Architectural Photography

The London Design Museum by John Pawson, OMA and Allies and Morrison by Alex Upton

 London Design Museum Interior by John Pawson. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

London Design Museum Interior by John Pawson. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Kensington High Street, Kensington, London
Developer: Ilchester Estates and the Design Museum
Contractor: Mace
Architect: John Pawson, Allies and Morrison, OMA
Photography Clients: Troldtekt & Abet Laminati

In late 2016 the London Design Museum opened the doors to it’s new premises in Kensington, located just on the periphery of the then autumnal setting of Holland Park. Having outgrown their previous home on the riverside in Shad Thames - now occupied by Zaha Hadid’s architectural practice - they museum opted for the grade II listed former Commonwealth Institute building to become their new home. Having stood unoccupied for a number of years, the building, with its iconic copper roof and parabolic form, provided a perfect shell for the architects to work with, as well as embodying the nuanced design sensibilities which the Design Museum aspired to present to the visiting public through its collections and exhibitions.

 London Design Museum Central Atrium

London Design Museum Central Atrium

A team of several architectural practices were enlisted to work on the project with John Pawson taking responsibility for the Interior space and both OMA and Allies and Morrison handling the refurbishment of the external structure. The extensive works carried out by the contractor Mace and structural engineers Arup, included a significant reconfiguration of the structure and excavation of the basement to increase floor space. To meet modern building standards the external facade had to be completely replaced, while still retaining the blue-glass appearance of the original building.

 The Permanent Exhibition Space on the Upper Level

The Permanent Exhibition Space on the Upper Level

Over a year after its initial opening I was commissioned by the client Troldtekt in the Spring of 2018 to photograph the London Design Museums Interior spaces; public viewing galleries, paid exhibition areas, library and research facilities and office space. Upon entering the building the first thing that greets your vision is the vast atrium which rises 4-stories and is capped by the amazing parabolic roof structure. Displays adorn the natural wooden walls, staircases and corridors emerge connecting the various levels of public exhibition space, while those heading to the basement level will find themselves in the chargeable, temporary exhibits.

 London Design Museum Parabolic Roof Structure

London Design Museum Parabolic Roof Structure

The internal space created by John Pawson’s design team lends itself perfectly to the architectural photographers lens, with intersecting planes that frame the museum’s visitors and the expanse of space created by the atrium which exposes their activity at all levels. The permanent exhibitions of the upper levels detail the history of design, showcasing an array of nostalgia inducing gadgets extracted from the recent past and presented anew for our curiosity. These exhibits, not surprisingly, utilise a design aesthetic of the museums own making so as to distinguish information, ease navigation and engage its audience.

To see more images of the London Design Museum which I took during my visit, including some of the recent Ferrari exhibition please head over to my project portfolio, or better still plan a trip to the museum yourself, it is truly a wonderful space to explore.

Royal Mint Court Redevelopment by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

 Royal Mint Court Showroom by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Royal Mint Court Showroom by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Royal Mint Court building and its generous, fortified grounds occupy a rather large 5.23 acre site in central London. The historic building which served as the Royal Mint between 1809 and 1967 is surrounded by prestigious landmarks such as The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. In late 2017 I was commissioned by London-based architectural practice Sheppard Robson to photograph the onsite showroom they had designed in collaboration with their interiors department ID:SR Interiors. 

 Showroom model of the proposed redevelopment of Royal Mint Court.

Showroom model of the proposed redevelopment of Royal Mint Court.

The Images of Royal Mint Court which I took capture the showroom displays; including 3D models of the proposed development, detailed information on the proposals along with interactive displays and writing on the sites historic context. There is also a pool room equipped with a bar and jukebox upon entering the building. The new development proposed by British property developers Delancey would be an office led scheme with the inclusion of new public spaces. While incorporating historic elements of the site it would also include the addition of several distinctively modern buildings.

 Visualisations of the proposed Royal Mint Court development.

Visualisations of the proposed Royal Mint Court development.

Before further exciting any readers over the details of the proposed development it should be noted that the scheme will now almost certainly be revised as the People’s Republic of China recently acquired the site from Delancey and the LRC Group with the intention of converting it into their new Embassy. The buildings fortified grounds, heritage and central location all no doubt being driving factors in their decision to relocate there.

 Conference area for potential clients and visitors.

Conference area for potential clients and visitors.

While it's disappointing to discover Sheppard Robson Architects' Royal Mint Court scheme will never likely see the light of day - especially after photographing its wonderful interior, which hints at what could have been - it is highly likely another grand scheme will follow in its wake as the rush to build landmark Embassies in the capital intensifies.

London's Aga Khan Centre by Maki and Associates by Alex Upton

 The Aga Khan Centre King's Crosss London 2018. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Aga Khan Centre King's Crosss London 2018. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: King’s Cross, London.
Developer: The Aga Khan Foundation UK
Architect: Maki and Associates (Fumihiko Maki)

Joining the ever expanding array of buildings which comprise the 67-acre, King's Cross regeneration scheme is the recently completed Aga Khan Centre. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Fumihiko Maki and his Japan based practice Maki and Associates, the building contains offices for the Aga Khan Foundation's development organisations along with facilities for research and education.

 Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The building is typical of Maki's output being predominately a minimal affair, clad in white limestone and semi-opaque matt glazing, but on closer inspection you can see that it is punctuated at intervals with the ornate. This can first be observed at the main entrance where the large glass windows are decorated in a film of geometric patterns referencing Islamic art. These instances are then further repeated around the structure in the form of six courtyards, terraces and gardens which were inspired by Muslim societies the world over.

 Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The building is situated at the rear of the University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martin's campus, alongside Duggan Morris' pink R7 development. Inside the ten-storey Aga Khan Centre is 10,000 sqm of floor space, with the first floor, which will soon be open to the public, containing an exhibition area dedicated to Muslim cultures. The building’s gardens will also open publicly on the 22 September and are intended to act as an entry point to discovering and understanding the history and cultures of the Muslim world.

 Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Also housed within the building is the Aga Khan Library, which contains storage facilities for rare books and manuscripts. Users of the library can take their books and enjoy them in the tranquility of the Terrace of Learning - the second Islamic garden - located on the Library's upper level. Central to all this is a large atrium which rises to the top of the structure. Continuing above the Library are four floors of office space dedicated to the Aga Khan's education and development organisations. These include the Institute of Ismaili Studies, the Aga Khan University's Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and the Aga Khan Foundation UK.

 Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

As you approach the buildings rear you will notice there is still ongoing construction works, when complete in 2020 these will give rise to King’s Cross' Jellicoe Garden's designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. This area aims to produce a 'coherent collection of linked green spaces defined by their diversity and quality' and will reflect the Persian tradition of garden design.

 Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

After capturing photographs of the Aga Khan Centre I was just about to leave when I noticed a beautiful, somewhat ghostly projection of light and shadow reaching up the rear of the building. Contrasted against the rigid, angular geometries of the physical structure these soft shapes appeared like a gentle fabric draped over the facade. This juxtaposition reflects the building as a whole, it is both minimal in form and ornate and detailed at intervals, the play between the two works harmoniously which is unexpected. This is yet another great entry into the growing number of quality architectural projects which forms the overall King's Cross regeneration scheme.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid by Alex Upton

 London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Ok, so i'm six year late to the party, but Zaha Hadid's London Aquatics Centre has matured like a fine wine and is still a elegant structure to photograph. Completed for the 2012 London Olympics the building has since undergone several external face-lifts. Long gone are the wing like structures that once protruded from the east and west elevation - providing increased seating capacity for the events - and now in their place are aqua blue panes of glazing.

 London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

These glass panels once afforded the public a blurry view to the inner sanctum where sweeping concrete forms, enveloping the amphibious inhabitants, could just about be discerned. Alas in one final transition to exclude all but those intent on getting wet from seeing this amazing structure an opaque film of aqua blue now lines the windows.

 London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid 2012.

One of the most favorable changes to the exterior, whether intentional or simply a sign of neglect, is the revealing of the natural wooded surface under the once grey panels which form the sweeping, wave like structure of the roof. They now give the building the appearance that it is slowly succumbing to rust. Given its intended use and the allusions to waves that the roof suggests this is a fitting turn of events.

I currently have many new architectural photography projects to reveal on my site in the coming months so please keep checking back or follow me on social media to stay up to date.

The Sammy Ofer Centre by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

 The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Sammy Ofer Centre, London Business School by Sheppard Robson 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Marylebone Road, Paddington, London.
Developer: London Business School
Contractor: Wates Construction
Photography Client / Architect: Sheppard Robson

London based architectural practice Sheppard Robson recently completed a major renovation of the Old Marylebone Town Hall transforming it into a new, expaned faculty for the London Business School. The Sammy Ofer Centre - named in honour of the late Sammy Ofer, the celebrated Israeli entrepreneur and philanthropist - contains many new facilities including six lecture theatres, 32 seminar spaces, a library, offices and student lounge. The projects most distinctive external feature is the new glass and steel entrance which links the Old Town Hall to the Annex buildings.

 The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Main Entrance.

I was commissioned by Sheppard Robson architects to photograph several specific views externally, along with some interior shots that matched up identically in composition and framing to a series of black and white originals taken many years previously and held in the RIBA's photographic archive. Unfortunately I don't have access to these images presently so am unable provide side by side comparisons.

 The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Rear Elevation.

At the buildings rear are further contrasts between the old and new elements; in front of the new atrium is a lone retained arch and further down, an new angular limestone and glass curtain wall which nudges up to the original more ornate stonework. Housed within this new structure are the six lecture theaters, the largest two of which conjoin to create a space with the capacity to seat 200 students.

 The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - Private and comunal study area.

Sheppard Robsons' interior design team ID:SR worked on the buildings internal fit out which comprises new modern spaces alongside retained, renovated elements of the original Old Marylebone Town Hall. There is a level opulence befitting of the schools prestigious reputation and the new furnishings work in harmony with the more classical elements of the original structure.

 The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - ID:SR's new furnishings.

The irregular floor plan of the original building, with its alcoves and long narrow corridors has been utilised by ID:SR to great affect; creating areas for private discussion and study alongside other more open, less defined spaces which are more likely to promote encounters among students and hence being conducive to the exchange of ideas and discussion - an integral function of a business school.

 The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The Sammy Ofer Centre - One of the two main lecture theaters.

The new lecture theaters, of which there are six, are strikingly modern with wooden panels and strip-lighting traversing the walls and ceiling, ebbing out jagged contours which follow the dynamic alignment of seating below. All of this is reminiscent of some of the grand architectural designs found in modern philharmonic halls and theater spaces.

The buildings scale is hard to comprehend externally, compounded by the many divisions of its internal space to incorporate a variety of uses throughout. The fact that there is a harmony of contrasts within, and on the outside, is testament to  Sheppard Robson Architects careful and considered approach to the renovation. More images of this building can be found in under my projects.

Photographers Diary: Architecture 03 by Alex Upton

Architecture and a Sense of Scale

Below are a selection of photographs I shot over the past few months which aim convey a sense of architectural scale between building and individual. In some instances there is a genuine attempt to express the relationship between the two, while in others i have endeavoured to exaggerated the scale through various approaches to framing the subject and building, hinting at a different interpretation entirely. The individuals depicted are mostly isolated from the default hustle and bustle of their busy locations, with the intention to permit the viewer to interpret their thoughts and imagine their journeys against these architectural backdrops.

 Royal National Theatre - South Bank, London Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Royal National Theatre - South Bank, London Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Royal National Theatre

Architect Denys Lasdun's National theater on South Bank is an impressive Brutalist mass of concrete. It is wonderful to photograph on a sunny day when its sharp, angular form casts deep, dynamic shadows over its surface. Trying to isolate a subject in this busy area is no easy feat. Fortunately, after a protracted, impatient wait I was rewarded by this lone passerby, who can be seen dragging his reluctant, outstretched shadow along with him as he goes about is business. The additional shadow of a bird in flight also momentarily graces the Theaters facade.

 Tate Modern, The Blavatnik Building - London. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Tate Modern, The Blavatnik Building - London. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Blavatnik Building

At the point where the old and new brick of the Tate Modern meet in a distinct yet reverent embrace, a rear entrance can be found over-scored by a panel of bright orange announcing 'welcome'! Having visited the gallery a number of times I already have a fair number of photographs piled up on my hard-drive awaiting a distant day of editing. On this occasion the artist collective SUPERFLEX had installed a complex structure of grey and orange painted steel frames, bearing fruit in the form of countless swings. In this photograph i was lucky to capture an appropriately orange clad visitor entering the building just at the decisive moment.

 V&A Extension, London. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

V&A Extension, London. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

V&A Museum Exhibition Road Quarter

As if the Victoria & Albert Museum didn't already have enough space to display their many wares, they commissioned British, Stirling Prize-winning, architect Amanda Levete to openup the ground beneath the existing building and insert a new gallery space to accommodate their headline exhibitions. I happened to be working on a job close by at Imperial Collage London and decided to pop into the new cafe and take a look around. The sun was almost, but not quite, in the perfect position as i came out and with no time to spare I captured the above image of an lone visitor, more engrossed in his phone display than the monumental architecture surrounding him.

 Seven Pancras Square - King's Cross, London Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Seven Pancras Square - King's Cross, London Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Seven Pancras Square

Exiting the rear of St. Pancras Station you are confronted by Studio Downie Architects new build office which wraps around the existing Grade II Listed Stanley Building. In this busy vicinity it's low, tapering wall plays the presumably unintended role of a perch for those recuperating after a long and most likely delayed journey, or for workers looking for a momentary escape. Isolating the individuals and building like this adds a sense of wonder and intrigue directed at both the building, location and human subjects.

  Library of Birmingham. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

 Library of Birmingham. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The Library of Birmingham

While photographing another project in Birmingham's Arena Central development area i felt compelled to take advantage of a rare cloudless, blue sky. Out on the decks of Mecanoo Architect's new Library of Birmingham were a number of sightseers, gazing and pointing, no doubt at the vast up-earthed portions of the city which are undergoing a massive phase of regeneration. Isolated like this the building appears to my eyes an enormous vessel in flight, the passengers in awe as they make their voyage to unknown territories. 

Benenden Hospital Redevelopment by Alex Upton

 Benenden Hospital Reception Area 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Benenden Hospital Reception Area 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Benenden, Cranbrook, Kent, UK
Contractor: Willmott Dixon
Photography Client: Structura / Kalwall
Architects: CA Vaughan Blundell QS, Moreton Hayward M&E and Richard Stephens Partnership

Located in the south east county of Kent, Benenden Hospital, an Independent flagship facility for Benenden Hospital Trust, recently underwent a major £45 million redevelopment. The new facilities include operating theatres, single en-suite rooms, an ophthalmic suite,  a new outpatient department, procedure rooms and recovery areas.

 Benenden Hospital Waiting Room

Benenden Hospital Waiting Room

I was commissioned in late 2017 to photograph the interior of the facility, which features a large new atrium roof glazed in the client Kalwall's unique panels - the same material featured in my photography of the RIBA award winning West Croydon Bus Station. The translucent Kalwall panels allow daylight to permeate the waiting rooms creating a bright, welcoming environment for the patients. These two projects show the potential diversity of the products application and how its specific placement and incorporation into the architecture can contribute both aesthetically and functionally in a variety of ways.

 Benenden Hospital Waiting Room

Benenden Hospital Waiting Room

The Interior design services were carried out by the West Midland's based practice Design Buro. Through the layout of the furniture and the application of colour to various features the interior spaces have been simplified aiding the users experience and making it easy to navigate the building. The materials themselves while not all natural reference nature through texture and colour masking the often utilitarian design of hospitals.

 Benenden Hospital Reception Area

Benenden Hospital Reception Area

The parts of the scheme I had access to photograph work really well, they are both spacious and open whilst also accommodating for privacy, with the furniture creating partially secluded zones. The use of two tones of flooring, which are employed to delineate the various pathways through the hospital, help guide the patients to their destination - breaking with the notoriously labyrinth like layouts of older hospitals.

 Benenden Hospital Atrium Roof

Benenden Hospital Atrium Roof

If you are interested in seeing more architectural photographs of Benenden Hospital's redevelopment and the interior design work carried out there by Design Beru please visit my portfolio in the navigation bar above.

Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects by Alex Upton

 Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Muswell Hill, Haringey, Barnet, London
Contractor / Client: Gilbert Ash / Jamm Living
Photography Client: Taylor Maxwell
Architect: pH+ Architects (Puncher Hamilton Plus)

Photographed in late 2017, Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects is a mixed-use, luxury development located in the affluent North London suburb of the same name. The scheme comprises 22 new apartments, 6 houses, commercial space and a community centre.

 Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017.

Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017.

The development is located at the apex of one of London's highest hills - a fact that I can attest to after unwittingly driving past the site, which recedes from view of the main road, and subsequently having to ascend its acute gradient on foot, with camera gear mounted to my back like a season mountaineer. Arriving, I was greeted by a beautiful golden autumn light which bathed the architecture in a resplendent glow, accenting the multi-coloured brickwork and already golden facade panels that surround the glazing.

 Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017

Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017

The scheme was delivered by London developers Jamm Living, whose vision along with that of the architects was to create a contemporary interpretation of traditional Edwardian Housing. The residential element, which has been split into three distinct sections, follows the steeply stepping contours of the land. The distinctly modern, yet restrained facade, has been broken down into alternating sequences of brick, stone, metal and glazing.

 Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017.

Muswell Hill by pH+ Architects 2017.

Muswell Hill is a wonderful development, one which I would have unlikely encountered had I not been commissioned to photograph it for the client Taylor Maxwell. For the residents its concealed setting is likely a desirable feature, but for architecture enthusiasts it means it will potentially go quietly unobserved. Hopefully these photos, more of which can be found in my portfolio, will give some exposure to this well considered scheme.