Mark Barfield Architects is a London-based design and planning practice named after its two founders, Julia Barfield and David Marks, in 1989. The firm has received over 60 awards, including a nomination for the Stirling Prize for Architect of the Year in 2001. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise was granted in April 2003 in honor of the London Eye’s excellent innovation in design. Mark Barfield Architects takes pride in being a dedicated, forward-thinking practice that focuses on a variety of design methods such as sustainability, engineering enthusiasm, and being inspired by mathematical truths, geometry, and nature. The peculiarities in their portfolio may be attributed to the firm’s openness to change, boundless possibilities, and preconception-free approach to work

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1. London Eye

The London Eye, or the Millennium Wheel, is situated on the south bank of the Thames. It is one of Europe’s highest observing cantilevers, at 135 meters (443 feet) tall with a 120-meter-wide wheel (394 ft). The project has 32 enclosed and air-conditioned pods that are ingeniously engineered to not waver or shake as they rise and fall. It is supported by an A-frame, while the rim is held by tensioned steel cables. Engineers built the wheel in sections, which were later floated over the Thames in pieces. It was first lifted at a rate of 2 degrees per hour until it reached 65 degrees, then left there for a week while engineers prepared for the second part of the lift. It offers travelers a 25-mile radius of view in all directions from within its capsules. It rotates at a speed of 6 miles per hour, or around 10 inches every second.

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2. Cambridge Mosque

The Cambridge Mosque embodies the modern British mosque model. It is a solution to a space problem that the Mawson Road Mosque was confronting at the time since it had reached its maximum capacity, requiring latecomers to pray on the street. With elaborate design characteristics, the proposal has a capacity of 1000 or more. The prayer hall is the largest component of the structure, with an 8-meter-high lead to the dome. Being the first British sustainable mosque, the mosque lacks a minaret, which the firm asserts is purposeful since they feel with modernity comes technology. The columns were made up of a succession of cross-laminated timbers that were inspired by trees. An interwoven octagonal lattice vault structure supports the roof on these timbers. The outer walls are tiled like bricks and act as an enclosure surrounding the mosque rather than being structural and Kufic calligraphy embellish the external wall. 

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3. Lightbox

The Lightbox is a museum and gallery that is located in Westminster, United Kingdom. The project, which was finished in 2008, was the first of its kind in the area. It evolved into a gathering spot that serves as a cultural link between the town’s many different ethnic communities. Because the town is known for being the UK’s greenest borough, Barfield Architects designed a low-energy structure using carefully selected materials, such as well-insulated and naturally ventilated walls. Roof lights enable natural light to freely enter the structure while also generating power through photovoltaic panels. Dichroic patterned glass creates a spectacular rainbow reflection in the sun. The project’s goal is to produce a pleasant landmark that reflects the town’s cultural variety.

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4. Kew garden treetop walkway

The basic idea behind Kew’s design was to build an 18-meter-high path that would wind its way through a mature forest section comprised of trees planted during Capability Brown’s 1770s restorations. The Garden treetop is located in Richmond, the United Kingdom. It was completed in 2008 and can accommodate approximately 9,000 people. The firm’s design strategy was to create a series of bridges, preferably all the same length, at a low cost, with platforms at either end supported by tall pylons. Twelve bridges, each 12 meters long, were created and joined by ten miniatures round platforms, with one main entry pylon at the beginning supporting steps and a lift, and a classroom platform halfway around for use during school visits or simply to rest and enjoy the view.

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5. Spiral café

This 60-square-meter competition winner is a nicely shaped café in Birmingham’s Bull Ring, between the Bullring Shopping Centre and the freshly refurbished St Martin’s Church. It was inspired by Leonardo Fibonacci’s 13th-century Fibonacci sequence, which is related to the golden ratio. From the morphologies of seashells and pinecones to the geometry of complex fractals in galaxies, the sequence has been discovered to have an almost mystical link with natural development patterns. The design bears a shell-like structure and form. The building was easily manufactured, with only a series of simple steel tubes set diagonally between the ribs required to hold the cantilevered structure in place. 

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6. The Information Technology and Communications Complex (ITCC) 

The ITCC in Riyadh’s Nakheel neighborhood was finished in May 2012. The ITCC Wahat Al-Aamal, or Business Oasis, would begin with four distinctive 20-story buildings arranged around a central public space. The project will eventually contain two research and development buildings; two business technology “incubator” buildings; a library; a mosque; a sports club; and a health clinic. The towers will be entirely glazed but will be protected from the sun and sandstorms by a second skin of gold-colored, pierced aluminum-bronze screens that will generate a veil of shifting opacity. The Riyadh ITCC towers were inspired by the rich legacy of Islamic art and architecture, as well as its stunning geometric patterns. 

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7. Landmark Wales

Barfield Architects won a competition with a concept proposal to design a landmark for Wales to be sited at the entrance of the country just beyond the end of the Severn Bridge. The concept of ideology evolved around the name Cymry. A name Welsh people call themselves; meaning ‘ compatriot ‘or’ fellow countryman’. The concept is to create a soaring community of ‘comrades’ in the sky-each an individual yet all moving as one, appearing to dance with the wind like a flock of birds, arms spread in a childlike gesture of pure delight. The artwork, dubbed “Red Cloud,” will swing softly in time with the trees around it, allowing it to sit sympathetically in its natural setting even as its enormous size takes one’s breath away.

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8. River of light

This idea, proposed by Mark Barfield Architects, is a concept that will be realized on London’s River Thames. The plan calls for the development of a new lighting system that re-energizes and redefines the landscape along the Thames from Vauxhall Bridge. The River of Light is envisioned as a “Virtual Gallery” along the Thames, uniting the city’s embankments, buildings, and bridges, as well as the various major and small-scale pieces of public art. Above all, the River of Light is about London expressing its pride in itself and sharing that joy via a celebration of the environment along the Thames.

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9. Weather-Watch Tower

The Weather-Watch tower project is a prototype that will be installed in Bracknell. The Tower of the Winds was created as a dramatic new emblem for the Meteorological Office’s home at the time. The Weather-Watch is made up of two parts: an 80-meter stainless steel tower with dichroic glass petals that respond to the natural cycles of wind and light; and a children’s discovery center that explains the factors that shape weather and climate in an instructive and engaging way. The sustainable and environmental features of this project are Easily demountable and recyclable materials; energy-efficient appliances; materials chosen for durability and long life; off-site construction; reduced time on-site; and robust detailing.

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10. Michael T. Tippet school

The Michael Tippett School is the first ‘Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative in London, as well as the first special education needs school. The school specializes in educating older kids, aged 11 to 18, who have substantial and complex learning difficulties, necessitating a high teacher-to-student ratio and a variety of specialized facilities. Sustainability was a major consideration, and the shape of the building was influenced in part by the portion running between the classrooms, which allowed for maximum natural light and ventilation. The building’s exposed concrete floors and soffits offer thermal mass for natural cooling in the summer and retaining warmth in the winter, while a sedum roof provides great insulation as well as a natural home for plants and small wildlife. 

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11. The Lantern, 75 Hampstead Road

75 Hampstead Road is home to The Lantern, a 17,300m2 NIA mixed-use complex with 17 houses, cafés, restaurants, and retail. It’s also possible that a new health facility may be built. The project will add 6,800m2 of NIA to the site by constructing on top of the existing foundations and ground floor slab. The structure has been built to enhance wellness by using biophilic design concepts and providing ample natural light and fresh air. A “forest floor” to the atrium pouring into the building’s lobby will be covered with gardens and vegetation alongside office space. A major stairway in the new atrium will encourage visitors to travel between levels, encouraging serendipitous meetings. Biophilic elements such as double-height pocket gardens and landscaped roof terraces will allow flexible workspace, as well as social interaction and breakout places. 

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12. Shell Centre Pavilion

The structure was meant to have a small footprint on the ground (12 meters by 12 meters) while providing excellent views from the higher floors. This would free up additional ground-level area for landscaping, public sitting, and garden planting, while also making the top levels lighter and airier, allowing long-range vistas southwest over the trees towards the Palace of Westminster and north above the railway bridge. A two-story box with four exhibition units would be enclosed by four curving glass facades. Each curving façade is made up of eighteen frameless flat sheets of low-iron, low-E-coated glass that form a “reflective” skirt around the box’s perimeter.

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13. Merchant Taylors’ School

Mark Barfield aims to design a high-quality structure for the twenty-first century that tries to blend in while still standing out. Initial massing studies looked at how to respond equally to the site’s two main geometries: the Avenue’s construction line and the vistas of the lakes. Following a thorough examination of the brief’s criteria, the firm determined that the building massing could be a basic rectangle oriented to the major avenue’s building line, following the line of the Art Block and reflecting the existing buildings to the west of the avenue. The building’s design is based on a “kit of parts” assembly style for ease of assembly and speed.

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14. The Amazon Charitable Trust Science Centre 

The Science Centre’s new buildings will house basic laboratories for scientists and environmentalists, as well as seminar and meeting rooms and communal dining areas. The buildings, as well as the observation tower, will be constructed primarily of bamboo using natural, low-impact construction methods. Researchers will use the walkway, which is high above the jungle floor, to study the canopy, while visitors will enjoy spectacular views. It will be partly on the ground and partly raised to give access to the canopy from various heights. The walkway will be supported by pylons in some areas and strung from trees in others. Steel cable, rope, Guadua bamboo, local wood, woven palm mat lathing, and tiny amounts of recycled rubber and concrete will be used.

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15.Greenwich Gateway Pavilions

Greenwich Gateway Pavilions is a mixed-use development in London, England. The project, which covered 2648 square meters, was finished in 2014. A modern art gallery, offices, a café, a restaurant, a sky bar, charcuterie, and marketing facilities are all located within it. The 82m long patinated brass edge canopy is gently curved, providing the last ‘ripple’ emerging from the dome’s geometry, and offers shade for unique artistic and community events, as well as pop-up markets. The peninsula’s rich and varied industrial history influenced the materials used. On the Peninsula, submarine cables, ships, iron, steel, linoleum, cement, bronze, copper, and brass were all manufactured. Wherever feasible, brass, copper, and other metal combinations, as well as steel and concrete, were used.

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References:

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/company/marksbarfield-architects/
  2. https://marksbarfield.com/ 
  3. Marks Barfield Architects – London, Great Britain – Architects – (world-architects.com)
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Eye
  5. https://www.londonperfect.com/plan-your-trip/things-to-see/monuments-landmarks/london-eye.php#:~:text=%20London%20Eye%20%201%20Main%20Features.%20The,is%20located%20on%20the%20Northern%20or…%20More%20
  6. https://youtu.be/BPwJDnHggps 
  7. https://www.building.co.uk/buildings/projects-cambridge-mosque/5098389.article
Author

Nadjath is an architecture graduate, traveler, and part-time freelance writer. She believes that the built and unbuilt environments are more than just about form and function. In a fast-growing culture where people are reading less and less, she is enthusiastic about transmitting the essence of architecture via words.

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