Accueil > Office Building Model, “The Gherkin” by Sir Norman Foster.

Office Building Model, “The Gherkin” by Sir Norman Foster.

The Birth of 30 St. Mary Axe. RJ Models Creates the Model of the Most Ecological Building The Gherkin

The Previous and Present Live of The Gherkin.

▲30 St. Mary Axe stands on the former site of the explosion.

On the 10th April 1992, the Provisional IRA detonated a truck bomb containing 100 pounds of explosive close to the Baltic Exchange, the headquarters of the ship sales and shipping information in the London Financial District, killing three people and injuring several others.

Most of the offices in the shipping exchange and the trading hall ceased functioning.

The building eventually underwent demolition in 1998.

▲ In 2011, RJ Models prepared several models, including The Gherkin for Foster + Partners in preparation for the “The Art of Architecture” world tour exhibition.

In 2004, after three years of capital construction and infrastructure development, 30 St. Mary Axe welcome a brand-new iconic building, 30 St. Mary Axe (previously known as Swiss Re Building), and informally known as The Gherkin.

The Gherkin stands at 179.8 meters tall with 50 floors and the architects from Foster+Partners is the team behind the design.


▲If I were not an architect, I would be a pilot.

He is well-recognized since the 1970s with many of his high-tech architecture design.

Today, he still possesses a profound and long-lasting influence on contemporary structure.

His representative work includes HSBC Main Building, Apple Park, New York’s Hearst Tower, London Stansted International Airport, Greater London Authority Building (London City Hall), France’s Millau Viaduct, the glass dome as part of the redesign in the restoration of the  Reichstag in Berlin and many more.

In 1999, Sir Norman Foster received the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

At the presentation speech, the jury said:

“From his very first projects, it was evident that he would embrace the most advanced technology appropriate to the task, producing results sensitive to their sites, always with imaginative solutions to design problems.”

▲The delicate and exquisite model of The Gherkin.


The thin and slender model of The Gherkin completed by RJ Models.

The glass curtain clearly distinguishes the upwards spiraling atrium and the office spaces.

The double glazing high-performance tinted operable glass windows that reduce solar heat gain formed the facade to the atrium.

▲Detail of the Building Model.

In Sir Norman Foster’s design, the office areas are surrounded by external double-glazed glass curtain wall and an internal single glaze glass panel, creating mix-mode ventilation shaft where hot and cold air exchange.

During the process of making the 1:100 model of The Gherkin, to display the structural concept of the interval between the internal and external curtain wall, RJ Models has to stick the glass panels individually, tolerating no errors between each gap.

At the same time, the model expert attentively fitted the interior of the building with careful details and internal lightings, creating a vivid display of the entire model.

▲A comparison between the drawings, model, and the actual building.

The design won the 2004 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize.

Unlike the traditional box shape office building, 30 St. Mary Axe is in the shape of a bullet.

Each floor has a diameter that changes with the curved facade of the bullet-shaped building.

The circumference stretches between 162 meters to 185 meters on the 17th floor before tapering off at the top.

The building largest circumference is, however, only 2 meters shorter than the height of the building, so that the building does not look cumbersome.

Structurally, every level radiates outward into a 6-finger structure, forming an atrium between each finger.

The atriums are linked vertically, but each floor deflects at an angle from the previous level, creating a helix structure.

The triangular atrium ensures that sufficient light passes through into the interior of the building and utilizes pressure change principle to create a ventilation system to promote air circulation in the building.


Behind the advance design of The  Gherkin

▲Sir Norman Foster first airport design, London Stansted airport is the design that started his glorious career in architecture

Going back to the numerous corporation between Foster+Partner and RJ Models, starting from his first airport project, London Stansted Airport.

Included in this design is a 15 meters high interior space, exposed beams and structural components as well as other facilities.

The emphasis to create a contemporary design with technologies that allow natural lights to enter through the ceiling hence effectively reducing energy consumption.

The initial display of Sir Norman Foster application of aerodynamic in his architecture design.

▲The Hearst Tower Model. Another collaboration with Sir Norman Foster.

During the creation of the Hearst Tower model, it reveals Sir Norman Foster detailed consideration between the architecture and its environment.

Another example, the use of the diagrid structure in Hearst Towers to reduce the use of steel.

The use of these technologies to create a green building made Hearst Towers the first skyscraper in New York to receive the Gold Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Award.

▲The display of the building’s interior.

30 St. Mary Axe is one of the classic case studies displaying the application of aerodynamics in architecture design.

The aerodynamics use in the design of The Gherkin provides wind deflection and minimize wind resistance to the building load.

The spiraling helix atrium creates a natural social point for the users of the building, a refreshment point or meeting point.

It also acts as a light source and function as ventilators distributing fresh air to the office units.

Such an energy-saving design saves The Gherkin 50% of the energy used by the average office tower.

▲Detail of the Office Building Model

Load Bearing Structure of 30 St. Mary Axe

From the structural makeup of 30 St. Mary Axe, the curtain wall of the building is also a load bearing structure with the use of a diagonally braced structure consisting of several triangles, supporting the weight of the building core.

Rather than distributing the load vertically from top to bottom, it distributes the weight on the intersecting steel nodes of the diagrid structure to form a more stable system contributing to a stronger seismic resistance.


From the design of Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Building, with the concept of using gardens to divide the whole building into village-like units, to Frankfurt Commerzbank Tower with winter garden that spirals up the vertical atrium.


▲Model Exhibition Sir Norman Foster and The Gherkin.

Sir Norman Foster continuous use of office microclimate design concept achieved another level of maturity in 30 St. Mary Axe, making the building London’s first ecological skyscraper.

There are many ways to display the space and shape of a building design.

However, the most intuitive and artistic way for the viewer to fully understand the architect’s thought and intent is undoubtedly through the use of a meticulous model.

About RJ Models

It offers a range of top quality architectural model with a tight deadline for competitive rates.

With RJ Models, clients can enjoy all our team support to focus on your project.

At every stage, RJ Models aims to provide top-quality architectural models to boost our client’s business to all architecture in the world.

For more information:
Contact person: Ray Cheung
Contact email:
Tel no: (+852) 2557-0201

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