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Architects Journal

View all stories from this issue.

  • A band too far

    Always a fan of the seemingly boundless pretentiousness that is thrown up during London Design Week, Astragal revelled with particular glee in this year’s addition, Tent London. There’s nothing quite like Shoreditch’s finest to bubble up the bile and vitriol in this old hack, and the invitation that arrived at AJ Towers didn’t disappoint. It came complete with a ‘Lance Armstrong-esque’ rubber wristband, worn by telesales managers and team-bonding gurus up and down the country. Astragal had hi
  • A Cannes-ey choice

    Bradford city may be due for a makeover. TV makeover star Linda Barker was spotted at the apartment that the city’s team had rented in Cannes to talk to people about its regeneration plans. Is Barker going to play a key role, or was she just advising on the colour of the sofa in the apartment?
  • A cultured midfielder

    Think of professional footballers' leisure activities and, well… it's best not to really, unless you're a tabloid hack seeking a bit of scandal. And when the footballer in question is famed multi-red card winning Netherlands international ankle-biter Edgar Davids (charmingly nicknamed 'The Pitbull') then you can only imagine the worst really. So guess who was spotted wandering serenely around the exhibits at the latest Architecture Foundation opening, 'Best in Show'? That's right, none other
  • A dair-ing suggestion

    Fellow cyclist David Rosenberg, who has just resigned from Foster and Partners after a 10-year stint, was so infused with Cycle to Cannes evangelism that he has called his new design agency vélorose. Talking of things pink and French, Astragal is reliably informed that Rosenberg’s snack of choice was that Anglo-French design classic, the BabyBel cheese. On arriving at MIPIM he allegedly presented two of said cheeses to Will Alsop saying: ‘Here, have some
  • A date with destiny

    The RIBA headquarters went from strength to strength last week by holding its very first speed dating event. Speed dating, for those who don’t know, is where desperate singletons spend an evening embarrassing themselves through a number of five-minute conversations in a desperate bid to convince the opposite sex that they are attractive. Astragal, fitting the ‘desperate’ and ‘singleton’ criteria perfectly, was there like a shot. Imagine the disappointment then, when the other ‘datees’ were pr
  • A difficult berth

    Spare a thought for the City of Coventry. Having gone to the trouble of chartering a yacht for MIPIM, it neglected to lease a mooring, and had to slope of to Juan-les-Pins a few miles down the coast. Would-be investors suddenly found a whole new MIPIM dimension to the phrase ‘being sent to Coventry’. It’s good how these things evolve.
  • A dog's life

    John Soane wanted his museum to be always free to the public, as it is today. But despite substantial DCMS funding the museum struggles to make ends meet, so it’s doing what every other institution in Blairite Britain has to – looking to boost its revenue from commercial sidelines. ‘We’re seriously lagging behind in what we charge for dinners in what’s surely the most atmospheric setting in London,’ says director Tim Knox, who also wants to promote ‘a wider r
  • A dog's life – 02.10.07

    On arriving in Blackpool for the Tory party conference, Astragal headed off to the beachfront for a touch of sea air and soon became mesmerised by the large blobs of blue wax that sealed all the inspection hatches, drainage covers and manholes along the way. One of the seals and its officious HM crown was cracked in two and a sniffer dog was being encouraged to investigate. Its handler, clearly on his umpteenth search of the day and bored of the whole charade, couldn’t match the unbridled ent
  • A heavenly vision

    The campaign to canonise Antoni Gaudí continues. Catholic campaigners have delivered a petition to the Vatican calling for ‘God’s architect’ to become a saint, not just because of his work at the Sagrada Família, but also because of his extreme piety. Towards the end of his life, the heavily bearded Gaudí, who was knocked down by a tram and killed in 1926, took to wandering the streets of his native Barcelona dressed in rags and nibbling bread crusts. Now Gaud&
  • A little less conversation

    At last night’s event Future Hackney: the Shape of Tomorrow, Astragal found the many speeches rather long and their self-congratulatory tone, upon closer inspection of the exhibition’s models, rather misjudged. Architectural gems by Adjaye Associates (Rivington Place), Ash Sakula (the Hothouse extension) and Waugh Thistleton (Hoxton Cinema) had a sense of scale and identity. Where Hackney Council is losing the 24ha-plot altogether is on the W
  • A pain in the neck

    Astragal has always been quick to pooh-pooh those who claim that architecture is an elitist profession, populated almost solely by white middle-class males. He was somewhat perturbed, therefore, to discover that one of dope-smoking Dave Cameron’s drinking cronies in the fabled ‘Bullingdon Club’ at Oxford University has grown up to become a Wiltshire-based architect and furniture designer. Ralph Perry-Robinson, who counts Richard Rogers among
  • A queer appearance

    Astragal is far too clean minded to search for phallic symbolism in Morphosis’ tower design for La Défense in Paris (see ). So what is it doing appearing on the Towelroad website ‘a blog with homosexual tendencies’ at ? Described as ‘Unusual erection to rise on La Défense in Paris, featuring a rooftop wind farm’, it nestles between items on South Africa’s Civil Union Act,
  • A sight on site

    Architecture Foundation director Rowan Moore is a refined, intellectual kind of a chap. So Astragal scarcely recognised him when a full-page portrait appeared in Land Securities’ lavish book celebrating the glories of Bankside. Bob Allies and Graham Morrison look suitably ascetic, surrounded by the concrete of their office, and other luminaries of the area are pictured in suitable settings. So who is this macho looking man, legs akimbo and ar
  • A studied speech

    A pleasant evening for all involved on Wednesday at the President’s Medals at the RIBA, where the standard of work on show was pretty impressive. One highlight was Jack Pringle’s speech at the beginning – where he unveiled more details of Norman Foster’s donation to a new travelling sponsorship. Astragal can’t be certain, but he’s fairly certain that Jackie used the same line about it being his ‘favourite evening of the calendar, because the building’s full o
  • A substantial error

    Astragal can’t be certain because his mind was drifting somewhat – possible on to his favourite subject of who’d win in a fight between a tiger and a bear – but there are reports that a chap from Atkins giving a speech during the awards do itself apparently referred to ‘substainable’ three times when he meant ‘sustainable’. Is it possible he’d had one two many of the president’s special reserve prosecco?
  • A tacky affair

    No stranger to aristocratic excess, Astragal has many memories of whiling away happy days with his landed chums at their country estates. So when a summons to Blenheim Palace arrived with the morning’s post, Astragal quickly donned his cape and boots and was on the next coach out of town. Diligent scholars will know that the Spencer family residence is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The occasion: a briefing about ‘green roofs’. Dismayed to learn th
  • A taste of the Olympic fat-cats

    Astragal found himself at a most peculiar event this week. A briefing on the Olympic games gave cause to place oneself among a baying mass of contractors. All wanted a piece of the Olympic pie, and one would be forgiven for thinking most had eaten it all already. For the most part, the day was spent sitting behind three of this type. The first had a head so large one feared being struck by an orbiting moon. The second had an uncanny resemblance to a Melton Mowbray pork pie – he was as wide as
  • A Tory view on design quality

    Giving CABE more power could improve design quality in the UK, says Ed Vaizey
  • A touching tale

    Astragal nobly roused himself from his pit early on Saturday morning (30 June) to go on an urban ramble. Doggedly working through his hangover Astragal joined Touching the City organisers Oliver Froome-Lewis and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and a gaggle of architects on a walk from Westminster to the Millennium Dome. The aim was to look at forlorn urban spaces that they call ‘BenchSpace’. No stranger to hanging round on park benches, Astragal was well-placed to h
  • A very graphic intervention

    ‘Drawing on Sculpture – Graphic Interventions on the Photographic Surface’ is showing at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds from 13 May – 12 August. And Astragal, for one, will be hopping on the Leeds express from King’s Cross if this photograph, by the rather appropriately named Willi Baumeister, is in any way indicative of the exhibition’s tone.
  • A wee tale

    One more top piece of gossip for you from London Open House weekend. The top of city hall, which is annoyingly referred to as London’s Living Room (yuk), hosted an event in which children created their own models of London buildings, used to create a ‘map’ of the city. Astragal’s spies tell him that as the event wound to a close, Ken Livingstone’s two-year-old daughter decided she wanted to be centre stage – like father, like daughter – and strolled to the centre of the map,
  • Above & Beyond

    Architecture and interior design firm Above & Beyond has appointed former project director at transatlantic practice Carey Jones, Martin Booker.
  • Absent friend

    Another absentee was Will Alsop, for whom a place was laid at dinner but who failed to show. Still that meant more red wine for the other guests on his table, who included Simon Conder, Richard Griffiths and AJ news editor Ed Dorrell.
  • Aggregate Industries

    Construction and building materials supplier Aggregate Industries announces that Peter Tom CBE, non-executive Chairman of the Company, has decided to step down from the Board. To support the continuing growth of its business in the UK, US and Northern Europe, the company will now manage its operations through two separate Boards, one in the UK and one in the US. Tom will be succeeded as Chairman of the UK Board by Benoît-H.Koch, a member of the Executive Committee of Holcim Ltd.
  • Air Force One

    Another possible contender for the presidential crown is Edinburgh-based architect and microlight pilot Richard Murphy. He has just bought his first brand-new craft and, allowed to pick the registration, went for GRIBA. It would make a great presidential plane.
  • AJ Astragal

  • AJ Conference - Designing safer environments

    Sessions include Understanding the role of urban design in craeting safer spaces
  • Alan Power Architects

    Alan Power Architects has a new address:13 Needham RoadLondonW11 2RPTel: 0044 (0)207 229 9375Fax: 0044 (0) 207 221 4172Email:
  • alex test article 1

    this is the standfirst toa lex test article
  • All night long

    Astragal can feel himself becoming a grumpy old man, harrumphing at the younger generation. What is wrong with young people today? Do they have no stamina? This mood has been brought on by the disappearance of one of architecture’s hallowed traditions – the belief that sleep and studying architecture are incompatible. The Bartlett, of all places, has taken to locking its premises overnight. What will happen to the character-building effect of doing an all-nighter or picking y
  • Alumasc - Architectural render systems

    Complemetary ranges of lightweight renders and external wall insulations
  • American beauty – 12.02.07

    The Empire State Building is the best building in America – at least according to the American Institute of Architects, which has polled its members on the nation’s top buildings. It’s disappointing to see that the Chrysler Building is only at number nine, and the highest placed building that could be considered really Modern is Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in tenth place. Britain’s own Norman Foster has the most recently completed US entry, with his
  • AMF - Thermatex Alpha

    Thermatex Alpha wet-felt sound absorbing mineral tile
  • Amin Taha and Block selected in ‘global 40 Under 40’

    AJ 40 Under 40 startlets Amin Taha Architects and Block Architecture are the only British practices to be named in Spanish architecture magazine Scalae’s
  • An inspector calls

    Who could be more quintessentially British than Max Hutchinson, former RIBA president, founder of Architects for Aid, media star and introduction agent for Stewart McColl? Obviously keen to preserve Blighty’s values in Cannes, he was spotted on the Croisette in bowler hat and trenchcoat, towing a compact suitcase. Had he got the wrong festival? He looked less like UK architecture at MIPIM, rather more the reincarnation of Peter Seller
  • An introduction to live up to

    And so to Stewart McColl’s bizarre SMC conference at the RIBA on Monday. Chief ringmaster was TV architecture pundit Max Hutchinson, who whipped the collected crowd into a frenzy. Introducing the great man, his voice reached levels of excitement not seen since Don King’s introduction of Ali at the Rumble in the Jungle. ‘Here he is… the man with the vision and the tenacity… the man with the leadership… Mr Stewart McColl!’ A totally bizarre event, one left almost believing SMC really was going
  • Anders Linde - runner up

    This is an elegant solution with a sliding door that divides the space in two.
  • Anderson Windows

    Wether resistant, minimal maintenance windows
  • Ann Morris - shortlisted

    This was the most impressive of a number of proposals which treated the shed as an unfolding object.
  • Antron - Carpet fibre

    Antron carpet fibre can reduce sounds of footfall in noisy environments
  • Appetite for Aberdeen

    So Andres Duany – he of Seaside fame – is heading up to the McCountry to design a new model village on the outskirts ofAberdeen for one of the many feudal landlords. Being a traditionalist, and founding father of the Congress of New Urbanism, this involves a 'charette' with the local residents in the next two weeks. All 7,000 of them. Being a consummate professional, this should hold few concerns for the reformed Modernist, but one can't help wonder what Duany will make of the snacks. No
  • Arch irritant

    So last Saturday saw the moment all footballing architecture fans had been waiting so long for. There had been trials and tribulations, tears, recrimination, months turning to years of delays, but finally it happened. Yes, at last a wheezing Astragal took to the pitch to make his debut for the Wandsworth Common over-40s five-a-side team. Oh, and the FA Cup final kicked off in the new Wembley Stadium as well. Although the cup final itself left much to be desired, with Didier Drogba’s
  • Architecture Review - MPIM

    Architecture Review MPIM Future Project Awards 2008. Closing date for entries 26 Nov 2007
  • Architetcural Review - Workplace design conference

    Conference on creating space for the modern workforce, 8 November 2007 CBI conference centre, London
  • Armitage Venesta

    Dynamic advanced and stylish bathroom fixtures and fittings
  • Art attack

    With Antony Gormley’s unsettling South Bank rooftop sculptures currently demonstrating all that is good about public art, it’s time to take a look at all that is bad. Really bad. Step forward the Potters Fields Park Festival, which takes place on an site overshadowed by Ken Livingstone’s City Hall eyrie which has been remodelled under the mayor’s 100 Public Spaces programme. Featuring the joys of ‘Compost Mentis’, a show featuring, you guessed it, a compost h
  • Art of the people

    A weird thing happened to Astragal over the festive period, something not totally expected. People – not architects – kept accosting him at various social functions to discuss a ‘great new gallery’ they’d visited near Tottenham Court Road. This, of course, was New London Architecture on Store Street. It would seem that it is now putting the Building Centre, and architecture in general, on the London map (boom boom). Who’d have thought it?
  • Arty party is way out

    An invitation has landed on Astragal’s desk to the first anniversary celebrations of MacVal, the museum of contemporary art in Marne la Vallée, on the outskirts of Paris. The party, on the evening of Friday 1 December, will include a ‘spectacle’ by Xavier Veilhan with music composed and played by Sébastien Tellier. Sadly, Astragal will be unable to attend but notes that the guests will be picked up in smart coaches at Châtelet in the centre of
  • Back in the day

    At the recent Bartlett Summer Show, Astragal inched up to a 50ish-year-old tutor who was holding court to a gentleman of similar age. The tutor, who shall remain nameless, was sweeping his arm round the various exhibits, enthusing to his companion about the merits of his students and their work. But, it seems, things just aren’t as hip as they once were. ‘In our day,’ lamented the tutor, ‘we had people like Eric Parry. Do you remember when he got that magical bus and did that
  • Bailey I-line Snap-On

    Enabling architects to add horizontal and vertical detail
  • Banana man

    Astragal salutes the 55 MIPIM delegates who cycled the 1,500km from London to Cannes and raised a quarter of a million pounds or so for charities including Architects for Aid. Astragal was particularly moved by the suffering and determination of David Head of Clash Architects who suffered the rare complaint known as banana burn after eating 13 bananas in a single day.
  • BBA

    British Board of Agreement Certificates
  • Bearing up

    Top prize for stamina must go to the Cossacks on the massive stand for Russia’s Krasnodar region at MIPIM. Despite temperatures topping 20 degrees, they were in full costume including bearskin hats, singing and dancing from 9am until the cocktail hour. Cheers!
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    Any reader planning an autumnal outing to Stourhead, one of the country’s great created landscapes, should be warned that they may be in for a nasty shock. The trees, the lake, the follies are all as artifice intended, but the area has suffered a nasty attack of artistic intervention. Called Beauty and the Beast, this ranges from an Elizabeth Frink head and some plinky ambient music in the grotto to Beth Carter’s transformation of the Gothic cottage into a si
  • Beckers - PyroLac Pr0

    PyroLac Pr0 fire retardent super-smooth lacquer
  • Bedtime storeys

    There’s working together, there’s close collaboration and then there’s what happened with the new World Trade Center towers. According to sources at Richard Rogers, the practice has been cooped up with Norman Foster’s lot and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki on the 27th floor of tower seven for the last four months, working on their Ground Zero designs. If that wasn’t ‘tight’ enough, the client, landowner Larry Silverstein, w
  • Beeb my baby

    What with all the hoo-ha surrounding the BBC’s lack of cash, the future of their proposed part-relocation to the Salford Quays looks increasingly uncertain. But it’s not only the likes of Wilkinson Eyre and Benoy – just two of the growing gaggle of architects involved in the £400 million project – that are hoping for some resolution on the matter. Spare a thought for those practices waiting to hear if their schemes will have to be either
  • Best building / Architect

    What was the best building of 2006?
  • Best foot forward

    The bubbly for engineer Jane Wernick’s party – planned for last Thursday – has been put on ice and the dancing girls have been sent home until poor Jane recovers from a nasty tumble that resulted in a broken leg. The accident happened while Jane was on holiday in Italy. According to sources she had ‘one foot on the kerb and one not…and she fell awkwardly.’ The ever so diplomatic source said Jane ‘hadn’t disclosed’ if she had had a drink; he did however confirm that the party
  • Best foot forward

    The bubbly for engineer Jane Wernick’s party – planned for last Thursday – has been put on ice and the dancing girls have been sent home until poor Jane recovers from a nasty tumble that resulted in a broken leg. The accident happened while Jane was on holiday in Italy. According to sources she had ‘one foot on the kerb and one not…and she fell awkwardly.’ The ever so diplomatic source said Jane ‘hadn’t disclosed’ if she had had a drink; he did however confirm that the party
  • Best of the Best over 20 years - Buildings

  • Best of the Best over 20 years - Civil Engineering

  • Best Practice Award

    WINNER / LOWER WITHAM FLOOD DEFENCE SCHEME, LINCOLNCommissioning authority: Environment AgencyPrincipal designer: Faber MaunsellPrincipal contractor: May GurneyAward for projects which involved processes adopted to understand and meet client needs; supported team working throughout; and maintains continuous improvement. Sponsored by May Gurney.
  • Beyond our Ken

    Astragal was chatting to his old buddy Ken Livingstone recently in Dalston, east London, where the mayor was opening the third of his 100 public spaces in London. Poor old Ken had suffered a torrid time during his opening speech. He was berated, heckled and jeered by a group of grizzly-bearded protesters calling for a halt to the gentrification of their beloved Hackney. The louder Ken spoke the louder he was booed, until he had to shout to make himself heard, turning his face
  • Big eat

    The summer party season is upon us and last week Astragal had the pleasure of Sheppard Robson’s summer shindig. The event felt somewhat like a festival, with guest pass-like invitations and even live music – not something this drunken old sot is accustomed to. Indeed, twas a distinct departure from your usual architecture bash, and proved a serious contender for Astragal’s Best Canapé Award – a full Chinese take away no less! The event being more one for the kids – Shepp
  • Blown out of proportion – 21.05.07

    Admiring buildings in all their glory is one thing, but watching them being blown up is, well, just that little bit more entertaining. Here you can see four 90m cooling towers at Chapelcross nuclear power station in Dumfriesshire being demolished in a controlled explosion. 'Ave it! Astragal can think of a few other buildings that should be given a similar treatment. The Thistle Hotel by Tower Bridge perhaps?
  • Bodily functions

    Future Systems’ challenging design for a new library in Prague (Future Systems wins its first-ever Czech scheme) is facing opposition from no less a figure than the Czech president, Václav Klaus. The Prague Daily Monitor reports that Klaus ‘said that he is ready to imitate opponents of the nuclear power plant in Temelin, south Bohemia, and prevent the construction of the National Library with his own body.’
  • Body of evidence

    Pity the poor people of Dublin, for Astragal understands the city’s docklands will be the latest location for a new Antony Gormley installation. According to reports, the high-profile sculptor will be creating a ‘sizeable structure’ that is believed to be up to 48m tall. One can only hope it isn’t yet another replica of the artist’s own form. At 48m that would leave very little to the imagination. The city already has the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, it doesn’t need Gormley and hi
  • Body of evidence

    Pity the poor people of Dublin, for Astragal understands the city’s docklands will be the latest location for a new Antony Gormley installation. According to reports, the high-profile sculptor will be creating a ‘sizeable structure’ that is believed to be up to 48m tall. One can only hope it isn’t yet another replica of the artist’s own form. At 48m that would leave very little to the imagination. The city already has the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, it doesn’t need Gormley and hi
  • Born to be wild

    Astragal would like to draw attention to the passing of the inimitable Count Gottfried von Bismarck. A famous hellraiser, wit, gadabout and aristocratic ne’er-do-well, the 44-year-old passed away last week. Von Bismarck was the great-great grandson of Otto von Bismarck who – as scholars and moustache-afficionados will know – was the man who brought into birth a unified Germany. He had habits that make Astragal’s night-time excursions look tame, and a run of unfortunate events
  • Brought to book

    Discontented rumblings continue to tarnish Future System’s Prague library competition victory. First the Czech Chamber of Architects complained that the green and purple sea-creature-like blob had breached UIA contest rules. Then came the rumours that some of the other competitors were threatening legal action to have the result overturned. Even so, the National Library seems happy with the choice. In fact the client appears so confident that the knockers will be silenced that it has even sta
  • Building Award

    WINNER / NATIONAL COLD WAR EXHIBITION, RAF MUSEUM COSFORDCommissioning authority: Royal Air Force MuseumsPrincipal designer: Feilden Clegg Bradley ArchitectsPrincipal contractor: Galliford TryAward for projects valued between £3 million and £50 million. Sponsored by NEC.
  • C Change Architects

    Please not the change of address for C Change Architects:128 Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 0JLTel: 01273 628 238
  • CA Group

    Speed and safety in cladding solutions
  • Cambridge days

    CAM, the magazine for Cambridge alumni, profiles biographer and publisher Nicola Beauman who founded Persephone Books. She gets all misty eyed about the architecture students of her epoch. ‘The man I fell in love with is an architect, Nick Lacey, so I hung out with some of the exceptional architects in his year like Robin Nicholson, Spencer de Grey and Peregrine Bryant.’ Ah, halcyon days … although evidently the gilt wore off
  • Campbell Architects

    Campbell Architects have moved premises. Their new address is:5 Clipstone StreetLondonW1W 6BBAll other details remain unchanged:Tel: 020 7580 8855Fax: 020 7636 2374Email:
  • Capita starts on Wales Millennium Centre extension

    Capita Architecture has started work on an extension to its Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.
  • Carat and stick

    Diamonds are a girl’s best friend but they’re proving a kick in the proverbial baubles for Frank Gehry. The man behind Hove’s ‘tin can’ towers is being sued by a Californian company that claims he defrauded them in a deal for his new Tiffany jewellery collection. Circa Publishing Enterprises contends it had a little gem of a deal with Gehry for the exclusive rights to produce, distribute and sell Gehry-trademarked jewelry and gift items. But somehow, somewhere the sparkle wor
  • Carey Jones

    Chris Jones has announced that as of July 2008 he will be stepping down as Managing Director of CareyJones Architects. Gregg Mitchell, currently one of the Directors at CareyJones, who as been with the practice for approximately 10 years, has been announced as his successor.
  • Castle Cement

    UK cement as munfactured by Castle, can cut the the carbon cost of buildings by over 10%
  • CGI Fire Glazing

    Pyroguard safety glass and Fireswiss foam safety glass
  • Challenging women

    Assael’s way of working has given his practice a different profile from most. Keen to make contact with him at the recent Little Britain Challenge, one specialist consultant did not have much trouble, despite having no idea what he looked like. ‘I just looked for a boatful of women,’ she said.
  • Changing the Chanel

    Anybody attempting to flick through the latest copy of Wallpaper* – and attempt is the operative word, given the weight of the magazine – may miss a photo of a disconsolate-looking pair sheltering outside the Mercer Hotel in New York. This oddest of odd couples comprises Chanel supremo and born-again skinny Karl Lagerfeld, and architecture’s inimitable Zaha Hadid. Apparently they are collaborating on a secret project for Chanel. Is architecture’s grande dame
  • Charter Integr8 roller shutters

    Excellence in built in security
  • China in their hands

    Astragal spent last night hunkered down in front of the telly, sheltering from the swirling snowstorm that battered against his windows and shunning all architectural partying as it was just TOO BLOODY COLD OUTSIDE… However, Astragal is never entirely off duty, and one item on Newsnight caught his eagle eye. This feature focused on contemporary architecture in China and posed the question: ‘Are Western architects simply using China as a testing ground for bonkers architectural experimentation
  • Chinese whispers

    Can we expect security guards at the RIBA again? They were last seen there when then aspiring presidential candidate Peter Phillips came to a council meeting and there were fears of a demonstration. The next occasion could be during the China fest running from 11-22 September. Celebrating 'China Fortnight: Sustainable Building in China' this may rouse the ire of dissenting movement the Falun Gong. The RIBA has been famously tolerant of the group, accepting it occupying the pavement outside 66
  • City campus, Coventry

    The city of Coventry is seeking to appoint project consultants for the development of the city campus.Details: Contracts Officer,The Purchasing Unit,Finance Department,Coventry University,Priory Street,Coventry CV1 5FB. Tel. 024 7679 5115.E-mail: 024 7679 5120.EU code: 2007-251707-ENApply by: 28.11.07
  • Civil Engineering Award

    WINNER / RNLI PADSTOW LIFEBOAT STATIONCommissioning authority: Royal National Lifeboat InstitutePrincipal designer: Royal HaskoningPrincipal contractor: Nuttall John MartinAward for projects valued between £3 million and £50 million. Sponsored by Autodesk.
  • Clients on top

    Anybody worried about the relative importance of clients and architects in the public eye will not be reassured by the listing of London’s 100 top movers and shakers in Time Out magazine. Norman Foster sneaks in at number 97 and the magazine snidely remarks ‘…expect a resurgence in 2007 when his Silken hotel in Aldwych opens. And just maybe Wembley, too.’ Zaha Hadid, described as ‘visionary builder’, is at 87. But both are eclipsed by Serpentine supremo and p
  • C-list sensations

    Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ perky little penthouse pad on top of its Unity building on the Liverpool waterfront (AJ 01.03.07) could have been specially designed for a Premiership footballer, with its astronomical price-tag, brilliant views and top-of-the-pile exclusivity. And with a recent salary survey showing that wages in the Premiership now total £1 billion, who can blame the practice for wanting a slice of that. One can imagine the daydreaming in the office as to which soccer grea
  • CNP

    CNP, one of the UK's leading specialist building and surveying and project consultants, is expanding its UK office network with the opening of a Birmingham office.The new office follows the recent opening of one in Cardiff in September and is part of the firm's continued growth strategy. The new office brings CNP's UK network up to a total of eight. The firm also operates across Southern Ireland from its Dublin base and its continental European busine
  • Cock-a-hoop in Yorkshire

    The titillating tale of the naughtily named Tickle Cock underpass reared its head again this week. The project to revamp a railway bridge – part of the ongoing regeneration of Castleford, West Yorkshire – is being lovingly handled by Deborah Saunt of DSDHA. Earlier in the year the scheme was splashed across the local rags when residents succeeded in changing the long-standing moniker of the underpass from the rather demur Tittle Cott Bridge back to its origin
  • Colorcoat - HPS200

    Colorcoat HPS200, external cladding with 30 year guarantee
  • Competitions / PFI / Supply chain

    UK architectural fee income generated from PFI
  • Conference call

    Astragal has today headed off to Venice for the second time in just over a month, this time not for the Biennale but for the RIBA annual conference. Oh what a different experience this promises to be. Whereas five weeks ago one might have found a trendy Irish architecture ligger being dragged out of a canal at four in the morning with a head injury, this will probably be a little more sedate. But Astragal can’t help imagine though that there may still be the occasional titbit for all you goss
  • Conscientious objector

    Brighton and Hove Council’s decision to give the go-ahead to Frank Gehry’s King Alfred scheme seems a little less surprising when you consider the quality of some of the objections raised at Friday’s council meeting. Valerie Paynter of Save Hove, one of the project’ most vociferous opponents, presented two buildings by FAT to prove that ‘Frank Gehry is not cutting edge any more. This is cutting edge’. She then went on explain how the original King Alfred buil
  • Conservation Award

    WINNER / THE ROUNDHOUSE, LONDONCommissioning authority: The Roundhouse TrustPrincipal designer: John McAslan + PartnersPrincipal contractor: TolentAward for a project designed and executed with respect for original fabric, design and form, while making a minimum intervention consistent with safety and structural integrity. Sponsored by Hyder Consulting.
  • Conservation Award runner-up - Dresden Station

    Dresden Station Redevelopment, Dresden, GermanyArchitect: Foster + PartnersClient: Deutsche Bahn Station and ServiceContract value: €148MPhotography by: Nigel YoungThe redevelopment of Dresden Station provides an extensively repaired and improved terminus that replaces the existing fragile shell with a spectacular translucent glass fibre roof. The roof reiterates the finesse of the original arches but provides adequate shelter and allows for future links to a high-s
  • Conservation Award runner-up - Stowe House Restoration

    Stowe House Restoration, Phase 2, BuckinghamArchitect: Purcell Miller Stowe House Preservation TrustContract value: £5.77MPhase 2 involved completing external repairs to the central mansion, reinstating historic roofs and repairing and conserving stonework and render of the elevations. In addition the project restored the magnificent elliptical Marble Saloon with its fine plaster domed ceiling.
  • Conservation Award runner-up - The Roundhouse

    The Roundhouse, LondonArchitect: John McAslan + The RoundhouseContract value: £30MPhotography by: Peter CookA building with a chequered history, the scheme was to transform it into a highly flexible performance hall for up to 3500 people standing or 1300 seated, inserting a new gallery around the perimeter. A new wing contains a studio theatre, hospitality and support spaces. The basement h
  • Conservation Award runner-up - William Kent House

    William Kent House - The Ritz Hotel, LondonArchitect: Ettwein Bridgeswww.ebarch.comClient: Ellerman InvestmentsContract value: £4MPhotography by: James MortimerDesigned by Kent during 1743-54, it is listed Grade II* like The Ritz. The brief was to seamlessly add its fine eighteenth century rooms as function suites for the hotel. Connections are through a light well once filled with plant and to the second floor hotel bedroom
  • Conservation Award winner - SS Great Britainand Historic Dockyard

    SS Great Britain and Historic Dockyard, BristolArchitect: Alec French SS Great Britain TrustContract value: £11.5MPhotography by: Lance McNultyThe project preserves and restores the ship in its original dry dock. A glass waterline plate and dehumidification below protect the iron hull. Internally the hull is accurately restored and made fully accessible. Dockside workshops have been
  • Cook’s culinary crisis

    Astragal’s stomach is still churning from the rather suspicious moussaka-cum-lasagna which was dished up at the launch lunch of Jeremy Till’s British Pavilion out in Venice. It took an awful lot of Bellinis to wash that taste out… And it seems Astragal was not the only one to suffer a gastronomic disaster while visiting the supposed culinary hotspot of Italy. HOK’s latest recruit Peter Cook had obviously reached desperate measures after a five-day diet of med
  • Cordek

    Hazardous gas protection system
  • Crazy talk

    Reykjavik, capital of Iceland, is planning to relocate its Vatnsmyri airfield and redevelop it as a science park. So far, so clear. French architect Vincent Callebaut has come up with a solution called the ‘Neuronal Alien’. There are lots of rather swirly, organic images so, seeking elucidation, Astragal turned to Callebaut’s explanatory text. ‘The Neuronal Alien extends itself between the fauna and the local flora to rebuild a new multi-biotope,’ Callebaut writes. ‘This will
  • Creative Space

    DSDHA is keen to clarify a number of points which might not have been clear from the article (AJ 01.11.2007)
  • Crescent helicals

    T: 01480 301522F: 01480 494001E: here for Crescent advert
  • Cross about the rail

    So despite some furious lobbying from Astragal, the government has chosen to ignore the call for a monorail to serve our nation’s capital, and instead opted for something called Crossrail. This locomotive network has been 17 years in the pipeline, and looks set to finally be given the thumbs up by Tony Blair. Crossrail could soon be linking London with such exotic wonders as Slough, Langley and Taplow in the west, and Romford, Brentwood and Shenfield in the east. Had the gove
  • Cubic meeters – 14.02.07

    Architecture’s favourite Marxist Chris Roche is off to Cuba this month, the lucky little monkey. Whether it’s in some fifth column capacity or simply for a beach and cocktail break is still hazy, but what is clear that he has been in correspondence with the world’s favourite octogenarian commie, Fidel Castro. Apparently El Roche wrote, some time ago, to Castro suggesting proposals for a monument to ‘Karl, Che and Fidel’. Rather amazingly, el
  • Currying favour

    Astragal has been on the receiving end of a rather bizarre communication from ‘The Lord of Harpole, in the Parish of Wickham Market, UK’, who turns out to be Abdul Latif, Britain’s first Bangladeshi lord of the manor (self appointed) and proprietor of the Curry Capital restaurant on Newcastle’s salubrious Bigg Market. Lord Harpole, who apparently has a close relationship with Viz magazine, Astragals’s favoured lavatorial reading material, says he is ‘delighte
  • Daylight robbery

    It’s a well-known fact that architects love pens. ‘Oooh pens!’ they say. From the lowly student architect, who has to scrounge around the back of the sofa just to raise enough cash for a Pilot V5, all the way to the upper echelons of the architectural aristocracy. They love pens. But sometimes their love of pens gets the better of them. For when Astragal was trying in vain to prop his eyelids open at the last RIBA council meeting, his pen was unashamedly swiped from under his nose. So he woul
  • Deja-vu

    We’ve all forgotten a face occasionally, but Eddie Heathcote, former practitioner turned FT journalist and ironmonger to the stars, has carried this to new extremes. Heathcote has been house-hunting and went to see a flat that seemed strangely familiar. After a while, he realised that the conversion had been designed by him about 12 years ago, and was largely unchanged. And his verdict on the flat? ‘I couldn’t live in it,’ he said.
  • Designing by stealth

    Talking of Jean Nouvel, Hussey said the maverick Frenchman nearly gave him a heart attack during Land Sec’s first ever meeting with City planners for its One New Change project next to St Paul’s. ‘Jean walked in with a box and we all presumed it was a model of the proposed scheme. I nearly fell off my chair when he whipped off the lid revealing a model of a Stealth Bomber’. Crazy Frenchmen – don’t you just love them?
  • Designing for New London

    Addressing strategic and planning challenges to evolve the capital’s built environment
  • Diane Haigh answers questions on CABE

    The new director of architecture and design review at CABE answers readers' questions
  • Diane Haigh answers readers' questions

    CABE's new director of architecture and design review answers your questions
  • Dionysus Cho - shortlisted

    Cetainly a one-liner, this gains in charm what it loses in complexity.
  • Dirty dancing

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and it seems that recently dumped Kate Middleton has worked out a novel way of getting back at former beau Prince William and the rest of the Royal Family. Knowing the Royals’ antipathy towards architecture, young Kate must have touched a few nerves when she was spotted, according to the gutter press, flirting outrageously with architect Alex Shirley-Smith at favoured Royal haunt Mahiki. Shirley-Smith, 30, told the Mail
  • Distinguished company

    What do Alison Brooks, Sarah Williams of Aedas and Joanna van Heyningen of van Heyningen and Haward have in common with singer–songwriter JoanArmatrading and actor and comedian Maureen Lipman? On 16 October they will all be having lunch together at the Women of the Year Lunch in London. All attendees have been nominated by a panel of more than 20 women, in
  • DMJM H&N and EDAW

    Claire Bonham-Carter joins DMJM H&N and EDAW as director of sustainable development and is responsible for implementing sustainability through every practice line and all daily business operations.
  • Don't look now… Astragal heads for Venice

    Astragal is readying – or perhaps steadying – himself for the extraordinary experience of the Venice Architecture Biennale. Being a veteran of the event (he’s been to all ten), the preparations are fairly well organised. That is except for everything. What to wear? Dapper but not smart. A suit is definitely a no-no. All very confusing. Then there’s the question of which parties to attend. Does one attempt them all? If so, that could include such things as the launch of the Icelandic pavilion.
  • Double act

    Monday night’s London RIBA regional awards in Will Alsop’s impressive Blizard Building near Whitechapel was attended by a healthy gaggle of big names – many fresh from their jaunts in Venice. The appearance of the hard-working Biennale head honcho Jeremy Till was certainly a surprise so soon after his Italian Job, not least because he is usually found hanging around South Yorkshire. The undisputed low-light of an otherwise upbeat evening however was the stran
  • Down and out in the North

    Office for Subversive Architecture (OSA) are a whacky bunch. ‘Subversive’ one could say. But there’s being subversive and there’s just plain silly. For Astragal – being the culture vulture that he is – entered nose-bleed territory, and travelled north to Liverpool. Home of The Beatles and…errrm, well, that’s about it. The purpose of the visit was to see OSA’s ‘Serpentine of the North’ atop the new Greenland Street Gallery. But the German crew turned out to be
  • Dress code

    The fact that Stirling is not a black-tie event allows a certain peacock tendency to emerge in some of the male guests. So to contrast with George Ferguson’s trademark red trousers, Christophe Egret of Studio Egret West was sporting a pair in a ravishing lime green. This was also the colour of the shirt that Richard Rogers was wearing when interviewed on the Channel 4 programme. But on the night, he settled for a remarkably restrained black j
  • Dress to impress

    Architecture is no stranger to fashion, both in the general and the specific sense. Boden, David Cameron’s favourite catalogue, has been offering an ‘architect shirt’ for several seasons. But now Prada has gone one step further. According to the Guardian, it has decreed that the inspiration for next season’s menswear will be ‘International Architect Goes Clubbing’. This seems to involve a grey shorts suit and a floppy orange hat. Since the company has employed such superstars
  • Drivers Jonas

    The Drivers Jonas Manchester office has changed address, effective 1 November.The new address is: Drivers Jonas5 New York StreetManchesterM1 4JBTel: 0161 247 7373
  • Duvale plc

    Glazed and concertina movable wall systems
  • Dying for fashion

    Astragal found himself in the most foreign of environments recently when he attended the Architecture Foundation’s ‘Blueprint for London’ exhibition. Alarm bells started ringing when Astragal realised that the event was co-sponsored by GQ Style. The ‘definitive guide to men’s fashion’ had thrown its trilby into the ring for reasons yet to be understood. However, lured by the promise of free alcohol, Astragal staggered over to the Yard Gallery in London’s Clerkenwell only to be met by a mob of
  • Eborcraft Oracle

    Wood veneer boardrrom furniture built to a size that suits
  • Ecological Building Systems

    Intelligent airtight systems
  • Ecological Building Systems - Proclima

    Proclima intelloplus forms an ecologically firendly airtight seal
  • Ecophon

    Extruded aluminium free hanging suspended ceilings
  • EcoVeil - MechoShade Systems

    EcoVeil shadecloth for blinds
  • Education survey 2006

    Which is the best architecture sch
  • Elementarno, Vatson!

    It is a little known fact that Astragal is a great fan of Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, one can draw a great deal of similarities between this learned aesthete and Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation. Both are impeccably dressed and fond of a cape. Both, too, enjoy fine wines and a wholesome brandy, and, on occasion, the odd puff of opium if it is on offer. And, of course, both are always in search of the truth. So it was a great pleasure, if not a little surprise, to hear that our comrades in Moscow ha
  • Elephantine memory

    An old urban myth is still a good urban myth. On a recent nosey around the Elephant and Castle in Southwark, Astragal was reminded of a cracking tale about the unmissable Faraday Memorial. The big silver lump in the centre of the Elephant roundabout looks like a sleek piece of ’60s British construction, finely engineered and seamlessly pieced together in a space-age stylee. However, Astragal understands that parts of the Rodney Gordon-designed building required some clever welding and that ac
  • Environmental Award

    WINNER / INNOVATE GREEN OFFICE, LEEDSCommissioning authority: Innovate PropertyPrincipal designer: RIO ArchitectsPrincipal contractor: GMI ConstructionAward to recognise a project which demonstrates a particular contribution to environmental issues or in which environmental issues were a key factor in its concept and/or execution. Sponsored by Atkins.
  • Environmental health

    An exhibition proposed for the Building Centre, probably in the New Year, should give Londoners a downmarket version of the Hotel Puerta America experience. Whereas Madrid’s architectural zoo offers the opportunity to stay in rooms designed by the world’s most famous architects, the Building Centre will have room sets designed for different therapeutic experiences in hospital. Backed by the likes of Nightingale Associates and Philips Lighting, this should mak
  • Ex-BP chief Lord Browne joins Foster + Partners

    Foster + Partners has claimed it has pulled off a ‘real coup’ by enticing former BP chief executive John Browne on to its board of directors.Lord Browne of Madingley, as he is officially known, resigned from the international oil company back in May among a flurry of tabloid tales about his private life.The influential 59-year old becomes the first senior non-executive to be a
  • Exit stage right

    The good and the drunk bedded down in the Hilton Hotel bunker in central London on Friday 22 June to toast this year’s RIBA Award winners. The extravaganza, which was apparently a curtailed version of previous ceremonies, was hosted with panache by BBC broadcaster Mark Lawson. The Front Row front man was particularly taken by Ian Ritchie’s victorious Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon where he admitted he had seen legendary thespian Sir Ian McKe
  • Exposing the bookies

    What’s happening at William Hill? They are showing behaviour that is quite un-bookie-like. For example, they apparently don’t know when the Stirling Prize winner’s being decided. As one press officer admitted, that research omission would ‘expose’ the firm to heavy losses if there’s any insider trading. No sh*t. If some junior bookmaker made a similar mistake on the outcome of a general election – ‘when’s the voting?’ – then such companies could go belly-up. Come on kids. Don
  • Exposing the bookies

    What’s happening at William Hill? They are showing behaviour that is quite un-bookie-like. For example, they apparently don’t know when the Stirling Prize winner’s being decided. As one press officer admitted, that research omission would ‘expose’ the firm to heavy losses if there’s any insider trading. No sh*t. If some junior bookmaker made a similar mistake on the outcome of a general election – ‘when’s the voting?’ – then such companies could go belly-up. Come on kids. Don
  • Express fails to impress

    Astragal took the opportunity presented by London Open House last weekend to revisit his Fleet Street roots by taking in the monumental foyer of the former Daily Express offices – the fabled black Lubyanka. Immortalised as the home of the fictional Daily Beast in Evelyn Waugh’s classic satire of hackery Scoop (which is required reading on the AJ’s news desk) the building is certainly imposing, with battered gold and silver reliefs flowing down to a polished marble floor, and
  • F Ball & Co - Protimeter Aquant

    New moisture check meter - checking subfloor moisture
  • Face to face

    Astragal was a little surprised to get a friendship request on Facebook from that celebrated architectural blogger, Norman Blogster. It seems to go against the ethos of Facebook, of revealing slightly more about yourself than is prudent, since Norman is resolutely anonymous. However, he is a member of the pithily named network ‘I don’t need sex, the school of architecture fucks me all the time’. Astragal was particularly taken by a discussion strand in this group asking what the most devastat
  • Fairway to heaven

    Astragal, as one would expect, is something of a traditionalist golf fan. A sombre Pringle jumper, a restrained cry of ‘fore!’ and no ladies at the 19th hole thankyou very much. But Astragal’s conservative views were completely altered after reading the recent obituary of Jez Feakes, architect and inventor of ‘urban golf’. This intriguing sport, using a leather ball which won’t smash or dent any windows and ‘holes’ such as mains water valves with a flag stuck in, is apparentl
  • False Icon

    Following the Argent event, Astragal crashed the 40th issue party of that glossy interiors rag Icon. True to form, most of the partygoers looked like extras from the classic Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander. One massive complaint though; the free booze stopped flowing at 10pm. What is this? Amateur night?
  • Farenheit 451

    The roles of an architectural historian may be many and diverse, but they rarely include giving evidence at a UN war crimes tribunal. This, however, is what Dr Andras Riedlmayer, director of Islamic architecture at Harvard's Fine Arts Library has been doing, at the tribunal that found Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik guilty of crimes against humanity based partly on Riedlmayer’s evidence. As Riedlmayer told Australian local radio, his evidence dealt larg
  • Feeling flush

    Last night saw Astragal readying himself for his weekly poker night with old pals. Cigars? Check. Whiskey? Check. Snuff for Mr Bear? Check. Pernod and Black for Mr Tiger? Check. But what’s this!? Mr Bear has brought some new-fangled deck of cards – Stars of the Architectural World – whatever next?!! Cards are dealt, the chase is afoot. Ten in on the flop, Mr Bear raises ten, Tiger picks up, raises ten, Astragal picks up. Fold. Tiger has Norman Foster, Alvar Aalto
  • Fees Fees Fees

  • Feet on the ground

    Most people have encountered those annoying market research people who ask you: ‘If this company was a car, what make of car would it be?’. But have you ever thought of defining architects in terms of shoes? Step forward the Hopkins from upmarket French cobbler Robert Clergerie. These flat ladies’ sandals come in finest dark brown calf skin, with a carefully considered toe post and regularly placed perforations (a kind of pedal equivalent of fritting), and cost 230 Euro. So,
  • Finger lickin' good

    Last Thursday, in practices all over Clerkenwell, computers were left unattended and espresso left unsupped as the great and the good of London architecture poured onto the 14.17 from Euston. James Soane, Deborah Saunt and David Mills were among the gaggle of black-clad napkin scribblers, as well as Renato Benedetti, Carolyn Larkin and Matthew Wells. What was the occasion I hear you cry? Why, twas the opening of Allfo
  • First Base

    First Base, the urban regeneration developer, has strengthened its senior management team with the recruitment of Phil Wade as Operations Director and Mark Shirburne-Davies as Development Director.Both new directors will support the management of the company and drive First Base's expanding development. Phil Wade will lead the design, project management, procurement and construction functions at First Base and Mark Shirburne-Davies wil
  • Fishy tales

    Astragal’s old home of Clerkenwell is often described as an architectural ghetto. Statistics show that in London you are never more than 10m away from a rat; in EC1 you are never more than 10m away from a Paul Smith-clad, Brompton-riding, silly glasses-wearing designer. And this can definitely have a downside. Astragal vividly remembers lengthy sessions in Exmouth Market pubs, regaling the gathered crowd with scurrilous tales of Zaha, only to turn round and be greeted by members of her office
  • Foamglas - Facade

    Non-combustible and moisture resistant for the life of the building
  • Foamglas - Facade

    Non-combustible and moisture resistant for the life of the building
  • For the love of a good train

    What has a Class 222 Pioneer train got in common with a multi-talented ex-Chinese diplomat’s wife? The answer is that Terry Farrell loves them both . Admittedly the 67-year old is only marrying one of them, the lovely Mei Xin Wang. However, until the pair tie the knot in April, the Pioneer class choo choo still has one thing Mei Xin doesn’t. Sir Tel’s name. Our sources at OK magazine have unearthed that the couple will be joined in matrimony at a ‘private fam
  • For The People

    Max Thompson’s article on Smithfield (AJ 01.11.07) confronts us with the same old problem of inner-city development
  • Fostering change

    Congratulations to Norman Foster, whose practice, we understand, may be worth £500 million to investors. How times have changed. Astragal remembers taking a call well over a decade ago from a business that had been asked to invest in the Battersea property that houses Foster’s office and home. ‘Who is this Norman Foster?’ was the opening gambit. When Astragal explained that he was one of the UK’s most prestigious architects, Sackler gallery, lots of work abroad (the prac
  • Francophobia

    The Royal Gold Medal and fellowships extravaganza at the RIBA last week was the usual star-studded event, with gold medallists Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron rubbing shoulders with international fellows including Odile Decq and Kazuyo Sejima and honorary fellows including Ken Livingstone and Kevin McCloud. Denise Scott Brown, who couldn’t be there to pick up her international fellowship,
  • Free product literature

  • French leave

    While making an exit from the Carmody Groarke lecture, Astragal was invited to spend an evening with a Bishop, a Mayor and a Lord. But before you start jumping to conclusions, dear readers, it was not the usual aristocratic bash Astragal is used to. Instead it was the launch of King Ken’s Design for London. So what better place to hold it than in Will Alsop’s Palestra – home of the London Development Agency? Best not answer that. Anyway, Richard Roger
  • Frozen dinner

    There was a certain incongruity in seeing a projection of Hugh Broughton’s jaunty pavilions for the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station in front of the magnificent baroque decorations of the Painted Hall at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. Broughton in fact is working at the college, on a very discreet disabled lift. But the reason for the images was a magnificent dinner with speakers on the topic ‘Extreme architecture: saving and surviving the ice’. Speakers included n
  • Fundamentalist Heritage

    English Heritage – whatever one may think of it (and one tries not to think of it at all) – has shot up in Astragal’s estimation recently. The website is boasting the biggest Battle of Hastings re-enactment the world has ever seen, and what’s really great is they have a short video of last year’s event. If you like to laugh at 38-year-old men with big beards and pony tails running around a field with stupid helmets on, then check it out. It’s a guaranteed laugh. And people th
  • Game plan

    John Assael spoke impressively at the RIBA small practices conference yesterday on the subject of recruiting and retaining staff, outlining the mentoring, parties, bonuses and flexibility that have won him recognition from the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For and the AJ100. But was it all too good to be true? When quizzed directly, Assael admitted that he had also had his share of problems. ‘We had a receptionist who was on the game. She was always late in on Monda
  • GEC Anderson

    Made to measure worktops
  • Gender inequality

    There were no long faces on the Assael table at the AJ100 night on 23 May, despite losing out to Jestico + Whiles for the title of AJ100 employer of the year. John Assael’s practice had been a hot favourite to land the accolade following its success in The Times’ similar – but obviously less important – league table. However Mr A looked like the happiest man in the world all evening. Perhaps it was because of his much-noticed ‘bevy of beauties’ (phrase used with kind permissi
  • Gensler

    Global design firm Gensler has recently expanded their landscaping team with the appointment Natasha Newbury (who joins Gensler from HOK International) and Mike Luszczak (previously from Luszczak Associates).
  • Getting with the times

    Gone are the glory days of architects wearing dicky-bows and talking animatedly about the Parthenon. Forget the roll-neck sweaters and get down to Diesel because to be an architect today you need cool credentials. Just look at the über-cool developers down at Urban Splash; most of them were involved in the ’80s with the infamously anarchic Factory Records; the music label that typified the Madchester scene. And now the RIBA is catching on. Spotted recently in its celebrity-tractor beam o
  • 'Glamour' mags

    When The Architects' Journal redesigned last year, we certainly made sure the architectural world knew about it, but not in quite the way that New Zealand architecture and design magazine Urbis relaunched recently. According to thread, a website that calls itself 'New Zealand's fashion-culture magazine', Urbis now has 'a more fashion-meets-design approach, and even the cover reflects this with a model in a grey Zambesi strapless dress.' The 'glam' launch party was on the rooftop above Aucklan
  • Glasdon

    Industrial, commercial and leisure buildings and kiosks
  • Glasdon Manufacturing Ltd.

    Bike shelters, lockers and stands
  • Going Dutch

    Readers will know how much Astragal enjoys national stereotypes. And no nation tickles his fancy more than the ‘craazy’ Dutch. When not sticking their fingers in dykes, Astragal believes, the average Hollander can be found cycling through the red-light district puffing on a hefty jazz fag. And this belief has only been confirmed by the behaviour of OMA’s press office in Rotterdam. Astragal made the mistake of trying to contact Rem Koolhaas’ acolytes using a phone number print
  • Going Dutch

    Amusing accents, cycling, 'liberal laws' and a good line in confectionary; its easy to see why Holland never fails to delight. Another reason has now been added to the list; sensible working hours. Dropping a quick phone call to Wiel Arets’ office, one of Astragal's colleagues was told by a recorded voice that their opening hours are 'nine ‘til five'. Perhaps we should follow the lead from our cousins in the low countries. How civilised...
  • Goldschmied amnesty

    Marco Goldschmied was absent for the first time since the launch of the Stephen Lawrence Award, which is paid for by his foundation. Surely he could not be petty enough to want to avoid seeing his former partner pick up an award? He did have a good excuse – he was supporting another of his charities, Amnesty, at its revival of The Secret Policeman’s Ball. And Doreen Lawrence was also away, at a wedding in Jamaica. It was touching to see the award presented in
  • Gone but not forgotten

    There were tears aplenty (and drinking aplenty) at the leaving do for award-winning former AJ editor Isabel Allen at Exmouth Market's glamorous Ambassador restaurant. But the world of architecture hasn’t seen the last of Allen, who is off to join TV’s Kevin McCloud at sustainable-development company HAB. As she pointed out in her leaving speech, she has managed to move into another job where architects are obliged to be nice to her…
  • Good Form

    Your overview of contemporary terraced housing (AJ 18.10.07) was hard to put down.
  • Gooding Aluminium

    Gooding Aluminium free specifier handbook
  • Gordon Clarke Architects

    Gordon Clarke Architects have moved offices – please note their new address:Dudbridge HillStroudGloucestershireGL5 3HN
  • Gradus Matting

    Barrier matting systems
  • Groundbreaking - 29 October 2007

    Considering the almost biblical flooding suffered in Sheffield this summer, our prayers were answered by the strangely positive weather reports in the run-up to the ground-breaking ceremony for our Foxhill development, writes, writes Karl Benyon, project manager for Artisan Property Group.
  • Guitar hero

    One thing that never ceases to amaze Astragal is the versatility of the architectural breed. But one character recently piqued his interest with a spread of talent rarely seen in the species. Introducing the star of ITV’s Sharon Osbourne Show and ITN news, and ‘voice of Air Guitar UK’ and twice Air Guitar World Champion – ladies and gentleman, it’s London-based architect Zac ‘Mr Magnet’Munro! As BBC pundit Alan Yentob put it: ‘Zac Monro has c
  • Gunning for gold

    Astragal, AJ readers will be interested to know, is a big fan of the Where’s Wally? books. Yes, many an hour has been whiled away searching feverishly for that bespectacled little trickster, with his red and white hat cocked at a jaunty little angle. ‘Where are you Wally?! Where are you?!’ Anyway, this little game was recreated at yet another boring Olympics press conference. Once again Lord Coe was banging on about kids and sport, so to stave off the boredom Astragal created
  • Habby times

    The AJ’s recently departed editor, Isabel Allen, has not left the public eye in her new incarnation as design director of HAB. She appears as ‘architecture pixie Isabel Allen’ in a cartoon on the PartIV website, alongside new boss Kevin McCloud. Check it out here .
  • Hair monger

    Maybe it’s yin and yang. Louis Kahn, having been the subject of an acclaimed documentary, My Architect, written by his son Nathan, now has a far more questionable piece of work dedicated to him. Anybody planning to visit Hong Kong may wish to take a look at ‘The Life and Times of Louis I Kahn’, running from 27-29 April at the Kwai Tsing Theatre. This multi-media experience will include music by Jason Choi of People Mountain People Sea – described as a ‘pop mu
  • Halcyon daze

    Surfing the Interweb, it is possible to discover many little gems from the other side of the pond. For example, this week we were able to enjoy the New York Times’ architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, enthusing about an exhibition of architecture magazines on show at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Called ‘Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines’, it celebrates a time when ‘when the field of architecture was still marked by
  • Handsome lot

    Last week Astragal attended The Big A – an auction of architects’ work in aid of the Architects’ Benevolent Society. The event raised the handsome figure of £70,000, £700 of which came from two Louis Hellman cartoons – a sum that the poor chap could only dream of squeezing out of the AJ on a regular basis. It was an original pencil and wash picture by Massimiliano Fuksas that proved to be the most coveted lot, eventually being snapp
  • Happy/sad

    Pringle was surprisingly chipper since, by his own admission, he should be near suicidal. Researcher Ben Page of Ipsos Mori had outlined the conditions for happiness which included being married, having a religion, being richer than your friends, and having plenty of leisure. Pringle described himself as an unmarried atheist who is poorer than his friends and has no leisure time. ‘I should slit my wrists’ he said cheerfully.
  • Hard day's night

    REID Architecture invited a handful of lucky devils – plus a very grateful Astragal – to a charity auction at the famous Abbey Road studios in London last Monday. The bash for Cancer Research threw up a few surprises, not least that hostess-for-the-night Mica Paris is not a particularly great singer whereas pop princesses All Saints can actually hold a tune. Other revelations included whispers that REID had thrown its hat into the ring to des
  • Heavenly creature

    It was a full house for the much anticipated AJ King's Cross Charrette party at the Building Centre last Thursday. The Argent-sponsored party was so packed not everyone could squeeze into the central London architectural hotspot – most notably Amin Taha’s whippet Lou Lou, who was tied up outside befriending all the smokers. Among those enjoying the free-flowing wine were Maurice Shapero, Stuart Piercy and, to Astragal’s disgust, the majority of the AJ staff. A wonderful night
  • Heavenly creature

    It was a full house for the much anticipated AJ King's Cross Charrette party at the Building Centre last Thursday. The Argent-sponsored party was so packed not everyone could squeeze into the central London architectural hotspot – most notably Amin Taha’s whippet Lou Lou, who was tied up outside befriending all the smokers. Among those enjoying the free-flowing wine were Maurice Shapero, Stuart Piercy and, to Astragal’s disgust, the majority
  • Heir to Blair?

    Astragal, as readers will know, is a political beast, who regularly finds himself at the heart of government. Yesterday, while sniffing around the Labour Party conference in Manchester, he bumped into fresh faced upstart David Miliband – the former Minister of State for Communities and Local Government – at the RIBA truck. The recently appointed DEFRA top dog, tipped to one day take over as leader of the party, was having a nosey around the institute’s lorry, which is current
  • Hello sailor

    Winter may just be starting to bite, but anybody planning their summer wardrobe well ahead may well like to consider a nautical theme. Why? Because the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is stepping down from its usual high-minded level to run a summer exhibition called Sailor Chic, celebrating the fact that ‘various groups in society have adopted, imitated and reinvented naval fashion including the patriotic, dissidents, the young and the fashion-conscious’. The exhibition will include a
  • Heritage gets its chips

    Astragal made a short visit to Ironbridge in Shropshire, the crucible of the industrial revolution and now a World Heritage site, earlier this week. The bridge is an impressive fixture and the gorge itself –with fantastic early industrial homes – is well worth a visit. What is most pleasing is the way the town seems to walk the heritage tightrope. It is perhaps a little too quaint, but we’ve certainly all seen worse. Astragal was especially pleased to note that the very nearest shop to the br
  • Heroic architecture

    An extraordinary article has come to our attention from the pen of the San Francisco Chronicle’s senior movie writer Ruthe Stein, in which she muses on the current vogue for architects in recent Hollywood blockbusters. For evidence she points to the fact that Keanu Reaves, Adam Sandler and Luke Wilson have played architects in recent years. The hack then turns to Robert Osborne, who is apparently the host of lesser-known cable channel Turner Classic Movies to find out why. This is his almost
  • High design and hoi polloi

    Talking of which, is Tim Pyne running out of ideas in his work at 100% Design? This year his attempts to brighten the gloom of Earls Court certainly looked natty as the first visitors tripped in on Thursday morning. He had gone for a black-and-white theme, including huge striped circular hangings. But Tim, has nobody ever told you how impractical white carpets are? They were looking a little tired by lunchtime on Thursday, and I dread to think what today’s rain-soaked visitor
  • High finance

    Anecdotal evidence of the dominance of the Poles in the British construction industry came from the draw at the Construction Products Association’s autumn lunch. Money raised for construction charity Crash exceeded £3,000, but also included 35 Euros – and 10 Polish Zloty.
  • Hitting the fan

    There’s a cracking ding-dong brewing up down under. In one corner is ‘the violated’ – Australia’s god Glenn Murcutt. In the other is New Zealander Mark Banning-Taylor – developer behind the multi-million dollar Moonlight Head luxury villa and eco-hotel scheme. The project has not gone well. Technically it's Murcutt’s largest ever project since setting up in 1969. However Mr M is trying to disassociate himself from the scheme, claiming the final product is rid
  • Hitting the right notes – 24.09.07

    If you thought that the relationship between classical music and architecture began and ended with Greek architect/composer Iannis Xenakis, then you’d be wrong. To prove that the two disciplines are perfectly in tune, Chinese architects have orchestrated this exhibition centre in Huinan city, Anhui province. The centre takes the form of two gigantic musical instruments, with the main part of the facility housed in the piano, and the entrance and staircase in the transparent v
  • Hot property

    The London Borough of Lambeth has been described as many things in its time, but rarely as ‘too hot to handle’. This was the judgement handed down by the Westminster Council food inspector when he visited ‘international food artist’ Alicia Rios’ Eat London project in Trafalgar Square. The over-officious bureaucrat said the rice that made up the south London borough’s buildings was of too high a temperature to be served to the public. Fortunately, other goodies such as a fudge

    Architect: £164,000This project was in a Victorian terraced house on a sloping site in the Whitehall Park Conservation Area. The kitchen was completely refurbished and a side-infill extension created to provide a split-level dining room open to the new kitchen. Excavating below the main house provided an additional reception room, accessed via the new dining room/kitchen area. The main idea for the proj
  • Hoxton tweed

    AJ staffers were surprised and entertained to hear some months ago of the unlikely collaboration between classicist Robert Adam and Erotic Gherkin designer (or not?) Ken Shuttleworth. But now an even less likely collaboration has reached astragal's ever inquisitive ears. Apparently über-classicist Francis Terry – son of Quinlan – is in regular contact with the chaps from FAT. Ok, ok, it's obvious that they both have it in for the Modernist mainstream, but can you really imagine Sean Grif
  • HQ right on cue

    A timely return to form for the England Rugby team is being echoed by the construction of a new South Stand at England’s home. Mark Hansford reports from Twickenham.On the pitch, English rugby may owe its return to rude health to one man – the heroic Jonny Wilkinson – but at its spiritual home, Twickenham, it is a very different story. The fact that a full house of 82,000 was able to witness the great man’s return in the opening two matches of the Six Nations, not to mention t
  • Hunger - 11 November 2007

    The rather dusty and slightly drowsy looking fellow sitting next to me turned, extended his hand, and said in clear English 'I am hungry'.
  • I don't feel like dancin'

    It’s not often that Astragal spends Sunday evening at a popular music venue, but he will make an exception for a Grade II-listed building and a good cause: this was a concert in aid of the charity Body & Soul, which supports children, teenagers and families affected by AIDS, held in the cheekily named ‘Koko’, the one-time Camden Theatre designed by the prolific theatre architect WGRSprague. Astragal spent a convivial evening swaying gently in a corporate box
  • If you can’t stand the heat

    A friend of a friend (an ever-reliable source) tells Astragal that he overheard some Part 1s from Wilkinson Eyre – the lucky little monkeys – chatting in the pub, grumbling to one another about the fact that they were being made to take part in a kitchen cleaning rota by the new office manager. The glamour of architecture…
  • In a pickle

    Other memorable moments included the free sarnies some AJ hacks found hiding in a back room. They were a little dry and perhaps leftover from a previous function, but Astragal is ever thankful when he happens upon a traditional cheese and pickle number. Peter Cook’s old mucker Colin Fournier seemed to agree.
  • In attendance

    What is a conference without its superstars? Delegates at the RIBA Conference will have to manage without Zaha Hadid, who cancelled at the last moment, sending a colleague instead. But at least Norman Foster was there, carrying an intriguing gift-wrapped silver parcel which toned with his pale grey suit.
  • In celebration of San Francisco

    A first visit to San Francisco re-evoked that characteristic noise of American cities in which the deep dinosaur roar of fire department engines counterpoints the almost continuous ululations of police and ambulance sirens.
  • In praise of San Francisco

    A first visit to San Francisco re-evoked that characteristic noise of American cities in which the deep dinosaur roar of fire department engines counterpoints the almost continuous ululations of police and ambulance sirens.
  • In the long run

    A team of highly trained athletes from the AJ sacrificed their precious weekend lie-ins for the good of architecture last Sunday morning (24 June), by taking part in the Architects Benevolent Society charity fun run. AJ staffers Tom Peardon, Angus Montgomery, James Pallister and Terry Roll (shown here, from left to right) all slogged their way around the 6km central London course to raise money for the organisation, which off
  • In the swing

    It’s not often that Astragal is moved to celebrate anything as mundane as an underfloor swing-door operator. But one installed by manufacturer Tormax should help bring an end to a major source of embarrassment to the profession – or at least to the RIBA. Installed under a swing door next to the revolving entrance of the institution’s listed headquarters in London's Portland Place, the operator should help with DDA compliance without damaging the protected app
  • Includive Design Award winner - Portland College

    Portland College – New Learning Centre, Mansfield, NottinghamshireArchitect: Patel Portland CollegeContract value: £2.35MPhotography by: Charlotte WoodA centre designed for people with varying disabilities, its use ranges from retraining people injured in accidents to helping profoundly disabled young adults post-secondary education. A double height reception area and two linear wings
  • Inclusive Design Award runner-up - Bethnal Green Museum

    V&A Museum of ChildhoodArchitect: Caruso St John Architectswww.carusostjohn.comClient: V&A Museum of ChildhoodConstruction: £3M. Gallery installation: £1.2MPhotography by: Morley von SternbergFrom a masterplan in 2002, re-organisation, refurbishment and some radical surgery of the Grade II museum and its collection led to re-opening in December 2006. Most dramatic is the new two-storey entrance structure providing much
  • Inclusive Design Award runner-up - Broadwater Farm Childrens Centre

    Broadwater Farm Children's Centre, Haringey, LondonArchitect: Gollifer Langston LB Haringey; Education, Property & ContractsContract value: £1.6MPhotography by: James BrittainA new 120-place nursery and drop-in centre, the first phase of a new learning campus. It comprises a timber and glass box and a decked terrace that opens onto landscaped play areas for 3-4 year-olds. A green roof c
  • Increasing primary school places, Coventry

    The city is seeking the following disciplines to work on five primary schools:
  • Interbuild - 28Oct-1Nov

    Interbuild exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham
  • International Award

    WINNER / HEARST TOWER, NEW YORKCommissioning authority: The Hearst CorporationPrincipal designer: Foster + PartnersPrincipal contractor: Turner ConstructionAward for projects outside the UK for which either the principal designer or the principalcontractor is a UK-based British firm. Sponsored by Mott Macdonald.
  • It never rains but it snores

    Astragal was fortunate enough to attend the treat that was the Architectural Review’s annual conference, which was bursting with high-profile names such as Peter Cook, Ricky Burdett, Terry Farrell, Richard MacCormac, David Mackay and Zaha Hadid. The stars trooped on and off the RIBA stage like an architectural parody of Band Aid, but even this feast of designer names didn’t stop one hapless delegate from nodding off during a David Mackay solo. The snores were
  • Jacksons Fencing and Gates

    Specialists in gate automation with a 25 year guarantee
  • Joan of Architecture

    The Montreal Gazette is ebullient in its celebration of the 80th birthday of Phyllis Lambert, North America’s most generous and knowledgeable patron of architecture. Most noted for persuading her father Samuel Bronfman to appoint Mies van der Rohe to design the Seagram building in 1954, and for founding the Canadian Centre for Architecture, she is dubbed by the paper ‘Joan of Architecture’. The party, according to the Gazette, included a birthday cake by Peter Eisenman featuring Seagram and a
  • John Callcutt, author of Review of Housebuilding Delivery

    The Callcutt Review of Housebuilding Delivery is released today. Its author, John Callcutt, former head of housebuilder Crest Nicholson and English Partnerships, tells Max Thompson that the government's housing targets are achievable - but at a price
  • Judges' Special Award

    WINNER / CAMP BASTION MILITARY BASE, AFGHANISTANCommissioning authority: 12 (Air Support) Engineer GroupPrincipal designer: 62 Works Group REPrincipal contractor: 48 Field Squadron (Air Support)Award for a building or civil engineering project of any size which the judges consider to be particularly inspirational in one or more aspects. Sponsored by Arup.
  • Juggling balls

    Around this time a couple of years ago, Webwatch had kind things to say about archiblog, B******s to Architecture .
  • Just the ticket

    Architect and impassioned Liverpool fan Paul Gregory is embarking on a battle not seen since David took on that hulking Philistine Goliath. For the Kopite has decided to take legal action against European football’s governing body Uefa over the recent Champions League final ticket debacle in Athens. Gregory was one of 3,000-5,000 Liverpool fans with genuine tickets who were denied access because their seats were taken by fans who had gained a
  • Kalzip

    Perforated facades
  • Kawneer - Curtain Walling

    Kawneer curtain walling offers unique adapability
  • Kent Architecture Centre

    Kent Architecture Centre continues to grow following the recent departure of founding Chief Executive, Barry Shaw, to become the Head of Built Environment at Essex County Council. The Centre is now being led by architect and urban designer Alan Glover. It is anticipated that a new chief executive appointment will be confirmed in the New Year. The Centre will continue to benefit from the involvement of Barry, who has agreed to join the Board.
  • Kicking up a fuss

    While loitering around the RIBA eco-truck at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Astragal spotted Cherie Blair among the 1,000. Keen to discuss the possibility of wind turbines and solar panels on Number 10, Astragal was miffed to be brushed aside by a tenacious Sky News reporter armed with a torpedo-like ‘fluffy’ mike. Questions about Monday’s ‘did she, didn’t she’ hooha caused Mrs Blair to speed away from a potentially pleasant design-led chit-chat. Temporarily downc
  • King of the dessert

    Astragal had the pleasure last week of lunching with some of London’s most esteemed architectural hob-nobbers. Lord Rogers of Rogerside was there, along with Peter Bishop, Richard McCormac and former AJ editor Isabel Allen. However, once the main course was finished the assembled parties all but vanished, despite the promise of pear tart. Perhaps that’s how Rogers stays so active regardless of his advancing age? Well, rest assured dear reader
  • Kingspan

    Kingspan Spectrum insulated panels are a colour coated system
  • Kingspan - Thermastone

    Kingspan Thermastone offers the looks of natural stone and the benefits of a composite panel
  • Kohler - WaterTile

    The iF award winning WaterTile bodysprays and showerheads
  • Kurokawa and Ungers remembered

    Following their deaths, Charles Jencks remembers OM Ungers and Kisho Kurokawa
  • Lady Margaret

    Divas, by their very nature, behave as though they have their own set of rules. Scientology’s messiah, Tom Cruise, is alleged to have placed a ban on anyone looking him directly in the eyes. And it is widely suggested that Zaha Hadid is architecture’s answer to Elton John. But MPs are the last set of society one would expect to fall into such a category. However, it appears Margaret Hodge, minister for industry and the region
  • Lament - 11 November 2007

    I have had some interesting meetings this past week.
  • Last ring of the doorbell

    One member of the AJ team who definitely never wears anything from Margaret Howell or from any other designer, is much-loved scruffbag former news editor Ed Dorrell, who left the magazine last Friday with a bibulous and occasionally tearful farewell. The scourge of Peter Phillips, BNP member and quondam RIBA presidential candidate, Dorrell was most delighted when he appeared on Phillips’ website with the far-right architect having dubbed him
  • Legacy let-down

    Astragal enjoys nothing more than to sit down with a nice cup of Horlicks and read RIBA president Jack Pringle’s blog at . The latest instalment sees our Jack looking back on ‘Ten Years of Tony’ – and discussing his views on the outgoing Prime Minister’s legacy to architects. Jack paints Blair as a PM who promised architects the world but failed to deliver – that’ll be a politician then Jack. According to Pringle,
  • Let's have a drink to celebrate

    A great evening at the AR Emerging Architecture Awards on Thursday featured visits from many of the great and good of architecture. Spotted closeted away in one corner was Ian Ritchie, who seemed unusually chipper, and everyone’s favourite architecture critic Eddie Heathcoate. What could they have been nattering about? One can only guess. Also mooching at the back of the Florence Hall as Paul Finch dished out the gongs were those scions of the Richard Rogers
  • Levolux

    Novawall - accoustic fabric ceiling and walling system
  • Libeskind pulls it off

    Daniel Libeskind delivered the annual Lubetkin lecture last week to a packed house and tumultuous applause in Kensington Town Hall. Questions from the floor, however, failed to match the high standards set the maestro. First up was a query about how he felt about Frank Gehry being featured on The Simpsons while he hadn't. Libeskind reckoned that Gehry was a more suitable shape and looked better in yellow. But any relief that one of the next questions was posed by an elderly g
  • Lifestyle

    Ls90 Bi-panel system
  • Lights… camera… Gherkin!

    It has been brought to the attention of Astragal that a film called Building the Gherkin – by documentary-maker Mirjam von Arx – is doing the rounds. Friends of this esteemed organ have received the campest ever postcard promoting it. The front features three mugshots superimposed on a stock pic of the skyscraper. Whose faces? Well of course there's Norm (in a heroic pose), then there's the glamour from American super-client Sara Fox and finally there's über-planner Peter Rees. (What's t
  • Linen in sin

    Astragal was shocked and upset to discover that he is among the 30 per cent of Brits ‘hiding under filthy sheets’, according to washing machine manufacturer Electra. Although Astragal generally beds down under the table at the Easton or on that cosy bench just outside the RIBA (with a few canapés for the midnight munchies), occasionally he does make it home to his own pit. And apparently, like a third of the population, he is not washing his bed sheets frequently enough to kill off any ‘
  • Local Authority Award

    WINNER / PARADISE PARK CHILDREN’S CENTRE, LONDON N7Commissioning authority: London Borough of IslingtonPrincipal designer: DSDHAPrincipal contractor: AllenbuildAward for a local authority project of any size consistent with the government’sBetter Public Building programme. Sponsored by Thomas Telford.
  • Loco motion

    On Monday night Astragal pitched up at the House of Commons to hear two teams, one led by Guardian journo Simon Jenkins and the other by Jack Pringle, debate the motion, ‘This House believes that architects have failed to learn anything from their mistakes in the 60s’. (In case you’re wondering, Jack was against and Simon was for). Presided over by that dominatrix of the House, Bettie Boothroyd, a string of eloquent debaters, including the ra
  • Lordly heritage

    Speculation about the future of Lord Browne after his sudden departure from BP has floated the idea that he may head up a charity. How interesting then that he has been spotted several times in the past week in the offices of English Heritage – which just happens to be looking for a new chairman.
  • Lost in the fog

    Antony Gormley may well be the toast of the town when it comes to Joe Public, but when it comes to the eternally discerning architect he is, well, toast. The sculptor’s exhibition at the Hayward Gallery has been a tremendous success, but when poor old engineering firm Elliot Wood threw its summer bash there – complete with a private viewing of the installation – it attracted less than half the number of guests expected. Astragal turned up to the party looking forward to losing his way in Gorm
  • Louvre let down

    Ah Paris! The city of lights, the city of romance. Home of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, minimal resistance in the face of adversity, and the beret. Ah Paris! Yes, Astragal took time out for a quick sojourn to visit our cousins across the Channel. And a trip to Paris is not complete without experiencing the majestic union of the Louvre’s home of the Royal Palais and I M Pei’s glass pyramid. But imagine one’s disappointment when visiting the museum to see Pei’s once proud innovation being over
  • Love / Hate

    What is your favourite building?Rank 2006Building
  • Luckless students at Lucknow

    Student unrest may be perennial and universal, but a particularly severe version has broken out at Lucknow College of Architecture in India – and with good reason. The country’s Council of Architecture has refused to register the admissions of first-year and second-year batches of students ‘due to lack of faculty and infrastructure in the college’ according to the Times of India. The college principal Mukul Singh asked students to join their classes and ‘resolve problems thro
  • Lucky horseshoe

    Anybody with a nervous disposition should stop reading now – especially if they suffer from vertigo. One of those extraordinary projects which looks like a visualiser’s dream but which nobody thinks will ever be built is actually nearing completion. It is the Skywalk bridge – a glass-bottomed horseshoe with no visible means of support which will jut out over the Grand Canyon allowing visitors to look down 1,200m. Intended to form a source of tourist income for the Hualapai tr
  • Lukewarm reception

    The British Council for Offices conference in New York went swimmingly by all accounts. A highlight included a trip inside the Chrysler Building’s stainless-steel spire. An unusual lowlight, so Astragal hears, was provided by Uruguayan star Rafael Viñoly, who bumbled his way through an unprepared speech. The offering from the man-with-many-glasses did not go down very well with the mainly British audience. He’ll be hoping his Walkie Talkie gets a better reception (ho ho)
  • Mad dash – 17.09.07

    Astragal often ponders how many more houses we really need. If you listen to the organisers of the Living Steel modular housing contest, the planet must build 4,000 ‘housing units’ every hour for the next 25 years if we are to meet the massive 40 per cent growth in global demand. Closer to home, the bar has been set slightly lower but appears similarly unobtainable. According to sources within the Olympics, at least two-and-a-half units a day will have to come out of the ground to realise the
  • Major Project Award

    WINNER / EMIRATES STADIUM, LONDON N5Commissioning authority: Arsenal Football ClubPrincipal designer: HOK SportPrincipal contractor: Sir Robert McAlpineAward for building and civil engineering projects valued at over £50 million. Sponsored by Vinci.
  • Making mischief

    You can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth emanating from the ARB’s Weymouth Street citadel. Yes, the protection-of-title militia are set to be mobilised again. Their target? The rather aptly named Mischief PR, who sent Astragal what, on the surface, appears to be a rather harmless piece of press release puff revealing that 52 per cent of British office workers secretly plan their home improvements during office hours. Astragal, for one, rarely thinks of anything o
  • Manser Medal runner-up - Dowling House

    Dowling house, Cultra, DownArchitect: Hackett + Hallwww.hackett-hall.comContract value: £240,000Photography by: Hackett + HallSited in a mature Victorian suburb, the building acts as a deep wall between forecourt and garden. There are framed views to garden trees and to the distant sea. A ‘public’ internal stair connects ground and first floor. ‘Backstage’ a more private stair connects all three floors.
  • Manser medal runner-up - Jones House

    New Dwelling, Randalstown, AntrimArchitect: Alan Jones Architectswww.jonesarchitects.comContract value: £200,000Photography by: Alan JonesThe context is a graveyard and chapel, in dark stone and slate. The response was to be ambiguous. From the front tall narrow windows and lack of detail hardly suggest a dwelling. Internally there are few defined borders between spaces.
  • Manser Medal winner - The Salt House

    Private House, St Lawrence Bay, EssexArchitect: Alison Brooks Architectswww.alisonbrooksarchitects.comPhotography by: Cristobal PalmaA contemporary seaside house, a site-specific response, yet exploring the Modernist tradition. The undulating facets of the timber clad façade follow through into a faceted rather than orthogonal partitioning layout.
  • Maria de la Guardia - shortlisted

    IN contrast to many entrants, who created a shed in a utopia, Maria de la Guardia sited her shed in a typical, and far from ideal, city environments.
  • Marley Eternit

    Advanced thinking in fibre cement and cladding
  • Masterplanning 2008

    Meeting today's urban design challenges through inspirational masterplanning
  • Masterplanning 2008

    Meeting today's urban design challenges through inspirational masterplanning.
  • Mean feet

    Always good value, Wayne Hemingway gave the keynote speech at Salford’s Design Guidance event last week. Rejecting taxi, tram or stretch limo in favour of sustainable transport, the designer chose to walk from the railway station to his gig at the Lowry (no mean feat in itself!). This allowed a thorough perusal of the city’s leafy corridors – all captured on Wayne’s digital camera and dropped into PowerPoint for the 10.30am presentation. Sadly for Salford – soon to be home to
  • Meaty surprise

    Astragal was stood quietly, Ginsters sausage roll in hand (there were no canapés – for shame!), at the back of the large audience that gathered last night for Carmody Groarke’s Winter Nights lecture at BDP in Clerkenwell. It’s plain and simple – the Anglo-Australian pair are very, very good. They have only been going for 12 months and already have schemes all over the world. There are apparently one or two m
  • Mermet - Acoustis 50

    The latest acoustic absorption performance fabric from Mermet
  • Mersey Observatory

    The RIBA has launched an international open competition for the design of The Mersey Observatory at the site of the disused Radar Tower that stands between Crosby Beach and Liverpool Docks.
  • Messing about on the river

    When the RIBA London region announces its winners of RIBA awards on the evening of Wednesday 16 May it will do so on a boat. Could this be a ‘dry run’ for the region’s proposed permanent new home afloat?
  • Messing with the Mob

    The Corporation of London is ‘nothing but a bunch of hardened thugs’ according to Astragal’s Milton Court mole. Let’s just hope all the fuss he and others are making about Milton Court’s failure to be listed along with the rest of the Barbican Centre doesn’t mean he wakes up one morning next to a horse’s head.
  • Metsec Framing

    Technical superiority, flexibility, accuracy, and speed in framing
  • Minister reveals unusual ideas for Tinsley towers site

    Sports minister Richard Caborn has – bizarrely – waded into the debate about the future of Sheffield’s Tinsley cooling towers after suggesting they should be replaced by a giant steel football.
  • Missing the point

    Astragal met up with a chap from Soho Square-based architect Barton Willmore last week and was amused to hear a tale which the idiom ‘more haste, less speed’ may have been penned for. Currently working in the Middle East, the architect was baffled when on a site visit he noticed a neat bit of arrow-shaped shuttering which was waiting for a nice dollop of concrete. When he asked what in the name of Marvin Gaye it was, the site manager pointed to the neat black north arrow on t
  • MJ Impressions

    Design and artwork services across a wide range of products
  • Model behaviour

    Astragal is well aware of film stars’ and fashionistas’ infatuation with the brooding world of architecture, but still nearly choked on his port when he came across an architecture-themed fashion shoot in glam-rag Wallpaper*. In all its unabashed glory was 12 pages of high cheekbones and slim hips accessorising interior shots of the HQs of Foreign Office Architects, Shigeru Ban, OMA and er… Allies and Morrison. Models (of the cardboard variety) took centre st
  • Monte Carlo to bust

    If you’re jetting off to the French Riviera for your summer holidays, take a long look at the view out to sea, as it may all be changing soon. Martha Schwarz and Foster + Partners have entered a competition organised by Monaco to deal with its imminent space crisis. With every available square foot already occupied the solution is, Dubai-style, to build a new island. ‘All the architects want to put signature buildings there,’ Schwarz told the AJ conference on
  • Mortar bang for your buck

    Read the word ‘architecture’ in connection with big bucks and IT, and the cynic immediately thinks software architecture, not the real thing. But in the case of a new US competition co-sponsored by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), it really is bricks and mortar that is attracting the money. Billed as ‘architecture’s largest prize’, the Open Architecture Prize, also backed by Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity, is worth $250,000. It will fund an annual
  • Motor mouth

    Astragal hopped in a cab the other day and extracted some titbits of architectural gossip from the driver. According to our clued-up cabbie, ‘that Richard Rogers dresses like a bloody gardener. What’s with those bloody stripy cords? In fact, when I went to pick him up, I thought he was the bloody gardener!’ Our font of Knowledge (geddit?) also, nudge nudge wink wink, reckons that when Spencer de Grey completed work at the British Museum he had a stone laid in
  • Muddy waters

    Astragal’s favourite April Fool’s spoof appears on techie website . The story discusses conversations between Microsoft and Richard Rogers about a potential takeover by the software giant. Titled ‘Microsoft to build on Rogers Partnership’, it ‘quotes’ CEO Steve Balmer shouting in excitement: ‘Acquiring the Rogers Partnership will allow us to change our fundamental approach and not only be open, but be seen to be
  • Mutual admiration

    Astragal received a call from a charming young Italian lady who turned out to be one of Renzo Piano’s lackeys. She explained that the Genoese Shardmaster was overjoyed at being named ‘Most Admired Architect’ in the recent AJ100 listings and wanted to get hold of a copy of the article. ‘Fine,’ Astragal replied, ‘what does he want to use it for?’ ‘To be honest,’ came the response, ‘I think he just wants to show Richard Rogers.’
  • Never one to upbraid the Dutch

    It has to be said that the good staffers of the AJ have a world of time for almost anything Dutch. From the wonderful architectural atmosphere that fosters innovative social housing to the two comedy policemen in The Fast Show, Holland has really got it going on. And now there’s more. One Meschab Gaba has been brought to Astragal’s attention and the Netherlands has jumped even higher in his estimation. A Benin-born Rotterdam resident, Ms Gaba braids famous buildings into peop
  • New Welsh school, Nantyglo, Blaenau Gwent

    Design and construction of a new, two storey primary school (gross internal floor area approximately 2 600 m²) and associated external works.
  • No logo

    So the London Olympics team has unveiled the logo for the 2012 Games, a snip at a mere £400,000. Olympics supremo Seb Coe says the image ‘is at the very heart of our brand’ and ‘will define the venues we build’. Hmm… uncompromisingly eyecatching, jagged, and available in a palette of pink, blue, green and orange. That must have given Will Alsop some hope for the Olympic Village commission.
  • No man is an island

    It’s not just our own Norman Foster who can take on bizarre projects in the former Soviet Union. Oh no. Sleek-haired Dutchman Erick van Egeraat contacted Astragal with the details of a scheme he has jumped on board – the creation of a huge Russian Federation-shaped Island in the Black Sea. Russian president Vladimir Putin, who took a look at the designs, was apparently particularly interested in the technical details of the plan, with van Ege
  • Northern lights

    They certainly know how to throw a party in Leeds. Last year’s launch for Ian Simpson’s Lumiere skyscraper came with an assortment of fire eaters, tuxedoed dwarves and Del Boy lookalikes. Stephen George and Partners’ bash to celebrate moving into a new office in Park Place was no less spectacular. The Space-themed shindig featured a jazz band dressed as aliens, a 1980s space invader arcade machine, an astronaut and hostesses clad in silver. One architect admi
  • Not a capital example

    Talking of Serota, Astragal had the pleasure of sitting next to the great man during the course of the dinner (which was much better than the scoff one usually expects at such functions). Ever the politician, the modern day Medici gave very little away, apart from one slip: ‘I wouldn’t recommend Olympic organisers look for inspiration to Liverpool’s Capital of Culture,’ he said knowingly. Fortunately Sir Nick is far too sophisticated to use such terminology, but the frustrati
  • Not on my watch

    The RIBA headquarters has been once again cast into the limelight. This time it was used in Channel 4’s fictional political satire The Trial of Tony Blair, set in the year 2010. The building was made up as the American ambassador’s office, complete with posters of President Hillary Clinton. Astragal, for one, was not impressed. The home of this esteemed country’s architecture, dressed up like Uncle Sam. There was once a time when ‘Royal’ and ‘British’ meant something. The lur
  • Not) in the Army now

    There is not exactly an over-abundance of civil engineering graduates, let alone female civil engineering graduates, and neither is the army overrun with applicants. You would think, therefore, that Lindsey Barrett, who won the Concrete Society’s student award for a paper on ‘the effect of early-age strain on the strength of concrete’ while a student at Cranfield University’s Defence College would be seen as a feather in the regimental cap. Unfortunately her hopes of a milita
  • Nothing but a number

    Over the years Astragal has heard the odd rumour that journalists dabble in the occasional ‘stretching of the truth.’ Readers can rest assured that at AJ towers the practice is thankfully very rare and, unsurprisingly, frowned upon. However there are always going to be naughty sausages out there willing to embellish a tale to give it a little extra zing. The naughty sausage in question this time is responsible for writing an article on www.thisislondon.
  • Nuts about the AJ – 27.04.07

    We all know that the very best people read The Architects’ Journal but it’s nice to have that confirmed on the other side of the world. So the team at AJ were delighted when a request filtered through for extra copies of the special issue on Oscar Niemeyer written by AJ technical editor Hattie Hartman and majoring on the restoration of the Alvorada presidential palace. Who is so keen to see these copies? None other than Lula da Silva, current tenant of the Al
  • Oh yes, Ono – 11/12/06

    Yoko Ono is never one to avoid controversy and so it should come as no surprise that she has admitted she’s a big fan of the contentious new X-museum on Liverpool’s waterfront. The revelation came at a black tie bash held to officially launch 3XN’s already high-profile project – a scheme which has raised the hackles of heritage busybodies trying to protect the setting of the Three Graces. According to practice chief Kim Nielsen, Ono gave an unequivocal ‘Oh ye
  • Old dogs, old tricks

    It seems the AJ’s old nemesis Peter Phillips is up to his old tricks again. After a few months keeping his head down following the furore over his membership of the BNP, the Surrey architect has been speaking up on RIBA Net, the online chatroom for RIBA members ( ). In a lengthy rant, Phillips cites his support for George Ferguson, Chris Roche and Ian Meek in various RIBA elections as evidence of the fact he’s not a fascist. They
  • Older and wiser?

    Lord Foster had the pleasure of Astragal’s company recently, when the superstar architect launched something-or-other for CABE at the British Museum. He was sporting a choice salmon-pink corduroy suit (why does he always wear it?) and looking at least 20 years younger than his actual 178 years. But despite his science-defyingly youthful looks, the big man is not exactly ‘down with the kids’. When asked who he thought the best young architect in Britain was, t
  • On our doorstep

    Does John McAslan know that Allford Hall Monaghan Morris may well be reworking one of his buildings? Simon Allford was seen walking around a McAslan-designed office in Islington, accompanied by those starry engineers Hanif Kara and Albert Taylor of Adams Kara Taylor, suggesting that some fairly significant changes may be on the cards. And how does Astragal know? The building is the AJ’s own office, to be vacated in the autumn
  • Once upon a time in Portland Place

    As the great unwashed architectural public dives headlong into booze-soaked festive frivolity, let the gossip levels reach their seasonal climax. How’s this for starters: information has reached Astragal of a quite staggering decision; the social secretary at the RIBA (whoever he or she is) has decided that this year’s Christmas party for Portland Place staffers should be themed along the lines of cowboys and Indians. Think ol’ Jack Pringle in a Stetson or George Ferg
  • Ooooh Byker

    ‘Spuggy! Me eyes!!!!’ So screeched PJ (who was ‘bessie mates’ with Duncan) in what became the most iconic moment in kids’ TV drama’s dubious history. For the vast majority to whom this will mean nothing, it was the occasion when PJ was inadvertently blinded in a calamitous paintballing accident. The scene was the defining moment of long-running soap Byker Grove, the very programme that spawned those giants of the small screen, Ant and Dec (who, in fact, playe
  • Order of succession

    The architectural great and good were, unsurprisingly, out in force at Isabel Allen’s leaving do. Jack Pringle, Sara Fox, Clare Wright, Simon Allford, Paul Monaghan, Max Hutchinson, Keith Williams, Francine Libessart, Rab and Denise Bennetts and Renato Benedetti were all setting about the win
  • ORMS

    ORMS Architecture Design, winners of the recent BCO Best of the Best award for their design of ISG's offices in Aldgate - announces the promotion of Sean Hatcher and Andrew Harrison to the role of Directors of the firm. They join existing directors Oliver Richards, Dave Jennings and John McRae.Sean Hatcher joined ORMS in 1996 with the remit to develop the practice's portfolio of projects in mainland Europe. Andrew Harrison joined the company in 2006 a
  • Over-attentive fans

    Some heat wave-related goss for you. During the unfathomably hot weather of July, apparently every fan in Zaha's large Clerkenwell office was switched from swivel to stationary and pointed in her direction. Everyone else was expected to sweat to so long as the demagogue maintained a stable temperature. Astragal's supposed to have a witty turn of phrase, but this one needs no hamming up; it's just very very funny.
  • Partying the American Way

    Astragal is intensely upset to have missed out on what sounds like the social event of the season, the bash our New York cousins enjoyed on Monday to celebrate the opening of Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower. Guests including new tower resident Oprah Winfrey and TV news anchor Dan Rather gasped in wonder as they got to grips with Normski’s acclaimed structure. Those childish people at the New York Observer were led to report on the event under th
  • Peace Palace parody?

    Astragal is an unashamed fan of Borat, the fictional Kazakh TV presenter invented by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to succeed Ali G. With this fact in mind it is hard to imagine the glee which met the discovery of a statement from government information service Kazinform regarding Normski's pyramidal Palace of Peace and Consent, which is currently nearing completion in the Central Asian country. Under the headline 'Kazhakh PM satisfied with the construction speed of the Palace of Peace and Conse
  • Pitt stop

    While leafing through Grazia magazine recently (his favourite reading material, especially when accompanied with a brace of bellinis) Astragal alighted on a piece about his favourite double-headed A-list celebrity monster Brangelina (that’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to the uninitiated). It seems the Hollywood megastars are currently looking for somewhere to put down roots and bring up little Maddox, Zahara and Shil
  • Planet partitioning

    Frameless glazed partitioning
  • Plantlife

    Astragal is surely not the only one who feels a nervy tightening of the chest when they gaze upon Laurie Chetwood’s admirably eco-friendly Urban Oasis in London’s Clerkenwell Green. Day of the Triffids casts a long and ominous shadow over the project. And now, worryingly, the hydraulic tree seems to have uprooted and taken on a life of its own – and it’s heading right for the centre of British governmental power. That’s right, Astragal was most perturbed when he got to the La
  • Plastic fantastic

    If you are too weary to fight for one of the new Playstation 3 models, but desperate to exercise the brain cells, help may be at hand – from pipework company Wavin Plastics. It has launched a game called HyperPiper which is, it says, ‘guaranteed to send plumbers round the U-bend’. Based on the company’s new low-noise push-fit soil system OSMA SiTech, the game asks players to create their own continuous pipework system in just one minute using a variety of SiTech pipe parts su
  • Playing it by the book

    ‘It’s a very good building,’ said Piers Gough about Bennetts Associates and Lomax Cassidy & Edward’s Jubilee Library in Brighton during last year’s Stirling Prize judging. ‘I think the circulation is very well planned,’ added fellow judge Joan Bakewell. ‘It’s a very elegant box,’ chipped in Jack Pringle. ‘But there still aren’t enough books,’ cry out the librarians, dismayed at their pitiful collection. That’s the problem with library staff,
  • Plumbing problems - 30 October 2007

    When we first moved to Ulaanbaatar, we had trouble getting used to the process of getting plumbing serviced at home; even more difficult than getting parking for a plumber in central London.
  • Poles depart

    PMR, a research organisation specialising in Central and Eastern Europe, has produced a report on the prospects of the Polish construction industry. Things are looking good, with massive optimism and bulging order books. But there are a couple of downsides, chiefly a shortage of building workers. Now where could they all have gone, we wonder?
  • Pot, kettle, Beetham tower?

    Astragal remembers a few months back how a top eco-expert from the good, green German city of Freiburg stood aghast at the sight of Ian Simpson’s 47-storey heavily-glazed Beetham Tower. The traumatised Teuton muttered to himself something like ‘Himmel, there must be a bloody big plug somewhere to power that’. However Mr Simpson has always said the scheme – and indeed skyscrapers in general – are a very ‘sustainable way of regenerating our cities.’ Presumably the rumours are n
  • Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award

    WINNER / DALBY FOREST VISITOR CENTRE, NORTH YORKSHIRECommissioning authority: Forestry CommissionPrincipal designer: White DesignPrincipal contractor: Miller ConstructionThe award is for buildings and infrastructure projects of any size commissioned by oron behalf of central or local government or by a grant-aided organisation.Sponsored by CABE and the Office of Government Commerce.
  • Print Room - Printing services

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  • Printing problems

    In these days of wireless working, you can never be sure where the person you are speaking to is located physically. So when Astragal made a call to the London office of Austin-Smith: Lord, he wondered if his interlocutor was enjoying a bracing Thameside stroll, so loud was the background sound of seagulls. But no, Astragal was indeed through to the office; the noise was just a particularly squeaky printer.
  • Proctor Roofshield

    Air permeable, vapour permeable, waterproof, UV resistant, BBA and IAB approved, and timber treatment compatible
  • Product cards

    Text on product cards
  • Professional courtesy

    As head of Land Securities’ London portfolio, Mike Hussey is a powerful man. Thank God he likes good architects and good design. In fact, Astragal heard him describe Rafael Viñoly as a ‘genius’ and he even admitted to ‘loving’ Jean Nouvel.
  • Promap

    Desktop mapping with DXF/GML exports from only £14
  • Protan

    Roofing excellence in single ply roofing systems
  • Queen's Speech

  • Quiet please

    It seems the furore surrounding the ill-received 2012 Olympic logo may have a more serious impact on the architectural world than first thought. The epilepsy-inducing graffiti-like motif, variously described by critics as ‘a broken swastika’ and ‘a toileting monkey’ is the brainchild of a design team led by Wolff Olins chairman Brian Boylan. Following the uproar, Boylan has now gone into media hiding, with enquiries from the design and national press being met with no respons
  • Racing green

    You couldn’t make it up. Foster and Partners, increasingly keen to promote its environmental credentials, has designed a carbon neutral building in Spain – to celebrate the gas-guzzling sport of motor racing. Foster beat a star-studded list, including Jean Nouvel, Dominique Perrault, UNStudio and MVRDV, to design La Ciudad del Motor near Alcañiz in Aragon. The swooping, fish-shaped building apparently follows the sleek lines of a racing
  • Rank overstatement

    According to a press release just received by Astragal, Gensler has been the ‘world’s top-ranking architecture and interior design practice for more than 25 years’. According to who? I mean, please.
  • Readers' enquiries

  • Reflex-rol

    Insulating solar glare and control systems
  • Regeneration Award

    WINNER / BRIDGE ARTS CENTRE, GLASGOWCommissioning authority: Culture and Leisure Services, Glasgow City CouncilPrincipal designer: Gareth Hoskins ArchitectsPrincipal contractor: Kier ScotlandAward for a project of any size which has made a significant contribution to the regeneration of an underprivileged area or the creation of new facilities or accommodation which has made exceptional use of brownfield sites. Sponsored by Gifford.
  • Regional round-up

    Number of qualified UK architects 2
  • Religious correctness

    Several UK practices have been turning down the prospect of work recently, not because their order books are bulging but because the prospect is just too horrible to contemplate. They have been invited to compete to design Chess City, a development that even for that city enamoured of the ‘concept’ is terrifying in its crassness. Thirty-two towers will be arranged on 64,000m2 ‘board’, each representing a black or white chess piece. The brainchild of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Presid
  • Rhepanol - Roofing Membrane System

    Single-ply solutions on green and sculpted roofs
  • RIBA Awards 2007 / Stirling Prize: EU Awards

    EU Awards 2007There are 13 winners of EU Awards, for projects in the EU but outside the UK, designed by RIBA members. They are listed below.
  • RIBA Awards 2007/ Stirling Prize: International Awards

    International Awards 2007There are eight winners of these International Awards for projects outside the EU by RIBA members, set out below.
  • RIBA LSC Further Education Design Awards

    RIBA architects are invited to take part in the RIBA LSC Further Education Awards scheme
  • Rollerball

    Peter and Michael Freeman, the founders of Argent, were on odd form at the firm’s 25th anniversary bash at nightclub Canvas, which came to a fairly abrupt end at nine o’clock to be replaced by a roller-disco. Incidentally, Astragal’s friend and colleague Ed Dorrell tells me that this kind of ‘night’ has made a comeback recently and that he even has a friend by the name of Kev who recently broke his wrist skating around such a club. But I digr
  • Rude awakening – 11.05.07

    Having given many a well-received slideshow on the OAP home circuit, Astragal is painfully aware of the challenges of giving a presentation. Only last week yours truly received a thick ear from Mrs Astragal for letting an ‘indiscreet’ holiday snap slip into one of his improving lectures. It was with some sympathy then, that Astragal watched a poor sap repeat the gaffe in a much more technologically advanced manner at the excellent Velux Daylight in Architecture Symposium. All had gone well wi
  • Rugging lovely – 20.09.07

    Someone in Iran must be keeping an eye on the ramblings of Astragal. Shortly after his little vignette about Cezary Bednarski and the Persian rug appeared (Astragal 24.08.07), Amin Taha, shortlisted for the same Iranian bridge competition, was the recipient of a large and heavy package. A quick scan of the internet revealed the 5’ x 7’ rug was worth around a grand – ‘or enough for the team to have a slap up at Gordon Ramsey’s’. Unfortunately
  • Running gag

    The slovenly-dressed Astragal felt magnificently out of place amid the suits, when attending the announcement of the Olympic Delivery Authority's delivery partner this afternoon. (A contractor won). And due to a distinct lack of canapés, the only highlight of the afternoon was witnessing Britain's favourite ex-middle-distance running peer, Lord Coe, try and crack a gag. The conference was lagging like Steve 'coming in second' Ovett, when Coe announced he was looking forward to a 'constru
  • Ruukki

    Off-site built building envelope systems
  • Salaries and pensions

  • Sales pitch

    The ARB, as regular readers will know, has its protection of title spies everywhere. This very organ ran into trouble recently after an Atkins employee was described within its pages as a ‘trainee architect’. So we can only assume that the London Evening Standard has been on the receiving end of a heated ARB missive after publishing this article ( ab
  • Sapa

    Innovative architectural aluminium solutions
  • Sarnafil

    Roofing systems and solutions
  • Saving a penalty

    Astragal doffs his cap to Scottish architect Harry Turnbull who is trying to make Scottish legal history by claiming back £3,000 worth of penalty charges imposed on him by Clydesdale Bank . If successful, Turnbull’s case could open the floodgates for thousands of similar claims. One likes nothing more than an architect ‘sticking it to the Man’, as it were.
  • Schools Award runner-up - Devonshire Primary School

    Devonshire Primary School, BlackpoolArchitect: Blackpool Borough CouncilContract value: £6.5MPhotography by: David BarbourAdopting the Beehive School concept of DfES’ exemplar schools project, an internal street runs E-W with learning houses facing north for good daylight without overheating. Playdecks face south. The roof of the main hall is fully accessible as a landscaped technology
  • Schools Award runner-up - Redbrook Hayes School

    Redbrook Hayes School, Rugeley, StaffordshireArchitect: Walters and Cohenwww.waltersandcohen.comClient Staffordshire County Council, Children and Lifelong Learning DirectorateContract value: £3,305,540Photography by: Dennis GilbertThis one-form entry primary school, nursery and public branch library is on the site of an existing school. It develops the practice’s ideas from its Exemplar School design
  • Schools Award winner - Marlowe Academy

    Marlowe Academy, Ramsgate, KentArchitect: Roger De HaanPhotography by: David BarbourThis new City Academy is organised into faculties for performing arts, business and general teaching, all wrapped round the communal spaces of auditorium, gym, library and arena. This arena integrates with the auditorium for whole-academy assemblies and performances.
  • Seasonal treat

    A part of New York will forever be Old Yorkshire thanks to Carey Jones. The practice, born amid the red bricks of Leeds 20 years ago, has recently opened up a new branch in the Big Apple to serve the growing casino interiors market. A razzle-dazzle bash in NY’s Grand Central station to celebrate was a raging success. This social victory was followed on Thursday night (10 May) by another coup after the firm walked off with Best Architecture Practice prize at the Yorkshire Property Awards. And
  • Sha la la, Make me happy

    Astragal went along to Make’s bash last night, held at the derelict Middlesex Hospital. But before you start leaping to conclusions, Ken Shuttleworth has not taken to staging illegal raves. No, the chosen setting is the site of one of Make’s upcoming residential projects. But the ‘kooky’ setting was in a rather dilapidated state, giving the venue a boudoir-ish feel, with the main room taking on the appearance of an opium den. In fact, it was so dark it was ni
  • Shadow of a doubt

    Astragal’s TV-watching correspondent noted another significant flaw with the gigantic new Wembley, which may not have been spotted by those fans in attendance. Unfortunately for viewers at home, the balmy weather and low sun meant that a large proportion of the pitch was left in severe shadow from the huge stands. It therefore seemed as though Manchester United left wing Cristiano Ronaldo disappeared for much of the game. And no, Astragal has to point out that he is strictly
  • Shear madness

    It’s Health and Safety gone mad. Astragal was flabbergasted to learn that a life-sized woolly house, created by knitting enthusiast Alison Murray, from Bideford, Devon, will have to be taken down, because it has been deemed a fire hazard. Astragal would suggest that, in the current climate of namby-pambyism, everything should be wrapped in cotton wool, except, oops, that’s probably a fire hazard as well.
  • Sheer indifference

    Astragal had the pleasure of attending a seminar on tall buildings last week, which saw Uruguay’s favourite architectural son, Rafael Viñoly, give the audience the inside track on his latest ‘masterpiece’: the Walkie Talkie tower. As time began to run out, Viñoly was given the two minute signal, prompting him to skip through his work. ‘Boring’, he said, as slide after slide flicked up of his proposals for 20 Fenchurch Street. ‘Boring... boring’, he continued, until
  • Shelley Sandzer

    Leading Leisure specialist agency Shelly Sandzer has appointed two new agents as it continues to expand its deal-making, consultancy and agency work.Ben Robson joints as a surveyor in Shelley Sandzer's acquisitions Department. He will focus on specific targeting and acquisition of established restaurants nationwide on behalf of both multiple and independent operators as well as with the disposals of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
  • Shift in inflation

    Somebody, presumably with an enormous stash of helium, must love Rem Koolhaas’ Serpentine Pavilion. Astragal has discovered that a mysterious UK-based buyer has snapped up the over-rated inflatable gallery building and is taking it home. After a summer billowing away in Kensington Gardens, the translucent, polycarbonate oddity is being dismantled, packed into vans and is heading to an unknown destination. Look out for a sliver-grey egg-thing emerging over a leylandii near you
  • Shop till you drop

    We all know about reality TV, but now reality furniture shopping has come to New York. Astragal’s New York spy sneaked in to the opening of ‘BY’, a showroom and interior-design service presented this week in New York City by Italian designer Piero Lissoni. He has transformed a top-floor Soho loft into a sumptuous yet cossy flat, fully appointed with pieces from the Boffi, Living Divani and Porro collections. The showroom is sprinkled with real-life accoutrements like newspapers and DVDs, and
  • Shown the card

    Prior to the RMJM do, Astragal was intrigued to hear the rumour at Hopkins and Partners’ bash, also last night, that the Building Centre has been saving Thomas Heatherwick’s hand-made Christmas Cards for a number of years with a view to holding a micro-exhibition in their honour. Apparently there was disappointment that their collection is lacking the more recent examples: has the BC been taken off the rising star’s Christmas card list? Hopkins was celebrating the practice’s
  • Signbox

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  • Silent witness

    East Ridings of Yorkshire Council cited David Neave – co author of Buildings of England’s East Ridings tome – as its expert witness in a case recently heard at Bridlington Magistrates’ Court. The defendant in the hearing was John Hobson of Beverley-based practice Ingleby + Hobson, who had been charged with unauthorised alteration of the Grade II-listed Old Mill in Wansford. Hobson, who went on to win the case (Architect cleared of ‘unauthorised alteration' charge) also had an expert witness w
  • Silestone Zen

    Quartz surfaces with antibacterial protection
  • Simple things

    One week it’s seminars on tall buildings, the next it’s conferences on building schools for the future. Yes, it’s all glamour with the AJ. But Astragal felt it necessary to describe the profound levels of boredom that can be achieved at these events. The same dilemma often enters Astragal’s little mind – who would win in a fight between a lion and a bear? But more recently even the burning issue of whether falling coconuts really do kill more tourists than shark attacks has been trickling thr
  • Sing if you're winning

    We've all done it – some of us perhaps more often than others. Maybe at an office party? Or possibly at Christmas time? And so too, it seems, has Zaha Hadid. Like so many before her, architecture’s favourite diva has made that regrettable decision and tried her hand at karaoke (or has she?). But what makes this more unfortunate is she seems to have convinced German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld to join her on a duet. So what were they singing? Elton John an
  • Sketchy details

    AJ’s cartoonist Louis Hellman is creating a bit of a stir in collecting circles. Somebody has contacted architecture blog Part IV ( ) seeking to sell eight of Hellman’s Architetes from 1986. If anybody knows the going rate, do let us know …
  • Slaving away

    So the Olympic Delivery Authority is promising that the London 2012 Olympics will not go the way of the Wembley fiasco, is it? Well well well… what a pledge. What is true is that there is no way its going to be late. It’s amazing how the promise of global humiliation concentrates the mind. Even the Greek construction industry managed to just about pull it round in time for 2004. The Chinese, according to increasingly depressing news reports, have another strategy to guarantee that they hit th
  • Slim pickings

    Oh, the fickleness of celebrities. How they never cease to amaze us mere mortals. The latest star guilty of having his cake, then stuffing his face with it, is international ‘disc jockey’ Fatboy Slim. The Brighton-based record spinner recently joined local campaigners to stand against a proposed development designed by Alan Phillips Architects. The scheme called for the demolition of an Art Deco building, which Mr Slim was rather fond of. So, the development was dropped and t
  • SLR Consulting

    Sean Taylor has joined leading environmental consultancy SLR Consulting and will work as a senior planner in its Cardiff office
  • Small Building Project Award

    WINNER / CASS SCULPTURE FOUNDATION CENTRE, GOODWOODCommissioning authority: Cass Sculpture FoundationPrincipal designer: Studio Downie ArchitectsPrincipal contractor: Ceecom ConstructionAward for a building scheme valued at under £3 million. Sponsored by The Architects’ Journal.
  • Small Civil Engineering Project Award

    WINNER / TILFORD BRIDGES, SURREYCommissioning authority: Surrey County CouncilPrincipal designer: Scott WilsonPrincipal contractor: CarillionAward for a civil engineering scheme valued at under £3 million. Sponsored by Civils 2007.
  • SmartPly - SmartyPly OSB

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  • Smell the coffee

    As Astragal stood in the hallowed atrium of the RIBA headquarters, a moment was stolen to peruse the list of esteemed names to win the Royal Gold Medal that covers the walls. In the other room Pierre and Jacques of Herzog & de Meuron fame were being interviewed by a gaggle of over-excited hacks. And as they gabbed about all things Swiss, a smirk was brought to this old cad’s face, for a poor, young RIBA employee was sent from the interview table to fetch a co
  • Social housing, Roden Street, Belfast

    Fold Housing Association is seeking to appoint an architect-led design team including a mechanical and electrical engineer for the design and supervision of a housing development comprising approximately 55 dwellings. Please note: a current appointment is in place to take the scheme up to and including RIBA Plan of Work Stage D.
  • SOM

    SOM London has announced the promotion of three of the office's senior design architects to the role of Director. Aybars Asci, Kent Jackson and Jo Palma will be joining the existing Directors - Graham Wiseman on the management side and Dan Ringelstein who heads up the Urban Design and Planning Team - in leading the office as its high volume of projects continues to increase.
  • Something To Sit On

    The Architects' Journal, the UK's most respected weekly architecture magazine, and top design manufacturer Modus Furniture, have teamed up for the second Something to Sit On competition
  • Something to wine about

    Herzog has form in being fussy about beverages. A few years back he attended the British Construction Industry Awards dinner at the Hilton, to pick up his Prime Minister’s Better Building Award for Tate Modern. He nearly brought the well-orchestrated dinner service to a halt by quizzing the waitress at length on the precise vintage of the wine she was serving. Asked whether he was excited about the prize, he opined that ‘Once you have won the Pritzker, nothing seems to count.
  • Speaker's corner

    The staff at Zaha Hadid’s offices in Clerkenwell didn’t need Forbes magazine to remind them that the Iraqi-born architect is one of the most powerful women in the world. They have their own Tannoy system to do that particular job. Astragal's sources say Ms Hadid calls out names through the speakers to summon the worker bees into the Queen’s office. Unsurprisingly, there is only one microphone – and guess where that is.
  • Specifying the correct tile

    Spanish tile manufacturers supply a huge and varied demand from both home and abroad, and so have built up considerable expertise. Here they share their knowledge on different types of tile, and when they are suitable to use.
  • Specifying the correct tile

    Spanish tile manufacturers supply a huge and varied demand from both home and abroad, and so have built up considerable expertise. Here they share their knowledge on different types of tile, and when they are suitable to use.
  • Spell check

    RIBA president-to-be Sunand Prasad has proposed a radical change to the school curriculum. Handing out the prizes at Open House’s awards for designs by schoolchildren, he proposed that a fourth ‘R’ should be added to the original three, and that it should be either ‘aRchitecture’ or ‘enviRonmental design’. Before we accuse him of the architect’s curse of dyslexia, let’s remember how those original three ‘Rs’ are spelt – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic
  • Splashing out

    Every so often an e-link comes Astragal’s way that tickles him pink. This one does: It is an entry on auction website ebay inviting bids for an entry wristband to Urban Splash’s massive Fort Dunlop party this weekend, which is certainly one of the coolest bashes in Brum’s social calendar. The only trouble is that there have been no bids yet and the current winning offer is only 0.01p. Let’s see if we can make a difference by pushing it up to
  • SRS - Maxi 60

    Acoustic and fire rated Maxi 60 ceiling system
  • Stannah - Goods only lifts

    Microlift - capacity 50-100kg Trolleylift - capacity 250-300kg Goodsmaster - capacity 500-1500kg
  • Star turns

    Architecture of course produces its own stardust, with such luminaries as Zaha and, of course, winner Richard Rogers at the Stirling dinner. But stars from beyond these horizons were in shorter supply. Those present included designer and former Stirling presenter Wayne Hemingway and Ekow Eshun, director of the ICA, who joined Kevin McCloud for a very brief and, to the audience, largely inaudible, televised sofa discussion after the announceme
  • Starchitects uncovered

    Contemporary American novelist Bruce Wagner, famed for his characterisation of the shallow side of Hollywood life, has, in his latest novel, turned his poisonous pen towards the cult of celebrity that is so pervasive in global architecture. Which is a good thing, as Wagner is hilarious and all Astragal’s favourite globe-trotting starchitects are ripe for satire. In his latest book, Memorial, they apparently all make appearances, including cameos from both Renzo Piano
  • Starck reality

    ‘I’ve never seen anything chuffing like it,’ said one party goer at last night’s launch party for Ian Simpson’s Twin-tower Lumiere scheme in Leeds. He wasn’t wrong. Philippe Starck’s super-cool development company Yoo, which is working its magic on the interiors of the project, certainly knows how to put on a bash. The crowds – estimates put the number of revellers at nearly 1,000 – were greeted by a kettle band, fire-eaters, woman on stilts and the ubiquitous tuxedoed dwarf.
  • State of undress

    Fortunately the Stirlings were not smokers, or they may have been tempted out onto the balcony, post dinner. One guest who ventured out there late in the evening in search of more conversation found instead a bevy of waiters, all of whom seemed to have removed their trousers in unison – in preparation, we hope, for putting on their jeans and heading home.
  • Staying up for Alain

    With a mastery of the art of self-promotion if not always of the subject he’s addressing, the ubiquitous Alain de Botton crops up yet again – this time as the opening speaker at Sleeper magazine’s European Hotel Design Conference on 7 November. Thoughtful fellow that he is, Alain’s topic is ‘A Hotel for the Mind’, and doubtless delegates will need to be on top philosophical form to keep up. Just go easy on the mini bar....
  • Stealing the show

    The poor old diploma students at the Bartlett found themselves a model or two short after their recent end of year show. Astragal understands thieves half-inched a couple of mini-mock-ups which had not been firmly secured. Talk about stealing the show.
  • Stella cast

    The AJ team is feeling very modish at present. Designer Margaret Howell is profiled in Stella, the women’s supplement to the Sunday Telegraph. The author, Brenda Polan, makes great play of Howell’s interest in all things design, from her love for Ercol furniture to the regular architecture shows she hosts in her showroom. ‘She is a designer’s designer,’ writes Polan. ‘Her sample-sale queue could serve as a staff list for Vogue, Blueprint, The Architects’ Jour
  • Stephen Lawrence runner-up - Focus House

    Focus House, LondonArchitect: value: £380,000Photography by: Peter CookA compact, low maintenance, low energy house shifts the traditional Victorian space allocations in favour of greater living space for this young family. A highly-insulated timber building, it incorporates heat recovery ventilation, and solar thermal water heating.
  • Stephen Lawrence runner-up - Kander House

    Kander House, LondonArchitect: Jamie Fobert Architectswww.jamiefobertarchitects.comClient: Verity & Nadav KanderContract value: £750,000Photography by: Sue BarrA structurally unsound Victorian townhouse has been reconfigured to provide contemporary family accommodation, in particular addressing the garden terrace. The focus throughout is on volume, materials and light.
  • Stephen Lawrence runner-up - Singing Ringing Tree

    The Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley, LancashireArchitect: Tonkin Mid-Pennine ArtContract value: £70,082Photography by: Gayle KnightReplacing two radio masts, the tree’s profile is visible from Burnley, appearing and disappearing in the mist. Constructed of differing length pipes, as the wind passes through them the tree sings different chords.
  • Stephen Lawrence runner-up - The Terrace

    Private house, LondonArchitect: David Mikhail Architectswww.davidmikhail.comContract value: £430,000Photography by: Max ForsytheOriginally the library of the house next door, sold and converted post-war, it was long and thin with poor light and rear garden access. The front is retained and upgraded. The rear and roof have been rebuilt. Key has been raising the basement and lowering the garden to meet it.
  • Stephen Lawrence winner - Wooda

    Wooda, North CornwallArchitect: David Sheppard Architectswww.davidsheppard-architects.comClient: Max Burrows, Wooda FarmContract value: £150,000Photography by: Joakim BorenA barn has been converted into an adaptable workspace for music, art, drama, educational projects and development meetings. A rise-and-fall floor system was created. The building can be used as one large space, or forms five levels of curv
  • Sticking point

    There is always something intriguing about multifunctional objects - the sofa that can turn into a dining table, or the shirt that magically becomes a handbag.
  • Sticky end

    There’s red tape, but then there’s the ultra-crimson, unfathomable bureaucracy which appears to have little purpose other than to annoy, flabbergast and frustrate everyone involved. Believe it or not, the culprit is everyone’s favourite administrative powerhouse, the RIBA. To be absolutely accurate, Portland Place. Last week, the bijou but perfectly-formed Lancaster and Westmorland Society of Architects (LAWSA) innocently asked HQ whether it could have the names of all RIBA-registered designe
  • Sticky fingers

    One hopes that when MIPIM ends and the assembled hordes leave Cannes, airport staff will give their luggage a good going over. This is probably the only way that Norman Foster’s iconic Wembley arch is going to come to light. While the real thing is still, fortunately, in north London, somebody half-inched the version on Quintain’s model on Monday night. If it doesn’t turn up, look out for something special in the memorabilia section of e-bay.
  • Stirling memories

    John McAslan’s refurbishment of the Roundhouse won unlimited praise from the audience at the Stirling Prize on Saturday night, with older members of the audience growing misty eyed about their misspent youth in a venue which apparently, for instance, saw the only UK appearance by The Doors. Mariella Frostrup, who compered the evening, said that not only was she too young for such memories but that anyway, she had a secret weakness. As a student, she couldn’t
  • Stirling prize runner-up - Kander House

    Kander House, LondonArchitect: Jamie Fobert Architectswww.jamiefobertarchitects.comClient: Verity & Nadav KanderContract value: £750,000Photography by: Sue BarrA structurally unsound Victorian townhouse has been reconfigured to provide contemporary family accommodation, in particular addressing the garden terrace. The focus throughout is on volume, materials and light.
  • STOVentec cladding

    Versatile reliable and robust rainscreen cladding system
  • Sugar and spice

    Make Architects sweetened up Sir Alan Sugar this week with a radical building confection known as the Wave on the final of The Apprentice. The concept, which has been likened to a three-pronged instrument of carnal gratification, helped eventual winner Simon Ambrose steal the £100,000-a-year job at Amstrad from underneath hot-favourite Kristina Grimes' nose. Ken Shuttleworth made a star turn on the show, suggesting that perhaps Kristina
  • Supremely surprising

    A little titbit for you. The Middlesex Guildhall – you know, the building on Parliament Square that Saint Tony is trying to turn into the new English Supreme Court – has in fact been a Supreme Court before. ‘What?’, I hear you ask. ‘Britain has never had a Supreme Court before!’ Well, this is true. But the Polish Supreme Court in absentia had to have a home after the nasty Nazis invaded, didn’t they? So they took up residence in Middlesex Guildhall. Astragal has a geeky side
  • Surf's up

    Antipodean planning officers have come in for a lot of flak recently, but Proctor Matthews has found that they have their advantages. When the practice’s Andrew Matthews presented a scheme with a lozenge-shaped green roof to an Australian planning officer in Tower Hamlets, he received the response ‘It looks like a surfboard – I like it,’ and the project sailed through planning.
  • Survival stakes

    There may be a certain amount of prurient excitement at the announcement of the marriage of near-centenarian architect Oscar Niemeyer to his 60-year-old secretary, but it is intriguing to see the amount of attention he attracts, even outside architectural circles. He is the topic of debate on the eery website Deathlist ( Every year, the site identifies the 100 international celebrities are most likely to die that year,
  • Sustainability

  • Sustainability Award runner-up - Cork Civic Offices

    New Civic Offices for Cork City Council, IrelandArchitect: ABK ArchitectsClient: Cork City CouncilContract value: €26MPhotography by: Dennis Gilbert/ViewThe project consists of approximately 9,200m2 of administrative offices and support space together with ancillary accommodation including 150m2 of crèche and roof and basement parking for 140. It comprises two articulated volumes: a marble-clad/rendered ‘service’ volume which forms a link to the existing classi
  • Sustainability Award runner-up - Environmental Research Institute

    Environmental Research Institute, Cork IrelandArchitect: Bucholz McEvoywww.bmcea.comClient: University College CorkContract value: £4.7MPhotography by: Michael MoranThe Environmental Research Institute is the first naturally ventilated laboratory building in Ireland. Funding by the HEA was supported by Sustainable Energy reland. This low-energy building optimises solar power, cross ventilation and daylight and draws heat from
  • Sustainability Award runner-up - RSPB Environment & Education Centre

    RSPB Environment and Education Centre, Rainham Marshes, EssexArchitect: van Heyningen and Haward RSPBContract value: £2.2MPhotography by: Jason OrtonSited on an important wetlands area in the Thames Gateway, this education centre and viewing platform are designed to BREEAM Excellent. The project runs relatively autonomously by incorporating ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics and rainwater ha
  • Sustainability Award winner - Upper Twyford Barns

    Upper Twyford, HerefordArchitect: Duchy of CornwallContract value: £450,000Photography by: Leigh SimpsonA pair of derelict farm buildings has been transformed into contemporary workspace for the architect’s use. The design was inspired by the rural setting and the character of the existing building, and to express the architect’s own philosophy. Daylit, naturally ventilated, heated by
  • Sustainable Design 2007

    Sharing feedback and best practice to create a sustainable built environment
  • Swear by it

    Astragal enjoys nothing more than settling down in the television room with a generous glass of Scotch, a pipeful of Old Shag, and a DVD of The Thick of It, the BBC political satire which is currently tickling his funnybone. Being a rather base sort of humorist, one of the things Astragal finds most amusing about the show is the prolific level of hugely imaginative swearing. This being a family blog, Astragal is hesitant to repeat some of the more glittering examples… But those who want a tas
  • Sweet vengeance

    After reading Astragal's tribute to ‘urban golf’ pioneer Jez Feakes (AJ 16.08.07), one eagle-eyed AJ reader sent in this image of a blue plaque which appeared on some hoardings outside late visionary architect Cedric Price's old Alfred Place offices last month. Says the spotter: ‘I snapped it a week ago but the hoardings have now been removed by the contractor. Seems a bit mean as they haven't replaced it with anything else. I believe Cedric owed the City of
  • Sweet vengeance

    After reading Astragal's tribute to ‘urban golf’ pioneer Jez Feakes (AJ 16.08.07), one eagle-eyed AJ reader sent in this image of a blue plaque which appeared on some hoardings outside late visionary architect Cedric Price's old Alfred Place offices last month. Says the spotter: ‘I snapped it a week ago but the hoardings have now been removed by the contractor. Seems a bit mean as they haven't replaced it with anything else. I believe Cedric owed the City of
  • Swing if you're winning

    Although something of a golfing traditionalist, Astragal did doff his cap recently at the passing of architect and ‘urban golf’ pioneer Jez Feakes. It is surely a fitting tribute to Feakes that the sport he pioneered, which uses a leather ball to minimise damage and ‘holes’ such as mains water valves, is all the rage in east London. But friends of Jezza have organised a more mainstream memorial, mounting a blue plaque on the Hackney block where Feakes lived. ‘You wouldn’t bel
  • Swing if you're winning

    Although something of a golfing traditionalist, Astragal did doff his cap recently at the passing of architect and ‘urban golf’ pioneer Jez Feakes. It is surely a fitting tribute to Feakes that the sport he pioneered, which uses a leather ball to minimise damage and ‘holes’ such as mains water valves, is all the rage in east London. But friends of Jezza have organised a more mainstream memorial, mounting a blue plaque on the Hackney block where Feakes lived. ‘You wouldn’t bel
  • Swinging sixties

    Astragal met up with Davis Langdon specification guru Nick Schumann last week. Schumann and his 50-strong team have worked with just about every architectural practice worth their salt. His job, he says, ‘is to deal with the spec so that architects can get on with drawing pretty pictures’. Schumann has to be right up to date with materials and innovations, which is more than can be said of one very large, but unidentified, American firm of architects. ‘A very
  • Swiss miss

    Last week’s Building with Wood conference at Exeter University was a great occasion, but one speaker suffered some disappointment. Having travelled all the way from Switzerland, he was hoping to include a visit to Louis Kahn’s Exeter library. That would be Exeter, New Hampshire, he was gently told – not Exeter in Devon.
  • Taking sides

    Lord Foster himself was spotted joining the prawn sandwich-munching corporate guests at the new Wembley final. Nattily attired all in black, Normski was taking great pleasure in showing the other spectators around his newly opened arena. The BBC’s Adrian Chiles was one such awe-struck visitor, reacting with child-like wonder when our Norman pointed out the ranks of urinals and the arch ‘so big you could drive a cross-Channel train through it. But the previously over-effusive
  • Talent to spare?

    Your correspondent was rudely awoken from his afternoon slumber by a chipper young man from a TV production agency. Rather than showing an interest in a serialisation of yours truly’s colourful exploits, the gentleman was after some ‘young talent’. This being a subject close to Astragal’s heart, ears quickly pricked up. It turns out the relentless glamourisation of the venerable profession gathers apace. A new TV programme, Destination Architect is in the offing. They are on
  • Talking meter

    Parking is such a prickly subject that more readers than care to admit it must have conducted conversations with parking meters. From now on they will have to watch their language, if an innovation from Complus Teltronic takes off. This aims to link the parking meters to a central parking control centre, so that the frustrated user can communicate directly via GSM or IP links. Let’s hope the people at the control centre don’t mind a bit of strong language.
  • Tall Order

    There is an alternative to designing office towers, which risk overshadowing the architectural heritage of our cities (‘HOKreveals future of brewery site’, AJ 01.11.07).In the 1980s, British Telecom’s new head office building in London was constrained to a maximum height limit of 30m from pavement level due to the proximity of St Paul’s Cathedral.As the AJ said, ‘The net floor area of British Telecom is almost the same as that of the National Westminster Bank tower on a sit
  • Tantrums and Tacchini

    And so to the AJ’s 100% Design party yesterday evening. A freestyle bash, there were plenty of well-known faces hanging around the bar including the likes of Neil Choudhury, James Soane, Carolyn Larkin, Claire Wright and Azhar, the man with only one name. All were chuffed to see Ben Addy, an AJ 40 under 40, pick up the AJ/Tacchini Something to Sit On competition. All except Choudhury, who was most disappointed that the AJ’s famous 100% Design
  • Tate of the art

    So according to Tuesday's London Evening Standard, Serpentine Gallery bigwigs such as Julia Peyton Jones are in talks with the Hwang family developers over the possibility of transforming a wing of Battersea Power Station in to an art gallery. Blimey. The imagination of the property industry at its very best. You can just imagine it, can't you? There they all are, sat round a high-power board room, and someone pipes up with: "I've got an idea. We've got ourselves a wrecked old power station o
  • Teaching techniques and a severed desk - 18 November 2007

    After two postponements due to intervening staff meetings and off site meetings, I finally held the training session entitled 'How to find construction teaching materials on the internet' on Friday afternoon.
  • Teenage kicks

    It was at the Icon bash that Astragal was most amused to hear that arch-Classicist Francis Terry apparently went through ‘a massive Denys Lasdun phase’ while at university. Astragal is a huge believer in teenage rebellion, and while Francis’ stand hardly ranks at the same level as painting your bedroom blood red or running away with the circus, father Quinlan must have been hugely relieved to have him safely back in the Palladian fold.
  • Thar she blows…

    Plymouth has been whipping itself into a veritable frenzy over its 'new Sears Tower'. The city's local rag, the Plymouth Evening Herald, ran a full front page image of the 24-storey building on Wednesday, accompanied by the banner headline 'SKYSCRAPER'. The architect has been hamming up the new scheme, claiming it will rival the giant Petronas and Sears Towers in magnitude. Perhaps Plymouth should take stock of itself. Although the 'skyscraper' may be the tallest building the city has ever se
  • The age of innocence

    In the UK we have knife amnesties to stop dangerous weapons getting on to the streets. In Russia they have prosecution amnesties allowing dangerous architects back on to them. Yesterday Moscow’s prosecutor office decided to close the criminal case against 68-year-old Nodar Kancheli – the designer of two buildings which collapsed under heavy snow killing a total of 85 people – because of his age. The architect had maintained his innocence throughout the investigations into the disasters, despi
  • The AJ 100

    Number of qualified UK architects 2006
  • The cost of coffee

    It seems Astragal is not alone in his eaterie woes. Students at McGill University, Canada, are lobbying against the university’s attempt to shut down the ‘beloved’ architecture café in an attempt to centralise food services across the campus. And Astragal, looking around his new massive Camden HQ, knows all about the pros and cons of centralisation… The students are not going down without a fight however, and are standing up to the university authorities with the rabble-rousing slogan ‘L
  • The cost of coffee – 07.09.07

    It seems Astragal is not alone in his eaterie woes. Students at McGill University, Canada, are lobbying against the university’s attempt to shut down the ‘beloved’ architecture café in an attempt to centralise food services across the campus. And Astragal, looking around his new massive Camden HQ, knows all about the pros and cons of centralisation… The students are not going down without a fight however, and are standing up to the university authorities with the rabble-rousing slogan ‘L
  • The current situation

    It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. And produces no power. And costs too much to harness. Just ask the current occupants of Will Alsop’s Palestra building – the good folks at the London Development Agency. It would not be an exaggeration to say the turbines on the top the South London landmark have been utterly rubbish. Put up late last year, the windmills flapped around aimlessly until they were finally taken down in January. Six months later they are still not back
  • The Design Council

    The Design Council has appointed the former Chief Media Office of Greenpeace International, Nigel Campbell, as its new Head of Communications.The appointment reinforces on of the Design Council's key aims - to promote the important role that design plays in sustainability. This is exemplified by the success of the recent Designs of the Time (Dott 07) initiative, which fostered links between designers and local communities in the North East to create mo
  • The fall of man in public

    ‘Can the critique and proposal be combined?’ asked the RCA last night for the third in the series of its BABYLON:DON debates. A stellar question, Astragal thought, worth serious consideration. Would the scheduled participants – Richard Sennett and FOA’s Farshid Moussavi – come up with a New Year revelation? The assembled audience waited with bated breath. So it came as quite a surprise when Alejandro Zaero Polo – the half of
  • The great, the good and the Gherkin

    What a view. What a guest list. What a party. The RIBA’s London Region has surely seen nothing like this before. The chairman’s annual dinner last night was held in the extraordinary surroundings of the Gherkin nosecone. As one wag put it, looking at the reflections of the bald heads in the glass and steel above, ‘the domes in the dome’. All the big names were there. Not just the usual RIBA faces – Andrew Hanson, Sunand Prasad, Jack Pringle et al – but the likes of architectu
  • The joy of architecture

    Excitable readers will be waiting with baited breath for the latest biography of Frank Lloyd Wright to hit the shelves. Astragal, for one, can’t wait. The reason for this sweaty-palmed excitement is that this ain't any ordinary book, oh no. The Fellowship, is, according to reports, a steamy saucepot of an architectural bonkbuster. Page eight sees the authors – Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman – describing the teenage Lloyd Wright daydreamin
  • The kids are alright

    This just in. Or not. It's perhaps the very definition of old news. But Astragal has just been reminded that his ol’ mucker Deyan Sudjic was one of the kids who edited the infamous ‘Schoolkids Oz’. You know; the one which resulted in the trial of Richard Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis. There's a pic from the inside cover of the mag with the kids all sitting around and a suedehead Deyan in the front row. Here it is online:
  • The next stage

    If you are looking for an evening out in the autumn, consider a new play opening at London's New End Theatre on 13 November. 'Private Jokes, Public Places', which will be having its European premiere, was written by Oren Safdie, son of superstar Moshe, and tackles the thorny issue of the student crit. A Korean-American student has her thesis presentation torn apart by two visiting starchitects of very different views, while supported by her tutor, with whom of course she is sleeping. Oren Saf
  • The place to be

    As the RIBA Conference in Venice opened with a reception at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum on an exceptionally balmy evening, one delegate questioned whether this was an unacceptably luxurious venue. More than 200 delegates evidently disagreed, having come from such places as Fiji. And Astragal was on their side, sipping another prosecco and nibbling a few deep-fried sage leaves.
  • The safest way to travel

    Architects and law cases usually go hand in with the terms ‘buildings’ and ‘negligence.’ Not for poor Seth Stein. The keywords, which the traumatised architects’ newly-appointed US legal team will have to get to grips with, are ‘headlock’, ‘suspected terrorist’ and ‘American Airlines’. Bizarrely, earlier this year on a flight from New York, the ‘tanned’ 47-year-old was jumped on by a passenger who claimed he was from the New York police department. Apparently, the overly-keen
  • The spice is right

    Astragal was suitably wined and dined last night at RMJM’s lavish bash at the Design Museum, a party to mark the practice’s 50th anniversary and a new book produced for the occasion. Skulking around the party, mingling with the likes of Paul Stallan and Tony Kettle, Astragal spotted our old friend Deyan Sudjic, who was muttering to anyone who’d listen about the Polish competition he helped to bring down earlier this year. However, the most me
  • The Sweetings life for Chipperfield – 04.12.06

    If you could imagine a David Chipperfield Architects’ Christmas lunch, what venue would you pick? Some minimalist number in Camden? Possibly Moro in Clerkenwell? The list would be very long before one got to Sweetings, which is where it is taking place this year. One of the most traditional restaurants in the city of London, it’s all stuffed shirts, old school ties, oysters, Guinness and heavy English puddings. Not exactly a Chippo kind of place, you wouldn’t have thought – more a kind of Rob
  • The taste of the city

    ‘International food artist’ Alicia Rios claims that people have ‘a latent desire to devour their surroundings’ – a craving she aims to address by creating ‘edible food cities’. Rios has already made an edible Madrid, Melbourne and Gran Canaria, and is now turning her efforts to creating a map of London made entirely from foodstuffs. The ‘Eat London’ project will a 60m2 scaled-down map of London from Hyde Park to Tower Bridge, Oxford Street to Elephant and Castle, and will be
  • The thinking man’s drinker

    There are oft occasions when a man must be at his most resourceful in order to get the most out of a party. And one such occasion arose when Astragal attended a summer bash at the Royal Academy last Tuesday (26 June). The booze flowed freely to begin with, and it followed in familiar fashion at the dinner table. But then the stream became a trickle, and soon after abruptly stopped. In the hour of need Astragal was taught the finer arts of minesweeping by a Sheppard Robson stalwart. Slinking f
  • The Wright stuff

    Could the RIBA soon have its first woman president? It will if Jack Pringle has anything to do with it. Introducing a session in which his successor Sunand Prasad was speaking, Pringle referred to session chair Claire Wright, of Wright and Wright, as ‘hotly picked as a future president of the RIBA – at least by me’.
  • The write stuff

    Will Alsop will be joining ex-Formula 1 driver Martin Brundle and human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabati at the University of East Anglia to pick up an honorary degree this summer. As well as housing Norman Foster’s Sainsbury Centre and Denys Lasdun’s iconically Brutalist campus, UEA is also famous as the UK’s academic centre for creative writing, with novelists Malcolm Bradbury and WG Sebold
  • They're Gunnar get you

    For fans of all things Swedish – particularly things of the ‘amateur’ variety – a visit to is an absolute must. Here you’ll find all 1,160 entries for the competition to design a £60 million extension for Gunnar Asplund’s much-loved public library in Stockholm. The entries range from the odd to the moderately exciting to the downright rubbish. In fact there’s quite a lot of utter bobbins. Yet, as we at
  • Think lively

    Like everybody else, I enjoy a good rant
  • Thirsty wait

    Enough about sustainability, sod planning reform, and piffle to decent working hours; if there is one thing that architects should be campaigning hard about it should be decent bar service. While out with the chaps from 3DReid, Astragal nearly knawed his own arm off with frustration after a 20-minute wait for his pint. It’s high time that that some RIBA-type regulations are introduced to vet the skill
  • Thomas Ford and Partners

    Thomas Ford and Partners are pleased to announce the appointment of 3 new Partners: Brian Lofthouse, John Bailey and John Richards plus 3 new associates: Rena Pitsilli-Graham, Simon McCormack and Karen Butti
  • Throw off the straitjacket

    I bang on about how graphic designers, most still trained as (and certainly by) print people, fail to grasp that graphic design for the screen is a different animal.
  • ThyssenKrupp - Hoesch isowand integral

    The groove system in Hoesch Isowand system fits exactly with the window profile
  • Tight squeeze

    Also present were not only Lady Stirling, widow of Jim and founder of the prize, but also a further four members of the family. They were in sombre mood, and seemed not to enjoy the seating arrangements which, although adequate, resulted in a certain intimacy not only with fellow guests but also with the waiters.
  • Tile of Spain - Innovation Design

    Innovation, Design, Technology, Diversity
  • Tiles and tribulations

    Astragal recently took a jaunt to Valencia to admire the latest in Spanish tiling technology at the Cevisama trade fair. Among the elegantly-coiffed Italian salesmen admiring each other’s shoes and the huddles of businessmen settling murky deals, there were some excellent promotional materials on display. One stall surpassed themselves with a loop showing a rock version of Gloria Gaynor’s 1979 hen-night favourite ‘I Will Survive’. Some thought had clearly gone into this, but
  • Too many Mackintoshs...

    Details are still sketchy, but reports have reached Astragal that yesterday featured an extremely momentous event in Mackintosh-obsessed Glasgow. Apparently there was an attempt to gather a record number of Charles Rennie Mackintosh look-alikes in one place at one time. Reports are so sketchy, however, that AJ staffers are still unaware of whether it was successful. In fact, such is the lack of information that there is even uncertainty as to how many Macks one needs. Even in Glasgow, it can’
  • Touched by your presents

    What do you give a man who has everything?, as the India edition of asks so pertinently. It goes on to describe how Angelina Jolie solved this particular dilemma for her famously architecture-loving beloved, Brad Pitt. What could be more appropriate for a pre-birthday treat (he turns 43 on 18 December) than a private tour of Fallingwater? As Angelina apparently told the staff, ‘He’s hard to buy for’.Pitt was said to have enjoyed his tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece an
  • Towering ahead

    Norman Foster’s architecture may be garnering some criticism these days, but he certainly knows how to grab attention. His Hearst Tower in New York was one project that did receive largely positive reviews but, not only that, it is now hosting an exhibition of photographs, drawings etc of itself, with around 20 people contributing work. Modestly called ‘Tower: Idea Identity Icon’, and opening today (5 March), the exhibition includes everything from coldly contemporary black a
  • Trespa - Trespa Perspectives

    Trespa Perspectives - Endless facade combinations
  • True Beauty

    Moritz Leuenberger, former Swiss president, exclaimed recently: ‘We are living in a time of trend, but a time of Wahrheit [truth] will come!’The post-war architecture of Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein from the Glasgow office of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia (AJ 25.10.07) is gradually, at least in Great Britain, being realised as an important impulse for the organic continuity of architecture. The sparkle of delight, of ingenuity in design and of ethical principles inherent in the architectu
  • Truly spoiling us…

    Spotted; Jeffrey Archer. The old rogue was filming in the Florence Hall at the RIBA's HQ last week. Featuring in an advert that sounds suspiciously like the famous Ambassador's Ball Ferrero Rocher classic, the former jail-bird is promoting a new business mag. Quite what a self-respecting publisher wants with the perjurer, or what either have in common with the wonderful wacky world of architecture is completely beyond us at the AJ.
  • Turf wars

    It’s finally all systems go for 3XN’s Liverpool Museum. Most of the funds seem to be in place and there is little chance that the UNESCO delegation – sent to investigate the impact of current developments on the city’s untouchable Three Graces – will scupper things. However, Astragal hears that behind the scenes it hasn’t all been plain sailing. As well as the usual tales about value engineering, there have also been rumours about tantrums an
  • TV junkie

    Astragal has little time for television what with his drink-sodden social life, but he is aware of the delights of former-Superman belle, and now Desperate Housewife, Teri Hatcher. And so too, it seems, is architecture’s favourite diva Zaha Hadid. In fact, rumour has it that during a visit to Istanbul, Hadid was so desperate for her fix of Desperate Housewives that she scoured the length and breadth of Turkey’s capital in order to find an undubbed DVD box set. Good job she isn’t a fan of 24 –
  • Twentieth century boys

    Top marks to the Twentieth Century Society for launching a campaign to list Benson and Forsyth’s Maiden Lane Estate and Branch Hill Estate, both built by the Scottish duo when they worked for Camden council. They are fine schemes, if a little rundown. Just one thing guys; in the formal documents sent to the DCMS, please assure us you didn’t refer to Gordon and Benson, as you did (twice) in the latest newsletter. That’d be a little embarrassing…
  • Twyford - Galerie Flushwise

    Twyford dual flush toliet system cuts water consumption by 60%
  • Unbearable lightness

    Like a lot of people I was getting all excited at the prospect of the Asus Eee PC701 notepad.
  • Uniform design

    We all know that stylish buildings can be hard to live up to, so it is not surprising that Mossbourne Academy, having got itself an award-winning design by Richard Rogers, didn’t want the pupils slopping around in any old thing from Primark or Hennes. So who could the school turn to for a uniform that matched up to Rogers’ building? Step forward Paul Smith.
  • University visit - 29 November 2007

    A visit to the Mongolian University of Science and Technology has been on my agenda since my departure, and yesterday I met with Purev-Erdene Ershuu, architect and lecturer at the Centre for Architectural Research and Design at this university. The meeting had taken several weeks to organise, with much help from Munkhzhul Choiljiljav, former London Metropolitan University architecture student and AA school applicant. With both Munkhzhul and my CTC interpreter Ariunaa in my entourage, Purev ou
  • Unlikely lads

    Astragal has become increasingly excited at the growing numbers of association footballers investing their hard-earned pennies in things architectural. Who can forget Sol Campbell’s decision to buy one of the starchitect-designed ‘Landmark homes’ in the Cotswolds – a house which included space for his collection of double-decker buses. And how heartwarming it was to see former England winger and floppy-haired fop Steve McManaman at the sales launch for flats
  • Ups and downs

    Astragal has just received the latest programme from Amenity Space, the architectural radio show hosted by Tony Broomhead and Nicky Kirk on Resonance FM. Broadcasting once a week from 17 May, subjects include Bartlett teacher and theorist C J Lim and Architecture for Humanity’s Cameron Sinclair. But we are most excited by 7 June’s special on architecture and rollercoasters. As the publicity material says: ‘Woooooooooooooooooo
  • Upset Down Under

    A great row is brewing up in Australia, reminiscent of the brouhaha over the Sydney Opera House and, closer to home, the late Denys Lasdun’s concerns about proposed changes to the National Theatre. The row concerns the National Gallery of Australia, in Canberra, where the planned changes by Andrew Andersons of PTW do not meet with the approval of its 85-year-old original architect, Col Madigan. According to the Australian newspaper, Madigan h
  • Upwardly mobile

    Richard Horden gave an insight into the quirks of one of the architectural greats when he spoke at the Surface Design Show on 7 Marchon the topic of downsizing. Founder of the concept of ‘microarchitecture’, Horden was talking mainly about his tiny cube, the micro-compact home that he developed with his students at Munich and which he himself inhabits two nights a week. It was on a par with the miniaturising of so much technology, he said, citing the mobile phone as an exampl
  • Urban flower

    Astragal has a stalker. Actually, more just a stalk. Over the last few months, wherever architecture’s favourite bon viveur has been stumbling the streets, Laurie Chetwood’s unmissable Urban Oasis has been spotted too. From the architect-choked streets of Clerkenwell, the politician-clogged squares of Manchester or the sun-drenched boulevards of Cannes, the sprouting, purple eco-flower thing hasn’t been far behind. At least the 12m-high sculpture has had the decency to let As
  • Vulgar Latin

    A 31m-high, 106m-long panoramic painting of Rome in AD312? The world’s first reconstruction of a legendary 15m-high statue of Emperor Constantine? Having had the benefit of a Classical education, Astragal became alarmingly excited when a press release alerted him to these tempting titbits. But where should he head to sample these imperial delights? The Pantheon in Rome? The Baths of Caracalla? Erm no. A converted gas tank in Leipzig actually. Artist Yadegar Asisi, who is crea
  • We don't need to build windowless monoliths to protect us from terrorist attacks

    We don’t have to build windowless, concrete monoliths to be protected from terrorist attacks, says Keith Crowdy
  • We know how to party

    Last night's AJ small projects party was fun as ever – a group of the totally unestablished and the nearly established getting pissed on very bad RIBA wine. Burning the insides of their stomachs were the likes of Amin Taha and Peter Clash from their eponymous practices; Ben Addy from Moxon; Will Foster from Foster Lomas; Ben Paul from Neu; Eriko Shimazaki; Kim Quazi of
  • Weave a good yarn

    Urban Splash’s New Islington bridge competition has drawn a healthy number of entrants – despite a wee error with the scale in the brief. One of the proposals which didn’t make the final four but did catch the judge’s eye, was this teeeerrific design by Murray Kerr of BDP. Kerr’s mad[golf]cap scheme for the new footbridge over the Rochdale Canal was to be made ‘entirely from golfers sporting
  • Webspeak

    Peter Murray of Wordsearch, also speaking at the small-practices conference, did an effective demolition job on the pretensions of architects’ websites, their use of tedious flash introductions and reams of meaningless ‘archispeak’. He reserved especial scorn for one practice’s statement that ‘We enjoy sensitive contextual insertions,’ saying that it sounded as if it belonged in an Ann Summers catalogue. Murray was far too discreet to name the offending pract
  • Welcome to the new AJ

    Welcome to the new Architects’ Journal, home of the most incisive architectural coverage in the UK. Editor Kieran Long unveils the changes
  • Well versed

    It’s been too long since Astragal was last treated to some good verse. It was with some eagerness then, that late of an evening Astragal pulled up a pew with a bevvy of Irish architects including Brian Brennan, Alan Jones and the Kevin McCloud of Irish telly, Our House presenter Duncan Stewart. Hiding his puppyish enthusiasm and deploying red wine with vigour, Astragal mentally dusted down his favourite limericks in anticipation. The men from the land of Hean
  • What is aircon? - 20 November 2007

    At the top-level architecture studio lesson on Monday, I used the available teaching technology (paper on blackboard) to explain the principles of hospital planning, including workflow diagramming and functional relationship diagramming.
  • White Design

    Architectural practice and consultancy White Design have announced the appointment of Mary Wrenn, former Chief Executive of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, as Development Advisor.White Design specialises in the design of context-sensitive, low carbon and low environmental impact buildings. Earlier this month, they were the winners of the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award for the Dalby Forest Visitor Cent
  • White Young Green

    White Young Green (WYG) consultant to the built, natural and social environment is pleased to announce two key strategic external appointments to further strengthen their environmental and energy capabilities. Dr Stephen Bolt takes on the role of Southern Regional Managing Director and Dr Alana Dixon becomes an Associate Director in the sustainability and energy sector.
  • Whole lotta love

    Rob Firth – head of Capita Architecture – is sports mad and also a devotee of those masters of rock, Led Zeppelin. So, imagine his joy when Zep’s front man, Robert ‘feel the juice run down my leg’ Plant, pitched up in Firth’s hometown of Monmouth sometime in the 1980s and got stuck into the local sports teams. Not only did Plant play cricket for a season, he also organised a rugby match with the local borstal school and even managed a try. Firth’s highlight o
  • Whole lotta love

    Rob Firth – head of Capita Architecture – is sports mad and also a devotee of those masters of rock, Led Zeppelin. So, imagine his joy when Zep’s front man, Robert ‘feel the juice run down my leg’ Plant, pitched up in Firth’s hometown of Monmouth sometime in the 1980s and got stuck into the local sports teams. Not only did Plant play cricket for a season, he also organised a rugby match with the local borstal school and even managed a try. Firth’s highlight o
  • Who's winning what September

    Who's won the most work in the major sectors, measured for us by Glenigan from planning applications submitted
  • Wifely duties

    Landing with a thump on a desk near Astragal’s came Thames & Hudson’s Tracing Eisenman, edited by Cynthia Davidson. A note on the jacket explains that Davidson is ‘co-founder of the nonprofit Anyone Corporation and recently launched the magazine Log’, but it mysteriously fails to mention that she’s also Mrs Eisenman. Expect a ruthlessly critical text.
  • Wind trouble

    As Nimbyism becomes more rife, getting permission to build wind generators is becoming increasingly difficult. But über-green Bill Dunster, of BedZed fame, has come up with a clever wheeze. On the Jubilee Wharf mixed-use project in Penryn, Cornwall, Dunster wanted four sizeable generators on the quayside but knew he would have trouble getting permission. So, he explained, ‘I originally drew flagpoles, and then made them more and more turbine-like’. He is unrepentant abou
  • Windy city

    Wakey wakey RHWL! Crisis! Your work converting the Victorian Finsbury TownHall (opposite the AJ’s HQ) might have seemed fine and dandy when you handed it over at the end of last year, but there’s a problem now and no one appears to be doing anything about it. Yesterday’s gales have knocked one of the building’s minarets off-balance and it seems to be on the brink of falling off. Passers-by and resident dancers could suffer a fatal blow if, as
  • Word play

    This afternoon Astragal was happily snoozing in his den until rudely awoken by the telephone. Balefully staring at the source of his annoyance, Astragal reluctantly picked up. Expecting yet another invite to a gin-drinking session from that old scamp Norm, Astragal was surprised to hear the voice of an elderly lady requesting help with her last crossword clue. An accomplished wordsmith, Astragal gallantly came to the assistance of the charming Miriam Bailey, 89, of London, who was stumped by
  • Wordsearch

    Wordsearch – 25.06.07It may seem an obvious point to make, but one major prerequisite of a cabinet minister – one would think – is to have the ability to speak. In fact, speech, Astragal would go so far to say, is probably the only requirement a member of the cabinet really needs. Which brings Astragal to the subject of Tessa Jowell. Think what you may of the Culture Secretary, she has obviously managed to impress upon her peers that she is the right woman for the job,
  • World view

    Number of qualified architects outside the UK
  • Wrong Rogers

    The audience at the Stirling dinner showed a certain prescience in voting for Rogers as their chosen winner. However they picked the wrong building, settling instead on the Welsh Assembly, which has had a rather mixed reception from those who have actually visited it. Had they misinterpreted a leek?
  • Yorkshire wit

    Hawkins\Brown director David Bickle gave an intriguing insight into how the tricky Park Hill revamp was going during a slot at The Urban Regeneration Toolbox conference at the Lowry in Manchester last week. The practice’s relationship with co-designer Studio Egret West, he admitted, was turning out to be quite ‘interesting’. However, Bickle said he had no intention of trying to copy the former Alsop starlets’ flamboyant approach to the redesi
  • You’re Havana laugh

    Astragal has often wondered why some architectural dreams never make it off the drawing board. Less commonly, however, he comes across proposals that makes him marvel at how they even got that far. It won’t surprise many readers to learn that one such scheme is the brainchild of the ever-entertaining Chris Roche. The maverick London architect has come up with a plan for a monument in Cuba to pay tribute to the country’s Communist heroes. Roche proposes to build a Mount Rushmo
  • YRM

    Award winning UK based architects YRM are opening a new studio in Bucharest to develop projects in Romania and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). This coincides with the record levels of EU investment in the country. YRM is currently working on five major projects in Romania and CEE.Headed by architect Chris Lewis, YRM's Bucharest office officially opens on the 28 November and is located to the North of the city in a prominent buildin
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