Robert Wakeham's Comments
Comment on: RIBA overturns controversial Israel motion
The last time I commented on this issue I was accused of anti-semitism and both my and the related comments were deleted, so I'll try not to cause offence this time. Looking at the readers' comments above there might just be only one person who's likely subject to the Israeli law of return but who isn't enthusiastically crowing over the RIBA's climb down. In British politics there's there's the well established (if somewhat fragile) principle of everyone declaring their interest in a subject of debate, and that's where comment on this issue runs the risk of being fraught with serious accusations of racism. My concern is that some people have a very direct interest in the unchallenged progress of a campaign of dispossession, landscape destruction and wholesale urbanisation that's ably assisted by the input of a considerable number of architects. Ethnic cleansing might even be a reasonable description as one factor in this colossal mess. For anyone to be criticising the right of the RIBA to be concerned about this is, on the face of it, astonishing, but - although I presume that the majority of the commentators are architects, their integrity is open to question - and at least one of them has fallen into the trap, in his practice information, of describing himself as a member of the ARB. Granted that he's far from alone in exaggerating his status in this way (it would be an awfully long board), but to me it symbolises people whose self interest gets in the way of fact - and sometimes morality, as well as integrity I've got an old postcard, a photo of the hills of Gilead west of Ajlun - and maybe to an urbanite it just looks like a picturesque but empty landscape. In fact it isn't empty at all, and though these hills are in 'unoccupied' Jordan, I think that much of the land being buried under the massive urbanisation in question was once just as fine. The destruction is to the eternal shame - and disgrace - of all the architects involved. . must in a all the caused upset, was
Eric Pickles' behaviour is surely surprising, so soon after he'd shown his independence of mind by putting a stop to the Smithfield Market over-development. Thank goodness for the greed-free common sense of Betty Boothroyd, in the face of a populist mayor who appears increasingly to have his eye only on the main chance.
It's surely not just the Westminster planners that are concerned at the impact of this 'intervention' - I've never lived in London but the vistas over and along this stretch of the Thames are of national value, and not something to be messed up by a clever idea for the benefit of a rich, powerful interest group, assisted by substantial public money from a Lord mayor who surely needs a reality check.
The very best of news for this 'lost' elegy to Brutalism, lurking in the abandoned demesne of Kilmahew. And it should be a fine tribute to the memory of Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan.
Quite apart from the general issues being raised, if the proposed new revisions include scrapping the scheme's bus station, what's going on in Winchester? I can think of other southern English towns where bus stations have been scrapped, to the distinct disadvantage of the travelling public.
Comment on: Top UK talents to design Czech housing scheme
'The Oaks' - really? - at Popovicky? Perhaps we can expect a bosky residential development in Surrey or Berkshire called 'Duby' or 'Doubrava' - or is an English name seen by the developers as a selling point?
Comment on: Lambeth approves Heatherwick's Garden Bridge
Is central London at risk of becoming an overblown version of the Museum of Curiosities? Many will be saluting the vision and ingenuity of Lumley and Heatherwick, but many will also be wondering about the impact on the vision of this familiar and iconic (for want of a nicer word) stretch of the Thames - and they'll be wondering at what sort of society is indulging in such frippery (follies?) when we're being warned of further national belt-tightening and austerity in the coming years. Will it one day be seen as a reminder of the hugely profitable crookery in the City of London, a piece of monumental bling?
There's a credibility gap here - how can you spend £72 million (of public money) and not have as built drawings? If Sandwell Council can't explain, and Will Alsop wasn't there, perhaps Flannery & de la Pole can? Or was there someone else involved in producing the detail design documentation for the contractor?
32 years old and said to be too costly to maintain; are major elements of the fabric life expired, is it just that the exterior envelope needs upgraded, or has it suffered from 'deferred maintenance' (otherwise known as gross neglect)?
The triumph of mediocrity?
There's surely room for more case studies in how large basement developments in residential areas can (or can't) be undertaken with minimal disturbance to the neighbours - but also on just where the money's coming from for such obviously very costly works. It's easy to discuss objections in terms of 'jealousy', but how about motivation in terms of 'greed'? - and I'm not a left-wing nimby.
Eric Parry's is the only design with even the remotest semblance to a kiosk - the rest appear to be water fountains, pure and simple (and none the worse for that, but they ain't kiosks).
The A303 is a bit like the A1 in that it's been subject to creeping 'motorwayisation' over the years, but with the dualling so fragmented that the bottlenecks just tend to move location, but if you're not stuck in a queue you're contributing to the traffic noise that's a part of the Stonehenge problem. And, if you live in London, you could take the M4 + M5 route to the Southwest (the way the long distance buses go). Roddy Langmuir makes a very good point about tunnel portal design, but I wonder if relocation of the road line could find suitable dips in the landscape that would ease this problem?
A politician with a dawning realisation that one day people will look back and snigger? Are you awake, Boris?
Comment on: Kyson showcases Lambeth mixed-use development
It would be interesting to see the character of the original buildings on this street corner - to see whether the new building is an improvement, or whether it coarsens the urban fabric.
Why, I wonder, wasn't the link planned as a bridge at upper floor levels, to preserve access through Library Walk?
The wibbly wobbly fad appears to be alive and well - but for how much longer?
Quite apart from the merits - or otherwise - of Seifert's building, the new proposal is replacing both this and the adjoining building with one uniform design - thereby surely contributing to the 'dumbing down' of the street, regardless of the architectural quality of the new versus the old.
'Attempt' is the polite word for BDP's latest version of their design proposal for the George Square facade of Glasgow's Queen Street station expansion. This tilted curtain wall with heavy roof overhang might have been appropriate for an airport terminal building, but is ugly and lumpen in the context of George Square. BDP's original, lower, elegant transparent glass screen wall was fine - and enabled the Victorian train shed gable to be seen from the square. The latest proposal is quite disastrously unsympathetic to the surrounding buildings - and if built it would be a monument to the insensitivity of the BDP architects, of the planning authority - and of Glasgow, the erstwhile 'City of Culture'.
Gordon MacGregor might not be aware that there's already action by the renewable energy industry to put projects on hold pending clarification of government policy after this week's vote. Near where I live in Argyll a fairly large, but uncontroversial, wind farm project was about to start on site but has now been frozen - and the same company has frozen their other project in Scotland. Nothing 'vague' about it. As for Helen Lucas's comments about 'fantastic creative energy', it seems to me that there's plenty of that in Scotland anyway, and there does seem to be a notion fostered by the 'Yes' campaigners that Scotland is a poor, decrepit, hollowed out shell of a country. Really? This is not to say that there isn't the urgent need for radical reform of the governance of Britain - anyone living outside the London area (and not just in Scotland) must be aware of the extraordinarily unhealthy coincidence of concentrated wealth and political power in just one patch of the country. Without reform, there really is a risk of enormously damaging fault lines opening up within England, let alone between England and Scotland.