The prime property pundit – Thomas Heatherwick, Britain’s favourite architect

Posted on by Beyond Bespoke

Characterised by its working methodology of innovation, the Heatherwick studio of Thomas Heatherwick leadership has bought to physicality visions of imagination that have dazzled skylines across the world. From Stratford to Shanghai, engineering brainwaves have been sparked in global design reproach through the impact of Thomas Heatherwick and his team. Founding the Heatherwick studio in 1994, today a team of 200 architects and designers work from a combined studio and workshop in Kings Cross, to spawn a hive of creative influence. With the studio working on twenty-five live projects simultaneously and with collaborated plans for Googles new London headquarters recently unveiled, Heatherwick Studios is soaring.

In design magnitude and notoriety, the constant question of ‘why is that like that?’ circles in the Heatherwick head state. With ingenuity driving improvement, Britain’s freshly modern and at times anarchic architect has repeatedly pushed the limits of possibility, all with a very British touch behind him.

This process is independent of scale: from developing a chair or a masterplan, the same system of collaborative inquiry and experimentation is applied.
Heatherwick Studio, on approach to design.



A wild enthusiast, Heatherwick can be held responsible for many landmarks infused with immense elegance and prestige globally, from the new Routemaster London buses to the Vessel in New York and Pacific Place in Hong Kong. However, in an air of enduring artisan, Heatherick thinks in special ideals surrounding British projects, tapping into an undeniably strong heritage to be visually seen. Whether visiting the House of the Future in Milton Keynes or the carbon-fibre cars in Earls Court, outings as a child with his farther fuelled visions of the unreal for Heatherwick, even without his conscious knowledge. Progressing through his journey of studying 3-D design and meeting mentor Sir Terence Conran, Heatherwick is, in a full circle approach – where he is when he began – still asking ‘why must this be that way?’ and ‘how can I innovate this beyond imagination?’ Here are our favourite Heatherwick British stamps of innovation.

He is the Leonardo da-Vinci of our times.
Sir Terence Conran, on Thomas Heatherwick

Google – King’s Cross
Having submitted an application to Camden Council for planning permission on June 1st, 2017, the first wholly owned and designed Google building outside the US hopes to land at this new King’s Cross Campus. In collaborated design with Bjarke Ingels Group, this build at Kings cross holds special resonance for Heatherwick. Both living in the area personally and with the Heatherwick studios located here, he states “The area is a fascinating collision of diverse building types and spaces” being “the most connected point in London.” Showcasing eleven storeys, its key feature will be an expansive roof garden which will span the length of the building. With an additional ‘trim track’ and 3-lane 25 metre swimming pool to accommodate for, this ‘landscraper’ will host a ‘natural’ theme, built in aim of ensuring flexible workspaces for years to come.


Maggies – Yorkshire
When one of Europe’s largest cancer hospitals, the St.James’s Institute of Oncology opened in Leeds in 2007, Heatherwick studios looked away from the capital and away from corporate clients.With the chance to design a new centre on campus for Maggies, an organisation providing free support for those living with the disease, this build was large but inherently domestic. Leaders Mat Cash and Rebeca Ramos saw a space dominated by clinical hospital buildings, and wondered, could it be possible to make a whole building out of a garden? With the modernly futuristic vision of Heatherwick colliding with the want to offer something positive and dream worthy to the users of the centre, perspectives met perfectly. Using containers, each holding a piece of garden, the design built itself upon levels. With themes of privacy but still community, a collection of garden plots brought planting into and over the building, with curved structures almost symbolising pillars up into the sky. Opening this year, the centre will offer art therapy and relaxation management as part of a support program, all under Heatherwicks garden retreat.


Bombay Sapphire Distillery – Laverstoke
With vision of showing visitors the real distillation process, the Heatherwick Studio lead the masterplan and design of the company’s new distillery in the south of England. Working with agencies English Heritage and English Nature to restore twenty-three of the existing historic buildings, rivers had to be reshaped and plans revisited. However with a vapour distillation process different to other gin distillers, the thought of creating the worlds first botanical distillery came to pass. Two glasshouses were then constructed, to highlight the central courtyard, one being tropical and the other Mediterranean. These glasshouses hold the ten plant species that give Bombay Sapphire gin its particularity, and the finished structures are made from eight hundred and ninety three individually shaped curved class pieces. The distillery opened to the public in 2014, and was awarded an outstanding Breeam rating for its design, making it the first distillery and refurbishment plan to receive the award.


London Bus Redesign
Being the first bus to be designed specifically for the capital for more than fifty years, this reinvention (and not replacement) of the capitals infamous migrating landmark came to Heaterwick studios in 2010. Joining the team commissioned by London’s mayor, the aim was to re-evaluate the Routemaster buses of 1968 commission, which were ordered from catalogues of existing designs. A product of their date, the buses were inaccessible for prams and wheel-chair users, the team fixing accessibility and sustainability, the new designs using electricity and diesel to use 40% less fossil fuel. Being three meters longer than the old design, the new bus would have two staircases and an open platform to make the rat race really no race at all. With an interior brief of ‘calm and co-ordinated’ traditional colour pallets were used with controlled lighting systems. With the first bus entering public service in February 2012, joined by a further 600 in circulation by the end of the year, this order was to be the largest of hybrid buses ever placed in Europe.

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Find out more about the Heatherwick Studios latest projects here.


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