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Imagination building
25 Store Street, London WC1, UK
associated engineer
Buro Happold
date  1987 - 1989
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ296817
Two buildings are joined using a fabric roof, bridge links and tubular steelwork at the headquarters of multi-media company, Imagination. Its architect, Ron Herron, was a leading light of the 1960s pop-culture movement known as Archigram.
Imagination, a leading company in the London design industry, decided in the 1980s to expand in order to offer multimedia services. Herron was asked to design a building to house both traditional activities such as graphics and photography, and new media spaces for sound recording, film and video production, catwalks and exhibition galleries — a venue in its own right.
Engineers Buro Happold developed an intricate structural solution to unify the irregular heights, shapes and alignment of the two existing brick buildings. The fabric roof covers the courtyard between them and is extended to form a roof level gallery space.
The resolution of complex geometry, and topographical structural and fabric design were all necessary to make the roof possible. The fabric is stretched in two directions to keep it under tension. The whole is divided into a series of bays, each with its own peak held in position by an arrangement of tension rods supported by an octopus-like frame, resembling an eight-spoked wheel without a rim.
As a leading member of Archigram, the movement spawned by the Architectural Association (AA) in '60s, Herron had advocated “plug-in” and “instant” cities. He famously produced images of a vast “walking city” — a massive steel creature resembling an armadillo — the whole of which could move to a new location if desired.
His design for Imagination has many references to his own Archigram images and those of his contemporaries at the AA, such as Cedric Price. The fabric roof, bridge links and lattice steelwork are all reminiscent of his early work, which up to this point had remained unrealised. However, he had already recognised the need for this type of building: he was one of the first architects to visualize the world of virtual architecture.
Architect: Ron Herron
Research: ND
b i b l o g r a p h y
"The Imagination Headquarters" by Sutherland Lyall
Phaidon, London, 1992

Imagination building