Critical Round-Up: ‘Sensing Spaces’ Strikes a Chord With Critics

© Royal Academy of Arts, , 2014. Photography: James Harris

As the most ambitious architecture exhibition hosted by the Royal Academy of Arts in a generation, Sensing Spaces was inevitably going to be under a lot of scrutiny from architecture and art critics. According to the Academy’s Chief Executive Charles Saumarez-Smith, the momentous exhibition “represents a shift away from postwar modern architecture where it was about problem solving, to thinking about architecture in terms of experience, material, light and space.”

Fortunately the exhibition seems to have struck a chord with critics, who have almost universally praised the exhibition’s premise and have, to varying extents, been highly complementary about the individual exhibits.

Read on after the break for a round-up of the critics’ opinions

Videos: Viewpoint / Finnish Architects

Designed by Helsinki-based practice AOR, Viewpoint is a peaceful respite floating on the canal in London’s Kings Cross. See how Erkko Aarti, Arto Ollila and Mikki Ristola explained the process and the relationship between the built and unbuilt in Kings Cross.

Siza, Souto de Moura, Kuma Reflect on Their ‘Sensing Spaces’ Exhibitions

As an accompaniment to their ongoing Sensing Spaces Exhibition in London, the Royal Academy of Arts has produced six wonderful films interviewing the architects involved in the , unearthing what motivates and inspires them as architects, and what the primary themes of their projects are.

The above features both Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, who both designed their Sensing Spaces exhibits with the other in mind. Siza explains his preoccupation with the joints between the natural and the man-made through his Leça Swimming Pool complex, and the way the rock formations informed his interventions. He also introduces his one-time protégé Souto de Moura’s Braga stadium as expressing the same understanding of the natural and man-made.

See videos from the 5 other Sensing Spaces participants after the break

Kiosk / Make Architects

Courtesy of Make Architects

Architects: Make Architects
Location: ,
Year: 2014
Photographs: Courtesy of Make Architects

Coupdeville Architects Design Zero Carbon House in London

Courtesy of

Coupdeville Architects has proposed designs for an environmentally responsible, carbon zero building in London. The earth sheltered structure is set into an existing slope on the site where it is arranged into three zones: an adult’s area and a children’s area both connected through larger living spaces. Following a requirement that the design provide areas “that allow the buildings occupants to be immersed on all sides by the site,” all spaces are connected directly to the gardens. Not only has this allowed for optimal levels of sunlight into the rooms, but has allowed for excellent views from within and of the building.

Southbank Scheme Likely to Be Abandoned

© Miller Hare

The Southbank Centre has announced that it is delaying its planning application once again. The decision has been prompted by comments from London Mayor Boris Johnson, who last month opined that the skate park should remain in its current location. An official statement from the Southbank Centre said: “it is far from clear how the scheme might now proceed without exposing Southbank Centre to unacceptable levels of financial risk but it has committed to a final three-month search.”

However, despite the three-month extension, Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite has all but admitted defeat, saying “we are under no illusions [...] we don’t yet see how we will make it work.”

Read on for more about the decision

Seven Architects Transform London’s RA into Multi-Sensory Experience

Installation (Blue Pavilion) by Pezo von Ellrichshausen. © Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2014. Photography: James Harris

This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts () celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and , the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.

“Architecture is so often the background to our lives,” stated curator Kate Goodwin. “We often don’t think about it – it’s practical and functional, but when does it do something more?”

A preview of the installations, after the break.

London’s Growing… Up! The Rise and Rise of London’s Tall Buildings

CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

’s skyline is currently going through a massive change. Over 200 towers are planned in the capital in an attempt to meet the needs of the capital’s growing population. So how will ’s skyline change in the next 20 years?

This April, New London Architecture (NLA) – London’s Centre for the Built Environment will explore this new skyline with London’s Growing… Up! Through the use of images, , models, CGI’s and visitor interaction, the exhibition will present a past, present and future view of London’s skyline as the capital’s developers focus on building upwards rather than outwards.

More after the break.

Has Cycling Hit A Speed Bump?

The Skycycle proposal by and Space Syntax. Image ©

There are few recent trends in urbanism that have received such widespread support as cycling: many consider cycling the best way for cities to reduce congestion and pollution, make cities more dense and vibrant, and increase the activity and therefore health of citizens. Thus, it’s no surprise a number of schemes have been proposed worldwide to promote cycling as an attractive way to get around.

However, recently it seems that many cycling schemes are running into bumpy ground. Read on to find out more.

Why The Skycycle Would Never Work

Is this the answer to ’s cycle safety woes?. Image © Foster + Partners

Writing for Future Cape Town, this article by Julia Thayne – originally titled The Skycycle: A Plan for the People? - explores the proposal by Foster + Partners to build an elevated cycle highway above London’s, explaining why it is little more than an optimistic pipe-dream.

Headlines in London this November were grim. Six cyclist deaths in less than a fortnight. All but one cyclist killed in accidents involving trucks, buses, or coaches. People were understandably concerned. From 3,000 miles away, my mother sent me a fluorescent coat and another set of bike lights, and as a cyclist commuter, I avoided roundabouts that I had previously sailed through, noting that cars seemed to be driving more slowly and other cyclists thinking twice before flouting traffic laws.

In response to the deaths, the public and public sector alike launched a “cycling state of emergency.” Officers patrolled the streets to ticket both vehicles driving unsafely and cyclists disobeying road rules. A thousand citizens gathered for a candlelight vigil at the roundabout where three cyclists’ lives had been claimed. Another thousand staged a “die-in” outside of Transport for London’s headquarters, in which protesters lay down in the streets, using their bicycles to block traffic. Newspaper columns, magazine articles, and blog spots examined and re-examined the safety of cycling routes around London. Mayor Boris Johnson’s Cycle Superhighways (four blue-painted, supposedly safety-enhanced cycling routes around London) became a particularly contentious topic of discussion, as three of the six cyclist deaths during those two weeks (and of the 14 deaths thus far in 2013) had occurred on or near one of these routes.

From the conversation about cycling and safety, the Skycycle has emerged.

Read on for the problems with the Skycycle project

AA Exhibition: Third Natures

The Golden Dome, Tokyo

Third Natures presents 15 years of speculations, projects and built proposals by the Madrid- based duo of Cristina Díaz Moreno and Efrén García Grinda and their collaborators, ranging from the beginnings of the practice in 1997 to their latest works, completed in 2013. In total, 26 projects are shown through drawings, models, objects and photographs. All this material is organised according to laws of affinity and connection, in an attempt to convey the vast range of the projects and their main field of operation – the space of mediation between people, objects, natural species and built environments. 

The title for this collection draws on a term first coined during the Renaissance to refer to a new type of garden that created a new and hitherto unknown reality – a ‘third nature’ – with a radical new materiality that was constructed through cultural connections. In the same way, the practice explores how cultural materials can be assimilated and then given back to the world in the form of proposals with strong links to contemporary society. Their approach, both critical and celebratory, is based on the emergence of new, extreme and unexpected forms of beauty. For further details, please click here.

The Green Studio / Fraher Architects

© Jack Hobhouse

Architects: Fraher Architects
Location: London, UK
Area: 320.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Jack Hobhouse

House of Muses – Future Visions for the Museum of London

Exterior, Courtesy The

The Architecture Foundation is delighted to be working with the Museum of London to commission a design team to develop a temporary structure that will help facilitate participatory discussion about future development plans for the Museum of and the wider cultural hub in this part of . The structure, which will be located outside the Museum of ’s main entrance, should be able to accommodate individuals and small groups at any one time and allow them to feedback on proposed visions for the Museum and its future. It is envisaged that the structure should also help attract visitors to the Museum and make use of its exterior forecourt spaces.

The winning design will be realised in time for the London Festival of Architecture 2014 in June and will remain in place until September 2014. The legacy of the structure will also be incorporated into the brief and designers will be asked to put forward suggestions for how the structure could have an afterlife.

For all the details, please click here.

Renzo Piano-Designed Residential Tower Planned to Neighbor the Shard

View of The Shard from Millennium Bridge (June 2012). Image © Michel Denancé

Sellar Property Group has announced plans to commission yet another -designed tower in at the base of The Shard. Replacing the current Fielden House, a 1970s office building located on London Bridge Street, the new 27-story residential tower plans to provide 150 apartments, retail space and roof garden. As part of the area’s regeneration plan, the project will be the third Piano-designed building on the block.

Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature

The Sahara Forest Project. Courtesy The Sahara Forest Project Foundation

In February 2014, The Architecture Foundation will present Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature, the first ever solo show of Exploration, a thought-leading architecture and design practice working in the field of biomimicry.

A striking 3D printed installation will showcase a selection of four projects and prototypes from the studio’s cutting-edge research on sustainable, nature-inspired design, including two new, previously unpublished designs. Study models, sketches and specially commissioned short films introducing Exploration’s projects will be presented alongside a myriad of natural specimens that inspired the designs – offering unique insight into the studio’s practice of learning from nature in order to deliver future-facing solutions for architecture, systems design and materials production that address the major challenges of our age.

John McAslan: Community Design, From Haiti to Tottenham

Tottenham High Road, Where John McAslan + Partners plan to open their new office. Image © Flickr CC User Alan Stanton

John McAslan + Partners, already known for their involvement in humanitarian issues thanks to their work in Haiti, are now turning their attention to Tottenham in London, as reported by The Guardian. The practice hopes that by opening a new office on the high street of Tottenham, the area notorious as the crucible of the riots that spread across the UK in August 2011, and by engaging with the community, they can help to make a change. Read the full story here.

Great James Street / Emrys Architects

© Alan Williams

Architects: Emrys Architects
Location: London, UK
Design Team: Glyn Emrys, Matt Blackden, Nuno Meira, Gwilym Jones
Project Architect: Gwilym Jones
Area: 440.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Alan Williams

10 Hanover Street / Squire and Partners

© Gareth Gardner

Architects: Squire and Partners
Location: 10 Hanover Street, London W1S 1YF,
Structure: Waterman
Quantity Surveyor: WT Partnership
Contractor: MACE
External Shutter Manufacturer: Astec Projects
Show Apartment Interior: Jess Lavers
Area: 2979.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Gareth Gardner, James Balston