Robert Wakeham's Comments
Comment on: 'Crude' Glasgow hotel plans attacked
The plight of George Square is even worse than stated - the massive car park behind the hotel is part of the Buchanan Galleries retail mall expansion into a mega-mall, and this structure is being built on the area of the station car park, in conjunction with the expansion of the station - which is to adorn one corner of George Square with a new sloping glass curtain wall topped by an enormous eaves projection, utterly out of character with the Square and more akin to an airport terminal building (the initial facade proposal was far more in keeping with the Square). The massive new car park is needed because the retail mall expansion is at the expense of the existing multi storey car park, that was built as part of the Buchanan Galleries development. Sustainability? - don't even think about it, and so much for the notion of master-planning (at least, in Glasgow city centre) - the new car park was initially proposed to be located on top of the very large Buchanan bus terminal, as part of a massive 'air rights' expansion of the retail mall. What's the betting that this won't still happen in the not too distant future? The demolition of the adjoining concert hall steps, at the head of the pedestrianised Buchanan Street, just adds insult to injury in what is fast becoming an ill-fitting jigsaw of missed master-planning opportunities, opportunistic commercial conflict and civic myopia. Glasgow deserves miles better.
Plymouth can ill afford to lose such a fine modern building, so I just hope that there's sufficient strength to the both inspirational and practical 'can do' spirit of those challenging the demolition proposal to win out over the remote and mean-spirited 'can't do' culture of the Daily Mail
How refreshing to hear someone come out and say that - when they're looking for architects - they like names, not initials or 'quirky things'.
With this dead initiative for recreating the Crystal Palace, and the still alive and kicking project for inserting a planted bridge over the Thames between Temple and the South Bank, I wonder if Boris Johnson is beginning to exhibit an unfortunate penchant for promoting the sort of daft 'grand project' that attracts populist support but in reality is a can of expensive - and destructive - worms.
Comment on: Second Bauhaus Museum contest launches
Can the new museum really 'strengthen and complement' what appears to be quite a small City Park?
And there was me thinking that Westminster Council knew what they were at, but after rubber stamping the silly garden bridge, and now bungling this bridge project, I've changed my mind
Unadaptable? really? I wonder - and Stewart Brand's ideas might be fine in theory, but surely lead to a proliferation of rather anonymous flexible metal 'sheds' - and even Team 4's pioneering shed for Reliance Controls in Swindon only lasted from 1967 to 1991, with a retail park now occupying the site of the industrial estate.
Comment on: Project manager appointed for Mack restoration
Regarding next month's decision on the choice of architect, I wonder if this will also determine whether replication or modernisation wins the day? Architects of great merit have argued for both options, and hopefully there's no element of the 'arrogant' and 'egotistical', that Ken Shuttleworth sees in some architects, at play here. The claim that 'repro' would be a sham, without the patina of age, is surely a bit specious, if it's recreating really unique design - and the patina of age would surely evolve, not be replicated, please. Didn't the post-WW2 reconstruction of the historic fabric of some European cities teach us the value of replication - for example Dresden, and Gdansk?
This is just the latest example of a high quality modern building becoming 'surplus to requirements' and being viewed as a prime candidate for enthusiastic neglect leading to demolition, to realise the maximum site 'potential' (usually 'on behalf of the shareholders', and fired by the high value of bog standard houses crammed in as tight as possible). A sad reflection of today's society, and the logical answer for any company is never to commission good architecture that will be valued for what it is - and will become an insidious threat to maximising the return on investment.
Vertical thatched walls are certainly innovative, but I wonder if I'm alone in thinking that the whole assemblage is something of a dog's breakfast, rather than raising standards of design in rural areas and reflecting the highest standards in architecture - as specified in para 55 of the NPPF. And with the apparent destruction of a Grade ll-listed farmhouse in favour of a 'family dwelling' that can be 'closed up in its entirety' this is surely rather more posture than architecture, and designed for part-time occupation in a rural area seen as a weekend / holiday destination rather than a viable community.
It will be interesting to see the outcome of this legal challenge - to what appears to have been a quite extraordinary abuse of process - given the success of the legal challenge to what seems to be a similar bypass of procedure in Winchester. But whereas the Winchester affair appears to have been due to poor decisions by badly advised councillors, the London affair looks rather more toxic.
The fact that a country is a democracy seems to be widely considered as justification for what's done in the name of that country. Not only is this a dubious proposition, it's dangerous - as everyone in a democracy can be considered responsible for what's being done in their name, when in fact many people object strongly to their democratically elected government's actions.
John Betjeman will definitely be stirring in his grave.
Comment on: RIBA rolls out 2015 General Election campaign
If Local Authorities don't already have the power to block developments in areas vulnerable to flooding it surely follows that everyone involved in expediting these developments - from landowners to architects - deserve to be sued for gross negligence. A parallel with those fine citizens with Swiss bank accounts?
Aberdeen's loss is, once more, Paris's gain.
Catherine Croft describes it as 'a mess' - but, unless the 'now' photos aren't telling the whole story, the new signage is surely not that disruptive?
Interesting, on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday morning, to hear Sir Peter Bazalgette, at the core of the English establishment, admiring Joanna Lumley (who's been sending up the diet mania by promoting an obviously spoof snack diet) as the promoter of the garden bridge . It presumably hasn't occurred to the chair of Arts Council England that La Lumley might just have originally punted the garden bridge as a bit of a joke, only to have ambitious designers and greedy politicians pick it up and run with it, helped on their way by complacent local councillors.
A bridge too far - way too far - but, if built, it will exemplify a breathtaking degree of arrogance in both politicians and personalities. But is this a uniquely London 'thing', or does it speak of a wider creeping sickness in our society, heralded by the ever increasing gulf between the 'haves' and the rest?
And now perhaps the ARB should remind registered architects that they're not members of the Board unless they're on the Board - or the ARB might find itself having to ask one of the Board members why all his architect partners are misrepresenting themselves as board members, when they're not - they're just registered architects, like the vast majority of the profession.
Oops, should have said Natural History Museum, not British Museum.
This seems to be in the same dismal tradition as the decision to flatten the Euston Arch. I thought we'd moved on.
I mourn the disappearance of the dinosaur that once occupied the medieval monastic undercroft (now a shop & restaurant) of Durham Cathedral, and I think that such a skeleton has just as much relevance, and more visual impact, to that of a blue whale. The fact that the British Museum dinosaur skeleton is a replica is - to my mind - neither here nor there, the blue whale is already on display, and the proposals smell of change for change's sake..
Michael Edwards is absolutely right - and if London can't 'go the extra mile' to provide a home for all these mosaics. one way or another, then perhaps the initiative might come from Scotland, from Edinburgh - Paolozzi's home town.
It's inconceivable that these elements can't be 'saved' - maybe not in their original context, or even in the station - but the one thing that is sure is that Paolozzi's talent is head and shoulders above that of people that think that claiming to save 95% of the mosaics is 'job done'.
All the residential units might exceed current space standards by 10%, but why position the hall / lounge door so that it precludes the possibility of the occupants putting a useful length of storage cupboard, shelving or whatever in the hall?
Unfortunately, architecture for inhumanity is alive and well - but we must be very careful what we say about it.
Comment on: RIBA to open new India chapter
I think that it's still Delhi, not 'Deli', as surely the local language version used in the city is 'Dilli'.
Comment on: Second panel falls from Zaha’s Vienna library
Not sure about 'iconic' - but there seems to be a very thin line between innovative/spectacular and in-your-face/thuggish.
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.
Walter Menteth's observation of the lost opportunity might yet prove to be premature, if Westminster gets a sufficiently hefty kicking but Scotland opts to remain within the fold - and the implications for the English regions could well be immense.