Starting September 24 and running through January 5, 2020, the Tate Britain will offer visitors a new perspective on something monumental in its ubiquity: a highway. A new life-sized replica of a stretch of the M53 highway and overpass located near Wirral, Merseyside, is coming to the museum via Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey. This same stretch of pavement that he's creating, located near his hometown, has also made an appearance in his 2015 film, Dream English Kid, 1964-1999 AD. The replica is part sculpture and part stage set, and the structure will also be the backdrop for an audio play. The piece in both of its forms -- freestanding artwork and active, designed environment -- will be one of the most imposing works included in Leckey’s ambitious, large-scale exhibition for the Tate, titled O Magic Power of Bleakness. The highway in all its ugly, functionalist glory may be the exact pulse of ‘bleakness’ that Leckey is going for in his title choice. Born in 1964, in the midst of the automobile culture boom, the artist has seen the highway become a staple of the modern commute, landscape, and mainstream imagination. The open roads and endless stretches of asphalt are at once overtly familiar, yet a deeper dive reveals and reminds that they also act as spaces of harbored secrets, sheltering the fringes of society congregating at under- and overpasses such as the section immortalized by Leckey’s sculpture. The Tate describes the upcoming exhibition as “focusing on a group of teenagers, the play is inspired by folklore and stories of changelings and ‘fairy raids’ and by the artist’s own pre-adolescent experiences.” Described as having haunted the artist’s work throughout his career, the ominous subject of the highway has a great potential due to its sheer size and imposing materiality to exert a certain power over visitors. Leckey has worked with collage, found objects, and video to create powerful commentary and conversations surrounding themes like nostalgia, pop cultural imagery, and anxiety. His first taste of the Tate came in 2002 -- his current wife, Lizzie Carey Thomas, had accepted a job as a curator of contemporary art and asked Leckey to make a performance piece. He chose to "borrow" one of the museum's most iconic sculptures, a Jacob Epstein work titled Jacob and the Angel. He positioned a speaker system on a pedestal nearby, laid out so the speaker and sculpture seemed to be facing off in competition. He then played music at a deafening volume. Catherine Wood, curator of performance art at the Tate, told the Guardian that “the Epstein was an iconic work I had looked at 1,000 times. Suddenly it became tender… He was possessing the museum – possessing it with our culture.” Maybe, with the re-presentation of the M53, Leckey will be able to possess the museum all over again.
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At the 16th Venice Biennale of Architecture, the Golden Lion for National Participation was awarded to Switzerland for a minimal yet amusing installation Svizzera 240: House Tour, a mock luxury apartment that had been multiplied and re-scaled throughout the pavilion’s spaces. The humorous interpretation was meant to challenge our perceptions of scale in the domestic environment, as well as draw attention to the banality of these spaces. The Golden Lion for best individual participant went to Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura for a pair of photographs showing a before and after of a renovation of São Lourenço do Barrocal estate in Alentejo, Portugal, which was barely perceptible. The focus on architecture here, rather than a grand political statement, is in line with the overall character of the show, as well as the judge’s choices. A special mention went to the British Pavilion, for a dramatic structure, Island, that hovered over the building, which was left completely empty. On the plinth above, a cafe was setup and visitors could feel isolated from the Giardini below, while enjoying a beautiful view. Special mentions were given to Indian architect Rahul Mehrotra and Indonesian architect Andra Matin. New York–based British historian Kenneth Frampton won the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Critic Peter Lang told AN, “Grabbing the Golden Lion trophy like a brick, Frampton hoisted it up to shoulder height and beamed with no small amount of delight. In an exchange of banter between him and the curators Yvonne Farrell and Shelly McNamara, where they referred to his hugely influential legacy and his role as a “barometer of truth,” Ken responded wryly that they were the best architects in the world. Ken stood firmly by Hannah Arendt and his belief that modernism is an unfinished project. Clearly there will be more reflections from this British critic to come.”
"The worst building amongst a swathe of mediocrity," read one. A "grotesque Jenga game of rabid, rectilinear blocks without the promise of collapse," read another. Compliments for BUJ Architects' Lincoln Plaza have been hard to come by. Today, the collection of housing units in east London's Docklands was dealt a hammer blow in being crowned the winner of this year's Carbuncle Cup, British architecture's least-wanted design award. Comprising two towers of dwellings with a cylindrical hotel mixed into the program, the ill-fated development has been the subject of severe scorn for the 2016 iteration of Building Design's (BD) Carbuncle Cup awards. It is the fifth London building in a row to claim the trophy in the awards' tenth successive year. Lincoln Plaza was selected from a shortlist of six projects built in the UK, three of which were in London. Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting 20 Fenchurch Sreet (a.k.a. The Walkie-Talkie Tower) took the prize. “When you look at the crazy patterns, pick and mix colors and gimmicky balconies you can see that it lacks poise, foundation or clarity of vision," lamented Julian Robinson of the awarding jury. "Its neighbors aren’t great but this is just an unmitigated mess.” Meanwhile, BD editor Thomas Lane was equally critical. “This is the worst building amongst a swathe of mediocrity," he said. "South Quay is rapidly turning into London’s Carbuncle Cluster.” The derision didn't end there either. One reader even went so far as to say that the building's balconies “are an open invitation to commit suicide.” Critic and member of the jury panel Ike Ijeh described Lincoln Plaza further: "31 stories of bilious cladding are piled one on top of the other to create an assortment of haphazardly assembled facades that are crude, jarring and shambolic." He went on to add:
Essentially, this building is the architectural embodiment of sea sickness, waves of nausea frozen in sheaths of glass and colored aluminum that, when stared at for too long, summon queasiness, discomfort and, if you’re really unlucky, a reappearance of lunch as inevitably as puddles after a rainstorm.Incidentally, the much-maligned flats in question range from $1 million to $1.2 million. The developers behind the project, Galliard Homes, describe it as a "striking new landmark against Canary Wharf’s dazzling architecture." They go on to add: "Offering breathtaking views, first class facilities, and superlative living accommodation in a location of international status, Lincoln Plaza is set to provide one of the most prestigious and sophisticated new landmarks on Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline." Ijeh, though, was not impressed with this description.
Were anyone in any doubt as to the sheer level delusion and gall that has gripped London’s luxury housing market, then this asinine quotation should settle the matter once and for all. Lincoln Plaza is actually in South Quay and not Canary Wharf but what better way of showing contempt for your local context than by insinuating it is actually located in your flashier neighboring district that is more likely to be familiar to your target Malaysian investors? But, of course, this development does not show contextual contempt by words but by actions and it is these architectural actions and not the aforementioned “views” that are truly “breath-taking.” Lincoln Plaza is a putrid, pugilistic horror show that should never have been built. In its bilious cladding, chaotic form, adhesive balconies and frenzied facades, it exhibits the absolute worst in shambolic architectural design and cheap visual gimmickry. The only thing “sophisticated” about this scheme is the sheer level of artistry that must have been orchestrated in order to convince the local authority to award permission.Paul Finch, editorial director of the Architects' Journal—a rival to the publication that runs the not-so-coveted trophy—called for the competition to be ended last month. He also wrongly predicted, as did many, that:
Those who control the [Carbuncle Cup] seem to know next to nothing about commercial architecture, hate it, campaign against it and only keep quiet when a self-evidently ‘good’ architect, like Eric Parry, wins a commission to design the tallest tower in the City of London, demolishing the rather good [Aviva] tower in the process. The predictable tone of the [Carbuncle Cup] nominations is echoed by the predictability of the results. The judges don’t get out much, so the focus is generally on London. If you can attack a big name, all the better, hence the ludicrous abuse poured on the Cutty Sark project by Grimshaw. Commercial uses are a red rag to a bull, hence the campaign against another ‘winner’, the Tesco store with apartments above at Woolwich, a brave and successful attempt to revive a benighted town centre, which I supported while sitting on the design review panel which assessed the plan... My real objection to the [Cup] is that it is the product of mental idleness rather than genuine thought about the way in which architecture both absorbs and reflects culture, economics, fashion and the myriad other elements which inform the way we now live, work and play.Catherine Slessor, also writing in the same publication, however, made the case for the Carbuncle Cup:
Some might regard it as a cheap exercise in tabloid trolling that takes no account of the complexities and contradictions of the design process, in which architects are merely hapless pawns, buffeted by bad clients, bad briefs and bad legislation. Yet who could argue against the guilty pleasure of witnessing the pomposity of the great and the good being pricked or the hubris of provincial nonentities witheringly exposed? After all, these purveyors of ordure are paid for what they do. And, unlike genuine ordure, bad buildings cannot be swept away.
The shortlist for the least desirable architectural accolade in Britain has been unveiled. Comprising six unfortunate finalists, the winner will be awarded the Carbuncle Cup, a trophy which has become the stuff of nightmares for architects with projects in the U.K. The Carbuncle Cup is now in its tenth successive year and is proving to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek response from Building Design (BD) to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Stirling Prize. Pedigree, it seems, won’t save you: Foster+Partners and Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners have previously made the list for their Moor House office development and One Hyde Park projects, respectively, which are both in London. Past winners include the Strata SE1 building in south London by BFLS and the Cutty Sark renovation in Greenwich by Grimshaw Architects. Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting 20 Fenchurch Sreet (a.k.a. The Walkie-Talkie Tower) in London took the prize. Take a look at this year’s finalists below.
The winner of the Carbuncle Cup will be announced next Wednesday.
Saffron Square Location: Croydon, London Architect: Rolfe Judd First on the "to-roast" list is Saffron Square (otherwise known as Saffron Tower) in Croydon, south London. Though Croydon currently holds the crown as having U.K.'s fastest growing local economy, the news surrounding its architecture scene has not been so positive. Developer Berkeley Homes’s offering, whose colorfully-clad tower can be seen from many-a-mile, has been described as having a “car crash of a facade.”
The Diamond Sheffield Twelve Architects This building in Yorkshire may provide accommodation for engineering students at the University of Sheffield, however, it is apparently “dwarfing” and “drowning” is neighboring church with its interior being “wasted,” “unused,” and “outrageously mismanaged.”
One Smithfield Stoke-on-Trent RHWL Architects "An aesthetic mutation between the nostalgic 1980s brain games of Connect 4 and Blockbusters might not seem like a natural breeding ground for architectural malevolence but this building proves what happens when color goes rogue," wrote BD in a scathing analysis of the multi-colored structure. Poole Methodist Church extension Poole, Dorset Intelligent Design Centre Churches have not faired well according to this year's iteration of the Carbuncle Cup. This extension to the existing gothic church has been derided as a building that "screams of the same bland, belligerent mediocrity that is the insidious moniker of ostensibly polite and ubiquitous background architecture everywhere."Beautiful day for a skate, this spot in Hanley is awesome!! #spotcheck #skate #metrogrammed #summerishere A photo posted by Will Lowe (@wimpstain) on
5 Broadgate London Make Architects Make Architects's 5 Broadgate is one of three buildings from London (last year had four) and the largest on the list. Such is the scorn that the structure has received that developers of the nearby 22 Bishopsgate project called 5 Broadgate the "worst large building in the City for 20 years." Ominously, last year's biggest building happened to be 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie-Talkie), the eventual winner.
New towers at Canary Wharf #1. Lincoln Plaza. #skyscraper #photography #London pic.twitter.com/pDQGNGxtbX — Skyscrapernews.com (@skyscrapernews) July 5, 2016Lincoln Plaza London BUJ Architects Last on the ill-fated architectural honors list is Lincoln Plaza. "31 stories of bilious cladding are piled one on top of the other to create an assortment of haphazardly assembled facades that are crude, jarring and shambolic," wrote BD in an unforgiving critique of the high-rise. And that wasn't all. "Were that not enough, the facades enwrap a grotesque Jenga game of rabid rectilinear blocks of no discernible form or profile and perforated by a series of balconies which one reader surmises “are an open invitation to commit suicide."
The winner of the Carbuncle Cup will be announced next Wednesday.
The jury comprises Thomas Lane, BD editor, Ike Ijeh, architect and architectural critic, Ben Flatman,author, architect and BD columnist, and Julian Robinson, London School of Economic’s director of estates, who was responsible for commissioning 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize finalist the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
The word "Basildon" does little to conjure thoughts of paradise. For those who know it as a town in Essex, England, this association could only seem ridiculous. Fifty years ago, however, Basildon—a state-built "new town"—was synonymous with the utopian dreams among planner and architects. "Are we a product of our environment... or is it a product of us?" Christopher Ian Smith asks in a preview of his documentary film. Titled New Town Utopia, his exploration of Basildon's fate—four years in the making—now needs $21,000 for post-production, marketing, and distribution requirements. The feature film aims to examine British social history through the lens of Basildon's architecture, planning, and its creative residents. By way of some background, "New towns" were the product of the U.K. government, which aimed to fix a nationwide housing shortage after WWII. In 1946, the "New towns act" was passed to create ten new towns. Eighth in-line was Basildon, being officially designated as such on January 4th, 1949. "Here is a journey through populated ruins," narrates Smith, who's been filmmaking for some years. "It's the story of the grand dreams of the new town... compared to harsh concrete realities." Smith spoke to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) about his motivations for the film and his experiences while shooting Basildon. Now living in London, Smith said how growing up in the town was an inspiration. "It felt different," he explained. "I enjoyed the art, architecture, sculpture, and especially the high street. I've succumbed to loving the aesthetic of midcentury brutalism and the ambitions behind it. The utopian ideals behind planning and architecture at the time were considered progressive. In the 1950s and 60s, risks were taken. The spirit of '45, with nationalization and the National Health Service, lived on."
However, Smith acknowledged that these radical ideas—when attempted on an architectural and planning scale in Basildon—have wilted significantly over time. "The place has a terrible reputation, both locally and nationally," he said. Local civic pride, according to Smith, appears to be dwindling. With his film, Smith hopes to spark a "debate of the state of our towns" and "not just new towns." When filming parts of the high street and Basil Spence's Brooke House—both architecturally-prominent landmarks within Basildon—Smith recalled being asked: "Why are you filming that? Are you going to knock it down?" No one even goes to Basildon on holiday. In the 1970s, Basildon was dubbed as "little Moscow-on-Thames," Smith described. A decade later, the phrase "Basildon Man" had surfaced. That image was of the well-to-do working-class Conservative voter—a far cry of the leftist ideologies of the past and its architecture. This was cemented when Tory MP David Amess won the Basildon constituency seat in 1983 and was able to hold it for 14 years. In his conversation with AN, Smith concluded that in the end, "top-down planning" was endemic to its failure. In the process of collating more than 400 hours of footage of the town, Smith goes so far as to argue that few—if any—would ever visit Basildon for fun. His Kickstarter campaign has until September 26 this year to have funding finalized. The film, if realized, will be complete by March 2017.
LIDAR, an acronym for "Light and Radar," has helped the U.K.'s Environment Agency show changes in topography for almost two decades from its inception in 1998. Since then it has been used to determine the effects of flooding and coastal regression. Local amateur archaeologist, David Ratledge, has also used the tool to locate ancient Roman roads between Ribchester and Catterall (near Lancaster), shedding new light on Britain's undiscovered past and illuminating the arteries of the ancient Empire. The Romans were notorious innovators of infrastructure, pioneering concrete, aqueducts, drainage, and, of course, roads. The first Roman road stretched from Richborough on the southeast coast, to Canterbury, where it went on to London, St. Albans, and up to Chester. Even today, some 2,000 years after the route was established, it is still one of the U.K.'s main freight roadways now known as the A2 and the A5. Now, it is thought there are more Roman roads, particularly in northwest England, between Ribchester and Lancaster. “After only 45 years of searching, I have at long last found the Roman Road from Ribchester to Lancaster!” said Ratledge on his webpage. The discovery not only tells us about Roman trade routes, but also about where they thought troops would need to be deployed quickly. It's possible that the Romans were fearful of Celts near Lancaster, hence a road that could be used to send support or retreat as quickly as possible was very useful. A tell-tale sign of a Roman road is its linear form. The Romans didn't mess around when it came to road building and if they wanted to get somewhere, they took the most direct route possible. Staggeringly, they even managed to plot a straight line—even when they couldn't see the end destination. This can be seen in the London to Chichester route where vision is impaired due to the North and South Downs (a range of hills). The solution? The Romans placed beacons on high points, using their line of sight to determine the straightest possible route. To walk the route from Ribchester to Caterall, as the Roman troops did, would take over seven hours according to Google maps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qTRRBEkesA
Sports specialists LA Architects and former Stirling Prize winners, Haworth Tompkins Architects, are to replace Frank Gehry in designing a leisure center in Hove on Britain's South Coast. The complex will also feature residential towers up to 18 floors high. As romantic as "from Bilbao to Brighton" may sound, Gehry's scheme was not to be. The project had garnered mixed reviews from locals. Supporters hailed it as Britain's Guggenheim while others described it as "tin can alley." The audacious twin-tower scheme, designed in conjunction with HOK, would have brought 750 homes to the vicinity (compared to the concurrent 560). News of the project's abandonment prompted Brighton-born Piers Gough, Gehry's friend, to say: "It's a heartbreak, and a loss for Britain." Brighton and Hove Council chose to appoint the two new firms after the $422 million scheme, commonly known as, "wonky towers" was ditched 2008 after developer Karis failed to provide funding plans. Previously Dutch Bank ING had pledged to finance the project. "We are redeveloping the King Alfred site to create a modern new sports centre," said the council. "The current center no longer meets modern expectations and it is expensive to operate and maintain." Now the scheme will be seven times cheaper than Gehry's, costing around $58 million with $11.7 million coming from the council. The council has said those funds will come from the "improved financial performance of the new centre compared to the old centre." Haworth Tompkins will masterplan the project while LA Architects will finalize its sport center design. All in all, the scheme is set to include 560 dwellings, 120 of which will be affordable homes. Also included will be:
- An eight lane (Olympic half-size) swimming pool with moveable floor and 352 spectator seats
- Teaching pool with moveable floor and a 4,305 square-foot leisure pool
- Sports hall, the size of eight badminton courts and multi-purpose hall
- 120 station gym, bike spinning room, workout studio, quiet activity studio and a sauna suite
- Gymnastics centre
- 3 rink indoor bowls hall
- Martial arts dojo
- Public square
- Communal art space
- Crèche and soft play room
- 200 space car park for sports centre users.
After fending off Rafael Viñoly, Zaha Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Haworth Tompkins Limited and compatriots Mecanoo, OMA's design for "The Factory" will become Manchester's new art house. Lead by Rem Koolhaas, The Factory will be in the British city's center and is touted to cost $166 million with a further $13.5 million-a-year to run. Funding will not be an issue for Koolhaas' building as U.K. Chancellor George Osborne has pledged $117.5 million to the project with the view that The Factory will become the "Northern Powerhouse" showpiece. The project's name supposedly comes from the home-grown Factory Records, an indie record label launched in 1978 that produced notable bands such as Joy Division and Happy Mondays. Koolhaas has designed what essentially is an art-box that will host a wide range of artistic events in Manchester, with an aim for the facility to become the cultural focal point of the region. The venue is dedicated to theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, and scientific advancements and will have a combined capacity of 7,200—2,200 seated and 5,000 standing. This will be OMA's first major public development on British soil, aside from a few minor forays into London, Glasgow, and the south coast. “The importance of the Factory cannot be overstated," Manchester council leader, Sir Richard Leese, told the Guardian. "It will be of international significance, the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond. It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created.” Koolhaas' project in Manchester is set to break ground next year with the aim to finish by 2019. According to the Guardian, "Those behind the project have predicted that within a decade it will help create the equivalent of 2,500 jobs adding nearly $211 million to the local economy."
From David Livingston to Edmund Hillary and Lawrence of Arabia, the Brits have always been ace at camping, so it only makes sense a firm 'cross the pond would come up with a system to provide space for tents in cramped urban environments. Explains The Architectural Review:
Import.export Architecture (IEA) have invented a ‘vertical growing landscape’ for city campers. Urban camping is a three dimensional stacking of camping grounds. There is a minimum of three and a maximum of eight layers where campers can set up their tents. It is designed to be implemented in any number of cities, IEA explain ‘it adapts itself depending on the surroundings, but it is not a parasite.’ The structure is designed to offer travellers a new experience of staying overnight in a city. Rather than opting for youth hostels, cheap hotels or periferal camping sites IEA’s structure allows budget travellers to set up tents in the centre of a metropolis. The various layers are designed to provide urban vistas to the campers. All access routes are designed as part of the structural system. IEA aimed to ‘create a place where adventurous city wanderers can stay overnight, meet other campers, find a safe shelter with basic designed practical facilities focusing extraordinary vistas of city exploration.’With a name like Import.export, you'd think there might be some sort of humanitarian angle here, a la Architecture for Humanity, but apparently not. Still, when kids are paying a hundred bucks a month to camp out in Bushwick backyards, maybe we could use these crazy camping scaffolds, too.
First, AJ brought us the architecture of Star Wars. Now, in another brilliant twist, comes the Top 10 video game designs. From Sim City to Marioworld, Second Life to World of Warcraft, we nerds couldn't be happier. Sure, they left out Diablo II and Roller Coaster Tycoon, but who are we to complain about our new favorite architecture pub? After ourselves, of course.
The exact details are still not entirely clear but rumors from the London architecture scene suggest that EMAP, the owner of The Architectural Review, is replacing editor Paul Finch with Kieran Long, who edits the company’s weekly magazine, The Architecture Journal. Finch is only the 8th editor in the magazine’s storied, 112-year history and he is a revered figure on the London architecture scene, where he has long worked as an editor; acting chair of the government’s advisory committee on architecture, urban design and public space; co-editor of the quarterly magazine Planning in London; and has sat on the jury of various architecture awards, including the Stirling Prize. In 2002, Finch was awarded the OBE, the first necessary step toward a potential knighthood. If the rumors are to be believed Long will now edit both AR and AJ with a single design and editorial staff. Finch has been given some kind of emeritus status, with roving editorial responsibilities along with responsibilities for directing EMAP’s World Architecture Festival, which just launched its inaugural event in Barcelona last month (where I was on the scene). And this may be but the first tremor in the world of British design pubs. Peter Murray, ex-editor of the RIBA Journal and a founding editor of Blueprint, painted a bleak picture in response to the news:
The lack of advertising and the lure of the Internet (no print costs!) in our saturated market is forcing a number of publishers to look at restructuring the way they put magazines together. I can't see how this is going to be good for editorial quality or for differentiating the two mags, but I do think that Paul Finch’s gig of a major international event linked to the world wide web is an interesting evolution in publishing.Stay tuned for more.