C.F. Møller Architects, artist Conrad Shawcross and developer Knight Dragon reveal design of a major new art and architecture collaboration for the Greenwich Peninsula Low Carbon Energy Centre. British artist Conrad Shawcross, has been commissioned to provide a high profile architectural intervention and his largest public commission to date for the entrance to Greenwich Peninsula in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. This commission will reimagine the 49 metre high tower which forms part of a new Low Carbon Energy Centre designed by C.F. Møller Architects due to be built on Greenwich Peninsula in 2015 and completed in 2016.
It has been hugely interesting and rewarding to respond in a more architectural way to this very unique brief. My visual solution has been driven by a genuine desire to create something beautiful but beguiling. One key issue I have remained very conscious of and have used as a driver for the idea, is the fact that this a low carbon Energy Centre for the Peninsula and so the lightness and efficiency of the structure and form has been at the core of my thinking and the development of the design.
– Conrad Shawcross
Shawcross’ response which is titled Lenticular Dazzle Camouflage unites sophisticated engineering and complex optic research to create an impressive sculptural concept on a huge scale. The artist’s intention is to create an ambiguous and beguiling surface that disturbs and dematerializes the massing of the tower structure, producing a form that remains abstract and hard to define yet one which could potentially become a talking point for the local and wider community. The design uses both First World War ‘dazzle camouflage’ – the paradox of camouflage whereby objects that are supposed to be hidden are in fact made both more visible and arresting – and ideas found in Cubist and Futurist paintings in which an object’s surface is broken up, creating false perspectives and vanishing points.
We were delighted that Knight Dragon realised the opportunities this commission presented and continue to support the ambitious proposals developed with Conrad that will create a striking addition to the London skyline and in doing so, bring attention to the possibilities of the processes inside.
– Chris Fay, C.F. Møller Architects (Lead Architect)
The cladding for the structure will be formed of hundreds of triangular panels, each the height of a London bus. These tiles fold and flow across the surface of the tower forming complex geometric patterns that visually break up the flat planes to create an uneven, sculpted surface that plays with the vanishing points and perspective, and leaves the viewer unsure of where the form begins or ends. The panels are perforated so as to exploit the phenomena of the Moiré Effect and create an object that changes in appearance when it is viewed from different locations or vantage points and at different times of the day. As the two main surfaces of the tower sit east to west, the structure will filter the light of the sun and sky enhancing both the form and the visual effect of the Moiré. At night an integrated lighting design will produce a shifting series of ‘compositions‘ lit from within the structure.
The Low Carbon Energy Centre tower was identified as a canvas for a public art commission by project curators Futurecity to support Knight Dragon’s commitment to art and culture across their development. Futurecity organised a competition and shortlisting process and Conrad Shawcross’s design was selected by a panel from a short list of three artists.
This commission is part of a wider cultural programme on the Peninsula. A new contemporary art gallery, the NOW Gallery opened in September 2014 with an installation by designer Simon Heijdens and a series of cross art-form events, and a new commission by Robert Orchardson followed in late January 2015; the Lazarides Editions printworks are currently housed on the Peninsula and performing arts collective Shunt launched the Peninsula’s new riverside venue with a site-specific show in August 2014.
Three major pieces of work by three Royal Academicians permanently on show for South East Londoners, as Conrad Shawcross RA’s totemic 50 metre ‘Lenticular Dazzle’ design joins Richard Wilson RA’s ‘Slice of Reality’ and Sir Anthony Gormley RA’s ‘Cloud Index’ for Greenwich Peninsula.
– Mark Davy, Futurecity – Curator
*All images and information courtesy of C.F. Møller Architects.