Architectural Photographer

BH2 Bournemouth by Broadway Malyan by Alex Upton

BH2 Bournemouth Leisure and Shopping Centre designed by Broadway Malyan Architects. Photography Copyright © Alex Upton

BH2 Bournemouth Leisure and Shopping Centre designed by Broadway Malyan Architects. Photography Copyright © Alex Upton

Not just working as an architectural photographer in London, occasionally I manage to escape the confines of the city and photograph projects slightly further afield. It was with enthusiasm, during the apex of the summer heat, last year, that I accepted a job in the coastal town of Bournemouth. In the town centre international architectural practice Broadway Malyan had just completed the new BH2 Leisure complex for the developer Lucrum Holdings. I was commissioned by my client Structura to go along and document the building by taking a series of external photographs showing the building in context to its central location and the site in active use by the public.

BH2 Bournemouth utilises a building material called Kalwall which allows light to permeate through the buildings facade.

BH2 Bournemouth utilises a building material called Kalwall which allows light to permeate through the buildings facade.

The BH2 Leisure complex houses a state of the art Odeon Cinema with 10 screens, a variety of restaurants for shoppers needing to recharge after a few hours of energy draining retail therapy and an array of shops alongside a spacious car park. The development is located adjacent to Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens, an idyllic haven of green and multifarious flora where one can relax after having visited the leisure centre. In several of the photographs of BH2 Leisure centre a Church is visible in the background, as pictured above, in a slightly unrelated fact, this turns out to be now utilised as a night club.

BH2 Leisure offers both retail and shopping facilities.

BH2 Leisure offers both retail and shopping facilities.

Architecturally the building utilises a number of materials and contrasting forms throughout its large footprint. As well as sections of curved timber panelling and screens, the building makes use of Kalwall’s translucent facade panels. Regular readers of this blog maybe familiar with them as they have featured in a number of projects I have previously photographed for the same client, these include photography of both Dale Youth Boxing Club and Benenden Hospital. The panels mostly feature around the section of the building which houses the Odeon cinema. Since they can only be appreciated fully towards the evening when they allow the buildings interior light to permeate the outer structure, I waited until dusk to carry out most of the architectural photography.

Architectural Photography of BH2 Leisure centres Odeon Cinema.

Architectural Photography of BH2 Leisure centres Odeon Cinema.

From an architectural photographers perspective the building presents a few challenges, the large trees of the Lower Gardens park, that encompass the building on one of its main elevations, limited the distance the camera can be setup from it, meaning it was very tricky to take images from certain angles. Another aspect was the amount of people around the leisure centre itself, inevitably such places are busy, and while clients want to show their buildings in use, images with too many people in can often look cluttered, so waiting for that harmonious balance of architecture with just the right amount of people can require some patience.

The roadside elevation of the BH2 development leading to the main entrance.

The roadside elevation of the BH2 development leading to the main entrance.

Having spent a whole day photographing the leisure centre I became well acquainted with the shops, restaurants and the environment in which it is situated. Architecturally Broadway Malyan have made good use of the site on which it sits, allowing the building to organically following the contours of the park. The alternating forms and materials keep the building interesting as one navigates around and through it, with certain areas and their utilisation delineated by these changes. As with all the other buildings I have photographed which utilise the unique glowing facade system the material really adds an extra dimension to the structure, bringing it to life in the evening. I can only hope that I am commissioned to photograph more buildings in such nice coastal towns in the future.

The restaurants and path around the leisure centre with Lower Gardens to the right.

The restaurants and path around the leisure centre with Lower Gardens to the right.

Project Team:

Architect: Broadway Malyan
Client: Legal & General (Lucrum Holdings)
Main Contractor: Vinci Construction
Photography Client: Structura UK / Kalwall
Architectural Photographer: Alex Upton

Barts Square Residential by Sheppard Robson by Alex Upton

Barts Square Residential Buildings by Sheppard Robson Architects. All images Copyright © Alex Upton

Barts Square Residential Buildings by Sheppard Robson Architects. All images Copyright © Alex Upton

Here is another London architectural photography project I recently undertook for my client Sheppard Robson Architects. This article provides a selection of preliminary images I took of the Barts Square residential development, a scheme currently taking shape in the City of London, just north of St Paul’s Cathedral. I say preliminary since it is a rather large 3.2 acre phased development, comprising offices, retail and the aforementioned residential units, 236 to be precise. The project is being master planned under the direction of lead architects Sheppard Robson who have brought in architectural practices Maccreannor Lavington and Piercy & Company to act as sub-consultants on the scheme.

Contrasting the old and new architectural details that form the facade of the Barts Square residencies.

Contrasting the old and new architectural details that form the facade of the Barts Square residencies.

The residential aspect of Barts Square comprises an assortment of architecture where historically significant buildings have been retained and woven into the fabric of the contemporary structures surrounding them. In keeping with the strict guidelines for developments in sensitive areas of the City of London the materials and designs of the new builds are high quality and reference both the historic and environmental context in which they find themselves situated. The new buildings snugly fit into the existing narrow street patterns creating enclaves of privacy for the residents and a labyrinth like structure intrinsic to Victorian-era urban planning, causing all but the savviest Flâneur to retrace their steps as they wonder how on earth they entered the complex and if they will ever make their exit.

Architectural Photography of the Piercy & Company designed building at Barts Square.

Architectural Photography of the Piercy & Company designed building at Barts Square.

The apparent tranquility seen in the architectural photographs presented here belie the hustle and bustle of what is still a partially active construction site. Once again my already depleted reserves of patience were put to the test as each time I positioned my camera and tripod to take a shot, a fluorescent clad worker or delivery truck would, as if by magic, manifest within my field of vision. During such testing circumstances it is often only a split second, where the perfect conditions align and sun, pedestrians, architecture all fall into an evanescent, harmonious synchronicity, before instantaneously collapsing before the lens back into the cacophonous muddle of urban life.

The architectural details on the Barts Square Apartments reference surrounding historic buildings.

The architectural details on the Barts Square Apartments reference surrounding historic buildings.

These photographs of Barts Square were commissioned by my client Sheppard Robson to capture the completed buildings from the first phase of the development. While limited in the scope of what could be captured on that day, hopefully they offer a glimpse into what will be a high quality development when all eventually comes together in the final stages of construction. When time permits I will add a more comprehensive set of images showcasing some of the luxurious interiors designed by Johnson Naylor in the residential buildings, which are now partially occupied.

Project Team:

Architects: Sheppard Robson (Piercy & Company, Maccreannor Lavington)
Client: Helical PLC
Main Contractor: McLaren
Structural Engineer: Waterman Group
Landscape Architect: Gross Max
Interior Architect:
Johnson Naylor
Architectural Photographer: Alex Upton

London Tall Buildings Survey 2019 Feature by Alex Upton

NLA Tall Buildings Publication

Since London shook off its stuffy, conservative hostility towards tall buildings at the dawn of the new millennium, a change in attitudes initiated by the arrival Norman Foster’s curvaceous 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) skyscraper in the City of London. The public and many of the cities decision makers rapidly, if somewhat reluctantly, embraced taller structures and designated special areas for their cultivation. The intention being that they wont impinge on valued historic buildings and the demarcated sight-lines that guard them. In an attempt to document these new vertical structures the Independent centre for London’s built environment, New London Architecture (NLA), has put together a yearly publication which provides a ‘comprehensive analysis of all tall buildings, over 20 storeys, which are proposed, in planning or under construction in London.’

Image used in the article: 52 Lime Street by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Image used in the article: 52 Lime Street by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

If you are to pick up a copy of the 2019 London Tall Buildings Survey and make it to page 103 you will glimpse a photograph I took of Kohn Pedersen Fox Architect’s 52 Lime Street Building (The Scalpel), a 42 Storey, 190 meter tall, skyscraper located in the City of London just a stones throw from the The Gherkin skyscraper where all this reverence for height began. The publication is available to download for free, or you can pick up a physical copy by dropping into the The Building Centre near Goodge Street station in central London.

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.

Blueprint Magazine 'Instagrammer of the Week' by Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The generous team over at Blueprint Magazine, the renowned architecture publication, kindly bestowed the award of 'Insagrammer of the week' upon me, which is indeed a great honour. The magazine features some of the best architecture and, photographers of architecture, from around the globe and was an inspiration to me during my years at university. If you don't already follow me on Instagram please do head over and take a look, you can find lots of exclusive photographs that don't make it onto my website or any other forms of social media. 

Photographers Diary: Architecture 01 by Alex Upton

In this new series of posts I will reveal some of my architectural photography taken on recent trips around London and the rest of the UK. While some images will be of commissioned works most are from my personal collection, showing both completed buildings and those still under construction. Notes of interest regarding the buildings, their architects and the conditions under which the photography was taken are provided where appropriate.

Manhattan Loft Gardens by SOM Architects (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Manhattan Loft Gardens by SOM Architects (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Manhattan Loft Gardens, Stratford London.

Experience has taught me there are few positive aspects to waking up at 4:30 am which are able to console the weary, reluctant mind and body into thinking it is doing something perfectly natural and profitable. Yet one such consolation, I have discovered, is the potential to glimpse a rarely seen ephemeral light, one which bathes the sleeping world and its structures in a palette of eccentric, outlandish hues. Leaving Stratford at this unwelcome hour, on my way to Hastings to undertake some interior photography, i was greeted with the above spectacle of the Manhattan Loft Gardens development; it's surface decorated in a transient veil of red and pink, the sky above daubed in barley discernible patches of cloud, the discomfort of being awake, diminished.

About the building:

Manhattan Loft Gardens is a multi-purpose 42-storey tower currently under construction in Stratford, London. When complete the building will contain a 150 room hotel at the lower levels and 34 stories of residential apartments situated above. The tower was designed by International architectural practice SOM Architects (Skidmore Owings Merrill). Standing at 143 meters in hight the building is noitable for its unique cantilevered design which will provide open, green spaces, at several intervals, accessible to the towers residents.

8 Finsbury Circus by WilkinsonEyre Architects.

8 Finsbury Circus by WilkinsonEyre Architects.

8 Finsbury Circus, City of London.

Waiting for the right light to photograph a building in the inclement British summer can be an testing experience. That's why always having a camera at hand can be a beneficial practice in negating the fickle nature of the seasons. Having walked past WilkinsonEyre Architects 8 Finsbury Circus building numerous times on my way to Liverpool Street Station i was on occasion greeted by a beautiful golden light which accented the ornate features of the retained facade.

About the building:

The above photographed captures the retained facade on the buildings north face which dates from the 1920's. The section to the right, which is only partially visible, is also part of the building, although this is an entirely new part of the development. London architectural practice WilkinsonEyre were the team appointed to redevelop the building, formerly known as River Plate House, after a design competition in 2011. The new building, which provides grade A office space has two entrances, one on South Place the other on Finsbury Circus.

Chobham Academy by AHMM Architects

Chobham Academy by AHMM Architects

Chobham Academy, East Village, London

Living only a short distance from Chobham Academy I have been able to observe the building under various lighting conditions over the period of a year. In doing so I have come to understand how different a building can appear on any given day at any given time or season. The range of nuances created by the suns position and its intensity in relation to a building offer endless scope for visualizing architecture through the photographic medium. Unfortunately the practicalities of an indefinite time scale for a photographic shoot limit such scope for experimentation, but its good to know that once a project has been photographed its always possible to return and take a completely unique set of images.

About the building:

Chobham Academy was first utilised as gym and security hub during the 2012 London Olympic Games and has since become an all-age school for over 1300 students. Located in East Village, Stratford the building is notable for its circular, central unit which has a facade covered in protruding vents, as captured in the photograph above. The Academy was designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM Architects) for client Lend Lease and was completed in 2012. The building has been creatively broken down into distinct yet coherent sections, with a range of materials and colours put to use to make the site appear smaller than it is, with careful consideration given to the surrounding public realm.

The Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health & Wellbeing Centre by Penoyre & Prasad.

The Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health & Wellbeing Centre by Penoyre & Prasad.

The Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health & Wellbeing Centre, East Village, London

Located less than a five minuet walk from Chobham Academy in East Village, Stratford, The Sir Ludwig Guttmann Health & Wellbeing Centre provides state-of-the-art accommodation for the NHS's primary care service. The RIBA London regional Award winning building was designed Penoyre & Prasad and is easily distinguished within its surroundings due to its sharp angular design. Unfortunately, from a architectural photographers perspective the building is rarely seen without a row of cars lined up outside impairing its visual beauty.

Finsbury Circus House by Fletcher Priest Architects.

Finsbury Circus House by Fletcher Priest Architects.

Finsbury Circus House, City of London.

If you recognise Finsbury Circus House it is because you may have already glimpsed it in the above photograph of 8 Finsbury Circus. This clean, minimalist design, with its large, protruding, reflective glass windows was designed by Fletcher Priest Architects. The building is the redevelopment of a former 1980's office block which originally occupied the site, and like its neighbor it too has a north and south facing entrance. The side here is the more playful of the two, while the other entrance is more restrained and respective of its Edwardian neighbors.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the images featured in this series please contact Alex.

Archinect UK In Focus Feature by Alex Upton

Alex Upton Architectural Photographer Archinect Interview

Archinect UK Interview with Architectural Photographer Alex Upton

I am proud to announce that kind people at Archinect UK recently interviewed me as part of their ongoing In Focus features; an editorial space where they profile the work of architectural photographers giving exposure to their work and seeing what it is that motivates and inspires them. Please do head over to their wonderful site and read the interview where I talk about why i got into architectural photography, what my favorite aspects of the job are and what informs my practice when photographing buildings. You can also see some selected images of my work and one bonus shot of me in action.

Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John by Alex Upton

Newport Street Gallery by London Architecture Studio Caruso St John. All images Copyright © Alex Upton

Newport Street Gallery by London Architecture Studio Caruso St John. All images Copyright © Alex Upton

Located in Vauxhall, London, just a short walk from the Thames River and running parallel to an elevated section of railway is architectural practice Caruso St John’s Newport Street Gallery. The building opened its doors to the public in early 2015. As an architectural photographer I was excited to pay a visit since hearing about the inaugural exhibition of work by Sheffield-born abstract painter John Hoyland last year and had been intending to make a trip there with my camera to photograph the buildings impressive interior and exterior spaces. The recent exhibition of work by artist Jeff Koons provided such an opportunity.

Architectural Photography of Newport Street Gallery’s Main Entrance.

Architectural Photography of Newport Street Gallery’s Main Entrance.

The gallery is comprised of several former theatre warehouses which have been converted by London architecture studio Caruso St John to house Damien Hirst’s growing collection of contemporary art which consists of some 3000 or so pieces. The 3,400 square-meter gallery, although large, isn't capable of such a feat, but still provides ample space for individual artist shows. In addition to the exhibition space the building also contains a restaurant called the Pharmacy², which takes Damien Hirst’s iconic Medicine Cabinet installations as its point of reference for both the name and its interior design inspiration. Located at the opposite end of the gallery, in a space separate from the rest of the building, is a shop where books and selected works and prints can be purchased.

Contrasting the old and new brickwork along Newport Street Gallery’s facade.

Contrasting the old and new brickwork along Newport Street Gallery’s facade.

In the wake of its opening the building has slowly been picking up a host of prestigious awards, most notably the RIBA 2016 Stirling Prize, along with the RIBA National Award 2016 and RIBA London Award 2016. In addition to this it also picked up the top prize at the Brick Development Association (BDA) Brick Awards for its well considered juxtaposition of old and new brickwork which makes up the facade. The architectural photography I took of the buildings exterior aims to convey this integration of old and new brickwork, showing the irregular transitions and multicoloured surfaces that come together to form the buildings outer skin.

A sense of architectural scale - contrasting the former industrial warehouse with the galleries new office space.

A sense of architectural scale - contrasting the former industrial warehouse with the galleries new office space.

The galleries close proximity to the adjacent railway line makes it tricky to photograph the building’s exterior in its entirety face-on, which is unfortunate for the changes in brickwork, architectural detailing and form would look great from this perspective. Yet with this minor limitation the architectural photographs of Newport Street Gallery which I took still look great when solely focusing on individual segments of the building. A case in point, the image above contrasts the structure of the former industrial warehouse with the newly built section housing the galleries office space.

Interior Photography of Newport Street Gallery Exhibition Space - Artwork by Jeff Koons.

Interior Photography of Newport Street Gallery Exhibition Space - Artwork by Jeff Koons.

Moving inside, the galleries interiors spaces are bright and spacious, as would be expected of a modern gallery, with high ceilings providing ample space to accommodate large sculptures and installations; Jeff Koons’s giant stainless steel sculpture of a balloon-shaped dog was occupying such a space at the time of writing. With interior photography being reliant on the use of a tripod to stabilise the camera, and this being a personal visit, I only managed to capture a few handheld images from inside, but would love the opportunity to return one day and photograph the space with the necessary photographic equipment.

One of the nicest architectural features inside the gallery are the spiral staircases which provide access to the galleries second floor of exhibition space. The staircases themselves, of which there are three, all slightly different in form and geometry, are surrounded by a white engineered brick which follows their curvature all the way to the top of the building. 

Photography of Newport Street Galleries Spiral Staircase.

Photography of Newport Street Galleries Spiral Staircase.

Newport Street Gallery is an incredibly successful piece of architecture, it manages to be subtle yet captivating, the more elaborate and expressive parts of the building are restricted to the stairwells and exterior while the artworks are allowed to take centre stage in the exhibition spaces. This careful balance of creating a beautifully detailed building which fails to overshadow the artwork is quite an achievement and something which is often neglected in many new-build art galleries. Here artwork and architecture exist in harmony, so whether you are going to appreciate the artwork, architecture, or both, you will no doubt be impressed by at least one of them.

Project Team:

Architect: Caruso St John (Peter St John)
Client: Science UK Limited (Damien Hirst)
Main Contractor: Walter Lilly
M&E consultant: Max Fordham
M&E contractor:
 Piggott and Whitfield
Architectural Photographer: Alex Upton