Thomas Heatherwick is an English architect and the founder of London-based design practice Heatherwick Studio. His work is outstanding and he has been described as one of Britain’s most significant designers.
He studied three-dimensional design at Manchester Polytechnic and at the Royal College of Art. In 1994 he founded Heatherwick Studio, which is recognized for its work in architecture, urban infrastructure, sculpture, design, and strategic thinking.
His work can be seen in the UK, the USA, Singapore, China, and many other countries around the world. I admire his achievements and everything he has done in his career.
Heatherwick designed the dandelion-like 2012 Olympic Cauldron. The design was composed of 204 petals (each representing a competing nation), which were attached to stems that pumped natural gas to each petal. The stems gently rose from the ground up to form a single flame of unity, embodied by the London Olympic Games. At the end of the game, all petals were presented to their respective countries as a souvenir. This was such a clever idea.
He was also the architect for the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, or Zeitz MOCAA, which opened in Cape Town in 2017, and is South Africa’s biggest art museum. It is located inside a converted 1920s grain silo, and the centerpiece is a 10-story-high atrium that has been carved out of the concrete tubes that make up the building’s original structure.
Heatherwick’s Vessel, a public centerpiece of the Hudson Yards real estate development in Manhattan, was opened to the public in 2019. It’s a “honeycomb” comprising 154 interconnecting flights of stairs – almost 2,500 steps and 80 landings. The interactive structure encourages people to engage with it, and the vertical climb offers amazing views of the city, the river, and beyond.
Another striking example of his work, completed in Singapore in 2020, is his first residential project, a 22-story luxury garden tower in the sky called Eden. The apartments are lifted 88 feet above an intensely planted ground-level tropical garden.
Heatherwick was inspired by the idea of Singapore as a city in a garden. Eden has lush gardens integrated into petal-like balconies on three sides of each apartment, creating a building that feels more green than urban. It’s a place where residents can feel connected to the city’s tree-lined streets while enjoying views, light, and privacy.
As part of a larger redevelopment in Nottingham, England, Heatherwick Studio has hit upon the idea of transforming a partly demolished shopping center into a new greenery-filled space that hosts retail, leisure, and fitness facilities.
I was excited to meet Heatherwick at Expo 2020 Dubai where we had a chance to chat about his future projects. His work is outstanding and he has been described as one of Britain’s most significant designers.
What inspires me most about his work is his deep understanding of people and how they feel in a place. He pays attention to the movement, sound, and smells that he wants to see in new developments. I can’t wait to see what he will come up with next.