Thomas Heatherwick is an English designer and the founder of London-based design practice “Heatherwick Studio” based in Kings Cross. Since the late 1990s Heatherwick has emerged as one of Britain’s most significant designers.
Heatherwick’s signature can be seen on a number of iconic projects including the design in 2010 of the New Routemaster bus, the first new double decker bus commissioned for London in 50 years and a replacement for the much loved and iconic Routemaster.
The new design has extensive use of wrap-around glass for driver visibility and ventilation increasing passenger comfort. With three doors and two staircases, its quicker and easier for passengers to board and alight. A prototype, developed and manufactured by Wrightbus, was launched in December 2011 and the first new bus was commissioned into public service in February 2012 with a further six hundred were ordered in September 2012.
His Studio’s achievements outside the UK include a pier on the Hudson River in New York and, in collaboration, with Foster and Partners, the Bund Financial Centre in Shanghai.
Heatherwick Studio designed the iconic, stunningly theatric and beautiful Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics Games at the request of the Artistic Director for the Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle.
The cauldron comprised 204 copper petals, each representing a team taking part in the Parade of Nations. Once these pieces were mounted onto stems and the flames were lit they were raised into place forming one huge flame, expressing the Games core theme of the collaborative human spirit. The copper petals – made by Nottingshire craftsmen – were each sent to the competing countries as a continuing symbol of legacy and unity.
Heatherwick’s compelling philosophy is that of “three dimensional design” whereby complementary skills in sculpture, architecture, fashion, embroidery, metalwork, product and furniture design are brought together as a single discipline.
In February 2015 it was announced that Google were re-thinking its office space at its Mountain View Campus HQ and that it had asked Heatherwick Studio to collaborate on the realisation of this reconfiguration of four of its current sites using easily adaptable lightweight block-like structures maximising on the use of space as it became needed. With trees, cafes and bike paths weaving through translucent canopies the aim being to “blur the distinction between buildings and nature”.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, will open next year in Cape Town – a museum that the Heatherwick Studio has designed in a disused grain silo.
Photos TFL and BBC