For the third consecutive year, Hello Wood—an international educational platform of design and architecture based in Hungary—have "rethought the Christmas Tree." Their three festive installations, in London, Manchester and Budapest, have been designed to live beyond the holiday season and will be recycled into new structures to help different causes in the New Year. "The role of architecture has changed a lot in the last few years," says Peter Pozsar, co-founder of Hello Wood. "Hello Wood represents this socially responsive architecture."
In an article for theFinancial Times, Edwin Heathcote responds to the recent news that OMA, based in Rotterdam, have won the competition to design the British city of Manchester's new "ultra-flexible" arts venue. The Factory, so-named because of city's rich musical heritage, will be one of the largest cultural projects of its kind. Having gained and maintained financial support from Westminster, the building—which must be able to transform from a 2,200-seat theatre into an open 5,000-capacity space—is a flagship project for the British government.
Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) have been announced by the UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer as the winning team in the competition to design the city of Manchester's high-profile Factory art space. Following the announcement of the shortlist earlier this year, featuring practices including Rafael Viñoly, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Zaha Hadid and Mecanoo, it has since been reported by The Guardian that the British government's original pledge of £78million ($117million) to the cost of the building will be raised by a further £9million per year from around 2018.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for September 2015 shows a level of consistency with the workload index remaining unchanged at a balance figure of +21. All nations and regions within the United Kingdom returned positive balance figures, with practices in Scotland responding most confidently about workloads in the next quarter. The report states that practices remain firmly positive about overall workload prospects in the medium term, though with "an apparent leveling-off in the rate of growth."
A competitive shortlist of 9 has been released for a new high-profile art space planned in Manchester. The £110 million project, known as "The Factory" (after the city's influential Factory Records), will feature an "ultra-flexible" arts venue that can transform from a 2,200-seat theater into an open 5,000-capacity space that will accommodate a wide range of art forms and performances. It will also serve as the new home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF).
"The level of international interest reflects the city’s emerging status as an internationally-renowned city of culture. This is a landmark development that will place Manchester in the highest tier of arts worldwide," said Manchester City Council (MCC) executive member Rosa Battle.
Glasgow-based firm ICA has secured planning permission to redesign the Old Trafford Lodge hotel at Manchester's famed Old Trafford Cricket Ground, creating a larger, 150-bedroom hotel and completing the recent transformation of England's second oldest cricket ground.
The acclaimed Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, northern England, has been named by the Art Fund as the 2015 Museum of the Year. The project has been hailed by the jury as "one of the great museum achievements of recent years," citing its "transformation – architecturally, curatorially, and as a destination" – as a key reason for its success. The building, which has been received well by critics, was comprehensively restored and extended by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight) and re-opened to the public earlier this year. Since then it has seen record-breaking visitor numbers, partly due to the appeal of the building and partly due to "the creativity and originality of its outreach programmes during closure."
After being granted planning permission last year, Norman Foster's new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of Manchester has broken ground. The project is being built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe. According to Foster + Partners, the new centre will "provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends." Surrounded by the Centre’s existing, lush gardens designed by Dan Pearson, Foster’s proposed structure aims to tap into the therapeutic qualities of nature by engaging the outdoors.
An upcoming conference at the University of Manchester will tackle the idea of Model Making In The Digital Age. Based on the premise that the world of architecture is dominated by digital tools today more than ever, from design and manufacturing to the ways in which we visualise complex spaces and structures physically and virtually, this symposium seeks to shed new light on the practice of model making and its uses.
In an article for The Observer, Rowan Moore visits Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery (1908), a compact museum which has now undergone a comprehensive restoration and extension by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight). The practice, who won the job against 130 other bids for the project, worked with a budget of £15million in order to realise an ambitious brief. Their interventions and innovations, many of which are modest and unseen, have not only reconnected the building with its surrounding parkland but also elevated the interior rooms into world-class exhibition spaces. For Moore, their work is striking but muted: "the virtues of the new Whitworth – sustainable, accessible, sensitive, thoughtful – could all be synonyms for 'dull' or at least 'worthy'. But, thanks to its pleasures of light and material, it is not. It is a job very well done."
The British city of Manchester, often seen as the UK's second city alongside Birmingham, will become the first metropolis outside of London to be given greater local autonomy over budgets and city planning. The devolution deal, which will also see the city receive the right to directly elect a Mayor (in line with large cities in the US, for example), will furnish the city with "a new housing investment fund worth up to £300million." As it is understood that the first Mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected in 2017, there's time to discuss how this new political environment in the UK might help boost building in what has described as a "Northern Powerhouse."
The Modernist is a quarterly journal dedicated to 20th century modernist architecture and design. Published in Manchester - one of the cultural capitals of the North of England - and featuring an esteemed roster of writers and contributors from across the United Kingdom, the journal has been described by James Pallister of the Architects' Journal as, in spite of its subject matter, "free from the strait-laced rigour of classic graphic design modernism." Twelve issues later and the liberal, playfully academic tone of this digestible journal has been maintained in this latest incarnation, Departed.
British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) have been announced as the winners of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize for their proposal to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898. David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk's submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from 'GC status'. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that garden cities would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.
Read about URBED's submission, and the fictional town of Uxcester, after the break.
The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the "mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse." The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how "these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes." To those who know the UK's architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.