London’s Shell Centre Awarded Planning Permission

Courtesy of The Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar Groups

The £1.2 billion Shell Centre development in London, masterplanned by Squire & Partners, has been awarded planning permission after being called in for review by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. Featuring 8 towers of up to 37 storeys which will sit alongside the existing 27-storey Shell Tower, the scheme was granted permission by the local council last year but was called in for review over fears that it could threaten the UNESCO Heritage status of the area around Westminster.

However, despite being awarded planning once again, opponents of the scheme have said they will continue to fight it, and have threatened to mount a judicial review of the scheme.

Read on after the break for more on the controversy

Redchurch Loft Apartment / Studio Verve Architects

© Luke White

Architects: Studio Verve Architects
Location: , UK
Design Team: Vivian Chan, Ula Witkowska
Area: 150 sqm
Year: 2014
Photographs: Luke White, Time & Space

3 Architects Appointed to Oversee £100 Million Cycling Infrastructure In London

Though the schemes are not exactly as dramatic as Foster + Partners’ Skycycle (pictured), they are part of a real commitment to make London more cycle-friendly. Image © Foster + Partners

Roger Hawkins (Hawkins\Brown), Sunand Prasad (Penoyre & Prasad) and Peter Murray (New London Architecture) have all been appointed by the Mayor of London to oversee the implementation of £100 million worth of cycling infrastructure in the city.

The scheme will focus on three London Boroughs: Kingston, Enfield and Waltham Forest, each of which were awarded “mini-Holland” status – a reference to the cycling haven of the Netherlands which these areas of London will be modeled on. Each borough will nominate their own principal designers, but the three appointed architects, who all sit on the Mayor’s design advisory panel, will be acting as consultant and client for a different borough.

Read on after the break for a rundown of the proposed changes

What Can We Learn from Lloyd’s?

© Flickr CC User Mark Kent

Following the news that Lloyd’s of London is planning to leave it’s Grade-I listed headquarters designed by Richard Rogers, Edwin Heathcote has written an interesting article asking whether the Lloyd’s Building - along with some other more spectacular failures of ‘iconic’ commercial architecture – can teach us anything about how we ought to design buildings. He argues that while high-profile design serves developers well, tenants seem to prefer bland yet functional corporate buildings, leading Heathcote to ask: shouldn’t we be seeking something in between? You can read the article in full here.

Does London’s Planning System Lack Civic Representation?

’s skyline is set to be dramatically altered by tall buildings in the near future. Image Courtesy of CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

A debate organized by New London Architecture (NLA) has revealed a strong need for civic societies in London which protect the interests of the public in planning decisions, offering New York as a potential model. The debate, which was one of the headline at the London Festival of Architecture, was organized in response to a study which showed over 200 tall buildings were currently in the pipeline for the UK’s capital, which sparked fears that the current planning system was not fit for the purpose of controlling development in the city.

More on the debate after the break

GUN Architects’ Latest Installation Brings Chilean Micro-Climate to the UK

© Valerie Bennett

Chilean-German architecture practice GUN Architects‘ latest installation, accompanied by an exhibition in the AA gallery, brings the micro-climate of Chile to the . Using tree-like structures and pyramidal fabric ‘stalactites,’ the architects create a unique ecology that is at once natural and material. The architects’ description of the installation, after the break…

2014 London Festival of Architecture Explores the Theme of “Capital”

The 2014 London Festival of Architecture opened this week, with over 200 events running throughout the city in the month of June. This year’s theme is “Capital”, an intentionally ambiguous theme which allows an exploration of the culture, people, economy and built environment of London. Some of the key topics to be interrogated will be the housing crisis afflicting London and the recent boom in the construction of tall buildings.

Read on after the break for more on the festival and some of its headline events

The (Home-Grown) Threat to London’s Architectural Future

Some of ’s most recognizable designs have come from foreign architects – like Ernö Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower. Image © Flickr CC User Jim Linwood

With the London Festival of Architecture opening yesterday, this article in the London Evening Standard highlights just one of the many threads which make up this year’s theme: the importance of foreign talent in making up London‘s cosmopolitan architectural culture. From Adam Caruso to Zaha Hadid, many of the city’s biggest names have come from abroad to study and work in the UK, helping to make it one of the greatest centres for design in the world – but all this could be at risk from untenable housing prices and draconian new visa restrictions. You can read the full article here.

Lloyd’s Set to Leave Richard Rogers-Designed Headquarters

© Flickr CC User Mark Kent

Insurance firm Lloyd’s of London has indicated that it plans to leave its famous Richard Rogers-designed headquarters, which it has occupied since construction ended in 1986. Lloyd’s has recently been involved in talks with Henderson, the developer of Make Architects‘ Gotham City project which earlier this year gained planning permission for a site adjacent to their current headquarters.

More on the building’s uncertain future after the break

Do New Buildings In London Have Shard Envy?

© Malcolm Chapman

This interesting article by Oliver Wainwright at the Guardian reveals the trend in recent London architecture for “Shardettes” – smaller and usually cheaper imitations of Renzo Piano‘s famous design which Wainwright says “has become a beacon for designers bereft of inspiration.” Highlighting four angular, glazed buildings that are either recently or partially constructed, he questions the quality of these miniature imitations and asks “is this Shardenfreude frenzy something to be welcomed?” You can read the full article here.

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 Glasgow 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 .

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 airport 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

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 Squire and Partners

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 Fire of London 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 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