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Concrete: A Cultural History

Concrete polarizes opinion. Used almost universally in modern construction today, it is a material capable of provoking intense loathing as well as stirring passions. Its development can be traced as far back as Roman times. However, it was in the twentieth century that its full capabilities became realised. Over the past 100 years architects and engineers have seized upon the possibilities of concrete enthusiastically. Its widespread use in almost all building types we experience has given it a significance and meaning that has - for better or worse - leapt beyond buildings into politics, film, literature and art.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Remains Consistent and Optimistic

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for May 2015 continues to show widespread consistency in comparison to March and April, with the workload index remaining "remaining virtually unchanged" at +37 from +36 last month. The private housing sector, which remained strong last month, fell slightly to +34 from +38 while the public sector moved into negative territory for the first time since July 2014. The RIBA claim that "respondents anticipate public sector spending on building projects to be flat at best over the coming quarter." However, the forecasts for the commercial sector rose to +21 from +15 last month, and the community sector forecast "made a recovery from its recent decline" rising to +4 from -3 in April.

Monocle 24 Investigates Playful Design and the Role of Luck in Shaping our Cities

For this week's editions of Section DMonocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, and The Urbanist, their weekly "guide to making better cities," the Monocle team investigate the how the act of playing can shape design and the role of luck in our cities.

In Section D, David Plaisant meets artist Simon Terrill at the new Brutalist Playground, currently on display at the RIBA in London. Terrill, along with Assemble, have reimagined a concrete childrens' playground from one of the UK's Brutalist housing estates, in foam – plus more. In this week's edition of The Urbanist, Andrew Tuck explores the role of luck (and misfortune) in our cities, from how architects apply the philosophy of feng shui to their work to a Brazilian district that it was given the name of Boa Sorte ('good luck' in Portuguese). The show also visits Moore – the city dubbed as "tornado alley of Tornado Alley" – in Oklahoma, US, to understand how best to build in such intense climactic environments.

Listen to both episodes after the break.

Gallery: Assemble's Brutalist Playground Opens at RIBA

An exploration of "post-war design for play," The Brutalist Playground by Assemble and artist Simon Terrill has opened to the public at RIBA's Architecture Gallery. The immersive installation draws on a number of historic London estates - Churchill Gardens, Pimlico; the Brunel Estate, Paddington and the Brownfield Estate in Poplar - where playgrounds were once made from concrete and cast into sculptural forms to offer children an abstract landscape for play. Now deemed unsafe, these playgrounds no longer exist. Thus, The Brutalist Playground was envisaged to explore play, "the Brutalist way." 

Images of the complete installation, after the break.

© Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA © Tristan Fewings / Getty Images for RIBA

Monocle 24's 'Section D' Discusses Design and Architecture from Lebanon to Istanbul

This edition of Section D, Monocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, dives into Beirut Design Week exploring "what Lebanese designers can show the world." In this show Josh Fehnert examines why Domus have decided to start an academy in Milan, speaks to Dutch typographer Joep Pohlen about his ultimate type reference guide, and assesses some of the architectural similarities between Istanbul and London. While the likenesses are not immediately obvious, both cities are currently undergoing an unprecedented property boom. Istanbul, a city with no strategic masterplan, is growing fast and there are lessons to be learnt from London's comparatively porous urban realm.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Minor Drop In Some UK Sectors

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for April 2015 shows widespread consistency in comparison to March, the workload index remaining around the same at +35 from +36 last month. The private housing sector remains strong, rising to +38, while the commercial sector forecast dropped slightly to +15. In addition, the public sector forecast saw a drop to +3 while the community sector forecast "experienced a significant decline" to -3 from +9 in March. However, workload forecast balance figures have remained high, and practices in London and the South of England are most confident about medium-term workloads. Small practices continue to be positive about the outlook for future workloads, while medium and large practices "continue to be even more optimistic about future growth."

Assemble to Construct a Brutalist Playground at RIBA

Starting June 10, the RIBA will present The Brutalist Playground - an exhibition that is part sculpture, part architectural installation, which invites people of all ages to come and play, the Brutalist way. Occupying the entire Architecture Gallery, the immersive landscape is a new commission by Turner Prize nominated design and architecture collective Assemble and artist Simon Terrill. It explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of Brutalist housing estates in the mid-twentieth century, but which no longer exist. They became playgrounds unsuitable for play.

Park Hill Estate, Sheffield - 1962. Image © Arch Press Archive RIBA Library Photographs Collection © John Donat RIBA Library Photographs Collection © Assemble and Simon Terrill Churchill Gardens - 1956. Image © John Maltby RIBA Library Photographs Collection

See All 38 Winners of the 2015 RIBA London Awards

From a shortlist of 68 buildings, 38 London projects have been awarded the 2015 RIBA London Awards for architectural excellence, the city's most prestigious design honor. The awards highlight projects that embody exceptional merit in their designs and positively impact the lives of their occupants. This year's winners include three arts and leisure buildings, 11 educational and community facilities, 16 residential designs, and eight commercial buildings.

All of these designs will be further considered for the RIBA National Awards, to be announced in June.

Brentford Lock West / Duggan Morris Architects. Image © Jack Hobhouse St Paul's School Science Building / Nicholas Hare Architects. Image © Morley Von Sternberg Bonhams / Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands. Image © Hufton + Crow The Foundry / Architecture 00 Ltd. Image © Rory Gardiner

Call For Entries: RIBA President's Awards For Research

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced a call for entries for the 2015 President’s Awards for Research. For the first time this year will see the introduction of the President's Research Medal, which will be awarded to the best work judged from across all four categories of research. RIBA President, Stephen Hodder, has said that "this award will help to give recognition to the ever increasing importance of research to architecture and our industry."

JaK Studio Designs “Speech Bubble” Recording Studio for BBC’s The Listening Project

The BBC has unveiled a mobile recording studio designed by London architecture firm JaK Studio, in conjunction with innovation consultancy Seymourpowell. Commissioned by BBC Radio 4, the design was selected following a 2013 international design competition organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and will tour the country to record material for The Listening Project. 

Riffing off the project's theme of conversation, JaK Studio's mobile studio converts the form of a speech bubble into a lightweight, aerodynamic booth inspired by the iconic Airstream caravan. 

© Nick Kane & Ian Woolcock © Nick Kane © Nick Kane © Nick Kane

RIBA London Announces 'Work In Progress' Themed Line-Up For LFA 2015

The London branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have unveiled a series of events themed along the lines of 'Work In Progress' for the 2015 London Festival of Architecture. The festival, which is a month-long celebration of architectural experimentation, thinking and practice taking place at venues across the capital, will open in next month. The RIBA London's chosen theme "will explore the changing nature of work, and workspace, as well as its impact on, and role in, the continued evolution of London."

RIBA Seeks Architects In The Wake Of The Himalayan Earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal this week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have teamed up with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to "help to identify Nepalese nationals or others with local or regional experience to provide technical expertise." According to the RIBA, the IFRC "has already deployed approximately 100 people to support the Nepal Red Cross in search and rescue efforts, emergency health, water and sanitation, relief, shelter and inter-agency coordination as well as support services such as telecoms and logistics." They state that "given the operational constraints in the country, most agencies are wary of overloading country teams at this stage. However, the IFRC anticipates there will be a need for additional technical expertise in due course."

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals A "Healthy Uplift"

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for March 2015 has "bounced back strongly" in comparison to February, as the workload index rose to +36 from +26 last month. Private housing and the commercial sector remains strong, while uncertainty still surrounds forecasts in the public sector. Workload forecast balance figures have remained high, the highest numbers being reported from practices in London (+42) and in the south of England (+39). In addition, large and medium sized practices have reported confidence about staffing levels, while small practices remain "more circumspect."

Shortlist Announced For 2015 RIBA East Awards

A total of sixteen projects have been shortlisted for RIBA East 2015 Awards, featuring buildings by Hawkins\Brown, Proctor & Matthews, Allies & Morrison, and AHMM. All shortlisted buildings will now be assessed by a regional jury. Regional winners will then be considered for a RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence, the results of which will place some projects in the running for the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize" href="http://www.archdaily.com/tag/riba-stirling-prize/" rel="tag">RIBA Stirling Prize.

See the complete list of shortlisted projects after the break.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows UK Public Sector Workloads Dip

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for February 2015 has revealed continued optimism, although the public sector workload forecast has dipped with uncertainty about spending commitments ahead of the UK General Election in May. The workload index fell back slightly to +26 (from +29 in January) and workload forecast balance figures have remained high, the highest numbers being reported from practices in the Midlands and East Anglia (+43) and in Wales and the West (+39). In addition, practices have reported that they are now employing 16% more Part 1 (undergraduate) and Part 2 (postgraduate) students than they were twelve months ago.

Shortlist Announced For 2015 RIBA South West Awards

A total of sixteen projects have been shortlisted for RIBA South West 2015 Awards, featuring buildings by Glenn Howells Architects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, AHR, and Stonewood Design. All shortlisted buildings will now be assessed by a regional jury. Regional winners will then be considered for a RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence, the results of which will place some projects in the running for the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize" href="http://www.archdaily.com/tag/riba-stirling-prize/" rel="tag">RIBA Stirling Prize.

See the complete list of shortlisted projects after the break.

Shortlist Announced For 2015 RIBA East Midlands Awards

A total of eleven projects have been shortlisted for RIBA East Midlands 2015 Awards, featuring buildings by Evans Vettori, Make, Orms, and Studio Gedye. All shortlisted buildings will now be assessed by a regional jury. Regional winners will then be considered for a RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence, the results of which will place some projects in the running for the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize" href="http://www.archdaily.com/tag/riba-stirling-prize/" rel="tag">RIBA Stirling Prize.

See the complete list of shortlisted projects after the break.

Shortlist Announced For 2015 RIBA Yorkshire Awards

A total of eleven projects have been shortlisted for RIBA Yorkshire 2015 Awards, featuring buildings by Populous, HLM, and Studio Gedye. All shortlisted buildings will now be assessed by a regional jury. Regional winners will then be considered for a RIBA National Award in recognition of their architectural excellence, the results of which will place some projects in the running for the 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize" href="http://www.archdaily.com/tag/riba-stirling-prize/" rel="tag">RIBA Stirling Prize.

See the complete list of shortlisted projects after the break.