simon allford’s architecture and the art of the extra ordinary exhibition at the british school at rome
The exhibition explores the idea of the essential architecture of the universal building and focuses principally on how this approach is manifested in six projects in the very diverse physical, political, cultural and incidental contexts of london, amsterdam, the united states and india.
Allford’s new scotland yard project is a radical remodeling and extension of the curtis green building, a 1930’s building on the thames embankment, which was an earlier home of the MPS. the core objectives of the brief were to create contemporary, flexible and efficient office environments, extend available floor space and facilitate agile working with more interaction between staff. the design has transformed the building with the addition of an elegant curved glass entrance pavilion and rooftop pavilions and a reworking of the existing accommodation.
The AEP fitness center extends an unused basement structure in northern oklahoma city into a sports and leisure hub. a series of arched steel trusses are placed over an existing concrete basement. the trusses are clad with industrial-scaled profile metal sheeting to enclose a singular hangar-like volume with fully-glazed gables. two boxes are then inserted; a single storey steel-clad volume punches through the front gable to provide an entry vestibule to the east, while a larger cube is placed within the central space containing two racquetball courts within and an adaptable climbing wall on its western face.
The University of Amsterdam explores large-scale reinvention. two utilitarian buildings from a previous era – part of an incomplete masterplan by norbert gawronski – are stripped out, sliced open, reconfigured and then knitted back into the city’s fabric to regenerate a post-war university campus in the heart of the dutch capital. a forty-metre section of low-hung, canal-spanning building is cut out and replaced with a four-storey void. physically and visually opening up the campus behind and the zoo beyond, the void is bridged by a glazed double-height space and five storeys of workstations, all with new views across the city.