Venturi Scott-Brown’s National Gallery Sainsbury Wing extension (1991) was born into a precarious no-man’s land between the warring camps of neo-Modernists and traditionalists who had been tussling over the direction of Britain’s cities for much of the prior decade. The site of the extension had come to be one of the most symbolic battlefields in British architecture since a campaign to halt its redevelopment with a Hi-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek had led to that project’s refusal at planning in 1984.
Following the news in 2015 that Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens was committed to demolition, Stirling-Prize winning practice Haworth Tompkins have been selected to work on the buildings' replacement. Alongside Metropolitan Workshop Architects existing master plan—entitled the Blackwall Reach Regeneration Project—the second phase of the regeneration will see the west block razed to make way for approximately 200 homes. The east wing will not be demolished until the third phase of the regeneration begins.
A new type of greenery has arrived in central London. Placed along the western façade of Westminster City Hall (known as Kingsgate Walk), a sprawling concrete frieze in relief depicts shimmering nocturnal birch trees photographed in forests from Beijing to London. Created using emerging technology, the relief was rendered through the concrete casting of a photograph by artist Rut Blees Luxemburg, a photographic artist and a reader in Urban Aesthetics at London's Royal College of Art. The textured surface of the frieze changes according to ambient light, creating a perplexing effect in the image from day to night.
Realized through a unique collaboration between artist Blees Luxemburg, London-based Lynch Architects and developer Land Securities as a part of Kingsgate, Silver Forest completes the major urban regeneration project for London Victoria in its new home in a public square adjacent to Westminster City Hall.
Find out more about the interdisciplinary partnership formed for Silver Forest after the break.
Join ASF-UK for a one day symposium to explore how built environment practitioners can respond to emerging global challenges in cities. With highly interactive sessions throughout the day, we will test and discuss different skills, approaches and knowledge that can ‘challenge practice’ in order to design in uncertain global times. The day will be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge of working in this sector, to network with others in this field and a chance to discover ways in which to engage with ASF-UK. The event will end with a reflection by practitioners involved in innovative forms of practice in the UK and around the world.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for December 2015 showed a dip in UK architects’ confidence, reflecting the low number of new inquiries received by practices at the end of the year. The Future Trends workload index dropped substantially to +15 in December from +27 in November, showing a decrease in expected new projects. However, all regions in the UK, with the exception of Wales and the West (balance figure -3) and Scotland (balance figure -50), showed positive balance figures, with Scotland’s low numbers possibly related to the impact of oil price changes. The South of England was the most optimistic region with a balance figure of +30.
Zaha Hadid, who was named as the the first sole woman to be awarded the UK's highest honour for architects in her own right in 2015, received the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2016 Royal Gold Medal at a ceremony in London yesterday. Hadid, who was appointed a Dame of the British Empire in 2012, received the Pritzker Prize in 2004. Her practice also took both the 2010 and 2011 RIBA Stirling Prizes.
Stuttgart experimental architect Achim Menges has been commissioned to kickstart the V&A's first ever Engineering Season with a site specific, nature-inspired installation fabricated by robots. Complemented by Ove Arup's first major retrospective, Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design, the Elytra Filament Pavilion will be Menges' first public commission in the UK. He will work with Moritz Dörstelmann, structural engineer Jan Knippers and climate engineer Thomas Auer to complete the project.
"Elytra Filament Pavilion will explore the impact of emerging robotic technologies on architectural design, engineering and making," says the V&A. "Inspired by a lightweight construction principle found in nature, the fibrous structures of the forewing shells of flying beetles known as elytra, the Pavilion will be an undulating canopy of tightly-woven carbon fibre cells created using a novel robotic production process."
In his essay "Figures, Doors and Passages", the architectural historian Robin Evans described how "it is difficult to see in the conventional layout of a contemporary house anything but the crystallization of cold reason. Because of this," he asserted, "we are easily led into thinking that a commodity so transparently unexceptional must have been wrought directly from the stuff of basic human needs." His words, which highlight the passive approach of designers, developers and dwellers when it comes to the vast majority of British housing being built today, were first published in 1978 – two years before the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher introduced the 1980 Housing Act.
The Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA), a joint-venture between Harvard University (US), the University of Oxford (UK) and Dubai’s Museum of the Future (UAE) have announced that they will replicate a structure of architectural significance that was destroyed earlier this year by IS, or 'Islamic State', at full scale in the centre of London and New York City. The arch—all that remains of the Temple of Bel at the Syrian UNESCO World Heritage site—was captured by militants in May and destroyed. By no means an isolated case, IS have looted and demolished a number of similar architectural and anthropologically important sites that "pre-date Islam in Iraq," condemning them as "symbols of idolatry."
British filmmaker Joe Gilbert has created a short tribute film to Alison and Peter Smithson's Robin Hood Gardens estate in Poplar, East London, which—as of August 2015—is set to be demolished. Accompanied by insightful commentary from Timothy Brittain-Catlin, the film charts the buildings' history and recent threats to a backdrop of monochrome shots of the estate, in all of its dilapidated and "pleasantly wild" current state. The 'Streets in the Sky', made famous by the Smithsons and both widely praised and criticised as a response to the collapse of low-density terrace housing, are one of the focuses of the film.
Robert Mull, former Dean of London Metropolitan University's Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design—also known as 'The Cass'—has resigned over a dispute about proposed relocation plans for the school's campus in Aldgate, East London. As reported in The Independent, campaigners argue that the move, which was first announced in October 2015 by the university's Vice Chancellor John Raftery, would cause courses and jobs to be unnecessarily cut. The university's vision, named 'One Campus, One Community', aims to invest £125million ($185million) to create "a new, single campus in Islington, north London, bringing all of the [university's] faculties together on one site for the first time in the institution’s 170-year history."
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."
View the three projects after the break.
London-based practice Sam Jacob Studio, led by a former partner of FAT, have installed a 1:1 replica of a standing sarsen stone from the Avebury stone circle in the centre of the British New Town of Milton Keynes. The 'MK Menhir', situated on a Porte Cochère on the city's Midsummer Boulevard, has been (CNC) milled from hard-coated foam using data from a 3D scan of the original stone. It has been given an iridescent tint using techniques similar to those used to spray paint a car.
London-based practice Studio Egret West have developed designs for future London Underground stations which centre on a holistic approach to infrastructure design. The so-called 'Station Design Idiom' is, according to the designers, "deliberately wide-ranging." As a manifesto, it "covers small interventions, like repainting, through to full station refurbishments and new builds" and "complements existing London Underground standards and guidance and is the first port of call for all design decision-making on the network."
Assemble, a London-based collective who "work across the fields of art, design and architecture to create projects in tandem with the communities who use and inhabit them," have been announced as the winners of the 2015 Turner Prize – Europe’s most prestigious contemporary visual art award. Their nomination was a surprise to many, not least because an architect (or architecture collective, in this case) has not been shortlisted before. Previous winners—some of whose work has intersected with the world of architecture—include Gilbert & George, Anish Kapoor (known for the Orbit at the 2012 London Olympic Games), Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Gillian Wearing and Grayson Perry (a collaborator on FAT's final built work).
London-based Eric Parry Architects have unveiled a design proposal for a 73-storey office tower in the heart of London's financial district. Named '1 Undershaft', after its street address, the building will be one of the tallest in the city (standing at 294.6m) competing only with Piano's Shard (306m). Having been commissioned by Aroland Holdings (Singapore), the tower will contain 90,000sqm of internal space and feature "a new public square at its base" and "the capital's tallest free public viewing gallery at the top," according to Parry. It will stand in place of the existing 'Aviva Tower'.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced the President’s Medals Student Awards at a special event yesterday in London. The awards, recognised as the world’s most prestigious in architectural education, were inaugurated in 1836 (making them, including the RIBA Gold Medal, the institute's oldest award). Three medals in particular – the Bronze for a Part I student (Bachelor level), the Silver for a Part II student (Master level), and the Dissertation Medal – are awarded to “promote excellence in the study of architecture [and] to reward talent and to encourage architectural debate worldwide.” In addition to these, the winners of the Serjeant Award for Excellence in Drawing and the inaugural RIBA Research Medal alongside a rostra of commendations have also been announced.
See the winning projects and a full list of commendations after the break.
The six concept designs for the Tintagel Castle footbridge, the practices behind which were announced earlier this year, have now been revealed. With a shortlist featuring design consortiums led, among others, by WilkinsonEyre and Niall McLaughlin Architects, the proposals all respond to English Heritage's ambition for "a bridge that is of its place, [...] that, with its structural elegance and beauty, is in harmony with its extraordinary setting and landscape."