Patrick Lynch hosted a wonderful virtual Practice visit to Lynch Architects, when he discussed ‘civic ground’ in relation to his academic work and illustrated this concept with his projects in Victoria and Hackney.

The Zig Zag Building SW1

The Zig Zag Building replaces a 1950s office block with exemplary new office space. Colonnades at various scales indicate and define the entrances to the various different types of accommodation housed within the broader scope of the overall project e.g. offices, housing, restaurants, shops, bars and so on. Situated between a cathedral and a town hall on Victoria Street, the design seeks to mediate between these two in terms of size and scale and to establish a credible and pleasurable urban spatial order, connecting the grain of this part of Westminster.

The relationships between the inside and outside of the building are articulated as a series of thresholds in carefully calibrated, shaded, open-able, yet mostly transparent façades that nonetheless appear solid from afar. Layers of shading not only add scale to the elevations, but also vary across the different orientations, offering occupants enjoyment of fresh air and natural light, alongside the preservation of natural resources.

On the upper levels, above the retail accommodation at ground and first floor, the office facade has six principal components. The first is the internal structural columns, which are circular with minimal diameter. This avoids an awkward relationship with the second element, the curtain wall, which has C31 anodized pale bronze-coloured stable-door style openable panels set up on a 1.5m grid and 3m panel. At least 2.5% of an office floor area must be openable façade, to enable the fire brigade to purge smoke after a fire, and around the same proportion needs to be insulated. Lynch Architects combined these two parameters to create a shutter that enables cross ventilation and which forms a Juliette balcony when fully opened. The façade works in tandem with the energy strategy for the building generally. Capillary cooling in the concrete floor slab, combined with chilled beams, creates the possibility of omitting a conventional suspended ceiling, thus creating a floor-to-ceiling height of over 3.3m. In front of the curtain wall, and separated by a 50mm gap, are the third element, 3.7m x 65mm thick anodized fins of varying depths, that shade the façade from solar gain from the east and west.

Kings Gate SW1

Kings Gate forms a pair of buildings on Victoria Street in Westminster, with its neighbour The Zig Zag Building. The scheme replaces an existing slab-like office building on Victoria Street in central London with two new buildings that incorporate a mix of retail, office space and housing. Lynch Architects won this project in an invited competition in Spring 2010 and gained planning consent in November 2011. The main contractor was Lend Lease and Practical Completion was achieved in Autumn 2015.

Opportunities for pedestrian permeability through the site led to the proposal for porous blocks which, between them, form two significant new public spaces and public routes. The design comprises two clearly distinct buildings that express their different internal uses whilst making a harmonious urban ensemble. The Zig-Zag Building (G+12 storeys) provides office space from second floor upwards; and Kings Gate (G+14 storeys) is exclusively residential from second floor upwards, housing 100 apartments ranging from studios to three-and-four-bedroom family flats. The scheme provides an active retail frontage at ground and first floors of both buildings.


Above: Lynch Architects housing project at Hoxton for Hackney Council, which Patrick mentioned towards the end of his presentation.

It was a fascinating event, which was greatly enjoyed by everyone who participated. Enormous thanks to Patrick for giving up his time and sharing his wonderful design ideas!

Valerie Owen Le Vaillant OBE

Master, Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.