Posts tagged with "James Stirling":

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WeWork lands in London’s postmodern One Poultry building

Global co-working (and education, and fitness, and budding neighborhood planning) company WeWork first announced that it would be taking over London’s protected Grade II* Number One Poultry building back in November of last year. Now the company has finished its move into James Stirling’s postmodern icon and released photos of the interior conversion. Completed in 1997, five years after Stirling’s death, One Poultry is the youngest building in the UK to win Grade II* protection—despite its regular appearance on lists of London’s worst buildings. Stirling’s scheme, with its triangular massing, alternating bands of yellow and pink limestone, embankments of undulating columns, lavishly decorated spandrels, and prominent prow (complete with a telescoping clock tower) famously beat out a glassy 18-story tower from Mies van der Rohe after public outcry was raised over the latter’s inappropriateness for the area. The realized One Poultry also opens in the middle to a triangular interior courtyard splashed with cyan, magenta, and yellow. London’s BuckleyGrayYeoman had originally been tapped to renovate and convert the 110,000-square-foot One Poultry into office space. The renderings released at the time presented an upscale, if staid, vision of the interiors, complete with herringbone floors and open benching. WeWork’s internal design team took over instead and built out office spaces that unmistakably stay true to the co-working company’s in-house aesthetic, while also referencing the building’s colorful exterior. “We took advantage of this beautifully designed James Stirling building,” said Andy Heath, the director of WeWork’s European and Australian design department, “harnessing the natural light that pours into the space, and made sure every part—even the prows of the building—were thoughtfully designed to foster collaboration, productivity, and our home-from-home feeling. “Bold colours and homely furnishing can be seen throughout the building, where the scheme was inspired by the postmodernist era of design so thoughtfully conceived by Stirling. The artwork—created by our own in-house Arts & Graphics team—resembles workers wandering the nearby streets, bringing the vibe of Bank into the space.” WeWork opted to use puffy furniture and primary colors in the common areas, not dissimilar to the aesthetic of the all-women work club The Wing (in which WeWork invested during its latest funding round). The outdoor plaza has been turned into a common area for WeWork members and outfitted with new furniture, and the even the area behind the building’s clock on the fourth floor has been turned into a lounge that frames a view of the adjacent Bank junction. One Poultry is WeWork’s 28th location in London and is expecting to house up to 2,300 members. Retail stores are located in the building’s ground floor and basement-level spaces, and WeWork occupies the building’s remaining five floors and has installed a roof garden, restaurant, and wellness lounge.
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Postmodernism comes back to life in vivid color at the Soane Museum in London

A new exhibition devoted to postmodern British architecture is designed to spark a revival of interest in the movement. The exhibition titled The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture is now showing at Sir John Soane’s Museum in London through August 26. The exhibition will display a selection of important works by some of the country’s most prominent architects such as Terry Farrell, CZWG, Sir Jeremy and Fenella Dixon, John Outram, and James Stirling. Their works emerged as part of the postmodern movement, which was a reaction against the confining modernist style used in designing many British towns and cities at the time. Postmodernist architecture generally emphasized the reconnection of architecture to the past through “ornament, materials, form or typology,” according to a statement from the Soane Museum. The SIS building designed by Terry Farrell houses the headquarters of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency Secret Intelligence Service MI6. Located on the bank of the River Thames in central London, the cascading building looks like a fortress, finished with a cream-colored facade and green-tinted windows. Another highlight is a project for 200 Queen Victoria Street for Rosehaugh-Stanhope Developers by John Outram. Although unbuilt, its signature image, featuring oversized Greco-Roman columns, chinoiserie posts, mosaic patterns, turbine flourishes, and fantastical additions make it a shining example of the movement's style. CZWG’s work is also celebrated in the exhibition. Cascades is a twenty-story apartment building located on the Isle of Dogs in London. Its design offered an alternative appearance to the high rise typology. According to CWZG, the “Pharaonic references” signify the high-reaching ambition of the construction, making it a postmodernist centerpiece. China Wharf is also a significant piece by the same firm. The building combines functionalism and aesthetics. The scalloped wall “is used to twist windows, both towards the rising sun and away from the neighbors directly across the courtyard,” according to the designers. As part of a regeneration scheme for the London Docklands, the building includes a pastiche of stylistic references such as naval and pagoda motifs. “Postmodern architecture in Britain is frequently written-off as an expression of 1980s Thatcherism and still little understood. We conceived this exhibition to set the record straight and reveal this period as one of such amazing creativity and innovation that can hold its own with any moment in British architecture history,” said Owen Hopkins, Senior Curator at Soane. “Full of color, ingenuity, and exuberance, the exhibition will also show the serious intellectual basis that underlay a movement whose legacy still shapes how we create and understand architecture today.” The organizers of the exhibition hope to renew attention to postmodern buildings in the U.K. Later this year, Historic England, the public body that looks after England’s historic environment, will launch a project to assess postmodern buildings for listing.
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James Stirling’s No. 1 Poultry will soon have a mini golf range

Some may say it is par for the course for postmodern architecture to be allied with gimmicks and today, it seems those who do have cause for delight: James Stirling's No.1 Poultry in London looks set for a mini golf complex on its ground floor.
The endeavor is courtesy of Puttshack, a firm which claims to be the first "super tech" indoor mini golf experience provider. Plans for what the mini golf trials will be can only be seen in the sketches provided, however, Pomo putters can still dream of a course based on the site plan of Aldo Rossi's San Cataldo Cemetery (which would be amazing, let's be honest) or a homage to Michael Graves' Steigenberger Golf Resort in Egypt.
Puttshack's complex appears to come with an island bar and tables for dining and will ultimately be an after-work venue for those in the city. As for the real clubbing going on, Puttshack ensures there will be no fowl play when going for a Poultry birdie—its ball tracking and scoring technology uses a mini-computer inside the golf ball to monitor and share video highlights from each round.
"I’ve always wanted to locate a social entertainment concept in the heart of the city, and there could not be a better location than the symbolic No 1 Poultry address," said Adam Breeden, founder and CEO of Bounce, one of the companies behind Puttshack in a press release. "The area has been up and coming for a long time now and with the introduction of Puttshack it finally establishes itself as a truly varied and vibrant London destination," he added.
Built in 1998, Stirling's iconic work was the first postmodern building in the U.K. to be landmarked and, it was the country's youngest landmark, as well. Residing above Puttshack will be the new WeWork offices, which are slated for completion this March. Those renovations will also refurbish the building's famed staircase.
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The hidden story behind Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt London skyscraper

A unique exhibition opened last week at the RIBA in London that compares schemes from two of the most iconic architects of the 20th Century: Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling.

The exhibition, titled Mies van der Rohe & James Stirling: Circling the Square, takes a look at the unrealized Mansion House Square proposal by the former that was succeeded 20 years later by James Stirling's newly listed No. 1 Poultry scheme. Sited in central London, Mies's modernist proposal (a stylistic antonym of what was actually erected) drew ire from the public and monarchy, though the story, up until now, has likely been a mystery to those not old enough to know of its existence.

The exhibition is the first time the public has been able to compare and contrast the two architects’ responses to a tricky site. The curators of the exhibition—Marie Bak Mortensen, head of exhibitions and Vicky Wilson, assistant curator, RIBA—have spent the last two-and-half years researching and sourcing a vast collection of photography, drawings, models, articles, and artifacts. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, they said their motivation behind the exhibition was to "dig behind the official story," fraught with controversy and public opinion, to expose the architecture beneath.

Mortensen and Wilson, the original designers of the RIBA architecture gallery, have returned to design an exhibition consisting of steel, stained wood, and floating tables. A 1:96 scale model of the Mansion House scheme dominates the exhibition, which was used as a marketing tool to impress the public ten years after the passing of Mies himself. The highly detailed model of a proposal which was once dubbed a "glass stump" by Prince Charles, has been restored back its former glory. 

During its ascension into the public mainframe, the focal point of opposition to the scheme did not pertain to the scale of the 18 story tower of glass and bronze, but rather the vast public space proposed beneath and around. It is a public space which would be cherished today, yet in the 1960s it was seen as space which could incite unrest—a notion particularly toxic amid the wave of IRA terrorism in the UK. Circling the Square tells the story of the tumultuous 40-year journey of the site, culminating in the completion of No. 1 Poultry which went up in 1997, five years after Stirling's death. 

Mies van der Rohe & James Stirling: Circling the Square runs through June 25 and is on show at The Architecture Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London.

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Beauty Bites Back with Peter Cook's Crab

Peter Cook--the real one from England, not the Hampton socialite architect impersonator--was in town last week and showed us some of the work from his firm Crab. Sir Peter was here to appear on a panel at Pratt Institute for the new book by Yael Reisner with Fleur Watson, Architecture and Beauty: Conversations with Architects About a Troubled Relationship. Cook and fellow beauticians including Will Alsop, Gaetano Pesce, Lebbeus Woods, KOL/MAC, and Hernan Diaz Alonso all took the subject head-on, and proved they think about aesthetics and form up front in the design process, though they seldom will admit to it. They did nothing to dispel Reisner’s thesis that even though, since the advent of modernism, only principles of rationalism are allowed to be used in explaining the building arts, architecture is still primarily a formal practice in the spirit of Einstein, who said that for him “visual imagery occurred first and words followed." The day after the symposium, I drove Cook to New Haven to see the two Stirling exhibitions currently on view at the Yale Center for British Art and the School of Architecture, and his review will appear in an upcoming issue of The Architect’s Newspaper. On the way up to New Haven, we talked about the work on his new university building in Vienna, and the unhappy state of his projects in Madrid (stopped during construction) and a theater in Verbania, Italy (stalled for political reasons), but he was pleased about his second-place scheme for the Taiwan Tower Conceptual Design international competition and its $65,000 prize. The tower, which is based on “the growing of algae in layers of droplets,” proves that after many years of producing legendary drawings and ideas with Archigram, and serving as chair of the Bartlett School in London, Cook’s Kunsthaus Graz (2000–2003) was no fluke, and that he can design powerful contemporary structures.