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Urban Flight

Part 2 Project 2000
Glenn Jeffrey
London South Bank University, UK
My design strategy for the Paddington Basin heliport and motel is site-centred, with emphasis on the co-situational relationships existing on the site terrain as well as the city wide scale. These relationships are examined through vistas, markers, and the sense of place. Drawings and models plot adjacencies and co-situations, forming a matrix from which result clues for formal arrangements.

The Paddington Basin is a linear strip 425 metres long by 25 metres wide, seen from Westway as a site of transformation and passage. The project responds to the intense concentration of infrastructural systems in the Paddington area. With the cost of helicopters challenging the price of a luxury car, the heliport is both a practical proposal for alternative urban transport, a link to the many airports in proximity, and a memorable means of marking the city .

The architecture is to be experienced at speed, reflecting the technology and language of flight. The sense of arrival at the motel, accelerating below the undercroft of the scheme, reawakes the particularity of transportation architecture. The towers are naturally ventilated, low drag shards of steel and glass, designed with hanging gardens: the work place in the sky reflects the biological components of the earth. The gardens act both as windbreaks and absorbers of carbon pollutants, and provide aesthetic balance to the structural and material programme.

Glenn Jeffrey

This student calmly does extraordinary things. Irrepressible logic applied to the apparently illogical, graphic invention to die for, and unlimited ambition in his diploma years: these are a few of our favourite things. Yet all this was presented with a minimum of fuss: Glenn unfolds another stunning confection - but of course.

He had always looked as if he'd got the right stuff, producing some memorable early work. But the heliport/motel in the dry gulch of Paddington Basin (converted into a kind of pit lane in Glenn's world) was so massively conceived, such a very urban scheme, and so sharp both as a piece of spacemaking that...gorgeous. The towers are great markers of the entrance (and exit) to the city that the Westway commands. These structures are both technological and modern, but distinguished by a fragile skin barely presenting any resistance to the wind: aerodynamic, bioclimatic architecture.

Yet the motel has its own, equal presence. The plan suggests a place that is efficient, but also convivial. The whole project is a very accomplished piece of city planning, but the resolution up close is just as satisfying. Knowing where to obsess and when to let loose are good qualities in an architect.

• Page Hits: 1369         • Entry Date: 09 February 2000         • Last Update: 10 May 2001