Posts tagged with "United Kingdom":

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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

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Shortlist revealed for Britain's ugliest building of the year

The shortlist for the least desirable architectural accolade in Britain has been unveiled. Comprising six unfortunate finalists, the winner will be awarded the Carbuncle Cup, a trophy which has become the stuff of nightmares for architects with projects in the U.K. The Carbuncle Cup is now in its tenth successive year and is proving to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek response from Building Design (BD) to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)'s Stirling Prize. Pedigree, it seems, won’t save you: Foster+Partners and Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners have previously made the list for their Moor House office development and One Hyde Park projects, respectively, which are both in London. Past winners include the Strata SE1 building in south London by BFLS and the Cutty Sark renovation in Greenwich by Grimshaw Architects. Last year, Rafael Viñoly’s car-melting 20 Fenchurch Sreet (a.k.a. The Walkie-Talkie Tower) in London took the prize. Take a look at this year’s finalists below.  
Saffron Square Location: Croydon, London Architect: Rolfe Judd First on the "to-roast" list is Saffron Square (otherwise known as Saffron Tower) in Croydon, south London. Though Croydon currently holds the crown as having U.K.'s fastest growing local economy, the news surrounding its architecture scene has not been so positive. Developer Berkeley Homes’s offering, whose colorfully-clad tower can be seen from many-a-mile, has been described as having a “car crash of a facade.”    
A photo posted by Sia Pik Liang (@siapikliang) on
The Diamond Sheffield Twelve Architects This building in Yorkshire may provide accommodation for engineering students at the University of Sheffield, however, it is apparently “dwarfing” and “drowning” is neighboring church with its interior being “wasted,” “unused,” and “outrageously mismanaged.”    
Beautiful day for a skate, this spot in Hanley is awesome!! #spotcheck #skate #metrogrammed #summerishere A photo posted by Will Lowe (@wimpstain) on
One Smithfield Stoke-on-Trent RHWL Architects "An aesthetic mutation between the nostalgic 1980s brain games of Connect 4 and Blockbusters might not seem like a natural breeding ground for architectural malevolence but this building proves what happens when color goes rogue," wrote BD in a scathing analysis of the multi-colored structure.   Poole Methodist Church extension Poole, Dorset Intelligent Design Centre Churches have not faired well according to this year's iteration of the Carbuncle Cup. This extension to the existing gothic church has been derided as a building that "screams of the same bland, belligerent mediocrity that is the insidious moniker of ostensibly polite and ubiquitous background architecture everywhere."  
5 Broadgate London Make Architects Make Architects's 5 Broadgate is one of three buildings from London (last year had four) and the largest on the list. Such is the scorn that the structure has received that developers of the nearby 22 Bishopsgate project called 5 Broadgate the "worst large building in the City for 20 years." Ominously, last year's biggest building happened to be 20 Fenchurch Street (The Walkie-Talkie), the eventual winner.     Lincoln Plaza London BUJ Architects Last on the ill-fated architectural honors list is Lincoln Plaza. "31 stories of bilious cladding are piled one on top of the other to create an assortment of haphazardly assembled facades that are crude, jarring and shambolic," wrote BD in an unforgiving critique of the high-rise. And that wasn't all. "Were that not enough, the facades enwrap a grotesque Jenga game of rabid rectilinear blocks of no discernible form or profile and perforated by a series of balconies which one reader surmises “are an open invitation to commit suicide."  
  The winner of the Carbuncle Cup will be announced next Wednesday.
The jury comprises Thomas Lane, BD editor, Ike Ijeh, architect and architectural critic, Ben Flatman,author, architect and BD columnist, and Julian Robinson, London School of Economic’s director of estates, who was responsible for commissioning 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize finalist the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre.
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A new documentary—now being crowdfunded—explores the fate of a British "New Town" utopia

The word "Basildon" does little to conjure  thoughts of paradise. For those who know it as a town in Essex, England, this association could only seem ridiculous. Fifty years ago, however, Basildon—a state-built "new town"—was synonymous with the utopian dreams among planner and architects. "Are we a product of our environment... or is it a product of us?" Christopher Ian Smith asks in a preview of his documentary film. Titled New Town Utopia, his exploration of Basildon's fate—four years in the making—now needs $21,000 for post-production, marketing, and distribution requirements. The feature film aims to examine British social history through the lens of Basildon's architecture, planning, and its creative residents. By way of some background, "New towns" were the product of the U.K. government, which aimed to fix a nationwide housing shortage after WWII. In 1946, the "New towns act" was passed to create ten new towns. Eighth in-line was Basildon, being officially designated as such on January 4th, 1949. "Here is a journey through populated ruins," narrates Smith, who's been filmmaking for some years. "It's the story of the grand dreams of the new town... compared to harsh concrete realities." Smith spoke to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) about his motivations for the film and his experiences while shooting Basildon. Now living in London, Smith said how growing up in the town was an inspiration. "It felt different," he explained. "I enjoyed the art, architecture, sculpture, and especially the high street. I've succumbed to loving the aesthetic of midcentury brutalism and the ambitions behind it. The utopian ideals behind planning and architecture at the time were considered progressive. In the 1950s and 60s, risks were taken. The spirit of '45, with nationalization and the National Health Service, lived on."
However, Smith acknowledged that these radical ideas—when attempted on an architectural and planning scale in Basildon—have wilted significantly over time. "The place has a terrible reputation, both locally and nationally," he said. Local civic pride, according to Smith, appears to be dwindling. With his film, Smith hopes to spark a "debate of the state of our towns" and "not just new towns." When filming parts of the high street and Basil Spence's Brooke House—both architecturally-prominent landmarks within Basildon—Smith recalled being asked: "Why are you filming that? Are you going to knock it down?" No one even goes to Basildon on holiday. In the 1970s, Basildon was dubbed as "little Moscow-on-Thames," Smith described. A decade later, the phrase "Basildon Man" had surfaced. That image was of the well-to-do working-class Conservative voter—a far cry of the leftist ideologies of the past and its architecture. This was cemented when Tory MP David Amess won the Basildon constituency seat in 1983 and was able to hold it for 14 years. In his conversation with AN, Smith concluded that in the end, "top-down planning" was endemic to its failure. In the process of collating more than 400 hours of footage of the town, Smith goes so far as to argue that few—if any—would ever visit Basildon for fun.  His Kickstarter campaign has until September 26 this year to have funding finalized. The film, if realized, will be complete by March 2017.
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The Brexit promises instability and challenges for Europe's architecture industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rogers, Stirk Harbour and Partners

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

OMA

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

Allies & Morrison

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

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

3D Reid

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

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

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Peter Cook's first building in the U.K. celebrates hand drawing with a bright blue studio space

Archigrammer Peter Cook has returned to his childhood home, Bournemouth, on the South coast of England, to construct his first building in the United Kingdom. The building is a bright blue drawing studio—an addition to an existing complex at the Arts University of Bournemouth, Cook’s alma mater. Built at a time when digital drawing is in the ascendency, this building returns back to support the craft and art of hand drawing. It features both “a large north-light in the studio tradition, a rear clerestory that throws a softer light back from the rear wall, as well as softer lighting from the east and a graded wash of light that comes along the curve of the entrance.” The drawing studio was opened today in a ceremony that featured one of Cook’s best known students Dame Zaha Hadid who proclaimed “I simply love this building.”
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Ancient Roman roads revealed in England with help from LIDAR technology

vindolanda_50cm_dsm_zoom_govuk LIDAR, an acronym for "Light and Radar," has helped the U.K.'s Environment Agency show changes in topography for almost two decades from its inception in 1998. Since then it has been used to determine the effects of flooding and coastal regression. Local amateur archaeologist, David Ratledge, has also used the tool to locate ancient Roman roads between Ribchester and Catterall (near Lancaster), shedding new light on Britain's undiscovered past and illuminating the arteries of the ancient Empire. The Romans were notorious innovators of infrastructure, pioneering concrete, aqueducts, drainage, and, of course, roads. The first Roman road stretched from Richborough on the southeast coast, to Canterbury, where it went on to London, St. Albans, and up to Chester. Even today, some 2,000 years after the route was established, it is still one of the U.K.'s main freight roadways now known as the A2 and the A5. Now, it is thought there are more Roman roads, particularly in northwest England, between Ribchester and Lancaster. “After only 45 years of searching, I have at long last found the Roman Road from Ribchester to Lancaster!” said Ratledge on his webpage. The discovery not only tells us about Roman trade routes, but also about where they thought troops would need to be deployed quickly. It's possible that the Romans were fearful of Celts near Lancaster, hence a road that could be used to send support or retreat as quickly as possible was very useful. A tell-tale sign of a Roman road is its linear form. The Romans didn't mess around when it came to road building and if they wanted to get somewhere, they took the most direct route possible. Staggeringly, they even managed to plot a straight line—even when they couldn't see the end destination. This can be seen in the London to Chichester route where vision is impaired due to the North and South Downs (a range of hills). The solution? The Romans placed beacons on high points, using their line of sight to determine the straightest possible route. To walk the route from Ribchester to Caterall, as the Roman troops did, would take over seven hours according to Google maps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qTRRBEkesA
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Leon Krier's classical alternative proposal for London concert hall causes a stir

Pioneer of Poundbury—a traditional British town built in South West England in 1993—Leon Krier is once again rebelling against the architectural orthodoxy. This time, Krier is attacking the latest proposal for London's concert hall, the new home for the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) by Regent's Park, with his own scheme composed with traditional design. As a counter to relocation of the hall, set to cost $500 million, Krier has put forward his own plan that would see the concert hall be part of a new public square. His scheme would lay near and compliment the architectural style of John Nash's Park Crescent. Writing in Future Symphony, Krier was far from complimentary of the current state of affairs regarding contemporary theatre and concert hall architecture. An as "attendant of innumerable classical concerts, it is not the ravishing beauty of the music but the ghastliness of the Southbank and Barbican concert halls and surroundings which leaves the most enduring, albeit painful, imprint on my mind," he seethed. Neither was he favorable of the current planned location for new concert hall, the (soon former) Museum of London designed by Powell & Moya adjacent to the Barbican. Krier, a former associate of James Stirling and friend of HRH Prince Charles, said London was at risk of more post-war “soul-crushing, inhumane... loathsome aliens.” He advised planners should "take a step back and consider just what were the mistakes of the halls we now need to replace" and "what should be done differently" to form "a truly accessible and enduring home for the London Symphony.” In Krier's eyes, a homage to the past would be both respectful to classical music, giving it the grandeur and classical physical presence it deserves. “John Nash’s laconic and elegant crescent buildings make a quiet urban backdrop for a grand architectural ‘cymbal stroke’ to resonate around London and the musical world: The London Music Forum, an inviting campus for everyone,” he went on to say. His scheme would replicate the Vienna Musikverein and Amsterdam Concertgebouw halls in terms of both size and proportion. He also argued that "the architecture of the new forum’s buildings and paving should speak the elemental classical language with which John Nash so brilliantly set the stage in character and color. Any required 21st century technology can be elegantly embedded in the design." Krier's retaliation comes amid the launching of a competition prompting proposals that would see Smithfield General Market turned into the new home for the Museum of London. Conductor Simon Rattle also proposed the idea of a new venue for the LSO, an idea which, according to BD, has seen many "politicians and cultural figures" jump on the idea of creating a "cultural quarter in the City." Last May, the Conservative Party pledged to support a "modern world class concert hall for London" and provided $7.9 million to fund a business case for the project.
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Burntwood School by AHMM wins 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize

Burntwood School, a girls high school in Wandsworth, south London, has won the UK's most coveted architecture award—RIBA's Stirling Prize—with judges describing it as the "clear winner." The project by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) also collected the RIBA London 2015 award in the process. The concrete structure maybe a '50s throwback of sorts, but AHMM's school is by no means a concrete relic of the bygone era. In awarding the project the 2015 Stirling Prize, RIBA, which is seldom accused of playing politics, has also sent a strong message in the importance public education. The building was close to not being built as it was one of the last schools to be constructed under Tony Blair's "Building Schools for the Future scheme"—a policy ditched by current Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010. Education secretary at the time, Michael Gove, granted permission for the proposal even though the scheme had come to an end. RIBA President Jane Duncan spoke to the BBC about the school, noting how it "shows us how superb school design can be at the heart of raising our children's educational enjoyment and achievement." "Delightful, resourceful, and energy efficient buildings that will benefit the whole community in the long term," she continued. "With the UK facing a huge shortage of school places, it is vital we learn lessons from Burntwood." Judges continued that praise, describing AHMM's work as the "most accomplished of the six shortlisted buildings" and showed "the full range of the skills that architects can offer to society."  They went on to add: "Burntwood sets a standard in school design that every child in Britain deserves... It is a culmination of many years of creative toil by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris in designing schools up and down the country. This is their masterpiece." Burntwood fought off competition from five other builds, three of which were also from London. Those included project by Richard Rogers, Niall Mcloughlin Architects, Reiach & Hall Architects, MUMA, and Heneghan Peng Architects. With the price tag just north of $63 million, Wandsworth Borough Council's investment appears to have made architectural dividends as members of the awarding jury showered the building in compliments. AHMM Director Paul Monaghan said schools should be "more than just practical, functional buildings," and good design "makes a difference to the way students value themselves and their education." "Staff and students have said on many occasions that the new buildings have greatly improved the quality of their day-to-day experiences at the school and students comment that their commitment to learning has been enhanced," Burntwood School Principal Helen Dorfman commented. The awarding jury consisted of Peter Clegg, senior partner at Field Clegg Bradley Studios; Rory Olcayto, editor at The Architects' Journal; Dame Theresa Sackler of DBE; Steve Tompkins, director of Haworth Tompkins and 2014 Stirling Prize Winner; and Jane Duncan, director  of Jane Duncan Architects, RIBA president and chair.  
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Mecanoo tapped for $500 million Engineering Campus in Manchester, UK

The Dutch firm from Delft has already made a significant impact in the UK when they unveiled Europe's largest library in Birmingham. In what will be its third development in the city, the University of Manchester has announced plans for a new 839,000 square foot engineering campus designed by Mecanoo. In the words of Mecanoo, the campus "will transform the way in which the University educates future engineers in response to the needs of the fast-changing global economy." Set to open in 2020, the development is part of the University's scheme "to create a world-leading teaching, learning and research campus to develop the engineers and innovators of tomorrow." The site will be the University's fourth School for Engineering under the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. In addition to this it will also become a base for 1,300 academics, researchers and support staff as well as 6,750 students. Instead of designing a group of buildings for the school, Mecanoo went with a single holistic building that employs an expressed structural steel frame. Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University, said: “This outstanding new campus development will build upon our proud heritage of innovation and discovery across engineering and science that began with the establishment of the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute in 1824. MECD will inspire engineers to continue our pioneering spirit and to apply their knowledge and help modern industry overcome global challenges, such as climate change, finite natural resources and changing world markets.” Mecanoo is also designing the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C., the Delft Municipal Offices and Train Station, and La Llotja Theatre and Conference Centre in Lleida, Spain. The firm also completed its first project in Boston earlier this year.