The design of The Stratford, a 42-story residential tower in one of London's most rapidly changing neighborhoods, represents a new model for high-rise living. The tower combines various apartment types and a five-star hotel, mixing these elements together in novel configurations. It also brings residents and guests together in what serves as the building’s defining feature—a series of sky gardens that are dramatically carved out of the building’s profile.
These sky gardens were made possible by the complex synthesis of architectural design and structural engineering. To create expansive views, half of the perimeter columns had to be removed. This essentially created a challenge akin to balancing a tree with two gigantic notches chopped out. To reinforce the structure, the integrated design team employed a hybrid solution. A structural steel truss rings the perimeter of the floor above each garden level, while a system of post-tensioned concrete connects the truss back to the concrete building core. Each residential unit is located no more than eight stories from the nearest shared open space, and the cantilevered design turns the garden levels into column-free vantage points—common spaces with uncommon views.
The close collaboration between architecture and engineering enabled the team to expose the building’s major structural elements and embrace the beauty of their inherent finish—negating the need for additional finishes to conceal the steel trusses and concrete shear walls, and reducing the volume of material otherwise required to finish the interior spaces. It also allowed for the optimization of space around the robust structural framework on the two transfer floors. While most buildings house mechanical systems in these types of spaces, the design team turned them into some of The Stratford’s most distinctive living spaces—displaying, and thereby explaining, the building’s structural character to its residents.