Labour Minister Endorses UK-Wide Architecture Festival and More Competitions

Helen Goodman MP proposed a UK-wide festival of architecture instead of another festival in London, which already hosts a number of architecture and design festivals annually including the Camden Create Festival which began just this year. Image © KSR Architects

The UK‘s Shadow Culture Minister Helen Goodman has outlined a number of ideas that she would like to put into practice should her party win the next general election, reports the Architects’ Journal. The proposals, made at last week’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester, include increasing the number of open architecture competitions held in the UK and holding a major UK-wide annual festival of architecture. Read on after the break for more on Goodman’s proposals.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows Confidence Remains Steady

Courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for August showed that confidence among UK practices has remained stable at “a very positive” balance figure of +28. The positive outlook was shared by the whole country, with every region returning a balance figure of above +20 – a significant improvement for Wales and the West, who last month were at a more reserved +12. “Sentiment about future workload prospects for the architects’ profession has been strong throughout 2013 and 2014, and we are now beginning to see this reflected in increased levels in the aggregate value of work in progress,” said the RIBA, adding that the increasing workload is being “driven primarily by growth in the commercial and private housing sectors.”

RIBA Director of Practice Adrian Dobson said: “The most optimistic forecasts this month were from our practices in Scotland, Northern and the Midlands and East Anglia, indicating that the high confidence levels have now spread right across the UK as all nations and regions begin to see an improving workload situation.” Figures from practices of all sizes were positive, with small practices (under 10 staff) returning a balance figure of +24. However, medium and large practices showed much more confidence, returning figures of +65 and +40 respectively.

Although a large part of the growth of the last year has been driven by housing, we may be about to see the sector reach a plateau, as the balance figure for the private housing market dropped to +23, down from +29 in July. This prediction now puts it level with the commercial sector, which rose from +20 in July.

The RIBA Staffing index also rose in August, rising to +13 from +10 in July. A full 96% of practices expect their staffing levels to either increase or stay consistent in the coming three months. But, adds the RIBA, “we are not yet seeing this confidence manifest itself in a significant increase in aggregate staffing levels across the profession.”

The monthly survey is designed to “monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn,” the data from which is analyzed by both the RIBA and the Fees Bureau. It is a “representative sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations” with 1,600 British Architects from 226 firms contributing.

Read the June 2014 report in full here (PDF).

RIBA Awards 2015 Royal Gold Medal to O’Donnell + Tuomey

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has selected Irish architects Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey as recipients of the 2015 Royal Gold Medal, one of the world’s most prestigious lifetime achievement for architecture. Approved personally by the Queen, the award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of architecture.

The praised the way O’Donnell + Tuomey came together in the early 1990s to combine ”Sheila’s quiet, studied ‘rationalism’ alongside John’s fluent, rhetorical ‘constructivism,’” commenting that “through their buildings, publications, exhibitions and teaching they have forged a confident new identity for Irish architecture.”

LOBBY: The Spectacle Of The “Un/Spectacle”

© Cameron Clarke

I was recently at a lecture at Rotterdam’s Nieuwe Instituut in which Dirk van den Heuvel mediated a discussion between Kenneth Frampton and Herman Hertzberger. Talking of those who contributed to the Dutch Structuralist movement, Hertzberger lamented the fact that so many have faded into obscurity: “if you make the mistake of not writing” he said, “you’re bound to be forgotten.” Accompanying design with the written word is at the core of good practice, not only because it lends design an elevated meaning by cementing it into a wider discourse, but also because it often uncovers the subconscious significance of the process of architecture.

LOBBY is an attempt from students of London’s Bartlett School of Architecture to anchor in-house research and external contributions in words, “creating both a space we lack and an action we desire.” Their new is also a response to the school’s current in-between state as they await their new building in temporary studio spaces. As such, LOBBY will serve as a platform for exchange and discussion in lieu of a physical lobbying space. The first issue explores the theme of Un/Spectacle, offering different layers, approaches, readings and perspectives on the topic of the ‘(un)spectacle’ of the everyday.

Heathcote Examines The Architecture Of Scottish Independence

have voted against independence.

Arguably there are only two architects in history that have become almost completely synonymous with one particular city – Charles Rennie Mackintosh for Glasgow and Antoní Gaudi for Barcelona. Indeed, a Catalonian architect, Enric Miralles, designed the Scottish Parliament Building in Holyrood, Edinburgh. The fact that both of these cities are part of large enclaves who are seeking, or have sought, independence is perhaps just a coincidence. Architecture, often used as a symbol for the identity of nationhood, will certainly be part of a wider dialogue about the Union of the United Kingdom following yesterday’s referendum.

UK Politicians Invited to Workshop to Learn About Architecture

One possible activity for the workshop includes guided tours of from the Thames. Image © Flickr CC User Donna Rutherford

Oliver Colvile, chairman of the UK‘s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Excellence in the Built Environment, has proposed that Members of Parliament should be invited to an architecture workshop to improve their understanding of the built environment. The workshop would be jointly run by the APPG and the Farrell Review, and could include activities such as designing a virtual town or an architectural sightseeing tour along the Thames. More on the proposal after the break.

2014 Wolfson Economics Prize Exhibition Explores the Potential of Garden Cities

© Agnese Sanvito

On September 3, 2014, urban design consultancy URBED was announced winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize. The competition has spurred unprecedented conversation and debate over the concept of Garden Cities in the , while the finalists call for the development of theoretical ideas and implementation of practical solutions. ArchDaily brought you the winning proposal earlier, and The Building Centre, an independent forum of the built environment, teamed up with the Wolfson Prize organizers to bring you an exhibit further exploring the broad range of design solutions from over 200 brilliant entries.

A Temporary Setting for Performance in the Centre of Southampton

© Jim Stephenson

The Playing Field, a 450-seat “high tech Tudor theatre” in the heart of the British city of Southampton, represented a major collaboration between the city’s arts organisations and was realised through a collaborative effort between engineers Structure Workshop and Assemble Studio, the London based practice known for innovative interventions within the public realm. Their Cineroleum, coupled with a bold renovation of a yardhouse, are part of a small canon of cultural buildings designed to temporarily reimagine the urban landscape on a small scale.

A Hidden London Will Be Revealed For Open House 2014

Lloyds of / RSHP. Image Courtesy of Open House

Open House 2014, a concept developed in London twenty two years ago which has now spread to cities across the world, will throw open the doors to some of the capital’s most inspiring spaces and interiors this month. “Revealing”, the theme of this year’s Open House, intends to “shed light on issues that are relevant to local communities.” In this way, the scheme hopes to examine how the built environment is evolving. Exploring the role of architects, engineers and contemporary design in revitalising places and spaces, the festival hopes to show above all “how good design can make London a more livable, vibrant and enjoyable city.”

URBED’s Bold Proposal to Reinvigorate the Garden City Movement

Courtesy of URBED

British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) have been announced as the winners of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize for their proposal to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898. David Rudlin and ’s submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from ‘GC status’. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.

Read about URBED’s submission, and the fictional town of Uxcester, after the break.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Decrease in Workload & Staffing Levels

Courtesy of

The results of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBAFuture Trends Survey for July 2014 show that the Workload Index among  practices fell back to +28 (from +34 in June) with confidence levels among RIBA practices about the level of future workloads remaining “very strong in practices of all sizes across the whole of the .” Whereas last month’s survey saw Scotland top the index with a balance figure of +50, London showed the greatest strength in July with a balance figure of +38. Practices located in Wales and the West were the most cautious about prospects for future workloads, returning a balance figure of just +12. The survey shows that actual workloads have been growing for four consecutive quarters and the overall value of work in progress last month was 10% higher than this time last year.

Number of Women Architects on the Rise in the UK

© Robert Venturi

The number of women becoming architects in the is increasing, according to the latest figures by the ’s Architects Registration Board (ARB). Now, 7,538 female architects are registered with the ARB, up nearly 74% from just 10 years ago, the Architects’ Journal (AJ) reports. Yet despite the overall increase, women still only make up 22% of the profession, and represented just 38% of the new registrants in 2013.

Read on after the break for comments from female architects…

RIBA To Launch Retrospective of Edwin Smith’s Photography

To coincide with the opening of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s new Architecture Gallery at their headquarters in London’s Portland Place, the first major retrospective of Edwin Smith will open next month. Smith, one of Britain’s foremost 20th century photographers, was considered a master of capturing the essence of the places, landscapes and buildings he documented over an extensive career. The exhibition, entitled Ordinary Beauty, will display over a hundred carefully curated black and white images from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints donated by Olive Cook, Smith’s widow and collaborator, to the .

Video: First Look Inside Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partner’s “Cheesegrater”

YouTube Preview Image

In a short film for The Guardian Lead Architect and Partner of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Graham Stirk, tours Robert Booth around the almost-complete Leadenhall Building. The building is referred to as a relative of it’s neighbour, Lloyds of London, which was completed by Richard Rogers‘s practice in 1986. Leadenhall, dubbed the “Cheesegrater” due to its angled façade, is twice the height of Lloyds and is considered to be the physical manifestation of the evolution of Rogers’ architectural and tectonic language. Although less “structurally showy” than its counterpart, the building is still unconventionally bold when it comes to structural expression.

Search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Begins

Ferreries Cultural Centre by [ARQUITECTURIA

The search for the 2014 Young Architect of the Year Awards (), organised by BDOnline, has begun. Now in its 16th year, YAYA “recognises the most promising new architectural practice in the European Union.” Open to fully qualified architects who have been practising for twelve years or less, the winner of this year’s YAYA will be announced at the Architect of the Year Awards gala dinner on the 2nd December 2014 at The Brewery, London.

Influential Scottish Architect Andy MacMillan Dies Aged 85

Courtesy of RIAS

Professor Andy MacMillan, one of Scotland‘s most important post-war architects, died suddenly this weekend during this year’s Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Andrew Doolan visits. Macmillan was a professor at the Glasgow School of Art from 1973 to 1994, and a partner at Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. More on MacMillan’s legacy after the break.

Video: The Elevated London That Almost Was

Inspired by an article written by in 1993, Chris Bevan Lee’s forty minute documentary explores the elevated post-war infrastructural redevelopment of the City of London, fragments of which still stand across the square mile today. The Pedway: Elevating London examines London planners’ attempt to build an ambitious network of elevated walkways through the city that largely never saw completion. In a carefully produced film those ’pedways’ that remain are photographed and discussed as symbols of a utopia that almost was.

In Discussion With David Adjaye

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image ©

In an interview with Rowan Moore for The Observer, British born architect David Adjaye discusses his work, personality and ambitions as head of the one of the fastest growing internationally operating practices. With Moore’s immersive descriptions and expertly written narrative, the “breadth of Adjaye’s vision” becomes apparent. Featuring precise descriptions of some his upcoming projects, including the designs for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and a number of smaller buildings in London, Moore’s discussion ultimately explores Adjaye’s early (and successful) steps into the African architectural market. You can read the interview in full here.