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In Conversation With Sheila O'Donnell And John Tuomey, 2015 Royal Gold Medallists

When Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey, who practice in partnership as O'Donnell + Tuomey, were named as this year's recipients of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, a palpable collective satisfaction appeared to spread throughout the profession. No one could find criticism in Joseph Rykwert and Níall McLaughlin's nomination, nor the ultimate choice of the RIBA Honours Committee, to bestow the award upon the Irish team. Their astonishingly rigourous body of work, compiled and constructed over the last twenty five years, has an appeal which extends beyond Irish and British shores. A robust stock of cultural, community and educational projects, alongside family homes and social housing projects, leaves little doubt about the quality, depth and breadth of their mutual capabilities and the skill of those that they choose to collaborate with.

Read the conversation with the Gold Medallists after the break.

Ground sketch, Venice Biennale 2012 (Common Ground). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Sketch, Glucksman Gallery (Cork, Ireland). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Watercolour sketch, Ireland. Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey Sketch Plan of the Saw Swee Hock Centre (London). Image © O'Donnell + Tuomey

UK Report Says Universities are Failing to Prepare Architecture Students for Practice

UK universities are failing to properly equip graduates with the necessary skills required for practicing architecture, according to RIBA’s 2014 Skills Survey. Of the 149 employers and 580 architectural students or recent graduates who responded to the wide-spread survey, a large majority criticized architectural education for prioritizing “theoretical knowledge ahead of practical ability” and agreed that most graduates are ill-prepared for work after studying at the university.  

“I can think of no other profession where new graduates must wait a decade or more to be given significant responsibility because they have not acquired basic skills in university,” says Yarema Ronish, RIBA client adviser and director at Richard Morton Architects.

Rowan Moore On MUMA's Extension To Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery

In an article for The ObserverRowan Moore visits Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery (1908), a compact museum which has now undergone a comprehensive restoration and extension by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight). The practice, who won the job against 130 other bids for the project, worked with a budget of £15million in order to realise an ambitious brief. Their interventions and innovations, many of which are modest and unseen, have not only reconnected the building with its surrounding parkland but also elevated the interior rooms into world-class exhibition spaces. For Moore, their work is striking but muted: "the virtues of the new Whitworth – sustainable, accessible, sensitive, thoughtful – could all be synonyms for 'dull' or at least 'worthy'. But, thanks to its pleasures of light and material, it is not. It is a job very well done."

Mayor Of London Supports Plans For Europe's Longest Segregated Cycle Lane

According to a document published last month, London's aspiration to become "a great cycling city" has taken one step closer to reality. The office of the Mayor of London has approved plans to develop Europe's longest segregated bicycle lane through the centre of the city following modifications to an original plan that drew sharp criticism from residents and commuters. The new plans, which have been supported by a number of private companies and public bodies, aims to maintain vehicular traffic capacity whilst allowing the segregated cycle lanes to cater for a large capacity of cyclists.

Design Council Highlights 70 as "Future of British Design"

In honor of their 70th anniversary, the Design Council has named 70 “rising stars” they believe represent the future of British design. The “Ones to Watch” list was chosen from hundreds of entrants for their “outstanding vision, ambition and potential to contribute to the UK’s reputation as a leading design nation.” “Potty-girl” Julia King and Sonila Kadillari’s Pre-Ecopoiesis Mars Yard (PEMY) are some of the many architects and projects highlighted. View them all, here

A First Look at the Shortlisted Bristol Arena Proposals

Grimshaw, IDOM, Populous, Feilden Clegg BradleyWhite Arkitekter and Wilkinson Eyre are among five international design teams who've been recently shortlisted in a RIBA-organized competition to design the £90 million Bristol Arena, a 12,000-seat indoor entertainment venue set to open by 2017. At this point, the proposals remain anonymous and the public is being asked for their opinion. A judging panel, that includes the Mayor of Bristol, will review the public commentary and designs before selecting a team in March. Take a look at the projects and share your thoughts, after the break. 

Team B. Image Courtesy of RIBA Team C. Image Courtesy of RIBA Team D. Image Courtesy of RIBA Team E. Image Courtesy of RIBA

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Exhibition To Open Next Month In London

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced that a new exhibition exploring the Scottish designer and artist's celebrated, but difficult, career is to open next month in London. Mackintosh Architecture will be the first exhibition solely devoted to his architecture, offering the opportunity to view over sixty original drawings, watercolours and perspectives spanning the entirety of his working life. Seen together, they "reveal the evolution of his style from his early apprenticeship to his later projects as an individual architect and designer." Drawings on display will also show his collaboration with the accomplished artist and designer Margaret Macdonald, his wife.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Indicates Consistent Growth

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for December 2014 has revealed little month-on-month change in indexes with the acknowledgement of a growing level of optimism. After falling back slightly in November 2014, the workload index has remained consistent at +29 (from +37 in November). Workload forecast balance figures have remained extremely positive, with practices reporting +50 in Northern Ireland and up to +75 in Scotland. Furthermore, practices of all sizes have been responding with "optimistic" workload prospects heading into the next quarter. The percentage of respondents reporting that they had personally been under-employed fell to 9% from 12%.

Video: Drone Tour Inside St. Peter's Seminary

Scotland's Grade-A listed Brutalist St. Peter's Seminary, abandoned for the past 25 years, is being rediscovered through drone technology. The building, which was originally designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966 and heavily inspired by the work of Le Corbusier ("with Scottish inspirations"), has recently been offered a new lease of life. London-based Avanti Architects, along with Glasgow-based  and NORD Architectsrecently released the first images of their plans to breathe new life into the iconic building. This filmed footage not only gives a sense of how dilapidated the structure is in its current state, but also hints at the exciting possible future it has as an arts venue.

Avery Associates Reveals Design for 270-Metre Tower Next to London's Cheesegrater

London practice Avery Associates Architects has unveiled their designs for No.1 Undershaft, a 270-metre tall office tower directly adjacent to Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' Cheesegrater in the City of London's central skyscraper cluster. The building is currently planned to be the tallest in this cluster and the second-tallest in London (after the Shard) - notwithstanding an as-yet-unrevealed plan for the site of the scrapped Pinnacle project which could potentially supersede it.

Courtesy of Avery Associates Architects Courtesy of Avery Associates Architects Courtesy of Avery Associates Architects Courtesy of Avery Associates Architects

St. Peter's Seminary: 'La Tourette' With "Scottish Inspirations"

In an article for The Guardian, Rowan Moore explores the state and future of the Grade A listed Brutalist Seminary of St. Peter, "where the influence of Le Corbusier’s monastery of La Tourette combines with [...] Scottish inspirations." Although the building is often seen as wholly unique in the canon of religious buildings, it is still comprised of traditional elements - "cloister, chapel, refectory, cells - but rearranged over multiple levels in unexpected ways, alternately enclosing and opening up to its surroundings."

Sutherland Hussey Wins Competition to Design Sessay Community Hub

© Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA
© Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced Sutherland Hussey Architects and Gross Max Landscape Architects as winners of a competition to design a new community hub for Sessay Village in North Yorkshire. The proposal, which jury chair Robin Snell believed to have “best expressed the client vision,” aims to become a well-used public destination that properly serves more than 20 local organizations, including a primary school, cricket club and the Sessay First Responders.

The narrow, single-story pavilion will stretch between two circular sports fields, connecting it’s inner halls directly to the outdoors. Continue after the break for more images of the project. 

© Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA © Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA © Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA © Sutherland Hussey Architects, courtesy of RIBA

Call For Entries: RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship 2015

The 2015 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has launched and is inviting applications from schools of architecture around the world. A £6,000 grant will be awarded to one student by a panel of judges which will include Lord Foster and the current President of the , Stephen Hodder. First established in 2006, the scholarship is now in its eighth year and is designed to fund international research on a topic related to the survival of our towns and cities in a location of the student’s choice.

Five Teams Shortlisted to Masterplan UCL’s New Campus in London’s Olympicopolis

Five consortiums have been shortlisted to envision the University College London’s (UCL) new 125,000-square-meter campus on a key section of London’s Olympicopolis. Planned for the site’s cultural and educational district, nearby the future homes of Victoria & Albert Museum, University of the Arts London and Sadler’s Wells, the campus’ first phase will include the university’s first School of Design, a “Museum of the Future,” and the UCL Center for Experimental Engineering. 

The complete shortlist, including Aecom, Gehl Architects and Stanton Williams, after the break.

Five Practices Shortlisted To Restore Mackintosh's Glasgow School Of Art

Five practices are the running to restore Charles Rennie Mackintosh's celebrated school of art in Glasgow. UK based John McAslan + Partners (who restored Mackintosh's last major commission), Scottish practice Page \ Park, and London and Hong-Kong based architects Purcell are all in the frame to lead the restoration of the Mackintosh Building amid a debate over how best to approach the rebuilding of the library and the areas of the building that were devastated by fire in May of last year. The selection of Avanti Architects and LDN Architects complete the rostra.

2015 London Festival Of Architecture To Explore 'Work In Progress'

It has been revealed that the theme for the 2015 London Festival of Architecture (LFA) will centre around 'Work In Progress'. The festival, which is comprised of a series of events in and around the UK capital, seeks to "highlight the key role architecture plays in social, urban and cultural development." The annual celebration, which will run between the 1st and 30th June, will be jointly delivered by the Architecture Foundation, the British Council, New London Architecture, and the RIBA's London branch. Last year's 10th anniversary festival saw over 200 events ranging from walking tours and cycle rides, to exhibitions, talks, debates and films all addressing the theme of 'Capital'.

Demolition Begins On John Madin's Brutalist Former Library in Birmingham

Work has begun on the demolition of the UK city of Birmingham's former Central Library, designed by home-grown Brutalist architect John Madin. The move by Birmingham Council to not retain the structure of the library, in spite of ideas and petitions put forward by numerous public groups (including one titled Keep The Ziggurat), has been widely met with disappointment among the architectural community. The BBC recently compiled some of the most interesting ideas for reuse which included, among others, transforming the concrete structure into a new English Parliament, an international trade centre, and an enormous space for rock climbing.

Madin, who passed away in 2012, had at least three of his major Modernist projects demolished during his lifetime. His design for Birmingham Library had been met with criticism from the likes of the city's Director of Planning and Regeneration of the time who described it as a "concrete monstrosity." Prince Charles famously described it as "looking more like a place for burning books than keeping them."

See photographs of the former library under construction and in use after the break.

View of the former lending library Interior perspective view of the proposed library (date unknown) John Madin's Library under construction (1971) Aerial view of the completed former library

When Does A Restoration Become A Replica?

Following the unfortunate series of events that saw the Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) iconic Mackintosh Library devastated in a fire in May of last year, a leading Scottish architect has stated that he is "seriously against the idea of remaking the library" as a replica of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's original acclaimed design. Talking to the Scottish Herald, Professor Alan Dunlop has stated that "there is actually no way you can replace it as it was [as] there was 100 years of age and patina that you would have to replicate." Furthermore, he believes that it would not be something that "Mackintosh would do," citing the expansion of "his work in the years between each part of the Mackintosh Building being built [in 1899 and 1909]" as justification. It is his feeling that "the former library had essentially become a museum [and] not a viable working room for students and staff."