I was recently at a lecture at Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Instituut in which Dirk van den Heuvel mediated a discussion between Kenneth Frampton and Herman Hertzberger. Talking of those who contributed to the Dutch Structuralist movement, Hertzberger lamented the fact that so many have faded into obscurity: “if you make the mistake of not writing” he said, “you’re bound to be forgotten.” Accompanying design with the written word is at the core of good practice, not only because it lends design an elevated meaning by cementing it into a wider discourse, but also because it often uncovers the subconscious significance of the process of architecture.
LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to anchor in-house research and external contributions in words, “creating both a space we lack and an action we desire.” Their new journal is also a response to the school’s current in-between state as they await their new building in temporary studio spaces. As such, LOBBY will serve as a platform for exchange and discussion in lieu of a physical lobbying space. The first issue explores the theme of Un/Spectacle, offering different layers, approaches, readings and perspectives on the topic of the ‘(un)spectacle’ of the everyday.
London‘s Southbank Centre announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with skateboarding group Long Live Southbank, and is dropping plans to move the famous skatepark to a new site underneath Hungerford Bridge nearby. The decision, which is ensured by a binding planning agreement with Lambeth Council, brings a close to a dispute that has lasted almost a year and a half – ever since the Southbank Centre unveiled redevelopment plans by Feilden Clegg Bradley which included the removal of the skatepark in favour of retail space in the Southbank’s undercroft.
The agreement also involves both sides dropping a series of legal challenges initiated during the dispute, including the Southbank’s challenge over the registration of the skatepark as an ‘asset of community value,’ an attempt by Long Live Southbank to have the skatepark listed as a village green, and a judicial review of Lambeth Council’s decision to reject the village green application.
Arguably there are only two architects in history that have become almost completely synonymous with one particular city – Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Glasgow and Antoní Gaudi for Barcelona. Indeed, a Catalonian architect, Enric Miralles, designed the Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood, Edinburgh. The fact that both of these cities are part of large enclaves who are seeking, or have sought, independence is perhaps just a coincidence. Architecture, often used as a symbol for the identity of nationhood, will certainly be part of a wider dialogue about the Union of the United Kingdom following yesterday’s referendum.
The Pinnacle, the 63-storey tower that would have been the tallest in the City of London‘s central cluster, has finally been abandoned, according to Gwyn Richards, the City’s new head of design. Originally granted planning permission in 2006, the “helter-skelter” design by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates (KPF) was put on hold in 2011 due to financial issues. Now a replacement scheme is in the works which could be revealed in a matter of weeks.
More on the Pinnacle, and its replacement, after the break
Settled comfortably around a black conference table – the only item of furniture in an office space still lacking its carpet tiles – on the 40th floor of the new Leadenhall Building, I had the opportunity to discuss with lead designer Graham Stirk and his partner, practice co-founder Richard Rogers, the forces that shaped their new building and how they came to be working in the City of London once again.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has a rich presence in the Square Mile, including the landmark Lloyd’s of London, standing directly opposite the Leadenhall Building. The firm has specialised in assured, sometimes assertive insertions within the City’s fine, historic urban grain, and so setting aside the sheer bravura of the 52-story, 225 meter skyscraper, with its sloping glass façade to the south (giving it the popular nickname of the Cheesegrater) the first question that arose was a simple one – how did the building come about?
Hawkins\Brown has unveiled designs for Here East, the redevelopment of the former Press and Broadcast Centre at the London 2012 Olympics. The design for a “world class creative and digital cluster” will feature office and studio space for both established global companies alongside some of East London‘s many creative start-ups. Providing over a million square feet of flexible space, the design also includes shared work spaces and public areas, and a shared yard to host events, aiming to promote sharing of ideas and collaboration between the companies at various scales that will inhabit it.
Zaha Hadid Architects has constructed an experimental structure on the grounds of London’s V&A Museum, just in time for the London Design Festival. The temporary installation is the practice’s thinnest shell structure to date, testing new design and construction technologies for achieving minimal material thickness while “investigating the relationship between formal arrangement and structural performance.”
Amazon has confirmed plans to move more than 5,000 of its London employees into a Foster + Partners-designed office building planned for Shoreditch High Street. On hold since January 2012, the £290 million mixed-use scheme will compete with Amazon’s Farringdon office to serve as the online retailer’s new UK headquarters.
The competition to design a cultural complex at London‘s new ‘Olympicopolis’ site formally opened today, seeking to attract “an exceptional team” of architects, masterplanners, engineers and landscape designers to transform the site next to London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Organizers Malcolm Reading Associates say that the competition has already registered over 960 expressions of interest from firms worldwide before the details were even announced, thanks to their early announcement seeking interested parties in July.
The complex will house outposts for the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, Sadler’s Wells and University of the Arts London. The designs for the complex will also respond to proposals for a new campus for University College London which is planned for an adjacent site, making it “one of the most exciting international developments in arts and culture,” according to Director of the V&A Martin Roth.
Read on after the break for more details of the competition
Despite her position as one of the world’s most prominent and successful architects, Zaha Hadid yesterday revealed that there is one thing she feels is missing from her portfolio: a skyscraper in London. Speaking to BD at the announcement of her Science Museum competition win, Hadid said ”I’d love to do a tower in London but it hasn’t arrived.” More of Hadid’s comments after the break.
Open House 2014, a concept developed in London twenty two years ago which has now spread to cities across the world, will throw open the doors to some of the UK capital’s most inspiring spaces and interiors this month. “Revealing”, the theme of this year’s Open House, intends to “shed light on issues that are relevant to local communities.” In this way, the scheme hopes to examine how the built environment is evolving. Exploring the role of architects, engineers and contemporary design in revitalising places and spaces, the festival hopes to show above all “how good design can make London a more livable, vibrant and enjoyable city.”
There’s no doubt about it – cycling in cities is a big deal these days. But, while cycle lanes and bike-sharing schemes are all well and good for our cities, the cycling revolution hasn’t yet brought us many examples of beautifully designed infrastructure to gawp at. This article, originally printed on The Dirt as “Do Elevated Cycletracks Solve Problems or Just Create More?” discusses two seemingly similar examples of high profile cycling infrastructure, examining why one is a success and the other a non-starter.
This year, two designs – one proposed and one built – for elevated cycletracks, which create bicycle highways above street level, have gained considerable media attention. They highlight questions at the heart of urban design: Should cities blend or separate transportation options? How can cities best mitigate the hazards created when cars, bikes, mass transit, and pedestrians mix? How can cities create low-cost transportation networks in increasingly dense urban cores?
London’s Science Museum has selected muf architecture/art to design a new permanent interactive gallery. Set to open in 2016, the new gallery will be an expansion of the current Launchpad children’s gallery, creating a larger area to engage visitors in interactive math and science exhibits and live events.
“Muf architecture/art impressed us with their collaborative approach, strong design and bold vision for the new gallery. Above all, their scheme shows a keen awareness of the prime purpose of the gallery – fostering exploration and curiosity in science through intelligent and exciting design,” Karen Livingstone, Director of Masterplan at the Science Museum said.
The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among UK practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining “very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the UK.” Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.
The Airports Commission, the independent group charged with planning the future of the London‘s airport infrastructure, has finally ruled out an ambitious plan for a major airport in the Thames Estuary designed by Foster + Partners and supported by London Mayor Boris Johnson. Chairman of the Airports Commission Sir Howard Davies said the proposal had been ruled out because “the economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount.”
Instead, the Airports Commission will select between three options to expand one of London’s existing airports at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Read on after the break for the reactions to the decision.