On the 29th December, 1940, at the height of the Second World War, an air raid by the Luftwaffe razed a 35-acre site in the heart of the City of London to the ground. The site was known as the Barbican (a Middle English word meaning fortification), so-called for the Roman wall which once stood in the area. Following the war, the City of London Corporation—the municipal governing body for the area—started to explore possibilities to bring this historic site into the twentieth century.
In this interview, presented in collaboration with PLANE—SITE, Jack Self—co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale—reveals how the frontline of architecture in Britain today is not just a housing crisis, but "a crisis of the home." In provocatively presenting "the banal," Self reveals why the British participation at the 2016 Venice Biennale proposes five new models for domestic life, each curated through time of domestic occupancy, alongside how it seeks to address the ways in which we might live in the future.
Update: On June 24, 2016, 52% of eligible voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This article was published prior to the referendum announcement.
In 2003 George Steiner—a Paris-born, American, UK-based literary critic, philosopher and essayist—gave a lecture in Tilburg, a small Dutch city on the Belgian border. His talk, which he titled “The Idea of Europe,” made some waves in certain circles but, ultimately, wasn't widely discussed. Years later I found a copy of the transcript in Amsterdam’s Athenaeum, who had tucked it in the corner of a sunken room on a shelf devoted to "Brexit." I read it the following day while on a train to Brussels.
As I trundled across the Flemish hinterland Steiner’s words, delivered with judicious insight and a reassuring cautionary edge, served as a reminder of one irrevocable fact: that Europe is a continent “of linguistic, cultural, [and] social diversity;” a “mosaic” of communities that have never been united with the same scale and ambition as that of the European Union. But before the contemporary Euro-project, came European café culture.
At 6:20pm on the evening of October 16, 1834, a fire began in the old Palace of Westminster in London – the foremost seat of parliamentary governance for both the United Kingdom and the British Empire across the seas. The inferno, which burned until the early hours of the morning, destroyed so much of the medieval complex that neither restoration nor preservation were considered viable options – a new palace would have to rise from the ashes to surround the largely undamaged Westminster Hall. The fire gave the United Kingdom a chance not only to replace what was considered as an outdated, patchwork of government buildings, but to erect a Gothic Revival landmark to spiritually embody the pre-eminence of the United Kingdom across the world, and the roots of modern democracy.
For centuries, faith has been a source of immeasurable blessings as well as uncountable catastrophes. People, no matter how different, have always felt protected under the aegis of a common belief and united to accomplish the unthinkable. But its fruitful potentials are only equal to its destructive dangers. Faith can be the most untameable of fires, and with the promise for righteousness or virtue it can tear families apart, close down borders, promote genocide, foster war.
Wolfgang Buttress’ The Hive, a Gold Medal-winning UK Pavilion originally built for the 2015 Milan Expo, has been relocated to the Kew botanical gardens in central London. The striking (and photogenic) "beehive" was designed by the British practice to provide visitors with a glimpse into the life of a working bee; its 169,300 individual aluminium components—reaching 17-meters tall and fitted with hundreds of LED lights—created a multi-sensory experience that shed light on the importance of the pollinator. Following its relocation, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has turned his lens to this installation and its new home.
"There is Much More at Stake Than Simply Being In or Out" – Rem Koolhaas Speaks Out Over a Potential EU 'Brexit'
In a recent interview with the BBC, Rem Koolhaas (OMA) has spoken out against the campaign seeking to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, upon which the British people will vote in a referendum next week. Reflecting on his time spent at London's Architectural Association (AA) in the 1960s and '70s, Koolhaas fears that advocates for withdrawal may be looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.
If you look at the arguments to leave you can see this is a movement of people who want to fundamentally change England back into the way it supposedly was before.
Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge project has been under fire since plans were announced in 2013, drawing skepticism of the fairness of the competition process, and even being called “nothing but a wasteful blight.” Last month, London's new mayor Sadiq Khan gave a lukewarm endorsement of the project, noting that since £37.7m of the £60m allocated by the government has already been spent, scrapping the project now would end up costing taxpayers more than going forward with it.
The current predicament has inspired architects Allies and Morrison to design an alternative option – one that could both save the taxpayers money and create a new greenway spanning the Thames. Many of the complaints directed toward the original design have been associated with the cost of building a new bridge that would serve limited transportation needs; Allies and Morrison eliminate this issue by simply placing a garden pathway onto an existing piece of infrastructure, the nearby Blackfriars Bridge.
After weeks of movement testing, the British Airways i360 observation pod has achieved its maximum height of 138 meters as the attraction enters final inspection phases in preparation for its opening this summer. As a part of “the world’s tallest moving observation tower,” the 18 meter diameter viewing pod will provide 360 degree views of the British seaside resort towns of Brighton and Hove, the Sussex coast and the English Channel, for to up to 200 passengers at a time.
Herzog & de Meuron's ten-storey extension to London's Tate Modern, which officially opens to the public this week, is the latest in a series of ambitious building projects pursued by the internally renowned gallery of contemporary art. Sitting above The Tanks, the world's first dedicated galleries for live art and film installations, the building's pyramidical form provides 60% more exhibition space for the institution. Two days before its doors welcome art-lovers from around the world, photographer Laurian Ghinitoiu has captured a collection of unique views on this highly anticipated addition to London's skyline.
As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
Britain is suffering from a terrible housing crisis – one that is an incredibly predictable outcome of decades of neoliberal economic policy. The Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena has become well-known for building “half a house” – only completing core infrastructure in social housing, then encouraging residents to finish the other half with their own money over time. In effect, the first generation get a significantly cheaper home, but once the house has been doubled it could be sold at market rate. The discount, and profit, only applies to the original owners.
Purcell has been announced as the winner of the St Mary Redcliffe Design Competition, organized by Malcolm Reading. The competition sought a design which successfully reconciled the preservation of the building in its historical form with the necessary expansion to accommodate growing programmatic requirements.
The two-stage competition drew initial submissions from 53 practices, both local and international. Of these, Eric Parry Architects, Carmody Groarke, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, dRMM and Purcell were invited to submit concept designs, all of which can be viewed here. Purcell's winning design uses two main axes to "stitch" the church into its neighborhood and is described by Malcolm Reading as showing "the deepest understanding of the site and context and the opportunity at St Mary Redcliffe."
The political left has had a rough few decades; everything just seems to be going in the other direction. Instead of romanticizing what it would be like "only if," we’d better get to work on figuring out how to turn the engine of progress around. Volume spoke with Adrian Lahoud about the stakes of architectural research within the academy today and how it might contribute to moving towards the horizons of the left.
There is an enormous intensity of information, knowledge and ideas on display at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale, Reporting From the Front. With all the Executive Editors and Editors-in-Chief of ArchDaily's platforms in English, Spanish and (Brazilian) Portuguese in Venice for the opening of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale—plus co-founder David Basulto and European Editor-at-Large James Taylor-Foster, who curated this year's Nordic Pavilion—we've pooled together twelve of our initial favourite exhibitions and must-see shows.
In Granary Square, located in London’s King’s Cross, there is a fragment of the poem Brill by Aidan Dunn set into the ground, which reads: “King’s Cross, dense with angels and histories. There are cities beneath your pavements, cities behind your skies.” Anchored by the converted granary building and a rejuvenated stretch of canal, Argent’s ongoing King’s Cross development is an appropriate setting for Building on the Built, an exhibition which presents the work of London-based practice Jonathan Tuckey Design.
The 2016 Venice Biennale will see the inaugural collaboration between La Biennale and London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) with an exhibition located in the Sale d’Armi (Arsenale) entitled A World of Fragile Parts. The show aims to explore the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and how the production of copies can aid in the preservation of cultural artefacts.
The British Library has continued to release images from its digitized collection, now bordering over one million images on public image-sharing platform Flickr, reports Quartz. Since 2013, the institution’s “Mechanical Curator” has been randomly selecting images or other pages from over 65,000 public-domain books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Two sculptures—Obelisk by Alison and Peter Smithson and Columns by Álvaro Siza Vieira—have been re-erected in Shatwell, a "semi-derelict agricultural complex" located in rural England. The instatement of the monuments form a part of an evolving programme of installations which Drawing Matter, an organisation founded by Niall Hobhouse "that champions the process of architecture through collecting, archiving and commissioning," will use to explore the relationship between architecture, sculpture and landscape.