Eco-friendly Crystal grows in east London

Pic: Wilkinson Eyre Architects

International engineering conglomerate Siemens, has recently announced the name of its new landmark centre of urban sustainability, which is being constructed in East London.

The new eye-catching structure was christened ‘The Crystal’ at the high level ‘topping out’ ceremony that took place in East London last Wednesday the 26th of October.

The Crystal was designed by architects Wilkinson Eyre and Pringle Brandon and draws inspiration from natural crystalline geometry.

The ‘all electric’ building will operate free from fossil fuels. It will include solar panels, rainwater harvesting, manipulation of wind power, ground source heat pumps and sensors which will regulate heat, light, ventilation and water usage in the building.

Siemens has planned for the £30 million visitor attraction to act as a global knowledge hub for innovation on urban sustainability. The new landmark will demonstrate how the latest in infrastructure technology can make cities better places to live and work.

Roland Busch, the CEO of the Infrastructure and Cities Sector of Siemens said the company aims to “develop solutions to cope with the massive growth of cities and make them liveable centres of business and culture”.

The development will be part of the ‘Mayor’s Green Enterprise District’ in East London’s Royal Victoria Docks.

Boris Johnson and Roland Busch, CEO, Siemens

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We are working to attract the best new high tech industries and businesses to the capital bringing investment and jobs to Londoners to create the best city in the world”.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham also expressed his optimism that “this commitment will be a catalyst for more job creating investment”

It is estimated that The Crystal will result in the creation of 50 jobs as well as 180 desks for Siemens R&D teams, a 300-seat auditorium available for events and seminars and a public exhibition space displaying the latest in urban planning and design.

The exhibition will be an interactive glimpse into the future of everything from energy sources and transportation to water and security. It will be open and free to the public when The Crystal is complete next summer of 2012.

The public has already began blogging about Siemens’ new sustainability project both for and against the idea:

Laura Mark, AJ sustainability intern wrote on 8 October: “For this to be a truly successful sustainable building and for it to achieve its aim of being a ‘building for the future’, it will have to perform in use” (Hatty Hartman’s sustainability blog), “shame they chose a fairly unsustainable location!” added another blogger.

Some members of the public tweeted about The Crystal. Twitter user @jeffculliton called the it: “An urban sustainability centre which will shape our future”

Architect Olaf Kneer, who is a member of the Newham Design Review Panel gave a critical evaluation of Siemens’ construction as “a courageous project in that it sets its own context rather than working with the immediate context around it, making the most of its water-side setting at the Royal Victoria Docks” (

Kneer also said in his review on that he believes “this is definitely the right approach, considering the many architectural projects around the docks, which can only sadly be described as a series of missed opportunities”

Currently, construction of the structure is well under way at the Royal Docks, whilst two webcams offer the public a preview into the creation on the Siemens website at:



Written by Ismini Aliverti

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