Unit 12: Hotel Sphinx

Unit brief

Hotel Sphinx

The unit will continue to examine the different conditions of London and the potential of the city's current reinvention. Parts of London today are undergoing a crisis of densification, entering new territory for which it has few models appropriate to its streets. Large and important areas of the city are being wasted in the commercial interest, with buildings that have lost all typological basis and relationship to public space. What is the future of this? Louis Kahn's plan for Downtown Philadelphia of 1951 speculated on such a step change in the scale and movement in the city centre, reinventing how object buildings would make a distinctive part of the city. His proposal for clusters of monumental buildings, with large public spaces between and generous interior public halls, emulated the freely disposed civic building forms of Ancient Rome.

This year the studio will work at Old Street Roundabout, one of the worst and most energetic examples of out-of-control commercial development in the city. We will design freestanding buildings with a civic element; hotels, university buildings and company offices for the so-called Silicon Roundabout quarter at Old Street. We will concentrate our research on the form of the city, and then the detailed design of the public ground floors. The buildings will use stone in their construction to encourage a connection between all the works of the studio.

The studio will again share a first term project with Stephen Taylor's Unit 09, where we will design a small hotel within a village of stone buildings in the Cevennes mountains. Our studio trip in November will be to Nimes and Arles in the south of France, where we will visit ancient stone buildings; temples, theatres and aqueducts.

Line drawing by architect Louis Kahn showing original plans for Philadelphia cityscape


Course Professional Diploma in Architecture - RIBA 2 (now Architecture RIBA 2 MArch)
Tutors Peter St John
James Hand
Ben Speltz

Goulston StreetRoom GS2-31

When Monday and Thursday

Professional Diploma in Architecture (RIBA part II)