Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, ‘Manhattan Loft Gardens (The Stratford)’, London, UK

Stratford in East London, home to the 2012 Olympics, is one of the capital’s most dynamic and well-connected new metropolitan centres, with its high-speed rail links and the world-class leisure facilities of the Queen Elizabeth Park on the doorstep. Manhattan Loft Gardens is a powerful symbol of the area’s growing
importance, and a new focus for its social life.

The 42-storey tower comprises 248 residences, which are a combination of spacious loft-style apartments and boutique single-storey homes, topped by a dramatic three-bedroom penthouse, providing a total of 13 different apartment types. They pioneer a new rental model in the city, akin to hotel living, complete with concierge service, members’ club and a varied in-house programme of cultural events. As designers, the challenge was to design a vertical community that would work as a modern neighbourhood; that would reflect the area’s diversity and, supporting this vital social dimension, would encourage easy conversation and new connections. An integrated team of architects and engineers shaped the tower’s innovative steel and concrete form to create impressive communal spaces that would provide a natural platform for interaction, while working from the inside out to maximise views and natural light.

The apartments reinterpret London’s most successful residential typologies, taking cues from city garden squares, while gaining inspiration from a diverse mix of dwelling types. Innovatively stacking single-storey, 1.5-storey and duplex apartments creates a unique range of residential typologies. This variety pioneers the principle that one size does not fit all and should therefore form the foundation of new London communities.

One of the most distinguishing features of Manhattan Loft Gardens is the innovative high-performance serrated glass and GRC facade, which creates a dynamic appearance from varying angles.

The orientation of the solid facade self-shade creates a passive solar shading measure while turning the glazing away from the direct solar radiation, minimising solar gains while maximising the panoramic views over the Olympic Park and London’s skyline.

Incorporating a host of sustainable strategies, the tower’s residential component has earned a Code for Sustainable Homes Level Four ranking. The building achieves reduced water consumption through a number of measures including smaller baths, low-flow taps and showers, and a rainwater attenuation tank. Other sustainable features include advanced lighting controls, photovoltaics and a building envelope that minimises heat loss. The three large roof terraces provide green landscaping and insect hotels to encourage biodiversity.