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RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows Dip in Workload and Staffing Forecasts

The Royal Institute of British Architect (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey results for July 2015 present a note of caution for architecture practices with a fall in both workload and staffing forecasts. However, optimism remains as staffing levels are higher than a year ago. Despite June’s record-high forecast, July 2015 saw a downturn in the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index from +44 to +22. Even so, practices reported an overall increase in workload at an annual rate of 8%, and staffing levels 6% higher than in 2014.

Crowdfunding Campaign Begins for Homeless Shelter Pods

After winning the 6th annual Space for New Visions competition by FAKRO last month, James Furzer of Spatial Design Architects has begun a crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo for his project, “Homes for the Homeless”. The project proposes a series of modular pods which attach to existing buildings, providing a safe space for a night’s rest for the homeless. Extending beyond mere habitation, James Furzer hopes to change the way that the public sees the homeless – of which there are over 750 on any given night in London alone.

Arup Design a 'Sky Pool' Suspended 35 Metres Above London's Nine Elms

A twenty five metre long, ten storey high suspended swimming pool—dubbed the 'Sky Pool'—has been planned for the second phase of a new high-end residential development in the London district of Nine Elms, next to the new Embassy of the United States. The pool is part of two buildings, designed by London-based practice HAL and part of a complex of 2000 homes developed Ireland's Ballymore Group. The water will be held in suspension by just twenty centimetres of "structure free" transparent glass, and will connect two housing blocks together. Alongside a rooftop bar, orangery and spa, a second connection between the two is also planned in the form of a footbridge.

Preston Bus Station: What Does the Winning Proposal Say About Open-Call Competitions?

In 2013, following a number of campaigns, a 1969 Brutalist icon in the northern British city of Preston was listed. The future of this bus terminal—one of the largest in the UK and the biggest in Europe when it originally opened—was, until last month, a matter of considerable speculation and debate. This week the results of an international open-call competition for proposals transforming into a new youth centre were revealed, selecting the proposal of New York based practice John Puttick Associates as 'the best of the lot.' The 'lot', however, left something to be desired.

Rowan Moore on the "Quiet Revolution in British Housing"

In a recent article for The Observer, Rowan Moore discusses what he describes as the "quiet revolution in British housing." In compiling a list of practices and collectives from the recent past and present, he has created a compendium of people and organisations who he believes are creating exemplary dwellings in the UK. Noting that the British housing stock is not necessarily in the best shape (a symptom of the 1970s), Moore ultimately offers an optimistic message tinged with words of caution.

Recently Formed New York Practice Wins Competition to Reimagine Preston Bus Station

Following the announcement in 2013 that Preston Bus Station, a Brutalist icon designed by BDP in 1969, had been Grade II Listed and therefore saved from the threat of demolition, the results of a recent international ideas competition to consider its future as a youth centre have been revealed. John Puttick Associates, based in New York, have beaten competition from Flanagan Lawrence, Letts Wheeler Architects, Sane Architecture, and local practice Cassidy + Ashton with their proposal to meet "the challenge of sensitively introducing contemporary design to the existing setting." Over 4200 people voted for their favourite design at an exhibition held in the bus station itself and through and online mechanism, and "were taken into account by the judges when making their final decision."

99% Invisible Explores Brutalism, From London to Boston

In the latest episode of 99% Invisible, Hard to Love a Brute, Roman Mars and Avery Trufelman take a look at the potted history of the "hulking concrete brutes" of post-war Europe, centring on the UK, and the US east coast. Exploring Ernö Goldfinger's Balfron and Trellick towers, while making a pitstop in Boston, MA, this twenty minute podcast examines why people "love to hate" Brutalism and why, "as harsh as it looks, concrete is an utterly optimistic building material."

Robin Hood Gardens, Once Again, Looks Set to be Demolished

The announcement in 2012 that London's Robin Hood Gardens — Alison and Peter Smithson's world-famous Brutalist housing estate — was set to be demolished was, on the whole, met with outrage among the architectural community. Since that time, many called for the profession to act in order to protect "one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects," which led to a fresh bid to save the scheme in March of this year. Richard Rogers, Simon Smithson (a partner at RSHP and son of Alison and Peter Smithson), and academic Dirk van den Heuvel recently called upon members of the public to voice their concerns to the UK Ministry for Culture, Media and Sport.

In spite of this, it has now been announced that the UK Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch, "is minded to approve the Certificate of Immunity for Robin Hood Gardens" meaning that the decision not to list the residential complex in Tower Hamlets will be upheld, giving a "legal guarantee that the building or buildings named in the certificate will not be considered for listing for five years."  This will be the second certificate of this type to have been issued for this complex. According to Historic England, "a period of 28 days [beginning on the 4th August 2015] is now allowed for review before the certificate is issued."

London's Brutalist British Library Given 'Listed' Status

The British Library in London's St. Pancras is often hailed as the only major public building to be built in Great Britain in the twentieth century. "No other project, since the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral over 400 years ago, took so long to construct or was surrounded by so much controversy." Begun in 1962, completed in 1997, and opened to the public in 1998, the Brutalist building is a world-class a repository of artistic, scholarly and literary treasures. It has now, along with seven other post-war libraries, been given Grade I Listed status for "its soaring and stimulating spaces" which, according to Historic England, have become "much-loved and well-used by scholars and members of the public alike."

2015 London Design Festival to Open in September

The 2015 London Design Festival, an annual event held to celebrate and promote London as "the design capital of the world," will run this year between the 19th and 27th September. As a platform for some of the capital's major trade shows, the city-wide event aims to showcase exhibitors from across the world at a series of 'Design Destinations' — places at which established and emerging designers, manufacturers and brands can present their products and innovations.

SelgasCano in Conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Smiljan Radić and Sou Fujimoto

Last month, as part of their Park Nights event series, COS assembled Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano (SelgasCano) at their new pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park to discuss the concepts behind their design and the history of the Pavilion Commission with Serpentine directors Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. They were joined by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić, designer of the 2014 pavilion, and Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, designer of 2013's, in an hour long conversation moderated by Sarah Ichioka. 

OMA Selected to Design Sport and Sciences Building for Brighton College

OMA has been selected to design a new building for Brighton College that will host its sport and science departments. Their design combines the two departments into one linear building that runs along the edge of the playing field.

The sport facilities are housed on the same level as the field, while the science department stretches over the top “like a skeletal bridge.” Views between the two departments are offered on the inside creating “lively and animated circulation throughout the new building.” The façade is inspired by the terrace housing that runs opposite the building.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reaches "All Time High"

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for June 2015 shows "an all-time high," with the workload index ascending to +44 compared to +37 last month. All nations and regions within the United Kingdom returned positive balance figures, with practices in the Midlands and East Anglia responding most confidently about workloads in the next quarter. Following a slight fall last month, the private housing sector workload forecast increased to +39 (from +34), while the public sector saw a modest increase back into positive figures. Workload forecast balance figures have remained extremely high. The survey reports that large-sized practices continue to be the most optimistic about growth, while small and medium-sized practices "remain in strongly positive territory."

These Detachable Pods Aim to Provide Shelter for Britain’s Homeless

The 6th annual “Space for New Visions” competition has announced its winner: a project entitled “Homes for the Homeless,” by James Furzer of Spatial Design Architects. Hosted by FAKRO, a global manufacturer of roof windows and loft ladders, and A10 Magazine for European Architecture, the competition sought proposals that incorporated FAKRO products. With entries from around the world, projects were judged based on user comfort, environmental impact, functionality and natural light, among other things. Read about the winning entry after the break.

Alain de Botton: "London is Becoming a Bad Version of Dubai"

"London is on the verge of being ruined for all future generations," says Alain de Botton – a Swiss philosopher, notable author and founder of The School of Life and Living Architecture. "With a whopping 260 towers in the pipeline no area is safe, as planners, property developers and the mayor's office commit crimes against beauty to create fun buildings." In a film for The Guardian De Botton explains why he believes we're right to be nervous – and how we can stop this "clear desecration" of the UK's capital city.

RIBA Announces 2015 Stirling Prize Shortlist

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have revealed the six projects that will compete for the 2015 Stirling Prize, the award for the building which has made the greatest contribution to British architecture over the past year. Following a rigourous system of regional awards (all of which you can see on ArchDaily), the shortlist has been picked from a handful of nationally award-winning projects.

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, having previously won the prize in 2006 for the Barajas Airport in Madrid and in 2009 for the Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, has been nominated four times before. They are joined by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), Niall McLaughlin Architects, and Heneghan Peng Architects, who have each made the shortlist before. This is the first year that McInnes Usher McKnight Architects (MUMA) and Reiach and Hall Architects have been shortlisted. The winning project will be announced on the 15th October 2015 at a ceremony in London.

See this year's full shortlist and read extracts from the judges' citations after the break.

NEO Bankside, SE1 (London) / Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Image © Edmund Sumner University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building, SE10 (London) / Heneghan Peng. Image © Hufton + Crow University of Greenwich Stockwell Street Building, SE10 (London) / Heneghan Peng. Image © Hufton + Crow Maggie’s Lanarkshire / Reiach and Hall Architects. Image © David Grandorge

How Popular Could "Anti-Builder" and "Anti-Architect" Homes Become?

The UK is in the midst of a housing crisis, the intricacies of which were detailed by Rowan Moore earlier this year. For decades the typical British housing stock has been of relatively poor quality, proliferated by developer-led consortiums and characterised by ruthless cost-efficiency for maximum profit. From this formula comes nothing but a monotony of off-the-shelf constructions which have, over time, become a national benchmark. These houses – often built of brick, boxy in form, and using as little space in the facade for openings – are commonly dark, spatially inadequate, and far below the standards that should be being aimed for. It’s like living in a well-appointed cave.

'The Future Will Just Have to Wait': London's 10,000 Year Masterplan

Alice Theodorou, a graduating masters student from London's Royal College of Art, has developed a project which attempts to combat the challenges that London is set to face over the next 10,000 years. Her scheme factors in projections for population growth and then decline, rising sea levels, stricter energy targets, material depletion, future space exploration and, most interestingly, language obsolescence.

The Depletion of World Lead Resources, 2049. Image © Alice Theodorou  The Depletion of World Sand Resources, 2200. Image © Alice Theodorou © Alice Theodorou World Surface Temperature Rises by 4 Degrees, 3000. Image © Alice Theodorou