Artist Christo, famous for his large-scale landscape interventions, has completed work on The London Mastaba, a massive trapezoid made of multi-colored barrels and set afloat in London’s Serpentine Lake. The installation sits adjacent to the Serpentine Gallery and will run concurrently with the gallery’s retrospective of Christo and late wife Jeanne-Claude work. The London Mastaba is Christo’s first large-scale installation in the UK, and the trapezoidal form and the use of barrels is a return to both a shape and a material that Christo and Jeanne-Claude have consistently explored throughout their long career. The temporary sculpture, floating in the middle of the historic Hyde Park on top of an interlocking platform, was designed to be extremely visible without damaging the ecologically sensitive lake. The 7,506 barrels, arranged to create a colorful face on either side of the trapezoid, are stacked 65 feet high, 130 feet long, and 90 feet wide. When reflected in the surrounding lake, The London Mastaba’s split-face creates an ever-changing reflection. Much like the Serpentine Pavilion nearby, the sun’s movement over the course of the summer and resultant shadows will alter the work’s appearance every day. In name, form, and color, The London Mastaba references Islamic art. The red-and-white stripes on the round side of the barrels creates a visually homogenous “outer coating,” while the mauve, blue, and red outer walls are abstractions of the pointillist-styled artworks found in Islamic architecture. Even the word Mastaba references similarly-shaped Egyptian tombs. “For three months, The London Mastaba will be a part of Hyde Park's environment in the centre of London," said Christo in a statement. “The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting. It has been a pleasure to work with The Royal Parks to realize The London Mastaba and with our friends at the Serpentine Galleries to create an exhibition showing Jeanne-Claude’s and my 60-year history of using barrels in our work.” The London Mastaba and accompanying show Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958-2018 are free to the public. As with his other pieces, Christo has entirely self-financed the sculpture’s construction through sales of original works of art. The London Mastaba is currently open to the public and viewable through September 23, 2018, while the exhibition will run from June 19 through September 9, 2018. Christo is also well known for his fabric installations; the Lake Iseo-spanning The Modular Pier in Italy drew major crowds to the region in 2015, while the series of gates installed throughout Central Park in 2005 were met with widespread media attention (for better or for worse).
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When one hears of a piece of architecture by Alison and Peter Smithson being altered, the worst comes to mind, particularly when developer Tishman Speyer promises a "wholesale re-imagining." With demolition photographs of the architects' Robin Hood Gardens splayed across every design publication and blog, this protective instinct is more than justified. Now, London firm Deborah Saunt David Hills Architects (DSDHA) has completed Phase One of such a "re-imagining" of the Smithsons' Economist Plaza. And if evidence of this first phase is a precedent for the rest, then we can breathe a momentary sigh of relief, for the project is in safe hands. Comprising a trio of buildings, all varying in height, the Economist Plaza off St James's Street is a quiet enclave in the city, a welcome respite a stone's throw away from the tourist throbbing bustle of Piccadilly Circus. It was designed by Peter and Alison Smithson for the Economist magazine and finished in 1964, a decade after the Smithsons first took to the architectural stage with the Hunstanton Secondary Modern School. Tishman Speyer's decision to employ DSDHA reflects a sensitivity to the project, something it is well-versed in through its management of other 20th century icons like New York's Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center. Its decision to rename the complex to "Smithson Plaza" in the original architects' honor embodies this ethos. The Smithsons' contribution to architecture is enormous. As teachers, writers and academics, they were prolific. But as architects? Not so, and today, their eponymous plaza is their last remaining work in London. DSDHA has refurbished the tallest tower, renamed "Smithson Tower," which rises to 15 stories and was once owned and fully occupied by The Economist. Here, the lobby has had a facelift and the tower has new elevators, double-glazed windows, insulation and services, replacing the Smithsons' unorthodox and outdated ventilation system. A new, 1,500-square-foot public cafe (yet to be finished) has been installed on the tower's ground floor. However, this, combined with a reinstated public art program on for the plaza, heralds the danger of the plaza losing its tranquillity as it becomes both visually and programmatically busier. "We found that many people didn't even know this was a public space," Deborah Saunt, co-founder of DSDHA, told The Architect's Newspaper. Inside the upper six floors of the tower, renovation work has created 21,500 square feet of office space. Who will inhabit that remains to be seen. To its previous tenants, the vistas were a source of empowerment. "Perhaps our height also gives us greater confidence in handing down Olympian judgments on world affairs," the Economist wrote in a 2016 farewell letter after it had sold the premises for $170 million. The tower's facade has also been cleaned to reveal its pitted Portland Stone and Roach Bed stone. On the ground, the plaza has been resurfaced with granite, a material which has been allowed to flow into the new lobby where it replaces what was once concrete flooring. If you ignore the impending planters, the plaza has since become a much lighter space in a show of pure materiality. And when washed in sunlight, the tower's almost gleaning beveled edges are as tactile as any imported verdure. Only now do Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM's) 1990s interventions, adding a canopy and extending the lobby into the colonnade with glass and travertine cladding, seem horribly hamfisted. DSDHA has done well to undo some of this work, replacing the travertine with Portland Stone, for example. With the lobby gaining a new concrete bench, akin to an original external seat and now sharing materiality with the plaza, the colonnade feels primed to realize its potential as the threshold it was originally intended to be. For the time being, however, the canopy and glass frontage, spaced awkwardly close to the colonnade, remain. More changes had been planned by SOM as well, with two further stories proposed for the plaza's tallest tower. On the 13th of June in 1988, though, the plaza and its buildings were hurriedly awarded Grade II listing (the equivalent of landmarking)—a move which makes you wonder, particularly in the aftermath of the Robin Hood Gardens demolition, where the spirit to preserve architecture has gone. The Smithsons, of course, were aware of change being around the corner. In 1965, they remarked that in 200 years' time, their work "may seem an error." "But in our situation," they continued, "there is no other course but to build and to demonstrate." Even DSDHA's proposals did not come without backlash when they were unveiled in 2016. "The Smithsons’ best and last remaining London building deserves better," wrote critic Ellis Woodman in February 2017, as other architects voiced their concern. Some of DSDHA's plans have been curtailed. A proposed spiral staircase will now be a much simpler slip stair, which will lead to a new gallery space—a conversion of the former car park. These changes are due to be made in later phases as part of the addition of 4,600 square feet of retail space.
The 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London, is now complete, and Mexico City-based Frida Escobedo’s open-air installation wears its references to residential Mexican architecture on its lattice. Escobedo, the youngest architect to take on the project and the first woman to do so since 2000, took cues from London’s historical materiality to reinterpret features more commonly found in Mexico’s domestic architecture. The pavilion uses a modern reinterpretation of the celosia (a perforated wall that lets in light and air) built from cement roofing tiles, to enclose a concrete courtyard. From the final photos, it appears that stacking the roof tiles have also given the walls a rolling, knit-like quality. The interplay between light and shadow and its use in denoting the passage of time, such as sunlight filtering through the darkly-tiled walls, had a major influence on Escobedo’s design. “The design for the Serpentine Pavilion 2018 is a meeting of material and historical inspirations inseparable from the city of London itself and an idea which has been central to our practice from the beginning: the expression of time in architecture through inventive use of everyday materials and simple forms,” said Escodebo in a statement. “For the Serpentine Pavilion, we have added the materials of light and shadow, reflection and refraction, turning the building into a timepiece that charts the passage of the day.” Inside, a curved canopy decked out in mirror panels hangs over the structure to both shade and reflect visitors, while a slice of shallow water on the ground reflects the scene overhead. Guests are invited to wade into the pool and cool off while their movements are echoed on the canopy above. Visitors can experience a “new” pavilion every day, as the sun’s daily movement should theoretically create a new lighting condition every day of the summer. The Serpentine Pavilion is located on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery and will open to the public on June 15, then run through October 7, 2018. The pavilion will host a café for the duration, and will be used to stage Park Nights, the gallery's experimental and interdisciplinary art and architecture lectures and performances on certain Friday evenings. AN will follow this announcement with a review of the installation.
The Serpentine Pavilion just went international after opening its first destination outside the U.K. in Beijing, China. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing is open to the public from May 30 through October 31, on Wangfujing in the Dongcheng District. Cantilevering metal ribs span the WF CENTRAL public square, and are anchored by cables onto the ground’s steel slab. As architecture in Beijing regularly deals with strong winds and earthquakes, the form of the rib resembles the profile of a bow, which is a design symbolizing how a Tai Chi Master has the ability “to conquer the harshness of those forces [resistances to architecture] with softness.” The design of the renowned Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects, led by architect and educator Liu Jiakun, was chosen because it responds well to Beijing’s unique historic and social context. It also references the past 18 designs of Serpentine Pavilions in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, including works by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and other key figures. JIAKUN Architects was inspired by Confucius’s invention of the traditional concept of Junzi, or the Exemplary Man. The pavilion presents a space for people to be enlightened and to contemplate on the Confucian philosophy. The design is reminiscent of the Liu’s previous works, which combines contemporary architecture issues with an approach influenced by Chinese folk wisdom. West Village – Basis Yard and Chengdu MOCA are among his other famous projects. The Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will be the venue for five “Pavilion Weekends” over the summer and will host a series of art, cultural and lifestyle programs. It will also include lectures by celebrated artists and architects, well-being workshops, lawn parties, children’s disco classes and outdoor art-cinemas. The Serpentine Galleries in London has commissioned a leading architect to design a temporary summer pavilion every year since 2000. This year they commissioned Mexican architect Frida Escobedo.
Plans for the $1.3 billion gothic revamp of British soccer team Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London have been shelved, according to a cryptic message posted on the club’s website citing “the current unfavourable investment climate.” First revealed in 2015, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed stadium would have replaced Chelsea’s current field along with the surrounding buildings, and put up a 60,000-seat replacement in its stead. Initially pegged as a $664 million project, costs rose as delays and lawsuits from homeowners and businesses who would be in the new stadium’s shadow mounted. The stadium’s defining feature (aside from the 20,000 new seats, all of which were promised unobstructed views) would have been the 264 brick buttresses ringing the field. The arches would form a covered loggia around the stadium’s central pitch, and supported a steel ring above the field, providing the structural supports for the additional seats, shops, a museum, and a restaurant. Both the brickwork as well as the black, wrought-iron detailing are less-than-subtle references to vernacular British architecture; Herzog & de Meuron described the vaulting design as a “cathedral of football.” The Guardian paints a more comprehensive picture of why the project was put on hold. Chelsea club owner Roman Abramovich, a Russian-Israeli businessman, has found himself caught in the crossfire of the worsening relationship between the United Kingdom and Russia. Abramovich has found himself unable to renew his investor visa, and as the delays mounted, the billionaire expressed frustration at the idea of investing in a country that was delaying his ability to do business. While Abramovich would still be allowed to stay in Britain, he technically wouldn’t be able to do any work there. AN will update this story as more information becomes available.
The spectacular demolition of the high-rise Pruitt-Igoe public housing project in 1972 has been described as "the day Modernism died," but a very different dynamic played out across the Atlantic. As documented in a beautiful new book by architect and historian Mark Swenarton, in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, London saw the creation of a wide variety of low-rise, high-density public housing projects by young architects who adapted Modernist design idioms to the era's intense need for low-cost housing. Focusing on the architectural output of single north London borough, the richly detailed and lushly produced new book, called Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing, documents in vivid detail the design and construction of thousands of affordable homes in Camden, one of London's wealthiest and most historic neighborhoods. Created between 1965 and 1980 under the direction of Camden's visionary chief architect Sydney Cook, the projects described in Mark Swenarton's magisterial book constitute what he describes as "not just the last great output of social housing... but also arguably the most concentrated architectural investigation into urban housing undertaken in the last 50 years." In the foreword to the book, Columbia University historian Kenneth Frampton concurs, describing Cook's Camden as "an exceptionally thorough documentation and analysis of British achievements in the field of low-rise, high-density housing.... part and parcel of this international movement towards achieving denser, anti-suburban, proto-ecological patterns of land settlement." At the heart of Cook's Camden is the work of New York-born architect Neave Brown, whose social housing projects range in scale and ambition, starting with a small terrace of five raw concrete row houses and ending with Alexandra Road, perhaps the most celebrated architectural scheme in England. Alexandra Road turns its back on the adjacent train tracks to form a protected interior street, with front doors facing out onto a pedestrian-friendly, car-free environment from a ziggurat of stepped apartments, each with its own balcony garden. All of the projects Neave Brown designed for Camden have been protected as national landmarks, and last year, his work earned him even greater honor: a much-belated RIBA Gold Medal, bestowed just before his death at age 88, in large part, thanks to the appreciative attention garnered for him by the author Mark Swenarton, who has been conducting the research for Cook's Camden for more than 12 years. Another designer featured in Cook's Camden is Peter Tabori, whose Highgate New Town complex, located between a large hospital and a Victorian-era cemetery, took inspiration from the dense urbanism of a Tuscan hill town. Like many of the housing schemes described in Cook's Camden, Highgate New Town was first celebrated, then allowed to decline, and in recent years has been revived as one of London's most valuable public-private council estates. A final project described in Cook's Camden, Branch Hill became known as "the country's most expensive council houses." Built on a difficult hillside site in the heart of Hampstead, one of London's most exclusive and expensive residential districts, Branch Hill was designed by architects Gordon Benson and Alan Forsyth, who went on to design the acclaimed Museum of Scotland. In keeping with the goal of maximizing green space, the architects took full advantage of the sloping site to create extensive private roof gardens. For present-day architects or developers looking to "solve" the affordable housing crisis, perhaps the most valuable chapter covers the smaller-scale infill schemes that Swenarton calls "urban dentistry." The projects described and illustrated in this section include Neave Brown's first small-scale effort, on which he joined with fellow early 1960s student architects Michael and Patty Hopkins, to develop, design and build a five-unit terrace of supremely detailed modern homes on a tight urban site. Another commission went to Edward "Ted" Cullinan, who designed a five-story mix of family duplexes and smaller one-bedroom apartments, composed with contextualist flourishes that put it among London's first postmodern buildings. Along with lush production quality, hundreds of vintage and contemporary photographs and carefully catalogued references, one of the many valuable features of Cook's Camden is a gazetteer and map of all the properties and projects studied in the book, which may well inspire readers to take a trip to London to see these fine designs and inspiring examples of municipal success. In a final section of Cook's Camden, the author digests the era's seismic changes and draws three important lessons for today's designers, planners and builders: one, recognize that the street is the basis for urban housing; two, understand that designing urban housing demands attention not only to physical form but also to the social relationships these forms may engender; finally, and perhaps most importantly, that designers must use all their abilities–"analytical and visionary, rational and imaginative, practical and poetic, to provide something better than what is currently being built around us." Based in London and New York, Jamie Jensen is a writer and advocate for public space and urban sustainability. Cook's Camden: The Making of Modern Housing Lund Humphries $69.51 (hardcover)
Sited in the former London Olympic park, Diller Scofidio + Renfro have won a competition to build a £25 million ($33.7 million) collection and research center for the Victoria and Albert Museum, part of a broader expansion of the museum into East London. The center will feature facilities for research and education and is to be built in the former Olympic Media Center, which is being redesigned and rebranded as Here East. The V&A’s new outpost is part of what is being called the Olympicopolis arts district, a burgeoning waterfront development at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Apart from the V&A, as well as expected office and retail space, the Olympicopolis will be home to new expansions from Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the London College of Fashion, and the University College of London. The project is in part being led by the London Legacy Development Corporation, a city organization focused on adapting the structures from the 2012 London Olympics for continued use. The V&A was forced to create an additional space for their V&A East outpost after height restrictions required that the museum downsize its plans for their central building. The new locations will allow the V&A to display even more of their collection to the public and facilitate more research. The plan for the collection center came on the heels of the 2015 announcement by the government that they would sell the Blythe House, which currently serves as storage and archive for some of the V&A’s immense collection. DS+R, which won the competition ahead of four other shortlisted teams, will be working with British firm Austin-Smith:Lord and Studio Adrien Gardère to realize the center. In a press release, DS+R says that the space will be designed “from the inside out” and will be like an “immersive cabinet of curiosities.” No designs have yet been released to the public. In addition to the V&A collections center, DS+R also has a major concert hall, The London Center for Music, underway in London.
British architect and academic, William Allen Alsop, has died aged 70. Alsop was born on December 12, 1947, in Northampton, England and died on Saturday, May 12, 2018. The architect was a graduate of the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at the time of his death, was Director of the London-based studio, aLL Design, which he set up in 2011. Alsop is most well-known for his design of Peckham Library in Southeast London, a project which he designed with German architect, Jan Störmer. The building won the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2000 and is known for its "L" shape and use of pre-patinated copper cladding which gives it a striking turquoise color. The architect designed in North America as well. Projects include the Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers, New York and the Sharp Centre for Design for the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. The former was designed in 2007, but plans fell by the wayside, despite being hailed in the press as "new proposal to rescue Yonkers' Waterfront." Prior to his death, Alsop was on the architectural advisory boards for Wandsworth and Kensington & Chelsea Councils in London as well as being Professor of Architecture at TU Vienna and Professor of Architecture at Canterbury School of Architecture in Kent. Alsop had previously lectured Stateside too, serving as a Visiting Professor for the San Francisco Art Institute and Ball State University, Indiana in 1977. He was also The Davis Professor of Tulane University in New Orleans in 1982.
Catalog homes could soon be seeing a resurgence, as London-based startup Cube Haus has enlisted several big-name English architects to design modular, off-the-shelf homes for design lovers on a budget. Adjaye Associates, Skene Catling de la Pena, Carl Turner Architects, and furniture designer Faye Toogood have all signed on to design high-density housing that will infill “awkward” sites throughout London. London homeowners have the option to subdivide their property and build on the unused portions, resulting in awkwardly shaped plots. Cube Haus claims that its modular designs can be scaled to fit these unorthodox lots and infill areas naturally and that their homes will cost 10 to 15 percent less than a conventional model because of their off-site manufacturing. Each home will be framed from solid sheets of cross-laminated timber and moved into place at the construction site, then clad in sustainable materials. Cube Haus is also offering up its designs for consumers building in more traditional lots as well. Adjaye Associates is no stranger to residential housing in London, and their rectangular Cube Haus design closely resembles Adjaye’s 2007 Sunken House in Hackney. Excavated gardens in the home’s yard plays a central role in this scheme, as do tall windows and ample natural light. Everything else about the timber-clad home’s layout is up to the landowner, and all of the rooms have been designed for a plug-and-play approach. Carl Turner has brought two schemes to the table. The first is a two-story house with a flat courtyard area on the roof, which splits the upper level into two pitched volumes. Cube Haus notes that the pitch of the roof can be adjusted, rotated, or flattened out according to the client’s whims. The second model is single-story slab pierced with a square courtyard, with the home’s programming arranged around this space. Consumers have the choice of cladding their homes in opaque glass, zinc, charred timber, or dark brick. Skene Catling de la Peña engineered their scheme as a “building within a building,” designing a masonry-clad central column that serves as a fireplace, staircase, hot water heater, and storage space around which the rest of the rooms are organized. Homeowners have several options for how they can clad the shaft, from tile to marble–or it can be left undecorated, exposing the precast concrete structure below. The homes themselves will be malleable to the irregular sites, linked through their spacious rooms and ubiquitous views of the main column. Faye Toogood has offered up a simple scheme in two material palettes; one light and one dark. A central garden placed between two pitched peaks breaks up the rectilinear massing of the house, creating a form suitable for both the urban environment as well as the countryside. Cube Haus is the child of entrepreneurs Philip Bueno de Mesquita (himself an owner of an Adjaye-designed home in London) and Paul Tully. The company is already building, with two sites in Forest Gate, London under construction and others in pre-planning throughout the city. Cube Haus hopes that its three-bedroom homes will sell for anywhere from $880,000 to approximately $1 million.
With perspective comes power, and a fun-filled, quirky demonstration of this can be found in Disappear Here at the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) in London, courtesy of British architect Sam Jacob and curator Marie Bak Mortensen. Disappear Here greets visitors with a vestibule of turquoise tones. Faux entrances, layered like a theatre set, recede in height and hue in a nod to the techniques employed by Renaissance painters who used light shades of blue to indicate depth in paintings. Before this, however, it was Florentine architect Filippo Brunelleschi who, in the 1400s, discovered linear perspective as a system of drawing and thus brought science and art in a collision that gave birth to the Renaissance. However, none of Brunelleschi's work is on display. Half a millennium after the Italian master's existence, Florence, his home town, had produced more architectural superstars: Cristiano Toraldo di Francia, Adolfo Natalini, Gian Piero Frassinelli, Alessandro Poli and brothers Roberto and Alessandro Magris who comprised Superstudio. The firm's work, earmarked by grid motifs, is featured throughout Disappear Here with two mirrored wells (great for peering into and taking a selfie), and two drawings: Un Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione (A Journey to the Realm of Reason) and Graz. The latter links up with a rare, albeit mediocre, perspective drawing done on the back of another—supposedly much more impressive piece—from Andrea Palladio. For one wall, Jacob and Mortensen's method was to marry drawings through their lines of perspective, imagining their continuation off the page. This link would be easily missed if not for an explanation in an accompanying leaflet, which also provides a tutorial on linear perspective drawing. Jacob, though, was excited by what he could do using this method of arrangement. "It's brought together works which should never belong next to each other," he told The Architect's Newspaper (AN). Case in point: a pair of trolls urinating into a castellated fountain, drawn by British architect John Smythson, sits below Superstudio's Un Viaggio nelle Regioni della Ragione, which in turn lies left of a sketch by Edwin Lutyens portraying an unrealized memorial in France. The eclectic trio of drawings makes for remarkable viewing, and the wall throws up some humorous examples of failed attempts at perspective representation, such as another drawing by Smythson, this time of a skew-whiff house. However, the arrangement system means Palladio's drawing is placed awkwardly high. For those taking their children, you can tell them not to lose sleep over missing out on this one. However, shift your gaze down, and you'll find that the baseboard is mirrored. This has the effect of making the floor seem like an infinite plane, an effect which is amplified by a grid of yellow dots that Jacob has added onto the floor. In another room, the fun for all ages continues. Fifty objects fly towards and past the viewer on three projections cast onto walls in front and on either side of you. The objects follow lines of apparent linear perspective and create the sensation of hurtling through a drawing. To Jacob, who worked with game developer Shedworks for the exhibit, "it feels like experiencing a drawing through time." Here, the impact would be far greater had projections filled the floor and ceiling or virtual reality headsets been used. Jacob told AN that he explored the possibility of using the latter, but in the end, decided against it. A final room presents a collection of six books on perspective drawing, all from RIBA's rare books collection. Abraham Bosse's Mr. Desgargue's Universal Method of Practicing Perspective (1648) is opened up to show a drawing of three figures looking down with pyramids coming from their eyes and making a square on the floor: a view of their perspective, so to speak. Jacob, when showing AN around Disappear Here, argued that this depiction of perspective mimics the view from a modern-day military drone. Sadly, this connection isn't made in the actual show, and other ties to more contemporary takes on perspective, besides the collaboration with Shedworks, are awry. Jacob and Mortensen's insight into the history of perspective, intertwined with quirky illusory tricks, fails to exhibit work of any contemporary architecture firms. Jacob, who is more than aware of contemporary architectural techniques of representation, particularly collage, even noted that a few pasted people could turn one drawing into a typical piece from Portuguese firm Fala Atelier or architects Point Supreme from Greece. For all the allusion to progressing off the page and into the infinite, the supposed "power" of perspective, well documented in an essay by Jacob found inside the exhibition's leaflet, is also found wanting. Aside from the discombobulating decor, which does make Disappear Here fun to navigate, French architect Étienne-Louis Boullée's fantasy cathedral (see lead image) is the only piece that shows audiences the awe-inspiring power of scale and perspective at work. Superstudio's arguably most famous conception, Il Destino del Monumento Continuo (Destiny of the Continuous Moment), would fit nicely here. It, along with other works from Superstudio and other Italian radicals of the era, however, can be found at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal where Utopie Radicali: Florence 1966–1976 is currently on view. For more exercises in disorientation, Sean Griffiths, a co-founder alongside Jacob of now defunct British studio FAT, has also been exploring perspective techniques in London and Folkestone.
In the wake of a horrific fire that killed dozens, a team of six London architecture firms are reimagining Grenfell tower as a public housing development for the 21st century. The 24-story apartment building, a social housing estate in west London, was consumed by fire in June 2017. A subsequent investigation revealed that the tower's new cladding fueled the destructive blaze, which killed 71 people and left many others homeless. After the tragedy, residents and public officials came together to improve the rest of the development. They selected Levitt Bernstein and Penoyre & Prasad to lead a re-design team that includes MaccreanorLavington, Murray John Architects, Cullinan Studio, and Adjaye Associates. The firms divided the Lancaster West Estate into nine areas, and the teams created a "Book of Ideas" (PDF) based on residents' feedback from workshops earlier this year. The estate includes more than 1,000 households. In some of the nine areas, residents would like to see private front-yard gardens, new balconies and elevators, rooftop solar panels, and community gathering space. Residents voiced support for security cameras and better lighting, as well as an updated assessment of fire risk, in all areas of the estate, the Architect's Journal reported. Along with these and other stakeholders, landscape architects at Andy Sturgeon Design and consultants at Twinn Sustainability Innovation are working with the six firms on the proposals. The government is putting £15 million (around $20.7 million) towards the redesign, a figure the council has pledged to match. The next phase of the project asks residents to chose which designers will bring these ideas into reality.
The London-based Forensic Architecture, a research agency that uses architectural thinking and modeling skills to investigate crimes and disasters, has been shortlisted for one of the art world’s most prestigious prizes. Forensic Architecture joins artists Naeem Mohaiemen, Charlotte Prodger, and Luke Willis Thompson in the running for the Tate Britain’s 2018 Turner Prize. Started in 1984, the Turner Prize is open to any British artist, whether that artist (or group) is living abroad or is simply working in the country. While the tradition of nominating artists under 50 was amended last year to allow those over that number, all of this year’s shortlisted entrants happen to be younger than 50. The Turner Prize is designed to stimulate the creation and discussion of new art by emerging artists, and past winners have often gone on to successful careers in the art world, including Damien Hurst (1995), director Steve McQueen (1999), and Anish Kapoor (1991). Winners also receive approximately $35,000 in prize money, while the runners-up are given approximately $7,000. Forensic Architecture, founded in 2010 and based out of southeast London’s Goldsmiths, University of London, includes a multidisciplinary team of scientists, journalists, architects, software developers and artists. Blurring the line between architecture, investigative reporting and art, the group has uncovered evidence of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings all over the world. Using social media and eyewitness accounts, the group is recreating the Grenfell Tower fire timeline; has contradicted the official account given by a German undercover officer who claimed to have not witnessed a nearby murder in an internet café; and uncovered the U.S. bombing of an active mosque in Syria. These investigations have been turned into exhibitions shown all over the world, and the Turner Prize nomination is for their recent shows in London, Mexico City, and Barcelona. Nominee Naeem Mohaiemen’s varied, research-led work examines the transitionary period for left politics following World War II, and has been shown in solo exhibitions around the world, including MoMA PS1. His nomination follows his participation in the currently ongoing Documenta 14. Charlotte Prodger, a video and mixed-media artist, has been nominated for her solo show examining the autobiographical intermingling between humans and technology at the Bergen Kunsthall in Bergen, Norway. At 30 years old, Luke Willis Thompson is the youngest of this year’s nominees. His work examines the histories and traumas of class, race and social injustice. This year’s jury includes Oliver Basciano, critic and International Editor at ArtReview; Elena Filipovic, Director of the Kunsthalle Basel; Lisa LeFeuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies at the Henry Moore Institute; and Tom McCarthy, novelist and writer. The winner of this year’s Turner Prize will be announced in December 2018.