Marks Barfield Architects : Skyhouse


Remind you of anything?

I couldn’t help but notice a similarity between Skyhouse, designed by the UK’s Marks Barfield Architects [famous for the London Eye], and the Torre Cube by Carme Pinos, which we posted on a while back [speaking of which: thanks to everyone for all the links to that post]. Three wedge-shaped towers around a central vertical core that is left empty for air circulation? Maybe this is the skyscraper design of the future, my ninjas…


Skyhouse is the firm’s answer to London’s current housing crisis: a sustainable housing tower that will offer somewhere between 240 and 500 homes within the city. While the project had stalled previously [for programming reasons, it would seem], turning into a mixed use /mixed tenure [meaning there will be some units that ordinary people could buy/rent] development has revived the entire design. The building itself is really three interconnected towers, rising from three separate lower structures on ground level. These shorter structures will house public amenities, such as schools, cafes, shopping areas, libraries, community centers, etc. – encouraging ‘social sustainability‘ within the green setting of the building.

The only catch is that Marks and Barfield imagine Skyhouse to be a place for ordinary people to live and work, with flats starting at a very reasonable for London £75,000. With this insistence to have a large amount of affordable housing within, there are much lower profits than normal to be made for a developer which is part of the reason things have taken so long to get off the ground. To further complicate things Tower Hamlets council believe that such projects are not suitable as council housing and prefer to move their tenants to Newcastle.

Architect David Marks remains confident though that not only will the first site be secured but also funding and that by the end of 2004 the first Skyhouse will have progressed through the planning system and construction will be underway. If the first building is a success, and there is no reason to doubt it won’t be, we can expect anything up to half a dozen other Skyhouses to be built in suitable sites across London over the last half of the decade [from].


You’ve got to like these ‘hollow core’ [not sure what else to call them] skyscrapers that break convention by entirely doing away with the ‘center’ of the building. While in the Torre Cube it was a means to have natural ventilation for the building, in the Skyhouse project a large wind turbine system will be set up in the building’s core – powered by air currents passing through and up the structure.

The ‘three leaf’ plan channels the wind through the center of the Skyhouse cluster, driving silent turbines to generate electricity to power all common areas, thus reducing running costs and service charge [from Marks Barfield Architects].

Another aspect of the project that looks interesting is the incorporation of ‘sky-gardens’ [seen in the last image]. These double height spaces that occur every 10 storeys will offer residents the opportunity to experience nature from within the building – and provide additional community space for social interaction between residents.

Check out this video [.avi] of the project, from Skyscrapernews [I’d ‘right-click’ and ‘save-link-as’].

via architechnophilia

Posted: March 1st, 2007
at 4:30pm by orangemenace

Categories: architecture,green arch,housing,towering pagodas

Comments: 1 comment


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  1. […] These bulbous living structures allow for the park-like ground plain to pass right beneath them – even leaving the core of the building open [where have we seen this before?] to the sky, as if these buildings themselves are a man made forest of housing units. […]



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