Demystifying the London Airport Conundrum with Ricky Burdett

There’s no denying that London’s airport capacity is insufficient (to put it mildly) – not just for its current needs, but, most worryingly, for the future. Nor are architects ignorant to the situation; in the last few years we’ve published proposals from the likes of Foster+PartnersZaha Hadid ArchitectsBeckett Ravine, and Grimshaw Architects, offering their own unique perspectives on what could be done.

However, for all the proposals (some emphasizing new off-shore airports, others on bulking up infrastructure or existing facilities), it’s hard to untangle what’s actually being done towards making these ideas reality. To clarify the situation, and lay our doubts at rest, we spoke with , one of the commissioners of the newly created Independent Airports Commission.

In the video above, Burdett, a renowned architect and professor of Urban Studies at the LSE (who has previously served as architecural advisor for both the 2012 London Olympics and the Mayor of London, 2001-2006), explains the political situation in the that has been preventing action, and describes how the Independent Airports Commission has been assembled in order to help the government through this process.

More info on this controversial commission, after the break…

AD Interviews: Ricky Burdett

“The architect has to continue doing what he or she has done for the last 5,000 years, which is to make objects of great beauty, which uplift the spirits of whoever commissions them or occupies them or sees them. But, increasingly, [the architect] has to take on two other things, which is: to make things in such a way that they are part of an environmental whole; but also to be much more conscious of what the social impacts are of the decisions the architect may make. [...] The architect, unless they want to wipe themselves out and become aesthetes, has to deal with these big issues.” –

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, there lies an important question ahead of us. There can be no doubt that cities will grow, but how can we make sure that they grow sustainably and – what’s more – equitably?

To get to the bottom of these important questions, we spoke with Ricky Burdett, a professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics  (where he directs the program LSE Cities), the author of The Endless Cityand one of the world’s leading experts in . Not only was he the Chief Advisor of Architecture and Urbanism at the London 2012 Olympics, but he is also a founder of the Urban Age Project, an interdisciplinary investigation into the future of cities. We caught up with Burdett while he was in Chile, invited by CREO Antofagasta to advise on the development of Chile’s sprawled-out city of Antofagasta.

Burdett had so much to share about his varied experiences that we’ve decided to split this AD Interview into two. Part I (above) covers Burdett’s conception of what architecture is/should be; the London Olympics; and his strong opinion on the state of architecture in England today.

The second part of this interview, which you can see after the break, explores Burdett’s work studying urban environments – including the Urban Age project; the secrets to sustainable, equitable growth (for more on Burdett’s take on this, read Jared Green’s article “The Rise of the Endless City“); and how architects and policy makers must work together if we are to design cities that serve the greater social and environmental good.

Patrick Vale: City Lines Exhibition

Courtesy of Patrick Vale

Patrick Vale, a name you might recognize due to his well-known time-lapse film, ‘Empire State of Pen’, that went viral last summer, will be opening up ‘City Lines’, his very first solo at the Coningsby Gallery in London from April 4-12. Vale, a London-based illustrator, artist and animator is a great example of how you can take your passion and talents and turn it into something that can be shared around the world. Capturing the public’s imagination with his film by clocking up to 700,000 plays in a few weeks, his intricate portraits of cities will now be on display. The large and highly detailed freehand drawings render the history and drama of our cities and invite us to peer into the fabric of the place. More images and information after the break.

Competition to Design a Feature Space at Tent London

Courtesy of Tent

Tent London recently launched their call for entries for their 2013 Project Spaces where they will be offering 4 spaces in the show to architects and designers who have a design or concept they would like to present to their 20,000 visitors. Project Spaces should be about anything but products. Their goal is to punctuate the halls at Tent London with engaging, three-dimensional installations of all descriptions which challenge their design hungry visitors and offer a break from the furniture, lighting and interiors products found within the rest of the show. The deadline for applications is April 26. For more information, please visit here.

Foster + Partners Approved for Mixed-Use Development on London’s Albert Embankment

Courtesy of

Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three mixed use towers on the 20-21 Albert Embankment in . Ranging from 15 to 27 stories, the curved steel and glass structures will provide the area with 253 apartments, including affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and a residents’ bar, gym, pool and spa.

Grant Brooker, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners: “We are absolutely delighted that 20-21 Albert Embankment has received planning permission – working alongside our clients at St. James and with great support from Lambeth and the GLA, we hope to transform this important and highly visible site into a vibrant riverside community that sets a benchmark for the regeneration of this part of the river.”

More after the break…

Pulsate / Lily Jencks + Nathanael Dorent

© Hufton+Crow

Architects: Lily Jencks, Nathanael Dorent
Location: 42 Chalcot Road, NW1 8LS,
Client: Capitol Designer Studio
Year: 2013
Photographs: Hufton+Crow

London Calling: London’s Import/Export Culture

© Flickr User CC Hayes Davidson

The following article is by Simon Henley of Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR). His column  will look at London’s every-day reality, its architectural culture, and its role as a global architectural hub.  

As a city, London is more than ever an architectural capital for propagating and consuming design culture. It has the highest concentration of architectural practices of any city in the world. Publications, exhibitions, events and a variety of pop-ups, pavilions and charrettes (not to mention the ever more popular pecha-kuchas) also attest to the fact. Schools like the Architectural Association (AA) in London’s Bedford Square have formed the minds of a number of world stage “star” architects.  

Then there’s the skyline itself – stuffed with transplanted talent. Renzo PianoShard, the city’s new spire that stands high above the rest.  Uruguayan Rafael Viñolys controversial Walkie-Talkie, which swells by the day. Herzog & de Meuroncurrent work at The Tate Modern. John Nouvel’s shopping mall at St Paul’s, and the many 1980s American corporate buildings for commercial giants in The City of London by SOM, KPF and HOK.  

Reflecting on this state of affairs of ‘high end architectural culture’ versus ‘high end commissioning culture’, one cannot help but see a curious chasm in London. In some ways, we are still today very much like the Victorians. Great inventors who leave it to the rest of the world to move our inventions forward. 

Is London truly the world capital of architecture?  Or a metropolitan trading post, an exporter of architectural ideas?  Read more of Simon Henley’s take, after the break…

‘Water for Thought: Life-Changing Design’ Exhibition

Courtesy of We Are Water Foundation

Focusing on water and sustainability, the Roca London Gallery will be hosting for the We Are Water Foundation. Their program, which going on now until March 23rd, includes the ‘Water for Thought: Life-Changing Design’ and exciting events during the month including Water as a Source of Inspiration, with Zaha Hadid Architects, on Thursday, March 14th and World Water Day, which will help Roca raise £2,500, on Friday, March 22nd. The exhibition aims to generate awareness of global water problems through a mixture of design, technology and video. Demonstrating how people can use their creativity to create awareness and provide solutions to water-related problems, some of the World’s most innovative product designs for accessing, transporting or purifying water in developing countries will be on show. For  more information, please visit here.

‘Alphabeta’ Creative Workspace / Studio RHE

Courtesy of

In an effort to transform the Finsbury Square landmark building, the ’Alphabeta’ Creative Workspace by Studio RHE is set to become the new center for ’s most progressive and challenging companies.The development, set over nine storeys, will provide a dynamic shared atrium space, communal roof-terrace, ‘ride-in’ cycle ramp direct from Worship Street. The building’s original period features are to be restored and celebrated but the fabric and services are to be fully updated throughout with exposed wall finishes and ducting to ensure high ceiling levels. More images and architects’ description after the break.

And the Winner Is… Competitive Advantages?

Kengo Kuma’s competition winning design for the V&A at Dundee. Courtesy V&A.

Architectural may be regarded as an opportunity or a burden. There are numerous architectural practices that have gained significant attention for their submissions and winnings in highly publicized , but the reality is that architectural are expensive and do not guarantee reward. And yet, they are an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue about the projects at hand, and may be approached with more creative and imaginative risk than when working directly with a client, which is probably why they are so popular and numerous.  They are also an opportunity to bring the public into conversations about architecture in the public forum. These are just some of the considerations that The Architecture Foundation hopes to tackle in its new series, “And the Winner is…?“.

Throughout 2013, The Architecture Foundation will be hosting a three-series of critical and polemic explorations into the culture of architecture awards, competitions and festivals.  The first in the series, “Competitive Advantages” will be a discussion considering the nature of architecture competitions and their advantages and disadvantages as they pertain to the clients and the public, established architectural firms and emerging practices.

Video: Russian For Fish, Notes From A Small Practice


This exciting architectural newcomer stands out for more than its quirky name.

Columnar Towers: Colville Estate Competition Entry / NL Architects + WHAT Architecture

Courtesy of +

The proposal by NL Architects and WHAT Architecture for the Columnar Towers: Colville Estate competition attempts to mitigate the effects of a large massing of residences by breaking each tower into a ‘bundle’ of seven smaller towers, or ‘columns’. Each mini-tower is formed by simple ‘stacks’ of single apartments. This residential development of 199 apartments in Hackney, London is part of a masterplan by Karakusevic Carson Architects for the regeneration of the Colville Estate. More images and architects’ description after the break.

Design Excellence of U.S. Embassies: Openness and Security

U.S. in / KieranTimberlake Architects

“The works of our artists, architects, and preservationists provide us with another language of diplomacy. A transcendent language that allows us to convey values that are at once uniquely American yet speak to all of humanity.  Increasingly in this world, art and architecture help us maintain our sense of openness and liberation.” — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 12, 2010 

An embassy is much more than a building or a work of architecture; it functions as a symbolic representation of countries’ relationships to one another.  It represents the universal language of diplomacy – “communicating values and ideals, extending well beyond any moment in time”.  An embassy has the difficult task of representing two diametrically opposed concepts: security and openness.  The former typically overpowers the latter in importance, which is most probably why when we think of foreign embassies, it conjures up images of stately monolithic buildings surrounded by tall fences and menacing guards or “bunkers, bland cubes, lifeless compounds”, according to Tanya Ballard Brown of NPR’s All Things Considered.

More on the design excellence of embassies after the break…

ME Hotel / Foster and Partners

© Francisco Guerrero

Architects: Foster and Partners
Location: , UK
Area: 28,070 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Francisco Guerrero, Nigel Young – Foster + Partners

The Architecture Foundation and We Made That Launch “The Open Office”

Courtesy of We Made That

The Architecture Foundation has recently launched a month-long initiative named The Open Office. The scheme, which is described as “part ‘Citizens Urban Advice Bureau’, and part functioning practice” is the brainchild of -based practice We Made That  and will take place in the offices of The Architecture Foundation in Southwark, London until 22nd March. Operating on a walk-in basis, and displaying all work openly, The Open Office aims to engage and educate local communities on issues of architecture, urbanism and planning.

Read more about The Open Office scheme after the break.

Zaha Hadid to Develop Plans for New London Airport

Zagreb Competition Proposal / ZHA © Zaha Hadid Architects

As pressure mounts to solve ’s aviation crisis, the Mayor of London has appointed Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) alongside a world-class team of aviation experts to develop plans for a new major airport in southeast England. The team is expected to resolve the debate on how and where the capital’s next multi-runway airport hub should be constructed, a decision that will play a critical role in the future of the British economy.

Zaha Hadid said: “This work is essential to deliver the most integrated transport solutions for London and the UK. It will enable London to maintain its position as one of the world’s most important economic, commercial and cultural centers; outlining the city’s future growth and development which has always been founded on global connectivity.”

See who made the list after the break…

HomeMade / Bureau de Change Design Office

© Eliot Postma

Architects: Bureau de Change Design Office
Location: London,
Area: 210 sqm
Year: 2012
Photographs: Eliot Postma

Towers and Flagship Hub Proposal / mæ

Courtesy of mæ

architects recently announced that they were selected to design a ‘split-site’ elderly housing and healthcare hub project in Lisson Grove, Central . Intended for City West Homes, on behalf of Westminster City Council, the housing scheme, which will be designed to HAPPI recommendations (Housing for an Aging Population Panel for Innovation), will bring contemporary, socially-orientated architecture to a deprived community which is desperately in need of re-invigoration. Construction is due to start at the end of 2013 and will be completed in two phases. More images and architects’ description after the break.