Breaking Ground: The Architectural Projects Beginning Construction

While the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus has caused many architectural projects to be put on hold, some notable schemes have broken ground in the last few months. We profile some of those to begin construction

Unity Place

Milton Keynes, UK

Architects: LOM architecture and design

Developed by Osborne+Co, Unity Place is set to become a new hub for banking giant Santander, housing 6,000 employees. Designed to facilitate digital banking innovation, it is created to foster employee wellbeing, with natural materials and greenery throughout. Comprising four blocks connected by three atria, each with eight storeys, the campus will include adaptable co-working spaces for startups, as well as more traditional open-plan offices. The ground floor will also house an open urban market, a community hall, healthcare facilities, retail outlets and an auditorium. The project is set to be completed in autumn 2022.

Image courtesy of LOM

ASU Tower

Phoenix, USA

Architects: Studio Ma

In March Studio Ma broke ground on a combined hall of residence and entrepreneurial centre for Arizona State University. Set to provide connections with the city and regional businesses, the building is intended to foster innovation and collaboration, with three levels of academic space topped by 13 floors of student halls. Key areas include classrooms, studios, offices and exhibition and event spaces. The building has also been designed to minimise energy use, and will be surrounded by a bioclimatic façade that will reduce solar glare that includes high-performance concrete and floor-to-ceiling windows. It is set to be completed in autumn 2021.

Image courtesy of Studio Ma

Discovery Building

Rothera Research Station, Antarctica

Architects: Hugh Broughton Architects

Construction has begun on a new operations building for the Antarctica-based Rothera Research Station. The Discovery Building, which has been commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council, will provide a key hub for climate research conducted by the British Antarctic Survey. The two-storey building will include field exhibition preparation areas, recreational spaces, a medical facility, a central store, workshops, planting spaces and offices. It has been designed to maximise natural light, and is aiming for a BREEAM accreditation. It is set to be completed in 2023.

Image courtesy of Hugh Broughton Architects


Dubai, UAE

Architects: NORR

Construction has started on what will become the world’s tallest hotel once it is completed in 2023. Rising to a height of 360m, the building will house 1,042 luxury hotel suites, and will feature an interior design inspired by the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which focuses on the beauty of imperfection. The tower is predominantly glass, in a move to emphasise the vertical nature of the structure. Developed by The First Group, has already been honoured in a number of award ceremonies, including winning in three categories at the 2019 International Property Awards.

Image courtesy of The First Group

82 West India Dock Road

London, UK

Architects: SimpsonHaugh

Construction has begun on 82 West India Dock Road, a mixed-use development in London’s Docklands area developed by Rockwell Property. Designed to reinvigorate a site that has remained vacant for a decade, the project consists of 48 private residential units, 18 affordable homes and a 400-bed hotel, which will be the tallest Premier Inn in the UK. It will also house a communal garden, restaurant, café and gym. The project, which is designed to function as a gateway for the Canary Wharf cluster, is set for completion in 2022.

Image courtesy of SimpsonHaugh