The Optic Cloak at Greenwich Peninsula:gigantic energy tower in south-east London is set to warm up 15,000 new homes

A new low-carbon energy centre will be housed in a striking new sculptural building by the British artist and CF Møller Architects

An “architectural intervention” by British artist Conrad Shawcross has arrived on the Greenwich Peninsula in south-east London, bringing a jagged 49-metre slice of perforated aluminium to London’s skyline.

The Optic Cloak is on a scale to rival Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, but the gigantic sculpture has a practical function far beyond being purely decorative.

Designed in collaboration with the architectural practice CF Møller Architects, the 49-metre high by 20-metre wide building will house an energy centre providing hot water and heating for 15,000 homes.

The eye-catching metallic chimney flue covered in aluminium cladding is sited in Europe’s largest-single urban regeneration area covering 160 acres.

When the Greenwich Peninsula “mega-district” regeneration is completed it will include seven new neighbourhoods, 15,000 residences as well as 3.5m square foot of commercial space – all of which will be heated and served hot water by the low carbon energy centre housed within The Optic Cloak  saving an estimated 15-20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

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Shawcross said he wanted to "celebrate" the sculpture's function as part of the energy centre's flue (Marc Wilmot,  courtesy of Greenwich Peninsula)

The undulating surface of Shawcross’ creation serves to reflect the light differently during daylight to give the impression it is gradually changing shape.

Shawcross was inspired by Cubism and Op Art movements, but also by military techniques. “I became particularly interested in a type of maritime camouflage called ‘Dazzle Camo’ which was used on ships during the First World War,” he said.

“The idea is to break up the surface of the object, creating false perspectives and vanishing points. I thought it was important to give [it] a dynamic quality. For those passing, it will evolve radically as you pan by and under it.”

This is the first time Royal Academician Shawcross has created a work embedded into a piece of architecture. He was commissioned by Richard Margree, CEO of Greenwich Peninsula developer Knight Dragon.

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The Optic Cloak will be visible to thousands of people as they approach London by car daily (Marc Wilmot,  courtesy of Greenwich Peninsula)

The external structure of The Optic Cloak will be completed this week but the actual energy station will not be up-and-running until later this Autumn.

The low carbon energy centre means the homes and buildings under development will not be fitted with individual boilers.

Around 2,000 homes have already been built as part of the Greenwich Peninsula development which is expected to be completed over the next 25 years.


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