London Open House is pioneering a new way of fostering an active interest in architecture in young people - through the medium of pop music.
The group has joined up with design house Imagination to create 'Sound Space'. This is an educational initiative to be launched on 19 September, when 16 to 18 year olds will be asked to visit five seminal buildings in the capital and match the architecture to some suggested tracks - or even pick their own fitting accompaniment.
The buildings are The Ark, the Channel Four headquarters, Imagination's building, Paxton Locher's Clerkenwell house, and Richard and Ruth Rogers' house just off the King's Road in Chelsea.
Helen Tsoi, who is running the scheme, said that the aim was to try and capture the imagination of children during Open House weekend using references they can readily understand. The best and most imaginative response to a questionnaire they'll be asked to fill in will win a Sony Minidisc player, free tickets to a concert by dj Paul Oakenfold, and the chance to meet him. 'But there are no right or wrong answers,' said Tsoi.
Imagination has put up the funding for the venture, which has chiefly gone into producing 1,000 Sound Space Music Packs. The company may ultimately benefit from unearthing new design talent. The packs contain a tape with recordings of five tracks compiled by Robin Allinson, a dj and sound designer who was worked with renowned New York hip hop man Joseph La Placa. Allinson told the AJ he had selected one song for each building chiefly for its tempo and general ambience to try and match the activities inside each space. After all, he said, musicians use tools to 'construct' music in a similar way to how architects make buildings.
The tracks are in a mixture of styles: house, garage, ambient and funk: the titles are Horizons by ltj Bukem, Modern Homes by To Roccoco Rot, Original Control by Meat Beat Manifesto, Sitting on Top of the World by Brandy & Coke and Afters by Carl Craig.
The next stage of the educational programme will go further. 'Packaging Space' will involve school students designing their own spaces using research and inspiration gained from visiting the buildings in Sound Space. The work they produce will be exhibited at the Imagination Gallery.
Sound Space Music Packs will be available from 12.00-17.00 on 19 September from the Imagination building on Store Street in London.
... as homes and offices open for investigation
Architects will be able to snoop round the illustrious houses and offices of their colleagues and rivals in just over a fortnight's time, during the London Open House weekend.
John Young's The Deck House of 1989, Brian Ma Siy's conversion of Victorian classrooms at 101 Amles Street and Chance de Silva's studio house, 'Venus' (in N5), are included in a sizeable list of architects' houses opening up for the weekend of 18 and 19 September. Others include Sanya Polescuk's glass extension to an 1816 house at 7 Holly Place, Tom Kay's 22 Murray Mews, an award-winning brick house and office, and Gerald Jury's Jury House, a modern three-storey house with outside space on every level.
Offices opening include those of Terry Farrell and Partners, Michael Hopkins and Partners, Richard Rogers Partnership (max 15 at a time), Foster and Partners, Jestico and Whiles and Pollard Thomas and Edwards. The Department of Culture Media and Sport is joining in as well, but the riba will be open on the Saturday only.
Of the 500-strong list, Grade I listed Horseguard's Parade will be opening up to the public for the first time ever, whilst those looking for residential properties new to the list will find Lubetkin and Tecton's 64 Heath Drive - a classic white 1930s detached house, or Loader and Brown architects' 2 Cranfield Row, a modernisation of a 1960s council house. Also new this year is the inclusion of a number of site visits to ongoing construction projects. These include the National Portrait Gallery extension - 'ngp 2000' by Dixon Jones.
In 1998 more than 350,000 visits were made over the 48 hour period, a figure which is expected to top 500,000 this year. Old favourites opening up again include St Pancras Chambers, itn and the Bank of England. Further details (09001 600 061, calls cost 60p/minute), or from the website at www.londonopenhouse.demon.co.uk.