Organic London Skyscraper Grows as Residents Recycle

Exterior View. Image Courtesy of Chartier Corbassons architectes

Inspired by vegetative growth and the bamboo scaffolding of Asia, Thomas Corbasson and VS-A have proposed a conceptual project for an organic skyscraper for London that will incorporate waste produced by its occupants. The building will rise vertically as more and more of the glass and paper needed for construction is discarded by building residents. It is estimated that enough recycled material for the building’s façade could be produced within a year. The project earned a special mention in a recent Skyscapers and SuperSkyscapers Competition.

Four Freedoms Park: Louis Kahn’s “Ancient Temple Precinct” in NYC

Aerial Rendering Prior to Completion. Image Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt , LLC

Built four decades after Louis Kahn’s death, New York City’s Four Freedoms Park - the architect’s posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies – is becoming one of the architect’s most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the GuardianOliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn’s ”best project”. Wainwright’s spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn’s personal history, building up a picture of a space with “the feel of an ancient temple precinct” and “a finely nuanced landscape”. Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park ”stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself”, can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect’s best? Read the article in full here.

Critical Round-Up: 2014 Serpentine Pavilion / Smiljan Radic

© Iwan Baan

Last week, the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion opened in London‘s Hyde Park. The Serpentine Pavilion program invites architects who are yet to work in the to create a temporary installation at the gallery’s grounds for one summer, and this year it was the turn of Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, who rarely builds outside his native country and is arguably the least well-known architect in the Pavilion’s 14 year history.

Always a highlight in ’s architectural calender, critics almost line up to write their reviews. This year, they are almost entirely unanimous: Radic’s pavilion is, unquestionably, weird. But they’re also unanimous on another judgement: it may be one of the best Serpentine Pavilions yet.

Read on after the break to find out what the critics said about this year’s design

RIBA Report Aims to Put Architecture at the Heart of Next Government’s Agenda

One proposal made by the report is to funnel transport money into ‘active transport’ routes, such as the Hackney Greenway which was created as part of the Olympic Legacy. Image © Flickr CC User Andy Wilkes

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a report which it hopes will influence government writers in time for the general election next year. The report outlines the RIBA’s stance on a wide variety of architectural issues, from planning , to school building, to designing healthy cities.

The report hopes to build on the recommendations made by the Farrell Review, which among many other things recommended the appointment of a chief architect to advise the government, as well as an overhaul of the current planning system. However, in one sense the RIBA report goes further than the Farrell Report by saying that the government should implement a defined architecture policy, pointing to the success of such policies in countries such as Denmark.

Read on after the break for more on the report’s recommendations

Video: drMM

The latest video from Crane.tv involves the -based drMM architecture studio. An eclectic mix of architectural know-how puts this practice at the forefront of innovative and sustainable design.

HOK Proposes East London Thames Crossing

© HOK/Arup

Nearly half of London’s population lives east of Tower yet they are served by only two fixed road river crossings,” says Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). This is the infrastructural predicament which has sparked the LCCI’s “Bridge East London” campaign, a proposal for bridge linking Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach, which is aided by a design by HOK.

The proposal was unveiled on Monday, the 120th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge. Designed to allow clear passage for both ships underneath and aircraft taking off or landing at City Airport above, the bridge also features a segregated cycle path, adding a much needed - and entirely safe – river crossing for London’s growing number of cyclists.

More on the bridge after the break

Has London’s British Museum Become a “Mall”?

The Great Court / Fosters + Partners. Image © janis.photo

“They’ve got the mall. They’ve got the food court. Now they’ve got the multiplex.” ’s latest piece for the Guardian discusses the collaged plight of London’s British Museum as Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) complete a large extension of exhibition spaces. Describing it as a “composite Foster-Rogers” building, Moore argues that “a strange distribution of space” coupled with “an inattention to the cultural complexities of the modern museum” have led to “a void, wrapped in a void, with another void to the side.” Although he states that “there are many things to like about RSHP’s building”, the total compilation of spaces, extensions and interventions have led to a museum more like a mall than a house of culture.

Luker House in Barnes / Jamie Fobert Architects

Courtesy of

Architects: Jamie Fobert Architects
Location: Barnes, SW13, UK
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of Jamie Fobert Architects

Boris Johnson Speech Reignites Row Over Mount Pleasant Development

Courtesy of Cityscape

The controversial Mount Pleasant development in London has sparked another row this week, as campaigners accused Mayor Boris Johnson of “compromising his neutrality” over the 681-home scheme which he has called in to review personally. Though he is supposed to remain neutral until the hearing, last week Johnson remarked in a speech that the development “will be a wonderful place to live.” However many have expressed concern over the design, including Thomas Heatherwick, who lives locally and called the scheme “empty, cynical and vacuous.” Read all the details at BD Online.

London Science Museum Announces Shortlist for New Galleries

© Flickr CC User Science Museum

The Science Museum in London has announced two shortlists of high-profile architects in its competitions to design new Mathematics and Medicine galleries. Due to open by 2018, the new galleries will double the space inside the museum. Among the shortlisted practices are Zaha Hadid Architects, Amanda Levete Architects, Wilkinson Eyre and Caruso St John. Winners for both galleries are expected to be announced in early August.

Read on after the break for the full shortlists

Does London Really Need the Garden Bridge?

© Arup

In an interesting analysis in the Guardian, Olly Wainwright draws attention to the questionable process by which of Thomas Heatherwick‘s Garden Bridge proposal has gained such strong support from the British government. It is, according to Wainwright, the product of “one voguish designer, one national treasure and one icon-hungry mayor” – however he contends that compared to other more needed potential bridges over the , the Garden Bridge may just be ”a spectacular solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist,” and a terrific waste of infrastructure funds. You can read the article in full here.

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 (Poma), the USA (Jacobs Enginneering) and the Netherlands (), the project has been described as “truly unique.”

Leading Architects Come Together for London’s Summer Exhibition

The Architecture Room. Image Courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts’ annual Summer Exhibition is the world’s largest open submission exhibition providing “a unique platform for emerging and established artists to showcase their works to an international audience.” From 12,000 total works of art, spanning a complete range of disciplines, 140 architectural works have been selected and hung by Royal Academician and Architect Eric Parry, after some early dialogue with former RIBA President Sir Richard MacCormac. Work featured this year includes a model by Thomas Heatherwick and prints by Louisa Hutton of Sauerbruch Hutton, alongside Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Richard Rogers and Eva Jiřičná.

Smiljan Radic’s Serpentine Pavilion Opens

© 2014 Iwan Baan

UPDATE: Check out video from today’s press conference at the Serpentine Pavilion! 

The 2014 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, opened this morning in London‘s . The pavilion, a glass-fibre reinforced plastic shell resting on large quarry stones, was inspired by a papier mâché model which Radic created four years ago as a response to the Oscar Wilde story ‘The Selfish Giant‘.

© Daniel Portilla

More images after the break

Crystal Palace Rebuild Runs Into Delays

Aerial view of the outline proposal by the developer. Image Courtesy of ZhongRong Group

The plan to resurrect London’s Crystal Palace is encountering delays, as talks between the Chinese Development group ZhongRong and Bromley Council have stalled. With a shortlist announced in February of six high-profile practices competing to design a project with “the spirit, scale and magnificence of the original” – including Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield and Nicholas Grimshaw - it was expected that a winner would be announced later this summer, with a scheme submitted for planning permission by the end of the year. However, all of these deadlines are now at risk thanks to the delays.

Read on after the break for details on what is causing the delay

Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre / Stanton Williams

© Hufton+Crow

Architects: Stanton Williams
Location: , UK
Year: 2014
Area: 5,602 sqm
Photographs: Hufton+Crow, Courtesy of

What Can Be Learnt From The Smithsons’ “New Brutalism” In 2014?

Alison and Peter Smithson (year unknown)

Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson’s architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale. With ’s Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the ”new brutalism”, hold the key for future housing projects?

Sam Jacob & Wouter Vanstiphout on Curating “A Clockwork Jerusalem”

The Mound. Image © James Taylor-Foster

The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the “mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse.” The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how “these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes.” To those who know the UK‘s architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.

We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.

© James Taylor-Foster