breakout area provide collaborative and informal meeting space, featuring an orange slatted ceiling, a long, Corian-clad island bench with edge-lit perspex division screen for diners, pendant lighting and Eames side chairs.

Meeting rooms and service areas create a hub, set close to the cores to maximise daylight in the open plan area, showcasing Thomson Reuters’ imagery, with people in bursts of colour. Striking images also decorate acoustic panels in 60 minute rooms. Feature wall panelling, graphics and hues of orange reinforce Thomson Reuters’ image.

A colour scheme of charcoal-framed glass, neutral beige and tonal striped carpets complements the fabrics, lava orange Perspex and feature pendant lighting. Services above the slatted ceiling, which has integrated pendants and spot lighting, are painted out in matte black.

Beth Glenn, project designer, Scott Brownrigg Interior Design

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