Manhattan Loft Gardens | 25 September, 2017

Manhattan Loft Gardens_East Village_Stratford_London_Neil Perry

Those who follow me on Twitter or Instagram will know that I have embarked on an overt love affair with Manhattan Loft Gardens – the latest (primarily) residential tower block addition to the London skyline, and the first really tall residential tower in the Stratford area.

I’m a huge fan of New York City, but my swooning over MLG (I can call it that because we’ve moved past first name terms and onto cute nicknames for each other) has absolutely nothing to do with liking New York.

Instead, it’s all to do with appearance.

As a photographer, I’m instinctively drawn to something that is aesthetically pleasing or interesting. And with MLG, it’s the latter of those that gets me excited.  I’m not necessarily a fan of so-called ‘novelty architecture’, but I am intrigued by buildings (of any size and scale) that have innovation and assertiveness at the heart of their design.

I fully accept that how a building looks doesn’t always have a bearing on how successful it is. And I also accept that, with towers especially, how a building interacts with humans at ground-level is at least as important as how it appears on the skyline from a distance. Let’s not forget, not all of London’s iconic skyline buildings are a joy to engage with at street level.

MLG is being developed by the Manhattan Loft Corporation. Commissioned to design it, is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), an American firm that holds innovation as one of its defining traditions.  And that’s perfectly illustrated by their list of projects – not least in the Asia Pacific region, where buildings like the Pertamina Energy Tower in Jakarta, or the Diagonal Tower in Seoul, are redefining the skyscraper for future use. Just like those two projects, MLG is bringing a redefined approach for residential high-rise living to London.

The essence of SOM’s design are the three huge open-air spaces (the ‘gardens’) that appear to be chiseled out of the building’s form.  One at the top of the tower, which will undoubtedly conjure breathtaking uninterrupted views, one in the middle, and one about seven storeys above the building’s lobby.  The innovation in the design comes at the point of the two lower gardens, where a specially-designed frame supports two enormous cantilevers – the only way to ensure that the views remain free of supporting columns.

The building’s website claims that the serrated facade will gleam with reflectivity and shimmer on the London skyline.  Having walked around it many times now, I can confirm that this is true.  From a distance, even with the protective ‘wrapping’ still on much of the glass inside the building, it does seem to shimmer and glisten – especially in the sunset light.  I also really like the terracotta colour of the facade panel edges which, when you’re up close and personal with the building, exude natural qualities and help to soften the angular form and scale.

The images below were taken last week during a day of really good weather and low sunshine. I’m looking forward to seeing the building come to life even more over the next few months and I’ll likely add more shots as it does.

In the meantime, have a look at the shots and visit the building’s website to learn more.