London Calling: The Latest Twist in the Tale of London’s Concrete Island

© Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

is engrossed in a vigorous debate over recently unveiled plans for the South Bank Centre, the cluster of Brutalist concrete buildings on the River Thames including the Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) and Hayward Gallery.

Today, the Centre has as its neighbour one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions – The London Eye – and this, with the addition of retail and other leisure-led developments in and around the South Bank, has refocused both commercial and cultural attention on the complex.

Last month, British architects Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) unveiled their vision for a “Festival Wing” on the site, focussing on the QEH and the Hayward Gallery. It isn’t the first time an architect has been asked to look at these buildings in recent decades. However, it is the most likely to come to fruition.

Read more about the Southbank Centre and its future development, after the break…

The Rosebery / BuckleyGrayYeoman Architects

© Hufton+Crow

Architects: BuckleyGrayYeoman Architects
Location: Rosebery Avenue, London,
Client: Supercity Group
Year: 2013
Photographs: Hufton+Crow, Courtesy of Ben Thompson Photography

SYN City Exhibition

Courtesy of UCACanterbury School of Architecture

SYN City, a postgraduate research & design unit at UCACanterbury School of Architecture, will be putting on an expo at the Doodle Bar on April 26 at 6:00pm. Architects and guests have been invited and are attending from including Foster & Partners, Charles Holland of FAT architects and Will Alsop. In 2012/13, Ashford in Kent has been the studio’s testbed to explore the dialectical and contested nature of the contemporary city. By focusing on one exemplary context, specific and at the same time, typical and paradigmatic urban conditions are addressed. For more information, please visit here.

The Shed / Haworth Tompkins

© Helene Binet

Architects: Haworth Tompkins
Location: London,
Architect In Charge: Steve Tompkins, Paddy Dillon, Shane McCamley
Area: 628 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Helene Binet, Philip Vile

Open Call 2013: AF Project Space

We Made That in residence – image © Max Creasy

The Architecture Foundation recently launched their annual international Open Call for innovative independent exhibitions and installations for its central Project Space. Intended as an incubator for independent positions and architectural experimentation, projects selected through the Open Call will punctuate the AF’s ongoing curated program. This program, competitively selected through a jury process, will give space to individuals or organizations to activate the AF Project Space as a testing ground for modes of exhibition and 1:1 scale spatial experimentation, an open studio, a public residency or other diverse formats. The foundation’s recent initiative, ‘We Made That’, was a project selected through the 2012 Open Call. The deadline for submissions is May 10. For more information, please visit here.

London’s Design Museum Announces Designs of the Year 2013

Courtesy of Design Museum

’s Design Museum has announced the seven category winners for the annual , celebrating the best of international design from the last 12 months. Among the seven category winners include the renovation and reimagining of a faded 1960s tower block in Paris and the ”quiet” graphics of David Chipperfield’s 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, Common Ground.

The seven category winners are:

Local Economies Suffer as Foreign Investments Dominate London and NYC

Belgravia, one of ’s priciest and most deserted neighborhoods © Herry Lawford

An interesting phenomenon is taking place in London: the priciest tiers of its housing market are increasingly being driven by overseas investment, primarily from the Far East. The most interesting – and perhaps most concerning – aspect of these investments is that at least 37% those who buy property in the most expensive neighborhoods of central London do not intend to use that property as a primary residence. This results in upscale neighborhoods and residential properties that are largely abandoned and contribute almost nothing to the local economy of the city. Parts of Manhattan are experiencing similar behavior, leading us to ask the question “what is happening to our as they become more and more globalized and how will this trend affect city economies around the world?”

Read more after the break…

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.” – Ricky Burdett

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 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, 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 exhibition at the Coningsby Gallery in from April 4-12. Vale, a -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

Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three 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 ’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 exhibition ‘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 competitions 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 competitions, but the reality is that architectural competitions 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, 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.