One of the leading architectural practices of the world, Wilkinson Eyre Architects started as Chris Wilkinson Architects by Chris Wilkinson in 1983. Jim Eyre joined Chris Wilkinson as a partner in 1987. Together, they established Wilkinson Eyre Architects in 1999. The portfolio of Wilkinson Eyre Architects consists of diverse projects, ranging from residential, commercial, and educational to cultural and recreational. Wilkinson Eyre Architects focuses on the combination of commitment to the spirit of the new and an awareness of context with an informed use of technology and materials. 

Named after architect James Stirling, the Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize was founded in 1996 and is considered the most prestigious architecture award in the United Kingdom. It is said to be the architectural equivalent of the Booker Prize (literature) and the Turner Prize (visual arts). The most important criteria for receiving the Stirling Prize are high architectural standards and substantial contribution to the local environment. Wilkinson Eyre Architects received the Stirling Prize for two consecutive years in 2001 and 2002 for their projects Magna Centre and Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

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The Bridge of Aspiration at the Royal Ballet School_©wilkinsoneyre.com

Gateshead Millennium Bridge, UK

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Gateshead Millenium Bridge_©wilkinsoneyre.com

Built across the River Tyne, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian and cyclist bridge connecting Newcastle’s north bank and Gateshead Quays – the new arts and cultural center of the South. The dramatic bridge is the result of a successful collaboration between Wilkinson Eyre Architects and the structural engineering firm Gifford. They are the recipients of the 2002 Stirling Prize for designing and executing the world’s first-ever tilting bridge. The ‘Winking Eye Bridge’, as it is also known, is essentially two graceful parabolic curves with a pivot point to allow shipping to pass beneath. The design of the bridge is minimal and elegant and more importantly, serves the purpose of a walking deck along with providing enough clearance for ships to pass through. Constructed in steel, the bridge is lightweight, allowing easy opening and closing, and is also energy-efficient where every opening costs £3.96 only. The bridge is not just a visual spectacle but also a functional piece of infrastructure.

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The Winking Eye Bridge_©wilkinsoneyre.com
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Bridge allowing shipping to pass_©wilkinsoneyre.com

Compton & Edrich Stands, London

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Lord’s Cricket Ground London_©wilkinsoneyre.com

The Home of Cricket has stayed relevant with the times we live in by adding adequate seating and modern amenities. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) commissioned Wilkinson Eyre Architects to redevelop the Compton and Edrich Stand at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, adding 2,600 more seats with amenities like toilets and catering facilities at that end. The Compton and Edrich Stand appear in sync with the Future Systems’ Media Centre (1999), improving the appearance and serving the purpose of a better experience. The design challenges faced by Wilkinson Eyre Architects included constrained site conditions with adjacent structures interfacing and building in consideration with existing foundations and shallow Thames Water tunnel below. Overcoming these limitations, an integrated solution was developed, creating open, flexible spaces with optimal spectator experience. A language of the architecture at Lord’s seems to be continued by the Wilkinson Eyre Architects with the use of curvature of timber grid-shell and a white fabric canopy.  

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Compton and Edrich Stands_©wilkinsoneyre.com
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Audience at Lord’s_©wilkinsoneyre.com

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

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Gardens by the Bay_©wilkinsoneyre.com

In a city full of iconic landmarks and bold architecture, Wilkinson Eyre Architects have added another spectacular landmark in Singapore. In response to a design competition by the Singapore government to build a horticultural and architectural attraction, the Wilkinson Eyre Architects designed a Cooled Conservatory Complex covering an area of 20,000 sq.m. The designers of these two conservatories aimed to showcase sustainable building technologies by being energy efficient and carbon positive. The Flower Dome and The Cloud Forest, as they are named, are structural marvels, with the Flower Dome being the world’s largest column-less glasshouse. The Flower Dome consists of a flower field and eight different gardens, exhibiting exotic plants and flowers from the Mediterranean and semi-arid regions. The Cloud Forest replicates the cool and moist conditions of the tropical regions with species of orchids, ferns, and anthuriums. With awards like the World Building of the Year (2013) and the RIBA Lubetkin Prize, the Gardens by the Bay project has not only proven to be a public landmark in Singapore but also pushed the boundaries of architecture in terms of structure and technology.

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Evening View of the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome_©wilkinsoneyre.com
The Cloud Forest_©wilkinsoneyre.com

Wilkinson Eyre Architects have been designing and executing a variety of projects having unique briefs over the last few decades. Along with creating iconic architectural landmarks, the firm has successfully designed functional spaces for educational, cultural, recreational, and commercial use. Both Chris Wilkinson and Jim Eyre have been recognized and awarded the OBE by the British Government for their contributions to architecture and design. The world lost a great architectural mind in the form of Chris Wilkinson, who excelled in designing functional and, at the same time, iconic spaces

References:

  1. WilkinsonEyre Architects (online)

Available at : https://www.wilkinsoneyre.com/practice/about 

  1.  Buro Happold (online)

Available at : https://www.burohappold.com/projects/lords-redevelopment-compton-and-edrich-stands/# 

  1. Gardens by the Bay (last updated 19 May 2022)

Available at : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardens_by_the_Bay

Author

Poornima is an architect from the city of Pune. Being a heritage enthusiast, she loves to explore the various threads of architecture, culture, and ecology that tie a community. She hopes to bring about a change in the perception of development in India.

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