Posts tagged with "Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)":

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RIBA sustainability chairman urges London to consider a glass tower ban

Following NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s "ban" on glass-clad buildings in April, a leading sustainability expert in London has spoken out against London mayor Sadiq Khan’s refusal to enact the same legislation—Simon Sturgis, an adviser to the Greater London Authority and a chairman of the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) sustainability group, believes that England's capital should follow suit. While de Blasio’s "ban" was in actuality proposed as a check on excessive use of glass and steel, glass is an inherently problematic building material to use in a world facing a climate crisis and rampant carbon emissions. Sturgis told the Guardian that, “If you’re building a greenhouse in a climate emergency, it’s a pretty odd thing to do, to say the least.” The two cities of New York and London are home to iconic skyscrapers like The Shard and the World Trade Center, both considered pinnacles of glass and steel construction, but while their uninterrupted views and the striking skyline aesthetic attract architects and high-profile tenants at the moment, the environmental irresponsibility may soon phase the desirability out.  “Big commercial tenants don’t like standing up in front of their shareholders and saying they’re doing embarrassing things,” said Sturgis. Glass facades have a short life span, only about 40 years, so the impact of their embedded carbon (how much carbon a product will emit over the course of its entire life) is significant, as a building's glazing is nearly impossible to recycle and inevitably necessary to replace. However, the more immediate consequences of these glass facades is a heavy need for air conditioning. The amenity's adverse environmental impacts are well documented—almost 14 percent of total global energy use stems from air conditioning, and the heat captured and retained in building interiors by glass curtain walls is significant, especially in the summer heat.  In the same article, head of sustainability at Mitsubishi Electric, Martin Fahey, stated that rising temperatures across the globe has led to AC equipment needing to work much harder than in the recent past. “Most air conditioning equipment is designed to give an internal temperature between seven-to-ten degrees lower than the ambient temperature,” he said. But when the recent heat waves struck London and New York this summer, cooling from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to a more comfortable 70 took a toll on local electrical grids as well the air conditioners themselves. Broken AC units and their subsequent replacements add to the embedded carbon footprint of our built structures.  Advanced glazing and passive cooling options exist today that can minimize the greenhouse effect of glass, like darkening to let in less light in the warmer months, for example, the double- or triple- glazing systems are still hindered by the short life span and non-recyclability, and often not nearly at the level needed to amend the footprints of commercial emitters. Sturgis warns that “the connection needs to be made between the climate emergency and all-glass buildings. But the connection hasn’t been made yet.”
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Architects sign on for the Global Climate Strike

You may have heard Greta Thunberg’s name in the news recently. She’s the 16-year-old from Stockholm who in August 2018, week after week, stood in front of the Swedish Parliament building with a sign reading “School Strike for Climate.” Today, Greta is joined by thousands and thousands of teenage leaders from around the world who purposely walk out of their classrooms on Fridays to advocate for action against climate breakdown. Her mission for climate justice and to bolster a living planet has inspired countless numbers of people from all generations and geographies. The public outreach initiative, Architects Advocate, is following the lead of Global Climate Strike, a grassroots campaign calling upon the architecture industries’ professional interests and commitments to the building sector. Architects Advocate co-founder Tom Jacobs has pleaded for architects to stand up for the next generation and support the “true leaders of our time.” The pledge form states, “The building sector accounts for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and buildings alone account for 72% of U.S. electricity use. The transition from fossil fuels to a thriving zero-carbon economy isn’t just possible—it’s necessary.” The Global Climate Strike will occur on Friday, September 20, just ahead of a UN emergency climate summit. On this day, inspired by the countless schoolkids leaving the classroom, everyone—sports-stars, actors, architects—are encouraged to disrupt business as usual. Architects Advocate are encouraging widespread industry participation, stating, “we share responsibility for creating healthy and safe communities for all.” To coincide with the global strike, the organization is initiating a mass assemble on September 20 at Chicago’s Federal Plaza, arguably the city’s most popular public square known for a cluster of three austere Mies van der Rohe-designed buildings: the Everett McKinley Dirksen Building, the John C. Kluczynski Building, and the (most beloved) Post Office building. Perched in the middle of Mies’ pitch-black intervention is Alexander Calder’s fiery Flamingo sculpture. Both individuals and firms may pledge to support #StandWithGreta. Below is a list of participating architects and firms at the time of this posting, although the number of Architects Advocate members is much larger. Firms: Krueck + Sexton Architects, blank studio design + architecture, Bright Common, John D. Kelley, Drawing Conclusions LLC, Architecture Is Fun, Inc., Strawn + Sierralta, Jones Studio, Jurassic Studio, DTW Architects + Planners, Kuklinski+Rappe Architects, Atelier Ten, Corporate Architectural Services, Harboe Architects, dSPACE Studio, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, COULSON, Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Lake|Flato Architects, Manypenny Murphy Architecture, Design2 LAST, Peckham Architecture, Sheri Olson Architecture, DIAG Studios, David Fleener Architects, Rykerson Architecture, Paragon Designs, Thomas W Angell Architect, Asakura Robinson, emar Studio for Public Architecture, Cleary Design Studio, Heidrun Hoppe Associates, Elizabeth Herrmann Architecture + Design, Abruna & Musgrave Architects, BCG AE, LightLouver, ArchitecturaLAB, Robin Ashley Architects, Croft Design Collective, Atelier Ten, Landon Bone Baker Architects, beta-field Individuals: Tom Jacobs, Jason Roberts, Hilary Noll, Phoebe Schenker, Holly Lennihan, Melanie De Cola, Alison Musch, Peter Exley, Mia DiMeo, Theron Gabel, Luis Huertas, Raphael Sperry, Pam Crowell, Alima Silverman, Robert Harris, Fumiko Docker, Josephine Jacobs, Cory Rouillard, Alan Scott, Taryn Sabia, Lee Burkart, Dante Amato, Matthew Hardy, Karen Votava, Jennifer Park, Jim Morgan, Maria Bergh, Mark Weitekamper, Scott Rappe, Michael Kloefkorn, Nicole Ellis Semple, David Langdon, Kristin Boyer, Keith Knapp, Joshua Grossman, Xiang Qiang, Beau Rhee, Rory Gilchrist, Yugene Cha, Debbie Slacter, Jennifer Cutbill, Mika Sautet, Brian Kidd, Patrick Danaher, Heather Holdridge, Joe Villanti, Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham, Marcy Giannunzio, Rick McDermott, Christopher May, Laurie Barlow, Angie Klein, Ryan Ornberg Meanwhile, as the Architects' Journal reports, the U.K. Green Building Council and Ben Derbyshire, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), have also pledged their support for the strike.
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Meet Afterparti: The architecture collective that wants to fail better

“The time for failure is now” reads the front cover of Afterparti, printed emphatically in sans-serif, white type on thick, matte black paper. It’s not the only message on the magazine's cover: “Bring the justice of space to people. Build a new political conversation. You are all the agents of change,” reads another, followed by “p22” — the page where such inspiration can be found. Already, Afterparti, a new architecture "zine" hot off the presses, feels like a call to arms.

Afterparti, I should point out, is a collective, not just a publication. In June 2018, the group held a panel discussion at the Royal College of Art in London also titled, “The time for failure is now.” The group's inaugural members comprise Shukri Sultan; Aoi Philips; Tara Okeke; Marwa El Mubark; Thomas Aquilina; Nile Bridgeman; Samson Famusan; Josh Fenton, and Siufan Adey. Together, the collective is striving to further platforms for radical, underrepresented voices, advocating for a culture of collaboration and inclusivity. “We want to fail better,” they state inside their first magazine, which also includes an interview (read: argument) with Royal Institute of British Architects President Ben Derbyshire, survival tips and tunes for BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) architects, and articles from leading BAME industry professionals such as Pooja Agrawal of municipal planning initiative Public Practice and Akile Scafe-Smith of London design firm, Resolve.

AN sat down with Afterparti—who respond in this article as a collective rather than individually, as is the “parti line”—to find out more.

AN: What’s in the name "Afterparti"? AP: Afterparti is in two parts. The term parti is something that we all share in the language of architecture. What does parti mean? A big idea, a conceptual framing device. And so we take the term ‘parti' to connect with our architectural background and inject playfulness — by which we mean accessible, as the events we put on are for everyone. We want people to share their experiences and input on how we can make the city better for everyone. There's an openness to the term, too. We could roll out a series of different interpretations, but hopefully, the kinds of things we write or put on or stage or curate are going to be open-ended and not too closed. We want it to be a conversation that goes beyond the normal sphere of architecture. Ignoring race, it's often just middle-class people talking among themselves.

The term 'Afterparti' also suggests ourselves as a continuation of the New Architectural Writers (N.A.W.) program, as an idea, a platform, to bring together underrepresented voices. 

What is the N.A.W. program? Is that how you all met? N.A.W is a free writing program for black and minority ethnic people interested in writing about design. There was a mass email which asked: Are you under 30, based in London, interested in writing, with a background in architecture and of this minority? You kinda had to do it, it didn't matter how busy you were — that’s how we felt at least. 

Really what we're doing is an extension of this program but at the same time is the idea of events and a zine series. It’s always about extending that conversation as well: the conversation that happens on stage can happen in print and therefore there's an afterlife to any event. 

Why have you chosen to focus on failure? It was definitely a collective decision. Regarding the initial event we held, we wanted to find a theme for the panelists who were going to be on stage for a live debate. We wanted them to speak more openly and personally about ideas and issues that that might not be able to answer through the theme of failure. We challenged them on how they adapt and respond to failure, putting people on the spot, stopping them from giving us a readymade answer. 

In fact, that's a theme within our work. The zine is a very personal product. Whoever's article you read, it's a very personal piece. We put ourselves into it. The N.A.W. program came about because there's not enough of us [minorities who are writing] out there, so we take great pride putting ourselves into our work, in part, because we have a different background to share. We are a disadvantaged generation, there is potential failure at every turn. Failure isn’t just a singular event, it's systemic and we can develop ourselves through it. 

Why a zine instead of more events? The basis of why we came together was because we could all write in a sense and that was a common denominator. Afterparti is a lot more than just writing, everybody is doing different things and we have different skillsets. Events can take a range: we could be curating something, throwing a disco party, or something else, who knows what might come next. The zine, however, is always the reflection of those events. In this case, it builds upon the panel discussion we had at the Royal College of Art.

The zine also a way of opening up our platform to other BAME people within architecture. 

What made you produce your own publication instead of writing for somewhere else? It's not that we disagree with everything that architectural journalism stands for, it's just that we want a different flavor, something that represents us and how we feel about [architecture].

Aside from N.A.W., we've made it our own thing. There's no glossy front cover, no building reviews. This was all a deliberate choice. We were less interested in the aesthetics of single projects — though we don't ignore this by any stretch, we just don't feel as if what we have to stay stems from this. Of course, we do care about aesthetics in general, our magazine is beautiful! However, all of our articles are socially minded and/or politically motivated. It's less about a shallow, pictorial review of architecture. We are nine individuals, as has been said, all with individual takes and perspectives, on architectural practice and education and the myriad of things that entwine all of that and more together. Our approach to creating this written product comes from a place of play as well as a place of process. Plus we've only got so many pages as well, we want to write about the stuff that's important — important, but often overlooked. 

Did you fail along the way? Of course! We tried to have the awareness that we are in the midst of failure, but that's not a new thing.

What’s next for Afterparti? We are going to try to take more opportunities with different groups and not just stay strictly architecture. We want to continue going outside that sphere: being more intersectional and maintaining accessibility.

That's all we can say for now! Whatever the next theme is, it's going to be about holding the relevant people in power to account. It's always going to be a call to action.

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Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model finds a temporary home in London

While the U.K. parliament was voting down their prime minister’s Brexit deal with the E.U., London’s architecture world crowded into the Art Deco Jarvis Hall of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Ignoring the overheated political debacle taking place a mile away, they went there instead to celebrate the homecoming of Níall McLaughlin’s 2018 Venice Biennale model. The event was sold out and the institution’s Facebook page showed individuals begging for tickets as if for a music or sports event. But people did not just come to see this installation that will be on display from January 10 to 28—they came to hear Níall speak to them of architecture, culture, nature, and light. He is a storyteller: the poetics of his language seeping into his architecture and vice versa, infusing each other within a reciprocal process. The "Presences" installation now on display in RIBA’s Florence Hall in a large and beautifully crafted circular table that can rotate. It is devised as a gigantic horizontal sundial and the models of McLaughlin’s buildings sit atop a reflective blue expanse imprinted with constellations of stars. Surrounding this are inscriptions of the yearly rhythms as a calendar of activities that are performed in cyclical repetition within these buildings like a medieval Book of Hours. The sun is simulated from a structure above to which lights are attached and as the visitors crank the massive wooden mechanism, the models that sit on top of what could be read as either an inverted celestial expanse or a dark blue sea, are flooded with the undulating light of a rising and setting sun. The models are all made of blond wood as skeletal abstractions of their different functions and locations: The Garden Theatre in Oxford’s Worcester College and a Song School in Cambridge’s Trinity Hall, a teaching chapel in Ripon College in Cuddesdon, a new castle hall for Bishop Auckland with its watchtower inspired by a wooden bulwark, the Rugby Veterans’ Hall in Limerick, and finally a fish-and-chip shop on the Deal Pier. These designs crisscross the British Isles, representing their cultures in beautiful diversity. What they have in common is that they are all spaces of community and congregation. McLaughlin has treated each with the same sensitivity, learning from the complexities of the individual sites, their people, histories, and geographical idiosyncrasies, not shirking from this challenge but instead drawing inspiration from them. This is site-specific architecture at its best. The problem with exhibitions is that they only last for a short time and then are gone. At the Venice Biennale this model stood in the Arsenale as a temporary spectacle of learning and inspiration. Now back in London we can see it for ourselves for the next few weeks, but what then? Where will this elegiac creature telling through architecture stories about the cycles of civilization and identity finally be allowed to call home?
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Architect Alan Jones named new RIBA President

Northern Irish architect Alan Jones will be the next president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Jones, who is currently RIBA vice-president of education and a senior lecturer at Queen's University Belfast where he runs his own practice, Alan Jones Architects, will take over from incumbent president Ben Derbyshire on September 1, 2019. Winning 52 percent of the vote (2,704 votes), Jones, in running for the title a second time, saw off Elsie Owusu and Philip Allsopp to become the 77th president of RIBA. In his campaign, Jones said he would "put architects first" and would look into holding a referendum on the institution's future.  This year's elections were notable for their controversy, particularly surrounding that of candidate Elsie Owusu. The founding member and the first chair of the Society of Black Architects was sent a "cease and desist" letter from RIBA, asking her to stop making "damaging public statements." The letter came after Owusu questioned the $230,000 salary of RIBA chief executive Alan Vallence at a presidential hustings. Jones, who was present, defended the salary saying that it had been compared to the earnings of CEOs at other charities by the RIBA Board (RIBA is a registered charity in the U.K.). Furthermore, in the build-up to the election, Owusu continued to criticize RIBA, accusing the institution of letting $1.4 million go missing in the project to refurbish its London headquarters at 76 Portland Place. All this as well came after a "death threat" email sent to Owusu in 2016 was leaked to the press in April. The email is believed to be a response to Owusu who said her failed attempt to become vice-president in 2015 was “tantamount to institutionalized racism.” Since coming second in this year's election, Owusu has reiterated her claims on RIBA's finances, calling on Jones to look into the situation. RIBA has denied any wrongdoing, citing that a Charity Commission investigation found no accountancy foul play.   Owusu heads-up her own firm, Elsie Owusu Architects and despite losing out on the presidency, was voted into being a RIBA Council Member this year. Philip Allsop is senior sustainability scientist with the Julie-Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, and is President of RIBA-USA. Alan Jones's statement:
I appreciate respect is not given lightly and must be earned. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Ben Derbyshire and past presidents, people who I have huge respect for. I wish to build on their successes. The RIBA is a fantastic organisation with great resources, particularly its staff who I am keen to support more than ever. As individuals and as an institution, we need to come together to make the most of our assets, and make the case for our profession. We need to gather evidence and realise a more significant role and position in business and society. We must focus more on the pertinent issues that will increase the quality of service we provide and the added value we can bring. We must reduce our overheads and the loss of colleagues and expertise as they leave our profession because of the economics of our situation. Talent is universal and opportunity into and upward through our profession must be too.
Jones will serve as RIBA President until September 2021.
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Foster + Partners leads new path for British architecture apprenticeships

Future British architects may not have to go through the same full-time education as their predecessors. Aspiring architects in the U.K. will now be able to participate in architecture apprenticeships to gain entry into the profession. New standards established by 20 “trailblazer” U.K.-based architecture practices, led by Foster + Partners and developed in conjunction with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), will offer students a new pathway to qualification as an architect. There are two stages: Part I accreditation, to become architectural assistants, followed by Part II and Part III qualifications which are the final stages before becoming an accredited architect. Both standards have also been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships, an executive non-departmental public body. Apprenticeships combine practical experience in the profession alongside academic courses, which can be delivered by any U.K. university offering an Architects Registration Board (ARB) qualification. Those who participate will be exempt from tuition fees and receive a salary. The program is meant to encourage students of different socio-economic backgrounds to enter the profession and is a step forward towards a more socially inclusive architecture profession. “This vital initiative will help us to improve the diversity of our profession, to attract young people to study architecture and provide more accessible routes to qualification and employment opportunities,” said RIBA President Ben Derbyshire. “The new Apprenticeship Standards will help to encourage the widest talent pool and address the underrepresentation of architects from lower socio-economic backgrounds who, without parental support, face barriers to full-time education.” Universities are expected to be ready to deliver courses starting September 2018. The 20 participating architecture groups are:
  • Foster + Partners (Chair)
  • Lipscomb Jones Architects (Architectural Assistant standard sub-lead)
  • Hawkins/Brown (Architect standard sub-lead)
  • Seven Architecture (Architectural Assistant assessment sub-lead)
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (Architectural Assistant assessment sub-lead)
  • Scott Brownrigg (Architect assessment sub-lead)
  • Pollard Thomas Edwards (Architecture Apprenticeships Guide sub-lead)
  • Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
  • ARUP
  • BDP
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • HLM Architects
  • HOK
  • HTA Design LLP
  • Perkins + Will
  • PLP Architecture
  • Purcell
  • Ryder
  • Stanton Williams
  • tp bennett
     
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Sam Jacob presents the power of perspective with a new show at RIBA in London

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.
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Architect Neave Brown, champion of social housing, passes away at 88

Neave Brown, English architect and outspoken proponent of low-rise, high-density public housing, has died at age 88 on January 9th. A New York native, Brown left permanently for London to study at the Architectural Association in the mid-1950’s. Known for his work in concrete, Brown’s open, stepped post-war developments demonstrated that high-quality, mass public housing was possible on the scale of London’s existing Victorian row houses. Brown is the only architect to have all of his UK projects listed, a protected status in which a building may not be demolished, expanded, or altered without express permission from the local planning authority. These projects include Dartmouth Park, the Dunboyne Road Estate, and the Alexandra Road Estate, the 1968 brutalist housing complex for which he is perhaps best known. Despite retiring in 2002, Brown’s work has continued to be recognized. Only two months ago, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded Brown the 2018 Royal Gold Medal, acknowledging his lifetime of achievement in architecture. Advocating for a “social housing” model that emphasized communal living and fostering interaction between neighbors, Brown was vocally opposed to high-rise public estates. With the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and demolition of Robin Hood Gardens fresh in the public’s mind, Brown had been scheduled to host a debate on social housing in February later this year.
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2018 RIBA Royal Gold Medal awarded to Neave Brown, social housing pioneer

Today the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced Neave Brown as the recipient of the 2018 Royal Gold Medal. The medal, approved personally by Queen Elizabeth II, recognizes a lifetime of achievement in the field of architecture, and is considered to be the highest honor an architect can receive in the U.K. Past recipients have included Zaha Hadid, Oscar Niemeyer, Rem Koolhaas, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Upon learning he would receive the lauded prize, Brown remarked, "All my work! I got it just by flying blind, I seem to have been flying all my life." Such a prolific career as Brown's might seem a blur in retrospect, but his achievements are numerous. The New York–born architect, now 88 years old, is best known for his housing complexes in the UK. His most famous structure, the Alexandra Road Estate near London's Abbey Road (completed in 1978), features a Brutalist ziggurat of concrete, tiered apartment buildings obscuring the sound and vibrations of an adjacent railway. The lush grounds of the estate, which contains 520 residential units, are also home to a large park, community center, and school. Another, earlier project at Winscombe Street (completed in 1963), took its inspiration from housing structures by modernists like Le Corbusier as well as traditional London terraces. It is a set of five houses built of concrete and brick with a communal garden attached. In signing on to live there, residents are obliged to sign an agreement Brown himself wrote up: They must participate in the garden's maintenance as well as occasional events hosted at the houses. As Brown wrote in the rules, the garden was meant to be a shared space whose "combination of freedom, community, and privacy is valuable and vulnerable," a social resource he took very seriously as a design element. The houses at Winscombe Street and the Alexandra Road Estate have been listed (landmarked) in the U.K, as well as a third housing project on Fleet Road (also a split-level structure with inward-facing terraces), completed in 1977. This makes Brown the only architect to have all his projects listed in the U.K. Explaining his nomination of Brown for the Royal Gold Medal, architectural historian Mark Swenarton said: "Brown has provided a model of an architecture that is not just outstanding in its form but is thoroughly rooted both in the social relationships that it supports and in the urban tissue that it reinforces." At the ripe age of 73, Brown retired from architectural work to pursue a Bachelors in fine art, a passion he put aside at 20 years old for a career in design. With this medal, the entire architectural world has a reminder of his contributions to the field, and to thinking about social housing writ large.
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In London, a new exhibition speculates on the future of Rome

On view at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London is When in Rome - A Collective Reflection on the Eternal City. The exhibition combines two previous shows, Re-Constructivist Architecture, which was at New York's Ierimonti Gallery, and Unbuilt Rome, which was on view at CAMPO in Rome. Both shows closed earlier this year, but are re-opened together in this show. Curated by Jacopo Costanzo, Giulia Leone and Valentino Danilo Matteis, When in Rome exhibits 22 projects from 19 architecture firms and designers from around the world who have all plunged into Rome's past to reframe an architectural future for the city. As a testament to their united vision, the two previous exhibits' convergence at RIBA allows two strands of speculative approaches to architectural intervention in Rome to be viewed in unison. It becomes evident that fundamentally they speak the same language—be it an abstraction or adaptation of the past or a reaction to it. Fitting in 22 projects is no mean feat. Like Re-constructivist Architecture did at the Ierimonti Gallery, projects fill the three walls. However, RIBA's "Practice Space," where the exhibition is located, does so on a larger scale. The extra space means that models—some of which could not be shown in New York—are afforded more room, though they cannot be viewed in the round. While the exhibits in New York and Rome placed the projects' accompanying texts at eye level, in the RIBA show, sometimes viewers are forced to crouch or craning their necks to read them. Aside from this, the means of conceptual representation in When in Rome sheds light on emerging trends in architectural representation. Collages and similar graphic methods are favored by most, with the projects from Re-constructivist Architecture using classical motifs or settings to engender a sense of identity and historical connection within new Roman architecture. In When in Rome, classical art and architecture is often abstracted to reimagine locales, producing artwork that riffs on this classical frame of reference. This can be seen with the work of Portuguese studio fala atelier, French firm jbmn architects, and False Mirror Office from Italy. Seeing the projects together makes it clear that the two exhibitions this show derives the work from converge well together. Projects such as Supervoid's adaptation of Adalberto Libera's never-realized Augustus Mausoleum and Shrine to the Fallen soldiers in East Africa and La Macchina Studio's Triumphal 17 fit well with the manifesto of Re-constructivist Architecture, despite both originally being for Unbuilt Rome. Despite the similarities between the works and themes in Re-constructivist Architecture and Unbuilt Rome, the projects are displayed separately, but without any markers separating them. The projects from "Unbuilt Rome" are bound together by Jacopo Valentini' photographs of the nine sites that never saw the presented projects constructed. Co-curator Jacopo Costanzo told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that both of the exhibitions used Rome "as a theatre." He believes the array of projects could be seen as a sign of contemporary trends rather than as a unified movement. "The show at RIBA can present a sort of contemporary map of what it's going on in the generation of architects born in the 1980s," Costanzo added, noting that many architecture studios featured in When in Rome are young practices, with many based either in Italy or with experience working in the country.  When in Rome - A Collective Reflection on the Eternal City RIBA Practice Space 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD Through October 8.
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RIBA unveils shortlist for 2017 Stirling Prize

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) announced its shortlist for this year’s best new building. From a photography studio to the British Museum’s latest addition, six buildings will be pitted against one another in their race to claim the top spot of RIBA’s 2017 Stirling Prize.

In its 22nd year, the prize is considered to be Britain’s most prestigious architecture award. The jury considers a range of criteria, including design vision, originality, capacity to stimulate, engagement with occupants and visitors, accessibility, sustainability, and the level of client satisfaction.

“This year’s shortlist typifies everything that is special about U.K. architecture: this is not just a collection of exceptionally well-designed buildings but spaces and places of pure beauty, surprise, and delight,” RIBA President Jane Duncan said in a press release.

The winner will be announced on October 31, 2017.

British Museum World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre Architect: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Structural Engineers: Ramboll M&E Engineers: Arup Acoustic Engineers: Arup Landscape Architects: Gillespies Lighting Design: Arup

Previous winners Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (for Maggie’s Centre London in 2009 and Madrid's Barajas Airport in 2006) will be looking for their third win with their subterranean extension of the British institution, which includes conservation studios and a column-free exhibition hall that's almost 12,000 square feet in size.

City of Glasgow College - City Campus Architect: Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects Structural Engineer: Arup Landscape Architectrank: infraser landscape architecture M&E Engineer: FES with Hulley and Kirkwood Acoustics: ARUP Acoustics Interiors Graven Signage: Studio LR

Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects were shortlisted last year for the City of Glasgow College’s Riverside Campus. This year, their latest addition to the university is in the spotlight for both its immense scale and its restraint in material and form.

Hastings Pier Architect: dRMM Architects Structural Engineer: Ramboll UK Environmental / M&E Engineer: Ramboll UK Marine Engineers: Ramboll UK

Hasting’s newest seaside pier by firm dRMM Architects (who have been shortlisted twice before) is a revitalization success story of a decrepit pier turned into a vibrant public space through collaboration between community, engineers, and architects.

Command of the Oceans Architect: Baynes and Mitchell Architects M&E Engineer: Skelly & Couch Experiential Designer: Land Design Studio Structural & Civil Engineers: Price & Myers Lighting Design Studio: ZNA

Command of the Oceans is a redevelopment of the Chatham Historic Dockyard in Chatham, England. The transformation of a group of shipbuilding sheds into a new visitor attraction is bound together by a new, striking visitor hall entrance.

Barrett’s Grove Architect: Groupwork + Amin Taha Structural Engineers: Webb Yates Engineers M&E Engineers: Syntegra

A residential project, Barrett’s Grove features six apartments with wicker basket balconies that jut out onto the street. The building is built with timber and wrapped in perforated brick.

Photography Studio for Juergen Teller Architect: 6a architects Landscape Architects: Dan Pearson Studio Structural Engineers: Price & Myers M&E Engineers: Max Fordham LLP

The smallest project out of them all is by 6a architects, who exploited the narrow plot of land to create a sequence of three volumes for a flexible workspace. Light is brought in with interspersed courtyard gardens.

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The hidden story behind Mies van der Rohe's unbuilt London skyscraper

A unique exhibition opened last week at the RIBA in London that compares schemes from two of the most iconic architects of the 20th Century: Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling.

The exhibition, titled Mies van der Rohe & James Stirling: Circling the Square, takes a look at the unrealized Mansion House Square proposal by the former that was succeeded 20 years later by James Stirling's newly listed No. 1 Poultry scheme. Sited in central London, Mies's modernist proposal (a stylistic antonym of what was actually erected) drew ire from the public and monarchy, though the story, up until now, has likely been a mystery to those not old enough to know of its existence.

The exhibition is the first time the public has been able to compare and contrast the two architects’ responses to a tricky site. The curators of the exhibition—Marie Bak Mortensen, head of exhibitions and Vicky Wilson, assistant curator, RIBA—have spent the last two-and-half years researching and sourcing a vast collection of photography, drawings, models, articles, and artifacts. Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper, they said their motivation behind the exhibition was to "dig behind the official story," fraught with controversy and public opinion, to expose the architecture beneath.

Mortensen and Wilson, the original designers of the RIBA architecture gallery, have returned to design an exhibition consisting of steel, stained wood, and floating tables. A 1:96 scale model of the Mansion House scheme dominates the exhibition, which was used as a marketing tool to impress the public ten years after the passing of Mies himself. The highly detailed model of a proposal which was once dubbed a "glass stump" by Prince Charles, has been restored back its former glory. 

During its ascension into the public mainframe, the focal point of opposition to the scheme did not pertain to the scale of the 18 story tower of glass and bronze, but rather the vast public space proposed beneath and around. It is a public space which would be cherished today, yet in the 1960s it was seen as space which could incite unrest—a notion particularly toxic amid the wave of IRA terrorism in the UK. Circling the Square tells the story of the tumultuous 40-year journey of the site, culminating in the completion of No. 1 Poultry which went up in 1997, five years after Stirling's death. 

Mies van der Rohe & James Stirling: Circling the Square runs through June 25 and is on show at The Architecture Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London.