Posts tagged with "London":

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Giant pooing pigeon and design by Zaha Hadid to be part of crazy golf course in London

A pop-up crazy golf course for London's Trafalgar Square has been proposed by a group of artists and designers. Curated by Paul Smith, the project is part of this year's London Design Festival. Each hole offers a unique take on the theme of “Cities of the future” and will feature designs from the late Zaha Hadid, Paul Smith, Mark Wallinger, and London-based practice Ordinary Architecture. Permission from the Mayor’s office to use Trafalgar Square has already been secured, however, the project is currently in the process of gathering funds ($175,000 is the target figure) via its Kickstarter page. If achieved, the golf course will stay in London from 16-22 September, coinciding with the Festival itself while being "futuristic, functional, fun and free for the public to play." https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2414867/video-660215-h264_high.mp4 The golf course will reside on the steps from the National Gallery overlaying them with colored stripes, topped by a neo-classical clubhouse that reflects the museum, while also having a turf roof and putters for columns. Prizes and gifts for those who fund the project are also on offer. For $100 you can receive a limited edition scarf designed by Paul Smith, while for $36, you can the chance to name the giant "pigeonhole" designed by Charles Holland and Elly Ward of Ordinary Architecture as well as a mug with the pigeon on it. Speaking of naming the pigeon, Holland told AN that he would name it "Pigeon McPigeonface" if given the chance. His and Ward's oversized pecking pigeon will swallow the golf ball (if putters can successfully time their shots) and eject it out over the hole after it travels through the pigeon's digestive system. According to Holland, designers were given free reign when creating their crazy golf hole and said that inspiration for his design came from the "giant anthropomorphic structures often seen at world fairs." "We looked at giant figurative pop objects, symbolism and the idea of creating retrospective symbols," he said. "We wanted to create a fantastic creature/sculpture, something that was contextual to the square. When you think of pigeons, you think of Trafalgar Square and them being gritty, urban vermin.... So I think the fact that ours has got one leg is pretty appropriate!" "It’s educational and scatological," continued Holland. "I always quite like scatological art... I enjoy [its] crudeness. It could also be seen as an egg, from a distance it's quite ambiguous." As for the scale, Holland said the pigeon was befitting to the "realm of crazy golf" that contains "surreal versions of things, an undersized windmill for example." Festival director Ben Evans said: “If you do a project in Trafalgar Square it’s quite a challenging public space and you need to find something that engages a wide group of people because there are a million people passing by each week. We want them to stop and say ‘Wow, what’s that?’ Speaking of Hadid's design, Evans added “It will be poignant because of Zaha’s death but I think what she’s done is stunning." “She’s done a number of things for the festival over the years and the company are keen to ensure all of the projects that were in development go ahead. For us, this is an opportunity to celebrate and honor her.”

The project meanwhile states that: "It is one of the few opportunities to use this prime location for cultural activity, and we are confident that there will be enough people who share Paul Smith and the London Design Festival's enthusiasm to enable its success."

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Rolling geodesic garden lets its plants guide its movement

As part of the reEarth project, a group of researchers fronted by William Victor Camilleri and Danilo Sampaio from the Interactive Architecture Lab at University College London, have created the "Hortum machina B" - a rolling ecological exoskeleton. "Half garden, half machine," Hortum machina B is a "new cybernetic lifeform" that has been rolling round London's streets, relying on the intelligence of plant life to guide its way through the capital. Consisting of twelve plant-based modules derived from a British ecological background, protruding arms extend to alter the module's center of gravity allowing it to move in the direction of choice. While this may sound like a painfully laborious way of getting around, Hortum machina B sheds light on the possible future of "bio-cooperative interaction between people and nature, within the built environment". https://vimeo.com/122485940 Electro-physiological sensors measure the state of individual plants, facilitating the collective and subsequently "democratic" decision making that the module undertakes. Inside the structure, a robotic “brain” is made up of electrodes that receive sensory information from the physiological responses of the plants to their environment. As a result, information processed from the electro-physiological sensors (in relation to every other sensor) essentially dictate the module's orientation and mobility. https://vimeo.com/163436492 For example, a plants' reaction to a change in either light, humidity, and temperature is transmitted to a sensor which relays that information to the robotic brain core which then, after taking into account all the other information it is being fed, decides what to do. "While plants lack a nervous system, they can, much like animals, become electro-chemically stimulated by their surrounding environment," the researchers say on their website. "Through the study of plant electro-physiology, we have wired their primitive ‘intelligence’ into the control-loop of an autonomous robotic ecosystem. " The Hortum machina B also signifies another step in the direction of autonomous mobility, though in this case using plant-life as the primary sensory "driver". "Hortum machina B is a speculative urban cyber-gardener," the group say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aixe3IKjjXQ
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Timber skyscraper imagined at the heart of London’s brutalist Barbican

Designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon after the Blitz destroyed most of the site, the Barbican estate is now Grade II listed (part of a statutory list of buildings of special Architectural or historic interest). As a result, the area has become synonymous with concrete, being a famed brutalist site. PLP Architecture and the University of Cambridge, however, have different ideas. They're proposing a 984-foot wooden skyscraper, the city's first, at the center of the estate. The skyscraper, according to PLP, is merely for "research." Despite this, the firm said that they had presented the idea to current London Mayor Boris Johnson and said that his response was "positive." The Mayor also commented that natural materials like wood are currently “vastly underused.” Already, the timber tower has been dubbed the "Toothpick" by The Architect's Journal, such is the way of nicknaming skyscrapers in London, already home to the "Walkie-talkie," the "Gherkin," and the "Cheesegrater." Despite its radical change in materiality, the Toothpick aligns with the Barbican's original plan of providing housing at the center of the city, overseeing the creation of 1,000 new living units. Despite being slimmer than the iconic 42 story (404 feet) Cromwell, Shakespeare, and Lauderdale Towers, the wooden skyscraper would almost be double their height at 80 stories high. This would make it the city's second tallest building, second only to Renzo Piano's Shard. As for the towers environmental impact, the Toothpick would "lock-in 50,000 tonnes of CO2 in the building timber frame, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 5,000 Londoners." The project is in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Smith and Wallwork Engineers. Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridges Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: "The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London—and it was successful. We've put our proposals on the Barbican as a way to imagine what the future of construction could look like in the 21st century." "We now live predominantly in cities and so the proposals have been designed to improve our wellbeing in an urban context," added Kevin Flanagan, Partner at PLP Architecture. "Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience. Our firm is currently designing many of Londons tall buildings, and the use of timber could transform the way we build in this city." When asked if PLP would be presenting the "research" to the next Mayor of London, their response was: "it depends who the mayor is!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPlJsoVq8k
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BIG among six firms shortlisted for the new Museum of London

The Museum of London has released a shortlist of six firms that will compete to design the museum at its new 269,000 square-foot location in West Smithfield, only a stones throw away from its original site at the Barbican. The new museum has a construction budget of $185-210 million.  The current building, designed by Hidalgo Moya and Phillip Powell in the 1970s, will become the new location for the London Symphony Orchestra despite protests from Leon Krier. Also shortlisted in the competition, which was organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, were:
  • Caruso St John Architects (U.K.)
  • Hawkins\Brown(U.K.) with Asif Khan (U.K.)
  • Diener & Diener Architekten (Switzerland) with Sergison Bates Architects (U.K.)
  • Lacaton & Vassal Architectes (France) with Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio (U.K.)
  • studio Milou architecture (France) with RL&Associés (France) and Axis Architects (U.K.)
According to the competition website, almost 80 teams (formed from 140 firms) entered the initial stage of the contest. The entrants were whittled down on the basis of "relevant skills and experience, particularly, those involved with significant cultural projects which have had a truly transformational impact." The new site, part of Smithfield Market, dates back to 1879 but was closed in 1999. The interior boasts 16 ornate Phoenix Columns but has otherwise remained empty for a number of years. The competing architects and designers were tasked with "regenerating a nationally-significant landmark and creating new contemporary galleries." In doing so, the competition organizers sought a "memorable" museum with "charismatic identity" that combines historic Smithfield and modern design. Entrants also had to cater to the museum's enormous archaeological archive and projected increase in attendance figures (over 2.25 million visits per year, based on recent trends and the implementation of the CrossRail rail link). The six shortlisted practices will now be asked to produce concepts based on a more detailed project brief. Their proposals will be on display at the current building and a winner will be selected by a jury later this year. Other objectives for the new museum include:
  • Create contemporary interventions and additions where appropriate which are exemplary and visually stunning.
  • Reflect the site’s evolution from a place of physical exchange to a culture and knowledge exchange.
  • Address new ways of engaging digitally-minded visitors and representing London as the world’s most inventive, creative capital.
  • Reduce operating costs by improving the building’s operational efficiency and sustainability, with a target of the project achieving a BREEAM (UK LEED equivalent) Excellent rating.
  • Increase income generation and visitor dwell time through enhanced retail, catering and event facilities.
  • Ensure the experience of visiting and navigating the museum is equal for all.
  • Ensure appropriate technical, environmental and security requirements are met so that the new museum meets Government Indemnity Standards.
The museum aims to achieve planning permission, raise the necessary capital funds, and deliver the new museum in 2021.
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34 Nations to submit works for the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale

Despite having an established pedigree within the creative world, London has never had its own Biennal(e)—or even Triennale, for that matter. This year however, the city is opening the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, showcasing work from 34 participating countries around the theme of Utopia by Design. Set to be hosted at Somerset House, a former royal palace on the Strand in central London, the Biennale will run from September 7 to 27 this year. On display will be installations curated by leading design institutions from around the world. Participating bodies include USA's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), The Japan Foundation, and Victoria and Albert Museum (UK). Other participating nations will be: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Turkey. Judging the contributions will be an an international advisory committee and jury comprised of established figures within the industry who will "award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions." “We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House," said Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the Biennale. "500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.” London Mayor Boris Johnson also added: "Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity—the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”
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London Mayor Refloats Foster’s Thames Transport Hub

With a new report, London Mayor and Conservative MP Boris Johnson has re-pitched his Thames Estuary Transport Hub, dubbed “Boris Island” by some, as an alternative to additional runways at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. The project is in a similar vein to the Riker's Island La Guardia airport expansion proposed by Jim Venturi.

The proposal, initially launched in 2013, was masterplanned by Norman Foster. With other major infrastructure projects like High Speed Two (new high-speed rail lines that would link London to cities as far as Leeds) and CrossRail already in the pipeline, “Boris Island” has never been a fit for UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity government.

In 2014, the Airports Commission ditched the scheme due to its high capital costs. Two years later the idea has resurfaced, along with the Mayor’s newfound political clout as he defies his incumbent party leader David Cameron in backing an E.U. exit

The plan promises rail, sea, aircraft, communication and power infrastructure amalgamated into one hub on the Thames estuary in Kent by the medway. New flight paths into the capital would also mean much less noise pollution, something that already plagues areas adjacent to the two-runway Heathrow airport. Additionally, Foster cites how every three months, a plane low on fuel or with an engine failure flies over London, a risk this plan would alleviate. A proposed rail network would also run around the capital, instead of through it, to reach the airport island and Europe beyond. This, in Foster’s eyes, would bridge the UK's North/South divide and create more trade with the European continent. This rail network would also link up to the existing and under-construction High Speed 2 and CrossRail network.

Also part of the plan would be a new hydroelectric facility in the Thames that would power the hub. With an existing barrier already in action downstream, two miles east of the Isle of Dogs, this new construction would further protect against rising sea levels.

Foster + Partners does have a good track record in delivering similar schemes. Both Beijing's airport—the biggest airport in the world—and Hong Kong's airports were delivered on time and on budget by the firm. They were also voted by travelers as “the best airport experiences in the world.

In his report Landing The Right Airport, Mayor Johnson states that Foster’s hub is the only way to secure enough capacity. "Our analysis predicts that they would offer around double the number of long haul and domestic destinations served by Heathrow today, while exposing 95% fewer people to significant aircraft noise,” he says.

According to the BBC, Daniel Moylan, aviation adviser to the Mayor, says the plan could cost up to $35 billion—with an extra $35 billion needed for road and rail connections. A third runway could cost $28 billion.

However, opponents argue the transport hub would cost significantly more, at around $130 billion. Not only that, it would also disrupt wildlife habitats as well as rendering Southend and London City airports obsolete.  Meanwhile travel time into central London would also be longer compared to Heathrow.

Johnson though, remains undeterred. "If we are to secure the connectivity we need to support our future growth and prosperity and do so without dire impacts on public health—then we must do better than Heathrow,” he concluded.

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A step too far? Vasily Klyukin’s “Sexy” leg tower fails to impress

When enjoying sustained periods of economic prosperity and growth, it's almost natural to want to flaunt, in untamed excess, the fruits of entrepreneurship through architectural means. Just look at the Pyramids of Giza, the Roman Colosseum and more recently, Trump Tower and areas of China. What's significant though, is that China, instead of growing out of this phase, has put a stop to the practice altogether. Russian billionaire and amateur architect Vasily Klyukin has other ideas. "This concept is very extravagant, even for the modern World," Klyukin wrote on his website, and he's not wrong. The tower design—centered on a "sexy leg"—has been met with fervent hostility, mostly due to its complete disregard for its Lower Manhattan context and subsequent intent on standing out like sore thumb—or toe, in this case. "Someone will be shocked by this idea, someone will find it beautiful and sexy, someone—vulgar, but everybody, without an exception, would want to observe such a tower or visit it at least once in a lifetime. If this building will become a hotel—it will always be crowded. I personally would like to live in this tower," Klyukin continued. Dubbed the "Russian-born Tony Stark," Klyukin dabbles in real estate, sci-fi literature, sculpture, and yacht design as well as apparently being a Doctor of Historical Sciences. One doubts whether he himself even sees these designs being realized, despite his desire to live in them one day. His book, Designing Legends (Klyukin referring to his own designs) is available on Amazon for only $54, and so far has only received five-star reviews. One fan comments: "Klyukin is indulging in a playful critique of contemporary architecture and the post-Modern [sic] city, but it’s really an 'artist’s book,' or in the parlance of the previous century, 'un livre d’artiste.'" As much as one tries to find any validation in his proposals, further probing reveals deep-rooted egotism. Such an ethos is highlighted by Klyukin's Cobra Tower design. There is no place for this snake, something he inadvertently points out himself by imagining the tower in a number of locations such as China, Japan, and London. From this we can see that Klyukin deems his surroundings irrelevant; all that matters is that his design dominates the skyline, regardless of its relationship to its vicinity. When a large enough proportion of designers subscribe to this approach, the result is a chaotic conglomeration of buildings attempting to shout louder than each other. Any identity within the vicinity is lost, the art of placemaking long forgotten and the world quickly becomes alienating. Beijing artist Cao Fei exemplified this journey into cultural obscurity with Shadow Plays by revealing the "hypothetical extremities to which China is susceptible as a product of growth and potential collapse."
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MIPIM Day Two: Modeling and mapping the Responsive City

MIPIM takes place in the most complicated, counterintuitive series of convention halls on the Mediterranean waterfront. In trying to find the basement registration hall I ran into Ben Van Berkel who tried to help, but was having his own problems finding the ‘innovation forum’ that is the center of the architecture presentations. He claims he attends every other year because he can meet, in two days, 15 to 20 old and potential new clients. In the forum, we heard HOK present their Responsive Cities project that mines municipal data and then expresses it in maps that can be used by architects to drop future projects into and understand how they interact with the existing city. They showed a HOK sports stadium that might then become a useable bridge and public space during the day when it is not used for sports events. Speaking of models, MIPIM has a collection of the most fantastic scale models of cities like London and Istanbul that are enough of a reason for the design press to come to this event. This technical forum then morphed into a talk by Arik Levy, the Israeli/French designer who showed how to create value through the placements of art in projects and also bring culture to the places where working people spend their days. The forum was sponsored by Vitra, and they used their famous Swiss campus as an example of high design to super-charge daily life. We also met with Asudio, a young firm of ex-Foster employees who started up during an economic downturn and were able to get a series of schools projects that taught them to work efficiently and on-budget to produce impressive low-budget public work. They have also just started a new venture '63,000 Homes' that they hope can steer clients into creating work with innovative plans, uses, and architecture Asudio showed a new project that was meant to be a single commercial building, but they convinced the client to create two buildings that used a heat exchanger to transfer the daytime heat generated for the commercial space to heat the residential spaces when they needed the warmth during the day. There seem to be no end of the high technological solutions to everyday urban problems here at MIPIM. More tomorrow.
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What a difference 400 years makes: Modern and medieval London contrasted in hand-drawn cityscapes

[beforeafter]London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral (Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)(Courtesy Robin Reynolds)[/beforeafter] What would a young William Penn, prolific planner and founder of Pennsylvania—and London native of the 1600s—make of his home town today? He would probably admire how the chaotic life of trade, slums and hackney carriage horses had been reigned in, but chances are, he wouldn't recognise a thing. On view now at London's Guildhall Galleries is Visscher Redrawn, an exhibition offering a view through Penn's eyes thanks to two panoramic views of London taken 400 years apart—from 1616 to 2016. [beforeafter](Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)(Courtesy Robin Reynolds)[/beforeafter] Dutch artist Claes Jansz Visscher's staggering 6.5-foot-long depiction is taken from an elevated viewpoint in the city and sheds light on the how London looked prior to the Great Fire of 1666 which destroyed much of what is depicted. The image is even more impressive considering Visscher never set foot in Britain. Emulating Visscher, artist Robin Reynolds—who has actually visited London—has completed his own view of London, using the same vantage point as Visscher. London Bridge, for example, has changed dramatically. It's hard to think that it was once a bridge that was a lively place with shops and houses hovering over the Thames. In the foreground of the top view, just left of London Bridge (at the bottom of the picture), is Southwark Cathedral, which was spared by the 17th century conflagration. The cathedral might be the only recognizable architectural element that can be seen in the two views. St. Paul's Cathedral, below, had no such luck. A dominant gothic feature in the 1616 skyline, it was burned to the ground. Poking out, in the same location in Reynold's drawing, is Sir Christopher Wren's variant. [beforeafter]St. Paul's Cathedral (Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)St. Paul's Cathedral (Courtesy Robin Reynolds)[/beforeafter] Interestingly, after the Great Fire of London, Wren and the incumbent King Charles II had great plans for the capital. Wren drew on his experiences of Paris, envisioning wide boulevards to replace the narrow streets, though this was never realised as businesses were eager to remain in the same location. [beforeafter]The Glove Theater (Courtesy London Metropolitan Archives)Glove Thearer is barely visible today (Courtesy Robin Reynolds)[/beforeafter]
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KPF architect Shawn Duffy examines trends in London facade design

A specialist in large-scale projects with over 20 years of experience, Kohn Pedersen Fox principal Shawn Duffy is a keen observer of trends in London's commercial and residential building markets. Next month, Duffy—who served as managing principal on Aykon Nine Elms and One Nine Elms—joins BuroHappold Engineering's Jonathan Sakula in a panel on "London Calling: The Bold New Face of the UK" at the Facades+ NYC conference. With respect to commercial developments, observed Duffy, one contemporary preoccupation is how to improve the adaptability of the facade by the occupants. "Most often the outer layer of skin simply wraps a traditional sealed curtain wall with no operable panels," he said. "The control of the blinds in the ventilated cavity is done by a central computer system concerned mainly with reducing heat gain, leaving little or no individual control over daylighting and glare." Duffy anticipates an increased focus on how to enhance the comfort of individual users without sacrificing overall sustainability goals. "The challenge will be balancing the conflicting issues of natural ventilation and noise, daylighting and glare, fresh air and reduction in mechanical loads," he said. On London's residential construction scene, meanwhile, one challenge is the fact that "facades in both tower and low rise construction require solid building materials—aesthetically, so they don't look like office buildings, and in increasing percentages, technically, in order to meet the stringent facade performance requirements," explained Duffy. Because materials including brick and stone are so expensive, architects are often left few options for cladding other than metal or concrete-composite panels. The situation may soon change for the better, however. "The use of prefabricated, fully glazed facade panels is increasing," said Duffy. "The benefits of improved quality control in finishes and reduced fabrication/construction time is offsetting the increased cost of quality materials, creating better looking and performing residential facades." High performance building envelopes have the potential to help mitigate some of London's most pressing concerns, including energy waste. At present, London's commercial market  remains fixated on floor to ceiling glass. "The value of extensive glass facades to office developers and occupiers looks likely to continue as a main driver of office facade design," said Duffy. But a growing emphasis on environmental performance will eventually privilege more solid surfaces, he predicted. "We will then see more commercial buildings turning the amount and type of glazing to the orientation of the facades, the existing and future context, and the types of spaces within." Learn more about the cutting edge in facade design and fabrication in London, New York, and beyond at Facades+ NYC April 21-22. For a full agenda and to register, see the conference website.
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“Ornament is crime” is crime: In London, the debate over architectural ornamentation settled over beer and shot of vodka

There are six clear reasons why Turncoats, a new architectural debating format, is continuing to ruffle more than just a few feathers in Hoxton, East London. 1) It is free. 2) You are given a bottle of craft beer upon entry. 3) A musical comedy act featuring a game of "Hitler or Ham" introduces the evening. 4) The audience must do a shot of vodka before the debate. 5) An intellectual debate on whether ornament is crime proceeds and 6) everyone cheers at the end and goes home smiling. All very well, but what was the result of all this? As tempting as it is to go into detail over the "Hitler or ham" debacle, the real issue in Hoxton Hall on the 27th January was the debate on whether the statement "ornament is crime" is a crime itself. In order to solve this, three panels were put in place with two arguing for and against and the other an independent adjudicator dubbed "Switzerland." And so Adam Nathaniel Furman, architect, furniture designer and founder of the Postmodern Society, stepped forward with the first of what would be four prewritten arguments. Here, he compared ornament to wearing clothes, inferring that dressing our buildings is no different. Further still, ornament evokes a sense of freedom, liberality and identity. "If form was really so pure, we should all walk round naked!" Furman exclaimed. We dress up to represent our ideals and what we stand for and architecture should do the same he concluded. To counter this, Studio Weave co-founder Jane Hall retorted that ornament hides a building's true identity and distracts us from the faults and failings of reality within the built environment. A window decoration, for example, guides our gaze from the cracks in the pavement and potholes in the street. Money is hence more willingly spent on splendor rather than maintenance of our everyday basic needs when the opposite should enforced. Now, the debate was in full swing, and up stepped fashion satirist Bertie Brandes who wasted no time in slating those against decoration. “Minimalists are basic b*****s to the highest degree.” Interestingly, Brandes pointed out that ornament is literally a crime in rented accommodation whereby nailing a picture in to the wall can break the tenancy agreement. From this we can take solace in the fact that implementing decoration is indeed part of the great struggle against the "facist" orthodoxy. “Why should we let architectural class dictate the aesthetic of our cities?” Brandes questioned, suggesting that ornament can help aesthetically democratise our built environment. Finally, Rory Hyde, curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at the V&A Museum in London, came forward. Like Brandes, he was quick to make an equally sweeping statement: “Ornament is just s**t smearing” he said. Hyde went on to say how Donald Trump's home/palace is rather heavily decorated, posing the question (albeit not so seriously) that to endorse ornament essentially means that one also endorses his policies. However, Hyde later went on to say that the the thing about real palaces is that they do have power and indeed are the pinnacle of ornamentation. With real monarchial palaces, you are always born into them and hence ornamentation is inherently classist. After some light-hearted exchanges, somehow moderated by Charles Holland (co-founder of Ordinary Architecture), the debate eventually boiled down to fascism versus democracy. AN also weighed in on the debate, posing the following dilemma: “In which of the two scenarios is the most powerful ornamental statement made? Scenario One, a street full of flamboyant, heavily decorated structures juxtaposed by one minimalist building, or Scenario Two, a street full of minimalist structures, all uniform in style juxtaposed by one flamboyant, heavily decorated building?” Furman was quick to respond. “I like this idea, in a sense you think of it being similar school uniforms as we dress our buildings. On school days, we all have to look the same, but on the weekends we get to wear what we want.” Hence, freedom only becomes liberating when one is oppressed or when one has the knowledge that one will be oppressed in the future (like on Monday, once the weekend is over). As the evening progressed, the case for ornamentation became stronger. Ornament can be useful for way-finding, it was said using the example that taxi drivers use ornamentation on buildings to guide them around London. Hyde pointed out that while Aravena despises ornamentation, he lets the occupants of his buildings dictate their own ornamental style. Decoration from the user symbolizes pride of place and lets the place become their own. Hyde continued, noting that on the flip side of this, how much choice or freedom do we really have to make it our own? Most look to IKEA to furnish their dwellings. To be truly democratic or liberated would be to make the furniture ourself. Furman essentially closed the lid on the debate. “We pretend that modernism is the pioneer of neutrality, looking at everyone as equal. It may do this, but in doing so just perpetuates a power struggle within this society. Instead, let’s celebrate our differences.” At the end of the evening, with many of the audience drunk on well-presented architectural arguments on ornament (and slightly tipsy from the alcohol) the statement “ornament is not crime” got the biggest cheer. Democracy had triumphed and we were all architecturally liberated.
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HOK’s “Flower Tower” get’s the go-ahead in East London

Dubbed the "Flower Tower" and officially known as Hertsmere House, this new residential tower by HOK will be London's tallest residential building, reaching 771 feet. The petal-shaped tower was awarded planning permission last week to be constructed in East London's Dockland area. The 67-story building will offer 861 flats, of which 96 will be "affordable." Also included are shops, a pool, a cinema, and gym, though it's advised that you don't drive there, as only nine parking spaces will be available, all for disabled users. Another plot on Dalgleish Street in Limehouse adds 60 more “affordable” homes. Shanghai developer Greenland Group has hailed the design as a "vertical city" as it looks for tenants for the scheme. Despite its flowery nickname, all has not been rosy for the "Flower Tower," which has be been subject to criticism from heritage group Historic England. While the structure will offer views of West India Quay and the Isle of Dogs, Historic England worries that the building will disrupt views of these historic landmark areas as well as in Greenwich. Meanwhile, 15 local residents have written letters of complaint arguing that their homes will be cast in permanent shadow when the tower goes up. Jumping on board, Credit Suisse bank (whose voice is likely to carry more clout) argues that their nearby offices will be subject to noise disruption, vibration as well as dust and air pollution during the construction phases of the project, which should take a few years. In reply to this, council’s director of development and renewal, Aman Dalvi, said that "The site is highly suitable for a tall building." “The tower would be of a high architectural quality, providing a marker at the end of the dock," he added. "[It] would also form part of an established cluster of tall buildings.” Greenland says the project is its "most important project in Europe," and is reportedly paying Tower Hamlets Council $27.2 million, allocated solely for the affordable housing program. Meanwhile, an additional, $31.1 million will be contributed via "Community Infrastructure Levy and section 106 contributions." Construction of the tower also controversially involves temporarily removing the Grade II–listed West India Docks gateway and wall, a former port for all the West Indian cargo shipped in under the Imperial rule. Once the tower is built, the wall and gateway will be reconstructed brick by brick. Construction on both the Dockland and Limehouse sites will break ground later in the year with the tower projected to be complete by 2020.