Zaha Hadid Architects’ (ZHA) Vauxhall Cross Island towers in London will face a public planning inquiry related to ongoing criticism over the building’s height and location. Architect’s Journal reported that though the design was granted approval in May, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, & Local Government is set to investigate how the proposal affects the surrounding community. Comprised of two slender towers—53 and 42 stories in height respectively—and linked by an 11-story base, the mixed-use residential structure is projected to bring 257 apartments, 618 hotel rooms, seven floors of offices, and ground-level retail space to the South London district of Vauxhall. A largely residential and industrial neighborhood, Vauxhall is defined by its accessibility to central London and proximity to a large rail line that services the whole city. ZHA's plan is set to make the massive skyscraper the new "district center" of the community, complete with a public plaza. Britain's housing secretary James Brokenshire has asked the local Lambeth Council to review how ZHA's proposal conforms to the rules set by the National Policy Planning Framework, which ensures "the vitality of town enters; building a strong, competitive economy; and conserving and enhancing the historic environment," according to Architects' Journal. The design would be significantly taller than the previously approved project at the site, which rose to 41 stories, while also surpassing the approximately 500-foot height limit for the area. Additionally, it would contain only 23 units for middle-income-level renters, requiring the firm to pay about $40 million towards affordable housing in the area. Despite the fact that the studio has called it a “breakthrough project"—it would be ZHA's first mixed-use residential and commercial building, the community has been reeling since the scheme was first submitted for approval in December 2017. The building would also cause the demolition of the Vauxhall bus station built by ARUP in 2005, as well as reroute traffic, causing critics to fear increased congestion. The designers of the replacement transportation hub, 5th Studio, see the overhaul as an opportunity to improve mobility and public space in Vauxhall. “The project is catalyzed by the replacement of the road gyratory which dominates the area, established by transport engineers in the 1970s, with a two-way road arrangement which provides dedicated space for cyclists and improved road crossings," the studio said on their website, "The project integrates this more urban approach to road planning with the demands of a busy London interchange, which includes buses, rail, riverboat, and underground services."
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Designing for friends has its advantages. More trusting than an anonymous client, a friend will often let you get away with a lot when it comes to pushing creative boundaries. This was the case when Sean Griffiths started work on the Hearn Hill House in South London. Griffiths, head of London-based Modern Architect, and once a member of the now-disbanded FAT, has been taking such opportunities to work out what exactly it means to run a post-FAT firm—experimenting with color, geometry, materials, and illusion. Despite its limited scope—a small ground-floor kitchen expansion—the project immediately faced strict building restrictions due to its location in a conservation area. The area’s restrictive code prevented the addition from wrapping around the rear to the side of the building, but did allow for extensions out from both faces separately. Rather than fighting this condition, Griffiths opted to take the code quite literally and make two glazed extensions, achieving needed natural lighting, maximizing floor space, and exploring some spatial ideas. “With this project I was aiming at a kind of realism. That partly has to do with the way planning constraints shape a project like this; there are certain structural issues and a sense of materiality,” explained Griffiths. “So in the first instance, the plan is almost completely (and absurdly) determined by planning rules. This led to structural and spatial issues that resulted in the odd placement of the column (which also made it interesting) and the use of mirrors to resolve the spatial problems in the largely predetermined plan.” In order to rationalize the kitchen’s new, slightly awkward footprint, Griffiths deployed a number material and graphic techniques. Drawing on a time-honored trick, two floor-to-ceiling mirrors double the perceived size and brightness of the room. The mirrors also produce a visual symmetry, negating the effect of the code-determined floor plan. Columns in the space are pebble-dashed, a nod to Brutalism, as well as the facade of next-door neighbor’s home, visible from the space. “The client wanted something Brutalist, but we couldn’t afford that so we pebble-dashed the column. In the UK this is thought of as a tacky finish that poor people with no taste apply to their houses and that middle-class people spend a lot of money on having removed when they buy houses covered in it.” With limited budget and space, color and pattern would have a significant impact on the project. Undeniably, the most striking feature of the room are two large designs painted on the floor, wall, and ceiling. Continuing the geometric motif of the columns, these graphics produce a forced perspective, which once again challenges the shape and size of the room. Distorted from all but one angle, when the viewer is properly positioned the shapes snap into perspectival alignment, appearing to be 3-D. For color, a rich green and a series of grays were pulled from Andreas Gursky’s photograph Rhein II, which is one of the most expensive photographs ever sold, and a favorite of the clients. With the Hearn Hill House addition, Griffiths takes the project’s challenges, legal limits, and limited budget, and turns them to his advantage. A play on representation and reality, flatness and form, the space realizes ideas far beyond its humble programming.
On the surface, Clapham South is your standard Northern Line tube station, complete with art deco decorum to boot. Situated in South London in what was once a gritty part of the capital, but now a typically gentrified area, there are more than just tube tunnels that run below the ground. One hundred twenty feet and approximately 178 steps down, one can now find the place where many South Londoner's took refuge during World War II. The tunnels at Clapham, now open to the public for the first time, once catered for over 8,000 people. After a public protest for more deep level shelter protection, tunnels were dug by hand such was the desperation of the local population. As Londoners clamoured for beds, air raid tickets were issued with strict guidance on what shelter to go to and even what bed to use. After lying dormant for 70 years, the tunnels and beds left untouched have been reopened. The original signs remain and thanks to a few tactful inceptions courtesy of Transport for London (TfL) and The London Transport Museum, the tunnels offer an immersive view into the life of a Londoner during war time. TfL say that they hope the tunnels will also be a useful stream for revenue. After the war, the tunnels remained in use, acting as temporary homes for immigrants invited to Britain from the West Indies. Most of the beds were used by Jamaicans who had travelled across on the Empire Windrush in 1948. Clapham South wasn't the only station used for refuge. In fact many tube stations doubled up as shelters during the war. At the other end of the Northern Line, American talk show host Jerry Springer was born at Highgate tube station as his mother took shelter during an air raid in 1944.
In the southwest London borough of Kingston upon Thames, police officers were left giggling at the sight of walking traffic cones early last Sunday morning. The police file even read: "Males dressed as traffic cones, blocking the street like traffic cones." However, the Evening Standard has revealed that the act isn't just a drunken parade, rather a protest against Über car service. At 4:33a.m., Kingston police were called to investigate the peculiar sighting: five men in costume blocking a road. These are standard Saturday night antics in the hipster-ridden suburbs of London, however, what was odd was that the men were dressed up as traffic cones. It was Halloween, after all. Even more surprising is that the stunt wasn't even in the name of the "banter" (a timid excuse used by drunk Brits to do stupid, often distruptive things). Instead, it was a protest against the Über car service whose history of traffic-cone incidents is unknown. A vast array of traffic-cone outfits can, of course, be found on eBay. "They were just standing in front of the taxi and the bus not letting them get past and taking pictures of themselves," witness Dan Theocari said, speaking to the Evening Standard. "I didn't actually see the police, I was waiting for a taxi but I saw it and it made me laugh." https://twitter.com/MPSKingston/status/660751970907594752?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw Police have since described the incident as "very interesting." This isn't the first time such a stunt in the UK has happened. This Halloween, men dressed in similar traffic attire caused commotion on the streets of Glasgow in Scotland, a video of which can be seen below.
The now "Brand New" Covent Garden Market (once renamed as "New Covent Garden Market" in 1974) is now wrapping up its redesign. Starting in 1835, the market was the cultural heart of London up until the mid-20th century and has been a lively center of trade throughout its whole life. Now the market specializes in the trade of flowers and food, notably fruit and vegetables. London-based Neil Tomlinson Architects, the practice behind the project working in tandem with BDP and Vinci construction aim for completion to be around 2022 which is year that has been currently set for the flower trader unit to move in, though other units may be able to set up as early as 2016. The market is just a stones throw away from where the new U.S. Embassy is set to be constructed, also in the Nine Elms area. Maintaining an urban setting for the market was a crucial aspect to the practice who already have experience in extensive retail masterplanning. In 2008, Neil Tomlinson Architects prepared a masterplan for the Aviation Business Park at Wolverhampton Airport as well as other UK aviation facilities in Blackpool and Milton Keynes. Work outside the UK includes the Biella and Parma Airports in Italy. Housing around 200 businesses, the 'Brand New' market will be a source of employment for over 2,500 people, supplying over three quarters of London's florists. This isn't the main concern for Neil Tomlinson. For the firm, improving the technical aspect of the project is key to its success with trade on such a large scale having the potential to be a logistical nightmare. Due to early morning trading hours (fruit and vegetables trade from midnight to 6:00 a.m. and the flower market's core trading hours are 4:00 to 10:00 a.m. Monday to Saturday) the market will work with the development of the Northern Line underground network. Both Nine Elms and Battersea (a terminus) are planned new stations and should run 24 hours-a-day, despite this plan being met with hostility my current underground staff. "Our team has focussed on the design for the main market area south of the viaduct," Neil Tomlinson said said in a statement. "This includes a fresh produce wholesale and distributor market. We also proposed The Garden Heart component of the project which gives New Covent Garden Market a public face and identity with its cafes and potential for start-up spaces and facilities for training." "Our rigorous approach to the design was a driver in the concept, going deeply into the very component parts of the market design and its relationship to the surrounding residential areas," Tomlinson said in a statement. "This approach exemplifies how we look at projects in general be they large or small like some of the domestic schemes we have enjoyed working on over the years."