London celebrations

“London is unique in that it is controlled by opinions,” says Richard Rogers

In the fourth exclusive interview we filmed with Richard Rogers in 2013, the late architect explains the shape of the Leadenhall building and how it was designed to complement London’s diverse skyline.


The interview is part of a series filmed by Dezeen in 2013, which marked a retrospective of the architect’s work at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Rogers, who died on December 18 at the age of 88, was one of the world’s most acclaimed architects and a key pioneer in the high-tech style of architecture that emerged in the 1970s.

One of his most notable works is the Leadenhall Building, an east London office skyscraper completed in 2013 and known as ‘the Cheesegrater’ because of its slanted wedge-shaped structure.

It faces the high-tech Lloyd’s building, completed by the architect in 1986.

During this interview, filmed at the Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners studio in Hammersmith, Rogers explained the rationale for designing the Leadenhall building to be integrated with its surrounding architecture and the challenges involved in attempting to create a high rise building. interesting offices.

“I think it’s really exciting to see the dialogue between Lloyd’s of London, Leadenhall and of course St Paul’s Dome in the background from a totally different time period,” Rogers recalled.

Read on for a transcript of the interview below:


“The Leadenhall office building, which is the tallest building in the City of London, is yet a different animal. First of all, it’s an office building.

“And having said that, as I mentioned, it tends to be very boring. One of the arts of architecture is not only to humanize it, as I mentioned, but also to know use constraints.

“And in a way, turn them over and see if that can help you design the building. The main constraints on Leadenhall were the views over St Paul.

“London is unique in that it’s partly controlled by the views. So you have these big cuts and you have to leave some views open in St Paul’s, and we were on one of those views.

The Leadenhall building has been nicknamed “the Cheesegrater”

“Then the only way to build a tall building was to come out of it on a slope. Now you could get out of it, you could cut it shorter, etc. as it is called now – from an angle.

“And that gives it that very important section and a profile for all of London. We also had a client again, which we got on really well with, British Land, who is ready to have a seven story atrium, he doesn’t It’s not closed, so you could probably call it a seven-story public space under the building.

“The building itself expresses its building system because, again, we celebrate building because it’s one of the things that we get a ladder in. And the ladder is an essential part.

“I mean, architecture is about scale, it’s about rhythm, it’s about geometry. It’s obviously about beauty. It’s all those elements and scale, which is really the size of the hand on whatever you do is how you recognize the size as as well as light and shadow.

“It has 50 floors. So how you break it down to scale is critical.

“What’s interesting to me at Leadenhall is that while we thought Lloyd’s was the ultimate and the art of tech, when I look at it now it’s pretty much handmade.

“Now we had parts trucked off site and so on. Leadenhall was built off site, I mean it came in completely. The structure is less noticeable because in a way it’s less important. , we’re more used to it, shape is very important, public space is very important, you can see the beautiful rows of elevators at the back.

“So we use the elements that we have come to know well. They obviously lose a lot of flexibility. much machine-made.

The Lloyd's building in London by Richard Rogers and Partners (now Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners)
The Lloyd’s building is an example of high-tech architecture

“So what the next one will probably be even more, well it will be even more. And it’s very exciting to see this dialogue between these two. And actually, I think it’s really exciting to see the dialogue between Lloyd’s of London, Leadenhall and of course, the dome of St Paul as a backdrop to a whole different era.

“For me, that’s architecture. It is not a question of integrating it, like the last building. It is to establish these dialogues. It was to bloom.

“It’s the same as any form of architecture. So it’s a dialogue. It’s a beauty that comes from contrast.”