London is the world’s most expensive city to build in, but the reasons may surprise you. The city is well known for its high cost of living despite being far less crowded than cities such as Tokyo and New York. In fact, commercial real estate in London’s West End costs nearly twice as much as similarly sized spaces on New York’s Madison Avenue.
This video from the Economist reveals how these high costs arise thanks to the city’s historic infrastructure. Vast networks of underground tunnels, unexploded World War II bombs, ancient Roman ruins, and narrow medieval roads all make construction in the city a highly specialized endeavor. These difficulties, combined with strict historical preservation regulations drive up costs even more. However, architects and developers are not deterred, and are willing to pay high prices for the privilege of building in London.
London’s Science Museum has announced Wilkinson Eyre as the winner of its competition to design new medical galleries. Winning the project over a shortlist of six other architects – including Caruso St John, Amanda Levete Architects and Haworth Tompkins - Wilkinson Eyre’s £24 million galleries will occupy 3,000 square metres on the museum’s first floor, almost doubling the size of the museum’s existing galleries.
More on the Science Museum’s transformation after the break
Inspired by an article written by Michael Hebbert in 1993, Chris Bevan Lee’s forty minute documentary explores the elevated post-war infrastructural redevelopment of the City of London, fragments of which still stand across the square mile today. The Pedway: Elevating London examines London planners’ attempt to build an ambitious network of elevated walkways through the city that largely never saw completion. In a carefully produced film those ’pedways’ that remain are photographed and discussed as symbols of a utopia that almost was.
After months of planning and preliminary design, it is expected that architecture firm KPF will be given permission to proceed with their New Bondway project in Vauxhall, London. This residential complex is sited in the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area, in close proximity to the new US embassy. The property was previously to be the site for the Octave Tower designed by Make architects, until the proposal was rejected by the Secretary of State.
Led by Will Alsop, aLL Design’s funky apartment tower will soon add a whole lot of interest to London’s south bank. The tubular building, which tapers at the bottom and top, will rise above an existing four-storey building on purple stilts and be adorned with corten steel cladding, brightly colored balconies, and irregular rounded windows. Each apartment will include two balconies overlooking the River Thames and the neighboring heliport – bringing about the name “Heliport Heights.” To learn more about the lively design, keep reading after the break.
One of the latest installations at London’s Serpentine Gallery, where Smiljan Radic recently unveiled an ethereal pavilion, is Marina Abramović’s performance installation entitled 512 Hours. Creating what has been described as “the simplest of settings” in one of the gallery’s large spaces, the artwork employs Abramović’s most frequently used material: herself. Coupled with the audience and a selection of common objects, the constantly changing sequence of events on display is the very first live installation by the artist displayed in the UK. Upon arrival, visitors are asked leave their baggage (including mobile phones, cameras and any other electronic equipment) behind in order to enter the exhibition. Find out more about what you can expect from it here.
The Cineroleum, a self-initiated project built in 2010 by London based practice Assemble Studio, transformed a derelict petrol station into a “hand-built” cinema on one of capital’s busiest roads. Aimed at raising awareness to the wider potential for reusing the 4,000 empty petrol stations across the UK for public use, the adapted structure on Clerkenwell Road was ”enclosed by an ornate curtain” strung from the “roof of the petrol station’s forecourt. Described as an “improvisation of the decadent interiors that greeted audiences during cinema’s golden age,” classic infusions of cinematic iconography were integrated into a space built from only cheap, reclaimed or donated materials.
Faith!, the latest ideas-based challenge organised by Combo Competitions, asked participants to design a place of worship in London. In spite of the beguiling simplicity of the title, coupled with a typically open brief, the placed winners and three honourable mentions exhibit a diverse, exciting collection of conceptual drawings and visuals. With an interesting balance of playful interpretations and more grounded proposals, all start to address relevant socio-political issues – such as the mutual acceptance and peaceful co-existence of different religions – in some way. The competition asked participants first and foremost to seek to merge two concepts: religion and knowledge.
British practice Astudio have recently completed a large youth space in Poplar, East London, featuring a gym, recording studios and performance hall alongside multiple social and learning spaces. Designed with the input from other 1600 young people and stakeholders, the four year project has been part of a wider initiative to address the inadequate provision of existing youth facilities in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. As the team’s second youth space completed in the last year, Spotlight has recently been shortlisted for a World Architecture Festival Award.