Paternoster Square is part of a development in a high-profile, sensitive location, next to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It is a new public space containing a pre-existing underground electricity substation. This substation required a cooling system with outlet and inlet vents, but the client team was unhappy with the proposed solution for a single large object as it would turn the surrounding space into a corridor.
The studio made use of the two existing holes in the concrete slab covering the substation, to reduce the overall size of the vent object by splitting the outlet part into two smaller vents – saving significant space by setting the inlet ducts into the ground using grilles flush with the pavement.
The aesthetic design is derived from experiments with folded paper, scaled up to 11m in height; the vents retain the proportions of the A4-size paper used in these experiments. The Vents are fabricated from 63 identical, 8mm thick, stainless steel isosceles triangles welded together and finished by glass bead blasting.
In 2010 the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced that Heatherwick Studio would be designing the New Bus for London. A long asymmetric front window provides the driver with clear kerbside views, while a wrapped glazing panel reflects passenger circulation – bringing more daylight into the bus and offering views out over London. By incorporating an open platform at its rear, the bus reinstates one of the much-loved features of the 1950s Routemaster which offered a "hop-on hop-off" service. The design has three doors and two staircases, making it quicker and easier for passengers to board.
Thomas Alexander Heatherwick is an English designer and the founder of London-based design practice Heatherwick Studio. Since the late 1990s Heatherwick has emerged as one of Britain’s most gifted and imaginative designers. His innovative approach to design has earned him a reputation as an "ideas engine"
Vents for a substation cooling system at Paternoster Square, London, built in 2009
The design for the vents was inspired by folding a sheet of paper. The vents retain the proportions of the A4-size paper, scaled up to 11m in height.
These elegant sculptural forms near St Paul’s are actually cooling vents for a subsurface electricity substation. Heatherwick came up with their conformation after playing around with folded paper.