Posts tagged with "England":

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Burglars steal Maurizio Cattelan’s golden America toilet

In a pastoral part of central England known for its stately homes and greenery, burglars made off this week with a valuable, if fairly unusual, piece of art. The theft took place around 4:50 a.m. at Blenheim Palace, a monumental country house in Oxfordshire, just northwest of London. The target of the crime? America, a 2016 sculpture of a fully-functional toilet crafted in 18-carat gold by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

The toilet, which was previously housed in an upper-level lavatory at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, had been installed in one of Blenheim’s wood-paneled restrooms as part of an exhibition of Cattelan’s work. It was connected to the estate’s plumbing system, enabling visitors to actually use it—rare moments of intimacy with an object valued at well over one million dollars. According to the Sunday Times, overnight security was relaxed because Edward Spencer-Churchill, the display’s organizer, did not consider the toilet a prime target for burglars. As he told reporters when the piece was installed in August, “It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick…Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate.” Neither factor seemed an adequate deterrent for the thieves last week.

The crime caused significant damage to the palace beyond the loss of the art itself, as from photos, it appears the thieves simply ripped the fixture from the wall and left. The ruptured piping spawned a minor flood and one of the doors to the room was completely destroyed. While the display is now cordoned off, the toilet has yet to be recovered, prompting concerns that it may have been melted down. Authorities claim that a group of offenders used two vehicles to carry out the burglary but have only arrested one 66-year-old man in connection with the crime.

Cattelan himself highlighted the irony of the incident, pointing out that he created America to give ordinary people direct access to an extraordinary object. As he told The New York Times this weekend, “America was the one percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action. I wish it was a prank.”

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Kaleidoscopic Dulwich Picture Gallery Pavilion lands in South London

What if, when on his Grand Tour, John Soane didn’t go to Italy, but to West Africa? What if, instead of going to Venice, he went to Lagos? This was the question Dingle Price, co-founder of London studio Pricegore, posed when pitching the idea for a pavilion adjacent to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest purpose-built gallery in England, designed by Soane. The result is The Colour Palace, a gloriously colorful timber structure that nestles between Soane’s 202-year-old building and a residential street. Price and fellow Pricegore cofounder Alex Gore do not hail from West Africa. Such inspiration came from artist and designer Yinka Ilori, who collaborated with the studio for the project. Now based in London, Ilori drew upon markets in Lagos where he was raised. “I wanted to encapsulate the memory of color I have from those markets,” Ilori told AN. “Selling fabrics, color was everywhere.”
And at the new pavilion, color is indeed everywhere. When approaching it, hints of a cacophony of color can be spied: pink tips pop out above the park’s perimeter wall; beyond the trees, glimpses of blue and red can be seen through the green. Closer inspection reveals thin, cuboid timber louvers (there are more than 2100) painted in green, yellow, blue, pink, red, and orange. The result makes the facade shimmer from the outside, blending the different tones in the process. Triangles and circles—motifs prevalent in Ilori’s work as a furniture designer—have been painted on the outside, causing the pavilion to look like a party hat. There’s an overriding sense of fun. But the kaleidoscopic baptism doesn’t end there. The giant party hat sits on four five-and-a-half-feet-wide bright red concrete columns—unpolished and raw, they rise up from the earth. A pink elevated walkway traces the structure’s perimeter, and a blue timber internal support structure keeps it all up. “Our work is very Euro-centric, Yinka’s is very West African,” Price explained. “We wanted to mix the two.” Ilori and Pricegore drew upon two precedents: an image of men carrying a thatched roof in West Africa and caryatids in Athens supporting the Parthenon's entablature. “Building in landscape, we wanted to lift the structure off the ground and retain the open sense of a garden,” added Gore. The pavilion, with its 1,560-square-foot base, is open on all four sides. Circles and triangles may adorn the exterior, but the square was most important to Pricegore, who deemed the shape essential to maintaining the structure's relationship to the adjacent Soane-designed gallery. Soane used a strict orthogonal regime to conceive the gallery's plan. So, too, has Pricegore, although the firm has offset the pavilion 45 degrees to the gallery to create a more welcoming dialog to visitors, allowing the various colors of the louvers to gradually change upon approach. Gore continued: “The pavilion is accessible to everyone. A child can enjoy this as much as an art critic.” The Colour Palace is the result of a partnership between the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the London Festival of Architecture. The pavilion is open to the public until September 22, 2019.
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Morris+Company designs a timber vaulted restaurant in southeastern England

British architecture studio Morris+Company has designed Wildernesse, a timber-vaulted restaurant in Sevenoaks in the southeast of England. The restaurant boasts a metal skin that features a series of arches—a nod to the adjacent landmarked Dorton House, also known as Wildernesse, which dates back to 1669. The restaurant is part of a wider development serving the public with eight new mews houses containing 53 apartments set within five free-standing villas. Grade levels differ across the site and so a plinth clad in ragstone was created to bring the restaurant up to ground level and connect it to the house, the rest of the site, and the new coterie of housing, as well as to nestle the building into an area steeped in history. "It needed to be simple, sensitive to the historic context, and act as a focal point within the landscape that you can look out from," Harriet Saddington, associate at Morris+Company and project architect, told The Architect's Newspaper. This approach has resulted in a relatively simple structure that manages to achieve a lot on a tight budget ($2.5 million, much of which was dedicated to a basement to house plants for the Wildernesse estate). To keep costs down, the building made use of off-site construction and repeating elements. Previously on site was a 19th-century glass conservatory. The architects wanted to bring the pavilion typology back to the area and create a modern take with a perforated metal–skinned glass house. "Unlike many sterile air-conditioned restaurants we wanted to use natural ventilation," added Saddington. In addition to the perforated facade elements, operable panels negate the necessity for air conditioning. The delicate skin, meanwhile, contrasts with the restaurant's interior where unfinished timber has been used extensively to create a warm, tactile environment. A structural timber frame, composed of spruce glulam and CLT has been used, but more notably, an array of timber vaults define the facade's glazing elements. Covered in birch-faced ply, the vaults are arranged in a grid formation measuring 13 feet square, mimicking the archways of the exterior. The archway motif continues at a smaller scale too, with fluted timber lining employed on interior walls, in patterned floor tiles, and in applied machined timber moldings and beads. Despite this, Saddington stressed the detailing on the project was minimal—a decision taken to make the restaurant all about views onto the rolling landscape it looks out onto.
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6a architects recalls Milton Keynes’s utopian vision with a shiny new gallery

Milton Keynes: Britain’s youngest, technically unofficial, "city" has a habit of making headlines for all the wrong reasons—routinely being laughed at for having fields populated with concrete cows and being a mecca for roundabouts. Yet the New Town was regarded with its grid road system as the avant-garde of planning upon its birth in 1968. Heroic ambitions cast aside, it has since been derided for embodying all the faults of top-down planning and for later becoming a developer-friendly business park. In 1999, a new cultural establishment, the MK Gallery, opened on the edges of Midsummer Boulevard, but it was never quite able to latch onto the spirit of a new Millennium. Milton Keynesians’ search for something new to shout about went on. And so arrives the extension and re-jig of the MK Gallery from British architects, 6a. It’s a box, much like most of the area’s buildings, but the gallery’s glimmering facade emerging from the surrounding greenery hints at something much more tantalizing. “We wanted to make a building that was utterly Milton Keynesian,” Tom Emerson, founding director of 6a architects, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “The prototypical building of Milton Keynes—from the shopping center to the [Milton Keynes Development Corporation] design offices—is the steel frame shed and its variations.” 6a employed polished steel to clad the new structure, folding it incrementally to reflect literally and metaphorically Milton Keynes’s grid plan. “Sometimes it kind of radiates light and color from the most unlikely sources. It is very much alive and dynamic,” added Emerson. Already the gallery has been nicknamed the "tumble dryer" by locals—such is the British predilection for giving new buildings colloquial monikers. The gallery hasn’t even opened yet, but the nickname suggests residents are warming to it already, eager to embrace it as an MK building. The nickname derives from a circular motif in the facade, which has been split horizontally to form a giant, semi-circular window. “The circle is the most explicit form used in the design of Campbell Park, which the gallery overlooks. There are circles and cones everywhere,” said Emerson. “As the gallery is the last building along Midsummer Boulevard, we wanted to make it a simple meeting of the two forms; the grid of the city meets the circle in the landscape.” Retaining the original structure, the architects have more than doubled the gallery’s initial size. Inside this becomes apparent through five new double-height galleries, the first reaching 30 feet high, the rest 20 feet, all coming together to provide more than 5,300 square feet of exhibition space. The new, re-energized MK Gallery, however, posits itself as more than just a space for hanging art. A new auditorium, known as the “Sky Room” will offer views over Campbell Park and double-up as an independent cinema. A new foyer, café, and garden have also been added. "The aim of the new gallery is essentially to appeal to a larger and wider audience," Emerson explained. "We realigned all the openings of the old gallery with the new ones in a continuous ‘enfilade.' The long axis through the building (with windows to the outside on either end) reflects within the building the spatial structure of the city itself." While it shimmers externally, inside, MK Gallery plunges visitors 30 years into the past with a color palette from a 1978 Habitat catalog. This is all thanks to artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman, who worked with 6a on the scheme. It’s a bold move but one that emphatically pays off. Bands of greens, yellow, and browns form a lavish curtain lining, which partially engulfs the plywood-clad Sky Room; a fire escape spiral staircase has been painted bright red; internal stairs are yellow—minus the cigarette smoke stains from the ‘70s; bathrooms have been doused with maroon, brown, and emerald; and the white-walled café features a happy menagerie of hanging light spheres, red beams, yellow chairs, and pipework—a literal throwback to Milton Keynes’s now-defunct architecture department, once nicknamed the “Custard Factory” due to Norman Foster’s design. Nostalgic recollections of the past can often be saccharine, but not here. MK Gallery is an example of how to work with the recent past, celebrating it visually and marrying it with an exciting program, all of which has been packed into an architecture that reflects Milton Keynes today, while also priming it for tomorrow. MK Gallery opens to the public on Saturday, March 16.
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Hastings Pier, winner of the 2017 Stirling Prize, is at the center of heated public battle

A 147-year-old piece of seaside infrastructure in Hastings, England, is at the center of a nationwide controversy now known as the “Battle of Hastings Pier.” According to The Guardian, Sheikh Abid Gulzar, the new owner of the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize–winning Hastings Pier, closed the beloved public space last month without notice until March. Locals are livid. The historic structure, which underwent a massive renovation in 2016 by Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects (dRMM), is a Victorian-age wooden pier built in 1872. It’s endured a fraught history since its opening and survived multiple fires, the latest of which nearly destroyed the 300-yard pier in 2010. Through the U.K.’s Heritage Lottery Fund and £14.5 million in public donations, dRMM brought it back to life. A representative from the Friends of Hastings Pier (FoHP) said because local residents invested their own money in the pier’s construction, they deserve more transparency from Gulzar about its future. According to a December 29th post on the Hastings Pier Facebook page, Gulzar decided to shut down access to the pier in order to begin much-needed repairs and improvements. To the public, the pier’s closure is seen as the latest offense by the wealthy hotelier and businessman, whose nickname, “Goldfinger", alludes to the gold-clad cars he drives around London and the gold rings he sports on each finger. Gulzar recently installed a series of golden fiberglass animals on the pier and announced plans to build an on-site amusement park. Protests have broken out over Gulzar's acts, and locals continue to fume over the fact that Gulzar purchased the pier in June for a mere £60,000—a sliver of the millions it took to rehabilitate and restabilize the structure. It’s unclear what will happen next. A spokesman for Gulzar told The Guardian that essential repairs are currently underway on Hastings Pier and it could reopen in mid-February. In recent months, Gulzar has complained about an increase in theft and vandalism as a cause for concern, and repeatedly expressed his commitment to keeping the pier safe. On January 12, he met with local residents and the city council to discuss support in speeding up construction projects on site in order to ensure an earlier opening date.  
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The triumph of the one-liner in Venice

Traditionally, the one-liner is derided in architecture as something crude, unsophisticated, and anti-intellectual. It gets abuse from all angles, from conceptually-minded curators, traditional architecture critics, and even virtuosic architects who prefer “multiple readings” of objects, or “difficult wholes.” It seems the one-liner is the most isolated and hated syntactic metaphor in the architect’s tool bag; the last frontier of architectural bad taste. Even Patrik Schumacher complained on Facebook about the National Pavilions. “"Pavilions were...given over to one-liner installations, which could be absorbed by stepping in and out for 30 seconds." However, one-liners finally got their due at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, where simpler, conceptual installations took home the Golden Lion of National Participation as well as the special mention in the same category. The Swiss Pavilion, "Svizzera 240: House Tour" was a delightful funhouse where the everyday elements—doors, windows, handles, and kitchen appliances—of a typical new apartment were exaggerated to be too small and too big, creating a disorienting space that explored the banality of contemporary residential construction and the distortions of scale that are caused by photography in the real estate industry. It was a one-liner that executed one concept well enough to provoke not only happy visitors, but also allowed personal reflection on whatever the topic at hand. The actual pavilion avoided over-complication (which plagued many of the national pavilions), and provided a “freespace” for contemplation and reflection. Because after all, even the simplest pavilion cannot be fully understood in every single aspect, and the most complicated book-on-the-wall exhibition can’t fully explain anything anyway, even if you took the biennale's full six months to read it all. The winning pavilions avoided many of the problems faced by some of the other national participants. First, there is an increasing trend of pavilions getting overrun by curators who want to foreground curatorial practice pyrotechnics over smart delivery of content, obscuring the point of the exhibition. The one-liner doesn’t do this. Secondly, some pavilions looked to appropriate the headlines and buzzwords of the day, delivering incoherent and scattered exhibitions that paradoxically make arguments against the possibility of freespace today. And thirdly, the one-liners actually provide respite from the book-on-the-wall urbanism exhibitions, which ended up falling flat. One-liners, like deadpan humor, often do not have punchlines, and leave an open-ended silence at the end of the joke, as is the case for the special mention–winning British Pavilion, "Island," where Caruso St. John emptied the pavilion out and constructed a large plinth over the top. It is unclear what the point was, but the effects were spectacular, lifting the user over the Giardini, causing a certain estrangement from the Biennale itself, and forging a connection with the city beyond. Of course, one-liners always hint at more. They are short and seem simple, but with a little thought, can reveal the layers beneath, like a good Rodney Dangerfield or Norm Macdonald joke. Both the Swiss and British installations rearranged bodies in particular ways, which gave them not only multiple interpretations, but highly individualized experiences that could be taken with layers of meaning. One-liners are funnier than zero-liners. And one-liners can avoid many of the pitfalls of 15-liners, which end up being zero-liners anyway. The Belgian pavilion, "Eurotopie," also stood out as a one-liner: a simple concentric series of blue circles created a forum of sorts in the building; as did the Nordic, which simply featured inflatable sculptures. Instead of over-complicating things with over-curation, the one-liners produced this “freespace,” allowing the visitor to become part of the exhibition, but without sacrificing intellectual rigor or content.
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British historian Gavin Stamp passes away at 69

Gavin Stamp, the English architecture historian, died on December 30, 2017 at 69. His Ph.D dissertation at Cambridge was a re-assessment of the career of George Gilbert Scott and he went on to become the leading spokesperson for British architecture. An architectural activist, he lectured, wrote and issued polemical tracts on preservation and was chairman of the Twentieth Century Society and active in the Victorian Society. An influential proponent for all things British he often appeared as a talking head on television and famously wrote the "Nooks & Corners" architecture criticism column in Private Eye under the pseudonym Piloti. Stamp was an influential lecturer at many schools in the U.K., especially the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art from 1990 to 2003, where he lived in a restored 1861 classical house designed by Glaswegian Alexander Thompson. Stamp never worried about being out of step with his times and kept fervently focused on the past, particularly on those aspects that were influential to the present or were no longer thought to be of importance. His authored books include: Edwin Lutyens: Country Houses (2001), Telephone Boxes (1989), The Changing Metropolis: Earliest Photographs of London 1839–1879 (1984), Temples of Power: Architecture of Electricity in London (1979) and lastly, Gothic in the Steam Age (2015).
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Sean Griffiths' latest installation creates inhabitable drawings

In 2014, Sean Griffiths exhibited My Dreams of Levitation at RoomArtSpace in London. His first piece since the closure of architecture practice FAT, the installation inhabited a series of first floor rooms of a Georgian house and saw wooden copies of the existing skirting boards and architraves displaced and hanging from the ceiling. My Dreams of Levitation forced visitors to duck and weave, taking unexpected journeys through the otherwise empty space. It also reflected moving property boundaries in the capital. Ultimately, though, the exhibition was Griffiths first foray into exploring the minimum requirement to make architecture.

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This journey, perhaps, might be what Tim Ingold defines as a “line.” To the British anthropologist, life is not lived in places, but along paths.

“By habitation I do not mean taking one’s place in a world that has been prepared in advance for the populations that arrive to reside there,” he argues in his book, Lines: a Brief History. “The inhabitant is rather one who participates from within in the very process of the world’s continual coming into being and who, in laying a trail of life, contributes to its weave and texture.”

Furthermore, Ingold eschews the “pervasive metaphor” of building blocks—for life, thought, and the universe—instead adopting notions of weaving, threading, twisting and knotting, a theory Gottfried Semper was also on board with. And like Semper (who drew from Marc-Antoine Laugier), Griffiths too has his eyes set on architectural reduction.

In his latest exhibit, Griffiths continues this exploration. Entering Tontine Street in Southeast England by walking from Folkestone Central railway station, it’s easy to miss Levitation I, a 3-D cube painted on the façade of HOP Projects’ gallery. The narrow pavement means you really have to crane your neck to see the distorted cube, which is best viewed from an island in the middle of a junction not meant for pedestrians. Other than that, you can see it across the street, but this results in an arduous journey to get back to the gallery itself.

Colored three shades of green to indicate light and shadow, Levitation I conflicts with the building’s rudimentary window arrangement. It serves as a preamble for the even more incongruous Levitation II.

Deliberately disorientating, Levitation II inhabits the gallery space inside. The area in spatial terms, if you ignore the art, is by all means weird. This is the result of various forms of usage before Tomás Poblete and Nina Shen-Poblete of HOP Projects took over in July this year. It can only truly be understood in plan and section, but visitors do not have access to these drawings and so Griffiths’ laconic interventions continue to disrupt visitors’ perceptions.

On the floor is a grid made from pebbles from the nearby beach. The grid has been rotated so not to align with the room’s geometry, failing to run parallel with any walls and sending viewers equally off-kilter. The pebbles are loose and could easily be kicked, but the overriding instinct is to walk with trepidation and avoid disrupting the order, which is ironic given the spatial purpose. Evidently, others have thought the same. Despite the gallery being open and apparently unstaffed (I later found out they reside above) the pebbled grid appears untouched.

More lines can be found on the walls and ceiling, this time found in the form of colored masking tape. These, though, are not as connected. Inside the gallery they vary in thickness and in length, spanning the white surface in a warped perspective like the experience of looking up at Levitation I. As you move around inside, some lines match up and the shapes can be read as more traditional, orthogonal forms. Some perspectives require you to step outside the gallery altogether for this view to come into alignment. It can be a fun game to shuffle left and right to make this happen as you stand there with a camera, but expect some odd looks.

The game of illusory perspective has, admittedly, been done before. But in the context of the façade, the pebbles on the floor, and the bizarre gallery space itself, its effect is amplified. The real trick, however, is at a much finer scale. Up close, so close your nose almost touches the wall, the masking-taped lines are revealed to be curved. Again, this behavior may result in glances cast in your direction.

Does all of this manifest as an inhabitable drawing? Griffiths hopes so; he’s certainly on the right path.

Levitation I + II HOP Projects 73 Tontine Street, Folkestone Through December 2
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Brutalist housing project, Europe's largest protected building, to be renovated within five years

The Park Hill housing project in Sheffield, U.K. has suffered a turbulent, roller-coaster ride since its completion in 1961. Now a listed building—the largest protected building in Europe in fact—Park Hill has been subject to scorn and adoration from politicians, architects, artists, musicians and residents. Park Hill is currently being renovated by developers, Urban Splash, who this month, announced that the project will finally be completed by 2022.

In 1945, British architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith began designing Park Hill; they drew from on Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation and Peter and Alison Smithson's unbuilt 'streets in the sky' concepts. Upon completion, Park Hill had a warm reception, receiving praise from the likes of Reyner Banham along with positive articles in national newspapers such as The Telegraph, The Times and The Economist.

Writing for the Architectural Review in December, 1961, Banham said:

Park Hill seems to represent one of those rare occasions when the intention to create a certain kind of architecture happens to encounter a programme and a site that can hardly be dealt ‘with in any other way, and the result has the clarity that only arises when - as in the Villa Rotonda - aesthetic programme and functional opportunity meet and are instantly fused. But what Park Hill abundantly demonstrates is that there are other kinds of architectural clarity besides the Classical.

By the 1980s, however, the area had become notorious for attracting trouble. Flats had become rundown and Park Hill was synonymous with drugs and crime with this being down to a number of complex reasons including "poor management, deindustrialisation and better council housing stock in other areas of the city." Sheffield City Council then decided to award the estate—as public housing projects are known in the U.K.—protective Grade II Listing status in 1997. The move proved controversial among locals and the general public alike.

Four years later, a bridge within the complex was infamously vandalized by a man only known as Jason (not this author.) His painted message of "I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME,"* scrawled in white and visible for miles, stirred journalist Frances Byrnes to eulogize it as "love yelling at the top of its voice in an estate thought to be desolate." Upon first sight of the message in 2001, estate caretaker Grenville Squires remarked: "How are we going to get that off?" Squires never found a way. Unbeknown to Jason, his work was later showcased at the 2006 Venice Biennale. Now, the vandalism-cum-artwork has found permanency through British architecture firms Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West. They're working with Urban Splash to trace and illuminate the text with neon lighting.

Cut to today: Urban Splash said that, after agreeing on a timeline with city officials, their ongoing work on Park Hill is due for completion in 2022. The work will continue with the gutting of the concrete structure and with the installation of new apartments. "This is great news for us and for Sheffield, we can now fulfill our ambitions for the project," said Simon Gawthorpe, managing director of Urban Splash, who later added how the recession had caused delays to the project.

In 2013, work on Park Hill was one of six projects up for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Approximately 600 people now live and work in renovated Park Hill units and, by the project's conclusion, the it will contain 210 apartments and 330 student housing units. Also funding the scheme are the Sheffield City Council, Great Places Housing Group, and national conservancy group Heritage England.

Despite Park Hill's success, the Robin Hood Gardens estate in south east London has not enjoyed a similar fate. Designed by the Smithsons and built in 1972, the project saw the realization of the Smithson's streets in the sky project (on their own terms). The building, however, even after campaign work from Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, is due for demolition having been refused Listed status by Heritage England.

*For the record: Jason's then lover, Clare Middleton, said yes but the couple didn't marry, splitting a month later. More on the story can be found here

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Peter Cook shares his hand drawings of the newly opened drawing studio at Bournemouth University

The new drawing studio at Bournemouth University, designed by CRAB (Cook Robotham Architectural Bureau), is the first of its kind to be built in the U.K. for 100 years. It aims to be accessible to all students form across the university “to share and observe others’ work and interact with those from other creative fields.” The building, as AN reported yesterday, is designed to reflect the central theme of light and as its architect Peter Cook claims “in the tradition of looking and drawing.” There is no better architect than Peter Cook to design this artists' space since he has been breaking down academic disciplines for decades and has deeply held and thoughtful ideas about the role of drawing in contemporary production. His book, Drawing: The Motive Force of Architecture, details the rapid change in drawing technique in the contemporary world due to “the increasing sophistication of available software and also the ways in which ‘hand drawing’ and the ‘digital’ are being eclipsed by new hybrids – injecting drawing with a fresh momentum.” He has thought a great deal about the act of drawing and CRAB has designed a building of simple construction that foregrounds in a simple and direct way this primal act of creativity. This is a building one wants (we have not yet) to see in the light of day. In the meantime, we have been sent a series of drawings by Peter Cook on display here.
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Peter Cook's first building in the U.K. celebrates hand drawing with a bright blue studio space

Archigrammer Peter Cook has returned to his childhood home, Bournemouth, on the South coast of England, to construct his first building in the United Kingdom. The building is a bright blue drawing studio—an addition to an existing complex at the Arts University of Bournemouth, Cook’s alma mater. Built at a time when digital drawing is in the ascendency, this building returns back to support the craft and art of hand drawing. It features both “a large north-light in the studio tradition, a rear clerestory that throws a softer light back from the rear wall, as well as softer lighting from the east and a graded wash of light that comes along the curve of the entrance.” The drawing studio was opened today in a ceremony that featured one of Cook’s best known students Dame Zaha Hadid who proclaimed “I simply love this building.”
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Ancient Roman roads revealed in England with help from LIDAR technology

vindolanda_50cm_dsm_zoom_govuk 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