Posts tagged with "London":
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Come out Patrik, come out from under that table!” cry protesters at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office
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).
Executors of Zaha Hadid's estate come out all guns blazing against Patrik Schumacher's comments. How much longer will he be in his job? pic.twitter.com/FVHA9yqOfr — Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) November 29, 2016Schumacher 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."