Commissioned by Living Architecture and Artangel, the challenge of "A Room for London" was to design a one-bedroom temporary installation to be perched on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, well known to be one of London's most visible sites. The project attracted the attention of 500 architects worldwide and the winning design went to a beautifully crafted timber boat structure from David Kohn and Fiona Banne, but it was the remarkable design from Spanish architects Sanzpont which really caught our eye.
Sanzpont's shape-shifting design sets out to introduce the concept of time passing into the architecture itself. The design is a living space that continually transforms according to daylight hours and seasons - during the day photovoltaic panels follow the sun, at night the building is lit up with LEDs and for bedtime it transforms into a cocoon with a starry sky projection. The changes also extent to the seasons - in Spring it resembles a blossoming flower, in Summer it changes to evoke sports and sunshine, Autumn is falling gold and brown leaves and in Winter a snow pine.
Modeled to reflect nature, the building also features a strong sustainable energy design that minimizes carbon emissions specific to London's climate. Since London's yearly average temperature is below the comfort zone (18°-26°C or 64°-79° F), passive solar design and thermal mass features are included. The exterior is an assembled "capsule" surrounded by four foldable solar panels made of fabric, photovoltaic cells and recycled steel. These lightweight panels can follow the solar path and control the light during the day and at different times of the year. At night the LEDs are used to change color of the panels and create a more dramatic effect.
Recycled plastic lumber is used for all decks and there is a wastewater rooftop garden and container garden help to provide oxygen and temperature regulation. Rainwater is collected and stored for bathroom use and grey water is treated in the wastewater garden for landscape irrigation.
The interior boasts a lighting feature with a 360-degree projector that can be used to transform the room. There is a Jacuzzi hidden in the floor and the bed, reading and relaxation area is orientated to the south to capture as much solar radiation available during the day ... whilst overlooking the Thames.
Resembles a spacecraft that has landed in the middle of a city with its mesmerizing light projection, the modular structure is also designed to be easily disassembled and transported.
Sanzpont's vision wasn't the winning bid - that honor went to David Kohn and Fiona Banne's boat concept. Full of nooks and crannies to explore, the "boat" is a contemporary and playful building intended to offer a place of refuge and reflection amidst the flow and traffic of London.
The winning installation will be part of the London 2012 Festival and A Room for London will be up and running from January to December 2012 and bookings for the room will open on 8th September 2011.