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Robert Wakeham's Comments

  • Comment on: Julia Park: 'We have to end this schizophrenic approach to housing'

    Robert Wakeham's comment 31-Jul-2015 11:33 am

    Perhaps George Osborne will issue an edict 'repealing' Julia Park.

  • Comment on: Conservationists object to Chipperfield's plans for Emin

    Robert Wakeham's comment 30-Jul-2015 7:19 pm

    For Paul Finch - It's not a question of 'trying to punish' - but I don't see that it is more interesting, and for Chris Dyson, are you sure that the replacement building is a thoughtful and sensitive design? It might well be much better than the previously approved design for the site, but does 'an honest reflection of the interior spatial requirements' have to result in quite such a severe exterior? 'Form follows function', I suppose, but if this results in something rather too hostile for its own good? Fortress Spitalfields? It certainly says something of today - beautiful? - a new cultural landmark?

  • Comment on: Conservationists object to Chipperfield's plans for Emin

    Robert Wakeham's comment 30-Jul-2015 1:05 pm

    It's a pity that there are no images of the existing building, because - if you look on Google Streetview - its listing is clearly understandable, and it's 'holding the fort' against a really crude multi storey car park on the opposite side of White's Row, and a nasty sub-Jim Stirling office block on the other side of Bell Lane.. Regardless of the undoubted care that would be taken in the detailing and workmanship of the new proposal, it's bland and cold in comparison to the character of the other, older buildings in the neighbourhood, and as such certainly isn't 'very high quality design'. Maybe this is a bit like the 'garden bridge' proposal, with people being 'dazzled' by well known names into thinking that their ideas automatically deserve approval?

  • Comment on: Emmott: 'Londoners overwhelmingly want the Garden Bridge'

    Robert Wakeham's comment 29-Jul-2015 11:12 am

    I'm sure that Hans Christian Andersen would be smiling quietly to himself at such a classic example of 'The Emperor's new clothes'. Just how far will this project run, where is 'the point of no return' after which London - and national - politicians will be stuck with responsibility for the imposition of a colossal monument to their vanity? - and drain on a much abused public purse.

  • Comment on: RCKa wins planning for Lewisham Pocket homes conversion

    Robert Wakeham's comment 27-Jul-2015 2:40 pm

    No interior images of what 'pocket living' might be like.

  • Comment on: Ian Ritchie: 'What problem does the Garden Bridge solve?'

    Robert Wakeham's comment 27-Jul-2015 2:25 pm

    An excellent statement of the facts - and surely the planning approvals from both north and south of the river are inadequate, given the massive impact of this development on an important part of the character of the centre of what is still the capital of Britain, not just a Singapore-style city state where dissent is kept firmly on the leash. Viewed from a virtually Tory-free Scotland, this 'wonderful exercise in celebrity hype and hubris' could all too easily be used as another nail in the coffin of the UK.

  • Comment on: Campaigners halt British Land's Norton Folgate plans

    Robert Wakeham's comment 22-Jul-2015 12:47 pm

    'Too greedy and too destructive' , and maybe a classic example of the rising tendency to 'overstuff' sites in London with out of scale buildings - property assets being made to sweat beyond reasonable limits. The comments of the council's planning officers - and of Historic England, in favour of this redevelopment - look rather hollow.

  • Comment on: Revealed: Nine Elms bridge finalists’ latest designs

    Robert Wakeham's comment 21-Jul-2015 2:27 pm

    How on earth can any Westminster councillors object to this - Westminster having recently rubber stamped the Garden Bridge (just downstream from Waterloo Bridge), far more disruptive to Thames vistas but far less useful than this public pedestrian & cycle link at Nine Elms. It's a shame (and surely bad planning) that the bridge alignment will result in the northern landing biting into the Pimlico Gardens & Shrubbery - is the Nine Elms redevelopment masterplan that inflexible? It's surely no coincidence that in the AJ's online poll the most intrusive bridge design is the least popular. Compared with that the mass of the postmodern Garden Bridge design is far more intrusive..

  • Comment on: Shigeru Ban to make UK debut with timber scheme

    Robert Wakeham's comment 20-Jul-2015 1:46 pm

    So the council - the planning authority - sells a plot with 'oversail rights' to the developer to allow building over Potters Field Park? Is this a new way for councils to raise money?

  • Comment on: Hopkins submits plans for new Hyde Park Corner hotel

    Robert Wakeham's comment 20-Jul-2015 12:18 pm

    I wonder at the definition of 'carefully curated' when you look at the elevation of the existing building on this site.

  • Comment on: Those seeking to list Number One Poultry are playing a dangerous game

    Robert Wakeham's comment 17-Jul-2015 12:50 pm

    It's easy to sympathise with both sides of the argument - an Iconic building needing to pay its way - and surely one good move would be for two of the most prominent objectors to the proposed alterations to 'stand up and be counted'. Both Norman Foster and Richard Rogers have plenty of experience in the art of designing efficient office buildings. Their last 'joint venture' as Team Four, the Reliance Controls factory in Swindon, fell victim to changing times and was (very regrettably) flattened, and Foster's Renault Distribution Centre in Swindon has survived by change of use. What would they do, if landed with the challenge of improving the viability of Number One Poultry? Or can they suggest a new, perhaps more fitting , use for the building?

  • Comment on: Work begins on Libeskind’s Berlin apartments

    Robert Wakeham's comment 17-Jul-2015 11:53 am

    The 'trademark angles' seem rather superficial, compared for example with the trademark angles & curves of Zaha Hadid's work. And the quote about its holistic character etc etc could qualify for inclusion in 'Pseuds Corner' in Private Eye. It's surely got as much in common with Dali's 'Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) as with a saphire - with the analogy being that of buildings, rather than humans (or a country) being torn apart.

  • Comment on: Kerslake mulls legal action to stop Right to Buy extension

    Robert Wakeham's comment 17-Jul-2015 11:35 am

    There's surely a case for concerted legal action by a whole range of affordable housing providers who are going to be shafted in the populist (read selfish) interests of one political party.

  • Comment on: IBI wins go-ahead for £50m revamp of Barnsley town centre

    Robert Wakeham's comment 14-Jul-2015 2:12 pm

    It would be interesting to compare the latest proposals with the abandoned efforts of Holder Matthias / CZWG / Will Alsop.

  • Comment on: Government scraps zero-carbon homes amid industry uproar

    Robert Wakeham's comment 13-Jul-2015 10:33 am

    People don't seem to understand that George Osborne's short-term trajectory through the firmament is way more important than setting any long-term trajectory for national energy conservation policy and legislation.

  • Comment on: More homes: Osborne tears up planning rules for brownfield land

    Robert Wakeham's comment 10-Jul-2015 10:08 am

    The government's finance minister seems to be morphing into Minister of Social Engineering - as well as Minister for Silly Bridges. Perhaps he'd like to be Minister for Everything?

  • Comment on: Urban Splash to redevelop Plymouth’s listed Civic Centre

    Robert Wakeham's comment 10-Jul-2015 9:55 am

    Really good news for this building, and Plymouth - which got a phenomenal battering in the early years of WW2, with the city centre looking like Coventry, Dresden or Hiroshima, and this building signalled the substantial completion of reconstruction, to a masterplan drawn up in 1943/4, while the bombing continued. Only two buildings in the city centre remain from before WW2 - the shell of Charles Church, now a memorial to the civilian dead, and a 'misaligned' shop (now Argos) in New George Street.

  • Comment on: Wilkinson Eyre wins Copenhagen bridge contest

    Robert Wakeham's comment 8-Jul-2015 10:54 am

    It would appear that in Copenhagen - rather than in the London of Osborne & Johnson - they have no difficulty in assessing bridge designers on merit. But then, in Denmark they're creating an elegant, ingenious and above all useful structure that respects its setting

  • Comment on: Moxon brought in on Garden Bridge project

    Robert Wakeham's comment 8-Jul-2015 10:35 am

    The recruitment of Moxon, with their ex-Wilkinson & Eyre partner - and Flint & Neill - will certainly help make up for the blatant skewing of the 'ranking' process that was applied to Heatherwick Studios, but it will do absolutely nothing to legitimise the sheer arrogance of imposing this development on the Thames in the centre of our capital city - and the outrageous diversion of substantial sums of public money to a vanity project by the very person who is driving through a policy of severe and increasing austerity in public spending.

  • Comment on: Glasgow's 'iconic' Royal Concert Hall steps saved – for now

    Robert Wakeham's comment 7-Jul-2015 12:30 pm

    'City of Culture' is, in Glasgow's case, all too easily seen as a place that's 'all fur coat and no knickers'. To add to Alan Dunlop's list of bad planning decisions and cack-handed architecture threatening the quality of George Square, Network Rail's EGIP (Edinburgh - Glasgow Improvement Programme) involves extending Queen Street Station to a new frontage looming over George Square - and the original sensitively designed glass curtain wall has now degenerated into a sloping glass monstrosityl topped with a massive eaves projection, maybe appropriate for an airport terminal but utterly alien to the setting of George Square. That the designer of this is a qualified architect beggars belief.

  • Comment on: Mies' grandson backs 'hydraulic jacks' plan for Farnsworth House

    Robert Wakeham's comment 7-Jul-2015 10:55 am

    Rowan Moore is on the right track - there's a well known problem with constructing filling stations anywhere that groundwater is not far below the surface, whereby - if the new underground storage tanks aren't filled with water before a concrete ground slab is cast over them - there's the very real possibility that they'll float upwards, breaking out of the backfill. So you'd think that the Farnsworth house doesn't really need elaborate hydraulics in the foundations, just carefully designed closed-cell rigid foam footings just below ground with minimal separable fill above.

  • Comment on: Chancellor urged mayor to fund Garden Bridge

    Robert Wakeham's comment 4-Jul-2015 9:38 am

    For a Chancellor of the Exchequer to describe this bit of ill advised froth as 'iconic' suggests to me that he's been casting around for supposedly populist causes - and has perhaps succumbed, unwisely, to some rather questionable siren voices. The 'Northern Powerhouse' is one thing, but the 'Garden Bridge' is something else - and in egging on his Bullingdon pal Boris to participate in this jape he's surely stuck his neck out a good deal further than is prudent.

  • Comment on: Foster: ‘The patch and mend attitude to airport capacity is not the answer’

    Robert Wakeham's comment 2-Jul-2015 12:47 pm

    At first sight both Foster and Farrell's comments seem to make a lot of sense - in the context of London. But if you've ever been stuck at Schipol for half a day because London City is closed by fog, or if you've suffered from your plane ingesting a bird on take-off - or you just like estuary birds - Foster's project is unrealistic. A Thames estuary airport would likely be even more difficult of access from most of the rest of Britain (unless you fly) than Gatwick is. Gatwick's transport connections with London are not as good as Heathrow's, but adding another runway would appear to be a lot less damaging to the locale than adding one at Heathrow. Does London really need more airport runways, or is the existing capacity struggling to cope with too many transfer passengers who don't really need to go anywhere near London - or maybe even Britain?

  • Comment on: Ivor Smith: What makes a house a home?

    Robert Wakeham's comment 1-Jul-2015 1:58 pm

    I too thought that the Smithsons had a 'total disregard for humanising anything' - but was then intrigued to see their domestic interventions (in their later years) for their friend Axel Bruchhauser in his garden in Germany - the witch in his Hexenhaus looks to have been suspiciously human.

  • Comment on: Heatherwick: ‘The Garden Bridge has to be built in central London or not at all’

    Robert Wakeham's comment 1-Jul-2015 1:20 pm

    'The project is really just two planters which sit in the river' - I can't help thinking that there enough planters sitting on London pavements, demarcating outdoor eating & drinking space, without sticking a couple in the Thames - but it does lead to tempting thoughts of planting Boris & George (plus a few others) in the Thames, as a Gormley-style art installation (but biodegradable).

  • Comment on: RIBA and ARB ethical codes attacked

    Robert Wakeham's comment 1-Jul-2015 12:04 pm

    When one of the members of the ARB has all his architect partners listed as board members on his practice information you can be fairly sure that the organisation is in need of a little gentle kicking.

  • Comment on: Helsinki poll casts doubts over Guggenheim approval

    Robert Wakeham's comment 1-Jul-2015 11:48 am

    Helsinki is nothing like Bilbao, and although both cities share the experience of 21st century redundancy and re-invention, in Bilbao it was the heavy industrial raison d'etre of the city that was melting away, whereas in Helsinki it's the migration of shipping activity from the original 'downtown' waterfronts out to the new harbour to the east that has left a relatively small, but prominent, void in the city's built fabric. Helsinki just doesn't need a Guggenheim intervention in the way that Bilbao did, and the city councillors are absolutely right to question the impact of this proposals - I'm surprised if no-one raised the overall darkness of all the cladding - the forms are reminiscent of the Mareel Arts centre in Lerwick, at the same latitude - bur there the architects had the good sense to resist the current fashion for overall drab.

  • Comment on: Ivor Smith: What makes a house a home?

    Robert Wakeham's comment 30-Jun-2015 11:05 am

    'Expression of the whole dwelling rather than the repetition of separate windows can order the scale of a large building' - this helped greatly to 'humanise' Park Hill, as can be seen when the deck access elevations are compared with the opposite, 'human', side. The Park Hill elevations are surely rather more successful than those of the Smithsons' Robin Hood Gardens - and if you wander around the back of King's Cross the new Saxon Court / Roseberry Mansions blocks by Maccreanor Lavington show what happens when rigorous repetition and order rule the day (at least, on the street elevations) and the influence of Louis Sullivan is obvious. But then, he wasn't designing homes for people in Chicago - and it's intriguing that the mix of housing types and communal facilities at King's Cross are in fact not that much different from that at Park Hill.

  • Comment on: TfL: ‘We could be the answer to London’s housing crisis’

    Robert Wakeham's comment 30-Jun-2015 10:31 am

    Reassuring to know that TfL's awareness of what it can do to help develop London extends beyond a very contrived vanity project - although developing its property portfolio will see money flowing in, rather than out. But I wonder what's meant by 'game-changing' - affordable housing maybe? No mention of this, and with the government determined to see social housing being flogged off cheap to tenants/developers, maybe the arithmetic wouldn't stack up and we'll see more and more residential property bought purely as an investment, to be left empty and to hell with London.

  • Comment on: Profits up at Urban Splash

    Robert Wakeham's comment 30-Jun-2015 10:19 am

    Good to see a really inspirational developer bouncing back from the hard times of recent years, and very good for the likes of the city of Plymouth.