Venturi Scott-Brown’s National Gallery Sainsbury Wing extension (1991) was born into a precarious no-man’s land between the warring camps of neo-Modernists and traditionalists who had been tussling over the direction of Britain’s cities for much of the prior decade. The site of the extension had come to be one of the most symbolic battlefields in British architecture since a campaign to halt its redevelopment with a Hi-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek had led to that project’s refusal at planning in 1984.
Following the news in 2015 that Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens was committed to demolition, Stirling-Prize winning practice Haworth Tompkins have been selected to work on the buildings' replacement. Alongside Metropolitan Workshop Architects existing master plan—entitled the Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project—the second phase of the regeneration will see the west block razed to make way for approximately 200 homes. The east wing will not be demolished until the third phase of the regeneration begins.
A new type of greenery has arrived in central London. Placed along the western façade of Westminster City Hall (known as Kingsgate Walk), a sprawling concrete frieze in relief depicts shimmering nocturnal birch trees photographed in forests from Beijing to London. Created using emerging technology, the relief was rendered through the concrete casting of a photograph by artist Rut Blees Luxemburg, a photographic artist and a reader in Urban Aesthetics at London's Royal College of Art. The textured surface of the frieze changes according to ambient light, creating a perplexing effect in the image from day to night.
Realized through a unique collaboration between artist Blees Luxemburg, London-based Lynch Architects and developer Land Securities as a part of Kingsgate, Silver Forest completes the major urban regeneration project for London Victoria in its new home in a public square adjacent to Westminster City Hall.
Find out more about the interdisciplinary partnership formed for Silver Forest after the break.
Join ASF-UK for a one day symposium to explore how built environment practitioners can respond to emerging global challenges in cities. With highly interactive sessions throughout the day, we will test and discuss different skills, approaches and knowledge that can ‘challenge practice’ in order to design in uncertain global times. The day will be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of working in this sector, to network with others in this field and a chance to discover ways in which to engage with ASF-UK. The event will end with a reflection by practitioners involved in innovative forms of practice in the UK and around the world.
Zaha Hadid, who was named as the the first sole woman to be awarded the UK's highest honour for architects in her own right in 2015, received the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2016 Royal Gold Medal at a ceremony in London yesterday. Hadid, who was appointed a Dame of the British Empire in 2012, received the Pritzker Prize in 2004. Her practice also took both the 2010 and 2011 RIBA Stirling Prizes.
Stuttgart experimental architect Achim Menges has been commissioned to kickstart the V&A's first ever Engineering Season with a site specific, nature-inspired installation fabricated by robots. Complemented by Ove Arup's first major retrospective, Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, the Elytra Filament Pavilion will be Menges' first public commission in the UK. He will work with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer to complete the project.
"Elytra Filament Pavilion will explore the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making," says the V&A. "Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the Pavilion will be an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process."
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.”
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.
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 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.
LocationFinsbury Park, London N4, United Kingdom
In the latest episode of The Urbanist, Monocle 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.
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 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."
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.
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:
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."
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.