The Yellow Building
THE YELLOW BUILDING The Yellow Building was commissioned by Monsoon Accessorize as a new flagship headquarters building for the company. The brief was for a building that expressed openness and communication in its layout, but also presented texture in its aesthetic and form. The response to this brief is a dramatic concrete exoskeleton providing both structure and form. Early discussions and sketched ideas were followed by parametrically driven models which were able to work with the Architectural and Structural requirements. This made for a very early collaborative approach which could respond to the global vision whilst being able to focus in on the detail such as reinforcement fit, geometric repetition and the implications of such decisions. This design process developed an exposed diagrid which wraps around the perimeter of two rectangular floorplates, separated by an open atrium space – the atrium being a feature favoured by Monsoon in their existing facility. Each floor plate measures 18m x 45m in plan and divides into a grid of 9m x 7.5m. Structurally the diagrid is able to provide both vertical and lateral support minimising the need for shear walls or stability structure within the floorplate layouts. Lift shafts and stair cores were added either external to the diagrid structure, or within the ends of the atrium space. Architecturally it was desirable to continue the texture of the building form through to the material surface via the use of exposed ‘as struck’ reinforced concrete. This was used for exposed soffits and walls which in addition to the aesthetic provided thermal mass for the building. This use of insitu reinforced concrete was also followed through to the diagrid. The floor structure was formed using in-situ post-tensioned flat slabs, constructed by Expanded for Laing O’Rourke, providing both buildability, programme benefits and the exposed soffit appearance required. One of the benefits of developing an early discussion with the Contractor was in defining the approach to casting the in-situ reinforced concrete diagrid. Rather than an inclined traditional column form, it was proposed to use reusable wall forms, with inclined partitions within to form the V shape to each column pour. This enabled the position and verticality of the forms to be controlled, and minimised the complexity of the formwork and falsework propping offering both cost and programme benefits. Linking the atrium space to the restaurant is a ‘continuous’ concrete canopy, which hangs from beneath the first floor slab, then expands into the roof of the adjacent restaurant. This canopy presented challenges in terms of thermal breaks at the envelope line and the need for rotation to allow differential settlements between the main piled building and the raft foundation to the restaurant. Both issues were solved by placing a number of breaks in the canopy at considered locations. Overall the building can be described as having a ‘studio’ type feel and aesthetic and this is reflected particularly in the traditional looking sawtooth roof. This roof profile provides a high volume of light ingress at the sides of the upper levels and also features rooflights over the atrium space. The roof trusses are formed from steelwork, allowing a lightweight roof and enabling the internal concrete columns to stop beneath the uppermost occupied level. The interface between the steel and concrete structure at roof level required a bespoke detail to accommodate the required tolerances and movements. This interface between sub contractor packages had to be agreed between all parties and carefully controlled. In summary, the building has a unique and attractive aesthetic due to its inclined exposed concrete structure, long-span column free spaces and also represents some significant innovations in terms of the traditional approach of building commercial offices. The building represents how it is possible to break the mould of traditional offices, in a way that provides high quality creative architecture and floorplate efficiency, in a buildable and economic fashion.

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11 photos and 9 drawings

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