Meet the incubators and accelerators producing the new guard of design and architecture start-ups. This is part of a series profiling incubators and accelerators from our April 2018 Technology issue. With a cutting-edge client list that includes Nike, Google, and YouTube, digital agency R/GA is committed to staying way, way ahead of the competition. So, when it came to the rapid rise of start-ups and disruptive technologies, R/GA was quick to jump in. “We knew we would need a platform for innovation, even if we didn’t always know which forms of innovation would ultimately take off,” explained Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer of R/GA and founding partner of R/GA Venture Studio, a division of the company. “In order to find more and better innovations, solve problems for our clients, and offer new opportunities to our staff, we needed to get deeper into technology and start-ups.” R/GA Venture Studio partnered with the mentorship-focused start-up accelerator Techstars and launched theR/GA Venture Studio program four years ago. The accelerator offers approximately ten-week-long thematic programs with R/GA, sharing its creative capital in terms of marketing, business strategy, branding, design, and technology; partners invest in each start-up and retain approximately 4 to 8 percent of their equities. R/GA also plays matchmaker, strategically partnering clients that have particular problems with start-ups that have potential solutions. Recent programs yielded a media technology initiative with Verizon and a collaboration with the Los Angeles Dodgers; an Internet of Things and connected devices program in R/GA’s London office has proved to be immensely popular. “We are constantly experimenting with our own program and have evolved beyond the traditional accelerator format into something unique to us,” said Plumlee. One of the things that set the R/GA Venture Studio apart is the age of the start-ups accepted into the program. Rather than limit applicants to new ventures, R/GA will accept older start-ups that are more established and have completed as late as Series B funding rounds. It is also not tied to any one location—R/GA Venture Studio spaces are available in any R/GA office—allowing start-ups to continue business as usual beyond Demo Day and other important mentoring events. To avoid being boxed in and missing potential opportunities, R/GA will also accept applicants year-round for various programs—currently it has four running simultaneously. Within this ethos of avoiding constraints, the accelerator’s start-ups and programs have varied widely and have included blockchain, pet care, smart home technologies, wearable devices, and ad tech, to name a few. Notable alumni include: Keen Home A smart vent system that allows homeowners to create climate zones throughout their houses. Clarifai Clarifai is an artificial intelligence company that empowers businesses and developers to solve real-world problems using visual recognition. LISNR A software that connects devices to speakers and/or microphones by sending data over audio waves.
Posts tagged with "London":
On April 3, the world-renowned artist Christo began construction of his first major public work in the United Kingdom, The Mastaba. The stand-alone, pyramidal sculpture composed of 55-gallon oil barrels will be located in London’s Hyde Park, floating atop the park’s 40-acre Serpentine Lake. The temporary sculpture will be built by a team of engineers, and will consist of over 7,000 barrels placed over a floating platform. Rising at a 60-degree angle, the structure will reach a height of 65.5 feet with a 90-foot width at its base. The base’s floating platform will be constructed of weighted, high-density polyethylene cubes. These buoyant cubes will support a steel scaffolding frame serving as the structural core of the 500-ton sculpture. In terms of surface area, the footprint of the sculpture will be approximately one percent of the Serpentine. Barrels visible along the slopes and top of sculpture will be painted red and white, while those located on the two vertical walls will be a gradient of mauve, blue, and red. Following the project's decommissioning, materials such as the oil barrels will be recycled for industrial use within the United Kingdom. The project is influenced by Christo's decades-long effort to create The Mastaba in Dubai, a speculative concept utilizing 190,000 oil barrels to create the largest, permanent structure in the world. In a press release, Christo noted that the construction, maintenance and removal of his works is entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his original works of art, as well as philanthropic donations. In tandem with Christo’s unveiling of The Mastaba, the nearby Serpentine Galleries will present its first exhibition of Christo’s decades-long collaboration with his late wife, Jean-Claude. The artistic duo was known for their large-scale and public works. Past pieces such as Wall of Iron Barrels (1961) and The Wall (1998) similarly used oil barrels for massively scaled sculptures. Public parks and natural landscapes figured prominently in their partnership, with Running Fence (1976) and The Gates (2005) contrasting and drawing upon their surrounding environments. Weather permitting, construction of the sculpture will be complete by June 18, with dismantlement commencing on September 23.
Carl Laubin, a British-American architect turned full-time painter, has dedicated the last three decades of his professional career to the painting of architectural capricci, bucolic landscapes and portraiture. An architectural capriccio encompasses the imagined assembly of buildings across fantastic landscapes. Laubin’s choice of subject matter jumps between historical periods. What seemed chronological at first: Andrea Palladio, followed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, jumped to Neo-Classicists Claude-Nicholas Ledoux, Charles Cockerell, and Leo von Klenze, then to Edwin Lutyens, with Post-Modernist John Outram and Leon Krier thrown into the mix. Currently, Laubin is working on a capriccio of John Nash’s work. On average, these capricci require one-and-a-half to three years to complete, depending on how prolific the subject was, with time split evenly between the drawing and painting periods. Although the bulk of Laubin’s capricci focus on the work of historic designers, he has produced paintings that combine a multitude of contemporary architects. A Classical Perspective comprises architectural pieces designed by the winners of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture’s Richard H. Driehaus Prize. Beginning with the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates in the foreground, the oil painting collages notable works by Robert A.M Stern, Demetri Porphyrios, Michael Graves, Abed-Wahed El-Wakil and Quinlan Terry, to name a few. Educated at Cornell University, Laubin describes his early painting as “a second, secretive life,” one conducted outside of Cornell’s then-rigid modernist education. Laubin graduated from Cornell with a B.A of Architecture in 1973, and subsequently decamped to England to join Douglas Stephen and Partners, Architects and Civic Designers (1973-1983) and later Jeremy Dixon/BDP (1984-1986). While working as an architect, Laubin painted in secret, waking at dawn to hone his craft before going to work. Seeing as how the production of capricci is a centuries-long tradition, Laubin cites a number of artists as influencing his style. To Laubin, Piranesi “was and remains an example of how to be liberated from the constraints of reality in creating an imagined world in a drawing or painting, and even how to be liberated from the constraints of drawing itself.” Canaletto’s grand paintings of Venice and London are firmly behind Laubin’s composition of urban scenes populated with bustling denizens. In his fantastical characteristics, the phantasmagoric visions of Joseph Gandy are plainly evident. While Laubin insists that there is no clear methodology to his process of creating a capriccio, he has a general approach to each project. The first step is the steady amassing of information on the subject matter. This initial creative moment includes the reading of primary and secondary sources, visiting individual sites, and sketching as much of the architect’s canon as possible. Subsequently, each sketch is collaged and re-collaged until a suitable format is found, representative of an architect’s professional timeline as well as the general hierarchy of their work. In creating the landscapes for his capricci, Laubin follows a recipe for a classical landscape given to him by postmodern architect John Outram. In Outram’s view, one always crossed a river or a bridge into a classical painting, and then ascended through various levels of civilization from cave dwellers, through agrarian societies, to urban areas, and finally places of worship at the highest point. In tandem with this formula, Laubin draws upon the landscapes surrounding individual sites and fuses them into the overarching collage of elements.
An architectural research agency devoted to the innovative investigations of catastrophes and violence has just launched an inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire, a June 2017 blaze that engulfed a West London social housing complex and killed 71 people and injured 70 more. Forensic Architecture put out a call on Twitter today, asking witnesses to send in videos of the conflagration to kick off a "a long-term and open-ended" inquiry into the incident. Experts contend that the fire was hastened by the facade's cladding and highly flammable polystyrene insulation. Forensic Architecture, directed by architect Eyal Weizman, is a collaboration between architects, computer specialists, journalists, filmmakers, scientists, and others, is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Far from a mere video content farm, the group uses its resources to illuminate the inner workings of conflict situations, often taking amateur footage as a basis for their analysis. Its findings are deployed in courts and human rights reports, among other fora. Forensic Architecture took to Twitter to encourage witnesses to send in their movies of the event:
Grenfell Tower, a 24-story Brutalist building in North Kensington, was designed by Clifford Wearden and Associates and completed in the 1970s. Forensic Architecture is compiling the videos, determining the orientation of the (usually) smartphone-wielding videographer, and projecting them onto a 3-D model of the building. Would-be contributors can submit their footage, anonymously or not, here. The news comes on the heels of an announcement that London's Adjaye Associates, along with five other firms, have been selected to share ideas for the future of Lancaster West Estate, the municipal housing complex that hosted Grenfell Tower. If an architect is selected and everything goes according to plan, work on the project is slated to begin in 2019.
Today we are launching a long-term and open-ended project on the #Grenfell Tower fire. Support the project, learn more, and share with us your video footage at https://t.co/WFzcUA5gRZ pic.twitter.com/av3uBZsYAZ— ForensicArchitecture (@ForensicArchi) March 21, 2018
Adjaye Associates and five other firms have been tapped to provide ideas for the high-profile renovation of London's Lancaster West Estate, which contained the now-destroyed Grenfell Tower. With funding from the local council and government, Adjaye Associates, Levitt Bernstein, Maccreanor Lavington, Murray John Architects, Cullinan Studio and Penoyre Prasad will put together a design vision for the future of the municipal housing estate. Lancaster West was originally master planned and realized by Clifford Weardon Architects in 1964, and has been in dire need of an update. As part of the renovation, the architectural team has been working in concert with the Lancaster West Residents Association, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and the government to focus on resident-driven suggestions. At a public meeting earlier in the month, residents of the public housing complex gave the designers feedback on what they felt were the most pressing concerns. Improving accessibility, repairing leaks and improving ventilation all had the broadest support, as did increasing the openness of the common areas in response to safety issues. The team also raised the possibility of securing the entrances to the estate’s street, as well as installing communal and private gardens for residents. Once completed, the council wants the revitalized Lancaster West to be an example for the renovations of the area’s other estates. Of note is the exclusion of Grenfell Tower in the redevelopment plan. As a response to the fire that killed 72 in June of last year, the local council and UK government will be razing the site and likely dedicating the land for a memorial to the victims. Most important to the redevelopment has been the promise that any changes to the estate would be done without demolition of homes or displacement. Funding for the project has already been secured, with both the council and central government having pledged approximately $21 million. Landscape architects Andy Sturgeon Design and consultants Twinn Sustainability will be working alongside the architectural team as well. A brief will be prepared using the collected ideas and followed by a detailed work plan. If everything moves smoothly, work should begin by summer of 2019. No architects had been chosen to realize the plans at the time of writing.
Few buildings are as quintessentially British and Brutalist as Robin Hood Gardens, a London housing estate designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in the late 1960s. And now, remnants of the complex are heading to Italy, where the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will present a facade section of the demolished icon as part of the Venice Biennale. (It's actually a return to Venice for the late architects, who displayed billboard-sized images of the under-construction buildings at the Biennale in 1976.) The Robin Hood Gardens housing block has never been far from the center of the debate of social housing since the Smithsons first unveiled plans for a concrete mass of residences linked by "streets in the sky." And now that it's being demolished to make way for a new development—all while cities around the globe struggle to house growing populations—that controversy is more in the news than ever. Though Peter Smithson himself expressed his regrets about the failures of the design, Robin Hood Gardens found a legion of supporters, if not strictly for its Brutalist design, then for its place within the conversation about urbanism. In fact, an all-star lineup of contemporary architects including Richard Rogers, Robert Venturi, Toyo Ito, and the late Zaha Hadid, came together to protest the buildings' demolition. When it became clear that plans would move forward, the V&A stepped in—on the urging of London firm Muf architecture/art—to acquire a nearly 29-foot high by 18-foot-wide by 26-foot-deep cross-section of the housing complex. The museum will be presenting a fragment from the estate at the Pavilion of Applied Arts in the Sale d’Armi in the Arsenale, from May 26 to November 25, 2018. The segment will be displayed on a scaffolding system designed by Arup, the firm that engineered the original Robin Hood Gardens, while a film by artist Do Ho Suh will document the structure. Additional documents and interviews will give context to the social history of the complex. ‘The case of Robin Hood Gardens is arresting because it embodied such a bold vision for housing provision yet less than 50 years after its completion, it is being torn down," said pavilion curators Christopher Turner and Olivia Horsfall Turner in a joint statement. "Out of the ruins of Robin Hood Gardens, we want to look again at the Smithsons’ original ideals and ask how they can inform and inspire current thinking about social housing."
The United Kingdom has announced that it will be turning over the future of the Grenfell Tower site in West London over to victims and families of those affected by the devastating fire in June of last year that ultimately claimed 72 lives. In a statement released this morning, the UK’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government outlined a set of principles for guiding decision-making at the site with those affected given majority control–it’s presumed that the site will be razed and become a memorial moving forwards. The agreement was jointly forged and signed by the government, the survivors, and the local Kensington and Chelsea council. While the burned-out remnants of the council-owned tower block are still standing, it’s expected that the gutted remains will be torn down at the end of 2018 following an in-depth forensic analysis. In a scathing interim report, Dame Judith Hackitt, part of a group evaluating the government’s failure in preventing the fire, placed the blame on cost cutting and the negligence of the regulatory system. It isn’t the first charge levied against the government for being complicit in the Grenfell disaster, and a debate on public housing has been roiling Britain since last summer. Public officials are hoping that handing over the fate of Grenfell Tower to the community will alleviate some of the blowback and have stressed that this agreement is meant to bring closure to the affected. The local Latimer Road Tube station may also be renamed to Grenfell at some point in the future. “Since day one of my leadership I have been clear,” said the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, Elizabeth Campbell. “The council will listen every step of the way to the survivors, the bereaved, and the wider community and assist in any way it can to ensure that a lasting memorial is put in place.” The full text of the principles can be found here. It’s uncertain whether the move will assuage anger at the government over the Grenfell fire, as the investigation has seemingly stalled out in recent months. It may also do little to combat claims that the flammable cladding was installed to improve views of the tower from the wealthier communities nearby.
Two months before he died, in poor health and noticeably frail, architect Neave Brown packed East London’s Hackney Empire to capacity: 1,300 predominantly young architects came to hear from the man who had just been awarded the RIBA’s Royal Gold Medal. They gave him a standing ovation. Brown, who died on January 9, age 88, was the antithesis of the starchitect. He had completed his last building in the UK nearly 40 years earlier and a decade later finally put down his (pre-digital) drafting pens to become a painter. The medal came as a result of a reappraisal of his contribution to the architecture of housing and citymaking against the contemporary backdrop of a housing crisis, an expanding city, and the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. Brown studied at London’s Architectural Association in the 1950s and was not alone in rejecting tower blocks as a model for the future, but few did more to develop an alternative model and do so with such a high level of architectural ambition and skill. His was a street-based architecture, low, ground-hugging, and dense, that owed as much to his admiration for the Georgian terraces of London as it did to a more apparent inspiration—Le Corbusier, for Brown had been both designer and cocurator of the retrospective of the Swiss architect’s work held at the Hayward gallery in 1987. In 1965, Brown completed a terrace of five houses at Winscombe Street in the London Borough of Camden. To meet the government’s demanding Parker Morris Committee space standards, Brown ingeniously created interior spaces that afforded both spaciousness and flexibility. Although thoroughly modern, the terrace fit the London street pattern, with clearly identifiable front doors a few steps up from the pavement and a shared garden behind. It encouraged sociability, a place where neighbors could and would drop by. It was here at Winscombe Street that Brown and his wife, Janet, brought up their children Victoria, Aaron, and Zoe, putting his ideas about the “intergenerational home” to the test. In the same year, Camden Borough Council appointed Sydney Cook as its chief architect committed to finding new models of low-rise high-density housing. Meeting Brown and visiting Winscombe Street convinced Cook that he had found the architect to design Camden’s future. Brown’s first project for Camden, Fleet Road, comprised 72 flats and a shop, with planted shared roof terraces and individual balconies and gardens. Built at the same density as a tower block, it rose from one to four stories. In later years Brown moved from Winscombe Street to Fleet Road, again becoming both resident architect and conscientious neighbor. Brown’s most famous project, Alexandra Road estate, was not so much a housing scheme as a microcosm of the modern city, incorporating a community center, two schools, shops, a youth club, and a maintenance depot, as well as 500 terraced homes along a gently curving street. Each flat has its front door to the street and a balcony facing south. The street and, parallel to it, a linear park contributed two new and distinctive public spaces to the city. Built at a time of rocketing inflation, the costs spiraled, and this, along with the uncompromising modernity of the design, caused controversy. The political changes brought by Margaret Thatcher effectively took housing out of the hands of local authorities and placed it with the national house builders. The future of London became, for a period, suburban in style and density. The experiment with low-rise high-density housing was stopped short, and Brown had to look beyond Britain for work. It was the public spaces of Alexandra Road and the integration of complex social facilities with housing that attracted the aldermen of The Hague to appoint Brown in 1987 to design a project of equivalent complexity and even higher density on the Zwolsestraat, marking the boundary of the city to the sand dunes and sea. Designed with David Porter, the project was at an advanced stage, with the building rising from the ground, when the developer-client determined to discard the intricate street-based public realm as designed and replace it with deck access. The architects relinquished the project. Brown was more successful with a delicate cluster of apartments built outside Bergamo in Italy and a second Dutch project, the Medina from 1993–2002, designed for central Eindhoven and aided by Jo Coenen, the state architect for Holland. In 2012, Brown was invited by the residents to join them to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the project’s completion. The architectural quality of Brown’s British projects was confirmed by their listing as historic monuments (Alexandra Road in 1993, Fleet Road in 2010, and Winscombe Street in 2014). As significant was Brown’s evident rapport with those that lived in the homes he designed. The listing of Alexandra Road as “Grade 2” (Buckingham palace is Grade 1) inspired the film, made in 2010 by residents about their experiences, entitled One Below the Queen. Alexandra Road was completed just as architects were becoming “postmodern.” Brown was not unhappy to be considered an ‘’old-fashioned modernist’’ remaining intellectually engaged with the formal language of architecture and its relevance to an inclusive society. The reappraisal of Brown’s work comes at a time when London’s population is rapidly growing, there is a housing shortage, and London’s skyline is under threat. We are again seeking new models for raising density but maintaining the scale of the city.
Mexico City-based architect Frida Escodebo has been selected to design the 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in London, making her both the youngest architect selected for the commission, as well as the first solo woman to take on the project since Zaha Hadid in 2000. Escodebo, who AN profiled last year after her eponymous firm won the Architectural League’s Emerging Voices award, has designed a perforated pavilion that draws on the architecture and materials of both Britain and Mexico. The pavilion is based around a central interior courtyard, a common feature in domestic Mexican architecture, and is made up of two rectangular volumes, one inside the other. The volumes will be angled to reference the Prime Meridian line at London’s Royal Observatory in Greenwich, with the pavilion’s exterior walls aligned to the Serpentine Gallery’s eastern façade, while the interior courtyard will align to the north. The walls themselves resemble celosias, a traditional Mexican breeze wall that allows air to pass through, and will be built from dark cement roof tiles, interplaying the light streaming in against the color of the pavilion itself. A curved overhead canopy, clad in mirrored tiles, will dialogue with a triangular reflecting pool below, which will be sunk into the pavilion’s north end. As the sun moves across the sky throughout the summer, visitors will be able to track the shifting of the shadows within and the sunlight’s refraction, as each day should theoretically bring a unique lighting condition. “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.” The temporary Serpentine Pavilion has been commissioned by London’s prestigious Serpentine gallery since 2000, and has drawn big names in architecture since its conception. This year, the pavilion will be open to the public from June 15, 2018 through October 7, 2018, and will continue to host Park Nights, the Serpentine Gallery’s experimental and interdisciplinary showings on select Friday nights. Escodebo, born in 1979, has made a name for herself lately in the exhibition and temporary architecture world, having shown work at both the 2012 and 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, and the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. For the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Escobedo built an interactive, round rocking stage.
Since 2017, Facebook has stated its intention to establish a new British headquarters within the ongoing redevelopment of King’s Cross Central in London. The London Times speculates that architect Frank Gehry is currently in talks with the social media giant to fit out two adjoining buildings, currently designated T2 and T3, as well as a stand-alone building on a separate plot. The buildings T2 and T3 are designed by the British firm Bennetts Associates and are slated for completion in early 2019. In total, Facebook looks to add three buildings totaling more than 700,000 square feet to its London footprint. According to the Architects’ Journal, Gehry has designed numerous buildings for Facebook in the past, including its campus in Menlo Park and a ‘fit-out’ of Rathbone Square. The larger development surrounding Facebook's potential new headquarters, King’s Cross Central, is a 67-acre mixed-use redevelopment site encompassing fifty new buildings, 1,900 homes, twenty new streets, and twenty-six acres of public space. British developer Argent is leading the project and the master planners are Allies & Morrison and Porphyrios Associates. The transformation of King’s Cross from decrepit industrial district to emerging tech hub is influenced by its proximity to King’s Cross Station and St. Pancras International. These stations provide unrivaled rail transport access to international, regional and local transport networks. According to the Urban Land Institute, over 63 million passengers will pass through King’s Cross–St. Pancras by 2022, and approximately 45,000 Londoners will directly live or work in the district. Facebook is not the only tech giant shifting personnel to King’s Cross Central. In 2017, Google submitted plans for a nearly one million square foot headquarters in the sprawling redevelopment site. Designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studios, the 11-story building will extend horizontally approximately one thousand feet, a distance roughly on par with the height of London’s tallest building, the Shard.
Some may say it is par for the course for postmodern architecture to be allied with gimmicks and today, it seems those who do have cause for delight: James Stirling's No.1 Poultry in London looks set for a mini golf complex on its ground floor.
The endeavor is courtesy of Puttshack, a firm which claims to be the first "super tech" indoor mini golf experience provider. Plans for what the mini golf trials will be can only be seen in the sketches provided, however, Pomo putters can still dream of a course based on the site plan of Aldo Rossi's San Cataldo Cemetery (which would be amazing, let's be honest) or a homage to Michael Graves' Steigenberger Golf Resort in Egypt.
Puttshack's complex appears to come with an island bar and tables for dining and will ultimately be an after-work venue for those in the city. As for the real clubbing going on, Puttshack ensures there will be no fowl play when going for a Poultry birdie—its ball tracking and scoring technology uses a mini-computer inside the golf ball to monitor and share video highlights from each round.
"I’ve always wanted to locate a social entertainment concept in the heart of the city, and there could not be a better location than the symbolic No 1 Poultry address," said Adam Breeden, founder and CEO of Bounce, one of the companies behind Puttshack in a press release. "The area has been up and coming for a long time now and with the introduction of Puttshack it finally establishes itself as a truly varied and vibrant London destination," he added.
Built in 1998, Stirling's iconic work was the first postmodern building in the U.K. to be landmarked and, it was the country's youngest landmark, as well. Residing above Puttshack will be the new WeWork offices, which are slated for completion this March. Those renovations will also refurbish the building's famed staircase.
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is facing community backlash over recently unveiled plans to bring a double-pronged, mixed-use tower to Vauxhall, South London. As reported by the Architect’s Journal, the building was submitted for local council approval in December, but has caught the public’s ire over the 53-story and 42-story towers that would rise right on the bank of the River Thames. Linked by an 11-story base, the Vauxhall scheme would hold 257 apartments and 618 hotel rooms across the two towers, as well as seven floors of office space in the base and retail at the ground level. Both the towers and the base will feature a glass curtain wall overlain with a unifying exoskeleton-like façade that stretches and decompresses as the building rises, exposing uninterrupted glass near the top. It would also become the tallest building in the emerging Vauxhall area, with the taller tower potentially topping out at about 607 feet. It would be ZHA’s first major mixed-use residential building in the United Kingdom, and the studio sees it as a “breakthrough project,” according to the Architect’s Journal. Local critics see the development as a “two-fingered salute.” The site had previously won permission for a pair of 41- and 31-story towers designed by London’s Squire & Partners, and residents, as well as non-profit groups, are gearing up to contest the development. “Although these buildings are better designed than the Squires ones, this application is attempting to add more height by stealth,” architect Barbara Weiss told the Architect’s Journal. ‘The River Thames is becoming a canyon and the price to the skyline of Boris Johnson’s liberal approach to tall buildings is becoming increasingly clear.” Other than the project’s height, advocates are also outraged over the lack of specific affordable housing promises, the decrease in residential units from the prior Squires plan, and the projected traffic congestion the project would cause. Compounding the controversy is that the ZHA towers would rise next to the iconic Vauxhall bus station, which was designed by ARUP in 2005 and now faces demolition only 13 years later. ZHA has for their part, pushed back against the controversy and claimed that fears of congestion or shadows were without merit. Jim Heverin, ZHA’s director, told the AJ that the studio was still in talks with the project’s developer over finalizing the number of affordable housing units. ‘When we came onto this scheme, it was right that we looked at the heights,’ said Heverin. “We evolved the scheme to create a new public square. Our scheme takes less land on the ground but is higher. There is a lot more density coming into this area. Our project fits within a master plan that has been looked at by Transport for London.” The soaring Vauxhall towers plan would seem to fit well with ZHA head Patrick Schumacher’s fondness for density and what the Guardian has called a propensity for “neoliberal privatization schemes.”