The architects of the new American Embassy in London explain their design
The form of the embassy is a single, compact building; a transparent, crystalline cube atop a colonnade. The crystal cube is simultaneously efficient and evocative. It represents the optimum ratio of maximum volume within minimum perimeter, with resulting cost and energy-management benefits. As a pure geometry the cube is an ancient signifier of solidity, strength and permanence – all qualities of democracy.
The cube’s surface is given form through the interface between a faceted external solar-shading-and-collection system and the glazed curtain wall. This crystal-like ETFE scrim has been optimised to shade interiors from east, west and south sun while admitting daylight and framing large open view portals to the outside. Its pattern is a prism that visually fragments the facade while it intercepts unwanted solar gain and transforms it into energy, by means of thin film photovoltaics positioned in the ETFE foils.
A four-sided colonnade forms the base of the cube. Colonnades evoke the architecture of democracy through custom and the openness and accessibility of their sheltering form. The base’s tall columns result in a building base that meets the ground as an open invitation – a clear message of diplomacy and welcome.
Founded in 1984, KieranTimberlake is acclaimed for environmentally responsible architecture and has won many awards