Thinking Clearly at The Crystal
A new thirty million pound sustainability centre recently opened to the public in London, created to encourage discourse on sustainability issues and to showcase potential solutions.
“The Crystal” is a new initiative funded by Siemens and built on former industrial wasteland in London’s Royal Docks, at the heart of the city’s Green Enterprise Zone. Comprising of a state of the art conference centre, flexible working space, meeting rooms, and a public exhibition surrounding the environmental issues faced by modern cities, the venue is being touted as the first of its kind. Opening to the public in October, the exhibition uses interactive displays and multi-media information panels to highlight some of the problems global cities are facing; from managing fresh water supplies, to how cities are built and how we get around them. And whilst promoting some of the engineering solutions being dreamt up in Siemens laboratories, the venue is not afraid to shy away from the facts of burgeoning urban population growth and the competing demands being placed on our increasingly fragile eco-system. An immersive cinema display that focuses on the accelerating global population in which the participants stand inside - and become part of - the screen is particularly hard hitting.
Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the building itself is heated and cooled by a ground source pump, whilst energy is drawn from solar cells on the roof. Rain water is collected and used to flush the toilets and water the community gardens which have been set aside for local people’s use and food production. Whilst the building is awaiting certification, it has been designed to comply with the highest LEED and BREEAM standards, and is capable of being “energy autonomous”.
As well as providing a new home for the Siemens Cities team it is hoped the building will “enable experts, business leaders, decision makers, students and citizens around the world to come together and find solutions to the challenges facing cities” according to Siemens CEO Dr Roland Busch.
“The Crystal” was officially opened by Mayor of London Boris Johnson during a lavish gala celebration featuring singers and dancers from the local area and a spectacular 3D lazer and light show projected on to the façade of the building. The message of the show was that “the future starts here”, but to this correspondent the overriding message taken from this new centre of excellence was this; sustainability issues are now so widely acknowledged that a new market seeking to design and produce new solutions is emerging. Sustainability in all its forms is now serious business.
Some more photos from the event below:
Images: ibike London via Flickr
Sustainable Cities Collective