• [Escalator. Elevation]

    [Escalator. Elevation]

  • [Roof plan]

    [Roof plan]

  • [Perspective]

    [Perspective]

  • [Section]

    [Section]

  • Gr. Fl. Elevations

    Gr. Fl. Elevations

  • [Perspective section] - [First preliminary design]

    [Perspective section] - [First preliminary design]

    Foster Associates

  • Covered external terrace

    Covered external terrace

    Haward, Birkin A. C.

  • View from mezzanine

    View from mezzanine

    Haward, Birkin A. C.

  • Billiards room

    Billiards room

    Haward, Birkin A. C.

  • Plan diagrame from above

    Plan diagrame from above

  • Display study: Components of modular display...

    Display study: Components of modular display...

  • [Story board]

    [Story board]

In October 1969, aspiring draughtsman Birkin Haward joined Foster Associates, then located in the London suburb of Hampsted. Over the following fourteen years, while working on several of their most celebrated buildings, Haward witnessed Foster Associates’ growth in size and reputation to become an internationally renowned leader in contemporary architecture. In 2018, the Norman Foster Foundation was delighted to welcome Haward to its Archive as a participant in the Inside the Archive oral history project in order to discuss the projects he worked on, the design culture of Foster Associates, and the evolution of drawing techniques within the practice.

 

 

Birkin Haward

 Archive Selection

 

 

 

 

· Fred Olsen Amenity Centre, London, England,

  1968-1970

  Drawings  

· Fred Olsen Passenger Terminal, London,

  England, 1969-1970

  Drawings     

· Gomera Regional Planning Study, Gomera, Spain,

  1975
  Drawings   

· London Gliding Club, Dunstable Downs, England,

  1978  
  Drawings   

· Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich,

  England, 1974-1978 
  Drawings   Models   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Olsen Amenity Centre, London, England
Fred Olsen Passenger Terminal, London, England
Gomera Regional Planning Study, Canary Islands, Spain

Storyboard for Gomera Regional Planning Study, Canary Islands, Spain 

London Gliding Club, Dunstable Downs, England
Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, Norwich, England

Upon joining Foster Associates, Haward first worked on the Fred Olsen Amenity Building, a dockworker facility on London’s Isle of Dogs. The namesake client Fred Olsen engaged in a thorough collaboration with the team of designers, bringing to the project a strong desire to embrace innovation and experimentation. The resulting amenity centre introduced unprecedented, high-quality facilities to a then neglected sector. The two-storey interior, where workers and clerical staff shared spaces, marked a radical departure in planning and improved social and industrial relations. Surrounded by traditional warehouses, the Amenity Building’s mirrored glass elevation signalled the arrival of new materials and construction methods to such industrial buildings. 

 

The complimentary Fred Olsen Passenger Terminal removed passengers from the clutter of the quayside and instead introduced clear and pleasant navigation to the experience of boarding the ship. The interiors of the terminal maintained a sense of direction by using glazed glass on its two ends, providing vistas onto the surrounding docklands. The Terminal’s baggage handling system comprised a customised solution for the narrow available space made from agricultural machinery, exemplifying the broad sources of innovation drawn from by Foster Associates. 

 

Foster Associates and Haward’s successful collaboration on the Passenger Terminal and Amenity Building led Olsen to next commission an ecologically sensitive planning study for the Canary Island of La Gomera. ‘It was the first time the office had been involved in something of that scale,’ Haward recalls in his interview. La Gomera had until then resisted the encroachments of a burgeoning package-holiday industry, and the climate restricted agriculture to valleys on the island’s north side. To counter the intrusive urbanization found on other islands, this planning study examined La Gomera holistically, devising an integrated model for tourist and urban development. New facilities reflected the island’s vernacular architecture, balanced by harnessing readily available natural energy sources such as wind power in order to provide electricity and desalination for residential and agricultural purposes. 

 

In his interview, Haward recalled that Norman’s membership at the London Gliding Club at Dunstable Downs during this era led to a request to explore a new facilities for the institution. The practice’s proposal aimed to unify the separate parts under a lightweight overhang with a continuous apex skylight. The storage hangar imagined the possibility of flexibly stacking the gliders while minimizing on-site construction by using prefabricated components. The spontaneous draughtsmanship conveys the enthusiasm for this project, which regrettably was never realized.

 

Haward also worked on The Sainsbury Centre, a building which redefined museum display space. The informal presentation of the Sainsbury’s collection was achieved through minimal means. Integrated provisions responded to the flexibility needed for changing displays, and the variety of objects in the collection. The result has a unity of intent and expression throughout: there was no “distinction between interior designer and architecture”. Significantly, this project generated a specific type of drawing, which clarified the components and structure, proving a valuable part of the design process.  

 

Regarding the office culture at Foster Associates, Haward emphasized the integrated, multi-disciplinary discussions which drove the design process in contrast to the ways in which ‘conventionally at the time, it was all compartmented up—the architect would design the building and then give the drawing to the engineer.’ During his time at Foster Associates, Haward contributed to a diverse repertoire of drawing techniques used by the practice. Informal perspective and cartoon-like drawings contributed for the Sainsbury Centre and La Gomera, for instance, aimed to communicate a clear understanding of the building’s operation to the client, future users, and the practice itself. 

 

The Inside the Archive interview with Birkin Haward can be viewed here