Robert Wakeham's Comments
I hope the architects for the proposed replacement building have the sense to wash their hands of this project - if cowboy clients have difficulty in finding architects who are willing to jump into bed with them it would be good for both the profession and the country. I also hope that the nationwide company whose name was emblazoned on the demolition plant has to account for just what they thought they were doing - otherwise it's difficult to see them retaining some of their largest clients. Lastly, I hope that the resolve of the authorities involved doesn't waver, isn't undermined by 'behind the scenes' influence being brought to bear, and that this building really does rise from the dead.
SAVE is surely absolutely correct in its assessment - the pressure to enable a large and influential institution to consume its surroundings like some sort of malignant growth has to be resisted - the damage done by the University of Edinburgh in past years is surely the classic ample of what not to do. And the sheer drabness of Hall McKnight's proposal adds insult to injury.
British Land refers to a 'heritage-led scheme' - is this developer-speak for large scale demolition of an area? It's surely rather gracious of Mr Cruickshank to suggest that British Land's behaviour has been quite good.
An ingenious design for an 'interesting' site - but why, oh why, such a dark brick skin - 'dark' seems to have become the signature feature of so much contemporary work.
Thank goodness it hasn't suffered the fate of the soon-to-have-been-listed Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, suddenly and illegally demolished the day after Easter Monday in a manner reminiscent of the outrageous destruction of the Firestone Building in Brentford in 1980.
If I was going to rank - on a scale of 1 to 10 - the Thames Baths project, and the 'green bridge', in terms of appropriate interventions on the river, these baths would be up there at 1 and the 'green bridge' would be an also-ran.
A notable attribute of the existing range of buildings, apart from architectural variety, and interest, is that they're not drab - more than can be said of their replacement, which seems to be following the current widespread trend in London for dark and rather dismal buildings. Does the level of atmospheric pollution justify this, or is it just fashionable?
Comment on: Euston Arch rebuild efforts move forward
Boris would surely be better advised to have TfL contribute to this inspired project than to pursue the elitist and dysfunctional garden bridge folly.
If only the judicial review could also examine Transport for London's use of public money to help fund a bridge that has no provision for cyclists - the clue is in the word 'transport'. Boris would be better advised to put the money into reconstructing the historic Euston Arch
So I wonder what changed Historic England's mind?
Comment on: Contentious Hall McKnight plans set for approval
This reminds me of the bad old days in Edinburgh, when the university did so much damage to the character of George Square - assisted by the clout of big-name architects - but I thought that we'd moved on from the attitudes that prevailed in the 1960s. Maybe not.
I've always thought that being a pedestrian is a basic human right, whereas being a motorist is a privilege - but I can't decide where being a cyclist should be, between these two extremes, and I can't help feeling that the daft behaviour of a minority of cyclists encourages some drivers to treat them with contempt, and some pedestrians to have no sympathy for them - despite the obvious hazards that they face in most British city streets.
Joe Morris mentions cyclists jumping red lights and riding on pavements, and while these people are clearly a small minority they're very visible, and I - as a pedestrian - despise them for their utter irresponsibility. I suspect that they do enormous damage to the reputation of cyclists in central London amongst not just pedestrians but - more critically - taxi drivers and all the other drivers who spend their working lives in this area. My early morning bus journeys from Euston down to Southampton Row, and short walk east along Theobald's Road, were a real eye-opener - both for the conflict between cyclists and frequently stopping buses, and for the tidal wave of cycles on Theobald's Road, frequently ignoring pedestrian lights and frequently on the pavement at the junction with Southampton Row. These were clearly experienced cyclists, but deserved to be banned, and I wonder whether there's a need for some form of licensing, with heavy penalties for dangerous cyclists as well as dangerous drivers?
At least Foster's design respected the scale of the place, and that statement in the planning documents is an interesting interpretation of evolution - is it my imagination, or would Mussolini and the Ceausescus have recognised the qualities in this impressive pile?
Comment on: Elips completes ‘Italian-style’ pasta café
I can just about understand the concept of keeping everything white - except the entrance door.
I apologise for getting Jane Merrick's name wrong (no edit facility) and add that Transport for London want to invest public money in a new Thames crossing closed to cyclists? Really? - after the tragedy last week that so clearly demonstrated the need for safer cycling routes in London, and destroyed the life of someone who really did know what good design is all about?.
Merrick is absolutely right in criticising this silly vanity project, which so clearly symbolises what happens when privilege, power and patronage get out of hand.
You could almost believe that it isn't 1st April - I just wish that the Joanna/Thomas/Boris project for their garden bridge over the Thames had been a 1st April affair.
Hooray - but now let's see if whichever minister - and government - is landed with taking the decision manages to avoid being bent to the will of the building owners.
Comment on: Copper Lane by Henley Halebrown Rorrison
A beautifully crafted group - and, for someone living far from London, it's refreshing to note that none of the reviews that I've read have made any reference to the absence of provision for parking.
This is one 'impartial punter' who isn't impressed by someone on David Cameron's shortlist of nominated successors spouting guff about criticism of the garden bridge - but then Boris spouts rather a lot of guff, so perhaps this is an essential qualification for a potential Prime Minister.
A lesson learnt from the criticism of the quality of the architecture of the Crossrail project, in comparison to the fine work done on the Jubilee Line extension, under the direction of the late Roland Paoletti?
Comment on: MIPIM: 10 things we learned
Lesson number three - the London stand - intrigues me greatly; if it was twice as busy as the Paris stand, with its transport masterplan involving the creation of 72 new stations, I wonder why? For many decades the Paris authorities seem to have been far ahead of those in London when it comes to developing essential transport infrastructure, and this should surely be reflected in the health of the property market. Are the Paris developers and financiers that much less adroit than those in London, or are there other factors at play, under the surface? Is there more awareness in Paris of the provenance of the wealth looking for a safe home, perhaps? Is the case of the foreign billionaire spiv with a criminal record who's acquired ownership of a large chunk of the Camden Lock market area the exception that proves the rule, or is a substantial proportion of the London development gravy train fuelled by grubby money and even grubbier people?
This will replace 'a number of existing buildings on Houghton Street and Clare Market' - and will obviously change the character of the urban fabric, so it would be interesting to see what's being lost, as well as what's being gained - whether the variety of buildings being demolished embody a richness of character that is more, or less, than that of the two new buildings apparently designed in matching style. Hopefully the new buildings and public square - and 'improved connectivity and wayfinding throughout the university' - add up to a substantial gain to the quality of the city, but with neither a site plan nor any illustration of the existing streetscapes it's impossible to tell, unless you go there.
Comment on: Shortlist revealed in Nine Elms bridge contest
How on earth can Westminster councillors object to the 'visual and environmental impact' of these proposals when they've recently rubber-stamped the far more intrusive (and less than elegant) 'green bridge' on a nearby stretch of the river that - if anything - is even more sensitive to intrusive 'interventions'?
Comment on: Farrell: ‘Garden Bridge is an indulgence’
I too initially thought of it as a folly - and it would be if it adorned the parkland of some great country estate (or perhaps, even better, the arid environment of Lake Havasu City or one of those Dubai suburban developments dredged out of the sea). But imposed on this site in central London, such a bridge would be an arrogant interloper. Please, Joanna and Thomas - indulge yourselves elsewhere (perhaps a Russian oligarch would fancy it in his back garden). And if the stories about TfL's very 'creative' ranking of Thomas's bridge experience are true, he'd surely be wise to gracefully retire from this imbroglio before it's too late.
Comment on: Campaigners protest to save Grimshaw’s ‘Ship’
If it was anyone else threatening the existence of such a fine modern building the Daily Mail could well be exercising their self-righteous indignation by shouting it from the rooftops - the 'Daily Hypocrite', perhaps? The owner's agent for the application for demolition was Indigo Planning, London - David Graham, the associate director named on the application, is described in their blurb as having a 'particular interest in heritage', and he's also an 'RTPI APC assessor, assessing planners who are looking to become chartered'.. Indeed - it's reassuring to know that planning our built environment is in such good hands.
Comment on: Taiwan opens Danjiang Bridge design contest
I bet they won't 'mark down' those entrants who have won a significant number of bridge design competitions - on their inexperience in bridge design.
'To protect the valued qualities of London...' - hopefully, not just from tall buildings impacting the skyline, but from proposals like the 'green bridge' that will have a massive impact on classic views.
Comment on: Foster bags Qatar World Cup stadium job
'Green technologies' to cool an open air pitch? That's alright, then.
Michael Edwards: for 'very high profile' read: Very obstructive monument to self-regarding egos, messing up the riverscape on a much loved stretch of the Thames.
This is more like a story from Putin's Moscow - or am I being naive?
There was a time when I'd sit in a cafe in Theobald's Road before work, and we'd see Boris cycle past - and while we were fairly sure where he was headed we didn't have a clue where he was coming from.
Good to see respect for the ambience of the Merchant City - if only architects could show the same degree of respect for nearby George Square.
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.