Seven Architects Transform London’s RA into Multi-Sensory Experience

Installation (Blue Pavilion) by Pezo von Ellrichshausen. © Royal Academy of Arts, , 2014. Photography: James Harris

This past week London’s Royal Academy of Arts (RA) celebrated the opening of, what many claim to be, one of the most “epic” and “enchanting” exhibitions of 2014: Sensing Space: Architecture Reimagined. With a series of large scale installations by some of profession’s most acclaimed architects, such as Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Kengo Kuma, the immersive exhibition creates an atmosphere that encourages visitors to become part of the experience and open their minds to the sensory realm of architecture.

“Architecture is so often the background to our lives,” stated curator Kate Goodwin. “We often don’t think about it – it’s practical and functional, but when does it do something more?”

A preview of the installations, after the break.

London’s Growing… Up! The Rise and Rise of London’s Tall Buildings

CPAT / Hayes Davidson / Jason Hawkes

’s skyline is currently going through a massive change. Over 200 towers are planned in the capital in an attempt to meet the needs of the capital’s growing population. So how will ’s skyline change in the next 20 years?

This April, New London Architecture (NLA) – London’s Centre for the Built Environment will explore this new skyline with London’s Growing… Up! Through the use of images, video, models, CGI’s and visitor interaction, the exhibition will present a past, present and future view of London’s skyline as the capital’s developers focus on building upwards rather than outwards.

More after the break.

UK Pavilion Milan Expo 2015 Design Competition

The British Government will showcase Britain’s distinctive qualities of creativity and enterprise to millions of international visitors through the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015.

Competing with pavilions from 140+ countries, the Pavilion will address the overall Expo theme, Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, which asks the question: is it possible to ensure sufficient, good, healthy and sustainable food for everyone on the planet? While the Expo’s central theme is nutrition, explored in terms of food production and consumption, participating countries are also asked to examine how to nurture the environment and celebrate the life-enhancing and social aspects of food.

The new Pavilion should build on the perception of the UK established by its Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 and the London 2012 Olympic Games. As one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and currently benefiting from a strongly-growing economy, Britain’s unique global contribution flows from its values and attributes − as an open, innovative, collaborative and diverse nation.

The challenge is to invent a structure that represents a British take on the Expo theme. The Expo organisers have asked for pavilions which are designed in relation to their content and add to their significance. The overall concept needs to be original, visually compelling and memorable. The project presents a fascinating opportunity for an exceptional team to come to world attention.

This is a fast-track competition – Expressions of Interest by 19th February 2014. For all the details regarding submission, please go to the competition’s official website.

AA Exhibition: Third Natures

The Golden Dome, Tokyo

Third Natures presents 15 years of speculations, projects and built proposals by the Madrid- based duo of Cristina Díaz Moreno and Efrén García Grinda and their collaborators, ranging from the beginnings of the practice in 1997 to their latest works, completed in 2013. In total, 26 projects are shown through drawings, models, objects and photographs. All this material is organised according to laws of affinity and connection, in an attempt to convey the vast range of the projects and their main field of operation – the space of mediation between people, objects, natural species and built environments. 

The title for this collection draws on a term first coined during the Renaissance to refer to a new type of garden that created a new and hitherto unknown reality – a ‘third nature’ – with a radical new materiality that was constructed through cultural connections. In the same way, the practice explores how cultural materials can be assimilated and then given back to the world in the form of proposals with strong links to contemporary society. Their approach, both critical and celebratory, is based on the emergence of new, extreme and unexpected forms of beauty. For further details, please click here.

House of Muses – Future Visions for the Museum of London

Museum of Exterior, Courtesy The Museum of

The Architecture Foundation is delighted to be working with the Museum of London to commission a design team to develop a temporary structure that will help facilitate participatory discussion about future development plans for the Museum of London and the wider cultural hub in this part of London. The structure, which will be located outside the Museum of London’s main entrance, should be able to accommodate individuals and small groups at any one time and allow them to feedback on proposed visions for the Museum and its future. It is envisaged that the structure should also help attract visitors to the Museum and make use of its exterior forecourt spaces.

The winning design will be realised in time for the London Festival of Architecture 2014 in June and will remain in place until September 2014. The legacy of the structure will also be incorporated into the brief and designers will be asked to put forward suggestions for how the structure could have an afterlife.

For all the details, please click here.

Renzo Piano-Designed Residential Tower Planned to Neighbor the Shard

View of The Shard from Millennium Bridge (June 2012). Image © Michel Denancé

Sellar Property Group has announced plans to commission yet another -designed tower in at the base of The Shard. Replacing the current Fielden House, a 1970s office building located on London Bridge Street, the new 27-story residential tower plans to provide 150 apartments, retail space and roof garden. As part of the area’s regeneration plan, the project will be the third Piano-designed building on the block.

AJ’s Women in Architecture Survey Reveals Discrimination and a Pronounced Pay Gap

Denise Scott-Brown in Las Vegas. Image © Frank Hanswijk

Following a year of high-profile debates surrounding , the results from the Architects’ Journal (AJ) third annual survey entitled Women in Architecture has been revealed. According to the AJ, “two thirds of women in architecture have suffered sexual discrimination at work, an eight point increase since the survey began in 2011″, and “88% of women respondents believe that having children puts women at a disadvantage in architecture.” Even though women in architecture believe that they are paid equally to men, they can in fact “earn as much as £10,000 ($16,500) less than their male counterparts.” More, after the break.

Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature

The Sahara Forest Project. Courtesy The Sahara Forest Project Foundation

In February 2014, The Architecture Foundation will present Exploration Architecture: Designing with Nature, the first ever solo show of Exploration, a thought-leading architecture and design practice working in the field of biomimicry.

A striking 3D printed installation will showcase a selection of four projects and prototypes from the studio’s cutting-edge research on sustainable, nature-inspired design, including two new, previously unpublished designs. Study models, sketches and specially commissioned short films introducing Exploration’s projects will be presented alongside a myriad of natural specimens that inspired the designs – offering unique insight into the studio’s practice of learning from nature in order to deliver future-facing solutions for architecture, systems design and materials production that address the major challenges of our age.

John McAslan: Community Design, From Haiti to Tottenham

Tottenham High Road, Where John McAslan + Partners plan to open their new office. Image © Flickr CC User Alan Stanton

John McAslan + Partners, already known for their involvement in humanitarian issues thanks to their work in Haiti, are now turning their attention to Tottenham in London, as reported by The Guardian. The practice hopes that by opening a new office on the high street of Tottenham, the area notorious as the crucible of the riots that spread across the UK in August 2011, and by engaging with the community, they can help to make a change. Read the full story here.

Mecanoo’s Francesco Veenstra on “Sustainability as Social Responsibility”

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Francesco Veenstra, one of six partners at the Dutch practice Mecanoo and Lead Architect on a number of major projects in the United Kingdom, recently spoke to Mies. UK about the practice’s approach to design and their unique take on sustainability. Having recently completed a major public building in Birmingham (which was put to the vote and won the AJ’s 2013 Building of the Year), and with more in the pipeline, the practice’s international outlook is growing. How has the practice’s design methodology and core ideas influenced this success? Read more after the break.

AD Interviews: Ben van Berkel, UNStudio on London’s Canaletto Tower

Ben van Berkel. Image © Inga Powilleit

ArchDaily recently spoke to Ben van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect at UNStudio, an international network of specialists in architecture, urban development and infrastructure based in the Netherlands. The office, which was founded in 1988, has completed projects around the world ranging from Rotterdam’s Erasmus Bridge to the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. With over 81 built projects, and 54 currently in progress (including Raffles City in Hangzhou and Scotts Tower in Singapore), ’s Canaletto Tower (which is due to be completed in 2015) marks the practice’s first major project in the UK.

Roger Stephenson: “Using Craft in a Contemporary Way”

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Mies. UK recently spoke to Roger Stephenson OBE, Managing Partner at based stephenson:ISA Studio, about his award winning practice’s approach to “using craft in a contemporary way”. The office most recently completed an addition to Chetham’s School of Music, winning the 2013 RIBA Regional Building of the Year Award, RIBA National Award, and the RIBA Regional Award. This project is the latest in a long list of innovative buildings that are part of a ”rigorously coherent, contextually progressive architecture” that has made the practice one of best known regionalist design offices in the UK. 

Read the interview in full, and watch a three minute tour of Chetham’s School of Music, after the break.

London Cinema Challenge Winners Announced

Third Place: Peep(le) Show. Image Courtesy of London Cinema Challenge / Combo

The London Cinema Challenge, organized by Combo Competitions, challenged participants to design a new cinema located on Newman Street in central London which should “reflect the participants’ ideas of the cinematic experience in the near future.” The scope of the proposal, along with the extravagance of the idea, was decided by the individual competitors with the only criterion being that the design provided a space to watch movies. In addition to the cinema, each proposal had to include a “unique feature helping to serve the main purpose” of the building. Whether “an intimate screening room for indie films, or a commercial multi-storey cinema complex showing blockbusters,” the winning proposals demonstrate an array of unique ideas.

Foster + Partners’ Thames Hub On the Chopping Block

’ Proposal for Thames Hub. Image Courtesy of

The prognosis does not look good for Foster + Partners’ plan for an airport hub in the Thames Estuary. The Guardian reports that the Independent Airports Commission has released an interim report, revealing a shortlist of potential options for the – and the Thames Hub (with an estimated price tag of £112bn)  isn’t on it.  Yet hope (however slim) does remain for the proposal, as its persistent defender, London mayor Boris Johnson, has managed to convince the commission to revisit the idea in early 2014. Get the whole story at The Guardian.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre Opens its Doors

© Peter Cook

After a tortuous 21-year process Stonehenge, the stone circle that is one of the world’s most important neolithic artifacts, finally has the visitor centre it deserves. Denton Corker Marshall‘s design, situated 2.5 km (1.5 miles) to the west of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, has opened its doors and is preparing to deal with the site’s nearly 1 million annual visitors.

The new design features a museum, educational facilities, a cafe, shop and a ticket office. These spaces are brought together by a perforated oversailing roof supported on 211 narrow angled columns.

Read on for more about the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre

The Crystal Palace Architectural Competition

Site

Architects have been invited to submit expressions of interest in designing The Crystal Palace as a new cultural destination for in the spirit, scale and magnificence of the original. Plans to invest £500 million in rebuilding The Crystal Palace and restoring the surrounding public park were announced in October by ZhongRong Group, with the support of the Mayor of London and the Bromley Council.

The new culture-led exhibition and employment space will sit at the top of the 180-acre Crystal Palace Park in south London. It will incorporate the listed Italian style terraces, and other Victorian heritage within the park, fully restored for the public. The project is expected to create more than 2000 permanent and temporary jobs as well as attracting wider investment into the local high streets and the wider economy.

A Bad Month for Frank Lloyd Wright Fans

The SC Johnson Administration building, featuring Wright’s (now controversial) desks. Image © Jeff Dean

December has been a month of disappointment for fans of Frank Lloyd Wright: first, a plan to build a house designed by Wright and adapted for the English countryside has been rejected by Wraxall Councillors (Bristol Post), who believe that Frank Lloyd Wright “can’t be that influential”. This was followed by the news that SC Johnson, the company for whom Wright designed the famous Johnson Administration Building, is trying to stop the high profile Sotheby’s auction (ArtInfo) of a desk and chair designed for their building – claiming that the items were in fact stolen from them way back in the 1950s. More on the rejection here and the Sotheby”s controversy here.

Detailed New Rendering of Southbank Released

© Miller Hare

Earlier this month, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios released new images of the Southbank Centre, the most detailed renderings yet of the highly controversial redevelopment. Among the most significant alterations are a change to the exterior of the crowning glass box, a slight reduction in the size of the “liner” building (to preserve views of the Houses of Parliament from the neighboring National Theatre), and adjustments to various columns to preserve routes through the site.

Read on to find out more about the changes to the design..