Robert Wakeham's Comments
If Gillian Darley says the brief is wrong, Boris should climb down off his gilded bike and listen.
Is it within Boris Johnson's gift to close Heathrow? - He's mayor of London, not England boss (yet); Heathrow serves a great deal more of the country than just London, and serves it far better than an airport down the Thames estuary ever could. To be perfectly cynical, property developers might call the shots in London, but they don't pull England's strings to the same extent.
Interesting that John Assael is one of the trio, because he himself has (I'm sure unwittingly) dropped a clanger in his own practice information. As a board member of ARB, he should surely have realised that to describe all the directors of his practice as not only being registered architects but also being members of ARB, is really not on.
Some supercities creep up on us unannounced; for example, it takes no more time to travel between central Glasgow and central Edinburgh than it can take to go from Holborn to Canary Wharf. How much of the South East's economic success is down to a financial services sector so loosely regulated that it's costing the country (not just the South East) astronomic sums to rescue it, with every sign that mainland Europe could well start to make inroads on this business? George Osborne's pronouncements have to be seen in the light of rising disaffection in Northern England with the policies of the Department for Transport in denying the provision of adequate numbers of trains (rather like the situation in the Bristol / Bath area a year or two ago). Despite this shortfall, the DfT is overseeing the transfer of some of the best quality trains from Northern England to services out of Marylebone, and it's probably no coincidence that it's the Treasury minister, not the Transport minister, who's promising jam tomorrow. Many in the North of England compare their situation unfavourably with that in a devolved (let alone independent) Scotland, where improving train services isn't dependent on the vagaries of the DfT and the (frequently dead hand) of the Treasury.
For 'benefits for the country' read 'benefits for London', because the proposed site would be less accessible to the rest of the country. There seems to be 'paucity of the interrogation of the opportunity' in the minds of Thomas and Johnson - unless, of course, they're entirely fixated on what's best for London and references to 'the rest of the country' are just a cynical gesture to public opinion. There is also the question of weather - I've been stuck in Schipol waiting half a day for the fog to clear at London City when flights to the other London airports were unaffected, so just how sensible is the idea of an airport on the Thames estuary?
Comment on: Row hits Studio Egret West tower
Nothing whatsoever like Parkhill in Sheffield - and hopefully it'll help bring the question of discordant high-rise building to a sensible conclusion.
All it needs is a penguin or two.
Comment on: The AJ's guide to Brazil's World Cup stadiums
I hope that none of these stadiums ever find an alternative use in the way that Chile's national stadium was used by Augusto Pinochet.
An interesting interpretation of 'landmark' - not much more than just an apparently fairly slick re-imaging of the existing building, whereas the ORMS scheme appears to respond to a very different brief, presumably a good deal more costly but also a good deal more of a 'landmark'. - I wonder what the AHMM proposal looked like?
'Officers working on the project didn't identify any issues relating to elected members' English translation: Nae cooncil staff welshed on their boss. I wonder why - 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'? The last Glasgow council boss seemed to benefit from this 'code of practice' - until he landed in rehab and the whole mucky story of his regime suddenly exploded in the media.
I could have sworn that the building regulations have - in recent decades - increasingly embodied the need for energy conservation, carbon neutrality, sustainability, etc etc, to help ensure that this planet remains habitable for as long as possible. And yet there's really nothing to stop a very attractive, energy efficient, well-built, pioneering modern office building from being flattened to realise the perceived real estate value of the site. It's surely very difficult to ignore the fact that Barton Willmore should be ashamed of themselves for taking on this commission, but unfortunately they're just following in the footsteps of other 'good' architects who, in recent years have collaborated in the destruction of sometimes excellent modern buildings because there's money to be made from redevelopment, and to hell with the sustainability etc that the profession might be expected to respect these days.
This saga reminds me of some of the pieces by Robert Fisk, in the Independent, over the years, on the obstacles sometimes placed in his way in the course of trying to comment objectively on the less attractive aspects of Israeli behaviour in the conflicts over land and human rights.
Foster shouldn't confuse London with Britain - the location might well be convenient for London, but that's not the same as being convenient for Britain.
Comment on: What went wrong at Oxley Woods?
RSHP's comment that 'The design of Oxley Woods was inspected and approved by the NHBC...' leaves me wondering if they approved the detailed design 'as built', whether they inspected the work under construction - whether it was built in accordance with the details that they'd approved.
Not enough information, perhaps due to ongoing responsibility issues, but it's important to know whether it's to do with site supervision, whether there's a material or systems failure involved - or whether it's down to a combination of factors. Uncertainty as to the cause could result in avoidable disruption of efforts to speed up the provision of value-for-money housing when it's desperately needed.
Comment on: C20 Society fails in bid to list Euston Station
Travelling through Euston station and forecourt certainly doesn't 'lift the heart', and to me it has a distinctly drab, communist-era East European feel to it.
Comment on: Glasgow School of Art by Steven Holl
A breath of fresh air. And the building doesn't seem to be riding on fashion - like the current vogue for twisted, bent and deformed 'look at me' towers in London, so very eloquent in their symbolism of the age of the dodgy 'financial services' culture. There's 'gallus' and there's crude, lumpen, late 20th century banality - like the apartment blocks flanking the tracks on the approach to Waterloo, and the assemblage of junk dominating the approach to Leeds Central from the southwest - monuments to extraordinary philistinism.
You haven't convinced me, Alex, - the part of the FGW network being electrified won't be that much faster or more comfortable than the existing service, and you've forgotten the well patronised long distance bus network that ties very smoothly into Heathrow. And your vision of Crossrail would translate, in my mind, to the hassle of transferring from Eurostar to the RER at Gare du Nord and then traipsing across Paris and a fair distance out beyond the far suburbs.
Hopefully there's more colour internally than would appear to be the case on the images of the exterior.
Who's going to tell Johnson, and the government, that - since Heathrow serves a huge area of southern Britain - shifting it to the east of London would seriously hinder access for a large number of users.
No mention of what the drawing archive contains, surely this is relevant to the project? Just material related to the Shatwell Farm developments?
The elevation in the first image is unfortunate in having quite such a regular grid of windows, in that it suggests that the housing is no more than high-bay racking for storing people.
'Faceting and sculpting' in an urban environment - apparently to include the roof, as if the whole building has been carved out of one chunk of brick - surely risks differential staining if roof rainwater just runs down the walls? Or are there to be gutter 'grooves' along the wallheads?
Comment on: Israeli architect defends RIBA’s motion
Anyone passing themselves off as someone else should be exposed and identified for who they really are - the AJ is usually mercifully free of the 'faceless ones' so, please, could we have a bit of honesty?
Jonathan Meades refers to 'even the most half witted elected representative...' - the trouble is, this is Glasgow, and the electorate seems perfectly capable of electing a parrot if it's wearing the right colours. In the case of the current leadership, it seems to be following in the footsteps of the previous disgraced one.
Perhaps by the time that HS2 is completed our friends the electrical engineers will have worked out how to pick up power from the two rails - like toy trains - by induction or whatever, thereby avoiding the need for posts and wires.
I wonder if this'll be an example of an attractive riverside site, with a variety of contrasting buildings and uses, being 'dumbed down' by the pressure to maximise the return on providing more very, very high value residential space? No reason why an architect shouldn't benefit from their investment, but will it be at the expense of the 'place'?.
Comment on: Brady defends RIBA Council Israeli motion
None of the human rights abusers listed by Stephen Games have such a close association with Britain, and to my mind there's a great deal of obfuscation being employed to justify condemnation of Brady's motion and the RIBA Council's vote. This reminds me of the controversy in the pages of the Architectural Review a few years ago, and at the risk of being accused of anti semitism myself, I think that no-one should lose sight of the fact that racism and prejudice can work in two directions, and is especially insidious when it's fed by misplaced loyalty, religion, selfishness and outright greed.
Gherkins, cheese graters, walkie-talkies - and now a pile of carelessly stacked boxes? What next in the novelty store?
The mismatch between 'London values' and national values was brought home to me last week when it was reported that the long disused Brompton Road underground station on the Piccadilly line had been sold for £53 million, while down in Somerset the 'fixing' of the flooding problems, including a barrage to protect Bridgwater, would cost the almost unimaginable sum of £100 million. £53 million pumped into the London economy (from the Ukraine economy) while it's anyone's guess whether there'll be a 'business case' for pumping money into Somerset. Enjoy MIPIM.
Comment on: Highlander. House at Camusdarach Sands by Raw
'Sculptural architecture' involving wrapping timber cladding over the roof, looks as if, even with really careful detailing, it could be a real challenge to keep the building looking sculptural in any climate, let alone what'll get thrown at it at Morar.
Whatever the outcome, it'll be a monument to philistinism if reconstruction of the Euston Arch isn't an integral element in the work.
Comment on: Flood debate: Should we build on floodplains?
The Thames valley tv news footage has clearly demonstrated how some residential areas are inundated with calm water whereas others, presumably nearer the river, are exposed to flowing water - and surely the former would indeed be candidates for floating houses.
Comment on: Fraser rubbishes Scottish Poetry Library revamp
I'd like to know why Fraser and the client 'parted ways'. If the SPL really has outgrown this fine building maybe the ideal would be for it to be sold to someone who'd give it more respect, and for NRS to design a new building - which would hopefully be less of a dog's breakfast than their current proposal, and would better reflect their undoubted design skills.
The smaller central arch accentuates the larger scale of the two side arches, and while the alignment of the piers with those of the adjacent Battersea Railway Bridge is clearly essential, I don't understand why the two 'double span' arches couldn't have been four smaller arches - which would surely have been a more elegant solution and avoided the over-scale and clumsy appearance of the big arches.
There's also the question of whether IKEA stores are truly 'fit for purpose', given their standard design formula with inadequate provision for 'shortcuts' in the upstairs maze leading to unnecessary overcrowding, and failure to provide for acoustic damping in the restaurant creating too much noise for comfort.
Comment on: A steal in steel city: SOAR Works by 00:/
For a different 'take' on the headline illustration see Google Streetview
What would the 'Middlewoods Lock site' route entail, compared with the demolitions and alterations listed above?
'The contractors found their own way' - there's surely an opportunity for research on just how builders over the last century have successfully tackled radical and challenging construction; a few years back at Ronchamp I asked the visitor centre manager who it was that had risen to the challenge of making such a revolutionary design real, but she couldn't enlighten me. The 'knowing how' must have surely uncovered some construction industry geniuses over the years, particularly before the rise of computer aided design.
This is really good news, if it results in the original competition winning scheme - that respects the character of the setting - being realised. It might also go some way to restoring confidence in the governance of Aberdeen city.