Shell Centre Pavilion

Location: South Bank

Client: Braeburn Estates

Sector: Culture, Civic and Sacred

Cost: £8m

Marks Barfield Architects won an international competition to design a visitor pavilion as part of the wider Shell Centre development near London’s Waterloo Station.

It was proposed that the South Bank Place Marketing Suite for Braeburn Estates would be a temporary building with a 3-year life to be located in the southeast corner of Hungerford car park before the entire car park is transformed into an extension of Jubilee Gardens.

The building was designed to minimize its footprint on the ground (12 metres x 12 metres) whilst maximising views at the upper levels. This would allow more space for landscape, public seating, and garden planting at ground level, and more light and air for the upper storeys, providing them with long-distance views southwest above the trees towards the Palace of Westminster, and above the railway viaduct to the north.

Four curved glass facades would enclose a two-storey box housing four show apartments. Each curved facade is composed of eighteen frameless flat sheets of low iron and low-e coated glass which act as ‘reflective’ skirt around the perimeter of the box.

A fabricated weathering steel diagrid structure would support to edges of the two storey box allowing flexible column-free space inside and adding visual interest, clarity, and directness of purpose externally. Diagrid structures are generally considered more efficient than conventional structures, being self-supporting, using less material, and lending themselves to the use of stable pre-fabricated assemblies.

Sections of the existing wall separating Hungerford car park from Jubilee Gardens would be removed so that the proposed site would be linked to Jubilee Gardens and be provided with public access [including to the ground floor].

An artist-controlled lighting installation behind the raised glass skirt would animate the facade at night to engage with the public and add to the cultural offer and appeal on the South Bank.

The innovative design of the temporary Marketing Suite takes its cue from the earlier structures built for the 1951 Festival of Britain as well as from the more recently constructed London Eye, also designed by Marks Barfield Architects.

At the end of its life on the South Bank, it was planned that the Marketing Suite would be disassembled and moved to a new location to be agreed, either at Canary Wharf or at another location to be agreed with the London Borough of Lambeth. Its site and the remainder of the car park would be re-landscaped and incorporated into an enlarged and enhanced Jubilee Gardens.