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Astragal's weekly gossip roundup

Snide comments and scurrilous rumours from the AJ’s party animal

Seeing double

If imitation is a form of flattery, Denton Corker Marshall (DCM) should feel honoured by Murphy/Jahn Architects’ design (below) for the Doha Convention Centre. The building resembles DCM’s 560m Grollo Tower (above) for London’s Docklands redevelopment.

Urban odour

Astragal was invited to take part in the ‘ultimate URBAN experience’ this week. Coffee company Nespresso is launching CitiZ (below), a range of coffee machines inspired by the architecture of New York, pictured merging seamlessly with the towers above. Based on the aroma of the Camden streets around AJ Towers, Astragal can imagine what coffee from an urban machine might taste like, so he’ll be giving this party a miss.

Hold your fire

Bawdy dispatches from Beijing reached Astragal during last week’s TVCC fire. Apparently, the local nickname for OMA’s tower was ‘the little penis under the big pants’. ‘Now, of course,’ wrote one correspondent, ‘the little penis got too hot, shot off fireworks and burnt down.’

New town love

Astragal spent a lonely Valentine’s Day in front of the telly, watching the pilot episode of BBC4 drama New Town. Set in Edinburgh, this eccentric show follows the fortunes of sinister modernist architects Purves + Pekkala. When the head of Scottish Heritage meets a sticky end, the programme becomes an architecture-themed murder mystery – did Purves + Pekkala push him off the top of a Grade A-listed church in a row over turning the building into a shopping centre? Watch the pilot at

A local town…

Norfolk’s architects aren’t happy. Some ‘out-of-towners’, namely Riches Hawley Mikhail from ‘that there London’, have managed to steal in and win the prestigious Greyhound Opening affordable housing competition in Norwich. Even before their victory this week, allegations were being bandied around that none of the finalists knew anything about the city, either ‘geographically or historically’. Er, except practice founder Cathy Hawley grew up in Norwich (and her parents still live there).

For the love of Corb

Among the myriad Le Corbusier events coming up across London, RIBA Trust director Charles Knevitt’s Sunday Artist’s Lunch on 21 February promises to be the most racy. Entitled ‘The Life and Loves of the Architect of the Twentieth Century’, the lecture will look at ‘the man, the myth and the dominant women in his life’. To book your hot seat, call 020 7376 3311.

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