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Thomas Heatherwick talks power stations and buses at prestigious lecture

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Renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick, who has gained international acclaim for his work, gave an insight into his illustrious career at a sell-out event last night (Tuesday 8 November), co-hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects(RIBA) and Sheffield Hallam University.

Thomas, who was delivering the RIBA's annual lecture, talked about the huge range of projects he has been involved in from condominiums in China to riverboats in France and powerstations in Middlesbrough.

He also spoke about two of his most high-profile projects, the 'seed head' British pavilion he designed for last year's Shanghai Expo and the new London Routemaster buses, the first of which has just been produced and will be on the roads in the coming months.

As well as giving an insight into the design processes behind his projects, and how his team at Heatherwick Studio works together, Thomas also took questions from the audience.

He said: "I've always been interested in how you can be a 'maker' at a large strategic scale, without ignoring the human qualities.

"I'm not really interested in what someone's profession is. It's about what they do and the skills they bring to a project."

The event was the culmination of a successful partnership between the RIBA and Sheffield Hallam University, which has seen the successful Forgotten Spaces 2011: Sheffield architectural ideas competition take place in the city.

And it's hoped the phenomenal success of the event will mean further opportunities for collaboration, including a possible project between the University and Thomas.

John Palmer, director of communications and public affairs at the University, said: "This really was the event of the year at RIBA and I am extremely proud that Sheffield Hallam University was able to co-host it with them.

"Thomas has true rock star status within the field of architecture and design and the lecture was full of people who all enjoyed a marvellous insight into the work of one of the world's most revered young architectural designers."

Thomas gained universal fame for the 'seed head' British pavilion at the Shanghai Expo last year, which won the 2010 RIBA Lubetkin Prize for architecture.

Thomas Heatherwick speaks at the event
Thomas Heatherwick RIBA event
Thomas Heatherwick RIBA event
Thomas Heatherwick RIBA event

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He is an honorary fellow of the RIBA, senior fellow of the Royal College of Art and an honorary doctor of Sheffield Hallam University. The Heatherwick Studio, established in 1994, is a multi-disciplinary operation, with team members coming from architecture, product design, model-making, landscape design and fine art backgrounds. 

Earlier this year, it was announced that the Studio had been appointed to work on the design of the Olympic cauldron at the London 2012 games.

Forgotten Spaces 2011: Sheffield competition encouraged architects, designers and artists to come up with innovative ideas that found new uses for the city's 'forgotten spaces'. It was sponsored by developers British Land, Creative Sheffield, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and engineers Buro Happold. The initiative was based on a highly successful concept developed by RIBA London in 2010, and was run in Sheffield due to the city's successful architectural regeneration over the past few years.

For press information: Tess Humpphrys at Sheffield Hallam University on 0114 225 4025 or email