Mies Meets Modesty in Joachim Brohm’s ‘Vernacular & Modern’ Exhibition

Mies Model Study IV, (Black & White), 2013 . Image © Joachim Brohm

On the surface, Mies van der Rohe‘s minimalist linear designs have little in common with the kitsch of vernacular architecture in the German countryside. Enter Joachim Brohm, who rose to prominence in the 1980s as one of the first European architecture photographers to work in colour, and now in a current  draws an unexpected parallel between van der Rohe’s designs for the unrealized Krefeld Golf Club in Germany and the rudimentary constructions of vernacular post-war architecture.

In “Vernacular & Modern,” the latest exhibition at London‘s Grimaldi Gavin gallery, two of Brohm’s photo series are juxtaposed to create a new narrative on architectural context. In Typology 1979, Brohm documents a series of vernacular houses in Ruhr, Germany; while in Mies Model Study, Brohm enters the temporary installation of van der Rohe’s unbuilt golf club through a life-size model. Together, the two series contrast the highly aestheticized minimalist world of Mies van der Rohe with highly functional buildings of necessity in the German countryside.

Find the connection between vernacular and van der Rohe after the break

King George III, an Aspiring Architect

George III, Sketch of a palace floor plan, 1785-9. British Library Maps 7.TAB.17. Image Courtesy of British Library

Not sure if “manic” can be classified as an architectural style, but that is what some are choosing to describe the newly discovered, hand-drawn floor plans of a grand place envisioned by King George III. According to the British Library, the King was “passionately interested” about architecture and drew plans for a future living quarters in Kew – now a district in West London – during a time when he was suffering from severe mental illness in the late 1780s. Learn more about the King’s vision for a grand palace, here.

Garden Bridge Gains Final Approval From Mayor of London

© Arup

London Mayor Boris Johnson has approved plans for the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Garden Bridge. The approval from the mayor is the third and final green light for the bridge, having previously been accepted by both Lambeth and Westminster councils. The project is now likely to begin construction within a year – in line with a self-imposed deadline by the Garden Bridge Trust that will allow them to complete the project before works on the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel cause disruption on the site.

A Look Inside SelgasCano’s First UK Project

© Iwan Baan

In an article for The Observer Rowan Moore examines ‘Second Home’, a newly opened “creative hub” in London designed by Spanish practice SelgasCano, who were recently announced as the designers of the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion. For Moore the project, which is the practice’s first building in the , offers a “lightness and grace as well as invention, and an awareness of when to stop.” The building is designed to be fluid, allowing start-up creative businesses to move in and move out as and when their business model dictates. Heavy tables can emerge from the floor, and ‘roaming zones’ facilitate creative thought. According to Moore’s review, there “are no water-coolers, no kitchenettes, [and] no microwaves.”

Six Teams to Envision Culture and Education Quarter for London’s Olympicopolis

’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park featuring, from left to right, Zaha Hadid-_-s Aquatics Centre, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and the Olympic Stadium by Populous. The site is on the far left. Image © Flickr CC user Martin Pettitt

David Chipperfield, Stanton Williams and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios are among six teams that have been chosen to move forward in the final round of the “Olympicopolis” design competition. The shortlisted competitors, which also includes Rick Mather, Allies and Morrison and Baumschlager Eberle, have been asked to develop proposals for a new culture and education quarter on the Stratford Waterfront at the gateway to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

“What makes this shortlist so exciting is the diversity of design disciplines represented with established architects working in collaboration with new and emerging practitioners,” stated Martin Roth, director Victoria and Albert Museum. “We are confident that this shortlist of national and international designers and architects will ensure a wonderful new building for London.”

The complete shortlist, chosen from 43 submissions and 123 international architects, after the break.

London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Takes Stand Against Super-Basements

Section of a proposed basement extension in Knightsbridge, . Image via The Daily Mail

The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is set to pass new legislation aimed at curbing the spate of large basement extensions in the area. The trend for these “mega-basements” is a result of the strict planning guidelines applied to the borough’s many historic buildings, forcing the area’s wealthy and space-hungry residents to extend downwards instead of upwards or outwards. However, with a ten-fold increase in the number of basement extension plans since 2001, work on these complex underground projects was becoming a nuisance, causing Kensington and Chelsea Council to freeze the planning applications of 220 basement proposals while it sought a resolution.

New Photographs Released Of London’s Subterranean Infrastructure Network

Platform tunnels at the new Bond Street Station. Image © Crossrail

Crossrail, “the largest infrastructure project in Europe (costing more than the 2012 London Olympics) has been slowly winding it’s way beneath London‘s streets for years. Now, as the tunneling efforts begin to draw to a close, Crossrail have released a series of fascinating photographs demonstrating just how complex this latest subterranean labyrinth is. There are currently more than 10,000 people working directly on Crossrail at around forty separate construction sites, who have now completed 90% of the total tunneling. This brings the entire project to two thirds of the way there.

See the complete set of photographs after the break.

Synopsis / ansham architects

© Ashley Gendek

Architects: ansham architects
Location: 64 Westbourne Drive, Forest Hill, London SE23,
Area: 240.0 sqm
Photographs: Ashley Gendek

London Launches Call for Architects to Design Second Pedestrian Bridge

Nine Elms on the South Bank skyline, looking west. Image © St James’ Group

The Borough of Wandsworth has launched an international call for architects and engineers interested in envisioning what could be the second pedestrian bridge to rise near the Battersea Power Station development. The two-stage ideas competition, whose announcement comes shortly after the recent approval of Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge, believes that the bridge could potentially become “one of the most expressive and visible landmarks in London.”

Though the competition cannot guarantee that the winning design will be built, partial funding has already been budgeted for the bridge’s future construction and it is hoped that the winning design can be used to attract further interest and funding. Continue reading to learn more.

The Work of SelgasCano, the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion Designers

Office in the Woods. Image © Iwan Baan

The latest designer of the prestigious Serpentine Gallery Pavilion has been named as SelgasCano, the Spanish practice known for their use of the latest synthetic materials and new technology. The Serpentine Pavilion, which has grown to become one of the most visited annual architecture attractions in the world, aims to provide architects who have never built in the UK their first chance to do so. In the past, this has led to pavilions by globally-recognized names such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Oscar Niemeyer, and Peter Zumthor, but in recent years the Serpentine Gallery seems to have changed course a little, instead bringing lesser-known, emergent stars to a much wider audience. This was true of Smiljan Radić and his 2014 pavilion, and will likely prove true for the duo of José Selgas and Lucía Cano.

Although designs for the 2015 pavilion will not be released until February, SelgasCano have promised ”to use only one material… the Transparency,” adding that “the most advanced technologies will be needed to be employed to accomplish that transparency.” This coy description perhaps calls to mind the design of their own office, a partially sunken tube of a building with one side made entirely of curved glass, which won them widespread recognition in 2009.

To give a better idea of the design style that SelgasCano will bring to the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, we’ve rounded up a number of their major projects for your viewing pleasure, after the break.

Legal Challenge Dropped After Maggie’s Agrees Changes to Holl’s St Bart’s Design

Courtesy of

A legal challenge against Steven Holl‘s design for the new Maggie’s Centre at St Bart’s Hospital in London has been dropped, after Holl and Maggie’s agreed to change the design. The challenge was brought by the Friends of the Great Hall, a group that has been campaigning against Holl’s design and arguing that it would have a detrimental effect on the adjacent Great Hall designed by James Gibb in the 18th century.

Holl’s design narrowly won planning permission in July, however the Friends of the great hall launched the judicial review a month later as a final attempt to block the scheme.

London’s Olympicopolis Site to Receive Government Funding

’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park featuring, from left to right, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and the Olympic Stadium by Populous. The site is on the far left. Image © Flickr CC user Martin Pettitt

The UK Government has announced £140 million in public funds will be granted to the planned “Olympicopolis“ cultural quarter in East London, in the former 2012 Olympic Park. The museum and educational district is planned to feature a new outpost for the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum and Sadler’s Wells theatre, and a new campus for the University of the Arts London.

The site, which is just North of Zaha Hadid‘s Aquatics Centre, is the focus of an ongoing design competition which reportedly attracted almost 1,000 expressions of interest in the contest’s pre-registration phase. The winner of the competition will be announced in March.

SelgasCano to Design 2015 Serpentine Pavilion

Architecture Office. Image © Iwan Baan

Spanish architects SelgasCano have been selected to design the 2015 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, which has become one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world. The Pavilion will stand in Kensington Gardens during the summer and serving as a multi-purpose social space.

The award-winning studio is led by José Selgas and Lucía Cano and will be the first Spanish architecture practice to design a Serpentine Pavilion, with AECOM once again providing the engineering and technical design services. Although designs will not be revealed until February 2015, SelgasCano had this to say about designing the pavilion:

“This is an amazing and unique opportunity to work in a Royal Garden in the centre of London. Both aspects, ‘Garden’ and ‘London’, are very important for us in the development of this project. We are in the middle of a garden, a ‘Royal’ garden indeed, once divided in two and separated by a Serpentine. That garden clings in the middle of London. Garden and London (which best defines London?) will be the elements to show and develop in the Pavilion. For that we are going to use only one material as a canvas for both: the Transparency. That ‘material’ has to be explored in all its structural possibilities, avoiding any other secondary material that supports it, and the most advanced technologies will be needed to be employed to accomplish that transparency. A good definition for the pavilion can be taken from J. M. Barrie: it aims to be as a ‘Betwixt-and-Between’.”

2014 RIBA President’s Medals Winners Announced

Winner of the RIBA Silver Medal: Nick Elias of the Bartlett School of Architecture. Image Courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced the President’s Medals Student Awards at a special event today in London. The awards, recognised as the world’s most prestigious set of awards in architectural education, were inaugurated in 1836 (making them the institutes oldest award, including the RIBA Gold Medal). Three medals in particular – the Bronze for a Part I student, the Silver for a Part II student, and the Dissertation Medal – are awarded to “promote excellence in the study of architecture [and] to reward talent and to encourage architectural debate worldwide.” In addition to these, the winners of the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing and the SOM Foundation Fellowships are also announced.

317 schools of architecture from over 61 countries were invited to nominate design projects and dissertations by their students. This year saw the majority of winners come from London schools, including the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), Kingston University, the University of Westminster, London Metropolitan University (), the Royal College of Art, the University of East London, and the University of Greenwich. University College Dublin (Ireland) and the University of Brighton (UK) also saw their students commended, alongside the University of Sydney (two students) and the (one student).

See drawings from all the winning and commended students after the break.

Chipperfield On London’s “Success-Based Culture”

Neues Museum, (courtesy Staatliche Museen zu ). Image © Achim Kleuker

Speaking to The Guardian, David Chipperfield has stated that he regards the hold of private investment over new architecture in London as an ”absolutely terrible” means of building a city. He argues that Berlin – where he spends considerable amounts of time and runs a large office – “is a much more reflective society than ours” because the has sunk into ”a success-based culture.”

[In Berlin] there is still an idea of the public realm. We have given that up in London. We have declared the public realm dead; the question is how to get stuff out of the private sector. We are unbelievably sophisticated at that.

Westminster Council Approves Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge Plans

Courtesy of

Update: Today Westminster Council approved the Garden Bridge proposals - the second of three required approvals - with councillors voting 3-1 in favour of the bridge. Though  Mayor Boris Johnson still has to officially rule on the plans, it is almost certain that he will ultimately give the go-ahead to the project as he has previously voiced his support for the idea. The following article was originally published on November 13th, after Lambeth Council granted the bridge its first approval.

RIBA Announces Charles Rennie Mackintosh Retrospective for 2015

Design for Scotland Street School by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image © Hunterian, University of Glasgow

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced a major retrospective of the work of celebrated Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, with an to be held at the ’s Headquarters in London from February to May 2015. Having shown talent as a draughtsman from a young age, Mackintosh started his architectural apprenticeship at the age of just 16, and the exhibition features over 60 original drawings, watercolours and perspectives spanning his entire career from the late 19th century until his death in 1928.

Read on after the break for more on the contents of the exhibition

BIG Unveils Design For Battersea Power Station Square

Courtesy of Development Company

BIG has unveiled the design for their addition to the development at Battersea Power Station, a public square that will link the power station itself with the Electric Boulevard development designed by Norman Foster and Frank Gehry. Called Malaysia Square after the Malaysian development consortium behind the plans, the design features cascading steps that link the main public space at the lower level with the entrance to the power station above. The split-level design also provides for two pedestrian bridges and a road bridge that cross above the ”urban canyon” of the public square.