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.
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.
I very much hope that these two symposia don't turn out to be forums for promoting the idea that to restore the School of Art 'as built' would be to condemn it to just a repro 'Mockintosh' sham. This view was being promoted last week by the former director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and chair of the Friends of the Glasgow School of Art, David Mullane - who seems to have got carried away by the concept of modern interventions in the fabric of historic ruins. The Glasgow School of Art is not a ruin.
Comment on: Frank Gehry dropped from World Trade Centre job
I wonder, what are Maggie Boepple's credentials?
Interesting that the station incorporates escalators, unlike the proposals for Ealing Broadway - I wonder if the predicted passenger numbers at Woolwich Arsenal are greater than those for Ealing Broadway?
Paul Finch refers to a massive disservice to London and Londoners; How about the massive disservice to the rest of the country if Heathrow were to be shut down? Johnson, Moylan and Foster seem to think that only London matters, so perhaps it would be best if London were to be 'floated' as a separate city state, Singapore style, leaving the rest of Britain (including Scotland, to my mind) to pursue more balanced physical and economic development strategies.
I wonder how many people would guess 'its presence as a beach hut' (despite its location) in the face of such strong architectural references - which, to me, suggest some early Victorian public utility, probably a pumping station, and not a lighthouse (despite its location).
Comment on: Planning victory in Isle of Man for Foster Lomas
Great Britain needs its main hub airport shifted to the other side of London like it needs a hole in the head. This is not about Great Britain, and it's not even really about London - except in the sense that it greases the way for Boris to further his political ambitions by gaining election to a parliamentary constituency - Uxbridge & South Ruislip - that would be a much quieter place should Heathrow be removed. True, land would be released for more housing, with good transport connections, but the commercial development - and very substantial employment - created by Heathrow would all move out, shifting to the 'empty spaces' (green belt?) of Essex or Kent. The London urban splodge would expand massively to the east, mainly to the benefit of developers, builders, designers - and, of course, Boris.
It would fit IKEA's professed image of social enlightenment if they - and Sainsbury - funded the reconstruction of this pioneering building on another site. If it's too small for Sainsbury's full range this suggests to me that the client bungled the design brief, but I bet that the likes of Aldi or Lidl could find it eminently useful.
'Concrete and reinforced steel' - reinforced concrete, perchance?
Comment on: Cheesegrater’s public realm completes
'Escalator Central' - a remarkable contrast with what the Crossrail 'upgrade' of the Ealing transport hub is going to provide.
So what was their reason for trying to 'freeze out' Jonathan Ball - I remember him as clearly having a big personality - but then the people who 'get things done' very often do, so was it simply a clash of big personalities that escalated into litigation? And what of Stroh - I see he's still a partner in Druces LLP. A senior lawyer caught lying through his teeth, so that's all right then!
If 'hugely improved' doesn't include provision of escalators for a transport hub as busy as this then there's something far wrong with the procedure - it's quite simply substandard.
What sort of conservation area does this development sit in, and what sort of existing building does it replace?
A rather daft abbreviation - or is it initials?
P Buchan's comment ignores the very different geography of Southern England compared to Hong Kong.
Interesting, and apparently for widely varying market sectors - with a predictable tendency for those tedious inward facing seats in high-volume urban trains, and one proposal - from Creactive Deisign - that's really quite nasty.
What do people find attractive about raw concrete ceilings, in a residential context?
Comment on: dRMM wins go-ahead for first City office scheme
This looks to be a building that adds variety to the street, in contrast to Farshid Moussavi's nearby offering - which, if the illustration is anything to go by, would be a dark, overbearing monster. It'll be interesting to see the planners' reaction.
I wonder if Mr Yentob is at all aware of the irony in the work of such a very good architect being 'dumbed down' by the BBC, to cut costs, at a time when the BBC's own senior management - Yentob included - was busy maximising both their numbers and their 'compensation'. No wonder they fired their architect, but is it really seemly for Mr Yentob now to behave in a way which reads (to me, at any rate) as self interest? I hope the BBC seeks the 'no objection' of Peter Jamieson, David Pritchard and his son before installing a plaque to commemorate Richard MacCormac - for the quality of the buildings commissioned by clients of integrity, who believed in him, stands as eloquent memory to a very fine architect. And this in the same week that 'Private Eye' contrasts the firing of the Panorama team with the further padding of BBC management.
Since when has taking a basic moral stand in relation to the activities of members of the architectural profession been essentially political activity?
Comment on: Richard Rogers renews Crossrail criticism
The references to Ealing Broadway station should also include the blindingly obvious need for escalators there, and the lack of their inclusion in the 'upgrade' speaks volumes for what seems to be wrong with the Crossrail approach to station design - which, in the case of Ealing Broadway, could be fairly described as 'all fur coat and no knickers'.
When is Boris going to commission designs for housing on the site of Buckingham Palace? - no need to rehouse the existing part-time residents, they've got alternative premises at Windsor and it'd reduce their bedroom tax liability.
Comment on: Architects welcome Gove's departure
There'a good Scottish term - 'A wee nyaff', but in fact Gove did have a reforming zeal which - if applied intelligently - could do an awful lot of good in a variety of directions, not just in education..
Comment on: Pickles ‘poised to exit DCLG’
So Mark Boleat thinks that the market demand for office space should override decent planning policy. City of London = City of Mammon and that's all that counts?
Comment on: Fosters unveils designs for Russian headquarters
As 'a powerful new symbol' for a copper manufacturer the choice of cladding material is rather surprising.
Mark Boleat doesn't seem to understand that greed doesn't always pay.
Comment on: 'New' Aedas eyes London mega-schemes
Flashing photos of Chinese high rises as 'evidence of intent' in London might just be counter productive.
It's amazing how the prospect of Heathrow as juicy development land could entice Boris into promoting an enormous lemon.
It's difficult to understand how this proposal could have gained the support of CABE, let alone English Heritage.