Posts tagged with "London":

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See what won the Carbuncle Cup for Britain’s ugliest building of the year

"The worst building amongst a swathe of mediocrity," read one. A "grotesque Jenga game of rabid, rectilinear blocks without the promise of collapse," read another. Compliments for BUJ Architects' Lincoln Plaza have been hard to come by. Today, the collection of housing units in east London's Docklands was dealt a hammer blow in being crowned the winner of this year's Carbuncle Cup, British architecture's least-wanted design award. Comprising two towers of dwellings with a cylindrical hotel mixed into the program, the ill-fated development has been the subject of severe scorn for the 2016 iteration of Building Design's (BD) Carbuncle Cup awards. It is the fifth London building in a row to claim the trophy in the awards' tenth successive year. Lincoln Plaza was selected from a shortlist of six projects built in the UK, three of which were in London. Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting 20 Fenchurch Sreet (a.k.a. The Walkie-Talkie Tower) took the prize. “When you look at the crazy patterns, pick and mix colors and gimmicky balconies you can see that it lacks poise, foundation or clarity of vision," lamented Julian Robinson of the awarding jury. "Its neighbors aren’t great but this is just an unmitigated mess.” Meanwhile, BD editor Thomas Lane was equally critical. “This is the worst building amongst a swathe of mediocrity," he said. "South Quay is rapidly turning into London’s Carbuncle Cluster.” The derision didn't end there either. One reader even went so far as to say that the building's balconies “are an open invitation to commit suicide.” Critic and member of the jury panel Ike Ijeh described Lincoln Plaza further: "31 stories of bilious cladding are piled one on top of the other to create an assortment of haphazardly assembled facades that are crude, jarring and shambolic." He went on to add:
Essentially, this building is the architectural embodiment of sea sickness, waves of nausea frozen in sheaths of glass and colored aluminum that, when stared at for too long, summon queasiness, discomfort and, if you’re really unlucky, a reappearance of lunch as inevitably as puddles after a rainstorm.
Incidentally, the much-maligned flats in question range from $1 million to $1.2 million. The developers behind the project, Galliard Homes, describe it as a "striking new landmark against Canary Wharf’s dazzling architecture." They go on to add: "Offering breathtaking views, first class facilities, and superlative living accommodation in a location of international status, Lincoln Plaza is set to provide one of the most prestigious and sophisticated new landmarks on Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline." Ijeh, though, was not impressed with this description.
Were anyone in any doubt as to the sheer level delusion and gall that has gripped London’s luxury housing market, then this asinine quotation should settle the matter once and for all. Lincoln Plaza is actually in South Quay and not Canary Wharf but what better way of showing contempt for your local context than by insinuating it is actually located in your flashier neighboring district that is more likely to be familiar to your target Malaysian investors? But, of course, this development does not show contextual contempt by words but by actions and it is these architectural actions and not the aforementioned “views” that are truly “breath-taking.” Lincoln Plaza is a putrid, pugilistic horror show that should never have been built. In its bilious cladding, chaotic form, adhesive balconies and frenzied facades, it exhibits the absolute worst in shambolic architectural design and cheap visual gimmickry. The only thing “sophisticated” about this scheme is the sheer level of artistry that must have been orchestrated in order to convince the local authority to award permission.
Paul Finch, editorial director of the Architects' Journal—a rival to the publication that runs the not-so-coveted trophy—called for the competition to be ended last month. He also wrongly predicted, as did many, that:
Those who control the [Carbuncle Cup] seem to know next to nothing about commercial architecture, hate it, campaign against it and only keep quiet when a self-evidently ‘good’ architect, like Eric Parry, wins a commission to design the tallest tower in the City of London, demolishing the rather good [Aviva] tower in the process. The predictable tone of the [Carbuncle Cup] nominations is echoed by the predictability of the results. The judges don’t get out much, so the focus is generally on London. If you can attack a big name, all the better, hence the ludicrous abuse poured on the Cutty Sark project by Grimshaw. Commercial uses are a red rag to a bull, hence the campaign against another ‘winner’, the Tesco store with apartments above at Woolwich, a brave and successful attempt to revive a benighted town centre,  which I supported while sitting on the design review panel which assessed the plan... My real objection to the [Cup] is that it is the product of mental idleness rather than genuine thought about the way in which architecture both absorbs and reflects culture, economics, fashion and the myriad other elements which inform the way we now live, work and play.
Catherine Slessor, also writing in the same publication, however, made the case for the Carbuncle Cup:
Some might regard it as a cheap exercise in tabloid trolling that takes no account of the complexities and contradictions of the design process, in which architects are merely hapless pawns, buffeted by bad clients, bad briefs and bad legislation. Yet who could argue against the guilty pleasure of witnessing the pomposity of the great and the good being pricked or the hubris of provincial nonentities witheringly exposed? After all, these purveyors of ordure are paid for what they do. And, unlike genuine ordure, bad buildings cannot be swept away.
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Herzog & de Meuron, Studio Gang, and DS+R among those shortlisted for new Royal College of Art campus in South London

The Royal College of Art (RCA) in London has a unveiled a shortlist of seven invited studios that will compete to design the school's new $140 million campus in Battersea, South London. The list features practices from Europe and the U.S. including Swiss duo Herzog & de Meuron, Chicago-based Studio Gang and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR) from New York. Organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, who claim that the college is set to "embark upon the most exciting phase of development" in its 179 year history, the RCA will align itself into being a primarily science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics-based institution. As a result, it aims to coalesce these disciplines to "create transformational impact in such areas as connected cities; robotics, the internet of things and intelligent mobility; sustainability, mass migration and city design." Specifically, this will include the expansion of the RCA's "research and knowledge exchange centers into the domains of computer and materials science, the impact of the digital economy, and intelligent mobility." The shortlisted practices are:
  • Christian Kerez (Switzerland)
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (U.S.)
  • Herzog & de Meuron (Switzerland)
  • Lacaton & Vassal (France)
  • Robbrecht en Daem architecten (Belgium)
  • Serie Architects (UK/Singapore)
  • Studio Gang (U.S.)
"At the centre of the Battersea South vision are the practices of artists and designers," said Dean of Architecture Dr. Adrian Lahoud. "The project should support and inspire their work, offering an incredible opportunity to explore new frontiers in learning and research in art and design." Malcolm Reading, competition director, added: "This is a dazzling list of architectural thought-leaders who have connected with a project that will create a renewed sense of place in this part of Battersea.  We very much look forward to the teams’ analyses of the brief at the second stage of the competition." The selection panel members include:
  • Dr. Paul Thompson (Chair)
  • Professor Naren Barfield
  • Richard Benson
  • Dr. Adrian Lahoud
  • Professor Judith Mottram
  • Baroness Gail Rebuck
  • Alan Leibowitz (lay member of Council)
  • Professor Ricky Burdett (lay member of Council)
  • Professor Rachel Cooper OBE (lay member of Council)
  • Paola Antonelli
  • Marcus Cole (student)
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Jorge Otero-Pailos mixes art and architectural preservation at the Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster, which was rebuilt following the destruction of the original medieval building in 1834, is home to the U.K.’s parliamentary proceedings in London. A UNESCO world heritage site, the palace is in a constant state of renovation and preservation. As one can guess, cleaning the premises is a quite a task, though much of the dirt, grime, and dust amassed over the decades has either been long since been swept away, forgotten, or left dormant.

In light of this, Spanish artist, architect, and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos has his eyes set on retaining some of Westminster's dirty history (interpret that metaphorically as you please). Open until September 1st at the Houses of Parliament is The Ethics of Dust. A nod to John Ruskin’s 1866 publication by the same name, the site-specific installation is located in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the complex. An admirer of Gothic architecture, Ruskin pioneered the movement for architecture conservation and warned of the damage pollution could do, but also the damage that could be done if cleaning was to be carried out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqv5_pCCS-U

Now, however, more sophisticated cleaning tools are available, and Otero-Pailos has been able to carry out his work. Latex was sprayed onto the building's wall then delicately peeled off to lift the dirt finally cleaning the wall that Ruskin had coined, “that golden stain of time.” A translucent recreation of the hall's internal east wall, the 164-foot-long sheet holds hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust with remnants from the Great Stink of 1858 to WWII; the smog of 1952 and beyond.

The project was commissioned by art U.K. producers Artangel and hangs from a hammerbeam roof 91 feet above. Backlighting and natural illumination from the Palace's grand windows allows visitors to inspect all the dirt that has been collected from the wall in fine detail. During this process, Otero-Pailos worked alongside Parliament’s official restoration and stone cleaning project for more than five years, such was the extent of the dirt residue.

Late last year, The Architect's Newspaper reported that Allies and Morrison, BDP, HOK and Foster+Partners had been shortlisted among a group of nine firms for a major refurbishment project at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. You can read more about The Ethics of Dust here.

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The Brexit promises instability and challenges for Europe’s architecture industry

It takes something of considerable magnitude to shift the global limelight from the U.S. presidential election. However, it appears Britain has done just that. The U.K. voted to leave the European Union and the largest trading bloc in the world, of which it has been a member for nearly half a century.

Economists and financial traders have frantically responded; The Architect’s Newspaper surveyed firms for their reactions and examined the outlook for the U.K. and Europe's architecture scene. Before the vote, many of the leading U.K. architecture practices—including Thomas Heatherwick, David Adjaye and David Chipperfield, among others—all pledged their support for remaining in the European Union. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tItgGcWVHw

In terms of pure economics, share price fluctuation—notably of construction firms and developers—is one good indicator of industry confidence. When the market opened for the first time post-referendum, shares of Barratt Developments PLC, the biggest U.K. house builder by sales, fell as much as 32 percent, while shares of Persimmon PLC, which is the largest builder by market capitalization, dropped by 40 percent. Developers too were also wounded, with Derwent London dropping by 18 percent while British Land and Great Portland Estates saw share prices drop by 16 percent.

About a month prior to the referendum, architects and industry leaders held a panel discussion and came to the resounding conclusion that a "Brexit" would not be beneficial to the industry. David Green, director of Belsize Architects and former head of the European Division of the Bank of England, spoke of how procurement of labor and materials would be hindered by being outside the E.U., thereby inflating pricing.

He also added how the recognition of professional qualifications is “critical"; more decisions post-Brexit will be needed to set a common standard. The same quandary of materials standards would also apply. Jason Prior, chief executive of building and places at AECOM, commented that "Whether it be an Italian facade system or German tiles, those components can be used across the E.U. without any hinderance.”

As for now, the U.K. is still in the European Union, and the referendum was only advisory. Still, to reject the result would be politically challenging, if not impossible. The next step is to invoke Article 50, which essentially presses the red button on leaving the E.U. The process gives the U.K. two years to negotiate an exit deal. Provided that many of those who voted to leave cited immigration as their motivation, the free movement of people and labor may be tricky to maintain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BMRq96sAwk

The British construction industry relies on Eastern European builders and tradesmen, coming most notably from Poland and Lithuania. David Thomas, chief executive of Barratt Developments, said “If you ask any house-builder what their main challenge is, they say it’s labor availability.” That labor supply, of course, could be maintained if Britain negotiates access to the single market (the European Economic Area) in an approach similar to Norway, whereby freedom of movement is still permitted.

Currently embroiled in the midst of a housing crisis, the U.K. government has been urged by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) "to not turn off the free-flowing tap of European migrant workers;" the FMB added that twelve percent of British construction workers are of non-U.K. origin. "They have helped the construction industry bounce back from the economic downturn, when 400,000 skilled workers left the industry," the FMB said.

Another complication of Britain's impending withdrawal is that Scotland now has a strong mandate for a repeat referendum on their own independence. In 2014, 55 percent of voters from an 85 percent turnout chose not to leave. For the E.U. referendum, only 67 percent of the electorate turned out to vote, but should Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's calls for independence be successful, England would lose a wealth of timber stock, notably Scots Pine, which could make meeting England's housing demand even more tricky.

Former London Mayor and leading protagonist of the Leave campaign, Boris Johnson, has said that Article 50's enactment “will not come in any great rush." Johnson, who is the bookmaker's favorite to be the next Prime Minister, also added that his only aim is for Britain to "extricate itself from the E.U.’s extraordinary and opaque system of legislation.” However, this notion was recently rebuffed by an E.U. diplomat who said “You cannot have your cake and eat it.”

Meanwhile, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) spoke of how architects bidding for public contracts in the E.U. would probably not be hindered. "For architects bidding for public contracts in the EU, no immediate changes are likely," they said. "E.U. law expressly forbids any weight in a procurement decision being given to the country of origin of a bid for a public contract. As such, access to public contracts for U.K. bids is not dependent on the U.K.’s membership of the E.U."

Here's what some of the leading figures in Britain and Europe had to say on the referendum result:

Rogers, Stirk Harbour and Partners

“Where do we go from here?" Richard Rogers' practice has asked. "We now face a difficult period of great uncertainty. All those questions left hanging by those leading the drive towards leaving the EU will now have to be answered. This will take time (years) and in the interim requires great adaptability and resilience from us all."

OMA

Renier de Graaf has said in a statement: "In a world where the most pressing issues inevitably exceed the size of nations, interdependence between nations is a fact. When problems escalate, so must inevitably the arena in which they are addressed. An institution like the E.U. is born out of the knowledge that in the face of the bigger issues we are all minorities. Countries in Europe have a choice: they can either realize or ignore the fact they are small. Yet small they are. All. Including Britain."

Allies & Morrison

In a statement to The Architect's Newspaper the firm said: "More than a quarter of our staff come from other E.U. countries. Over the course of our careers, we have enjoyed, been stimulated by and come to rely on their intelligence, broad education and warm experience. We remain committed to employing the best people from around the world."

Co-founder Graham Morrisson said: “Over the course of our careers, we have enjoyed, been stimulated by and come to rely on the intelligence, broad education and warm experience of the many architects from the E.U. that we have had the privilege to employ." Fellow co-founder Bob Allies, added: “More than a quarter of our staff come from the EU and the thought of losing that easy access to such a rich seam of talent is a consequence of the vote that will take a long time to adjust to.” David Adjaye Associates “We are truly disappointed with the outcome of the referendum," said Adjaye's office in a statement. As an increasingly international business, which benefits from a global pool of talent (and in particular from within the E.U.), we were hoping to remain."

3D Reid

“I fail to see how the Leave vote can be a good thing, certainly in the short term, but the truth is we simply don’t know what this means in the long term," said Graham Hickson-Smith, Director, 3D Reid. “The impact on sterling says it all. An out vote is bad for business." Skanska

Swedish construction firm Skanska issued a statement to AN: "Skanska acknowledges the choice made by the people of the U.K. to leave the European Union. Now the result is known, there will inevitably be a period of uncertainty as the country adjusts to the outcome of this very important decision. We will continue to assess the longer-term implications of the result on our business. However, we do not envisage any significant changes in the near future.”

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What’s on at this year’s London Festival of Architecture

The 2016 editionof London's yearly architecture festival, themed "Community," will boast more than 200 events including talks, conferences, open studios exhibitions, and installations. Curated by director Tamsie Thomson, the festival focuses on the relationship between London's growth and the housing crisis, immigration, climate change, and technology. Having been running for just less than a week, AN takes a look at the highlights. Open Studios June 9-12: Studio McleodRIBA Incubator Open Studio and Farrells June 16-19: SCABALAckroyd + AssociatesOrdinary ArchitecturevPPR and Publica June 23-26: GrimshawAllford Hall Monaghan MorrisJohn McAslan + Partners and Cullinan Studio
Man About The House Playing at numerous venues of architectural significance across the capital, Australian comedian Tim Ross and musician Kit Warhurst's performances will to showcase the value of interacting with architectural heritage. Locations vary from Ernö Goldfinger's Modernist dwelling in Hampstead Heath (James Bond writer Ian Fleming loathed the house so much he based a villain on the architect) to Australia House on the Strand. Best to hurry as tickets for this are selling out fast but can be purchased here. Homes Not Houses: Putting Wellbeing First June 9 Public think tank The Legatum Institute's Architecture of Prosperity program will inaugurate their Housing the Mind publication with a panel discussion. The discussion will address: "How do we design new homes or regenerate in a way that maximizes individual prosperity? Are the economics of new housing developments trumping community wellbeing?" Urban housing study group Create Streets will also be in attendance to launch their latest piece of research that analysis the connection between specific components of the built environment and measurable wellbeing. More details can be found here. Futuro: 1960s Design Principles Today June 9 Visit Finnish architect Matti Suuronen's space-age dwelling, The Futuro House, faithfully restored and located on Central St. Martins' rooftop. A discussion will look at the innovative principles of '60s spatial design and what relevancy they have today in a world dominated by technology. More details can be found here. The Great Architectural Bake-off June 11 Local architects, engineers, and designers are invited to join in the festival fun by constructing distinctive, edible recreations of iconic buildings in The Great Architectural Bake-Off. Proof, that this event is worthwhile will be in the pudding. More details can be found here. Papers: Festival of the Art & Architecture of the Refugee Crisis June 12 A diverse array of people including refugee artists, musicians, poets, chefs and builders will engage in talks on the creative and urban culture which born out of Europe's refugee camps taking place at the Barbican throughout the day. More details can be found here. Nairn's Journeys + Interview with Jonathan Meades June 13 Screenings of some of British architecture critic Ian Nairn's documentaries showcase unique critique and advocacy of placemaking within the built environment. The films will be followed by a discussion between Jonathan Meades and Douglas Murphy on architecture and television. More details can be found here. Affordable for Whom? Role of the Architect in the Housing Crisis June 14 In line with the Royal Institute of Architects' (RIBA) exhibition At Home in Britain: Designing the House of Tomorrow Dick van Gameren of Mecanoo, Jamie Fobert and Ken Baikie of Peabody discuss what can be learnt Europe in relation to the British obsession with homeownership. More details can be found here. Creative Discipline June 17 How is new housing made and paid for? Should we aspire to own it, or is there another way? Bored of events tackling tough questions on the housing crisis? Fear not, this drop-in session run by London architecture firm SCABAL will feature a board game to help those in need. Participants will contribute to the game's creation and be able to spend the day asking and answering questions. More details can be found here. Open Garden Estates June 18-19 Take a tour of the social housing estates across London that are currently endangered by developers, local authorities and housing associations. The weekend-long event offers a rare glimpse into the public and private gardens of residents while providing insight into how the estates's have impacted their lives. Talks from architects gardeners and residents will also be on offer. Best to take this chance before the Housing and Planning Bill comes to fruition.... More details can be found here. The Hive June 18 - November 30 Rising 55 feet, The Hive will be glowing with a myriad of LED lights that respond to changes in its environment. The multi-sensory aluminum structure will plunge visitors into chaotic life of bees using lighting and soundscapes that react to sensors placed inside a real bee hive. The Hive is an award-winning design by British artist Wolfgang Buttress, which was the creative interpretation of the theme ‘feeding the planet, energy for life’ for the World Expo 2015 in Milan (1 May to 31 October). From June 2016, it will be re-imagined in the setting of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. More details can be found here. The House June 24 This specially-commissioned spectacle marking the 400th anniversary of The Queen's House, and its forthcoming reopening this year featuring dance, digital projection, music, narration and pyrotechnics. The production will bring together the talents of BAFTA award-winning video artist Tal Rosner, Olivier award-winner Sharon D. Clarke, multi award-winning composer Dan Jones, boundary breaking Avant Garde Dance, and German outdoor theatre company Pan. More details can be found here. The People Build June 25 Courtesy of French artist Olivier Grossetête, audiences will be able to watch and take part as temporary structures are erected from the ground through the power of the people at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Watch a time-lapse of how the event panned out in Norwich two years ago.   More details can be found here. Concrete at the Crossroads June 26 With an introduction from Joseph Watson, London Creative Director of the National Trust, Britain’s post-war townscapes are explored in three films featuring Basil Spence, Patrick Nuttgens and Jonathan Meades More details can be found here. Architecture: You Ask the Questions June 27 Razia Iqbal of the BBC chairs the headline panel discussion for this years festival. The discussion will address housing, infrastructure and heritage, to the pressures shaping London’s skyline and the city’s development over the next few years. More details can be found here. Knoc'd 'em in the Old Kent Road June 28 Frowned upon for being the cheapest street on the Monopoly Board, Old Kent Road has now been declared an opportunity area, but for whom and for what? If a talk on Peckham's possibilities doesn't entice you enough, then a "spontaneous" kazoo choir playing the classic music hall song “knock’d ‘em in the Old Kent Road" most definitely will. More details can be found here. Solid Timber House / Vertical Timber City June 28 The Solid Timber House / Vertical Timber City conference looks beyond the various individual tall timber structures emerging around the globe to the next logical development in the application of advanced timber technology: that of whole urban districts built to increasing heights & density in which engineered timber products are utilised to create truly sustainable autarkic (energy self-sufficient) communities. More details can be found here. Open City and the London Housing Crisis June 30 How can London build the homes required to house its ever-growing population? Should we be thinking of homes in terms of volume rather than floor area? Does every apartment really need a balcony? In short, how can we accommodate the spatial needs of London's residents without compromising quality of life? More details can be found here.    
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Herzog and de Meuron’s Tate Modern expansion set to open June 17

In 1995, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron burst on to the scene winning commission to design the Tate Modern art museum in London. Their design, which saw the adaptive reuse of Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside Power Station prompted surprise, not for what they did, but for what they didn't do. Retaining the industrial 20th century factory aesthetic, the building has come to compound the Tate's image as an artistic powerhouse under director Nicholas Serota. 4.2 million brinks comprise the building's facade, however, inside a vast central hall adds a theatrical aspect to the building. Speaking to architecture critic Rowan Moore of The Observer, de Meuron said that the hall was “not in the brief, there was no requirement to have it, but it was given by the building. It created a wholly new way of showing art.” http://uds.ak.o.brightcove.com/1854890877/1854890877_26518417001_Herzog-BC-640-ws.mp4 - “I don’t want to sound arrogant,” added Herzog after more than twenty years of reflection, “but that was a stroke of genius.” Whether you agree with him or not, him and de Meuron's success has garnered them international acclaim and now their latest foray at Bankside is taking shape. Due to open on June 17 this year, the firm's $377 million Tate Modern extension—known as the Switch House—will see a 60 percent increase in floor space for the institution. With work having started in 2007, the "extension" would have taken longer and cost more than their original work for the Tate.

A photo posted by Mark Smyth (@mark_studiobua) on

"In the proto-Blair era they were considered minimal, rarely straying from straight lines and right angles," writes Moore, though the Switch House instead relies on an oblique style showcased on a scale reminiscent to the likes of Claude Parent. Rising 213 feet to counter the iconic Bankside chimney and accommodating 11 floors, the angular structure will utilize a perforated brick lattice to match the existing structure.
A photo posted by Mark Smyth (@mark_studiobua) on
- Unlike with Scott's former power station, where Herzog and de Meuron made use of vertical fenestration, their new addition to the Tate will employ horizontal windows that partially wrap round the structure. The aspect of reuse however, will be maintained. Oil tanks that were originally used for the power station prior to its decommission in 1981 will become "closely associated with the new building" to preserve and further the rugged rough-edged charm that its sister structure has.
A photo posted by zoya derevyagina (@3oia) on
A "vertical boulevard" will also be included in the extension. Coined as such by de Meuron, the space is essentially an oversized staircase that provides circulation to the new galleries embedded in the original power station. Larger space for temporary exhibits has also been catered for meanwhile the inclusion of the "Tate Exchange" will facilitate group discussion in seminar spaces and a Media Lab. “High attendance is fantastic for a museum but not always for you as a visitor,” said de Meuron. “Sometimes you need to be more quiet and peaceful. You need different experiences and different speeds, a variety of activity. The stairs are wider than we need them; we want to invite people to have a different kind of experience than to rush from one gallery to another. I am curious to see how people walk about it.”
Alternative circulation is a prominent them within the extension's design. New galleries will incorporate dead ends and others will be solo spaces all to prompt, as Moore explains, "random patterns of exploration, and unpredictable combinations of eddies and stillness." http://players.brightcove.net/e2d28453-3b98-45ec-a753-6574d2b2e050.mp4 Rising up through the building, a Members Room, Level 10 restaurant, and public terrace on the top floor will act as social hubs while offering expansive views over the thames, and as fellow critic Oliver Wainwright points out, into the pricey flats of Richard Rogers' Neo Bankside residences.  
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Giant pooing pigeon and design by Zaha Hadid to be part of crazy golf course in London

A pop-up crazy golf course for London's Trafalgar Square has been proposed by a group of artists and designers. Curated by Paul Smith, the project is part of this year's London Design Festival. Each hole offers a unique take on the theme of “Cities of the future” and will feature designs from the late Zaha Hadid, Paul Smith, Mark Wallinger, and London-based practice Ordinary Architecture. Permission from the Mayor’s office to use Trafalgar Square has already been secured, however, the project is currently in the process of gathering funds ($175,000 is the target figure) via its Kickstarter page. If achieved, the golf course will stay in London from 16-22 September, coinciding with the Festival itself while being "futuristic, functional, fun and free for the public to play." https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2414867/video-660215-h264_high.mp4 The golf course will reside on the steps from the National Gallery overlaying them with colored stripes, topped by a neo-classical clubhouse that reflects the museum, while also having a turf roof and putters for columns. Prizes and gifts for those who fund the project are also on offer. For $100 you can receive a limited edition scarf designed by Paul Smith, while for $36, you can the chance to name the giant "pigeonhole" designed by Charles Holland and Elly Ward of Ordinary Architecture as well as a mug with the pigeon on it. Speaking of naming the pigeon, Holland told AN that he would name it "Pigeon McPigeonface" if given the chance. His and Ward's oversized pecking pigeon will swallow the golf ball (if putters can successfully time their shots) and eject it out over the hole after it travels through the pigeon's digestive system. According to Holland, designers were given free reign when creating their crazy golf hole and said that inspiration for his design came from the "giant anthropomorphic structures often seen at world fairs." "We looked at giant figurative pop objects, symbolism and the idea of creating retrospective symbols," he said. "We wanted to create a fantastic creature/sculpture, something that was contextual to the square. When you think of pigeons, you think of Trafalgar Square and them being gritty, urban vermin.... So I think the fact that ours has got one leg is pretty appropriate!" "It’s educational and scatological," continued Holland. "I always quite like scatological art... I enjoy [its] crudeness. It could also be seen as an egg, from a distance it's quite ambiguous." As for the scale, Holland said the pigeon was befitting to the "realm of crazy golf" that contains "surreal versions of things, an undersized windmill for example." Festival director Ben Evans said: “If you do a project in Trafalgar Square it’s quite a challenging public space and you need to find something that engages a wide group of people because there are a million people passing by each week. We want them to stop and say ‘Wow, what’s that?’ Speaking of Hadid's design, Evans added “It will be poignant because of Zaha’s death but I think what she’s done is stunning." “She’s done a number of things for the festival over the years and the company are keen to ensure all of the projects that were in development go ahead. For us, this is an opportunity to celebrate and honor her.”

The project meanwhile states that: "It is one of the few opportunities to use this prime location for cultural activity, and we are confident that there will be enough people who share Paul Smith and the London Design Festival's enthusiasm to enable its success."

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Rolling geodesic garden lets its plants guide its movement

As part of the reEarth project, a group of researchers fronted by William Victor Camilleri and Danilo Sampaio from the Interactive Architecture Lab at University College London, have created the "Hortum machina B" - a rolling ecological exoskeleton. "Half garden, half machine," Hortum machina B is a "new cybernetic lifeform" that has been rolling round London's streets, relying on the intelligence of plant life to guide its way through the capital. Consisting of twelve plant-based modules derived from a British ecological background, protruding arms extend to alter the module's center of gravity allowing it to move in the direction of choice. While this may sound like a painfully laborious way of getting around, Hortum machina B sheds light on the possible future of "bio-cooperative interaction between people and nature, within the built environment". https://vimeo.com/122485940 Electro-physiological sensors measure the state of individual plants, facilitating the collective and subsequently "democratic" decision making that the module undertakes. Inside the structure, a robotic “brain” is made up of electrodes that receive sensory information from the physiological responses of the plants to their environment. As a result, information processed from the electro-physiological sensors (in relation to every other sensor) essentially dictate the module's orientation and mobility. https://vimeo.com/163436492 For example, a plants' reaction to a change in either light, humidity, and temperature is transmitted to a sensor which relays that information to the robotic brain core which then, after taking into account all the other information it is being fed, decides what to do. "While plants lack a nervous system, they can, much like animals, become electro-chemically stimulated by their surrounding environment," the researchers say on their website. "Through the study of plant electro-physiology, we have wired their primitive ‘intelligence’ into the control-loop of an autonomous robotic ecosystem. " The Hortum machina B also signifies another step in the direction of autonomous mobility, though in this case using plant-life as the primary sensory "driver". "Hortum machina B is a speculative urban cyber-gardener," the group say. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aixe3IKjjXQ
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Timber skyscraper imagined at the heart of London’s brutalist Barbican

Designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon after the Blitz destroyed most of the site, the Barbican estate is now Grade II listed (part of a statutory list of buildings of special Architectural or historic interest). As a result, the area has become synonymous with concrete, being a famed brutalist site. PLP Architecture and the University of Cambridge, however, have different ideas. They're proposing a 984-foot wooden skyscraper, the city's first, at the center of the estate. The skyscraper, according to PLP, is merely for "research." Despite this, the firm said that they had presented the idea to current London Mayor Boris Johnson and said that his response was "positive." The Mayor also commented that natural materials like wood are currently “vastly underused.” Already, the timber tower has been dubbed the "Toothpick" by The Architect's Journal, such is the way of nicknaming skyscrapers in London, already home to the "Walkie-talkie," the "Gherkin," and the "Cheesegrater." Despite its radical change in materiality, the Toothpick aligns with the Barbican's original plan of providing housing at the center of the city, overseeing the creation of 1,000 new living units. Despite being slimmer than the iconic 42 story (404 feet) Cromwell, Shakespeare, and Lauderdale Towers, the wooden skyscraper would almost be double their height at 80 stories high. This would make it the city's second tallest building, second only to Renzo Piano's Shard. As for the towers environmental impact, the Toothpick would "lock-in 50,000 tonnes of CO2 in the building timber frame, equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of 5,000 Londoners." The project is in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Smith and Wallwork Engineers. Dr Michael Ramage, Director of Cambridges Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: "The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London—and it was successful. We've put our proposals on the Barbican as a way to imagine what the future of construction could look like in the 21st century." "We now live predominantly in cities and so the proposals have been designed to improve our wellbeing in an urban context," added Kevin Flanagan, Partner at PLP Architecture. "Timber buildings have the potential architecturally to create a more pleasing, relaxed, sociable and creative urban experience. Our firm is currently designing many of Londons tall buildings, and the use of timber could transform the way we build in this city." When asked if PLP would be presenting the "research" to the next Mayor of London, their response was: "it depends who the mayor is!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLPlJsoVq8k
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BIG among six firms shortlisted for the new Museum of London

The Museum of London has released a shortlist of six firms that will compete to design the museum at its new 269,000 square-foot location in West Smithfield, only a stones throw away from its original site at the Barbican. The new museum has a construction budget of $185-210 million.  The current building, designed by Hidalgo Moya and Phillip Powell in the 1970s, will become the new location for the London Symphony Orchestra despite protests from Leon Krier. Also shortlisted in the competition, which was organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants, were:
  • Caruso St John Architects (U.K.)
  • Hawkins\Brown(U.K.) with Asif Khan (U.K.)
  • Diener & Diener Architekten (Switzerland) with Sergison Bates Architects (U.K.)
  • Lacaton & Vassal Architectes (France) with Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio (U.K.)
  • studio Milou architecture (France) with RL&Associés (France) and Axis Architects (U.K.)
According to the competition website, almost 80 teams (formed from 140 firms) entered the initial stage of the contest. The entrants were whittled down on the basis of "relevant skills and experience, particularly, those involved with significant cultural projects which have had a truly transformational impact." The new site, part of Smithfield Market, dates back to 1879 but was closed in 1999. The interior boasts 16 ornate Phoenix Columns but has otherwise remained empty for a number of years. The competing architects and designers were tasked with "regenerating a nationally-significant landmark and creating new contemporary galleries." In doing so, the competition organizers sought a "memorable" museum with "charismatic identity" that combines historic Smithfield and modern design. Entrants also had to cater to the museum's enormous archaeological archive and projected increase in attendance figures (over 2.25 million visits per year, based on recent trends and the implementation of the CrossRail rail link). The six shortlisted practices will now be asked to produce concepts based on a more detailed project brief. Their proposals will be on display at the current building and a winner will be selected by a jury later this year. Other objectives for the new museum include:
  • Create contemporary interventions and additions where appropriate which are exemplary and visually stunning.
  • Reflect the site’s evolution from a place of physical exchange to a culture and knowledge exchange.
  • Address new ways of engaging digitally-minded visitors and representing London as the world’s most inventive, creative capital.
  • Reduce operating costs by improving the building’s operational efficiency and sustainability, with a target of the project achieving a BREEAM (UK LEED equivalent) Excellent rating.
  • Increase income generation and visitor dwell time through enhanced retail, catering and event facilities.
  • Ensure the experience of visiting and navigating the museum is equal for all.
  • Ensure appropriate technical, environmental and security requirements are met so that the new museum meets Government Indemnity Standards.
The museum aims to achieve planning permission, raise the necessary capital funds, and deliver the new museum in 2021.
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34 Nations to submit works for the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale

Despite having an established pedigree within the creative world, London has never had its own Biennal(e)—or even Triennale, for that matter. This year however, the city is opening the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, showcasing work from 34 participating countries around the theme of Utopia by Design. Set to be hosted at Somerset House, a former royal palace on the Strand in central London, the Biennale will run from September 7 to 27 this year. On display will be installations curated by leading design institutions from around the world. Participating bodies include USA's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), The Japan Foundation, and Victoria and Albert Museum (UK). Other participating nations will be: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Turkey. Judging the contributions will be an an international advisory committee and jury comprised of established figures within the industry who will "award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions." “We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House," said Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the Biennale. "500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.” London Mayor Boris Johnson also added: "Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity—the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”
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London Mayor Refloats Foster’s Thames Transport Hub

With a new report, London Mayor and Conservative MP Boris Johnson has re-pitched his Thames Estuary Transport Hub, dubbed “Boris Island” by some, as an alternative to additional runways at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. The project is in a similar vein to the Riker's Island La Guardia airport expansion proposed by Jim Venturi.

The proposal, initially launched in 2013, was masterplanned by Norman Foster. With other major infrastructure projects like High Speed Two (new high-speed rail lines that would link London to cities as far as Leeds) and CrossRail already in the pipeline, “Boris Island” has never been a fit for UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity government.

In 2014, the Airports Commission ditched the scheme due to its high capital costs. Two years later the idea has resurfaced, along with the Mayor’s newfound political clout as he defies his incumbent party leader David Cameron in backing an E.U. exit

The plan promises rail, sea, aircraft, communication and power infrastructure amalgamated into one hub on the Thames estuary in Kent by the medway. New flight paths into the capital would also mean much less noise pollution, something that already plagues areas adjacent to the two-runway Heathrow airport. Additionally, Foster cites how every three months, a plane low on fuel or with an engine failure flies over London, a risk this plan would alleviate. A proposed rail network would also run around the capital, instead of through it, to reach the airport island and Europe beyond. This, in Foster’s eyes, would bridge the UK's North/South divide and create more trade with the European continent. This rail network would also link up to the existing and under-construction High Speed 2 and CrossRail network.

Also part of the plan would be a new hydroelectric facility in the Thames that would power the hub. With an existing barrier already in action downstream, two miles east of the Isle of Dogs, this new construction would further protect against rising sea levels.

Foster + Partners does have a good track record in delivering similar schemes. Both Beijing's airport—the biggest airport in the world—and Hong Kong's airports were delivered on time and on budget by the firm. They were also voted by travelers as “the best airport experiences in the world.

In his report Landing The Right Airport, Mayor Johnson states that Foster’s hub is the only way to secure enough capacity. "Our analysis predicts that they would offer around double the number of long haul and domestic destinations served by Heathrow today, while exposing 95% fewer people to significant aircraft noise,” he says.

According to the BBC, Daniel Moylan, aviation adviser to the Mayor, says the plan could cost up to $35 billion—with an extra $35 billion needed for road and rail connections. A third runway could cost $28 billion.

However, opponents argue the transport hub would cost significantly more, at around $130 billion. Not only that, it would also disrupt wildlife habitats as well as rendering Southend and London City airports obsolete.  Meanwhile travel time into central London would also be longer compared to Heathrow.

Johnson though, remains undeterred. "If we are to secure the connectivity we need to support our future growth and prosperity and do so without dire impacts on public health—then we must do better than Heathrow,” he concluded.