10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever

After being destroyed by fire and laying in ruins for 60 years, the Reichstag became a symbol of the new democracy in the 1990s with Norman Foster’s renovation. Image © Flickr CC User Werner Kunz

With no casualties, last week’s fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession.

However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural history.

Norman Foster Reasserts Belief in Thames Estuary Airport

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

In response to the UK Airports Commission’s call for evidence, Foster + Partners has released a detailed feasibility study supporting their plans for a new airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary. Their plan proposes a four-runway built on a 35 square kilometre platform constructed partially in the mouth of the Thames. The scheme is popularly called “Boris Island” thanks to its most prominent supporter, Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Norman Foster said “Since the Airports Commission submission a year ago, the need for increased airport capacity has become even more urgent. It is time to get serious about the issue of airport capacity. Britain needs an effective long-term solution, not the usual short-term fix that is Heathrow’s proposed third runway.  today needs to follow in the footsteps of its nineteenth-century forebears and invest boldly in infrastructure. Only long-term thinking will properly serve the demands of our future generations.”

Read on for a breakdown of the information contained in the report

Hawkins\Brown Reveal Plans for Bartlett School Revamp

Courtesy of The Bartlett School of Architecture

Hawkins\Brown have revealed plans for a £30 million revamp of Wates House in London, home to the Bartlett School of Architecture. The alterations will retain the structure of the 1970s building, opening up the facade to reveal the building’s internal activities to the street, as well as adding a new entrance and converting some of the ground floor into an exhibition space. The project strikes a balance between the requirements of working within one of London’s conservation areas, and retrofitting an outdated 1970s building to meet the needs of a constantly changing program.

Read on after the break for more project images and info

Michael Hopkins Criticizes Holl’s Maggie’s Centre Plans

Steven Holl’s design for Maggie’s Centre St Bart’s. Image Courtesy of

Michael Hopkins has added his thoughts to the row over Steven Holl‘s plans for the New Maggie’s Centre at St Bart’s Hospital in London, with a letter to City Planners saying that the design is in the wrong place and would ruin the setting of the 18th Century Great Hall. Hopkins, whose rival scheme received planning permission last month, says that the construction of the Maggie’s Centre represented a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to restore the great hall to its original design which was only met by his plans to build the Maggie’s centre in a different part of the St Bart’s site.

Read on for more of Hopkins’ criticisms

Planning Finally Granted for Chelsea Barracks Scheme

Courtesy of

A design by Squire and Partners for the controversial Chelsea Barracks site has been approved for planning. The approval comes five years after an earlier scheme by Richard Rogers was derailed by Prince Charles, sparking a row over what some perceived as the Prince abusing his status by bypassing proper planning procedure. Since then the plans were put on hold due to the UK‘s poor economy, before being resurrected last year.

Read more about the new plans after the break

VIDEO: 2000 Years of Preservation in London

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Produced by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, this somewhat hypnotic video charts the development of London from its origins as the Roman settlement of Londinium to the present day. It maps the changes in the city’s road network and built environment, and catalogs the thousands of historic structures which are now protected by either listing or scheduling. Among the fascinating thing revealed by the video is how historic events continue to have a profound effect on the city’s built environment: for example a law passed after the Great of determined that new buildings had to be built from brick, resulting in the large number of Georgian buildings that have survived to the present day.

BDP & SOM Reveal Plans For New Covent Garden Market

Courtesy of BDP

BDP and SOM have submitted plans for ‘The Garden’ a new market which will be the largest new development in the Nine Elms area around Battersea Power Station in London. The £2 billion plans replace the existing New Covent Garden Market, the UK‘s largest fruit, vegetable and flower market, in addition to adding a mixed-use neighborhood of 3,000 homes and over 200,000 square feet of office and retail space.

Working together, BDP and SOM have created a “seamless masterplan” which extends from the detailed design of the new market structure through to a new riverside park connecting Battersea Power Station to Kieran Timberlake‘s US Embassy building.

Read on for more on the design

London Science Museum Announces Competitions For 3 New Galleries

© Flickr CC User Science Museum

The Science Museum in London has announced plans to expand with three new galleries, launching three competitions to find designers. Two of the new galleries will house new permanent exhibitions about medicine and mathematics, while the third will host an interactive gallery. The three extensions combined will more than double the museum’s current size.

The museum hopes to complete the mathematics and interactive galleries in 2016, with the larger medicine wing scheduled for a 2018 completion date.

Read on after the break for more on the

Work On Walkie Talkie Fix Will Start This Month

© Flickr CC User pembridge2

Work to alter Rafael Viñoly Architects – dubbed the Walkie Talkie due to its unusual shape and then the “Walkie Scorchie” after it created a heat-focusing ray strong enough to melt cars last summer – is due to start later this month, after planning permission for the additions was granted in April. The alterations, also designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, will see horizontal aluminium louvres added to the glass facade between the 3rd and the 34th floor to ensure that the reflective “death ray” effect is not repeated.

More on the building after the break

Colorful Pop-Up Pavilion Forms the Centerpiece for Camden Create Festival

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As part of a new three-day festival in the London borough of CamdenKSR Architects have designed a brightly colored pop-up pavilion for the famous Britannia Junction. The festival’s centerpiece is made up of 640 fluorescent tubes hanging from a stage truss system to make a colossal wind chime, animating the area with movement, color and sound.

Read more about the pavilion and the festival, and see more images after the break

Concerns Over Privacy as Shard’s Hotel Offers Guests Unexpected Views

© Flickr CC User Patrick Collins

Since opening to the public last week, guests at the Shard‘s Shangri-La Hotel have been discovering that the building offers crystal clear views of more than just London. At night, the glass panels which extend beyond the edge of the floor plates and give the building its characteristic crystalline appearance act as mirrors, offering views into neighboring rooms. The Financial Times reports that when they visited, “guests in the neighbouring room were clearly visible as they prepared for bed.” You can read more on the story (and see proof of the effect) on the Financial Times.

Boris Johnson Enlists 3 Practices to Envisage the Future of Heathrow

Richard Rogers’ Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Image © Flickr CC User NewbieRunner

London Mayor Boris Johnson has enlisted the help of three architects, Hawkins\Brown, Rick Mather Architects and Maccreanor Lavington Architects to design a new town on the site of Heathrow Airport. The move is designed to encourage support for Johnson’s plan to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, jokingly dubbed ‘Boris Island’ by some. If the Estuary Airport were to go ahead it could mean closing Heathrow, currently one of the world’s busiest airports, freeing the land up for the new development. You can read more on the story at the Architects’ Journal.

2014 RIBA London Awards

© Hufton+Crow

The winners of the 2014 RIBA London were announced in a ceremony last night. The recognize the RIBA London Architect of the year and 2014 RIBA Emerging Architect of the Year (Haworth Tompkins and RCKa, respectively) as well as a host of project awards which join other regional awards to make up the longlist for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize.

Among the winners are Zaha Hadid‘s Aquatics Centre, which becomes the final Olympics project to shoot for the Stirling Prize now that its seating wings have been removed; the Shard; the renovation of the Tate Britain by Caruso St John; and the transformation of King’s Cross by John McAslan + Partners. Read on after the break for a full list of winners.

Results of the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space

The Braided Valley / Grupo Aranea. Image © Jesus Granada

The results of the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space have been announced. The prize organized by the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) rewards both the designers and the facilitators (such as councils or community groups) that have contributed to the best urban interventions of the year. The award is given for ingenuity and social impact, regardless of the scale of intervention, meaning that small, relatively unknown practices can rub shoulders with some of the best-known practices in .

See the 2 Joint Winners and 4 Special Mentions after the break

HTA Design to Lead Regeneration of Aylesbury Estate in London

View of the first phase of the development. Image Courtesy of

Developer Notting Hill Housing Trust have selected HTA Design to lead the regeneration of London‘s infamous Aylesbury Estate. HTA will work on the masterplan for the entire site, and have also been selected as the lead architects for the first stage of the , working alongside Hawkins Brown and Mae Architects.

The £1.5 billion redevelopment will see the iconic post-war estate torn down and reconstructed in stages over the next 20 years, with different architects working on the detail design for each stage. In total the masterplan provides for 4,200 homes, a significant increase over the 2,704 in the existing estate.

Read on for more on the Aylesbury Estate and its regeneration

TateHindle Wins Competition to Transform London Underground HQ

The Underground Headquarters at 55 Broadway. Image © Flickr CC USer Chris Guy

Transport for London today announced TateHindle as the winners of the competition to transform their London Underground Headquarters into a residential building. The building, designed by Charles Holden and completed in 1929, was once the tallest office block in London and has been home to Transport for London ever since. However, TfL say the building at 55 Broadway is “no longer fit for purpose”, and will move out in 2015 when will begin the renovation. You can read the full story on the Architects’ Journal.

Hopkins Architects Maggie’s Centre Gets Planning Permission Over Rival Holl Scheme

A rival to Steven Holl Architects‘ design for the Maggie’s Centre at St Barts Hospital in London has received planning permission. The alternative scheme was commissioned by a group called “Friends of the Great Hall and Archive”, who believe the proposal by would threaten the 18th century, Grade I* listed Great Hall. The newly approved scheme, designed by Hopkins Architects, proposes a different site for the new cancer care centre.

After their initial scheme was rejected, Steven Holl Architects’ revised design was submitted for planning approval last week, with a decision expected in the summer.

Read on for reaction to the two rival schemes

Zaha Hadid Among 7 Shortlisted for “Design of the Year 2014”

Heydar Aliyev Center / Zaha Hadid Architects. Image © Iwan Baan

Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center is among seven shortlisted designs being considered for this year’s Design of the Year award. As announced by ’s Design Museum, the undulating cultural center was pulled from 76 innovative nominations and placed first in the architecture category. The shortlisted proposals, ranging from a portable eye examination kit to Volkswagen’s XL1 CAR, will remain on view at the museum through August 25. A winner is expected to be announced June 30.