p1_Nick Matthews_001

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, part of the British Museum in London, is a massive covered square at the center of the museum.  The Square connects the older classical buildings, in the museum’s campus, by combining the classical masonry facades to the new steel substructure of the glass dome.  The roof itself has 1,656 unique panes of glass to help keep the structure weather tight.

Here is an example of how initial parametric design can blend into existing context, rather than be placed as a unique landmark on a alien landscape.  Trying to make the effort to combine the ideas behind parametric design, while selling the relevance of the design with the existing context has always been a challenge to those that champion parametric architecture.  The roof structure of the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court, somehow makes the occupancy feel not “out of place” when they enter the space from the previous, strictly classical, buildings of the early 1900’s campus.  Finding projects that combine the use of original context and the relevance of using parametric design can help further the production of computer-based design concepts.


  1. Your point about melding a parametric structure into an existing context is very interesting, and particularly relevant to this quarter as we will be designing an installation meant for a specific site. (Plus our design studio is also about context!) I wonder what you mean when you say “unique panes of glass”. Does that mean that there are actually 1,656 differently shaped pieces that assemble this roof? If so, while this design is beautiful and context conscious, it seems very expensive and inefficient to build. Perhaps there could be a similar solution that utilizes a more modular pattern.

  2. I like what you said about site context. It’s important to expand on the ideas of what’s already there and then introduce your interpretation of the site. Also, this particular tessellation is incredibly difficult because of its shape. I’d be very interested to see how exactly they came up with the paneling system.