RIBA Launches Centenery Square Regeneration Competition for Birmingham

’s Centenary Square. Image Courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects have announced an international design competition to regenerate Centenary Square, one of Birmingham‘s largest public spaces, and neighbor to Birmingham’s International Convention Centre, the Old Rep Theatre, and the the Library of Birmingham by Mecanoo which was shortlisted for the 2014 Stirling Prize.

Spotlight: Sir Christopher Wren

Sir (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one the most significant architects in England‘s history, and was a recognized astronomer, scholar, and physicist-mathematician. Wren was classically trained at University of Oxford in physics and engineering where he developed his interest in architecture. He is perhaps most famous for designing London‘s iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, however he is credited with the design of dozens of other churches, government buildings, and hospitals in . Wren was knighted in 1673.

Five Shortlisted for Marlborough College Science Building

Marlborough College via Wikipedia

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Nicholas Hare Architects, Orms, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Tim Ronalds Architects have been shortlisted in a to expand and develop the Marlborough College science building in , England. “The current Science Block has a fascinating heritage but needs a new life to accommodate new teaching methods,” explained Malcolm Reading, the competition’s organizer. “The competition is all about finding a balance between the architectural grain of the existing eclectic campus and a confident and exciting piece of contemporary architecture.” The teams will now develop proposals. A winner will be announced in December.

Are Playable Cities the Future of Urbanism?

Park and Slide in Bristol. Image © Flickr CC User Paul Townsend

Who says that playing is just for kids? Bristol, in the United Kingdom, is just one of the many cities around the world experimenting with , creating opportunities to eliminate urban solitude in favour of having fun. In a recent article in The Guardian, Julian Baggini dives head first into Bristol’s playful new initiatives including a 300-foot water slide on the city’s high street, post boxes that converse using text messaging, and city-wide zombie chases. Bristol is leading the way with urban play worldwide, hosting a conference this month entitled Making the City Playable, an opportunity for planners to convene with the creative minds behind the new form of entertainment. Find out more about urban play and the benefits it brings to cities here.

Make Architects Reveal Big Data Institute for University of Oxford

Northern Aerial View. Image Courtesy of Make Architects

Make Architects have just received planning permission to build a world-class institute devoted to research and processing of health-related data on Oxford University’s Old Road Campus. The Big Data Institute (BDI) will be built adjacent to two other Make-designed buildings: The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology and the NDM Research Building. The BDI will be -based Make Architects‘ fifth building on ’s Old Road Campus.

Wondering what’s inside? Find out more after the break.

Beachfront Observation Tower Confirmed for the British City of Brighton

Visualisation. Image Courtesy of Marks Barfield Architects / i360 Brighton

British practice Marks Barfield Architects, famous for designing the London Eye, are a step closer to realising their latest urban observation structure: the i360 Brighton. This week the international team who created the London landmark were reunited on Brighton beach as as loans of more than £40 million have been agreed to begin the tower’s construction. Bringing together companies from the UK, France (), the USA (Jacobs Enginneering) and the Netherlands (Hollandia), the project has been described as “truly unique.”

Renzo Piano-Designed Residential Tower Planned to Neighbor the Shard

View of from Millennium Bridge (June 2012). Image © Michel Denancé

Sellar Property Group has announced plans to commission yet another Renzo Piano-designed tower in at the base of The Shard. Replacing the current Fielden House, a 1970s office building located on London Bridge Street, the new 27-story residential tower plans to provide 150 apartments, retail space and roof garden. As part of the area’s regeneration plan, the project will be the third Piano-designed building on the block.

Critical Round-Up: Tate Britain Renovation, Caruso St. John

Lower level rotunda, Tate Britain – Courtesy Caruso St. John and Tate. Image © Helene Binet

’s Tate Britain, a partner gallery to the Tate Modern (who recently appointed Herzog & de Meuron to design a new extension), recently unveiled Caruso St. John‘s transformation of the oldest part of the iconic Grade II* listed Millbank building. The £45 million project to restore, renovate and reinterpret one of the UK’s most important galleries has been met with a largely positive critical response; read the conclusions of The Financial Times’ Edwin Heathcote, The Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright,  The Independent’s Jay Merrick, the Journal’s Hugh Pearman, and the Architects’ Journal’s Rory Olcayto, after the break…

LSE Asks for ‘Further Work’ To Be Done on Shortlisted Designs

Team B. Image Courtesy of LSE / RIBA

Following the announcement last month that the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) had shortlisted five designs for their new Global Centre for Social Sciences (GCSS) in London’s Aldwych, they have now revealed that “there’s not one really outstanding scheme” and “there’s some further work to do by the practices and the LSE.” Therefore contestants Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, OMAHopkins ArchitectsGrafton Architects, and Henegham Peng Architects must reconsider their proposed designs

AD Classics: Rogers House / Richard & Su Rogers

Courtesy of LLP

The Rogers House, designed by Richard and Su Rogers in 1968, is one of the lesser known architectural works from the master who went on to design the Centre Pompidou in Paris with Renzo Piano. The house, which represented British Architecture at the 1967 Paris Biennale, was commissioned by Rogers’ parents and was granted Grade II* Listing in February 2013 – a rare accolade for a building so recent - cementing its importance in the architectural heritage of the United Kingdom.

Described by Rogers as “the most successful small project I’ve been involved in”, the house carefully balances the openness of shear glass facades with the need to provide his parents with privacy and seclusion – a task made harder by the building’s location, just a short walk from Wimbledon Village in central London. Incorporated within the design is a separate flat and pottery studio which were positioned to provide a sound barrier between the house of the adjacent road. It is, essentially, “a transparent tube with solid boundary walls”.

AHMM to Design London’s New Metropolitan Police HQ

Winning Design (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris). Image Courtesy of Greater Authority (GLA)

Following the news last month that the RIBA and the ’s Office revealed the five shortlisted designs for the new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) headquarters, it has been announced that Allford Hall Monaghan Morris‘s (AHMM) design has won. The competition attracted submissions from the likes of Foster + PartnersAllies & MorrisonKeith Williams Architects and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. AHMM’s proposal will be located in London’s Whitehall Conservation Area and is set for completion in 2015.

Elliptical Bridge Proposal / Penda

Courtesy of and Alex Daxböck

Architecture firm, penda design house, led by Chris Precht and in collaboration with Alex Daxböck, submitted designs of a pedestrian bridge for the RIBA-sponsored Salford Meadows Bridge Competition in England.

The “O” is an elegantly simple concept, manifesting itself as a striking reinterpretation of a traditional pedestrian bridge. The multifaceted bridge offers unique and evolving perspectives to approaching pedestrians, culminating in a mesmerizing ellipse that engulfs those crossing the Irwell River. “Creating an inviting gesture for the Salford meadows was a main goal,” says Precht, we envisioned “a transition space, where the structure almost hugs you.”

Shortlist Announced for LSE Global Centre for Social Sciences

Team C. Image Courtesy of LSA / RIBA

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have unveiled five shortlisted proposals for the new £90 million Global Centre for Social Sciences (GCSS) in London’s Aldwych. The , which has attracted designs from the likes of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and OMA, will be the school’s “biggest ever building project” and is set to “transform” the world-leading institution. Other entrants include Hopkins Architects, Grafton Architects, and Henegham Peng Architects. See the anonymous proposals after the break…

Libeskind’s Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution Abandoned

Libeskind’s Orion Building, Post Graduate Centre of Metropolitain University, Holloway. Image © janis.photo

Following the news in 2010 that Daniel Libeskind was to design a “landmark” building for the UK’s , it has been announced that the plans have been abandoned. What was known as the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (IDCR) “was intended to become the ‘anchor’ to a new Knowledge Gateway research park at the university’s Colchester Wivenhoe Campus”.

Shortlist Unveiled for London’s new Scotland Yard

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris. Image Courtesy of Greater London Authority (GLA)

The RIBA and the ’s Office has revealed the five shortlisted designs for the new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) headquarters, set for completion in 2015. The proposed designs, attracting submissions from Foster + Partners, Allies & Morrison, Keith Williams Architects, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, will be located in the Whitehall Conservation Area and be renamed back to ‘Scotland Yard’.

Read more after the break…

Preston Bus Station Listed, Escapes Demolition

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Following news last week that four post-war buildings had been listed in the UK, the campaign to Save reached a victory today when it was announced that Ed Vaizey (Architecture and Heritage Minister) has listed the Brutalist icon, removing the threat of demolition. The campaign, which has garnered words of support from the likes of Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas, has been been underpinned by support from Angela Brady PRIBA, former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

London’s Largest “Living Wall” / Gary Grant

Courtesy of Green Roof Consultancy and Treebox

The Rubens at the Palace Hotel in Victoria, London, has unveiled the city’s largest “living wall” – a vertical landscape, composed of 16 tons of soil and 10,000 plants, designed to reduce urban flooding. Taking two months to construct and covering a 350 square foot area, the 21 meter high wall will beautify the cityscape year round with seasonal flowers such as strawberries, butter cups and winter geraniums.

Because of the lack of absorbent surfaces in the Victoria area of , the Victoria Business Improvement District (BID) decided to step in with the design of this incredible wall that combats urban flooding with special water storage tanks. Designed by  of Green Roof Consultancy, these tanks can store up to 10,000 liters of water that are then channeled back through the wall to nourish the plants. Not only will the wall do a great job of keeping the surrounding streets flood-free, it boosts the area’s green appeal and attracts wildlife into the dense urban environment.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery / Zaha Hadid Architects

Serpentine Sackler Gallery ©

On September 28, 2013, Zaha Hadid Architects will be celebrating the completion of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. An extension to London’s famous Serpentine Gallery, the new innovative arts venue will be housed in a 208-year-old, Grade II-listed building, formerly known as The Magazine, in Kensington Gardens just north of the main gallery.

This project will be Zaha Hadid’s first permanent structure in central London and second commission from the Gallery, as she designed the inaugural Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in 2000.