In 2013, following a number of campaigns, a 1969 Brutalist icon in the northern British city of Preston was listed. The future of this bus terminal—one of the largest in the UK and the biggest in Europe when it originally opened—was, until last month, a matter of considerable speculation and debate. This week the results of an international open-call competition for proposals transforming into a new youth centre were revealed, selecting the proposal of New York based practice John Puttick Associates as 'the best of the lot.' The 'lot', however, left something to be desired.
In a recent article for The Observer, Rowan Moore discusses what he describes as the "quiet revolution in British housing." In compiling a list of practices and collectives from the recent past and present, he has created a compendium of people and organisations who he believes are creating exemplary dwellings in the UK. Noting that the British housing stock is not necessarily in the best shape (a symptom of the 1970s), Moore ultimately offers an optimistic message tinged with words of caution.
Following the announcement in 2013 that Preston Bus Station, a Brutalist icon designed by BDP in 1969, had been Grade II Listed and therefore saved from the threat of demolition, the results of a recent international ideas competition to consider its future as a youth centre have been revealed. John Puttick Associates, based in New York, have beaten competition from Flanagan Lawrence, Letts Wheeler Architects, Sane Architecture, and local practice Cassidy + Ashton with their proposal to meet "the challenge of sensitively introducing contemporary design to the existing setting." Over 4200 people voted for their favourite design at an exhibition held in the bus station itself and through and online mechanism, and "were taken into account by the judges when making their final decision."
In the latest episode of 99% Invisible, Hard to Love a Brute, Roman Mars and Avery Trufelman take a look at the potted history of the "hulking concrete brutes" of post-war Europe, centring on the UK, and the US east coast. Exploring Ernö Goldfinger's Balfron and Trellick towers, while making a pitstop in Boston, MA, this twenty minute podcast examines why people "love to hate" Brutalism and why, "as harsh as it looks, concrete is an utterly optimistic building material."
The announcement in 2012 that London's Robin Hood Gardens — Alison and Peter Smithson's world-famous Brutalist housing estate — was set to be demolished was, on the whole, met with outrage among the architectural community. Since that time, many called for the profession to act in order to protect "one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects," which led to a fresh bid to save the scheme in March of this year. Richard Rogers, Simon Smithson (a partner at RSHP and son of Alison and Peter Smithson), and academic Dirk van den Heuvel recently called upon members of the public to voice their concerns to the UK Ministry for Culture, Media and Sport.
In spite of this, it has now been announced that the UK Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch, "is minded to approve the Certificate of Immunity for Robin Hood Gardens" meaning that the decision not to list the residential complex in Tower Hamlets will be upheld, giving a "legal guarantee that the building or buildings named in the certificate will not be considered for listing for five years." This will be the second certificate of this type to have been issued for this complex. According to Historic England, "a period of 28 days [beginning on the 4th August 2015] is now allowed for review before the certificate is issued."
The British Library in London's St. Pancras is often hailed as the only major public building to be built in Great Britain in the twentieth century. "No other project, since the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral over 400 years ago, took so long to construct or was surrounded by so much controversy." Begun in 1962, completed in 1997, and opened to the public in 1998, the Brutalist building is a world-class a repository of artistic, scholarly and literary treasures. It has now, along with seven other post-war libraries, been given Grade I Listed status for "its soaring and stimulating spaces" which, according to Historic England, have become "much-loved and well-used by scholars and members of the public alike."
The 2015 London Design Festival, an annual event held to celebrate and promote London as "the design capital of the world," will run this year between the 19th and 27th September. As a platform for some of the capital's major trade shows, the city-wide event aims to showcase exhibitors from across the world at a series of 'Design Destinations' — places at which established and emerging designers, manufacturers and brands can present their products and innovations.
Last month, as part of their Park Nights event series, COS assembled Spanish architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano (SelgasCano) at their new pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in London's Hyde Park to discuss the concepts behind their design and the history of the Pavilion Commission with Serpentine directors Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. They were joined by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić, designer of the 2014 pavilion, and Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, designer of 2013's, in an hour long conversation moderated by Sarah Ichioka.
OMA has been selected to design a new building for Brighton College that will host its sport and science departments. Their design combines the two departments into one linear building that runs along the edge of the playing field.
The sport facilities are housed on the same level as the field, while the science department stretches over the top “like a skeletal bridge.” Views between the two departments are offered on the inside creating “lively and animated circulation throughout the new building.” The façade is inspired by the terrace housing that runs opposite the building.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for June 2015 shows "an all-time high," with the workload index ascending to +44 compared to +37 last month. All nations and regions within the United Kingdom returned positive balance figures, with practices in the Midlands and East Anglia responding most confidently about workloads in the next quarter. Following a slight fall last month, the private housing sector workload forecast increased to +39 (from +34), while the public sector saw a modest increase back into positive figures. Workload forecast balance figures have remained extremely high. The survey reports that large-sized practices continue to be the most optimistic about growth, while small and medium-sized practices "remain in strongly positive territory."
The 6th annual “Space for New Visions” competition has announced its winner: a project entitled “Homes for the Homeless,” by James Furzer of Spatial Design Architects. Hosted by FAKRO, a global manufacturer of roof windows and loft ladders, and A10 Magazine for European Architecture, the competition sought proposals that incorporated FAKRO products. With entries from around the world, projects were judged based on user comfort, environmental impact, functionality and natural light, among other things. Read about the winning entry after the break.
"London is on the verge of being ruined for all future generations," says Alain de Botton – a Swiss philosopher, notable author and founder of The School of Life and Living Architecture. "With a whopping 260 towers in the pipeline no area is safe, as planners, property developers and the mayor's office commit crimes against beauty to create fun buildings." In a film for The Guardian De Botton explains why he believes we're right to be nervous – and how we can stop this "clear desecration" of the UK's capital city.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have revealed the six projects that will compete for the 2015 Stirling Prize, the award for the building which has made the greatest contribution to British architecture over the past year. Following a rigourous system of regional awards (all of which you can see on ArchDaily), the shortlist has been picked from a handful of nationally award-winning projects.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, having previously won the prize in 2006 for the Barajas Airport in Madrid and in 2009 for the Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, has been nominated four times before. They are joined by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), Niall McLaughlin Architects, and Heneghan Peng Architects, who have each made the shortlist before. This is the first year that McInnes Usher McKnight Architects (MUMA) and Reiach and Hall Architects have been shortlisted. The winning project will be announced on the 15th October 2015 at a ceremony in London.
See this year's full shortlist and read extracts from the judges' citations after the break.
The UK is in the midst of a housing crisis, the intricacies of which were detailed by Rowan Moore earlier this year. For decades the typical British housing stock has been of relatively poor quality, proliferated by developer-led consortiums and characterised by ruthless cost-efficiency for maximum profit. From this formula comes nothing but a monotony of off-the-shelf constructions which have, over time, become a national benchmark. These houses – often built of brick, boxy in form, and using as little space in the facade for openings – are commonly dark, spatially inadequate, and far below the standards that should be being aimed for. It’s like living in a well-appointed cave.
Alice Theodorou, a graduating masters student from London's Royal College of Art, has developed a project which attempts to combat the challenges that London is set to face over the next 10,000 years. Her scheme factors in projections for population growth and then decline, rising sea levels, stricter energy targets, material depletion, future space exploration and, most interestingly, language obsolescence.
The acclaimed Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, northern England, has been named by the Art Fund as the 2015 Museum of the Year. The project has been hailed by the jury as "one of the great museum achievements of recent years," citing its "transformation – architecturally, curatorially, and as a destination" – as a key reason for its success. The building, which has been received well by critics, was comprehensively restored and extended by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight) and re-opened to the public earlier this year. Since then it has seen record-breaking visitor numbers, partly due to the appeal of the building and partly due to "the creativity and originality of its outreach programmes during closure."
In the latest episode of Monocle's Section D, Josh Fehnert talks to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal of Amsterdam-based UNStudio, about London's new Caneletto residential tower. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museumin Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), London’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK. The tower, located at the confluence of two London districts — Islington and Shoreditch — marks a significant moment for the Dutch practice's œuvre.
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for May 2015 continues to show widespread consistency in comparison to March and April, with the workload index remaining "remaining virtually unchanged" at +37 from +36 last month. The private housing sector, which remained strong last month, fell slightly to +34 from +38 while the public sector moved into negative territory for the first time since July 2014. The RIBA claim that "respondents anticipate public sector spending on building projects to be flat at best over the coming quarter." However, the forecasts for the commercial sector rose to +21 from +15 last month, and the community sector forecast "made a recovery from its recent decline" rising to +4 from -3 in April.