Posts tagged with "London":

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Architectural Association earns degree granting rights

The Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London has finally been given taught-degree awarding powers (TDAP), allowing the influential school to grant degrees for the first time in its 170-year history. While the school is the oldest independent architecture school in the U.K. and internationally renowned as a pioneering educational institution, graduates of the AA could not, until now, receive academic degrees backed by the U.K. government. Nonetheless, the illustrious alumni list of the institution includes Pritzker Prize winners Rem Koolhaas, Richard Rogers, and Zaha Hadid among other big names.  The victory is a turning point for the AA, whose financial insecurity and an uncertain future was a major factor in pursuing accreditation earlier this year. The institution, which does not receive government funding, is reliant on student tuition dollars, particularly from foreign students whose visa status would remain on shaky ground as long as the school was unaccredited. While the road to gaining TDAP was years in the making, the school successfully petitioned the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education for the right this year.  "Without TDAP, the AA Diploma–widely known and internationally acclaimed – is not an academic award recognised by the UK government, and AA graduates regularly encounter challenges when returning home or to other overseas countries for the purposes of professional development or further academic study," explained Eva Franch i Gilabert, directors of the school, in an interview with Dezeen last year. Franch i Gilabert was elected to the directorial position in March 2018 after receiving the largest majority of any candidate in almost three decades.  Balancing the school’s finances and securing TDAP status was a major point of Franch i Gilabert’s administration. The decision to give degree-granting power is a much needed boon for the AA after the international architecture community protested staff cuts at the AA Files, the school’s journal, under the previous interim director. Their acceptance into the circle of official higher education institutions is also a sharp turn for the AA, which maintains a reputation for its cutting-edge and radical educational style. 
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Here's what to catch at this year's London Design Festival

It's September, which in the U.K. means it's time for the London Design Festival (LDF). Now in its 17th year, there is once again a feast of shows, talks, walks, exhibitions, and installations to gorge upon. The Architect's Newspaper has surveyed what's on view firsthand and rounded up what to catch this year. Sea Things, Sam Jacob Studio As always, the LDF is heavily connected to the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). At the museum's entrance, visitors can find a 13-foot-on-each-side glass cube hanging from the ceiling. Stand underneath it and look up, and you will find pieces of plastic floating by as if being carried by a current through space. It's only a film, but the mirrored edges of the cube create the impression of it being limitless through a simple, yet effective, trick. Titled Sea Things, the work from Sam Jacob Studio aims to raise awareness of plastic in our oceans. "The V&A is full of things and our relationship to things," Jacob told AN, who cited a hand-drawn pattern of sea creatures by the Eames's (in the V&A collection) as part of his inspiration. That pattern was drawn at a time when there was tangible hope of saving our oceans from pollution. Jacob's installation omits such optimism: by 2050, if current pollution levels remain on track, the world's oceans will be 50 percent plastic and 50 percent marine life, the end of his studio's film predicts. Black Masking Culture, Big Chief Demond Melancon with Assemble A surprise hit at the V&A comes from the New Orleans-based artist and educator, Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters. Working with London studio Assemble, two of Melancon's giant, full-body Mardi Gras Indian suits (I can't imagine how hot they must get) have been installed. The suits have been hand-sewn; fitting then, that they have been placed in the V&A's Tapestries Gallery. They are truly a sight to behold: joyously flamboyant, bursting with life, ornate and infinitely intricate, they are works of art in their own right. A fascinating film tracing the making of the suits in the run-up to Mardi Gras accompanies the suits and it's well worth a watch. More LDF at the V&A Many other installations part of LDF can be found at the V&A too. Studiomama has designed a wooden postbox, for example, and Korean artist Do Ho Suh has had his forensic video survey of Robin Hood Gardens displayed via a 100-foot-wide projection. For Smithson buffs, the model of the ill-fated housing estate made for the 1970 film, The Smithsons on Housingis also on display. Paddington Pyramid, Adam Nathaniel Furman Beyond the V&A more color abounds, as LDF has always featured in recent years. Welcome returners to the fray Adam Nathaniel Furman and Camille Walala have once again done a marvelous job sprucing up the vicinities they've occupied. In Paddington, Furman has erected a fluttering pyramid next to where he was born, drawing on the towering, ephemeral structures that populate fairs and festivals. Walala Lound, Camille Walala Furman's 2017 project, Gateways, was supposedly the most photographed LDF installation ever, however, this year, Camille Walala appears to be giving him a run for his money. Wander down South Molton Street just a stone's throw away and you'll find a host of street furniture: planters, benches, and bunting all emphatically stamped with Walala's hallmark, vibrant geometric style, all being snapped and papped by hashtag-happy passersby. Please Be Seated, Paul Cocksedge There are more moments to sit at this year's LDF, too. London designer Paul Cocksedge has designed an undulating trio of concentric timber circles in Broadgate, East London. Aptly named Please Be Seated, the work reuses scaffolding planks to create a sculpture that acts as both a pedestrian thoroughfare and place of rest. "There's a motorway of people [around here]," Cocksedge told AN. "I looked at where people were going to and from, the arches are oriented in the general direction of that flow, so it works for everyone." So far, Please Be Seated has been an instant success, with LDF-ers and bankers working nearby making the most of it. "It's nice to see people using something in the way that it's meant to," added Cocksedge. Life Labyrinth, PATTERNITY Sticking to the same theme, Life Labyrinth, riffs on Daniel Buren's Les Deux Plateaux (The Two Levels) in Paris. London studio PATTERNITY's black-and white seating arrangement, mini-maze, and garden is a welcome addition to the entrance of Westminster Cathedral where visitors can rest and children can play with the garden bells and labyrinth itself. Buren's work has been a hit since 1986 and, while being somewhat paired down, Life Labyrinth looks to emulate that success, if only for a week. Day of Design  22 September, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. To mark the end of LDF 2019 there will be a "Day of Design" along Exhibition Road. Closed off to cars for the day, the V&A, alongside the Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Imperial College, and the Royal College of Art will fill the street with installations and events centered around solutions to climate change. Don't miss out on the Plastic Pavilion from London designer Seyi Adelekun. The parametric structure is comprised of string, steel mesh and 1,600 plastic bottles—some of which, according to Adelekun, were collected by "raiding neighbors bins." Adelekun told AN she hopes to raise awareness about single-use plastics and how to use them in construction.
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U.K. private owners to be named and shamed for not replacing dangerous cladding

As of yesterday, $250 Million is available to private owners of tower blocks in the U.K. to replace cladding at risk of catching fire. The government fund is for towers that use the aluminum composite material (ACM) cladding—the same facade material employed by the Grenfell tower which caught fire in June 2017, claiming the lives of 72 people. Those who do not use the money will reportedly be "named and shamed" according to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) in a statement released to the press. "Government funds are available for private building owners to remove and replace unsafe ACM cladding, and let me be clear, inaction will have consequences and I will name and shame those who do not act during the course of the autumn." "There is no excuse for further delay—and for building owners to fail to take action now would be frankly disgraceful." A national safety review of tower blocks was issued in the wake of the Grenfell fire in 2017. In May 2018, the government pledged $532 Million for state-owned blocks to remove any cladding deemed potentially dangerous. Private owners, meanwhile, were encouraged not to pass on the recladding costs to occupants. That, however, did not happen, and the most notable example occurred in Croydon, South London, where multimillionaire owner Vincent Tchenguiz refused to pay the $665,000 re-cladding fee. A tribunal following the debacle ruled that leaseholders should stump up the fee, leading to a deadlock between landlords and tenants. As a result, some had to start 24-hour patrols of their buildings to monitor for any fires while other homes have become unsellable. The government estimates that 170 privately-owned blocks currently use ACM cladding. In addition to the aforementioned funds, a further $5 million has been issued to collect data on cladding used for state-owned buildings. Motions to facilitate action to reduce fire risk due to ACM cladding have been slow in coming. Since the fire in 2017—24 months ago—there have been three different Secretaries of the HCLG, and four Ministers of State for Housing amid multiple cabinet shake-ups in the wake of Brexit. In his statement, incumbent Secretary of State Jenrick also unveiled a new Protection Board which has been set up by the Home Office with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) to give assurance to those in tower blocks listed as high-risk that fire risks will be identified and acted upon. The board will have access to $12.5 Million each year until 2021. "The new Protection Board will make sure building owners don’t flout the rules, as well as ensuring fire safety risks in other buildings are being addressed," said Jenrick. In addition to investigating cladding, a commission has been set up to review when sprinklers are to be employed. Currently, sprinklers have to be used for buildings taller than 98 feet or roughly ten stories, but ministers are considering lowering this to 60 feet — roughly six stories. As reported by the Architects' Journal, this was a measure the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) called for, however, RIBA wanted all residential buildings above 60 feet to have sprinklers added to them. England lags behind its neighbors in this regard. In Wales, sprinklers are mandatory in all new residential buildings and in Scotland, the same applies to care homes, sheltered housing and schools above 60 feet. The current commission's review only covers housing blocks built since 2007. Grenfell Tower was completed in 1974 and did not have sprinklers added to it when it was refurbished in 2016 at the cost of $10.85 Million. According to the BBC, 96 percent of state-owned tower blocks above 98 feet (32 out of 837) do not have a sprinkler system installed.
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Artist Piers Secunda creates art from the ashes of modern ruins in Iraq

Piers Secunda creates art out of history and ruin. The painter’s latest exhibition, What Remains, is now on display at the Imperial War Museum in London and is marked by a distinct materiality—works in the show are made with industrial paint, as well as charcoal from the ruins of Mosul, Iraq, ground into ink.  Almost resembling individual plaster casts, Secunda’s unique painting method allows him to build his “canvases” into the third dimension. Resulting forms can be cut, carved into, sculpted, and painted over. The cast-like quality is also used more literally. For this show, the artist has used his material method to capture impressions of ISIS bullet holes and bombed building fragments collected on-site in Mosul.  “I developed [these] systems of making works of art with paint, where I took the paint for a walk in three dimensions and I tried to figure out how I could enable the paint to grow without those traditional restraints,” Secunda told The Art Newspaper, “Since then, I've tried as much as I can to examine what the damaging of art means, especially if entire communities or ideologies systematically go about doing it.”  The Imperial War Museum is exploring the theme of ruin and destruction over the past century in a free season of three exhibitions called Culture Under Attack. In addition to What Remains, the series zeroes in on the Nazi's targeted bombings of London during WWII and the Taliban's destruction of religious iconography in Afghanistan. These ruinations spark the conversation around cultural heritage and how it is both protected and restored. What Remains specifically focuses on the Mosul Museum, an ISIS target that was looted and burned by the group, sparking a worldwide outcry. It shows that the destruction of art is as powerful a symbol as the creation of art and has been exercised for millennia as a method for new leaders or regimes to assert dominance over prior systems.  Secunda’s work reinvigorates and reinstates the destroyed art, creating something new out of the ashes, quite literally. His series of drawings, created as site studies from the artist’s photographs of various ruins, could become an exhibit unto themselves. Secunda created the drawings by grinding the charcoal from the burned buildings down with mortar and pestle and mixing it with alcohol and gum arabic, fixing it to the paper in a fluid motion.   Secunda’s drawings incorporate a strikingly different process than his paintings since they are two-dimensional. But the artist comments on the two disparate ways of working, saying: “Drawing by comparison is like lightning—it's that immediate instant of expression and you can see the line grow.”  In the interview with The Art Newspaper, the artist said he's eager to explore destruction Mali and Syria next. 
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Amin Taha wins fight to stop 15 Clerkenwell Close demolition

London architect Amin Taha has won his battle against planners to save his award-winning project, 15 Clerkenwell Close. Taha had previously been told his building faced a demolition order from the London borough of Islington. However, today, that decision has been overturned and the glorious, unfinished limestone that serves as a load-bearing facade will remain. For more than a year Taha has been embroiled in a disagreement over the building's appearance. In fact, the council had attempted to bring the building down twice before: In 2013, when the building was granted planning permission, a local argued that concrete was being used instead of brick, the facade material that was supposedly initially stipulated. A demolition notice that resulted from a site inspection from an enforcement officer and conservation officer amounted to nothing. The saga was far from over, though. 2017 saw another demolition notice, this time stating that the building must be rebuilt in brick. Taha disputed this, asking to see the notice report. Again, the notice was withdrawn. A year later, a third demolition notice was issued. "After an investigation, the council has come to the view that the building at 15 Clerkenwell Close does not reflect the building that was granted planning permission and conservation area consent in 2013," said the council. Taha, meanwhile, argued that the difference from what was sent to the planning department and was built was down to the fact that the limestone used was being taken from a quarry in France and left unfinished. Speaking to me last year, he likened it to complaining where knots in wood appear. The architect also said that the enforcement officer was relying on outdated and rejected plans for the design, as approved plans showing the stone facade had been redacted. Today it appears the architect has saved the seven-story building, where his studio's offices are also located. "It was taking so long and so much of our time it’s come somewhat close to a pyrrhic victory," said Taha in an email to The Architect's Newspaper today. "The battle is over and now we clear up the mess left behind." Planning inspector Peter Jarratt told the Architects' Journal in the U.K. that while he agreed there was a "difference" between the architects and planning authorities on what was submitted and approved, the building was in "general terms" not detrimental to the conservation area. "This is an unsatisfactory situation for both parties and it is not in the public interest if members of the public cannot establish what has been approved when examining planning records... Nevertheless, the principle of development is not in dispute and the building accords with the generality of what had previously been approved," he added. Despite all this, there is evidence of demolition, or at least that seems to be the case anyway. 15 Clerkenwell Close sits on the corner of the street, nestled into an enclave. Its rough, unfinished limestone facade, which still bears fossil marks in it, begs you to stroke it and feel the raw material. This is what stone is like before humans meddle with it and refine with technological precision, and in the author's experience, is wonderful to experience in this quiet forum in North London. As you approach it to do so, one will find a fallen Ionic pilaster—but fear not, it's only a joke, a tongue-in-cheek architectural moment that serves as a testament to how much this relatively simple building speaks. The planning department of Islington Borough Council may have lost, but this is a victory for everyone. An Islington Council spokesperson provided the following statement:
“We’re pleased that Mr. Taha has finally admitted that the building did not benefit from planning permission.  We are also pleased that the inspector has required 15 Clerkenwell Close to be modified to include more employment space, in line with Islington’s development plan.  The Inspector also concluded that the building should be modified to mitigate the harm caused to local heritage assets. “We’re of course disappointed that the inspector did not agree with the council’s view that the degree of harm the building caused to the Clerkenwell Green conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings warranted further modifications to the building.   “The council looks forward to the removal of the unauthorized and visually harmful solar chimney, changes to the roof garden, and alterations to the limestone columns and beams facing Clerkenwell Close, as set out in the Inspector’s conditions. “We’re also pleased that there will be a £420,000 payment towards badly-needed affordable housing, in line with Islington’s planning policies.” Additional notes: Par 1 of the Inspector’s Appeal Decision says: “… the appellant considered that no planning permission exists for the building as erected” Par 24 of the Inspector’s Appeal Decision says: “The appellant has been extremely critical of the failure of the Council officers to resolve apparent inconsistencies in the drawings at the appropriate time, which clearly should have been done. However, the appellant must also share a significant degree of responsibility for the errors made as it was his practice that submitted inconsistent plans in the first place.”
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The third Antepavilion rises on the banks of Regent's Canal in London

Cycle or stroll along the Regent's Canal in northeast London and you'll find a new addition to a mad-hat menagerie of quirky architectural interventions populating the water's edge. The Potemkin Theatre, designed by London-based studio Maich Swift, is the third Antepavilion—a yearly competition run by the Architecture Foundation and Shiva Ltd. The Potemkin Theater sits atop a warehouse and looks north over the canal. At 27 feet tall, its prominent position means it can be seen from far down the canal, rising against the post-industrial landscape like a skinny timber Torre Velasca. However, the timber intervention only truly reveals itself as you get much closer; the slender yellow structure's canal-facing facade comes into view and displays a green checkerboard pattern made from gesso-treated canvas panels. Spanning three stories, the building will serve as a performance space, with the structure itself able to be used as a prop as well as a backdrop and theater gallery for performances. The pavilion's name comes from Grigory Potemkin, a Russian who in 1787 supposedly painted the facades of buildings in a Crimean village to impress Empress Catherine II upon her visit. Maich Swift adopted the same notion, taking interest in the way the internal structure can be hidden behind a lively and colorful frontage. "We thought early on that the structure could be accessed by both an audience and performers," said Ted Swift, who cofounded Maich Swift in 2016, speaking to AN. "We wanted the structure to be something that was as flexible as possible," added fellow co-founder Paul Maich. "Stuff like this is slowly disappearing in Hackney." Maich Swift was founded in 2016, with both architects coming from the London-based practice Caruso St. John. Along with Grigory Potemkin, the pair said they were inspired by Monsieur Hulot's home in Jacques Tati’s 1958 French film, Mon Oncle, drawing on the highly visual circulation space exhibited in the film. Behind the canvassed facade, a stair linking the pavilion's three levels is clearly visible between the laminated veneer lumber structural frame. The theater was assembled in just 25 days for a mere $30,000. "We knew we had to build it ourselves (with the help of volunteers) so it had to be practical," said Swift. Furthermore, the pavilion is designed to eventually be unbolted, though before that happens, a two-month-long program of performances, discussion, and events as been planned throughout August and September. In winning the Antepavilion competition, Maich Swift beat out 187 other entries. "Not only were the jury impressed by Maich Swift's quirky design and eclectic references, but we were particularly drawn to Potemkin's potential to become a new cultural venue," said Chloe Spiby Loh, who chaired the judging panel. "This showed the maturity of their approach, which projected a future for the pavilion beyond the commission." An opening party for the pavilion was attended by more than 1,000 people, though the structure has yet to be put through its paces as a performance space; capacity is for ticketed events is 180 people. "Hopefully we'll be surprised by the way people use it," said Swift.
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Architects crowdfund to build a rolling bridge in London

Architect Thomas Randall-Page has started a crowdfunding campaign to support the construction of a unique rolling bridge in London. The project, which has been nicknamed the Cody Dock Rolling Bridge, proposes building a small-scale pedestrian span over the narrow canal of Cody Dock that flows into the River Lea, which in turn connects to the Thames. According to the crowdfunding page, the design will open Cody Dock to boats for the first time in half a century and has already received approval from the Newham Council and support from Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Randall-Page describes the project as both innovative and highly contextual. It makes material reference to the area’s history of iron production while taking certain stylistic cues from the industrial design of Britain’s Edwardian era. The most distinctive aspect of the proposed design, though, is its rolling motion. The bridge runs along a pair of twin, undulating rails that are attached to the brick walls on either side of the canal, and can roll a full 180-degrees so that its floor becomes its roof. In the latter position, the bridge’s arch can accommodate barges and other boats as they move through Cody Dock.

Compared to other operable bridges, the controls of the Cody Dock Rolling Bridge are quite simple. Teeth alongside the edge of the bridge’s frame fit into notches between teeth on each rail, enabling the entire structure to roll in a steady, gear-like motion. Counterweights are built into the rounded square frame of the bridge, which prevent it from rolling uncontrollably or getting stuck in any one position. A single cable attaches the structure’s frame to a crank handle, which a person can turn to invert the bridge.

The Cody Dock Rolling Bridge forms one link in the broader redevelopment of one of London’s industrial areas. The pedestrian bridge will connect walking and bike paths on either side of the canal, allowing easier access to new artists’ studios, exhibition spaces, fabrication workshops, and a cafe along the banks of the Lea. Proponents of the design hope that the structure will serve not only as a critical piece of infrastructure but also as a compelling landmark that will attract visitors from across the city. Now in the final stretch of their fundraising effort, Randall-Page and the bridge’s supporters hope to raise upwards of $200,000 towards the completion of the project.

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Why the developer’s vision matters in the experience economy

This is the second article of AN's July/August 2019 print edition feature focused on development. The first, "A new breed of skyscraper threatens to devastate the fabric of New York," can be read here. As our economy moves from one of consumerism to one of experience, the real estate industry needs to change. It’s time to shift focus from the hardware of buildings to the software of place. Developers are great at spotting the potential of land and what mix of uses and development will make land viable—what they’re less good at is what happens next. When they hand over that mix and program to an architect and ask them to squeeze it all into the site, developers may be doing all they’ve ever done historically, but they are neglecting the most critical of steps: agreeing on a vision for the place. “Vision” here means a strongly defined collective destination, the north star that guides and aligns all decision-making and allows teams to answer that most valuable question, “What should we do?” rather than that far more expensive question, “What could we do?” This process begins by asking, “Who is this place for? Why will they come? What will they do here?” When a place lacks vision, the end result is often at worst a commercial or critical failure and at best a bunch of people asking themselves, “What might this site have been if we’d only known then what we know now?” Architects often say that a project is only ever as good as the client. One of the challenges faced by developers is that many of them outsource the visioning process to architects rather than cocreating it with them. The best projects, and the best places, are always those that have a strong and shared vision delivered with unerring confidence. The absence of a place vision, and the reliance solely on a technical brief, can easily lead to cost overruns, design team disputes, ineffective communication, community objections, and ultimately simply soulless places. As we move from a consumer economy to an experience economy, we are reaching “peak stuff.” Millennials are far less interested in acquiring things and more interested in seeking experiences. Whereas their parents measured success by working hard to afford a luxury automobile, today’s youth measure their status by the stories they can tell about the latest hip restaurant, a pop-up retail experience, or an amazing vacation cabin in the woods. Instagram is full of the experiences people sought as opposed to the stuff they bought. This is putting ever more pressure on developers to provide a level of experience traditionally only provided by historic or organically emerging postindustrial neighborhoods. It’s time for real estate to step up. Office developments are no longer about grand statements that appease the corporation. Organizations have shifted their focus to the individual and the attraction and retention of talent over the cathedral to capitalism that has typified so many office buildings of old. In parallel, online retail is winning over homogenous retail streets and shopping centers; places like this will die unless they can shift to provide nontransactional experiences. Online shopping means consumers won’t bother to go to a shopping center or high street filled with chain stores to get things that they can simply buy with one click. There’s more choice online and goods can be delivered, and even returned, on the same day. People will only venture to physical shops if the basic act of consumption is complemented by outstanding service or experience. So the long-term viability of retail environments is predicated on their ability to provide some form of experience that provides enjoyment to the consumer. Architecture alone is no longer the answer. There is good news. Developers that are willing to take the “missing step” and really focus in on vision, purpose, and establishing a place brief will do well. They are not just stemming the tide of failure but actually achieving premium values across all real estate sectors. Kings Cross and Battersea Power Station in London have both proved that considered thought—rather than additional capital—can result in increased demand and value; Google and Apple both moved their operations to the respective projects—proof, if ever it were needed, that a strong vision leads to solid capital results. Closer to home, a strong vision and early communication for SOM’s The 78 development in Chicago allowed Related Midwest to secure stakeholder support for its ambition even before finalizing the massing, which paved the way for faster approvals. We need to embrace the synergy between great places and their consequent value appreciation. This is how we create a culture of self-perpetuating success, which will enable change where planning policy has failed. A small number of progressive developers have recognized that the market is changing. They can see that customers are increasingly seeking out experiential places that are engaging to live in, work at, or visit. Successful development is increasingly about the software of experience rather than the hardware of buildings. How you invest in creating place can vary whether you are investing millions into a sculpture at Hudson Yards or into a tech incubator to seed market momentum in Tampa. In contrast, traditional developers that are failing to develop or repurpose projects with such a sense of purpose and life are seeing their investment values stagnate. The scale of postindustrial sites that are now coming forward means we are no longer developing infill buildings that work off the historic character of established neighborhoods. Developers are working across entire districts, and it is essential that an overarching vision and purpose is established at the earliest opportunity. Failure to do so will result in incoherent and unsuccessful new districts; cookie-cutter, big brand monoculture; and disappointing, unpopular places. We are all familiar with places that have failed; they are globally prevalent, and the reason the real estate development industry is treated with such contempt and skepticism by the general public. But as new case studies emerge, such as King’s Cross in London, they act as a showcase for the synergy between the creation of great and thoughtful places and a more viable business practice. David Twohig is a founding partner of Wordsearch Place.
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Meet Afterparti: The architecture collective that wants to fail better

“The time for failure is now” reads the front cover of Afterparti, printed emphatically in sans-serif, white type on thick, matte black paper. It’s not the only message on the magazine's cover: “Bring the justice of space to people. Build a new political conversation. You are all the agents of change,” reads another, followed by “p22” — the page where such inspiration can be found. Already, Afterparti, a new architecture "zine" hot off the presses, feels like a call to arms.

Afterparti, I should point out, is a collective, not just a publication. In June 2018, the group held a panel discussion at the Royal College of Art in London also titled, “The time for failure is now.” The group's inaugural members comprise Shukri Sultan; Aoi Philips; Tara Okeke; Marwa El Mubark; Thomas Aquilina; Nile Bridgeman; Samson Famusan; Josh Fenton, and Siufan Adey. Together, the collective is striving to further platforms for radical, underrepresented voices, advocating for a culture of collaboration and inclusivity. “We want to fail better,” they state inside their first magazine, which also includes an interview (read: argument) with Royal Institute of British Architects President Ben Derbyshire, survival tips and tunes for BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) architects, and articles from leading BAME industry professionals such as Pooja Agrawal of municipal planning initiative Public Practice and Akile Scafe-Smith of London design firm, Resolve.

AN sat down with Afterparti—who respond in this article as a collective rather than individually, as is the “parti line”—to find out more.

AN: What’s in the name "Afterparti"? AP: Afterparti is in two parts. The term parti is something that we all share in the language of architecture. What does parti mean? A big idea, a conceptual framing device. And so we take the term ‘parti' to connect with our architectural background and inject playfulness — by which we mean accessible, as the events we put on are for everyone. We want people to share their experiences and input on how we can make the city better for everyone. There's an openness to the term, too. We could roll out a series of different interpretations, but hopefully, the kinds of things we write or put on or stage or curate are going to be open-ended and not too closed. We want it to be a conversation that goes beyond the normal sphere of architecture. Ignoring race, it's often just middle-class people talking among themselves.

The term 'Afterparti' also suggests ourselves as a continuation of the New Architectural Writers (N.A.W.) program, as an idea, a platform, to bring together underrepresented voices. 

What is the N.A.W. program? Is that how you all met? N.A.W is a free writing program for black and minority ethnic people interested in writing about design. There was a mass email which asked: Are you under 30, based in London, interested in writing, with a background in architecture and of this minority? You kinda had to do it, it didn't matter how busy you were — that’s how we felt at least. 

Really what we're doing is an extension of this program but at the same time is the idea of events and a zine series. It’s always about extending that conversation as well: the conversation that happens on stage can happen in print and therefore there's an afterlife to any event. 

Why have you chosen to focus on failure? It was definitely a collective decision. Regarding the initial event we held, we wanted to find a theme for the panelists who were going to be on stage for a live debate. We wanted them to speak more openly and personally about ideas and issues that that might not be able to answer through the theme of failure. We challenged them on how they adapt and respond to failure, putting people on the spot, stopping them from giving us a readymade answer. 

In fact, that's a theme within our work. The zine is a very personal product. Whoever's article you read, it's a very personal piece. We put ourselves into it. The N.A.W. program came about because there's not enough of us [minorities who are writing] out there, so we take great pride putting ourselves into our work, in part, because we have a different background to share. We are a disadvantaged generation, there is potential failure at every turn. Failure isn’t just a singular event, it's systemic and we can develop ourselves through it. 

Why a zine instead of more events? The basis of why we came together was because we could all write in a sense and that was a common denominator. Afterparti is a lot more than just writing, everybody is doing different things and we have different skillsets. Events can take a range: we could be curating something, throwing a disco party, or something else, who knows what might come next. The zine, however, is always the reflection of those events. In this case, it builds upon the panel discussion we had at the Royal College of Art.

The zine also a way of opening up our platform to other BAME people within architecture. 

What made you produce your own publication instead of writing for somewhere else? It's not that we disagree with everything that architectural journalism stands for, it's just that we want a different flavor, something that represents us and how we feel about [architecture].

Aside from N.A.W., we've made it our own thing. There's no glossy front cover, no building reviews. This was all a deliberate choice. We were less interested in the aesthetics of single projects — though we don't ignore this by any stretch, we just don't feel as if what we have to stay stems from this. Of course, we do care about aesthetics in general, our magazine is beautiful! However, all of our articles are socially minded and/or politically motivated. It's less about a shallow, pictorial review of architecture. We are nine individuals, as has been said, all with individual takes and perspectives, on architectural practice and education and the myriad of things that entwine all of that and more together. Our approach to creating this written product comes from a place of play as well as a place of process. Plus we've only got so many pages as well, we want to write about the stuff that's important — important, but often overlooked. 

Did you fail along the way? Of course! We tried to have the awareness that we are in the midst of failure, but that's not a new thing.

What’s next for Afterparti? We are going to try to take more opportunities with different groups and not just stay strictly architecture. We want to continue going outside that sphere: being more intersectional and maintaining accessibility.

That's all we can say for now! Whatever the next theme is, it's going to be about holding the relevant people in power to account. It's always going to be a call to action.

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Saatchi's exhibition on rave culture brings the dank underground to London

London's Saatchi Gallery is bringing PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect) to the art world with a new exhibition on rave music, the spaces it flourished in, and the subcultures that surrounded it. Through visuals and audio immersion, Sweet Harmony tries to capture the zeitgeist of rave culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where youths ate ecstasy in old factoriesm warehouses, and underground cellars and danced to the squelchy sounds of machine music. Curator Kobi Prempeh, alongside Saatchi Gallery Director Philly Adams, tapped more than 30 mostly European artists associated with the scene to present photos, video, oral history and classics from regional genres. House and techno, the two electronic music subcategories most closely associated with raving, were born in the U.S. Midwest in the 1980s but gained mega popularity throughout Europe. Photos by the likes of the late Shaun Bloodworth, a music photographer who documented the UK rave scene, Vinca Petersen, who published a book of rave photos with Gerhard Steidl, and Spiral Tribe's free party maven/collage artist Seana Gavin capture the wild energy of a youthful subculture that's undergoing a second flourishing today. Exhibits will be accompanied by playlists of regional genres—Detroit techno, grime, UK garage. In adjacent Gallery 10, the curators will display commissioned artwork and sound installations from mechanical sculptor Conrad Shawcross and psychedelic London artist Weirdcore, and others. Sweet Harmony runs through September 14, and admission is $12.50. More information on tickets and hours of operation can be found here.
 
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🚨 🙃 Now open! Our new exhibition SWEET HARMONY: RAVE |TODAY ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🎫 Tickets: sweetharmony.saatchigallery.com 🎉 Open 10am-6pm everyday until 14 Sept. Please check our website on day of visit. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ 🔊 An immersive exhibition that celebrates the birth of dance music and the impact of rave on youth culture today. Sweet Harmony is a creative reminder of a special moment in recent British history that will recapture memories from the acid house scene, reliving the transformative powers of music through the voices and the lenses of those who experienced it. Featuring multimedia installations and artworks by some of rave movement's most prolific and authentic visual commentators, Sweet Harmony brings together contributors from past and present. #SWEETHARMONY #RAVETODAY #EXHIBITION #SAATCHIGALLERY Kindly supported by: @roland_uk @spotify @jack__arts @sciarc @dazed @pioneerdjglobal @lathebestsound @villageunderground

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Studio Libeskind reveals its Maggie's Centre in north London

Studio Libeskind’s long-awaited vision has finally been revealed for the new Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Free Hospital in north London. Set to replace its existing Cancerkin Centre facility—with which Maggie’s merged in 2016—the sculptural structure is the product a 16-year planned collaboration with the charity and will be the 21st of its kind in the United Kingdom. While a slew of other high-profile architects including Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, and most recently Steven Holl have completed individual Maggie’s Centres, Daniel Libeskind’s will be drastically different and more personal to his design style. He described it as a “modest building” that’s soft and intimate, according to the Architect’s Journal. Like Holl’s Maggie Centre in west London, Libeskin's center will have a minimal footprint, but will be much more subdued and will put the emphasis on a  series of more natural materials, such as wood.  Slated to be constructed on an underused southwest corner of the hospital’s parking lot, the Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Free will feature an undulating, prefabricated facade made of timber louvers designed to shade the exterior, maximize privacy inside, and evoke a sense of serenity for the cancer patients stopping by for drop-in support. Though it will be a small building with 26 total rooms, Studio Libeskind designed the structure to expand in form as it rises. Diffused natural light will come in through the window slats and provide patients with views of the outside gardens in the front and back of the building, as well as on the roof.  To Libeskind, the upcoming Maggie’s Centre and its architecture complement the Royal Free and its role as a place of healing. He told the AJ that unlike the hospital, “this is a home,” and, “It’s not like entering an institution, it is a place where people can come and find comfort.”  The Maggie’s Centre will be completed as part of a wider masterplan going on at the hospital, which includes the construction of a new emergency department and on-site research building by Hopkins Architects. A date for completion has not yet been made public, but the planning application for Libeskind’s Maggie Centre is expected to be filed in the fall, according to AJ.
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London's mayor blocks Foster + Partners' Tulip tower

London mayor Sadiq Khan has today dismissed plans for the so-called "Tulip Tower" designed by Foster + Partners, describing the building as "unwelcoming" and "poorly designed." The news signals a U-turn by authorities who had so far given the project the green light through planning, with the full go-ahead having been granted on April 2. Chris Hayward, chairman of the City of London planning committee had then called the tower a "truly unique visitor attraction." “One of my key objectives ... has been to enable the continued transformation of the City of London into a place which welcomes members of the public on weekends as during the week,” he added. Despite this, the Tulip had come up against ardent opposition. “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage," Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England told The Guardian in April. “The setting of the Tower of London, a symbol of the city not just to millions of Londoners but to the whole world and one of our most visited places, will be harmed. It has already been damaged by the Walkie Talkie and it would be a great shame if that mistake was repeated.” Furthermore, criticism was also aimed at Foster + Partners for the tower in the wake of the firm officially declaring a climate emergency (along with more than 500 practices.) "What better statement of action could there be than if Foster + Partners withdrew its involvement from that most grotesque fuck-you to a sustainable future, The Tulip?" argued Will Jennings in the Architects' Journal. Mayor Khan appears to have headed these warnings, and today a mayoral spokesperson issued the following statement: “The Mayor has a number of serious concerns with this application and having studied it in detail has refused permission for a scheme that he believes would result in very limited public benefit. In particular, he believes that the design is of insufficient quality for such a prominent location, and that the tower would result in harm to London’s skyline and impact views of the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site. The proposals would also result in an unwelcoming, poorly-designed public space at street level.” If built as designed, the Tulip was set to be 984 feet tall and boast an observation deck offering visitors 360-degree views of London. Its steel-framed bubble-like tip would have also comprised a gondola system, with patrons riding glass pods across the facade akin to a Ferris wheel. In response to this article's original publication, a representative for the Tulip's project team reached out with the following comment: “The Tulip Project team are disappointed by The Mayor of London’s decision to direct refusal of planning permission, particularly as The Tulip will generate immediate and longer-term socio-economic benefits to London and the UK as a whole. We will now take time to consider potential next steps for The Tulip Project.”