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The Architectural Monograph is Here to Stay

The monograph is a popular platform for dissemination and debate in the art and design world, yet architectural monographs are often treated with suspicion – viewed more as a self-serving PR exercise. But do monographs actually have a more substantive role within the practice of architecture? This was the backdrop for a discussion entitled ‘Why a Monograph?’ held at Waterstones Piccadilly as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. The participants included Jay Merrick, architecture correspondent of The Independent; Simon Henley of Henley Halebrown Rorrison (HHbR); David Grandorge, architectural photographer and Senior Lecturer at London’s CASS; and Ros Diamond of Diamond Architects. The session was chaired by ArchDaily Editor James Taylor-Foster.

Thomas Heatherwick on People, Plants, Buses and Buildings

In an exclusive hour-long interview with British designer Thomas Heatherwick, Monocle's Andrew Tuck discusses building a business in the world of design and architecture, the process behind revamping the iconic red London bus, and the inspiration behind placing people – and plants – at the heart of the River Thames. Heatherwick leads London-based Heatherwick Studio, a multidisciplinary design practice who have recently completed a distillery in England and a learning hub in central Singapore, They are currently collaborating with BIG on the new Google Campus in San Francisco having been recently labelled as among the top ten most innovative architectural practices of 2015 by FastCompany.

Listen to the interview in full below:

Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist' Reports from the 2015 Congress of the Academy of Urbanism

For this edition of The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities," the team visited the annual congress of the Academy of Urbanism to discuss how happiness and wellbeing can be achieved on the urban level. In this show Andrew Tuck and his correspondents spoke to architects, planners, designers and urbanists in an attempt to ascertain what makes a 'social city' for 'social animals', and which metropolises from around the world offer lessons that we can learn from.

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

Steven Holl Breaks Ground on Maggie's Centre Barts in London

Steven Holl Architects (SHA) has broken ground on London's newest Maggie's Centre across from the large courtyard of St. Bartholomew’s (Barts) Hospital, the city's oldest hospital. The structure, a branching concrete frame lined with perforated bamboo and matte white glass, was inspired by its historic site, which also neighbors the St. Bartholomew the Great Church. It was envisioned as a "vessel within a vessel within a vessel" embellished with colored glass fragments that recall "neume notation" of Medieval music in the 13th century. 

"The word neume originates from the Greek pnevma, which means 'vital force.' It suggests a 'breath of life' that fills oneself with inspiration like a stream of air, the blowing of the wind. The outer glass layer is organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff while the concrete structure branches like the hand," describes SHA.

A video of Steven Holl detailing the center's design, after the break.

Thomas Heatherwick Unveils Design for Maggie's Centre in Leeds

Maggie's, the UK charity famed for its cancer care centers designed by world-renowned architects, has released a proposal for a new building designed by Heatherwick Studio. The new center is planned to be built on the grounds of the St James' University Hospital in Leeds, and was submitted for planning permission this morning.

The design consists of a series of stepped "planters" which aim to harness the therapeutic effect of plants for the benefit of the center's users. The building's public and private interior spaces are woven both in between these elements, and into the interior space of the planters themselves.

Foster + Partners Declared Largest Practice In The UK

The Architects' Journal (AJ) have revealed the results of their fourth AJ120 award, an annual survey which ranks the largest and wealthiest practices based in the UK. Partially calculated on the number of ARB-registered (or equivalent) fully qualified architects in employment, the AJ have announced that London based Foster + Partners have topped the 2015 table. Describing the 48 year old practice as an "international powerhouse," employing 312 architects (out of their 1,066 employees worldwide), the survey also shows that "the £185million fees billed by the practice’s architects – up a huge £45 million from last year – made up 38% of the combined total of all of the companies in the Top 10." The survey saw BDP ranked second, while AHMM came in third.

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."

Ooze Architects Unveil A Natural Bathing Pond In London's King's Cross

A new pool has just opened in the heart of London's King's Cross. In the centre of one of the city's largest mixed-use development projects Ooze Architects, in collaboration with artist Marjetica Potrc, have developed and realised "the UK's first man-made fresh water public bathing pond" as a piece of and art. The oblong pool is forty metres long, built two metres above ground level, and is surrounded by "pioneer plants, wild flowers grasses, and bushes so that the environment evolves as the seasons change." It will be purified through "a natural closed-loop process, using wetland and submerged water plants to filter and sustain clean and clear water."

Hall McKnight To Open A Temporary Pavilion In London's King's Cross

Belfast-based Hall McKnight are set to open a pop-up pavilion in London's King's Cross as part of the 2015 London Festival of Architecture. Located in Cubitt Square, the project forms part of the New Horizon’s initiative, supported by the Irish Architecture Foundation and ID15 (the year of Irish Design 2015). The structure, built from a collection of cut boards, "explores how the phenomenon of the city is assembled from individual pieces." The interior spaces will feature an installation of bricks reclaimed from a street of row houses in Belfast.

London's Soane's Museum Unveil A Series Of New Spaces

In an article for The Observer, Rowan Moore dives into a set of newly recreated rooms in London's Soane's Museum, a gallery dedicated to Sir John Soane's collection of architectural curiosities set within his eccentric former home. The experience, according to Moore, "of an internal world of unknown boundaries" has just become more extensive. Visitors will now be afforded the opportunity to visit a series of private spaces that give "a view into Soane’s bizarre mind," following extensive restoration work led by Julian Harrap.

Allies and Morrison and O’Donnell + Tuomey Chosen to Design London's Olympicopolis

Allies and Morrison, together with O’Donnell + Tuomey and Josep Camps/Olga Felip Arquitecturia, has been chosen ahead of David ChipperfieldFeilden Clegg Bradley Studios and three other teams to design London's Olympicopolis culture and education quarter. The major commission, which will be sited at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park along the Stratford waterfront, will include new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sadler’s Wells, the London College of Fashion, and potentially the Smithsonian Institute's first permanent museum outside the US

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."

Stay In Airbnb's Floating Cottage On London's River Thames

Have you ever dreamed of dozing off as you sail along one of the UK's busiest water highways in an eclectic bright blue cottage replete with a lawn, wisteria over the door and an apple tree? For five days and nights, between the 18th and 23rd May, this dream will come to life in the shape of Nick and Steve Tidball's floating residence for Airbnb.

Courtesy of Airbnb Wisteria hangs over the bright red front door. Image Courtesy of Airbnb Interior decoration is fresh and friendly. Image Courtesy of Airbnb Steer your way along the River Thames with all the comforts of home. Image Courtesy of Airbnb

Chipperfield Unveils Plans To Reimagine London's Royal Academy of Arts

David Chipperfield Architects have revealed plans to connect the two Grade II*-listed London bases of London's Royal Academy of Arts - the 17th century Burlington House and the 19th century 6 Burlington Gardens - as part of a £50million ($80million) masterplan of "subtle interventions." According to the Architects' Journal, the two structures will be linked by a concrete bridge which will span fifteen metres across a service area and courtyard, and will see the creation of a number of new exhibition spaces, a lecture theatre, and a new space for the Royal Academy's world-renowned schools of art and architecture. A series of roof extensions and terraces will allow for new views over central London.

Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects © David Chipperfield Architects / Squint/Opera Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects

London Collective Assemble Shortlisted For The Turner Prize

Assemble, a collective of artists, designers and architects based in London, have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize - the UK's foremost annual award for British visual artists. Much to the delight and surprise of members of the profession, this young collaborative team are the first spatial designers to be recognised by this prize in its three decade history, leading Sam Jacob to assert that they "represent something different: a validation of the belief that there are other ways of doing things." The four nominees for the award also include London artist Bonnie Camplin and German-born Nicole Wermers.

London's V&A Appoints New Director Of Design & Exhibitions

London's Victoria & Albert Museum have announced that David Bickle, formerly a partner at Hawkins\Brown, has been appointed as the new Director of Design, Exhibitions and FuturePlan. In this role Bickle will be responsible for the care and future development of the V&A’s buildings, as well as the presentation of all of the museum’s permanent collections and exhibitions. With the construction of Amanda Levete Architects' new addition on Exhibition Road underway - coupled with the V&A's plans for new exhibition spaces in Dundee, Scotland, and in East Stratford on the former site of the 2012 London Olympic Games - the museum is also in the process of helping to establishing a collection in Shenzhen.

'The Listeners Project' Create Four Short Films In London's Former BBC Television Centre

The Listeners Project, a small London-based initiative that works with young filmmakers in unique architectural spaces to develop and create short films, have taken residence in the former BBC Television Centre. The building, designed by Graham Dawbarn of Norman & Dawbarn in the late 1940s, has an iconic plan that resembles a question mark. The centre, which was once the beating heart of the majority of the British Broadcasting Company's television production, was listed in 2009 before it was finally vacated in 2013.