Tell us about the early design brief
The early brief was to design a long-lasting, robust infrastructure building that would visually contribute to the attractiveness of the London 2012 Olympic Park.
What inspired your design concept?
The circular shape of the building directly referenced the ground well below, and provided a cost-effective way to deal with a super-structure which utilised the below ground structure.
One of our design ideas was for the façade: we wanted the public to be able to walk around the structure and images to reveal themselves, depending on the time of day, the weather and the viewer’s position.
What challenges did you face along the way?
To produce a building to suit the budget and the operational requirements of Thames Water, and avoid the default option of a brick ‘shed’ was the major challenge. We used self-finished materials and celebrated the engineering elements in the form of two bright pink odour control chambers and an odour stack with a lantern on top – this all added visual delight to what could have been a mundane structure.
During construction, site workers nicknamed the two odour control tanks ‘Pinky and Perky’ after the 1960’s children’s characters!
What would you highlight as the best features or lasting benefits of your design work?
Original engineering images were reproduced in the face of the concrete and there’s a subtle tribute to British civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette – the ‘Sewer King’ who created the network of Victorian sewers – on the ‘drum’ façade.