RIBA Announces 2014 National Award Winners

King’s Cross Station / John McAslan + Partners. Image © Hufton+Crow

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the 44 buildings in the UK and 12 EU projects to win 2014 RIBA National . The list includes instantly recognizable projects such as The Shard by Renzo Piano and Mecanoo‘s Library of Birmingham, but also rewards plenty of well-crafted smaller projects, for example Lens House by Alison Brooks Architects.

From this list of National winners, the RIBA will select the shortlist for the RIBA Stirling Prize, which will be revealed next month. See the full list of winners after the break.

UK Architecture Unemployment Falls to Pre-Crash Levels

© Rene de Wit

The number of unemployed architects in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since before the financial crisis, according to the Office of National Statistics. This is based on the number of architects claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, which fell to just 310 in May, a figure that has almost halved since May 2013 when 615 architects were claiming.

These statistics are backed up by observations revealed by the RIBA Future Trends Survey for May, released later this month, which reportedly shows a 10% increase in workload among UK practices.

More on the recovery of UK architecture after the break

Sam Jacob & Wouter Vanstiphout on Curating “A Clockwork Jerusalem”

The Mound. Image © James Taylor-Foster

The British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale takes the large scale projects of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s and explores the “mature flowering of British Modernism at the moment it was at its most socially, politically and architecturally ambitious but also the moment that witnessed its collapse.” The exhibition tells the story of how British modernity emerged out of an unlikely combination of interests and how “these modern visions continue to create our physical and imaginative landscapes.” To those who know the UK‘s architectural heritage, this cultural and social history is delivered in a way which feels strangely familiar, whilst uncovering fascinating hidden histories of British modernity that continue to resonate in the 21st century.

We caught up with Sam Jacob, co-founder of FAT Architecture (of which this exhibition is their final project), and Wouter Vanstiphout, partner at Rotterdam-based Crimson Architectural Historians, outside the British Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind, and significance of, A Clockwork Jerusalem.

© James Taylor-Foster

Exhibition / Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane

© Foundation

This summer, the art, architecture and design of Finland will be celebrated in London. Reason & Intuition – Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane is a new exhibition bringing together the finest works of an acknowledged great of international modernist architecture and design and three collections of images by an acclaimed Finnish photographer.

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was a central figure in international modernism. His sculptural, and highly functional, furniture produced in the 1930s remains influential and very popular.

Reason & Intuition will feature around forty Aalto creations, including chairs, tables, lights, glassware and textiles, as well as rarer pieces, such as a collection of original designs and plans for some of Aalto’s 500 buildings and glassware designed by his first wife and collaborator, Aino.

Title: Exhibition / Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & in Soane
Website: http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200893/pm_gallery_and_house/686/exhibitions/2
From: Fri, 04 Jul 2014
Until: Sun, 24 Aug 2014 
Venue: PM Gallery & House
Address: London, UK

Joseph Rykwert and Stanton Williams Included in Queen’s Birthday Honours

. Image © Pawel MazurI CC Krakow

Architecture critic Joseph Rykwert has been rewarded for his services to criticism by the Queen, receiving a CBE in this year’s birthday honours list. The honour continues a good year for Rykwert, after being awarded the RIBA Gold Medal in September. Also included on the birthday honours list were Alan Stanton and Paul Williams, founders of the 2012 Stirling Prize-winning Stanton Williams, who each received an OBE.

Pop Up Studio Explores Participation Design at London Festival of Architecture

Courtesy of Cloud Architecture

As part of the London Festival of Architecture, Cloud Architecture is conducting a participation-based research and design project from a pop up studio in Old Spitalfields Market in central London. Running until June 20th, the project aims to engage visitors to the market with the ideas and process of architectural design studios, which members of the public rarely get to experience first-hand.

At the same time, visitors to the studio will be encouraged to take part in a project to redesign the Old Spitalfields Market, based on data collected on site and the participatory input and opinions of those who use it.

Read on after the break for more on the studio and some of the results from the first week of research

London Skyline Debate Taken to City Hall

The Norman Foster-designed London City Hall with the Shard in the background. Image © Flickr CC User alh1

The debate over the future of London‘s Skyline stepped up a gear on Tuesday, as the issue was taken up by the London Assembly’s Planning Committee in City Hall. The London Assembly is an elected watchdog which is tasked with examining the decisions and actions of London’s mayor, and is expected to apply pressure to mayor Boris Johnson over the issue of in the capital.

The committee heard from leading architectural figures in London including former RIBA president Sunand Prasad (of Penoyre & Prasad), English Heritage planning and conservation director for London Nigel Barker and former City planning officer Peter Rees.

More on the London Assembly debate after the break

“Live Work Play”: An Exhibition of Local Award Winning Architecture from South England

Courtesy of

Live Work Play, an exhibition organised as part of the Hampshire Festival of Architecture 2014 (UK), showcases over 100 projects from “within the country, the UK, and beyond.” Featuring a range of “thoughtful, robust, elegant and ingenious designs”, the show will include designs from local practices such as PAD Studio, Design Engine, AR Design Studio, Design ACB and John Pardey Architects. The exhibition will be open seven days a week between the 14th June and the 16th July. Find out more from RIBA Hampshire.

David Chipperfield Picked to Remodel Selfridges’ London Store

© Flickr CC User Jennifer Martinez

David Chipperfield has been selected by Selfridges to remodel their flagship London store, creating a new 4,600 square metre accessories department and creating a new entrance to the Eastern side of the building. The additions by Chipperfield are part of the store’s larger 5-year, £300 million project which also includes work by Gensler to better connect the original 1909 building by Daniel Burnham with the later addition behind.

Chipperfield’s addition will aim to improve the store’s presence on Duke Street, which will act as a secondary entrance to the building’s primary public face on Oxford Street, with the new accessories department planned to open in 2016.

London’s Shell Centre Awarded Planning Permission

Courtesy of The Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar Groups

The £1.2 billion Shell Centre development in London, masterplanned by Squire & Partners, has been awarded planning permission after being called in for review by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. Featuring 8 towers of up to 37 storeys which will sit alongside the existing 27-storey Shell Tower, the scheme was granted permission by the local council last year but was called in for review over fears that it could threaten the UNESCO Heritage status of the area around Westminster.

However, despite being awarded planning once again, opponents of the scheme have said they will continue to fight it, and have threatened to mount a judicial review of the scheme.

Read on after the break for more on the controversy

5 Concepts for Garden Cities Shortlisted for the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize

Aerial view of Shelter’s Masterplan for the Hoo Valley. Image Courtesy of Wolfson Economics Prize

The shortlist for the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize has been announced, rewarding five teams who rose to the challenge to design new garden cities which address the UK‘s growing housing shortage. The topic of is becoming a major focus for the ’s planners and architects, with proposals by the government for a new garden town of 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet providing the starting point for debate.

However despite the debate within the built environment professions, with some arguing that garden cities are best left in the past, a survey commissioned by the Wolfson Economics Prize in conjunction with the award found that 72% of the British public believed there was a serious shortage of housing in the UK, and 70% believed that garden cities were a better way of delivering this housing compared to how – and where – housing is currently delivered. The five shortlisted teams will receive £10,000 to further develop their proposals and aim for the grand prize of £250,000.

Read on after the break for the list of proposals

Does London’s Planning System Lack Civic Representation?

London’s skyline is set to be dramatically altered by tall buildings in the near future. Image Courtesy of CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

A debate organized by New London Architecture (NLA) has revealed a strong need for civic societies in London which protect the interests of the public in planning decisions, offering New York as a potential model. The debate, which was one of the headline events at the London Festival of Architecture, was organized in response to a study which showed over 200 tall buildings were currently in the pipeline for the UK’s capital, which sparked fears that the current planning system was not fit for the purpose of controlling development in the city.

More on the debate after the break

The UK 2015 Top 10 Schools of Architecture

Cambridge University came in 1st in this year’s rankings. Image © Flickr CC User Mark Fosh

The Guardian has released its annual UK University rankings, including their list of the top schools of architecture in the country. This year Cambridge University has taken first place, knocking off UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture after three consecutive years in the top spot.

This year there are two new entries into the top 10, with Queen’s University Belfast and Northumbria University bagging 5th and 6th respectively, replacing Oxford Brookes and Kent, who drop to 12th and 14th. Elsewhere, the Glasgow School of Art had a disappointing result dropping to 43rd, and the University of Greenwich has reacted positively to their last-place position from last year by rising to 21st.

Read on for more analysis and the top 10 in full

2014 London Festival of Architecture Explores the Theme of “Capital”

The 2014 London Festival of Architecture opened this week, with over 200 running throughout the city in the month of June. This year’s theme is “Capital”, an intentionally ambiguous theme which allows an exploration of the culture, people, economy and built environment of London. Some of the key topics to be interrogated will be the housing crisis afflicting London and the recent boom in the construction of tall buildings.

Read on after the break for more on the festival and some of its headline events

How Will Architecture Respond to a “Boom” in UK University Spending?

Courtesy of University of Manchester

With the recent news that Dutch practice Mecanoo, along with Penoyre & Prasad, have been selected for a £200 million new engineering campus at the University of ManchesterAmanda Baillieu of BDOnline argues that they ”need to set their ambitions a whole lot higher.” Alongside’s Manchester’s announcement, universities in Sheffield, and Oxford also recently announced a big investment in their campuses. The trick, Baillieu suggests, will be in ensuring the architecture is not “safe and office-like” (which fits universities’ “business-like” mindset). As we enter a “golden age” in university capital investment, educational architecture will be playing a central role. Read the article in full here.

Glasgow School of Art Begins to Pick Up the Pieces

The wreckage of the School of Art Library. Image © Scottish Fire and Rescue via BBC

After the tragic fire that tore through Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s Glasgow School of Art last week, thoughts have now turned to the future of the building and the process of restoration. It seems that many people in the profession are in favour of a faithful restoration: John McAslan, who has previously worked on restoring one of Mackintosh’s buildings in Northampton, saying that “it is not the time and place to interpret Mackintosh”, and former GSA student and ex-director of FAT Sam Jacob commenting that the building “hadn’t been turned into a museum piece” and therefore “a faithful restoration is exactly the right thing to do.”

Though there has been one dissenting voice from George Cairns, a professor at Melbourne‘s RMIT who completed his PhD thesis on the building in 1992 and believes that a faithful restoration is impossible. In any case, this is what the Glasgow School of Art has resolved to do, and they have received a number of offers of help. Read on after the break to find out what’s being done, and what you can do to help, after the break.

Norman Foster Reasserts Belief in Thames Estuary Airport

Courtesy of

In response to the UK Airports Commission’s call for evidence, Foster + Partners has released a detailed feasibility study supporting their plans for a new airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary. Their plan proposes a four-runway built on a 35 square kilometre platform constructed partially in the mouth of the Thames. The scheme is popularly called “Boris Island” thanks to its most prominent supporter, Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Norman Foster said “Since the Airports Commission submission a year ago, the need for increased airport capacity has become even more urgent. It is time to get serious about the issue of airport capacity. Britain needs an effective long-term solution, not the usual short-term fix that is Heathrow’s proposed third runway. London today needs to follow in the footsteps of its nineteenth-century forebears and invest boldly in infrastructure. Only long-term thinking will properly serve the demands of our future generations.”

Read on for a breakdown of the information contained in the report

Fire Breaks Out at Glasgow School of Art

UPDATE: The Media Centre reports ”With the incident under control indications are the firefighters’ efforts have ensured more than 90 per cent of the structure is viable and protected up to 70 per cent of the contents – including many students’ work.”

A serious fire has broken out at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 masterpiece. The extent of the damage is unclear at the moment, but BBC News is reporting that the fire is believed to have started in the basement, and has spread to the upper floors, where it is breaking windows and smoke is billowing from the building. Images, reactions and updates from twitter after the break.