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Danish Embassy and University of Manchester Present "The Liveable City"

Imagine the ideal city—one where residents are happy, healthy, financially secure, and living in a community that is both beautiful and safe. How do we bring our own neighborhoods up to that standard? The Liveable City, a series of (free!) seminars and events starting this week at the University of Manchester, can offer a few answers. A collaboration between the University, the Danish Embassy in the UK, and RIBA North West, The Liveable City is an exploration in urban design and planning. It invites architects, businesses, and the general public to participate in dialogue that seeks to improve the quality of life in cities in the United Kingdom and in Denmark. The schedule of events runs from November 20th to the 27th, and will take place in the Benzie Building of the Manchester School of Architecture. See more details after the break!

Mario Palanti: Architect of Rome's Skyscraper That Never Was

Adam Nathaniel Furman, architect and winner of this year's Blueprint Award for Design Innovation, is currently undertaking his tenure as the recipient of the 2014/15 Rome Prize for Architecture at the British School at Rome. His ongoing project, entitled The Roman Singularity, seeks to explore and celebrate Rome as "the contemporary city par-excellence" - "an urban version of the internet, a place where the analogical-whole history of society, architecture, politics, literature and art coalesce into a space so intense and delimited that they collapse under the enormity of their own mass into a singularity of human endeavour."

In this short essay inspired by the work of Dietrich C Neumann, an architectural historian at Brown University (Providence, RI USA), Furman examines what would have been "the tallest building in the world [...] housing Italy’s new Parliament, lecture halls, meeting rooms, a hotel, library, enormous sports facilities, lighthouse, clock, astronomical observatory, telegraph and telephone stations, [reflecting] sunlight off its acres and acres of white Carrara marble." In the shadow of Italian Fascism, Mario Palanti saw an opportunity to transform the skyline of the Italian capital by pandering to the egotistical ambitions of a dictator. Ultimately the extent of his vision was matched only by his failure.

Five Teams Shortlisted To Design Bristol Arena

Five practices have been shortlisted to put forward designs for the Bristol Arena, a cultural and sporting hub which is set to have a 12,000 seating capacity and is due to open towards the end of 2017. The city's Mayor, George Ferguson (who is himself an architect-turned-politician), has said that "we now have five very capable and talented design teams with a wealth of experience between them drawing up proposals" that will contribute to the regeneration of the city's Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone (a site close to Temple Meads Station). The five shortlisted multi-disciplinary design teams are consortiums experienced in delivering major cultural venues in the UK or overseas. A team led by Populous, who completed the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, are running in collaboration with Feilden Clegg Bradley, who were shortlisted for the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize. They are competing against teams led by Grimshaw and Wilkinson Eyre, who recently installed a cable-car across London's Millennium Dome.

See details of the five teams after the break.

BIG Tapped to Design Public Square for Battersea Power Station

BIG is set to make its UK debut. As reported by the Architect’s Journal, the Danish practice has been selected from an international shortlist to design a public square for Battersea Power Station. Though no formal announcement has been made, the “Malaysia Square” scheme will be a key element in the Wilkinson Eyre-designed masterplan, serving as the development’s “front door.” It will connect the masterplan’s first three phases, just south of the listed landmark, which include Frank Gehry and Foster + Partners’ proposed “Electric Boulevard.”

Are Monuments And Memorials Intrinsically Introverted?

The Observer's Rowan Moore "accidentally got swept into a tide of humanity at the weekend, or to put it another way, couldn’t move for crowds." In memorial of the start of the centenary of World War One, of which today marks the anniversary of the armistice (11.11.1918), the Tower of London have installed a sea of 888,246 ceramic poppies in the former moat. The artwork, created by Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, and entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, "has caught the national imagination." For Moore, however, "it is deeply disturbing that a hundred years on from 1914, [the UK] can only mark this terrible war as a national tragedy." He argues that "the spectacle of all these red poppies is emptier than that. [...] It is a deeply aestheticised, prettified and toothless war memorial." Read the article in full here.

Renzo Piano Gains Planning Permission for Shard-Adjacent Residential Tower

Renzo Piano Building Workshop has been awarded planning approval for Feilden House, a 26-storey residential building at London Bridge Quarter, directly adjacent to the Shard. Designed to complement the Shard and Place Buildings, the third piece of Piano's London Bridge Developments will add "generous public realm amenities" to the area at ground level.

North-South Section. Image Courtesy of RPBW Courtesy of RPBW Typical Floor Plan Lower Levels. Image Courtesy of RPBW View from Thomas Street looking East. Image Courtesy of RPBW

Winners Of The 2014 RIBA President’s Awards for Research Announced

The RIBA President's Awards for Research, established to "promote and champion high-quality research and encourage its dissemination to the profession," have announced the 2014 laureates. Spanning four categories - Master's, PhD, University, and Practice-Located Research - the winning theses and projects highlight the need for research across the profession to nurture innovation and strategic thinking. Ruth Morrow, chair of the jury and Professor at Queen's University Belfast, commented on the judging panel's "disappointment" at the lack of entries submitted from outside London.

The disparity between the six London based schools and those in the rest of the UK (of which there are more than forty high-calibre institutions) continually makes itself manifest in RIBA student awards. In spite of this, half of the awards and commendations given this year are for students studying at schools outside the capital; the remaining half were awarded to students of The Bartlett (UCL). Morrow hopes that "next year, in the 10th anniversary year of the awards, that more universities and practices from across the nations and regions will submit entries."

See this year's winning and commended projects after the break.

UK's First Frank Lloyd Wright House Blocked by Planning Inspector

A plan by Stephen Brooks Architects to build the first Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in the UK has been blocked at the appeal stage by a planning inspector, reports the Architects' Journal. Based on a 1947 design by Wright for the O'Keefe family in California, the project was the brainchild of Dr Hugh Petter, a Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiast who negotiated for eight years with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation before gaining permission to build the unrealised design in Tyntesfield Springs near Bristol, thousands of miles from its intended location.

Does Devolution Hold The Key To Greater Investment In The Built Environment?

The British city of Manchester, often seen as the UK's second city alongside Birmingham, will become the first metropolis outside of London to be given greater local autonomy over budgets and city planning. The devolution deal, which will also see the city receive the right to directly elect a Mayor (in line with large cities in the US, for example), will furnish the city with "a new housing investment fund worth up to £300million." As it is understood that the first Mayor of Greater Manchester will be elected in 2017, there's time to discuss how this new political environment in the UK might help boost building in what has described as a "Northern Powerhouse."

Exploring A Radical Future For Our Urban Waterways

In the third and final installment of their micro documentary series on architecture and waterEllis Woodman and a team at the Architectural Review (AR) have collaborated with architects, developers, urbanists and thinkers to examine the latent connections between water infrastructure and our built environment. Taking a journey by narrowboat through , the film explores the radical ideas which may offer the keys to unlocking the potential of the urban waterway. Through recreation, interaction and radical ideas such as floating parks, amphibious houses and new public wetlands can the river become a living part of the city?

Foster + Partners Reveals Cardiff Central Square Masterplan

Millennium Walkway. Image Courtesy of Cardiff City Council
Millennium Walkway. Image Courtesy of Cardiff City Council

The City of Cardiff has unveiled plans by Foster + Partners to redesign the city's Central Square, close to the Millennium Stadium, adding over a million square feet of office, retail and residential buildings organized around a new civic square. Explaining that it is "the key gateway to Cardiff" for many visitors, City Council leader Phil Bale said that Central Square's "role in providing a positive image for Cardiff and Wales cannot be underestimated," adding that Foster + Partners' design is "reflective of the City’s ambition to be amongst the most ‘liveable’ cities in the world."

More on the plan after the break

Preston Bus Station to Become a Youth Centre Under New Proposal

A proposal to ensure the future of Preston Bus Station could see part of the structure converted into a youth centre, as part of a £23 million renovation. The proposal by the building's owners, Lancashire County Council, involves halving the number of bus bays used by the structure to 40, freeing up the western end of the building for other uses, including a sports hall, climbing wall, art centre and outdoor sports pitches.

In addition to the youth centre, the £23 million budget covers renovation to the existing structure and improvements to the surrounding highway. Funding for the proposal will come partly from the council and partly from Preston Youth Zone.

More on the proposal after the break

'The Rom' Becomes Europe's First Listed Skatepark

English Heritage has awarded a Grade-II listing to "The Rom," a skatepark in Hornchurch on the outskirts of London. Built in 1978, the Rom was one of the UK's first wave of purpose-built skateparks, and probably the most complete example found in the UK today. The listing makes the Rom the first protected skatepark in Europe, and just the second in the world after Tampa's "Bro Bowl" was added to the USA’s National Register of Historic Places last year.

More on the listing decision after the break

© Played in Britain © Played in Britain © Played in Britain © Played in Britain

The Question of Gentrification Along London's Urban Waterways

In the second installment of their new three-part micro documentary series on architecture and water (see the first part here), Ellis Woodman and a team at the Architectural Review (AR) have collaborated with architects, developers, urbanists and thinkers to examine the latent connections between water infrastructure and our built environment. Taking a journey by narrowboat through , the film explores the radical ideas which may offer the keys to unlocking the potential of the urban waterway. When London has an ever-increasing overwhelming need for growth, how does the densification and gentrification of the city relate to the rivers and canals?

A Shed of One’s Own: An Exploration of Architectural Sheds and Writer’s Bothies

As part of the Dylan Thomas in Fitzrovia festivalThe Building Centre is examining the space Dylan Thomas and other writers depend on to create their work. A Shed of One's Own is a photographic exploration of unique sheds with architectural significance and literary connections. From award-winning studios in Central London to weathered bothies in Scotland, this exhibition explores the importance of space for creativity and inspiration. 

A Mobile Italian Garden Overlooking London

The Decorators, an interdisciplinary group of practitioners working with space in London, recently transformed the terrace overlooking the city at Alexandra Palace by installing a mobile Italian garden. As a "landscape of scattered objects" which geometrically piece together to resemble a formal garden, the designers describe the project as somewhere between "grotto and folly, garden and landscape, stage and amphitheater," all the while drawing from the historical character of the surrounding context. The scheme ultimately "breaks the monumental proportions of the main building to meet visitors with a more intimate scale on their first encounter" with the palace.

© Dosfotos © Dosfotos © Dosfotos © Dosfotos

Architecture & Water: Exploring Radical Ideas To Unlock The Potential of Urban Waterways

In the first part of their new micro documentary series on architecture and water, Ellis Woodman and a team at the Architectural Review (AR) have collaborated with architects, developers, urbanists and thinkers to examine the latent connections between water infrastructure and our built environment. Taking a journey by narrowboat through London, discussing a raft of radical ideas which may offer the keys to unlocking the potential of the river along the way, the films discuss how we might begin to shape the contemporary city's relationship with its urban waterways. Can "floating parks, amphibious houses, floodable public squares, new wetlands or brand new canals foster a more meaningful relationship between the citizen and the city’s waters?"

RIBA Future Trends Survey Shows UK's Confidence Remains High

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey for September showed that, for yet another month, confidence is high among UK architects, with the workload index up fractionally to +29 from +28 in August. Again, this positive figure was spread right across the country, with the most optimistic reports coming from Northern Ireland and the North of England, reporting workload index figures of +80 and +46 respectively - promising figures considering that these two areas were "slowest to show signs of recovery" after the recession, according to the RIBA.