Related Argent | Brent Cross, London UK 2022

Proposed as part of a recent design competition for Related Argent’s new Brent Cross Town development in northwest London, this design for the Vattenfall operated Main Energy Centre (MEC) aims to provide a clear statement of the development’s Net Zero Carbon commitments and ambition. The building sits within a dynamic urban context dominated by existing rail and road infrastructure as well as a prominent new artwork installation screening a neighbouring substation.

In response to this context the building’s form and massing have been crafted ‘in the round’ to compliment the adjacent public-art wrapped primary substation, and respect its proximity to the new residential building developments. Informed by its panoramic exposure the facade has been designed to provide a richly articulated surface that wraps around all four sides of the facility without interruption. Rounded corners follow the geometry of the adjacent substation artwork and soften the building’s massing.

The facades are defined by a regular array of vertical fins supporting angled louvres that increase in frequency towards the top of the building. This simple but visually effective arrangement provides a versatile facade of varying permeability depending on the ventilation and operational requirements of the internal plant spaces. Glazing is limited to the street level, permitting pedestrians with tantalising glimpses of the energy generation equipment and massive thermal stores within.

Guided by circular economy principles, the proposed use of recycled aluminium for the facade and mass timber construction for the structure further aligns the building to the client’s net zero carbon ambitions, enabling efficient construction and future demountability and recycling.