History of Innovation

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2001: 30 St. Mary Axe (Swiss Re Building)- London, England

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Image sources: [1] and [2]

Innovation: 30 St. Mary Axe (also called the Swiss Re Building and “the Gherkin”)
Location: London, England
Architects: Foster and Partners
Engineering: ARUP
Contractor: Skanska
Construction: 2001-2003 (opened April 2004)

The Swiss Re building (also called “the Gherkin” because of its unusual shape) is designed for energy efficiency. Office floor plans are arranged such that gaps in the floor create six shafts around the perimeter of the building that promote natural ventilation and provide natural light. All of the windows are double glazed, providing an insulating layer of air around the building and allowing for passive solar heating. [1]

The triangulated facade, created by a pattern of intersecting columns that spiral up the building in both directions, supports the structure and frees up floor space on the interior of the building. Wherever the facade columns intersect, a perimeter hoop carries horizontal forces. These hoops are in tension in the middle and the lower part of the building but in compression at the top. The aerodynamic shape of the tower deflects wind around the building, lessening wind load.

Read more about the Swiss Re building’s structure in this article

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Written by Meagan Wilkes

January 1, 2001 at 1:47 am

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