This Tower in London Is Big, It's Brutalist, but It Could Be a Model for How We Can Build Cheaper and Greener Housing

Black and white photo of a city apartment


I don't usually have much nice to say about the tall and expensive high rise buildings in London like the Shard or the Walkie Talkie fryscraper. I have complained about the housing crises in London and New York while towers get built for the rich who don't even bother to live in them. But I am seriously wowed by this tower for London by Zurich firm E2A, and not just for their homage to the Greatest Architecture Photo Ever by Julius Shulman.

E2A plan

© E2A

Each floor is a separate unit; the structure is supported by four cores. The architects explain:

Because the individual cores connect to the façade, and as such directly access the exterior, it is possible to execute an extremely low-tech building. For example, the bathrooms are naturally ventilated and daylight reaches both the core zones and the open interior spaces. The four cores are comprised of the main entrance with support functions, two separate bathrooms, and a kitchen with an adjoining terrace. In between, the remaining space is free for the individual owners to shape as they wish.
E2A interior

© E2A

Outside of the service cores, the architects don't deliver anything but space.

The high-rise as a series of vertical “parcels,” each with its own flexible spatial configurations, is a new development model for urban real estate. Due to its compact ecological and economical footprint, the building model is suitable for both complex situations as well as small transitional functions or for works in progress.
interior of apartment

© E2A

The architects offer a "freedom to evolve" instead of the usual predetermined standard. It is basically wide open space, modern lofts. Of course it will not end up this way, it will not be in any way affordable.

But the model can work for anyone at any scale: do the minimum, open space, exposed finishes, natural ventilation, low tech. Stack the bathrooms and kitchens and let the occupants do the rest. Keep it simple. This is obviously a building for the very rich, but anyone could have a version of this. This is great stuff from E2A.

E2A model

© E2A