Sky Garden opens in London Academy

A brightly painted, timber clad ‘Sky Garden’ has been completed in time for the new school year, providing much needed outdoor space for students at an East London School. The project, a collaboration between Holt Architecture & George King Architects, is located at the London Enterprise Academy, a school for 11-16 year olds in Tower Hamlets, London’s most densely populated borough.

The school, a converted office building in Whitechapel, originally had no outdoor play space, a situation that became increasingly problematic during the Covid pandemic and so the designers were challenged to find a way to provide outdoor recreation on this confined site. As a result a pair of bright steel and timber terraces with planted borders have sprung to life above an existing car park and basement, providing an escape from stuffy classrooms.

Conceived as a series of interlinked timber clad tree houses, the bright yellow hyperboloid columns appear as tree trunks with multiple branches supporting the lightweight sky blue canopy above. The zig-zagging boundaries break down the mass and create a series of lookouts and semi-private balconies for students to unwind and enjoy lunchtime bites. A living plant border adorned with enlarged patterns reminiscent of botanical cellular structures hugs the edges, inviting biodiversity and offering a natural learning hub for students to grow their own plants.

The structure of the platforms is tightly knitted into the existing building, with columns carefully positioned to respond to the structural grid of the basement whilst allowing continued access to the car park and electricity substation directly beneath during construction and use. Access to the platforms comes directly from the existing school by modifying the landing of an existing fire escape stair to create a secure entrance. The hyperboloid column structure, designed in collaboration with Price and Myers Engineers, creates an extremely rigid geometry that is braced in multiple directions resulting in an efficient, lightweight structure with large spans from a minimal amount of material.

GKA chosen to create Sheffield Covid Memorial

GKA has won a design competition held by Sheffield City Council to design a Covid memorial for the city’s Balm Green Gardens. The sculpture takes the form of a willow tree and will be fabricated from stainless steel.

The individual branches of the tree twist and turn before coming together to create the trunk, symbolising that as a community we are stronger together and that by supporting each other we can withstand adversity. Architecturally the form of the Willow tree with its far-reaching branches hanging down to the ground creates a welcoming, sheltered, protected space underneath which can be used for people to gather, remember and leave flowers on anniversaries.

GKA has begun work on the project and is working with a local Sheffield based fabricator. The memorial is due for completion in Spring 2023.

GKA win LFA Notting Hill Gate competition

A collaboration between GKA and North Kensington based Grow2Know has been selected from a shortlist of six to design a series of sculpted gardens around Notting Hill Gate. Kensington and Chelsea council partnered with the London Festival of Architecture to run the competition with the aim of enhancing the high street.

The design will incorporate a series of small, sculpted pocket gardens that will create a new landscape for the community to explore and enjoy. The installation will draw upon the colours, patterns and traditions of the local community, including the Notting Hill Carnival and the nearby Portobello Road Market. Each garden will be formed from upcycled oil drums which will be painted and decorated to form planters, seating and insect habitats.

GKA and Grow2KNow will work closely with the council and the local community to create a landscape that will enhance the area and provide opportunities for locals to learn about nature and the role it plays in our cities.

Kings Square opens to the public

GKA’s project in King’s Square, Gloucester had its official opening this weekend, with a day of entertainment and family activities.

The £5m regeneration of the square takes its inspiration from the world famous Severn Bore, a spectacular tidal surge which occurs along the South West’s Severn River. Inspired by the beauty of the bore and the excitement it creates, Kings Square will be defined by a series of sculptural stone waves which flow around the four edges of the square. Weaving through the trees and soft landscaping the waves create a range of spaces from small pocket gardens to larger amphitheatres. 

Unit 3 visits Makerversity at Somerset House

George King and Alex Bilton’s Greenwich University design studio started the new academic with a visit to Makerversity at Somerset House. The second and third year students were taken on a tour of the creative workshop and listened to talks from some of Makerversity’s resident makers. This year’s studio brief is entitled ‘Out of Office’ and explores the new ways of working that have emerged since March 2020 and what this means for our cities. This is George’s fifth year leading Greenwich’s Unit 3 undergraduate studio.

GKA moves into Build Studios

GKA have a new studio! We have moved in Build Studios in Waterloo, a co-working hub for companies working in the built environment. The studio is located just 5 mins walk from Westminster, Waterloo and Lambeth North stations, so if you’re in the area why not drop by and say hi!

Aerial view shows Kings Square progress

Work on GKA’s sculptural redesign of Gloucester’s Kings Square continues, with new aerial photos showing a birds eye view of the site. A number of the stones that make up the sculptural edge of the square have been laid, hinting at the flowing stone landscape that will define the space.

GKA’s work featured in new Phaidon book

The Sousse and Bardo Memorial has been included in a new book published by Phaidon called In Memory Of: Designing Contemporary Memorials. The book features sixty of the most important memorials of our time, ranging from Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Berlin to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York. The book was written by Spencer Bailey, with a foreward from Sir David Adjaye.
The Sousse and Bardo Memorial is located in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham and was created to honour the 31 British nationals who died, and those affected by the 2015 terror attacks in Tunisia.

Unit 3 takes a trip to Woodchester Mansion

George King has begun his fourth year of teaching at the University of Greenwich. George leads the Unit 3 undergraduate studio with his former ZHA colleague Alex Bilton. The unit brief this year is titled ‘The Geography of Thought’ and will focus on the current shift in our relationships with cities and how we live work and connect with them. The year kicked off with a talk from the Director of Education at the Guggenhiem, New York who walked students through Rem Koolhaas’s current Countryside exhibition.
Following on from this the students all travelled to the countryside for  a site visit at Woodchester Mansion,  an unfinished Gothic revival mansion house in Woodchester, Gloucestershire. The 16 students were given a tour of the mansion by archivist Liz Davenport and had some hands on experience of stone masonry.
In the second half the year students will focus once again on the city, endeavouring to develop a new form of architecture that combines the best parts of the city and countryside.

Reading Room complete

GKA is pleased to reveal our latest finished project, an extension to a 17th century Cotswold cottage.
The extension has been designed as an indoor/outdoor space, with glass doors that open up and disappear behind bookcases.
GKA have designed bespoke modular furniture for the project. The Mod Series can be reconfigured from single seats into larger sofas and can be moved outdoors when the weather heats up.
For more information please see our projects page

Happy Earth Day, from the Zombie Bench

George King designed the Zombie Bench waaaaaay back in 2012.
Zombie Bench had its 15 minutes of fame before its site near London’s Millennium Mills was abandoned.
Since then nature has had its way with the Zombie Bench and claimed it for itself.
Yet still it lives on. Silently, patiently waiting for a new home…

Vote for GKA in ArchDaily’s Building of the Year 2020

GKA’s Sousse and Bardo Memorial has been nominated for Building of the Year 2020. The annual award from ArchDaily asks readers to nominate their favourite buildings published on the site in the previous year. The Sousse and Bardo Memorial has been nominated in the Religious Architecture category. The entries from each category with the most nominations by February 10th 2020 will then move onto a shortlist, from which an overall winner will be decided.
If you would like to vote for the Sousse and Bardo Memorial please follow this link: