Posts tagged with "United Kingdom":

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UK housing chair blasts modernism amid ire over alleged extremist views

Conservative intellectual and chair of the UK’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission, Sir Roger Scruton, has come out swinging against modernism. The commission’s goal is to provide housing policy recommendations that further the beautification of new developments and foster a sense of community. The controversial scholar, who has faced calls to resign over his views on race, date rape, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and more, derided modernism as destroying the urban fabric in a speech before London’s right-leaning Policy Exchange think tank. As Scruton delivered the inaugural Colin Amery Memorial Lecture on November 14, he railed against Norman Foster, Mies van der Rohe, and what Scruton described as a “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) backlash that precluded the building of new housing in dense urban areas. Calling the housing crisis an aesthetic issue, not an economic one, Scruton posited that “the degradation of our cities is the result of a modernist vernacular, whose principal device is the stack of horizontal layers, with jutting and obtrusive corners, built without consideration for the street, without a coherent facade, and without intelligible relation to its neighbors.” Scruton claims that as opponents of these non-contextual housing projects force their relocation to the outer edge of the city, it encourages an increasing amount of “void and sprawl.” The commission chair also got in his hits against the International Style Seagram Building, calling it and all of its imitators “lamentable.” Of the Foster-designed City Hall in London, he described it as an “alien object” at the center of a “growing moral void” that intentionally excluded human-scale interaction. Modernist vernacular in general, according to Scruton, is inherently inferior to the pre-modernist style of weaving together seamless street walls with heavy ornamentation, in particular those in Victorian and Georgian styles, a refrain also gathering in popularity among white ethno-nationalists. Scruton used the speech as a chance to dismiss his critics, saying that his work at the commission had been “interrupted by the half-educated having their say first.” He may have been referencing calls from architects and Labour MPs to resign over a long history of divisive comments. In a 2001 article for New York’s conservative City Journal magazine, Scruton claimed that being gay was just as bad as smoking and knocked 10 years off of the lives of LGBTQ individuals. Just this past April, Scruton suggested that one of the 9/11 hijackers, who had studied architecture in Hamburg, was “taking revenge on an architectural practice which had been introduced into the Middle East by Le Corbusier.” Scruton’s comments on Jews in Hungary forming a “[George] Soros empire” to undermine the country’s national sovereignty, and his close ties to Hungary’s Prime Minister and hardliner Viktor Orbán, have also drawn international scrutiny. Scruton, for his part, has brushed off these criticisms as wholly unfounded and a distraction from the important work he was hired to do.
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Limestone load-bearing exoskeleton spawns outrage in London

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In a time when stone is primarily used in facades as screen walls or purely decorative cladding, London’s 15 Clerkenwell Close by Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects (ATA) brings structure to the fore with a load-bearing masonry exoskeleton. Since construction in November 2017, the mixed-use development, which is the home of Taha and his practice, has proved contentious between critics and local authorities. While the firm was awarded the 2017 RIBA Award, the Islington Council has ordered the architect to demolish the structure for a perceived incongruity with the surrounding historical context—albeit a significant portion of Islington's architectural stock was built in the mid-20th century with half brick facades—a major complaint being the rustic quality of the limestone slabs.
  • Facade Manufacturer & Installer Stonemasonry Company Ltd, Ace Sheet Metal Ltd, Glasstec Ltd
  • Architects Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects
  • Facade Consultants Webb Yates Engineers Ltd
  • Location London, United Kingdom
  • Date of Completion November 2017
  • System Concrete floor slabs fastened to load-bearing masonry with unitized glass-and-wood curtain wall
  • Products Limestone blocks, double glazing bonded through nylon thermal isolators to bronze finished metal curtain wall system
To source the limestone facade, ATA went across the English Channel to a quarry outside of Lyons-la-Forêt in Northern France. According to Project Architect Dominic Kacinskas, "the region is noted for its continued use of strength certificates with a generations-old workforce well trained in extracting stone and splitting it accordingly." In contrast to historic and contemporary stone construction that is polished, chiseled, or hammered into a relatively smooth surface, the project’s columns and lintels are left in their semi-unfinished state. Striped indentations formed from the splitting process and fossilized remains track across the facade along with the smooth faces of bedding planes. Columns and lintels, all roughly measuring 10 feet by 1.5 feet by 1.5 feet, are stacked atop each other in a six-story square grid. Each block is bonded to the next with just under an inch of mortar and gravitational force. In total, the limestone exoskeleton weighs just under 250 tons. The reinforced concrete floor slabs, measuring nearly eight inches thick, are embedded with a series of steel plate casts that are bolted to external metal bosses through thermal isolator nylon plates. The metal bosses are in turn grouted into a system of galvanized steel I-beams placed at the meeting point of horizontal and vertical stone elements. Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects were able to execute a continuous bespoke curtain wall inches behind the load-bearing masonry effectively disengaged from the structure through the use of pinpointed metal fastenings. Window openings, composed of double-glazed units with metal brass finished frames, follow the equal subdivision of the exterior's stone structural grid. The design team placed solid oak timber panels where outward views are not permitted by the columns, which are grafted atop a solid oak sub-frame. Along the side elevations of 15 Clerkenwell Close, the design team elected to keep intact the original red brick party walls abutting adjacent structures. This decision is most apparent on the northwest elevation where a new grid of limestone, and infill grey brick, is cut into the party wall to support the insertion of new floor and roof slabs. Why the controversy? The Islington Council contends that Groupwork + Amin Taha Architects did not accurately display the finish of each stone component of the facade. According to the firm, the rough finish of the limestone, formed by millions of years of fossilized marine organisms, quartz pockets, and other sedimentary products, "is only discoverable weeks before installation on site as the stonemasons sub-divide the extracted stone into sizes set by the structural engineer." An appeal against the motion of demolition will occur in April 2019.
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British artist unzips a derelict office in southeast England

In the southeast of England, a derelict building appears to be falling apart in the most unusual way: It's getting unzipped. This piece of architectural trickery is the work of British sculptor Alex Chinneck who this month unveiled his latest installation, Open to the Public. Comprising an oversized double zip, Open to the Public looks as if it is peeling away the walls of a 1960s office building in Ashford, Kent. Running 26 feet along the walls of the building, the zip reveals a dilapidated and abandoned interior. The building is due to be demolished, something that gave Chinneck "huge creative freedom and a license for ambition." Although the project took two months, the artwork appeared in zippy fashion, going up overnight. How the piece is made is not entirely clear. The Architect's Newspaper asked Chinneck what the work was made from, however, the artist was coy about his methods. "How the work is created is part of the magic, and I prefer not to spoil the illusion. All I will say is that we started by casting the facade of the building," he said. The surreal artwork is typical of Chinneck who has bemused passers-by in London and Kent before. In the past five years, he has slid the brick facade off a three-story property in Margate, constructed a full-size melting house from 7,500 wax bricks on London Bridge, 'floated' a stone building above London's Covent Garden plaza, and inverted an electricity pylon to stand on its tip. Chinneck said that he had wanted to "unzip a building for some time." He went on:
It had to be the right one, with the right set of circumstances. It’s often the case that the idea is there, in sketch form in my mind, waiting to be fully realized. It can take years for those ideas to find a home, and there are hundreds more still waiting. In this case, the site was originally a tannery and wool processing factory so there is a historical association with textiles. I like the fact that the building is so archetypal. I had school lessons in a building just like it and that sense of familiarity is one of the things that I like to subvert. I think we’ve all got a relationship with a building like this, somewhere in our past, so that imbues the work with personal meaning. Its position, right by the road, close to the post office, the council offices, the probation center and the leisure center means that people of all ages and from all walks of life will see it.

According to the artist, Open to the Public will remain 'open' until the end of August, "at least."

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New Architecture Writers program raises underrepresented voices

New Architecture Writers (NAW), a London-based program for emerging journalists and curators, was established last year to produce new critical voices within the industry. Dedicated to enhancing the skills of black and minority ethnic (BAME) writers and diversifying the field of design journalism, it’s helped educate its inaugural members through a year-long series of free evening workshops, talks, assignments, and one-on-one mentoring. As NAW reaches the end of its first year in October, The Architect’s Newspaper spoke with founder Phineas Harper on the lessons the members have learned so far, what’s next for the program, and why there’s a newfound sense of urgency to build a more equitable profession within architecture writing. The Architect's Newspaper: Can you reflect on a few key learnings NAW members have been exposed to?  Phineas Harper: The program has packed a lot into a fairly small time. It’s been a crash course in various forms of architectural writing from straight-up journalism to interview technique and writing opinion columns. There is no single way to write, but through testing out some basic principles and practice we’re hoping to build up the skills of all the NAW members. What have you personally learned from creating this program? A key lesson that I’ve learned through the project is that the industry of architectural writing is far from a meritocracy. It’s a cliche but it’s true—in this world, who you know counts for more than what you know. When we’re talking about widening access to architecture or design journalism, we need to frankly acknowledge the reality that personal networks count for a lot, and work within that reality rather than pretending we are capable of being truly meritocratic. NAW, therefore, is not just about expanding the skills of our members but expanding their constellation of connections. How are you approaching the second year now that the first year is nearly complete? NAW is currently possible because of the generosity of some key partners and the incredible contribution of all our workshop leaders, lecturers, and tutors. The course is free to attend but obviously requires a great deal of time, energy, and space to run. I’m actively seeking ways to make the course self-sustaining such as grants, sponsorship, and patrons. We hope there will be future years that will build on the successes of year one and take the program to another level in year two, but to make that dream a reality we need architects and editors to step-up and help us. Why do you think it’s important to help educate minority writers in design and architecture? Design writing in the U.K. has made some awesome strides in recent decades. It is highly diverse in its mix of straight and LGBT writers and until recently almost all the editors of the major architecture magazines were women. Yet, like many professions, design writing in the U.K. remains largely white with very few critics, graphic designers, editors, publishers, or journalists from BAME backgrounds. Systemic racism in the distribution of wealth, education, and opportunities inhibits new voices from a wider variety of backgrounds breaking through and depletes architectural publishing in the process with a knock-on impact on the culture of architecture itself. Addressing this situation is not a question of just ticking boxes to hit quotas. The question of diversity is a means, rather than an end. Currently, we are cutting out a huge proportion of the population from contributing to architectural discourse and in doing so locking out critical perspectives. It is not simply about who has access to platforms, but how those platforms will fundamentally change once they are no longer controlled by a self-selecting elite. To learn more about the New Architecture Writers program, apply, volunteer as an editor or teacher, email Phineas Harper at admin@newarchitecturewriters.org.  
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Charles Holland lands a 30-foot-tall parrot building in U.K.’s Fountains Abbey

A one-eyed spy bird doesn't exactly sound like a child-friendly installation, but that's exactly what Polly is. Designed by British firm Charles Holland Architects (CHA) for the National Trust as part of  Folly! 2018, Polly is a colorful, parrot-like addition to the Studley Royal Water Gardens at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. To those outside the U.K., the idea of parrots and other exotic birds populating Britain’s parks may sound farcical. However, during the age of Empire, many foreign imports flew in (or rather, were shipped in) to landscape parks across the country to demonstrate Imperial prowess. "In a less cuddly way, it addresses the issues of power, territory and wealth that underpin them," said Charles Holland, founder of CHA, speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN).  Some birds, namely Parakeets, have become a pest since coming over, but Polly is no such nuisance. Standing 30 feet tall and dressed in rounded timber shingles, the steel-framed folly is topped with a camera obscura capable of rotating 360 degrees. This is operated by a wheel at ground level, and vistas of the park looking across the River Skell are projected down onto a white disc inside. The back of the folly has a cantilevered tail and a double rubber curtain forms the entrance while the rest of Polly's perimeter sports mirrored trim at the base. As much Polly is a device for seeing, with its singular lens a nod to the ancient Greek cyclops Polyphemus, Polly is also meant to be looked at. Resting at the apex of Tent Hill, Polly occupies a spot that many visitors to the park will visually encounter. Across the River Skell, which bends round and almost encircles Tent Hill, is a location known as The Surprise View. This spot dates back to the 18th Century when John Aislabie, creator of the Studley Royal Water Gardens, constructed a view of the ruinous Fountain Abbey. Frustrated by his inability to purchase the abbey, Aislabie instead decided to own a view of it. "[Polly] playfully interacts with the whole mechanics of viewing within the garden," Holland told AN. "I wanted to maintain that set of relationships." Move over Cistercian abbey, now Polly has center stage. Holland also explained how the folly drew from previous ephemeral structures that once inhabited the site, such as a tent which once hosted parties and which CHA's folly exhibits the angular forms of. Polly is also light on its feet, a requirement demanded due to the archaeological remains of a temple below, thus meaning the folly has a wide, shallow foundation. Furthermore, the architect also cited the 18th century painting Parrots and a Lizard in a Picturesque Garden by Jakab Bogdany, as well as a frieze featuring parrots in foliage, the latter found at William Burges’ St. Mary’s Church in the Studley Royal grounds. Polly will be installed at Fountains Abbey until November 4, 2018. There it is joined by The Gazing Ball from French artists Lucy and Jorge Orta, and The Cloud by Foster Carter, an 11-year-old schoolboy who won a competition for Folly! 2018.
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Ian Ritchie advocates for subtlety and organic geometries in glass architecture

On April 19, for the afternoon keynote of The Architects Newspapers Facades+ conference in New York, architect Ian Ritchie discussed his decades-long involvement in forward-looking glass architecture. Beginning with the tongue-in-cheek statement, “Glass is the answer; what was the question? the British architect detailed the technological specifications and design considerations behind his projects. Ranging in size from personal residences to convention centers, the projects convey his expertise with manufactured materials.

As head of his own practice, Ian Ritchie Architects, Ritchie’s process is influenced by a range of fields, from neuroscience to poetry.

Ritchie began with one of his earliest projects, the self-constructed Fluy House (1976). Composed of a prefabricated set of materials, including a lightweight steel frame and pre-cast concrete floor slabs, Ritchie described his early curtain wall as glass acting as a windbreaker, a thin protective barrier between shelter and the sites surrounding countryside.

Ritchie also described projects he worked on as a founding partner of the engineering firm, RFR Engineers. For example, he talked about unique projects such as engineering I.M Peis Louvre Pyramids, which entailed the creation of a full-scale Kevlar mockup and the use of "phantom fixing to insure the transparency of the glass structures final design.

Next, in talking about the design of Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Arts circulation towers and the Messe-Leipzig Glass Hall, Ritchie described how unique engineering devices such as externally suspended and grid-worked glass panels bring the tectonics of design and engineering into public view while creating open and accessible spaces.

In line with his firm’s straightforward forms, Ritchie was critical of the contemporary trend of hyper-engineered glass facades with multiple curves and contortions, asking, "Is architecture intelligence or indulgence?" Instead, he emphasized the natural, biological forms that influence his creative process and, ultimately, his firms output.

Ritchies drive to bridge the highly technical, manufactured character of glass with natural objects and processes was also highlighted by his presentation of the firms recently completed, 150,000-square-foot Sainsbury Wellcome Center.

Located in Londons Fitzrovia, a central city district surrounded by architectural conservation areas predominantly comprised of Georgian architecture, Ritchie saw the Sainsbury Wellcome Center as a melting ice block spilling into the surrounding neighborhood." To fulfill this analogy, the firm opted for translucent cast glass with vertical, corduroy-like detailing that imitated the stone rustication and brick-and-mortar facades of the surrounding area.

Ritchie concluded with a call for architects to recognize that current glass design and architecture may be surpassing contemporary engineering capabilities. In his view, too many architects are acting as sculptors, an approach that will fail to make glass warm and haptically friendly to the public.

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Christo reveals his first major British work, to float on Serpentine Lake

On April 3, the world-renowned artist Christo began construction of his first major public work in the United Kingdom, The Mastaba. The stand-alone, pyramidal sculpture composed of 55-gallon oil barrels will be located in London’s Hyde Park, floating atop the park’s 40-acre Serpentine Lake. The temporary sculpture will be built by a team of engineers, and will consist of over 7,000 barrels placed over a floating platform. Rising at a 60-degree angle, the structure will reach a height of 65.5 feet with a 90-foot width at its base. The base’s floating platform will be constructed of weighted, high-density polyethylene cubes. These buoyant cubes will support a steel scaffolding frame serving as the structural core of the 500-ton sculpture. In terms of surface area, the footprint of the sculpture will be approximately one percent of the Serpentine. Barrels visible along the slopes and top of sculpture will be painted red and white, while those located on the two vertical walls will be a gradient of mauve, blue, and red. Following the project's decommissioning, materials such as the oil barrels will be recycled for industrial use within the United Kingdom. The project is influenced by Christo's decades-long effort to create The Mastaba in Dubai, a speculative concept utilizing 190,000 oil barrels to create the largest, permanent structure in the world. In a press release, Christo noted that the construction, maintenance and removal of his works is entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his original works of art, as well as philanthropic donations. In tandem with Christo’s unveiling of The Mastaba, the nearby Serpentine Galleries will present its first exhibition of Christo’s decades-long collaboration with his late wife, Jean-Claude. The artistic duo was known for their large-scale and public works. Past pieces such as Wall of Iron Barrels (1961) and The Wall (1998) similarly used oil barrels for massively scaled sculptures. Public parks and natural landscapes figured prominently in their partnership, with Running Fence (1976) and The Gates (2005) contrasting and drawing upon their surrounding environments. Weather permitting, construction of the sculpture will be complete by June 18, with dismantlement commencing on September 23.
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Grenfell Tower site is entrusted to victims for a memorial

The United Kingdom has announced that it will be turning over the future of the Grenfell Tower site in West London over to victims and families of those affected by the devastating fire in June of last year that ultimately claimed 72 lives. In a statement released this morning, the UK’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government outlined a set of principles for guiding decision-making at the site with those affected given majority control–it’s presumed that the site will be razed and become a memorial moving forwards. The agreement was jointly forged and signed by the government, the survivors, and the local Kensington and Chelsea council. While the burned-out remnants of the council-owned tower block are still standing, it’s expected that the gutted remains will be torn down at the end of 2018 following an in-depth forensic analysis. In a scathing interim report, Dame Judith Hackitt, part of a group evaluating the government’s failure in preventing the fire, placed the blame on cost cutting and the negligence of the regulatory system. It isn’t the first charge levied against the government for being complicit in the Grenfell disaster, and a debate on public housing has been roiling Britain since last summer. Public officials are hoping that handing over the fate of Grenfell Tower to the community will alleviate some of the blowback and have stressed that this agreement is meant to bring closure to the affected. The local Latimer Road Tube station may also be renamed to Grenfell at some point in the future. “Since day one of my leadership I have been clear,” said the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, Elizabeth Campbell. “The council will listen every step of the way to the survivors, the bereaved, and the wider community and assist in any way it can to ensure that a lasting memorial is put in place.” The full text of the principles can be found here. It’s uncertain whether the move will assuage anger at the government over the Grenfell fire, as the investigation has seemingly stalled out in recent months. It may also do little to combat claims that the flammable cladding was installed to improve views of the tower from the wealthier communities nearby.
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Restoration of Glasgow’s famed Mackintosh Building is well underway

In 2014, a fire sparked by a student project ripped through the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building, ascending through the structure’s vertical shafts and voids, to devastate significant portions of the interior. Design team lead for the restoration of the Mackintosh Building is the Glasgow-based firm Page\Park Architects, who are at the forefront of architectural conservation in the United Kingdom. Completed in 1909, the Glasgow School of Art was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in his distinctive Arts and Crafts style, adorned with idiosyncratic detailing and complex arrangements of materials. The Mackintosh Building was built in two phases; the eastern section was opened in 1899 while the western section was completed a decade later. According to Liz Davidson, the GSA Senior Project Manager of the Mackintosh Building Restoration, “Just over 50 percent of the structure remained relatively unscathed during the blaze, 30 percent was subject to damage stemming from the dual effects of intense heat and billowing smoke, and nearly 20 percent was utterly destroyed.” The latter category largely impacted the top floors of the building, which are home to the library, a gallery, and the upper loggia. The process of restoration requires the study and evaluation of archival records and surviving materials as well as the sourcing of original materials. It also requires knowledge of traditional craftsmanship, a process Iain King, Depute of Conservation at Page\Park Architects, describes as “bringing craft back into the building.” This effectively reintroduces a forgotten level of craftsmanship to Scotland’s building industry. The restoration process is also a transcontinental enterprise. The restoration of Studio 58, a Japanese-inspired gallery located on the top floor of the Glasgow School of Art, required century-old American yellow pine for its columns. Although yellow pine can be sourced across Europe and the United States, the century-old pine is superior in its structural strength and finish, and thus needed to be sourced from a pre-existing stockpile or building. In a twist of fate, the Massachusetts Cotton Mills Complex of Lowell, Massachusetts, which was partially demolished in 2016, had American yellow pine of the size and quality required. Eight 23-foot-long beams made the journey to Scotland in a shipping container and were craned above the roof of the structure. The library of the Mackintosh Building was perhaps the culmination of the architect’s design ethos. Built of rich tulipwood, the room rose the full height of the projecting oriels punctuating the Western elevation, divided into an upper and lower gallery. The ongoing replication of the library involved the construction of a full-sized library prototype replete with tulipwood sourced from the United States, and decorated with Mackintosh’s distinctive pendants and scallops. Through the analysis of the library’s charred remnants, the design team was able to unlock information regarding the joinery of the woodwork, allowing for the replication of assembly, nailing and detailing. The restoration of the Mackintosh building is expected to finish in spring 2019, with students returning back to the building in the autumn. For over a century, the building shaped and was shaped by generations of students. With this reciprocal relationship in mind, Iain King acknowledged that this authenticity cannot be restored to the building, but it can be reconstructed along the lines of the original design, "allowing future students to have their own memory of the building.”
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Report slams British regulatory system overseeing Grenfell

Since the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, the United Kingdom is attempting to come to terms with a ubiquitous feature of its urban landscape, the council-owned tower block. Built in 1974, the Grenfell Tower had recently-installed cladding meant to insulate the decades-old structure. Instead, the renovation served as an accelerant, leaping over the concrete floor plates that should effectively seal potential fires. The severity of the conflagration within a council-owned tower housing some of society’s most vulnerable raises the question of whether the British regulatory environment and construction industry facilitated such a tragedy. The Guardian reports that the ‘Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety,’ has lodged a searing indictment of Britain’s construction industry and governmental regulation of high-rises. Authored by Dame Judith Hackitt, the report describes the practices that led to the Grenfell Tower fire as being caused by a “mindset of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility,” and the use of third-party inspections that are “open to abuse given the potential conflicts of interests, with growing levels of mutual dependence between developers and contracted inspectors.” In short, the regulatory organs tasked with insuring building safety are increasingly in collusion with the property interests they are meant to police. With more than a million people living in council-owned tower blocks, the review of British building practices and the regulation of high-density developments is imperative. As noted by The Guardian, Hackitt described the “whole system of regulation” as “not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.” Although Hackitt’s report does not provide a specific framework to address the safeguarding of the country’s council-owned tower blocks, she emphasizes the need for greater clarity within regulatory guidance documents, increased scrutiny of inspectors and developers, as well as an examination of sprinklers, escape routs, cladding and alarm systems.
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The birthplace of Brutalism in the U.K. is at risk of losing its most outstanding concrete building

Dunelm House in Durham, U.K., more commonly known as the Durham Students' Union, is facing an ominous future. The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) told The Architect's Newspaper (AN) that the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, "is minded to issue a Certificate of Immunity from Listing (COI).” A campaign, though, is trying to save the building. Durham University applied for a COI in April last year and then launched a competition calling for a redesign of the concrete structure. In December, Bradley neglected calls from Historic England to award the Brutalist, 51-year-old building Grade II listing status. The university argues that adapting Dunelm House would be too expensive, costing an estimated $18 million. For many, however, news of what appears to be the building's impending demise will be sad news. Brutalism has roots in Durham—Peter and Alison Smithson met there while studying architecture at Durham University. Aside from that quirk, Dunelm House has won significant praise. In its year of opening, the building won the 1966 RIBA Bronze Medal and the Civic Trust award. In their statement, however, the DCMS said: "Having considered advice, it has been decided that Dunelm House does not meet the special architectural or historic interest requirements for listing." Designed by the Architects’ Co-Partnership, Dunelm House was engineered by Ove Arup. In material and form, it compliments Arup's Grade I listed Kingsgate Bridge–a structure which was completed in 1966 also. Kinky detailings, such as the arrangement of chains found attached to the concrete are unique and fun (words not always associated with Brutalism). They are also a visual joke–way before postmodernism came along–of tying the building down. Slopes which make for great section drawings are in response to the topography of the site which dramatically veers down to the River Wear's banks. They also maintain views of the impressive 937-year-old Durham Cathedral which rises above the trees forming a landscape coalesced by the Kingsgate Bridge. Speaking to AN, post-war British architecture historian and author of Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism, Barnabas Calder reacted to the DCMS's statement:
This is very clearly a building which, as Historic England recommended, should be listed: It is a superb example of 1960s university architecture, in which Britain led the world. Even the university's own argument that it is too expensive to repair falls down on the fact that it will cost a good deal more to replace it with anything worth having. I can't understand why the DCMS has decided to overturn the advice of the experts at Historic England, and their statement does nothing to answer the question. Dunelm House is an exceptional piece of Modern architecture—sensitive yet bold, original yet full of rich references to the great architecture of its period... If the university thinks it can get half so good a new building on the same site for less than the cost of repairing Dunelm House it's living in a dream.
Christopher Beanland, author of Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings Around the World, also gave his thoughts on Dunelm House:
Clearly, it's a significant building that works in its surroundings. You look at it and initially think - yes it's aggressive, yes it's attention seeking, yet that part of the River Wear is a very peaceful place and the more time you spend there watching the students on bikes or in boats the more it seems friendly.
A petition to help save the building is available online here and naturally, there is a "Save Dunelm House" Twitter page.
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Brutalist housing project, Europe’s largest protected building, to be renovated within five years

The Park Hill housing project in Sheffield, U.K. has suffered a turbulent, roller-coaster ride since its completion in 1961. Now a listed building—the largest protected building in Europe in fact—Park Hill has been subject to scorn and adoration from politicians, architects, artists, musicians and residents. Park Hill is currently being renovated by developers, Urban Splash, who this month, announced that the project will finally be completed by 2022.

In 1945, British architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith began designing Park Hill; they drew from on Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation and Peter and Alison Smithson's unbuilt 'streets in the sky' concepts. Upon completion, Park Hill had a warm reception, receiving praise from the likes of Reyner Banham along with positive articles in national newspapers such as The Telegraph, The Times and The Economist.

Writing for the Architectural Review in December, 1961, Banham said:

Park Hill seems to represent one of those rare occasions when the intention to create a certain kind of architecture happens to encounter a programme and a site that can hardly be dealt ‘with in any other way, and the result has the clarity that only arises when - as in the Villa Rotonda - aesthetic programme and functional opportunity meet and are instantly fused. But what Park Hill abundantly demonstrates is that there are other kinds of architectural clarity besides the Classical.

By the 1980s, however, the area had become notorious for attracting trouble. Flats had become rundown and Park Hill was synonymous with drugs and crime with this being down to a number of complex reasons including "poor management, deindustrialisation and better council housing stock in other areas of the city." Sheffield City Council then decided to award the estate—as public housing projects are known in the U.K.—protective Grade II Listing status in 1997. The move proved controversial among locals and the general public alike.

Four years later, a bridge within the complex was infamously vandalized by a man only known as Jason (not this author.) His painted message of "I LOVE YOU WILL U MARRY ME,"* scrawled in white and visible for miles, stirred journalist Frances Byrnes to eulogize it as "love yelling at the top of its voice in an estate thought to be desolate." Upon first sight of the message in 2001, estate caretaker Grenville Squires remarked: "How are we going to get that off?" Squires never found a way. Unbeknown to Jason, his work was later showcased at the 2006 Venice Biennale. Now, the vandalism-cum-artwork has found permanency through British architecture firms Hawkins\Brown and Studio Egret West. They're working with Urban Splash to trace and illuminate the text with neon lighting.

Cut to today: Urban Splash said that, after agreeing on a timeline with city officials, their ongoing work on Park Hill is due for completion in 2022. The work will continue with the gutting of the concrete structure and with the installation of new apartments. "This is great news for us and for Sheffield, we can now fulfill our ambitions for the project," said Simon Gawthorpe, managing director of Urban Splash, who later added how the recession had caused delays to the project.

In 2013, work on Park Hill was one of six projects up for the RIBA Stirling Prize. Approximately 600 people now live and work in renovated Park Hill units and, by the project's conclusion, the it will contain 210 apartments and 330 student housing units. Also funding the scheme are the Sheffield City Council, Great Places Housing Group, and national conservancy group Heritage England.

Despite Park Hill's success, the Robin Hood Gardens estate in south east London has not enjoyed a similar fate. Designed by the Smithsons and built in 1972, the project saw the realization of the Smithson's streets in the sky project (on their own terms). The building, however, even after campaign work from Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers, is due for demolition having been refused Listed status by Heritage England.

*For the record: Jason's then lover, Clare Middleton, said yes but the couple didn't marry, splitting a month later. More on the story can be found here