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Review: MacMag39, Mackintosh School of Architecture

MagMag, a student-edited compendium of essays, projects and ideas from Glasgow’s Mackintosh School of Architecture, is now in its 39th edition. Following on from what has so far been a momentous year for the Mac, in which they’ve seen Steven Holl Architects’ new Seona Reid Building formally open and parts of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s art school (along with a great deal of student work) devastated in a fire, MacMag39 is a celebration of the spirit of a school which is faced with a challenging question: how do they introduce and then reconcile the new alongside the existing against the backdrop of an academically rich, diverse and successful learning environment?

Courtesy of MagMag39 Courtesy of MagMag39 Courtesy of MagMag39 Courtesy of MagMag39

RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows Workload Forecasts Are Firmly In Positive Territory

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAFuture Trends Survey for June show that the Workload Index among UK practices increased slightly to +34 (from +33 in May) with confidence levels amongst RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining "very strong and widespread across the whole of the UK". Whereas last month’s survey showed Wales and the West with the brightest outlook, this month's survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, the East Midlands and East Anglia tailing closely behind with a figure of +48. Workload forecasts from practices of all sizes are optimistically reporting positive balance figures.

Photographic Archive Crowdsources Your Memories of The Mac

The interior of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art is, thankfully, being restored after being tragically damaged by fire last month. However, despite Scottish Fire and Rescue managing to save around 70% of the building's precious contents, many will likely struggle to get over the feeling that something is missing without the natural patina of 100 years of use.

RIAS Announces this Year's 13 Best Scottish Buildings

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) have announced the winners of the 2014 RIAS Awards. Selected from the 83 entries, these buildings represent the best in Scottish architecture from the past year. This year Glasgow buildings make up significant number of the 13 winners, demonstrating the positive results of the city gearing up to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games later this summer.

The RIAS Awards are held in parallel with the RIBA National Awards, with submitted projects eligible for both. This year, 4 RIAS Award winners were also RIBA National Award winners. See the full list of winners after the break.

Clydebank East Workshops / Elder & Cannon Architects. Image © Cadzow Pelosi The SSE Hydro / Foster + Partners. Image © Nigel Young House No. 7 / Denizen Works Ltd. Image © David Barbour Scottish Water – The Bridge / Reiach & Hall Architects. Image © Andrew Lee

Scottish Charity Aims to Resurrect Brutalist Icon

The Scottish arts charity NVA is looking for an architect to carry out the restoration of St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. The building is an icon of post war brutalism; the Grade-A listed structure was voted as the best modern building in Scotland by readers of Prospect Magazine in 2005, and is likely to feature heavily in Scotland's show at the 2014 Venice Biennale. However despite this adoration, the building had a very short functional life and has been in a state of ruin ever since it was abandoned in the 1980s.

NVA is looking for an architect "highly skilled in the conservation of modernist buildings" to take on the £8 million restoration, which will see the sanctuary and refectory preserved in a "semi-ruinous state", and a nearby 19th-century greenhouse converted into a visitor centre.

Read on after the break for more on the restoration

Reiach and Hall to Represent Scotland at Venice Architecture Biennale

The Edinburgh-based firm Reiach and Hall will be representing Scotland at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. The show will showcase Scotland's rich modernist heritage, featuring buildings such as Gillespie, Kidd & Coia's St Peter's Seminary in Cardross and the church designs of Reiach and Hall's founder Alan Reiach, focusing on the positive aspects of these buildings which are often seen negatively by the Scottish public. "Certainly buildings from that period get a difficult press - the stories about the Red Road flats and so on don't really help that - but we hope to explain and examine the real optimism of that period" said Neil Gillespie, Director of Reiach and Hall.

Scotland's contribution at the biennale will be based in the UK pavilion for a month-long residency, as well as a show and presentations at other locations around Venice.

RIBA's Future Trends Survey Reveals Small Drop in March

The Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) latest Future Trends Survey indicates a small drop from February's index, "down to +35 from its all-time high of +41." Despite this, "confidence levels about an improvement in future workloads for architects remain very solid." All types of practice size, ranging from those with fewer than 10 employees to those with over 50 staff, are "reporting positive balance figures." The strongest future workload forecasts came from Scotland and the North of England, suggesting that "the recovery in confidence levels is now widespread across the UK and has spread beyond London and the South East."

Glasgow Scraps Plan for Europe's Largest Demolition

UPDATE: The Guardian reports that the plans to demolish the Red Road Flats during the Commonwealth Games have been scrapped due to concerns over public safety. The following news was originally published as "Glasgow to Demolish Iconic Modern Towers in Europe's Largest Demolition" on April 10th, 2014.

To mark the arrival of the Commonwealth Games in July, Glasgow is planning a twist on the usual opening ceremony: the customary fireworks are going to be replaced with explosives of an altogether different kind, as the demolition of all but one of the remaining Red Road Flats buildings will be broadcast live into the stadium.

The demolition of the five 30-story buildings will take 15 seconds and will be the largest ever attempted in Europe, according to the organizers. According to Games Organizer Eileen Gallagher, including the demolition as part of the opening ceremony shows that Glasgow is "a city that is proud of its history but doesn't stand still, a city that is constantly regenerating, renewing and re-inventing itself."

Could Mobile Technology Help Us Define "Good" Architecture?

Architecture researchers in Edinburgh have completed a breakthrough study on brain activity recorded in situ by using mobile electroencephalography (EEG) technology, which records live neural impressions of subjects moving through a city. Excitingly, this technology could help us define how different urban environments affect us, a discovery that could have provocative implications for architecture. Read the full story on Salon. Also, check out this article from Fast Company about how a similar mobile technology could show us the effects of urban design - not on our brains, but on our bodies. 

Kengo Kuma's V&A at Dundee Granted Planning Permission

After a slight redesign scaled the building’s stone facade back from the waters edge to reduce construction costs, Kengo Kuma & Associates has been granted planning permission from the city council’s development management committee to construct the V&A at Dundee. The “world-class,” competition-winning proposal will be the first V&A museum constructed outside of London, serving as an international center of design for all of Scotland. 

Zaha Hadid Wins European Museum of the Year Award for Riverside

Riverside Museum / ZHA © McAteer Photograph/Alan McAteer
Riverside Museum / ZHA © McAteer Photograph/Alan McAteer

Zaha Hadid ArchitectsRiverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, has won the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) for it’s ability to “demonstrate brilliantly how a specialist transport collection can renew its relevance through active engagement with the wider social and universal issues.” Out of 40 museums from across 21 European countries, the jury agreed unanimously that ZHA’s Riverside Museum fulfilled the EMYA criteria of ‘public quality’ at the highest level. 

Diller Scofidio + Renfro's Aberdeen Garden City Proposal Nixed

After winning the Aberdeen City Garden competition in early 2012, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro's 'Granite Web' design was rejected over the summer in a 22-20 city council vote for being overly expensive. Despite public approval the proposal, which totaled a whopping £140m, was rejected in favor of a collection of more fiscally responsible city projects, such as refurbishing the Aberdeen Art Gallery and redeveloping the site of the St. Nicholas House. 

Just recently, the City of Aberdeen announced a £300m city-wide plan of improving roads, schools and cultural buildings, with only £20m allotted for the city center, which will be pedestrianized but not much else. Thus, confirming the "final nail in the coffin" for DS+R's ambitious web of lush gardens and cultural landmarks. 

Read more after the break...

George Square Redevelopment: Six Firms Shortlisted

Six firms, Agence Ter (France), Burns + Nice (UK), Gustafson Porter (UK), James Corner Field Operations (USA), jmarchitects (UK), and John McAslan & Partners (UK), were recently shortlisted in the project for a major redevelopment of George Square in the heart of Glasgow, Scotland. The 13 statues and monuments that stand in the square are to be moved to other sites in the city while the area is given a makeover ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Planned to submit their plans by the new year, the six designs submitted to Glasgow City Council will be put on public display at the Lighthouse in early January. The design competition winner will then have the prestigious task of redeveloping the square to further enhance Glasgow’s reputation as an international city.

OMA's Maggie's Gartnavel wins 2012 Doolin prize

© Nick Turner
© Nick Turner

The RIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) has announced OMA as the tenth recipient of the prestigious Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for the firm’s “welcoming, light and spacious” design of Maggie’s Gartnavel in Glasgow. Serving as an exemplar for alternative healthcare design, OMA’s single story composition for the cancer care center laces together a series of interlocking rectangular spaces that form around a lush courtyard. Transparent walls of the building’s light-filled interior promenade connect patients directly to nature, as the building accommodates for the complex needs of the facility by providing spaces of interaction, personal privacy, and discrete counseling rooms, along with private nooks and corners. A notable characteristic of Maggie’s Gartnavel is the rich use of materials, from the flush inlaid timber and concrete ceiling to the simplistic concrete exterior and expansive floor-to-ceiling glass walls. OMA generously donated their £25,000 prize to the Maggie’s Cancer Care Center. More images after the break…

V&A at Dundee / Kengo Kuma & Associates

© Kengo Kuma & Associates
© Kengo Kuma & Associates

In November 2010, we announced that Kengo Kuma & Associates was selected over a competitive A-list of international architects to design Scotland’s landmark building, the V&A at Dundee. Well now, the £45 million, waterfront project is moving forward as it has just been approved by the city council! As reported on BDOnline, Philip Long, director of the V&A at Dundee, stated: “This now allows us to move further with elements of the design and building program, including procurement and tendering, and we will be doing that in due course.” Continue after the break to learn more about Kengo Kuma’s design for the museum.

Video: The Lighthouse / Roots Design Workshop

The video above follows Roots Design Workshop, a group of young architects, as they embark on the tall task of constructing a lighthouse on the isle of Tiree, a beautiful remote Scottish island. This film, created by Martin Glegg, highlights the emerging gap between the world of digital design and getting one’s hands dirty and aims to inspire a new generation of architects to stop staring at their computer screens. Text Courtesy of Martin Glegg.

Diller Scofidio & Renfro's 'Granite Web' Not Financially Viable for Aberdeen

Proposed Site – Rendering provided by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro submission boardsImages courtesy of Aberdeen City Garden Project
Proposed Site – Rendering provided by the Diller Scofidio + Renfro submission boardsImages courtesy of Aberdeen City Garden Project

The life of a city-funded project is a tumultuous one. After winning a design competition early this year and receiving public support to move forward, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’sGranite Web” design for the redevelopment of the nineteenth-century Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen, Scotland was recently rejected by the city council in a 22-20 vote.  The project promised to bring a revived pulse to the heart of the city centre with a public space that would bring a year-round civic garden onto the “unattractive” Denburn dual carriageway and railway line. More after the break.

NORD announced as architect for Maggie’s Forth Valley

Maggie’s has proudly announced that the Glasgow architects of NORD have agreed to design the Maggie’s Centre in the grounds of Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert. The principle funder from Walk the Walk is expecting a “beautiful, unique and ground breaking building” from the award winning practice who was established in 2002 and has become known for their distinctive projects that often draw inspiration from social and cultural issues. This news comes shortly after Norman Foster and Steven Holl were announced as the next architects of two new Maggie’s Centers in south Manchester at the Christie Hospital and in London at St. Barts. Director of NORD, Alan Pert said: “This is a fantastic way to celebrate 10 years of NORD and we look forward to working with the amazing team behind this network of centres.  At a recent visit to the Maggies London Headquarters we came across a collection of architectural models of the various centres built over the years including Richard Murphy’s first one from 1996. It is an incredible achievement that so many of these buildings have been realized and to contribute to this vision is a huge privilege.” Continue reading for more.