Urban Lobby by MRGD architects


Urban Lobby is a research project by architects MRGD, that combines infrastructure and architecture for a speculative redevelopment of the Centre Point office tower in central London.

MRGD is a collaboration of young architects Melike Altinisik, Samer Chaumoun and Daniel Widrig.

The project uses Centre Point as a testing ground for their computational tools and design techniques.

Here's some info from MRGD:


Project brief

According to Christopher Alexander, compartmentalization and the dissociation of internal elements are potential signs of anarchy and schizophrenia. Fuzzy logic thinking is another step of helping human thought to recognize our environment less as a world of crisp boundaries and disconnections and more as a field of swarming agents with blurred borders.

EMERGED is investigating the potential of fuzzy logic as a loose-fit organizational technique for developing intelligent, flexible and adaptive environments. Seeing the project as a testing ground for its computational tools and design techniques, the team expands its research territory from focusing and systemizing the dynamic hair tool as generative design machine to a larger scale, involving therefore levels of social, cultural and global organizations. The aim set by the team is to demonstrate a wide range of formal, spatial and programmatic organizations, exploring the ideas of form finding and self-organization.

The project will explore ways of producing architectural interventions based on an understanding of the city as a field of dynamics. The team’s primary concern will involve infrastructure as architecture and their impact on the selected confined site and its immediate adjacencies.

This urban lobby is thought to be a continually contested and negotiated transient space, a public living room, a private boardroom, an orientation space, a public and private open space, a subway business lounge, etc. The resultant possibility of lobby-ing is an investigation rooted in creative and critical speculations on how one addresses contemporary modes of urbanity and interfacing. This urban space is also a functional lobby for the sites various companies needing not only more interfaces with outside i.e.: subcontractors, collaborators, customers, consultants, but also an increase of general communication interfacing among partners, directors and employees.

Currently, Centrepoint, an iconic 70s high-rise building in the centre of London, is comprised of a very scattered amalgam of subway entries that link through tangled labyrinths to the subway lines. In addition the density of the urban commercial and retail fabric provides generative architectural opportunities as well as direct resistance for growth and connectivity.

The high pedestrian activity level of Tottenham Court Road and the convergence of millions of commuters at the current Tottenham Court Road transportation hub provide the site with an intricate connectivity problem.

The project carries the ideas of blurred boundaries, interplay and interaction into the building’s interior; different lobbies will be plugged in and distributed along Centrepoint office building’s facade: a scheme that will replace the earlier concept of Atrium and whose primary role is to speed vertical circulation and communication, establishing interim gathering places throughout the building.


The form builds up with the circulation logic based on the hair system’s algorithm, followed by a post production phase highlighting the primary arteries which become structural spines and secondary lines that become circulation paths. The form is complemented by a grid logic flowing and producing a secondary system highly driven into the primary. It’s a moment of primary and secondary logic modulated along with a skin layer involving additional subsystems fitting together.


This brings this up the discussion of beauty vs. elegance. Both are quite different concepts. One is either beautiful or not. Technique comes to play its major role to transform what is considered not beautiful to beautiful similar to plastic surgery. It allows us to push towards beauty by producing elegance. Elegance is therefore achieved as kind of problem solving process, an ability to articulate complexity, and multiple agendas into a resolution. It’s an elaborated condition whereas beauty is a lucky hit; elegance is a resolution of multiple agendas into complex articulated and resolved conditions.

The random production of using force in the hair systems experiments produced the first step of elegance, the use of logics , continuities and algorithms, laws for differentiation, were all part of the first step towards elegance. It really become virtuosity when we no longer use computers and technology but creatively solve the interpolation and inter-articulation into the organic domain a process that happens through evolution and trial and error and cross interpretation of subsystems all leading to production of elegance.


Posted by Rose Etherington

Posted on Thursday November 1st 2007 at 5:53 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • telling

    it seems that architecture is so software-driven (subdivided surfaces..) lately and acting fashionable to its death.. why are we seeing so many similar projects lately? trying to be zaha-like while condemning her style. i think its time for a new approach in architecture in terms of going away from copying and reproducing work we have seen a million times. i am sure MRGD has a lot of potential, as can be seen it their emergent project, and they should really utilize it.

  • maboica

    Yikes!…this is a studio project from the AA repackaged as an “architecture practice” project.

  • (((0)))

    Please, stop with such nurbs redundancy…

  • John

    I like it.

  • luis miguel


  • Nuno

    Waste of time and space. This looks like a Zaha ripoff, and Zaha’s work is boring for itself!


  • BS

    Boys being silly…..

  • dave

    More irresponsible gratutious 3D modeled trash from some “idea” deficient architects.

  • This style/aesthetic of architecture is one of the most popular recurring items on Dezeen, and everyone’s always bashing it and the designers.
    Is everyone really doing work that’s so much better? I love seeing work that is bounded by the technological limits, and leans against the edge of the concepts we know regarding how space is defined and enclosed. One of our current edges of technology looks like this, that’s why it seems to be copied or repackaged. In ten years, it will be something different, because building and design technology will have advanced.

  • Vincent


    I saw the full presentation of this project in London and feel as though some crucial elements have been left out of this presentation here on Dezeen. The images you’ve chosen present the form and its visual effect and the unfortunately, the text will either not be read or too difficult to understand by most. Where are the short animations which describe how the techniques you used help to sort out the incredibly complex circulation/programmatic issues of the site? Some people will read/ see this and only understand this project as “subdivision Zaha” aesthetic masturbation when in fact, this is one of the most convincing applications of emergent form-finding techniques. I like the aesthetic, but I like the way the architectural process of drawing/generating this project solved some programmatic problems which really do exist on this site. Dezeen now hosts video, so put your emergent hair animations up here!

    By the way, this may seem like a “subdivision Zaha” project, but her aesthetic comes from a very different genius and usually solves/creates complexity before ever “subdividing” anything.

    Oh, and its only a testament to the AA DRL that some of their academic work can be understood as “professional.” Think about how many architects try to posit their crap “professional” work as academic!

  • vaugn

    is everybody here so stupid to think zaha hadid is the source of all contemporary digital creativity? you guys think she knows the difference between a nurbs and a subdivision typology?
    and anyways. zaha is ‘teaching’ in 2 or 3 of the most ‘advanced’ academic institutions in the world, getting showered on a daily basis with the freshest student ideas. so who is stealing, who is faking and who is taking?
    at the end it is all about who gets the stuff published first.. bad chances for the student i guess. i like the project..

  • Dekodex

    Kill nurbs save architecture…

  • El Greco

    My First Maya Project ™

  • mwe

    I think vaugn sums this up perfectly. It gets old when everyone assumes any project that applies these modeling methods as liberally as this project does is simply another “Zaha” design. I dont know how she got the monopoly on digital modeling (subd and nurb), but good for her. From here on, I claim polychaining as mine. Who wants particles?

  • ferro

    copy of ali rahim work.. i assume they studied his publications carefully.. you can see online their competition submission for Shentzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Planning, a really bad copy of Zaha’s Taichung Opera and Wolfsburg..

  • nik

    ali rahim himself is a kitsch version of zaha.. so who cares

  • tkid

    nice one.. give us more

  • nicole

    sooo sexy. want to touch it**

  • ehrenk

    I never knew the architecture crowd was so jaded. definatly a bunch of haters. ask yourself. what the $*ck have i done? this is still fresh. subd is fine. There is alot of oppurtunity in it to create original works.

  • Andy

    i love it.very space age.

  • Albert Aguilar Photography

    Bringing life to a reality!

  • cdsib

    great…i inspired!!! thank you’
    i was looking for some feminine-buildings for my final project’ as i see buildings have genders (feminine or muscular) …this will be the best precedence for it….really elegance!!!

  • lily

    The project is very interesting, nice forms.
    And people who are not interested in architecture but in criticising the ones who done better, please take off your hands from keyboards. Zaha Hadid won international prizes since the start of her career till today, she worked so hard to be one of the best Architects in the world, if you don’t like her work that means that your brain is limited and doesn’t want to accept any other perspectives of Architectural design, or ou don’t like her work because she is a women/Iraqui?? Grow up kids.

  • PETE

    I don’t care about the aesthetic. It looks OK to me. I just don’t buy the whole Fuzzy Logic explanation.
    ”Fuzzy logic thinking is another step of helping human thought to recognize our environment less as a world of crisp boundaries and disconnections and more as a field of swarming agents with blurred borders.”
    When I look at the section, I see tubes and elevated walkways. The spatial organization is not about blurred borders. Everything is organized into pipes.
    It is the same old hyper-rationalist formalism we are sick of from the last 20 years. These guys are still trying to completely understand the use of the space and design accordingly. When we plan for multiple contingencies we don’t end up with overly specific directional paths, we end up with open flexible decorated sheds. They can keep their sexy envelope, just please gut out the nonsense inside.

  • stefan

    convince us by building NOT publication :)

  • adam

    thums up for scott and vincent… i totally can share their opinions!