Humanity has become obsessed with breaking its limits, creating new records only to break them again and again. In fact, our cities’ skylines have always been defined by those in power during every period in history. At one point churches left their mark, followed by public institutions and in the last few decades, it's commercial skyscrapers that continue to stretch taller and taller.
But when it comes to defining which buildings are the tallest it can get complicated. Do antennas and other gadgets on top of the building count as extra meters? What happens if the last floor is uninhabitable? The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has developed their own system for classifying tall buildings, measuring from the “level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment.” Using this system more than 3,400 buildings have been categorized as over 150 meters tall.
Postmodernism is back, it seems, and the architectural establishment has mixed feelings about it. This revival has been brewing for a while. In 2014, Metropolis Magazine created a “watchlist” of the best postmodernist buildings in New York that had been overlooked by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and were therefore at risk of being altered or destroyed. Last year, the listing of James Stirling’s One Poultry in the City of London kicked off a discussion about the value of Britain’s postmodernist buildings from the 1980s, as they reach an age when they are eligible for listing for preservation by Historic England. More recently Sean Griffiths, co-founder of the former architectural practice FAT, warned against a postmodernist revival, arguing that a style that thrived on irony could be dangerous in an era of Donald Trump, when satire seems to no longer be an effective political tool. The debate looks set to continue as, next year, London’s John Soane museum is planning an exhibition devoted to postmodernism.
Architecture and urban design firm, Farrells, in collaboration with AECOM, have won the competitive tender to design the Singapore terminus of the new Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail.
Sited in Singapore’s “futuristic second Central Business District” of Jurong Lake, the design was conceived as a new civic landmark and a part of the district’s new master plan currently in development by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and a team of consultants led by KCAP Architects & Planners.
While the railway station’s platforms are located below ground, the design aims to create an above-ground focal point that will mark the station as a new international gateway to Singapore.
TFP Farrells have been selected by Winland Group in an international competition to design "the pioneer project of an emerging financial district," the Xiamen Cross Strait Financial Center. Located on the eastern coast of Xiamen Island, the 500,000 square meter project will comprise four high-rise towers containing office buildings, a serviced apartment tower, a 5-star hotel and retail space.
Last week the UK Government appointed a new housing design panel, intended to "ensure that new homes are not only lower-cost but also high-quality and well-designed." The panel will be led by Terry Farrell, classical architect Quinlan Terry and aesthetics philosopher Roger Scruton, as well as representatives from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the UK Design Council and lobby group Create Streets. However, the profession was quick to criticize the selection of the three lead members of the panel.
Oliver Colvile, chairman of the UK's All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Excellence in the Built Environment, has proposed that UK Members of Parliament should be invited to an architecture workshop to improve their understanding of the built environment. The workshop would be jointly run by the APPG and the Farrell Review, and could include activities such as designing a virtual town or an architectural sightseeing tour along the Thames. More on the proposal after the break.
The House of Lords has announced that the proposal to appoint a 'Chief Architect' in the UK, one of the major recommendations of this year's report by Terry Farrell, will be discussed by the UK's minister for architecture Ed Vaizey and Housing and Planning minister Brandon Lewis. The proposal was among 60 recommendations made by the Farrell Review at the end of March. Other proposals due to be discussed by ministers are a the idea of establishing a Place Leadership Council and design review panels for infrastructure projects. More after the break...
After a year of gathering evidence and consultation, Sir Terry Farrell's review of UK architecture has finally been released. The review, commissioned by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, includes 60 proposals to improve the quality of the UK's built environment, targeting a wide range of groups including education, planning, government and developers.
Farrellshas been announced as winner of an international competition to masterplan two prominent commercial zones in Shenzhen’s Qianhai financial district. Adjacent to the district’s Qianhaiwan metro station, the two districts are expected to boost cross-border trade between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The first, 460,000-square-meter masterplan will feature a 320-meter-tall skyscraper and two 185-meter gateway towers, providing high-end office, residential and retail space, as well as serviced apartments.
In this intriguing and often insightful two-part interview with Section D, Monocle's weekly design radio show, Sir Terry Farrell discusses at length the findings of his review into UK architecture as well as his views on the current state of architecture in the UK and the world. Looking to the future of the profession, Farrell says he sees architects as one of the key contributors to the world's social future: "We live in what we've built, we're an urban-building creature... I call it the urbi-cultural revolution."
Read more about the interview, and listen to both parts of the interview, after the break
West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has appointed Herzog & de Meuron and TFP Farrells to design a new museum for visual culture on the edge of a reclaimed, 14-hectare park in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Focusing on 20th and 21st century art, design, architecture and moving image, M+ will be one of the first projects to be completed in the West Kowloon Cultural District, and a key venue in creating interdisciplinary exchange between the visual arts and the performing arts in Asia.
A recent report by the UK Architectural Education Review Group has highlighted the high cost of education as a barrier which prevents less wealthy students from accessing the profession, reveals BDonline. Among a number of concerns raised about the current state of architectural education, it says that the cost to study architecture in the UK could "create an artificial barrier to the profession based solely on a student’s willingness to accept high levels of personal debt".
Architecture has long been seen as a pastime of the wealthy, as evidenced by Philip Johnson's claim that "the first rule of architecture is be born rich, the second rule is, failing that, to marry wealthy". However, the report acknowledges the fact that making the profession open to people of all backgrounds is not only a moral imperative, but will be vital to bring the best talent into the field.
Read more about the barriers surrounding the profession of architecture after the break
Last week the UK's Culture Minister Ed Vaizey announced that he was commissioning a review of the country's architecture policy, to be led by Sir Terry Farrell along with a number of high profile advisors, including Thomas Heatherwick, Alison 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...