In an article for The Guardian Richard Rogers questions why, with space still left in urban areas, we should build in the countryside? Lord Rogers, no stranger to political activism, chaired the UK’s Urban Task Force in the 1990s, culminating in his report Towards an Urban Renaissance. Now, over fifteen years later, his plea for denser, better designed urban environments has been rekindled as he argues that: “We can’t go on like this. The housing shortage threatens both the economy and our quality of life.” Laying out a clear argument reinforced by his forty years of experience as an architect, you can read his article in full here.
In a recent article for The Telegraph Jonathan Ruffer, a hedge fund manager turned campaigner for architectural heritage, discusses the significance of historic buildings in a time when they are “increasingly having to justify itself in the cold light of cost cuts.” The notion of architectural “heritage” covers not only castles and stately homes but increasingly post-war and early contemporary structures. Speaking from a financier’s point of view, Ruffler examines the “gulf” between public and private funding for restorative architectural schemes alongside the difficulty of mobilising large bodies to activate change. Arguing that “heritage has the power to change lives,” the need for people to engage with their built heritage is more important than ever. Read the article in full here.
ECOWEEK is a non-governmental NGO with the mission to raise awareness on environmental issues and Climate Change and to promote the principles of sustainability. ECOWEEK has been organizing conferences and workshops across Europe that inspire and empower young architects to be active designers for the benefit of their communities.
Since 2005 ECOWEEK has hosted keynote lectures by leading professionals and thinkers including award-winning architects, such as Shigeru Ban, Ken Yeang, Bjarke Ingels, Francis Kere, Francoise-Helene Jourda, Michael Sorkin and landscape architect Julie Bargmann.
The ECOWEEK International Conference & Sustainable Design Workshops is scheduled to take place in London in September 14-21, 2014. The event is expected to attract young architects, landscape architects, designers and architectural students from the UK and abroad.
Jason Lamb, a recent graduate from London’s Bartlett School of Architecture, has developed a project which centres around the legacy of hydraulic fracturing in the British coastal city of Blackpool. The theoretical thesis, which employs the possibility of Chinese investment prompting the transitory integration of hydraulic fracturing within the city for the exploitation of shale gas, features a number of interesting explanatory illustrations.
Matthew Simmonds, an art historian and architectural stone carver based in Italy, has created a collection of exceptionally beautiful miniature spaces carved from stone. Having worked on a number of restoration projects in the UK – from Westminster Abbey to Ely Cathedral - his skills have been transferred into work of a much smaller, if not more intricate, scale. Hewn from large stone blocks (some of marble), the level of intricacy Simmonds has achieved in the architectural detailing is almost incredible. Capitals, vaults and surfaces all distort and reflect light in a very beguiling way.
As of this week Aedas, which was recently ranked as the 5th largest and influential practice in the UK by the Architects’ Journal, has demerged into two separate practices. The thirteen offices in China, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the US, will continue to operate under the Aedas brand whilst the eight UK offices and the offices in Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan will operate under a new name: AHR. According to the outgoing board, the demerger “will allow both companies to focus on their respective strengths and will enable them to grow the businesses in different directions.” The intention is that both groups will continue to work together on projects in the future.
In his interesting profile of the young London-based practice Assemble, Rowan Moore of the Observer investigates the work of arguably the best collective of designers to emerge from 2010′s “Autumn of Pop-Ups” – examining how they have stayed true to the more noble aspects of pop-up architecture despite the concept’s increasing commercialization. From their first project, a temporary cinema in a petrol station, to their recent Yardhouse project in Stratford, Moore finds an architecture that values exuberance and fun, yet is mature and refined. You can read his article in full here.
The Cauldron, designed by the internationally renowned Heatherwick Studio, is one of the most enduring and creative symbols of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 204 unique copper elements, each alight and representing every competing nation, were arranged in sublime concentric formation at the tips of slender mechanised steel stems. Slowly pivoting sequentially, they converged to form the Cauldron, in which the Olympic, and later Paralympic flame, would burn brightly for the duration of London’s summer of sport.
Designing a Moment: The London 2012 Cauldron, a new gallery at the Museum of London, tells the story of this moment, and celebrates the London 2012 Cauldron.
In the courtyard of the museum, a bespoke new pavilion to house the exhibition has been specially designed and built by Stage One – the creative engineers behind the London 2012 Cauldron. The permanent addition is the first new gallery in the museum since 2010, coinciding with the two year anniversary of the Olympic opening ceremony, when an audience of over one billion people first set eyes on the Cauldron.
Title: Exhibition / Designing a Moment: The London 2012 Cauldron
From: Fri, 25 Jul 2014
Until: Sun, 28 Sep 2014
Venue: Museum of London
Address: 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN, UK
Built four decades after Louis Kahn’s death, New York City’s Four Freedoms Park - the architect’s posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies – is becoming one of the architect’s most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the Guardian, Oliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn’s ”best project”. Wainwright’s spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn’s personal history, building up a picture of a space with “the feel of an ancient temple precinct” and “a finely nuanced landscape”. Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park ”stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself”, can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect’s best? Read the article in full here.
Last week, the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion opened in London‘s Hyde Park. The Serpentine Pavilion program invites architects who are yet to work in the UK to create a temporary installation at the gallery’s grounds for one summer, and this year it was the turn of Chilean architect Smiljan Radic, who rarely builds outside his native country and is arguably the least well-known architect in the Pavilion’s 14 year history.
Always a highlight in London’s architectural calender, critics almost line up to write their reviews. This year, they are almost entirely unanimous: Radic’s pavilion is, unquestionably, weird. But they’re also unanimous on another judgement: it may be one of the best Serpentine Pavilions yet.
Read on after the break to find out what the critics said about this year’s design
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a report which it hopes will influence government policy writers in time for the general election next year. The report outlines the RIBA’s stance on a wide variety of architectural issues, from planning policy, to school building, to designing healthy cities.
The report hopes to build on the recommendations made by the Farrell Review, which among many other things recommended the appointment of a chief architect to advise the government, as well as an overhaul of the current planning system. However, in one sense the RIBA report goes further than the Farrell Report by saying that the government should implement a defined architecture policy, pointing to the success of such policies in countries such as Denmark.
Read on after the break for more on the report’s recommendations
“Nearly half of London’s population lives east of Tower Bridge yet they are served by only two fixed road river crossings,” says Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). This is the infrastructural predicament which has sparked the LCCI’s “Bridge East London” campaign, a proposal for bridge linking Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach, which is aided by a design by HOK.
The proposal was unveiled on Monday, the 120th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge. Designed to allow clear passage for both ships underneath and aircraft taking off or landing at City Airport above, the bridge also features a segregated cycle path, adding a much needed - and entirely safe – river crossing for London’s growing number of cyclists.
More on the bridge after the break
“They’ve got the mall. They’ve got the food court. Now they’ve got the multiplex.” Rowan Moore’s latest piece for the Guardian discusses the collaged plight of London’s British Museum as Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) complete a large extension of exhibition spaces. Describing it as a “composite Foster-Rogers” building, Moore argues that “a strange distribution of space” coupled with “an inattention to the cultural complexities of the modern museum” have led to “a void, wrapped in a void, with another void to the side.” Although he states that “there are many things to like about RSHP’s building”, the total compilation of spaces, extensions and interventions have led to a museum more like a mall than a house of culture.
Fifty years ago Churchill College Cambridge opened its doors. In contrast to the historic Colleges, with their medieval Gothic and Neo-Classical buildings corralled behind high walls, this was in an almost rural setting on the outskirts of the city, modern in design, and Brutalist in detail.
The 1959 competition that brought the College into being is considered by many to be a watershed moment in British Post War architectural history. It brought together 20 names, young and old, all practicing in Britain, all working in the Modernist and more specifically the nascent Brutalist style. It was a “who’s who” of British architecture at the time, including the Smithsons, Hungarian-born Erno Goldfinger, Lasdun (then in partnership with Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew & Lindsay Drake, and formerly with Russian émigré Lubetkin), Lyons Israel Ellis and Robert Matthew (one half of the Royal Festival Hall team, who teamed up with Johnson Marshall). None of these made the shortlist of four.
In an age when 1:1 3D printed buildings are becoming ever more commonplace from the Netherlands to China, it’s important to pause and assess the existing built fabric of our cities, towns and villages. If we want to maintain and preserve them whilst protecting the inherent craft imbued in their construction, the importance of nurturing and promoting these skills should be recognised.
In the UK, the Heritage Skills Hub (HSH) push to see ”traditional building skills, conservation, restoration and responsible retrofit” included within all mainstream built environment courses. In a recent conversation with Cathie Clarke, CEO of the HSH, we discussed the obstacles faced by an organisation dedicated to conserving and teaching skills like stonemasonry, roof thatching, glass making, traditional brick construction to a new generation.
In an interesting analysis in the Guardian, Olly Wainwright draws attention to the questionable process by which of Thomas Heatherwick‘s Garden Bridge proposal has gained such strong support from the British government. It is, according to Wainwright, the product of “one voguish designer, one national treasure and one icon-hungry mayor” – however he contends that compared to other more needed potential bridges over the Thames, the Garden Bridge may just be ”a spectacular solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist,” and a terrific waste of infrastructure funds. You can read the article in full here.
British practice Marks Barfield Architects, famous for designing the London Eye, are a step closer to realising their latest urban observation structure: the i360 Brighton. This week the international team who created the London landmark were reunited on Brighton beach as as loans of more than £40 million have been agreed to begin the tower’s construction. Bringing together companies from the UK, France (Poma), the USA (Jacobs Enginneering) and the Netherlands (Hollandia), the project has been described as “truly unique.”