the ones that got away
Astragal's new competition features schemes that, for better or worse, stayed on the drawing board. Can you identify this project and its architect? Post your entry, to arrive by first thing Monday morning, to AJ Astragal, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4GB, or fax 020 7505 6701. The first correct entry to be pulled out of the hat wins a bottle of champagne. The never-built scheme in last week's competition (AJ 15.1.04) was El Lisstzky's skyscraper by the Nikitskii Gates, Terskii Boulevard. Martyn Scrivens of London was the winner.
Culture and commerce can be awkward bedfellows, especially in class and taste-conscious Britain. So imagine Astragal's surprise at the news that an august arts institution has teamed up with a metal-shed retailer to promoteà paint. The institution is the Tate Gallery (or Tate, as it is now officially known); the retailer is B&Q, which is now offering the exclusive Tate range, series 1-4. Each series relates to one of Tate's galleries, the art contained in it and its architecture and surroundings. I can just imagine Nicholas Serota enthusing over the range to provide copy for the B&Q website:
'The palette of paint liberates choice. It's also easy to use and, with 11 colours in each of the new series, you can experiment with various combinations and never create disharmony.' Not like the Turner Prize, then. 'Rich acrylic satin crustacean' is just one of the intriguing names, presumably related to Tate St Ives. Oh, and there's a wallpaper range, too.
Who would you regard as an architectural 'sage'? Saga, organ of the eponymous over-50s company and said to be the highest circulation magazine in the UK, has been asking various organisations and individuals from the professional and academic world to nominate 50 British sages. Left to itself, the company might have chosen Michael Hopkins, who designed its headquarters in Folkestone.
Actually, the choice (presumably on the suggestion of the RIBA) is Peter Cook, doyen of educationalists, and curator of this year's British pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Tony Tate cover-up Sage advice Blair didn't make it, by the way, though the list does include important people such as Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune. I can't help recalling the travel industry's phrase to describe oldies who go on the company's holidays. They are known as 'Saga louts'.
It seems we have an insatiable appetite for listings of almost anything you care to mention. Here are some architects appearing for the first time in Debrett's People of Today, 'the unrivalled contemporary biographical work': David Adjaye (memorably described by a member of staff as 'not an architect - a brand'); John Barrow and Rod Sheard of HOK Sport; Crispin Kelly (past AA president);
Amanda Levete; Rowan Moore (Architecture Foundation); Penny Richards (Pringle Richards Sharratt);
and DL&E's Paul Morrell (actually a quantity surveyor, of course). There are three others on the list but Astragal has never heard of them.
Plenty of New Year jollity on the London party circuit. Julyan and Tess Wickham held a splendid event in their Edgware Road offices, to celebrate nothing Here todayà Party time in particular. Guests included a mysterious man who mistook Astragal for John Prescott and launched into an amusing but misplaced tirade about the Green Belt (see below). Guests included the great British film director Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Croupier), Terry Farrell , Susan Lasdun and many others too numerous to mention. A smaller but equally jolly event took place in Marylebone to celebrate the launch of Andrew Lett's new office.
Having spent many years at Aukett, he decided just over a year ago that he would (a) leave; (b) sail the Atlantic;
and (c) start a new office, all of which he has now done, and looks all the better for it. Another architect starting afresh is Chris Dyson, exStirling Wilford and Terry Farrell, now an independent in Spitalfields. Another party shortly, no doubt.
Despite recent tragic over-zealous applications of the Data Protection Act, some organisations are still taking it ludicrously seriously. Step forward The Health & Safety People , a health and safety consultancy, that is worried about problems with accident books. MD John Thoday warns: 'Anyone using an accident report book without the facility to On report remove and store personal information is not meeting the latest legal requirements.' In response, the organisation has published a new accident book with tear-off strips so that personal details can be removed for confidential storage.
Nobody's likely to lose those tear-off strips, of course.
One of the latest office timewasters is a tiny program into which you enter your name and, hey presto, up come your job prospects. Although it seems entirely random in its offering, any given name will produce the same result over and over again.
While most of the offerings are derogatory (traffic warden, muppet trainer, lapdancer), the program seems to have taken quite a shine to the great and the good of architecture. Norman Foster, it opines, should be a movie star, and Jacques Herzog a superhero. But what is this?
Richard Rogers is a 'fluffy bunny trainer', and as for A J editorial director Paul Finch, the program offers 'Who are you kidding, you work?'
Bill de Vigier , founder of the Acrow group (with its ubiquitous and eponymous prop), has just died at the age of 91. An obituary in the Financial Times reveals how the company got its name. De Vigier didn't know what to call the company, but wanted a name that was easy to remember and use in any language. So he decided to immortalise his solicitor, a Mr A Crowe.
Thought you'd like to know.
Achampion for the countryside is needed by the Council for the Protection of Rural England, which is seeking a chief executive. The council's chairman is Nigel Thompson of Ove Arup, so the candidate should actually like building - but not all over the Green Belt. Tell a suitable friendà Green search Named job Prop forward