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Developer Pulls Planning on Renzo Piano's Controversial Paddington Tower

12:00 - 1 February, 2016
Developer Pulls Planning on Renzo Piano's Controversial Paddington Tower, Rendering of the scrapped Paddington tower. Image © RPBW
Rendering of the scrapped Paddington tower. Image © RPBW

Protestors have prompted developer Sellar Property Group to pull plans on the Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper sited in London's Paddington area. The 72-story "skinny Shard" has been harshly criticized by locals and Historic England for "blighting views" of the capital and being out-of-place, hence its popular nickname - the "Paddington Pole."

“London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning,” Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson told The Guardian. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful, but if they are poorly designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.”

Form Follows Fiction: Ole Scheeren’s TED Talk on Why Architecture Should Tell a Story

08:00 - 28 January, 2016

In his TED Talk filmed at TEDGlobal London in September 2015, Ole Scheeren eschews what he describes as the “detrimental straightjacket” of the modernist mantra “form follows function” in favor a phrase he attributes to Bernard Tschumi, “form follows fiction.” While Tschumi was referencing how cultural artifacts, such as literature, impact architecture, Scheeren reinterprets the phrase, imagining the stories of building users in order to inform the design process. Scheeren recounts, for example, how the daily activities of CCTV employees, the lifestyles of residents of a Singapore housing block, or the traditional tools of Thai fishermen have informed his various designs for OMA and Büro Ole Scheeren.

Of course, this “fiction” that Scheeren describes, these stories, are not really fictions at all, but the real experiences of the people who live or work in his buildings. In that sense, the fiction that drives his forms is really just another type of function, albeit a more human approach to function. Nevertheless, for Scheeren the stories of these designs goes beyond just the users, also encompassing the stories of the hundreds of people it takes to make such buildings a reality, and even how architecture can become a character in the narratives of our own lives.

How Driverless Cars Could, Should - and Shouldn't - Reshape Our Cities

10:00 - 22 January, 2016
How Driverless Cars Could, Should - and Shouldn't - Reshape Our Cities

In the race to bring driverless cars from a futuristic fantasy to a present-day reality, developers have touted a plethora of advantages, from reduced traffic congestion on roads to improved safety thanks to the elimination of human error. But the potential widespread implementation of driverless cars could also have profound impacts on the form of our urban environments, fundamentally reshaping infrastructure and land use. As recently as a year ago, this new technology was seen as decades away; however, recently Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla, predicted that driverless cars will be capable of making cross-country treks within about two years, and a pilot program in the United Kingdom city of Milton Keynes plans to launch a fleet of driverless pod-taxis by 2018, matching Musk’s timeline.

The driverless car future could be just around the corner, and the normally slow-changing infrastructure of cities could be forced to apply quick fixes to adapt. At the same time, the full potential of driverless cars cannot be realized without implementing significant changes to the urban fabric. So how will driverless cars change how our cities work, and how will our cities adapt to accommodate them?

Witherford Watson Mann’s Central London Almshouse Promotes Sociability for the Elderly

04:00 - 22 January, 2016
Witherford Watson Mann’s Central London Almshouse Promotes Sociability for the Elderly, Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects
Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects

Witherford Watson Mann Architects, in collaboration with writer Ken Worpole, has unveiled their design for an almshouse for the elderly in Bermondsey, London. Located on the site of a vacant, post-war nursing home, the 6,152 square meter space will serve the United St Saviour’s Charity, as an independent living accommodation for around 90 residents.

Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects Courtesy of Witherford Watson Mann Architects +7

Clock House / Archmongers

15:00 - 18 January, 2016
Clock House / Archmongers, © French & Tye
© French & Tye

© French & Tye © French & Tye © French & Tye © French & Tye +23

Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Speaks to Those Who Are "Fighting the Establishment"

08:00 - 17 January, 2016

In the latest episode of The UrbanistMonocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team tackle the 'establishment'. From small businesses to citizen collectives, the show discovers how "championing transformative change from the ground up can be the best way to alter the status quo in our cities." Investigating how the Ministry of Space is reclaiming public spaces in Belgrade, how ordinary citizens in Vienna are welcoming refugees, and how a collective in Rio de Janeiro wants to reshape the politics of the city, the episode also explores how small businesses in London’s West End are fighting against increasing rent.

Janet Echelman Suspends Net Sculpture Over London's Oxford Circus

12:00 - 15 January, 2016
Janet Echelman Suspends Net Sculpture Over London's Oxford Circus, 1.8 London, Janet Echelman, Lumiere London 2016, produced by Artichoke, supported by the Mayor of London. Image © Ema Peter
1.8 London, Janet Echelman, Lumiere London 2016, produced by Artichoke, supported by the Mayor of London. Image © Ema Peter

London is the latest city to host one of Janet Echelman's stunning net sculptures. Suspended 180 feet above Oxford Circus, the city's busiest intersections, the colorful floating form was inspired by 1.8 - "the length of time in microseconds that the earth’s day was shortened" as a result of Japan's devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

"The sculpture’s form was inspired by data sets of the tsunami’s wave heights rippling across the entire Pacific Ocean," says the studio. "The artwork delves into content related to our complex interdependencies with larger cycles of time and our physical world. The sculpture’s net structure is a physical manifestation of interconnectedness – when any one element moves, every other element is affected."

Carmody Groarke to Design New Members' Room for V&A Museum in London

12:38 - 7 January, 2016
Carmody Groarke to Design New Members' Room for V&A Museum in London, Sketch showing overlapping activities within the Members’ Room. Image © Carmody Groarke
Sketch showing overlapping activities within the Members’ Room. Image © Carmody Groarke

Carmody Groarke has won a competition to design the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum's new £1.3 million members' room in London. The practice, selected over a shortlist that included David Kohn Architects, Ordinary Architecture, SHH and Universal Design Studio, is offering a design that is "loose, relaxed" and "conversational" for members in a new space on the museum's fourth floor that overlooks the courtyard.

“We are delighted with the quality of the architects’ submissions," said V&A senior staff member David Bickle. "Carmody Groarke’s proposal created a stage not the performance, responding to our brief and the heritage of the Museum in a loose, relaxed, conversational way, creating a comfortable room for the Museum’s broad member constituencies and a framework for creative programming."

The Top 10 Most Expensive (and Cheapest) Cities to Build In Are...

14:00 - 6 January, 2016
The Top 10 Most Expensive (and Cheapest) Cities to Build In Are... , New York . Image © James Ewing OTTO
New York . Image © James Ewing OTTO

When comparing 44 major cities, Arcadis' 2016 International Construction Costs Index has found New York to be the world's most expensive city to build in. London came in as a close second, reporting cost of building prices (on average) 20 percent higher than Paris. In contrast, Taipei was labeled as the "cheapest" city for construction. According to the study, "strong currencies and significant resource constraints" were a result in higher prices. Read on for the complete lists of most expensive, and least expensive, cities for construction. 

5 Teams Shortlisted to Redevelop St Luke's Area in Islington

12:00 - 5 January, 2016
5 Teams Shortlisted to Redevelop St Luke's Area in Islington, St Luke's Church. Image © Flickr CC User Fin Fahey
St Luke's Church. Image © Flickr CC User Fin Fahey

The Islington Council has shortlisted five teams to redevelop the its St Luke's area. Aimed at alleviating Islington's housing needs, the project will deliver much needed new leisure and community facilities, affordable homes and improved public space, as well as "an exemplary civic building" on a site adjacent to St Luke's Church. According to the Brief, the new building will "bring together leisure, childcare, healthcare and local energy production under one roof."

The five teams will now develop proposals - all of which will be put on public display in early 2016. A winning scheme will be chosen in spring 2016. The five teams shortlisted, include: 

Arch From the Syrian Temple of Bel to be Replicated in London and New York City

04:00 - 30 December, 2015
Rendering of the arch's position in Trafalgar Square, London. Image © IDA
Rendering of the arch's position in Trafalgar Square, London. Image © IDA

The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint-venture between Harvard University (US), the University of Oxford (UK) and Dubai’s Museum of the Future (UAE) have announced that they will replicate a structure of architectural significance that was destroyed earlier this year by IS, or 'Islamic State', at full scale in the centre of London and New York City. The arch—all that remains of the Temple of Bel at the Syrian UNESCO World Heritage site—was captured by militants in May and destroyed. By no means an isolated case, IS have looted and demolished a number of similar architectural and anthropologically important sites that "pre-date Islam in Iraq," condemning them as "symbols of idolatry."

A Six Minute Snapshot of Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens

04:00 - 28 December, 2015

British filmmaker Joe Gilbert has created a short tribute film to Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, East London, which—as of August 2015—is set to be demolished. Accompanied by insightful commentary from Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the film charts the buildings' history and recent threats to a backdrop of monochrome shots of the estate, in all of its dilapidated and "pleasantly wild" current state. The 'Streets in the Sky', made famous by the Smithsons and both widely praised and criticised as a response to the collapse of low-density terrace housing, are one of the focuses of the film.

Raven's Home at the Tower of London / Llowarch Llowarch Architects

09:00 - 25 December, 2015
Raven's Home at the Tower of London / Llowarch Llowarch Architects, © Jack Hobhouse
© Jack Hobhouse

© Jack Hobhouse © Jack Hobhouse © Edmund Sumner © Jack Hobhouse +23

Trailer for Ballard-Inspired "High Rise" Film Shows Life Inside a Brutalist Megastructure

06:00 - 22 December, 2015

“Ever wanted something more?” asks Robert Laing, the character played by Tom Hiddleston in the new trailer for “High Rise” - an upcoming film based off of the 1975 novel by new wave science fiction author J.G. Ballard. Filmed as a advertisement for the brutalist tower, the complex boasts that with its numerous amenities, “there is almost no reason to leave,” prefiguring the story's unsettling premise.

Befitting the architecturally-inspired tale, the architecture seen in the snapshots shows off a concrete megastructure, with beautiful board-formed concrete walls elegantly highlighting and contrasting with the modernist furniture and shag surfaces of the interiors. Not unlike the real-life brutalist residential megastructure The Barbican, the High Rise features a supermarket, gym, swimming pool, spa, and school. Perhaps that is why Laing describes the film’s setting as “distinctly and definitively British.” Watch the video for a first look at film, to be released in theaters in 2016, and find out more at the tongue-in-cheek website for the building's fictional designer, anthonyroyalarchitecture.co.uk.

Dean of 'The Cass' in London Resigns Over Proposed Relocation Plans

04:00 - 22 December, 2015
Dean of 'The Cass' in London Resigns Over Proposed Relocation Plans, Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University. Image © David Grandorge
Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, London Metropolitan University. Image © David Grandorge

Robert Mull, former Dean of London Metropolitan University's Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design—also known as 'The Cass'—has resigned over a dispute about proposed relocation plans for the school's campus in Aldgate, East London. As reported in The Independentcampaigners argue that the move, which was first announced in October 2015 by the university's Vice Chancellor John Raftery, would cause courses and jobs to be unnecessarily cut. The university's vision, named 'One Campus, One Community', aims to invest £125million ($185million) to create "a new, single campus in Islington, north London, bringing all of the [university's] faculties together on one site for the first time in the institution’s 170-year history."

Hello Wood Creates Three Christmas Trees in Budapest, London and Manchester

04:00 - 21 December, 2015
Hello Wood Creates Three Christmas Trees in Budapest, London and Manchester, Three Christmas Trees in three European cities. Image © Miklós Vargha, Zsolt Szigetváry
Three Christmas Trees in three European cities. Image © Miklós Vargha, Zsolt Szigetváry

For the third consecutive year, Hello Wood—an international educational platform of design and architecture based in Hungary—have "rethought the Christmas Tree." Their three festive installations, in London, Manchester and Budapest, have been designed to live beyond the holiday season and will be recycled into new structures to help different causes in the New Year. "The role of architecture has changed a lot in the last few years," says Peter Pozsar, co-founder of Hello Wood. "Hello Wood represents this socially responsive architecture."

View the three projects after the break.

C-Space / BuckleyGrayYeoman

05:00 - 19 December, 2015
C-Space / BuckleyGrayYeoman, © Hufton+Crow
© Hufton+Crow

© Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow © Hufton+Crow +14

Heatherwick to Transform Historic Coal Drop Buildings into New King's Cross Shopping Area

14:00 - 18 December, 2015
Heatherwick to Transform Historic Coal Drop Buildings into New King's Cross Shopping Area, © ForbesMassie
© ForbesMassie

Heatherwick Studio has received approval to realize a new shopping area at King's Cross in London. By 2018, the practice will transform the city's 1850 historic Coal Drops Yard buildings into an "eclectic mix" of 65 boutique and destination shops and restaurants.

"Over a two-year restoration and build process, Londoners will see the existing Victorian buildings – the East and West Coal Drops and Wharf Road Arches – refurbished and re-purposed in a way that creates a stunning new upper level and improves connectivity, whilst allowing the original forms and functions to be read," says the architects.