Interior Photography

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

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

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

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.

Architectural Photography of the London Design Museum’s Central Atrium

Architectural Photography of the London Design Museum’s Central Atrium

A little over a year on since its initial opening I was commissioned by several clients in the Spring of 2018 to undertake the architectural photography of the London Design Museum, covering the Interior spaces; public viewing galleries, paid exhibition areas, library, research facilities and offices. 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.

The view from the Design Museums upper floor looking across the atrium.

The view from the Design Museums upper floor looking across the 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.

Architecture of the parabolic roof structure.

Architecture of the 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.

The Museums reception area with exhibition space on the above level.

The Museums reception area with exhibition space on the above level.

At the time of photographing the Museum there was a wonderful Ferrari exhibition being held, If you weren’t lucky enough to see it in person, you can see some of those images along with all the other interior and exterior shots I took in my portfolio.

Project Team:

Developer: Ilchester Estates and the Design Museum
Contractor: Mace
Architect: John Pawson, Allies and Morrison, OMA
Photography Clients: Troldtekt & Abet Laminati
Architectural Photographer: Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion by Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Location: Cannon Bridge House (The River Building) 25 Dowgate Hill, London UK.
Architect: Stiff + Trevillion
Developer / Contractor: Blackstone Group / Lend Lease
Photography Client: Structura UK

The multidisciplinary West London architectural and design practice Stiff + Trevillion have recently completed both an internal and external refurbishment of Cannon Bridge House, which is situated on the north bank of the Thames River in central London. As the internal fit-out was nearing completion the client Structura UK requested photography of the interior office spaces, with a focus specifically on the curtain walling system they installed.  

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House or The River Building as it is now known had gone unmodernised since the early 1990's and was no longer suitable to cater for the demands of a 21st century office space. With the buildings central location it was a prime subject for redevelopment by the developer and owner Blackstone.

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

The alterations made to the original structure are succinctly noted by the architects: 

'Upgrading of the southern building elevation. Redesign of the existing building entrances on Cousin Lane. Improved  glass link on the 1st floor between the Atrium and River Building. Reduction in the size of the River Building atrium roof.'

Cannon Bridge House Interior. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House Interior. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

One of the defining features of the building internally is the convergence of two diagonal panels of glazing, which at their meeting point command amazing views South of the Thames River. If that wasn't stimulating enough for the buildings soon to be occupiers there are also trains silently passing under the building as they cross the river along Cannon Street Rail Bridge. Internally it is hard to picture the building from the outside as its now modern interior contrasts sharply with its yellow brick exterior and the wide arches that perforate it at intervals.

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Another exciting part of the development, which I am unfortunately unable to provide photographic evidence of, is the new roof garden which provides an area of respite for the busy office workers below. Unusually for a city often hidden beneath a horizontal wall of grey, watery vapour the sky garden has emerged as an essential feature of any new office development. This has given rise to all manner of extra curricular horticultural happenings taking place in the cities upper atmosphere, unbeknownst to the uninitiated citizens of the streets below. Adjacent roof gardens now rival each other for the most finely preened shrubs in an undeclared topiary showdown which has produced hedges of logic defying geometries.

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House by Stiff + Trevillion. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Returning inside the building you are greeted by a central atrium which rises up two floors to be met by an arched, glazed roof allowing natural light to flood into the building. Unfortunately at the time i was photographing the site there were still on-going maintenance works around the atrium which limited the images I could capture.

Cannon Bridge House Atrium. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Cannon Bridge House Atrium. Photography: Copyright © Alex Upton

Leaving Cannon Bridge House that day after several hours of photography I couldn't help wishing that I might one day spend a day there as a worker, enjoying the view of the trains traversing the river below and popping up to the roof garden at lunch time for a spot of high-rise relaxation among the finely sculpted foliage. Having not seen the building internally before its makeover it is hard to visualise what existed in its place. What is evident though, is that Stiff + Trevillion's redevelopment has created a modern, light filled space which incorporates elements of the original structure, brickwork and steel, in a manner that gives prominence to them rather than hides them from view.  It is a great space, with many additional attributes provided by its location and history.