Chris Medland's Comments
Comment on: Boris approves Garden Bridge
it has conditional planning consent, but one of those conditions is impossible to meet - i.e TfL have confirmed that they will not underwrite the maintenance costs but Westminster have conditioned that they must. Does this mean that until this legal issue is resolved the consent is meaningless?
Comment on: Robert Adam unveils Reading towers scheme
no offence but they look a bit like a re-clad 1960's council blocks given a sort of Vegas treatment
The race is on! It’s set to be an exciting few years for those bridge enthusiasts amongst us in London. There are two bridges with planning consent: our Diamond Jubilee Bridge and The Garden Bridge, and at least two others in the early stages of design including The Nine Elms Bridge and the Lower Thames Crossing (potentially at Woolwich, Gallions Reach or Belvedere). Each have their merits, none are mutually exclusive, serving different purposes for different audiences – but which one will be built first? The Garden Bridge is expected to be completed in 2018; the Nine Elms Bridge could be hot on its heels (subject to a smooth planning process); the Lower Thames Crossing as a road bridge will be a bigger challenge altogether and we expect will take longer to complete. The Diamond Jubilee Bridge is still in the running to be the first and could be open by the summer of 2016, more likely 2017. Progress is being made with funding, and with a fair wind and continued political and public support it really could be the first Thames crossing since the millennium.
Comment on: Garden Bridge backers hit out at critics
Its about principles and clarity. This garden bridge was initially portrayed as an infrastructure project and as such tax payers money is being spent through the TFL and Government funding of £60m - if this was the total cost of a new bridge and it would be owned by the tax payer through adoption by the councils etc. this would be fine and normal as long as the cost:benefit ratio stood up to the necessary scrutiny that is required when spending such amounts of tax payers money. However, the bridge is likely to cost at least £115m more than what we have promised as tax payers, so it needs to be more than a river crossing. It was then promoted as London's equivalent of the New York Highline - this is of course nonsense as the highline was an intuitive recycling of a derelict piece of existing infrastructure at very low cost into something extraordinary; not a new construction. It was then touted about as being about ecology and sustainability - this again is of course nonsense as the river bank and mudflat habitat is a rare and protected area whereas London is blessed with vast parks and hundreds of thousands of trees; and for £175m you can do an awful lot of good for ecology and sustainability elsewhere. Many substantial (around 30 I understand) trees will be felled to make way for the bridge also. So now the marketing is all about tourism; you may have noticed but London is not short of tourists. The city is a world city and already has huge pull in regard to tourism. If we agree that £60m is well spent and we get a new crossing at this point of the river then the idea that an extra £115m above and beyond the cost of a new bridge is required to attract more tourist is of course, again, nonsense. Therefore what it boils down to is that the poetry and romance brought to the proposal by Lumley and Heatherwick is required to attract private sponsorship - to pay the extra £115m the bridge needs to be a landmark and a place that large multi-national corporations want to be associated with (and can use on occasion to entertain other large corporations). So it becomes a posh park of sorts, a tourist attraction that doubles as a river crossing most of the time but needs to entertain its backers to survive financially. The added twist here is of course the location. The above funding strategy is less likely to work at Nine Elms, where many would prefer the bridge to be located, and arguably where is it needed, as the view simply isn't as good. Corporations will pay for a view in one direction of St Pauls and the City, and in the other the Palace of Westminster, but not one of private apartments like Riverlight. The problem that Lumley and co. face is that they are trying to sell something to the public and planning committees that already exists. We can all walk at sunrise and sunset along the tree lined embankment, surrounded by trees, or jog, or rollerblade or cycle along southbank with a majestic view of St Pauls. We can also currently walk across Waterloo Bridge and gain the most beautiful view of Westminster in one direction and the city and St Pauls in the other - and we can all do this for free. The problem for those who object is that the planning system is geared up for saying yes; they must consider what is put in front of them and cannot take into account the cost, where the money is coming from or if there are other options. Only politician can do this, the Mayor in particular in this instance. And his view seems pretty clear so far, therefore in conclusion because of the way the system is set up the garden bridges construction seems almost inevitable.
We as architects are always muted in our applause but It has become increasing clear that the London Eye was by no means a one-off. Marks Barfield are setting the standard now, their work is simply fantastic on all fronts and they are leaving the Lords of Foster, Rogers etc. in their wake. really great stuff well done
We could secure a lot of the amazon rain forest for £175m. We could plant a new forest in the west country, Wales or Scotland where land values allow. We could provide renewable energy to 1000's of people forever for this budget- we could power a town, we could build at least 6 other pedestrian bridges and pedestrianise waterloo bridge Please do not hold this up as a value for money sustainability project - it in no way is.
The Jubilee Bridge, connecting Battersea with Fulham new train station at Imperial Wharf, has planning consent, is compliant with the London Plan, it is part of the saved policies of both LB Hammersmith & Fulham and Wandsworth councils and is hugely supported locally by both the public and members of parliament. The proposals contribution to London both economically and in connectivity terms is highlighted in LB Wandsworth independent report which also notes a TfL cost:benfet ratio of 2.1:1; way above the pass mark for capital grant funding. This proposal is for a public bridge, it is a unique design and will hugely benefit the health and the environment of the area as outlined in the independent report. There are predicted to be at least 1.2 million uses a year and the GLA state ‘the design of the bridge is supported and represents and high standard of architecture in line with London Plan policy 7.6.’ on the report at the following link. http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/diamond_jubilee_footbridge_report.pdf However, when asked Michele Dix at TfL stated 'I can confirm TfL does not hold a budget for these purposes'. So we enquired as to how then £60m of public money was assigned to the Garden Bridge, the response was: ' The case for this contribution has been made on the back of the unique design of the bridge and public space and the potential benefits this will bring to London in terms of connectivity and economic development.' We pointed out that the Diamond Jubilee Bridge fits all of these criteria, already has planning consent and is around 1 tenth of the cost, and TfL replied by saying we should seek funding from local business in the area. There are conclusions to be drawn from this but we will let you draw you own.
please AJ - we are not reading your publication to be shown pictures of sofa's and kitchen CGI's! How many units are there - density? What is the targeted CfSH rating and how is it achieved? Social housing component, floor plans, car parking, services and energy strategy, wall construction, construction methodology, procurement route etc etc? Otherwise you just look like you are being used as a Fosters PR facility
I am a big fan of Cameron, and have met him several times and supported AFH for many years. However I think he may have misjudged this one.
sometimes it seems that people are scarred to say what they really think through fear of being shouted down. Nice scheme, wrong place. Nothing like the high line which essentially recycled an existing piece of structure - this is an expensive new 'park' that blocks the best view of London from waterloo bridge and the south bank. This is not a sustainability driven project and if it was there would be a multitude of better ways to spend £175million; and it is not a transport driven project (what is the cost:benefit ratio?). As great as it may be the existing situation is better. There I've said it.
This issue is very close to home for a small practice like ours. We lease offices in London, which the freeholder has plans to convert to apartments but will not say exactly when. It has to be said that some of the ground floor units which were initially designed as commercial space, make awful apartments, particularly those that lead onto the Thames path in Battersea as they is literally no privacy (perhaps the permitted development rights went too far in some instances). There is a shortage of smaller sized office space, i.e. less than 1000sqft but a lot of empty retail space around this size. Permitted development allows retail to be used as office for 3 years, however retail landlords are holding out for retail rents, even though the shops remain empty for years at a time. If the landlords rental expectations could drop then offices such as those required by architectural practices could be part of the solution to bringing life to local high streets.
Debate is of course important and ultimately will be beneficial. The AJ is taking up a lot of copy on this issue and although the recommendations are interesting I cant help by wonder who is best placed to give expert views on this issue. The issue is not as simple as height, density etc. - its not just an architectural or planning issue, its one of society, psychology and base human needs. There is a chronic housing shortage, there are limited models of providing space for new homes, I hear NO to highrise and NO to building on green belt, we cant all keep saying no to everything so lets find out what the best way of doing things are, at a human level, before rejecting ideas. Where is the sociological research? Too many opinions, not enough science?
https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings/garden-bridge/user_uploads/image-4.jpg as enchanting as the 3D views from a helicopter are please refer to above elevation on the TfL consultation website for the elevation that will be seen from the south bank...
Dear Frank, As a local Battersea practice we would be delighted to discuss how we can assist with your project at Battersea Power Station. Contact details available at www.one-worlddesign.co.uk I look forward to your call Chris
variety is the spice of life - there is no one size fits all
Comment on: Architects ‘squeezed out of middle class’
I cant help but think that over the next ten years, unless fees rise back to historic percentages, that the mix of long hours, average pay and (due to house prices) long commutes will lead to large practices having a shortfall in quality staff availability (people with 10 years experience who want to start a family for example). This will probably lead to the creation of satellite offices on the main access routes within earshot of London in places like Guildford, Milton Keynes and Brighton which will take on more and more of the work with lower overheads and less time spent commuting. This will be made all the easier by advances in remote data exchange over the web and superfast broadband.
Is this the same Yalding in Kent that has consistently flooded in recent years? Hmmm. I would also reiterate what I said in September last year - There are 22.0 million private homes in the UK serving a population of 60.5 million people. On that basis there are 2.75 people per house. If London requires 809,000 homes by 2021 this means that the current bed space shortfall plus the expected increase in population over the next 8 years is approximately 2 ¼ million people. If all the funding and policies are put in place then the most optimistic prediction means that of those people some 368,500 will be housed by the London Councils. This means that nearly 1.9million people will need to be housed by other means. Say we are lucky and 10% of these people are accommodated by extensions and alterations to existing housing stock in London, and another 10% are accommodated outside London by improvements to existing housing stock and commute in, there are still 1.5 million people unaccounted for. Now we look at brown field sites within the M25, let’s be cautious and say that there are enough viable sites to house a further 500,000 people in 200,000 new privately funded homes for sale or build to lets developments. We are still left with 1 million people to house - we need to build two whole new cities the size of Bristol within commuting distance of London. Perhaps 4 smaller cities, north, south, east and west of London. Given that cross rail will be complete I would suggest one to the west near Maidenhead or Reading and another near Shenfield or further out into Essex, or close to the M11, Stevenage could be expanded to the north and Crawley to the south. Let’s get busy…
Dear Robert, There are 5 river channels as defined by the arches of the existing railway structure. All 5 channels are navigable and must remain so. Due to the manoeuvring and access requirements of boats at Imperial Wharf Marina and Albion Quay, along with the Environment Agency’s concerns relating to any effects on the ecology of the intertidal mud flats, a two river pier solution is required. For the full description of the constraints and issues please refer to the design and access statement available at http://www.public-access.lbhf.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=MCVILTBIGX000 thanks
I would like to add further to Rogers point. In some instances for those of us with a wife/partner with a successful career in the non architectural world, given the relatively low pay in our profession and high childcare costs, it wouldn't take much of a shift in the balance for it not to be worthwhile for the father to return to work as an architect, but instead look after the family and support the wife/partner in their role.
Comment on: Helen Lucas unwraps highland home
lovely. would like to stay there for a week or two
Comment on: London needs 800,000 new homes by 2021
There are 22.0 million private homes in the UK serving a population of 60.5 million people. On that basis there are 2.75 people per house. If London requires 809,000 homes by 2021 this means that the current bed space shortfall plus the expected increase in population over the next 8 years is approximately 2 ¼ million people. Taking the report at face value, if all the funding and policies are put in place then the most optimistic prediction means that of those people some 368,500 will be housed by the London Councils. This means that nearly 1.9million people will need to be housed by other means. Say we are lucky and 10% of these people are accommodated by extensions and alterations to existing housing stock in London, and another 10% are accommodated outside London by improvements to existing housing stock and commute in, there are still 1.5 million people unaccounted for. Now we look at brown field sites within the M25, let’s be cautious and say that there are enough viable sites to house a further 500,000 people in 200,000 new privately funded homes for sale or build to lets developments. We are still left with 1 million people to house - we need to build two whole new cities the size of Bristol within commuting distance of London. Perhaps 4 smaller cities, north, south, east and west of London. Given that cross rail will be complete I would suggest one to the west near Maidenhead or Reading and another near Shenfield or further out into Essex, or close to the M11, Stevenage could be expanded to the north and Crawley to the south. Let’s get busy…
Comment on: Architecture for Humanity co-founders step down
Cameron and Kate inspired me and the other founding trustees of what was AFH UK (now AFH London) to get involved and do our bit a decade ago. I have had the pleasure of meeting Cameron on several occasions and once stepped in to wholly insufficiently 'fill his shoes' when he could not give a talk at an event at the Design Museum. He is a great orator, has endless optimism and a passion for doing the right thing whatever it takes. Together Kate and Cameron have made a real difference not only to people's lives but also to the perception of what architects can do for the benefit of others. In the eyes of many they have made architects human again, and for many volunteers the balance that worthy work can bring to the commercial realities of a high pressured office yields many dividends. It is high time that their work was suitably recognised (MBE?, Cameron is English after all) and I am sure that they both will continue to have a positive influence for the greater good in whatever field they focus their efforts.
Comment on: Pitman Tozer unwraps Notting Hill terrace revamp
very nice indeed.
Comment on: Government announces new Part L changes
Although I welcome progress in sustainability standards it is pointless if the Government continue giving tax incentives for shale gas fracking. Making the national grid carbon neutral and sustainable is the only way to really secure our energy future
Zero Carbon Grid = Good (but currently is not going to be achieved as Shale Gas burning power stations looks like the governments favoured option). European Zero Energy design standards 2020 programme = Good (take the emphasis off carbon and make it about not needing any energy as we can’t rely on the Grid being decarbonised). SAP calculations and CfSH focus on airtightness and high insulation, in our view = misguided bordering on BAD. Reason: Climate change is happening now, the UK is getting hotter and the buildings we design now need to be future proofed now. The average temperature in the UK will have risen by 6 degrees by 2100, with an expected 30 very hot days a year. The majority of the remaining days will be mild and very few extremely cold. Do you see airtight homes in Southern France, Spain, Portugal or Italy? This is the type of climate heading our way. The reason for this, as we are all experiencing this week, is natural ventilation and the ability to loose heat and not gain too much of it. The standards now are shaped for heat retention and minimal air flow – these homes will need air conditioning in years to come. The balance between retaining heat and having the ability to shed it (in a zero energy, passive, way) has perhaps gone too far?
congratulations Debbie, some beautiful renderings
Comment on: Housing registrations plummet 12%
Fewer ‘ugly’ new homes perhaps? The problem with the ‘ugly’ issue is not in the design, it is in the procurement, tenure and brief. With the necessary raising of sustainability standards the issues of cost, quality and time are going to become even more challenging. All the ingredients of the solution to the housing shortfall and impending crisis are being lined up reasonably well by the current government but in a drip feed fashion. A key part of the solution is build-to-let. Pension funds have billions to invest for long term returns; therefore our design briefs will inherently have whole life cycle costing embedded within them rather than a short term view that arguably spec build developers have (for valid economic reasons). This will lead to prioritising good, durable and sustainable design which will need to maximise opportunities for renewables whilst minimising energy consumption. Buildings will inherently be more future proof because it will be in the interest of the landlord for them to be so. This means that we all have to accept that home ownership, at least for now, may no longer be the norm for the most people. A change in the way we view the housing market in the UK is what is required and It will take time for people to come round to the idea. The stigma of renting rather than home ownership needs to be washed aside for the benefit of all. In this day and age is seems fitting to shed antiquated ideas of Englishmen and castles and let what you do and who you are be a measure of your success rather than where you live and if you own your home.
maybe there are too many politicians?
Christianity is represented in all its forms in Liverpool, and with the cities obvious historic and cultural links to Ireland and Catholicism perhaps no city in the UK could claim to be any more Christian. However, is the use of such a powerful symbol suitable in anything other than a place of worship. It seems to me that the architect here just intends to shock and cause debate for the sake of it – which is of course fine – but ultimately the building is a commercial venture, not one of religion. There is nothing wrong with making money or some people having more than others, but the use of such a powerful symbol being associated with commerce is careless to say the least. If such a scheme achieved planning consent it would be a failure of the planning system and demonstrate a lack of understanding of the importance of symbolism in architecture and when it is appropriate to reference such symbols.
Comment on: Competitions: Editor's Pick, 04.10.12
Following an afternoon of about turns, sharp lefts and then 180 rotations by the organisers of the Fort Albert competition (as well as their publication of all the names of those who were set to submit entries), isn't it about time that some kind of framework for competitions was set up. Just thinking out loud, but surely the RIBA should be the body through which competitions are organised and they should organise them to absolutely minimise the completely unnecessary time wasting and abortive work which is costing the profession £100,000's and many lost evenings and weekends for very little (if any) net return. I would suggest that in most cases the only consultants that really make a profit from competitions are those that organise them and they are incentivised to retrieve as much free work and intellectual property from as many architects as possible. What other profession tolerates this on such a scale, hard times or otherwise?
I still think our green roofed bus shelter/pocket parks for insects flora and fauna idea is better...http://www.one-worlddesign.co.uk/2012/09/25/high-line-competition/ Though I might be biased…
It is possible that in 4 years the UK will only be made up of 3 countries. With the planned vote north of the border, who is in line to design the Scottish Pavilion? This fractious issue in itself gives a clue as to one possible sub text to any UK pavilion.
Comment on: Wolf Prix attacks Chipperfield's Venice Biennale
What is the point of the biennale? If it is an excuse to sup kir royal whilst making architects feel like a valued part of the wider art world then fine, it can be an arty Italian version of MIPIM. However, Architecture is inherently political and architects are generally well informed fully signed up members of society so why doesn’t it serve a bigger function, giving a platform for the important and controversial debates. I am inclined to agree with Wolf Prix.
This notice was published on the 22nd, the deadline was on the 24th and it is being read after a bank holiday weekend on the 28th. Great
Comment on: London property prices soar
London’s population is set to increase by a further 1 million people over the next 20 years. With rates of house building in the capital at historic lows and 350,000 families on the social housing waiting list we need to build new sustainable homes quickly to avoid a housing crisis of biblical proportions. This means building up (more tall buildings) or building out (taking a mile off the Green Belt around London would release around 24,000 hectares) – who in a position of authority is brave enough to let us get started?
Comment on: Revealed: first pictures of Zaha Hadid boat
I overheard a conversation on a bus yesterday. Two ladies were discussing flower arrangements for an upcoming wedding. One noted to other that ‘the boutique flower store charged 4 times as much as the guy’s at on the high street’. The other said, ‘umm, they are wrapped nicely though'. Her friend replied, 'as soon as you put them in a vase they are the same as the other, and they don’t last any longer so what’s the point’. Sadly, it’s all about the packaging I thought to myself.
Comment on: Hadrian’s Wall visitor centre contest opens
We would love to have a crack at this one but sadly I agree with Andrew (above) - where are the RIBA on this issue? Are they in conversation with the government on the economics of procurement? Perhaps there should be an OJEU light for professional services on construction projects of less than £1m?