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Friday, 17 March, 2000, 14:40 GMT
Work begins on mayor's HQ
mock-up of new assembly building
The building will be solar powered and self-cooling
As the rows and the recriminations continue between the rival candidates, work has begun on the futuristic, transparent building which will house the mayor and the Greater London Assembly.

The 65m egg-shaped building opposite the Tower of London on the South Bank of the Thames will take two years to build.

Its architect, Lord Foster, said the transparency of the 10-storey building was designed to symbolise the openness of the democratic process.

Norman Foster
Lord Foster at the launch
He said: "This is an exciting moment, embarking on a building of such symbolic importance to the capital.

"The new home for the mayor of London will celebrate a unique combination of public platform, accessible democratic assembly and environmentally responsible design."

Lord Foster, still better known as plain Norman Foster, said his design would use a quarter of the energy used by a conventional building.

Solar panels on the roof would provide energy and new technology meant the building would provide shade for itself, reducing air conditioning costs.

Lord Foster said: "It is rather an unusual shape, it is not likely that you will mistake it for any other building."

'London's living room'

The building - likened by some critics to a soap dish - is designed to provide accommodation for the mayor, 25 assembly members and up to 400 staff. It will include an assembly chamber capable of seating 250 people.

But a key aspect of the project will be the public access to the site.

foster and model
Foster: Public access is key feature
On the ninth floor of the building there will be a public space known as "London's Living Room" which can be used for exhibitions and functions.

The rooftop will also be open to the public, with a roof terrace offering views across the city.

The lower ground floor, which will house committee rooms, will look out on to a sunken piazza and terraces with public cafes.

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30 Sep 99 | Europe
Reichstag row rumbles on
26 Feb 99 | UK Politics
Glass house for London mayor
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