Future London: The Lloyd’s building

Over 30 years, Richard Rogers’ great creation has matured from a futuristic oddity to an icon of the City. Jonathan Glancey explains its unique appeal.

An oil rig, a factory, a backdrop from Bladerunner… The Lloyd’s building has been called many things in its 30-year life.

The futuristic structure was created by the Richard Rogers Partnership, which won a competition to design a new building for the expanding Lloyd’s insurance empire in the late 1970s.

To clear maximum space for business, Rogers and his team put all the plumbing, heating and lifts on the structure’s outside, making room for a giant trading floor – Lloyd’s is also known as ‘the Inside-Out building’.

Initially incongruous with the austere surroundings of the City of London, over the past 30 years, Lloyd’s has grown into its environment – and in 2011, it became the youngest building to be given a Grade I listed status.

The Architectural Review called it “one of the most astounding artistic achievements of our time”. Jonathan Glancey reveals why the Lloyd’s building is a true design icon.

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