At 22 Bishopsgate, architects have created a skyscraper with new technology woven into every aspect of the design.
London’s newest skyscraper is only the second tallest building in the UK (after The Shard), but the 278-metre tower rises highest when it comes to technology.
The 62 storeys of 22 Bishopsgate, due to open soon, build in a host of innovations, from the way the design protects pedestrians in London’s financial district against downdrafts caused by the whipping winds, to the military-designed logistics system to prevent traffic snarls around its base.
“In some instances we encountered problems we couldn’t solve and technology helped us solve them,” says Karen Cook of PLP Architecture, the company that designed the building. For instance, those winds: adding a new tower to an already complex skyline can cause the air to move in mysterious ways, and stringent planning laws in the City of London prevent new constructions from inadvertently causing wind tunnels on the ground.
PLP worked with engineers from Formula 1 to model every 10 centimetres of the building and the impact it would have on wind flows. The engineers created large-scale canopies, similar to those on the back of a race car, made out of steel and glass and ultra-high-performance reinforced concrete, to tamp down the wind flow – testing 23 different designs before settling on the best one.
The City of London was also keen to reduce the impact on traffic flows around the building: with space for vast numbers of tenants across the 1.275 million square feet of office space, and a density of one person per eight square metres, there’ll be huge numbers of people travelling to and from the building every day. The commuter crush is partly covered by the 1,700 cycle spaces in the basement, but deliveries are another problem.
A consolidated delivery management system, designed by an ex-army engineer, reduces the number of trips made to 22 Bishopsgate. “Instead of all the goods going to the building, they all go to a dispatch centre outside the city, they are offloaded, scanned for security and stored until the tenant requires them,” says Cook. A digital goods management system lets inhabitants call on supplies as and when they’re needed, delivering the goods outside of peak hours and using low-emission vehicles. This will halve the number of vehicles travelling to the building.
It’s not just the behind-the-scenes logistics of the building that are super-powered, though. Even the building’s facade is fine-tuned to tease out every last improvement. Glass with a lower proportion of iron than usual allows 60 per cent more light into the building than standard glass does, while each office unit will be assigned its own IP address so that those within the unit can intelligently alter the blinds using an app specific to the building.
Eight mobile phone beacons, part of a network providing five-bar connectivity throughout the development, will be placed on each of the 57 floors of office space in the building, able to transmit all four major phone networks – and they can be adjusted according to each tenant’s needs.
Unusually, the lifts, developed by manufacturer Otis and travelling at eight metres per second, were installed during the building process – to help 1,200 construction workers and their tools move around quickly. A biometric security system, using facial recognition software, can provide or prevent access to the building automatically, and once inside office workers using the building’s app can control everything from the ambient temperature to the level of light through the windows – as well as book meeting rooms and time in the on-site spa.
“The whole concept for the IT in the building is that it’s seamless,” says Danny Hall, of Lipton Rogers Developments, which has been overseeing the tech infrastructure within the building. Every action taken within 22 Bishopsgate will be sent into the cloud and analysed to monitor how tenants use the building. “We want the app to be a portal into the building, getting you through barriers, and a technological environment with which you can interact with the building,” he says.