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Top Ten Projects

What are the Top 10 projects that shaped the built environment in the last 20 years? The UK has been responsible for some truly amazing construction projects over this timeframe. Whether they were public or private buildings or infrastructure projects, they have showcased this country as a global leader in architecture. It is hard to pick a short list, but here’s our pick of projects which we feel have had a major impact:

The Royal London Hospital
The original Victorian building was one of the oldest hospitals in England and desperately needed redeveloping. The new £1.1billion building was developed by Skanska and financed through a Private Finance Initiative. It is now one of the largest and most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe. It provides world class facilities for both patients and practitioners, with more than 40% of the rooms single and ensuite. It also features 22 operating theatres and a natural ventilation system, eliminating the traditional oppressive feeling found in hospitals.

The Eden Project
Many may feel that this is a slight quirky addition, but the bold structures in Cornwall were created perfectly to work with the natural surroundings. The domes were designed by Grimshaw Architects and each of them is created by four different sized interconnected spherical caps. The largest of the domes is 55m high, 100m wide and 200m long. The architecture was inspired by numerous buildings, including the geodesic domes at Buckminster Fuller, the great British glasshouses such as those at Kew Gardens and Frei Otto's German Pavilion at Expo '67.

Wembley Stadium
Being responsible for the redevelopment of such an iconic structure as the old Wembley Stadium is a tough job, but the one created by HOK Sport and Foster + Partners certainly fulfils the brief. Costing £757million, it has the title of the most expensive single building in Britain, as well as the most expensive stadium in the world. The iconic arch stands 133 high, with a 315m span and can be seen from across the city. It is created from a lattice of 41 steel rings and tilts at 112o. The seating was developed to allow clear views from any area and the steep incline has provided a more intense atmosphere for fans.

Manchester Civil Justice Centre
This building has a powerful presence in the city and was designed to be more open and welcoming than traditional courts. The main features include the cantilevered structures and the bold use of colour across the 15 storeys. Visitors to the centre are left speechless by the 11 storey atrium, which draws light in to an otherwise professional and security driven environment. The building uses a natural ventilation system that was engineered by Mott MacDonald. It draws air in from the floor voids which is then distributed throughout the building and is backed up by an electrical system.

Evelyn Grace Academy
This £32million school in South London was opened in 2010 and its aim was to encourage success and achievement in a deprived area. The Academy was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and was funded through sponsorship from the ARK trust. The four storey building is designed using interlocking volumes which create an atmosphere of space and freedom. Probably the most surprising feature is the central athletics track, which runs straight through the building and reinforces their commitment to sport and excellence.

London Aquatics Centre
This is another building created by Zaha Hadid Architects and was designed for the 2012 Olympics. The temporary structure could seat 17,500 people, but there needed to be a legacy function to the centre which provided for a 2,500 long-term capacity. Overall the building cost £269million. The architecture was inspired by the fluid movement of water and complements the river and surrounding landscapes. The wave style roof was created using a steel-frame and timber cladding.

The Gherkin
This infamous addition to the London skyline helped to bring about the resurgence of the skyscraper. The 180m high 40 storey glass structure was created by Foster + Partners and was completed in 2004. It was built using a steel framed diagonal shell. The vertical curves and circular cross section make this an extremely aerodynamic structure and helped it to win the 2005 Stirling Prize.

Nottingham's Old Market Square
This square is over 800 years old and the second largest in the country, but the new design created by Gustafson Porter blends in well with the heritage of the area. The centre has been left for special events and activities, allowing most of the focus on the edges of the square. A tiered terrace not only provides space for seating and foliage, but also gives the square its structure. The water feature at one end complements the intricacies of the Council House opposite and completes the final look.

Oxford Ashmolean Museum
This is an extension to the existing Greek revival building, which has created a more modern museum with substantially more usable space. The building was designed by Rick Mather Architects and is six storeys, creating a 9,000sq m space. The galleries have been created using different amounts of floor space and at varying heights, which help to draw light in vertically. The central spiralling staircase has the purpose of taking visitors on a journey through the museum.

Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery
Within a mediaeval part of the city, this building designed by Caruso St John works well with the existing architecture. The gold and green concrete facade is embossed with lace detailing, drawing on the city's heritage. The building has been created on a slope, which ends in a surprising outside plaza area. The interior makes bold statements with vast variations in colour and texture to complete this uniquely different building that brings an element of fun to Nottingham's architecture.
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