Posts tagged with "London":

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London tower block fire occurred due to countless ignored fire safety warnings

In West London, a devastating tower block fire has claimed the lives of 17 people. The fire appears to have spread via recently-installed cladding to the block, known as Grenfell Tower, which was originally built in 1974. That cladding was applied last year to the tune of $11 million; it was installed to insulate the 40-year-old structure and to appease the view from nearby conservation areas and luxury flats. Planning documents from 2014 obtained by The Independent read: "Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east.... The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area." The documents also included: "The re-clad materials and new windows will represent a significant improvement to the environmental performance of the building and to its physical appearance." The cladding project was part of the Grenfell Tower Regeneration Project carried out by design consultant Rydon for the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO), who consulted the London firm, STUDIO E LLP, whose name appears on plans. The spandrel wall panel system used an ACM cassette rainscreen with an aluminum composite material covering polystyrene insulation. Polystyrene, according to the German flammability and combustibility rating system, is highly flammable or "Easily Ignited." Subsequently, it is banned from being used in any exposed installations in building construction if the material is not flame-retardant. When the facade work was finished, Rydon issued a statement saying the "rain screen cladding, replacement windows, and curtain wall facades have been fitted giving the building a fresher, modern look." "The issue is that, under building regulations, only the surface of the cladding has to be fire-proofed to 'class 0,' which is about surface spread," said Arnold Tarling, a chartered surveyor and a fire safety expert in The Guardian. "The stuff behind it doesn’t, and it’s this which has burned." Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), a London Fire Brigade Firefighter said that the structure's cladding "made it act like a chimney." The cavity behind the panels, he explained, allowed smoke to travel up the building and heat up the new facade before setting it on fire. "If the cladding hadn't been there then the fire definitely wouldn't have spread that quickly. Usually, in tower fires, the concrete levels act as a sealed lock to contain the fire, but this has not happened here." The Firefighter added that people who had their windows open during the hot weather could also have been a factor: this allowed the fire to reach more fuel such as furniture. Despite the reported number of deaths, he said he wouldn't be surprised if that rose to 100. Another London firefighter told AN that there are "a lot more [fatalities] than they have announced." Could this tragedy have been prevented? Many think so. There were repeatedly reported concerns to KCTMO, a private company in London's wealthiest borough. These concerns, made by residents, raised issues of fire safety yet were ignored. In numerous blog posts that explicitly warned of a fire "catastrophe," the council—instead of helping—replied by threatening legal action. Furthermore, 90 percent of residents signed a petition calling for an investigation into the organization that runs the building. However, the council turned it down. In addition to this, a fire action notice put up by KTCMO in the tower told residents to stay in their flat in the event of a fire. If that wasn't enough, a fire at another London tower block (at Lakanal House, in 2009) which resulted in six fatalities appears to have been ignored. Findings in the resulting analysis discovered that inadequate fire risk assessments and panels on the exterior walls did not provide the required fire resistance. The local council was, however, fined $727,263 for its negligence. After such a tragedy, one would expect fire safety standards for buildings to be updated. It appears that was not the case. Though amendments were made in 2007, 2010 and 2013, none addressed the specific issues raised by Lakanal House. In 2016, seven years after the fire, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said that the government will review part B of the UK's Building Regulations, a section which covers fire safety. This year, Ronnie King, Honorary administrative secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group, said the building regulations "haven't taken account of the Lakanal House fire inquest, or updated recent accredited research." STUDIO E LLP's work for KCTMO was approved in 2012, before Barwell's announcement of a review into a fire which happened in 2009. The incompetence and apathy regarding building fire safety are shocking, but this tragedy is the result of deregulation in the housing sector and removal of red tape that supposedly allows developers more freedom to build. Instead, it leads to worse and less safe housing conditions. And amazingly, the story of willful ignorance of experts continues. A survey from 2015 by the Fire Sector Federation, which discusses fire and rescue organizations, found that 92 percent of members thought that regulations were “long overdue an overhaul,” stipulating that they do not cater to modern day design and construction methods. In 2013, then London Mayor Boris Johnson of The Conservative Party told a Labour opponent to "get stuffed" when he was questioned about cuts to the fire service. More recently, in March this year, experts warned that the (Conservative) government's delay in reviewing building regulations could be "endangering tower blocks throughout the UK." Roughly 4,000 British tower blocks are in danger because of the outdated regulations. “We are still wrapping postwar high-rise buildings in highly flammable materials and leaving them without sprinkler systems installed, then being surprised when they burn down," architect and fire expert Sam Webb told The Guardian. As a result of the fire, Grenfell Tower's displaced residents are now without a home, and that's a tough thing in Kensington and Chelsea where the average house price is $1,748,158. During the final stages of the housing bill in the Commons in early 2016, a Labour amendment to ensure landlords were required to keep homes in a liveable standard was voted down by 312 votes to 219, voted for by nearly the entire incumbent Conservative party. At that time, 39 percent of Tory MPs were landlords. To cater for the displaced and newly homeless residents, many are kindly offering their homes out for people to stay. Meanwhile, there are 1,399 empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea, more than anywhere else in the UK. The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has ordered a full public inquiry into the event.
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London is a playground for Pritzker Prize winners, as this book demonstrates

“Context,” “vernacular,” and “reference” were the architectural buzzwords of choice that critic Owen Hatherley, at the start of 2017, used to recall the Architectural Review’s “Townscape” campaign. Here, he postulated that enhancing the old can be achieved by celebrating the new and serve as a deterrence to bland homogeneity. In London, viewing architecture without actually experiencing it in person is dominated by two abstract frames of reference: Instagram and flying things.

The former has helped to articulate a trend of austerity nostalgia and pastiche faux edginess, all bound by a medium that aestheticizes a bygone era and conveniently filters out context. It is, however, a deeply personal medium. The latter, meanwhile, depicts architecture within the cityscape and typically from above; lashings of context, yet devoid of any personal meaning seeing as very few of us can afford to travel by helicopter, and even fewer are birds.

New Architecture London, refreshingly and succinctly, makes no allusions as to what it's about through its title—not London looking nervously over its shoulder through rose-tinted spectacles, nor blind developer-driven optimism, this is the city as if were you to wander it right now.

Across 163 pages, photographers, Agnese Sanvito and Richard Schulman present a perpetually changing London in the “now;” a city, evidently rich in history, but not bound by it. For Schulman portraits of architects—and not just their buildings—is a hallmark of his work. While no portraits are featured in this book, it operates at a personal level with Schulman and Sanvito's lenses curating a pedestrian perspective of the city’s contemporary buildings.

In his foreword to the book, critic Edwin Heathcote describes Norman Foster's 30 St. Mary Axe (known by its colloquial moniker: The Gherkin) as a "bullet emerging from a city that has been bombed three times in a century." “Now it can barely be seen,” he continues, noting the structure as a stylistic and typological catalyst for its more contemporary, Boris-approved counterparts. It’s not all heroic, however. A generation ago, as Heathcote acknowledges, London was populated by few structures by architects of international repute, but now it is a playground for Pritzker Prize winners to plonk their iconic structures.

When Renzo Piano's Shard is framed with the abstract geometry of more glass you wonder: if the U.K.'s tallest building wasn't in the picture, would we know what city we were in? On the next page, a counter: the Shard rising above a Georgian wall, amid an equally mundane, yet historically inflected setting. In both, the Shard is the only visual indicator of place, but how long will this continue to be the case? Heathcote remarks, though, “it’s not just [London’s] skyline that has seen radical changes; its streets and its public spaces are being transformed” too.

This is a precedent for the photographers' work which looks at the abstract and intimate relationship between old and new (Amanda Levette’s 10 Hills Place and RARE Architects’ Patriot Square being notable examples). It also allows London's new architecture, in light of Townscape, to frame and be framed by its context. This is achieved sometimes by letting reflections, light, and shadow alternate focal points. Other times, it is as Heathcote remarks, “glimpsed around corners… or poking above streets.”

The technique encourages you to seek the narrative of a place and imagine the moment which is presented, as Schulman’s photograph of Caruso St. John's RIBA Stirling Prize winning Newport Street Gallery demonstrates. Even if you don't know what a delayed Southwest train service destined for Waterloo sounds like, the act of placing yourself in that scene isn't hard as the skyward facing photograph frames the saw-toothed roof and train reflection in the gallery's windows. Sadly, however, this image is afforded little page space by Prestel. The same could be said for a few other images too.

The term "shot" perhaps is a disservice to the photograph. Implying it was taken sporadically in the moment (a trait intentionally and successfully articulated) hides the fact that Schulman, in fact, spent considerable time to capture the moment and essence of place—even if a particular place is lacking in just that. He typically visits sites 20-30 times before shooting. "To take great pictures, you have to be prepared to lie on your back in the middle of the street," he told me.

Or sometimes, you have to be in a gondola—the Emirates Airline to be precise—from which Wilkinson Eyre’s Emirates Royal Docks and the Crystal can be spied. A synopsis states the cable-car system “connects directly to the London Underground while granting passengers a much more absorbing visual experience.” Don’t be fooled. When the summer tourists disappear, the supposed infrastructure is a ghost town gimmick—and a costly one too.

The Emirates airline is the only transport-orientated project featured, which says a lot for London’s building priorities. It could be said today’s starchitects were beaten to the opportunity largely by the Victorians, but Norman Foster's British Museum proved great work can be done when working with buildings from this era. New Architecture London is also ordered as haphazardly as London itself. A chronological or geographical route through would have been handy.

Three brick blockbusters, O'Donnell + Tuomey's LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Center and Herzog de Meuron's Switch House, in addition to Newport Street Gallery, can be found at the end of the book and remind us that London was once a brick-built city; a gracious nod to, not fetishized fawning, of the past. Looking forward, meanwhile, is New London Architecture, presenting an honest and refreshing take on a city still working out where it wants to go.

New Architecture London Prestel $45.00

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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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Ten finalist teams named for U.K. National Holocaust Memorial competition

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has announced its shortlist of ten teams to design the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent the Palace of Westminster and in the heart of London. Whittled down from almost one hundred international entries, the finalists’ proposals are currently traveling on display throughout the U.K. while the foundation proceeds with the interview phase. The competition, announced in September of 2016, seeks a team to create a “sensitively-designed Memorial and Learning Centre that is emotionally powerful while offering visitors an opportunity to deepen their understanding of humanity’s darkest hour.” The brief calls for a distinct memorial adjacent to the River Thames with a subterranean education center.  The building’s construction is estimated to cost £40 million with the British government allocating £50 million in public funds to see the project through to completion (the £50 million figure also includes the creation and operation of the Centre, as well as other related education efforts). The education facility is said to “not be a conventional exhibition or teaching [center]” and will extend 2,650 square meters under the park’s lawn. The chosen architect will have to contend with a complex program that must balance with the historic nature of the site. Furthermore, one member of the House of Commons has cited concerns that construction in London’s public parkland might set a dangerous precedent for future development of the city’s open space, among other potential issues. Zaha Hadid Architects with artist Anish Kapoor A bronze monolith sculpted by Anish Kapoor and a Zaha Hadid Architects–designed structure would extend from a sunken courtyard and designate the National Holocaust Memorial as striking new landmark in London. John McAslan + Partners with MASS Design Group Drawing from Jewish traditions, this team has developed a sensitive design approach for the engagement of visitors to the site. Studio Libeskind with Haptic Architects Studio Libeskind is familiar with crafting sites to memorialize the Holocaust, having designed several such buildings across Europe. This effort recalls the similar abstraction of form and space characteristic of those earlier works.   heneghan peng architects with design agency Bruce Mau Design Proposing a structure that obscures the senses at some junctures and heightens them at others, this design focuses on the phenomenological experiences of its visitors. Foster + Partners with artist Michal Rovner This proposal is arranged as a long axial path for contemplation and sensory stimulation; visitors would descend a ramp underground before reemerging up a long flight of stairs into the park. Diamond Schmitt Architects with landscape architect Martha Schwartz Partners Using a simple ovular shape, this design integrates both the memorial and learning center into one sweeping gesture. Allied Works with artist Robert Montgomery Focusing acutely on building a powerful narrative for the site, this heterogenous team led by Allied Works includes sculptor and poet Robert Montgomery, who adds his incisive urban art-form to the proposal. Caruso St John with artist Rachel Whiteread This design focuses on the contextual elements of the site and the dramatic unfolding of space through sculptural cast glass and filtered light. Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects with David Morley Architects Located in a highly stylized landscape, the team lead by Finnish firm Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects has designed a distinct procession for visitors to experience. Adjaye Associates with Ron Arad Architects Using repeating geometric shapes to draw the visitor to the entrance of the center, the designers aim to emphasize the many layers of the British experience of the Holocaust. The jury is composed of many experts in Jewish Studies, architecture, public land use, and public works, and will select a winner later this summer to develop a final design. Jury: Sir Peter Bazalgette (Jury Chair) - Chair United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Chair, ITV Board The Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE - Journalist Alice M. Greenwald - President and CEO of National September 11 Memorial and Museum Loyd Grossman CBE - Chair, Royal Parks Ben Helfgott MBE - Holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, ’45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP - Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Natasha Kaplinsky - Broadcaster Rt Hon Sadiq Khan - Mayor of London Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis - Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Sally Osman - Director of Royal Communications Dame Julia Peyton-Jones DBE - Former Director of the Serpentine Galleries Paul Williams OBE - Director, Stanton Williams Architects Malcolm Reading - Competition Director and Advisor to the Jury
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Francis Kéré will design this year’s Serpentine Pavilion in London

Burkino Faso-born and Berlin-based architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been tapped to design the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion at London's Serpentine Galleries. Recent winners have included Chilean architect Smiljan Radic (2014), Madrid-based SelgasCano (2015) and Bjarke Ingels (2016). In a first, last year's show not only featured Ingels' pavilion, but four other structures as well, by Kunlé Adeyemi, Asif Khan, Barkow Leibinger, and Yona Friedman. Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and CEO Yana Peel, along with advisors David Adjaye and Richard Rogers, chose Kéré, who works extensively across Europe, Africa, and his hometown of Gando. In the U.S., his work was most recently the focus of an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion aims to be a gathering space that connects people to each other and nature. Its sheltering steel canopy was, according to the Serpentine Galleries, "inspired by the tree that serves as a central meeting point for life in his hometown of Gando..." And while the pavilion will shade from the summer sun, it's prepared for more inclement weather as well: "In the case of rain, an oculus funnels any water that collects on the roof into a spectacular waterfall effect, before it is evacuated through a drainage system in the floor for later use in irrigating the park." Both the roof and the Pavilion's walls will be constructed from wood, though the latter will come in the form of prefabricated triangular blocks. In a time of rising xenophobia and climate change, Kéré's pavilion aims to send a message of inclusion and sustainability. In his statement, the architect said:
The proposed design for the 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is conceived as a micro cosmos—a community structure within Kensington Gardens that fuses cultural references of my home country Burkina Faso with experimental construction techniques. My experience of growing up in a remote desert village has instilled a strong awareness of the social, sustainable, and cultural implications of design. I believe that architecture has the power to, surprise, unite, and inspire all while mediating important aspects such as community, ecology and economy.
To read the rest of Kéré's statement and learn more about the pavilion, see the Serpentine Gallery's website here. The pavilion will be on view from June 23rd to October 8th, 2017.
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Santiago Calatrava unveils $1.25 billion mega-project for east London

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has unveiled a $1.25 billion project for the Greenwich Peninsula in east London. The distinctive design will accommodate decadence not commonly found in the area: an 80-foot-high waterfall, glass galleria, and a "winter garden/urban forest." The amenities will be for visitors and residents of the 30-story (370 feet) building which will house living units, offices, a hotel, and retail. Backed by developer Knight Dragon, Calatrava's design is part of a wider initiative to transform the area. Covering 1.4 million square feet, the $10.5 billion scheme master planned by London-based Allies and Morrison will see a new tube and bus station, theater, cinema, performance venue, bars, shops, and a wellbeing hub added to the vicinity. 15,720 new homes will come too, along with a film studio, a new design district, schools, offices, health services, and public spaces. A press release detailing the Greenwich Peninsula plan states that "the Peninsula is big, eclectic and original." They're not wrong. Seven "emerging neighborhoods" (developer-speak for areas primed for luxury housing) will be coalesced by the snaking River Thames with the now much-loved Richard Rogers and Mike Davies-designed Millenium Dome (a.k.a. O2 Arena) remaining as the area's flagship architectural icon. At first glance, Calatrava's coterie of twisting architecture appears more at home among the luxury dwellings that populate the Miami shoreline. Indeed, it could be said that the project resembles Bjarke Ingels' equally contorted towers in Miami's Coconut Grove—a project that incidentally is akin to Calatrava's own "Turning Torso" in Malmö, Sweden. The architect, though, in a press release said he was "inspired" by London’s "rich architectural heritage and the very special geography of the Peninsula," and the work of Joseph Paxton and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Linking the three nodes of Calatrava's structure will be a foot bridge that bears the gentle curvature of its surroundings. The bridge—which lays along the meridian line and depicts a sundial through its mast and cables–will take pedestrians to the Thames. "It is an honor to be designing such a piece of the fabric of London, a city I love," Calatrava added. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan meanwhile, said:
I am delighted that Santiago Calatrava has chosen London for his first major project in the UK. This shows that London remains open to investment, trade and the very best talent from around the globe. This new landmark for London and the growth of this area of London will create a new cultural district for Londoners and visitors from around the world. I am also pleased to welcome Knight Dragon's continued investment in Greenwich Peninsula, providing much-needed infrastructure, shops, offices, and new genuinely affordable homes for Londoners.
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Explore parts of Sir John Soane’s Museum from the comfort of your computer

“Welcome to Explore Soane. The historic house, museum, and library of 19th-century architect Sir John Soane—now made digital. Get closer than ever before to its fascinating objects and see its eclectic rooms in a new light.” These words welcome viewers as they enter the new digital model of the Sir John Soane’s Museum, recently launched by ScanLAB Projects. Sir John Soane was a noted 19th-century British architect who passed away in 1837, leaving behind not simply a home, but a museum of architectural curiosities for posterity. Established by Private Act of Parliament in 1833, the house-museum has been kept just as Soane left it at the time of his death, continuing to offer free access to visitors as he had intended. Safeguarded by its Trustees, the museum hosts exhibitions, events, and a research library. The Sepulchral Chamber. (Via explore.soane.org) The Sepulchral Chamber. (Via explore.soane.org) The museum's digital model offers visitors the choice to begin their journey in the Model Room or the Sepulchral Chamber. The Model Room includes models of historical architectural sites such as Temple of Vesta (made from cork), Temple of Vesta (made from plaster) and a Model of Pompeii, showing the city in 1820. The replica of the room features individual, digitized models available for download. The interactive elements of the room also include fact sheets for models in Soane’s collection, which can be found upon clicking on each model. As viewers move on to The Sepulchral Chamber, they can find interactive models of an ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus King Seti I and Sarcophagus Detail. This portion of the journey also provides fact sheets and an about page for items in the chamber. ScanLab Projects is a creative studio that works to combine 3-D technologies and large scale scanning with the architectural and creative industries, creating digital replicas of buildings, landscapes, objects, and events. They offer 3-D printing, 3-D scanning, and visualization services to digitize the world in captivating ways. ScanLAB Projects also plans to add more rooms and works of art to the model.
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New London gallery focuses on architectural drawings

There is a new gallery in London that should be on every architect's list of places to visit in the English capital. Betts Project at 100 Central street specializes in architectural drawings. The creator of the gallery, Marie Coulon, intends for the space to focus “on new ways of discovering and thinking about architecture by revealing the artistic qualities of architectural objects.” Coulon is a young French curator who has a passion for architecture and believes in exhibiting architectural drawings that are works of art more than technical drawings. The gallery displays and supports drawings that are personal and artful. In the past ten months, Betts Project has exhibited small-scale digital sketches by Tony Fretton, ink drawings by Pier Vittorio Aureli, sketches by Peter Märkli alongside reliefs by Hans Josephsohn, gouache and mixed media works by Lars Lerup, renderings by OFFICE, Kersten Geers, Peter Wilson, David Van Severen, and photographs by Bas Princen. The gallery has just opened an exhibit In Search of the Lost Artwork (through December 22) that features British architectural theorist Fred Scott and encompasses his fifty-year career of drawing. Click here to visit the gallery's website.
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Zaha Hadid Architects designs gallery dedicated to mathematics

The Science Museum in London has today opened a new gallery dedicated to mathematics. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA), Mathematics: The Winton Gallery will shed light on the importance of math and the role it has played in history and our lives today. The gallery is the first project of ZHA's to be completed in the UK following Zaha Hadid's passing earlier this year. “When I was growing up in Iraq, math was an everyday part of life," said Hadid before she died. "My parents instilled in me a passion for discovery, and they never made a distinction between science and creativity. We would play with math problems just as we would play with pens and paper to draw—math was like sketching.” Exhibiting their typical parametric style—fitting for the context—ZHA filled the space with a series of undulating volumes that derive their forms from the aerodynamics of the Handley Page ‘Gugnunc’ airplane. Designed in 1929, the aircraft heavily influenced the aviation industry. Aerodynamic research on the aircraft paved the way for future wing designs and furthered public aviation transit with its revolutionary approach to safety. ZHA's design for the gallery uses equations relating to airflow around the plane to form their curvaceous installations which have placed around the the Gugnunc. A video (below) details the firm's process. The plane is just one of more than 100 artifacts on display throughout the gallery. The pieces have been collected from the Science Museum's collection of works relating to technology, engineering, and mathematics to tell the story of how numbers shaped our world, impacting trade, travel, war, peace, life, death, form, and even beauty. Objects range from a 17th-century Islamic astrolabe once used to map stars to an early version of the Enigma machine designed by Alan Turing and his team to crack Nazi code in WWII. Aside from the artifacts, archival photography and film are also used to tell the story of mathematics and introduce the people behind the exhibited pieces. In a press release, Curator Dr. David Rooney said:
At its heart this gallery reveals a rich cultural story of human endeavour that has helped transform the world over the last four hundred years.  Mathematical practice underpins so many aspects of our lives and work, and we hope that bringing together these remarkable stories, people and exhibits will inspire visitors to think about the role of mathematics in a new light.
Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, meanwhile commented:
It was a terrible shock for us all when Dame Zaha died suddenly in March this year, but I am sure that this gallery will be a lasting tribute to this world-changing architect and provide inspiration for our millions of visitors for many years to come.
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Experience fear and love in London’s new Design Museum, courtesy Sam Jacob Studio

When the new Design Museum in Kensington Gardens, London opened to the public on the November 24th, many aesthetically astute Brits flocked to the new "palace of culture." There they found the post-war (landmarked) relic, originally designed for the Commonwealth Institute by Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962, reincarnated and open once again. However, despite director of the museum Deyan Sudjic recruiting the likes of John Pawson and OMA for the renovation, the reaction to the $104 million museum has been mixed. The exhibitions inside, though, have enjoyed a much warmer reception. The inaugural exhibit, Fear And Love: Reactions to a Complex World features exhibition design by Sam Jacob Studio and eleven diverse installations from the likes of Andrés Jaque, Neri Oxman, and OMA/AMO.

“To design the first show at the new Design Museum was both an honor and a challenge—a way to mark a new era in London’s design culture," said Jacob. "The subject of Fear and Love was always more of a mood than a statement. Our design attempts to embody this ambivalence in a way that adds mystery and imagination.”

The London-based designer has employed a 623-foot-long pleated felt curtain that articulates the installation spaces and acts as a fluid circulatory device as it meanders through the rectangular exhibition area. With breaks interspersed throughout the curtain trail, views across and into each of the installations are created, opening up what would be tight corners to form a coherent space.

While this material carries warmth with it on its journey through Fear And Love, the use of gray translucent PVC bares the opposite (and perhaps even hints at love in another sense). Working with graphic designers OK-RM, signage within Fear And Love displays information on a series of freestanding, bent steel frames of which have been given a protective, passivated finish, giving a modern and iridescent look. This aesthetic is furthered through a neon two-way mirror totem that displays the words "FEAR" and "LOVE" to those passing by the exhibition inside the museum.

Justin McGuirk, curator of Fear And Love and chief curator at the Design Museum, said: “Sam Jacob Studio’s exhibition design was central to setting the mood of Fear and Love: it creates a dream-like space that, in the most elegant way, heightens the sense of uncertainty that the exhibition explores.”

Meanwhile, Chloë Leen, who spearheaded the project for Sam Jacob Studio commented: “It has been a great privilege to work with 11 designers at the forefront of shaping contemporary practice. Our design creates a unifying experience, choreographing these varied complex ideas and installations, while the spaces and moods of the exhibition design give each a distinct quality. This duality was at the heart of the de-sign challenge that the museum’s curatorial position presented.” Fear and Love runs through April 23, 2017.
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“Come out Patrik, come out from under that table!” cry protesters at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office

After Patrik Schumacher voiced his desire for public and affordable housing to be abolished, protesters have today targeted the office of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in Clerkenwell, London. In Schumacher's speech, made earlier this month in Berlin, he argued that state regulations stifle architectural creativity and development while giving tenants of public housing unfair access to city centers. Schumacher also called for 80 percent of Hyde Park to be built upon and for the privatization of all public space, all of which was part of his "urban policy manifesto." This has not gone down well with activists from Class War and the London Anarchist Federation who protested at around midday (U.K. time) and into the late afternoon outside ZHA's Clerkenwell studio. According to The Architects' Journal (AJ), numbers swelled to around 20 and demonstrators accused Schumacher of "driving the working class out of London." The AJ also reported that shouts of: "Come out Patrik, come out from under that table" were heard. Schumacher, however, is believed to currently be out the country. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN), Jamie Wilson, an architecture student who works nearby ZHA's office recounted the affair: "Under police surveillance, a few representatives [from the London Anarchist Federation] were speaking on a megaphone. They commented on the ideas raised in P.S.'s World Architecture Festival keynote and their potential outcomes for citizens of London. Following this they addressed the office directly, pointing out that his views should not be taken lightly by his colleagues (who have since issued an open letter distancing themselves from the matter). Issues of their publication "RESISTANCE" were being handed out to passers by." "What Patrik Schumacher has said is social fascism. If it’s not opposed early on, it will grow and grow […] we as working class people want to stop it right at the beginning," told founder of Class War, Ian Bone (no relation to Ken Bone) to the AJ. "We hope Schumacher will retract his vile views, apologize and get out of the country."

A photo posted by Maarten Mutters (@mmutters) on

  The anger from the protesters is directed at Patrik Schumacher and already ZHA in an open letter rebuked his words, saying: "Patrik Schumacher’s ‘urban policy manifesto’ does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future." Olly Wainwright also tweeted a screenshot of an email detailing Rana Hadid, Lord Palumbo, and Brian Clarke's essential disavowal of Schumacher's remarks. (The three are trustees of the Zaha Hadid Foundation and executors of Hadid's estate). Schumacher himself has also responded to the furore. "I was hoping to stir a discussion and got much more than what I had bargained for," he said on his Facebook page in an apologetic statement according to Dezeen. "The topics I touched upon turned out to be too touchy to touch at all in any direct or straightforward way, or so it seems." He continued, going on to say: "Like all of us, I dream of a caring, inclusive, diverse society where everybody can flourish and realise his/her potential and nobody is left behind. All I say is inspired by this longing."
Despite ZHA's open letter, according to CLAD Global, a ZHA spokesperson reaffirmed Schumacher's position in the company. They said: “Patrik’s position is certainly not under any threat; he remains our principal. Patrik is currently in Asia, along with other senior members of the practice, for a topping out ceremony.” Current London Mayor Sadiq Khan however, has not been impressed by Schumacher's comments. "One of our biggest strengths as a city is our diversity, with Londoners from different backgrounds living side by side," he said speaking in London newspaper, the Evening Standard. "So whether these out-of-touch comments were designed to shock or not, anyone who thinks abolishing affordable housing altogether, supporting 'buy-to-leave' empty properties, and building on Hyde Park is the answer to London's housing crisis doesn't understand the first thing about our great city."
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This artist sets the stage for nature vs. modernism (and nature is winning)

British artist Alex Hartley reflects on the power of nature in his latest work, A Gentle Collapsing II, as part of his After You Left exhibition at Victoria Miro in London. The work—set in the gallery's garden—features an abandoned modernist dwelling that has been engulfed by a jungle landscape, provoking thoughts on decay, the built environment, and nature itself. The aesthetically appealing juxtaposition of wild and the artificial goes hand-in-hand with Hartley's take on modernism: The International Style house embodies the architectural movement's ideals of form and structural purity, but all sense of order has been lost. The forest is the victor. With A Gentle Collapsing II, Hartley references Plato's notion of artifacts being in a "state of becoming." In this instance, by making the audience explicitly aware of the building's natural demise, viewers become all the more appreciative of its presence and its obviously finite existence. This too is a nod to another philosopher—Martin Heidegger—who said “mortals nurse and nurture things that grow and specifically construct things that do not grow.” Subsequently, audiences are afforded lines of thought relating to entropy: What happened before the dwelling entered this state of dereliction? What were the possible paths of destruction that lead to this? What will/can happen next? The unpredictability of nature versus the rigid lineage of the building plays out for the viewer. After You Left and A Gentle Collapsing II are available to see through December 16 this year.