‘The Great Sky’: Great Fen Visitor Center Competition Entry / Nicholas Hare Architects

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The ‘Great Sky Visitor Center’ is a shimmering mirrored disc floating above the flat horizon of the Great Fen atop a shallow cone of fenland planting – a dramatic profile and marker in the landscape, but also one camouflaged when seen from the air. Designed by Nicholas Hare Architects, the silvered surface, that seen from within, dematerializes its edge against a reflected sky, intends to patinate and change over time in sympathy with the landscape it reflects. More images and architects’ description after the break.

University of Surrey 5G Research Center Winning Proposal / Scott Tallon Walker Architects

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Scott Tallon Walker Architects just won the competition to design the new £35 million 5G Research Centre for the University of Surrey which will be the world’s first center for research into the next stage of mobile technology at the University. Their concept for the new building creates a flexible space with a circular atrium that acts as a central lung and focus, to ensure maximum interaction amongst researchers. The building will house the ’s largest academic research center for mobile communications with 130 researchers and around 90 PhD students. The project has been given an urgent status and it is being undertaken immediately/ The project is expected to be completed well before the end of next year. More images and architects’ description after the break.

‘The Fenland Beacon’: Great Fen Visitor Center Competition Entry / Nicholas Hare Architects

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Titled, ‘The Fenland Beacon’, this proposal for the Great Fen Visitor Center is rooted in the landscape; responding to the inherent qualities of the Great Fen. Designed by Nicholas Hare Architects, the expansive sweep of the timber façade that ventures out and dissolve into the landscape is punctuated by the tower dramatically rising above the Fenland horizon, anchoring the visitor center within the wider context; an orientating beacon within the expanse of the Great Fen. More images and architects’ description after the break.

RIBA Campaigns For Space and Light Requirements in New Homes

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In preparation for a ministerial review of housing standards by the UK , the RIBA has launched their “Without Space + Light” campaign aimed at advocating minimum requirements for total space and natural lighting in order to improve quality in new built homes.

The campaign, supported by a survey titled “Housing Standards and Satisfaction: What the Public Wants“, aims to combat the recent trend towards ‘shoe-box homes’, highlighting the dissatisfaction among owners of new homes when it comes to living standards and the fact that new homes are an average of 10% smaller than they used to be.

Not only are the space standards in UK homes poor compared to past , they also lag behind standards set by other European countries: in Ireland, new homes are on average 15% larger, in the Netherlands they are 53% larger, and most strikingly in Denmark they are a full 80% larger.

Read more about the campaign after the break…

Great Fen Visiting Center Competition Entry / Arrigoni Architetti

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The proposed Great Fen Visitor Center by Arrigoni Architetti consists of three barns arranged on the edge between land and water in a clear orthogonal layout. Gathered around an open space, the buildings will represent the welcoming meeting point for single visitors and groups as well as the ideal setting for outdoor activities and events. The goal is to find a balance between architecture and landscape, loosening the boundaries between inside and outside, allowing different views and encouraging the curiosity for an individual, non preset experience. More images and architects’ description after the break.

4 Lessons the UK Should Take from Denmark

Superkilen masterplan designed by BIG + Topotek1 + Superflex. Image © Iwan Baan

Last week the ’s Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that he was commissioning a review of the country’s architecture , to be led by Sir Terry Farrell along with a number of high profile advisors, including Thomas HeatherwickAlison Brooks and Alain de Botton. According to Vaizey, the review, expected to be complete by the end of the year, “will be a rallying point for the profession.”

In his article in The Guardian, Olly Wainwright rather hopefully questioned: “might this year-long study result in an innovative new piece of legislative guidance – perhaps along the lines of Denmark’s architecture policy, introduced in 2007?” While Wainwright somewhat flatly concludes, “somehow, that seems unlikely,” there’s no doubt that the UK could only stand to gain from learning from Denmark’s innovative policy.

So what lessons could the UK (and the world) learn from the Danes? Read on after the break…

Long Lane Housing Proposal / C.F. Møller

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Long Lane, a key section of the Great Kneighton development on the southern fringe of Cambridge, has recently received planning approval, which will provide 273 homes over 5.4 hectares. Designed by C.F. Møller their contemporary retains historic features from the existing site, while providing homes that are functional, flexible and sustainable. Working in collaboration for developer Homes by Skanska and PRP, the customer-focused scheme provides a tenure-blind mix of private and affordable . More images and architects’ description after the break.

Great Fen Visiting Center Competition Entry / Alexandros Avlonitis + Aggeliki Anagnostopoulou

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Designed by Alexandros Avlonitis + , their proposal for the Great Fen Visiting Center is derived by the observation of the natural environment of the site and its manipulation by he human factor. The concept is based on an attempt to mimic a very common phenomenon of agricultural terrains: the stacking of blocks of hay, and their impulsive installation in the middle of endless fields. Therefore, the new Great Fen Visitor Center becomes not a building, but a stack of volumes placed in the landscape. More images and architects’ description after the break.

BBC Radio 4 Competition: Design the Listening Project’s Pod

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BBC Radio 4, in collaboration with RIBA, just launched a competition for the design of a portable ‘pod’ to enable their conversations, which have become essential listening, valued moments in their hectic broadcasting schedules, to take place in different venues around the such as shopping centers, libraries and festivals. For some people it might be the chance to capture memories, to relive shared moments, to put down for posterity how we feel about each other – or to have  the one conversation they have always wanted to have. The Listening Project enables more of the general public the opportunity to record a conversation. The deadline to register is April 18 and the submission deadline is April 23. More information on the competition after the break.

UK’s Young Architect of the Year Awards Invites European Entries

European architects can now compete in the ’s prestigious Young Architect of the Year Award (). Now in its 16th year, is the only prize that recognizes the UK’s most promising new architectural practice and is a crucial means of allowing new practices to emerge.

Speaking at MIPIM, the international property fair in Cannes last week, BD Editor-in-Chief Amanda Baillieu said: “Over time, YAYA has proved itself as a consistently strong means of identifying the most promising young architects of each generation. But, since the prize was launched, the world has changed and the best architects in the UK now have to compete with their counterparts abroad. More than any other, this is a global profession so it makes sense to extend YAYA’s helping hand to the rest of Europe.”

Millennium Point Visibility Winning Proposal / Daniel Madeiros + Jonathan Schwinge

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Daniel Madeiros and Jonathan Schwinge were recently announced as the winners of the ideas competition organized by Millennium Point and the RIBA to enhance the visibility and image of Millennium Point in from the Jennens Road approach. The jury panel was struck by the beauty and grace of their winning idea which was underpinned by craft and technology, convincing the jury that the dramatic form could be constructed. Also demonstrating complexity and sensitivity to the site, Millennium Point will benefit greatly from this competition and the opportunities it now has for its next phase of architectural evolution. More images and architects’ description after the break.

The Reality Behind those UK Unemployment Statistics

"John Morefield, laid off twice in the past year, took a novel approach to find work." Photo © Jim Bryant/Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The findings of the recent BD employment survey in the , revealing that 22% of British architects are unemployed, certainly makes for unpleasant reading, but it is important to look beyond the upsetting numbers to figure out what they mean.

Much more than a simple number showing the rate of UK unemployment, a closer look at the results highlights problems, exposes trends, and dispels myths – from the assumed truth that is an employment “oasis” to the supposed strength the profession has shown in this economic crisis.

Read more analysis of the survey results, after the break…

Foster + Partners Approved for Mixed-Use Development on London’s Albert Embankment

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Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three towers on the 20-21 Albert Embankment in London. Ranging from 15 to 27 stories, the curved steel and glass structures will provide the area with 253 apartments, including affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and a residents’ bar, gym, pool and spa.

Grant Brooker, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners: “We are absolutely delighted that 20-21 Albert Embankment has received planning permission – working alongside our clients at St. James and with great support from Lambeth and the GLA, we hope to transform this important and highly visible site into a vibrant riverside community that sets a benchmark for the regeneration of this part of the river.”

More after the break…

UK Government Grants Approval to Liverpool Waters Scheme

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controversial plan to redevelop a large area of Liverpool’s waterfront has received an effective green light after the Communities Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, chose not to call in the scheme for a public inquiry. The £5.5 billion scheme is designed by Chapman Taylor and provides 9,000 homes, 300,000 square meters of office space and 50,000 square meters of hotel and other facilities. The scheme also includes the 55-story ‘Shanghai Tower’ and a cruise ferry terminal.

The plan has attracted criticism, in particular from English Heritage and UNESCO who worry that the size of the developments will negatively affect the Liverpool skyline, dominated for almost a century by the ‘Three Graces’ a trio of listed buildings that have come to define the view from the Mersey River. UNESCO has strongly opposed the development, placing Liverpool’s world heritage site on it’s ‘endangered’ list and threatening that if the scheme goes ahead, the area could lose its world heritage status.

Read more about the reaction to the scheme after the break…

Living Landscape: The Great Fen Visiting Center Proposal / Atelier CMJN

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Atelier CMJN shared with us their proposal for the Great Fen Visiting Center which aims at reconnecting humans with nature. In terms of sustainable development, or in the broader term ecology, is the reconnection of humans with their environment by restoring links between the users and the fen. By maximizing one’s chances to connect to this raw and simply beautiful environment, the project intends to not just restore a piece of anthropogenic nature, but reconnect mankind with its deepest self, nature. More images and architects’ description after the break.

AIA UK 2013 Excellence in Design Awards Call for Entries

Excellence in Design Evening 2012

The American Institute of Architects UK Chapter recently announced its call for entries in their annual Excellence in Design Awards. Entries are sought from architects based in Britain, and from architects throughout the world for built projects in the . Students of architecture who are currently enrolled in Universities are also strongly encouraged to apply. The winners of this year’s Excellence in Design Awards will be announced at the Excellence in Design Awards Gala Tuesday, April 23. The deadline for submissions is March 22 at 5:00pm. For more information, please visit here.

BD Survey Reveals 22% of UK Architects Unemployed

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A survey conducted by BD has revealed that 22% of qualified architects in the are currently unemployed. The survey included fully qualified architects as well as graduates who are still in training, and paints a bleak picture of the current state of the British architecture industry. Other trends which the survey highlights are a reduction in job security as many architects move to freelance work to stay active, and an average 30% wage reduction for those still in employment.

More results of the survey after the break

And the Winner Is… Competitive Advantages?

Kengo Kuma’s competition winning design for the V&A at Dundee. Courtesy V&A.

Architectural competitions may be regarded as an opportunity or a burden. There are numerous architectural practices that have gained significant attention for their submissions and winnings in highly publicized competitions, but the reality is that architectural competitions are expensive and do not guarantee reward. And yet, they are an opportunity to engage in a critical dialogue about the projects at hand, and may be approached with more creative and imaginative risk than when working directly with a client, which is probably why they are so popular and numerous.  They are also an opportunity to bring the public into conversations about architecture in the public forum. These are just some of the considerations that The Architecture Foundation hopes to tackle in its new series, “And the Winner is…?“.

Throughout 2013, The Architecture Foundation will be hosting a three-series of critical and polemic explorations into the culture of architecture , competitions and festivals.  The first in the series, “Competitive Advantages” will be a discussion considering the nature of architecture competitions and their advantages and disadvantages as they pertain to the clients and the public, established architectural firms and emerging practices.