Cast jesmonite reproductions of the LSE facade are supported by an aluminium ‘toblerone’ truss frame 5 storeys high, lifted in one piece and attached to the corner of the LSE to complete the corner.
LSE, Kingsway, London
Selected through an international competition, this is a major architectural intervention on the London School of Economics’ principal building, as well as a public art work. It is a spectacular outdoor sculpture that both mimics and subtly subverts the existing facade of the building.
Square the Block evokes a building in transition, shifting our perception of the solidity of the stone from which it is constructed. The two edges of this 5-storey high sculpture are copied from separate vertical slices of the existing building that when placed together make no architectural or functional sense other than completing the corner. At its base above the pavement, the sculpture appears to have been twisted and compressed as if by a giant hand or greater tectonic forces.
Our challenge was to replicate two sections of the existing facade in a material which was economical to produce, light enough to be carried by the existing building structure and had a close visual match to the Portland stone cladding. Jesmonite was selected, a water-based acrylic composite.
Moulds were taken and the resultant casting fixed to a three dimensional aluminium truss six storeys in height and approximately triangular, subject to the variations and projections on the existing building facade.This was hung on the side of the building at fifth floor only and tied back to the building at second and sixth floors for stability.
The whole piece was assembled on the ground and lifted as one up onto the facade over Kingsway in Central London, much to the astonishment of local office workers who watched a six storey extension to a neo-classical stone facade appear before their eyes over their lunch break.