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Alan Dunlop's comments

  • News feature: Are architects doing enough to tackle dementia?

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 April, 2017 1:11 pm

    It's not the architects that are not doing enough, in fact designing physical environments for people with dementia is an area where architects can offer real expertise and improve quality of life. I've been writing, ( Hard Architecture and Human Scale: Designing for Dementia); lecturing ( Salk Institute AIA, RIAS MIT IIT ) and harping on about this (almost everywhere) for 24 years. Until the recent advances in medicine, studies mainly from Australia and USA clearly indicated that the physical design, of homes and other care environments for example slowed the progression of dementia. Think of that architects, empirical proof that really good design matters.

  • McAslan wins planning for overhaul of Glasgow's Burrell Collection

    Alan Dunlop's comment 26 April, 2017 10:30 am

    JMP analysis of the "problematic"existing entrance.

    "1. On entrance to the building you are faced with a very narrow, shallow lobby space which is compressed further on either side by toilets which create a bottle neck on entry to the building.

    2. This 19m long entrance corridor is further compressed by cloakrooms flanking either side extending the bottle neck.

    3. This wonderful triple height space is filled with light from the skylight above. This space is spoilt by a confusing entrance desk and shop.

    4. This moment of compression is spoilt with overflow from the shop and creates a very confusing entrance to the courtyard.

    5. The Courtyard is the buildings natural HUB."

    Perhaps Architects' Journal might encourage a response from John Meunier and Brit Andresen, given these comments and those listed before that the existing entrance is unwelcoming and intimidating?

    Perhaps also simply moving the gift shop and desk away would have made the existing entrance sequence and transition now less of a bottle neck and not so spoiled and confusing?

  • McAslan wins planning for overhaul of Glasgow's Burrell Collection

    Alan Dunlop's comment 26 April, 2017 7:17 am

    The Planning Application can be found here:

    It includes plans not previously released and correspondence from Historic Environment Scotland, concerning the landscaping proposals and the "height and bulk of proposed play apparatus "but nothing on the alterations to the building fabric and particularly the new entrance.

  • McAslan wins planning for overhaul of Glasgow's Burrell Collection

    Alan Dunlop's comment 22 April, 2017 9:06 am

    Text from the planning support document, justification for the new entrance.

    "The monolithic gable end entrance wing feels very church like and austere and can often be mistaken for a private building. This unwelcoming approach is reinforced by the lack of views into the gallery from outside. This intimidating entrance combined with compromised accessibility into and around the gallery makes for a confusing visitor experience."

  • McAslan wins planning for overhaul of Glasgow's Burrell Collection

    Alan Dunlop's comment 21 April, 2017 11:13 am

    Any plans available of this renaissance ?.......despite the leaking roof, the Burrell is a precious thing. Although completed over thirty years ago, it is yet to be surpassed as an art gallery and museum in the UK. The existing entrance through a 16th century stone archway set in the Locharbriggs red sandstone is fundamental part of the entrance sequence and transition. The incorporation of elements on the collection into the building fabric and the terraces, which meld the building into the landscape of Pollok Park also are critical.

    It's a considered and unique building, surpassed only perhaps by Jorgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert's Louisiana in Humlebaek. Judging by these ubiquitous CGI's, I can't yet see how it is being improved, for the new entrance, if that's what it is, is worrying and the images of the new spaces, frankly, rather dull in comparison.

  • ABK co-founder Richard Burton dies

    Alan Dunlop's comment 30 January, 2017 12:05 pm

    Very sad. All students of architecture should be directed ( forcibly) toward the work of ABK for the extraordinary clarity of plan and section through drawing and the legibility of their completed work. Buildings indeed clear enough to read.

  • Reiach and Hall's sculptural roof is based on a legendary free kick

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 November, 2016 9:49 am

    Ha! Brilliant. Roberto Carlos indeed.

    So many others clearly based on Archie Gemmill's dribble against Holland.

  • The Carbuncle Cup: why architecture needs a wooden spoon

    Alan Dunlop's comment 7 September, 2016 1:13 pm

    "Greatly diminished from its swashbuckling heyday as a fearless news seeker, incubator of young writers and rival to the AJ, BD is now reduced to a pathetically shrunken online-only presence." Ouch......been kinder pulling out a knife.

  • Profession hits back at sculptor’s claim that ‘architects are like ISIS’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 6 September, 2016 1:12 pm

    Probably. Stoddart is an artist used to hyperbole and he has a long history of railing against modernism and modern architecture in defence of classicism.

    Oddly, his bizarre claims about architects being like a death cult and wilful destroyers of our built heritage did not appear to raise an eyebrow from Edinburgh World Heritage at the unveiling of his latest creation, a bronze sculpture of William Henry Playfair, outside the National Museum of Scotland.

  • So Brexit is happening – but we're going to be ok

    Alan Dunlop's comment 27 June, 2016 11:07 am

    Hello Ben, it's not clear to me what your manifesto for RIBA leadership has to do with Paul Finch's opinion piece.

    Austin, great comments, thoughtful and balanced.

  • So Brexit is happening – but we're going to be ok

    Alan Dunlop's comment 26 June, 2016 10:38 am


    AJ January 2015:
    "For most of the profession, the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) procurement process for winning publicly funded work is a dreaded, bureaucratic minefield which should be avoided. It is wasteful, anti-risk, frustratingly slow and off-limits to all but a handful of companies."

  • So Brexit is happening – but we're going to be ok

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 June, 2016 10:15 am

    Thank you Paul Finch, this is the most rational, considered and reasonable reaction to Brexit for architects I've read.

  • Student shows 2016: what's on and when

    Alan Dunlop's comment 8 June, 2016 7:35 pm

    Liverpool School of Architecture's strength is that it’s deeply rooted in the city and is a fundamental part of buzzing, collegiate campus. The School's stated aim of understanding global context and excellent local application has had a profound effect on the regeneration of the city and has helped position it as an international institution. This year's MArch has a number of exceptional thesis projects on show from talented students.

    LSA Chair in Contemporary Architectural Practice and Visiting Professor Alan Dunlop

    Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment
    The best elements of architecture, teaching and urban planning will be on show from the top school in Scotland: Guardian University Guide 2017. Response to place, acknowledgement of the lessons of built heritage, sustainability, authentic consultation and involvement are skills which students from Scott Sutherland bring to architecture, education and practice. It is simply great work.

    Visiting Professor Alan Dunlop Unit 2 Leader MArch
    The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment

  • Build problems blamed for Edinburgh school closures

    Alan Dunlop's comment 13 April, 2016 9:58 am

    The core issues are that we have put school children and young people into buildings that we would not, as adults, use ourselves and that many, including the one pictured above and others look like prisons.

    PPP contracts are considered commercially sensitive so contract details remain strictly private and consequently are not published on any council website and not accessible within the public realm. That has to change.

  • Riverside Campus, City of Glasgow College by Michael Laird Architects with Reiach and Hall

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 March, 2016 9:14 am

    Fussy Owen? FUSSY? Ach, you're right. Right too about Riverside Museum

    Reiach and Hall are the only architects currently working in Scotland that are able to rise above the country's current low fee, low expectations and rediculous contractor led procurement process and make Architecture. No wonder Paul Little is delighted. Congratulations

  • Scotland’s architects are suffering more than most from the downturn

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 March, 2016 11:20 am


    ‘We can only be positive that we have got a government that isn’t simply saying the right things about architecture but that is also following through on legislation with finance.’ Neil Baxter RIAS Secretary

    As long as the RIAS continues to be a mouthpiece for the Scottish Government and its flawed procurement policy, architects in Scotland will suffer.

  • Ignore the RIAS gimmicks, Scottish architecture is in extreme difficulty

    Alan Dunlop's comment 23 December, 2015 9:13 am

    "working to attract a larger and more youthful membership ..........cohort of diverse talent to be their own advertisement for the benefits of architecture to society." Agreed Ben, fair comment

  • RIAS reveals ‘Scotland’s top 100 buildings’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 8 December, 2015 11:13 am

    Ah, from the worthy crew of the RIAS flagship "Safety First". Motto:
    "Nihil video , transigendum"

  • AJ retains Magazine of the Year title

    Alan Dunlop's comment 21 November, 2015 8:55 am

    Congratulations Rory, Will and Laura. Enjoyed also this Glasgow Edinburgh edition. Excellent.

  • No house style: the drawings of Stirling and Wilford

    Alan Dunlop's comment 13 October, 2015 10:20 pm

    Chris, as I've mentioned to you before, your single point perspective of Abando is a true work of art. As Kahn said, "put simply, hand drawing is the language of the architect"

  • Readers vote: Which is your RIBA Stirling Prize winner?

    Alan Dunlop's comment 7 October, 2015 11:08 am

    As good as all these projects undoubtedly are, there is now empirical study which clearly confirms that the physical environment, architecture and good design can improve life to the extent that it can reduce the rate of decline in people with a terminal illness or with dementia. The considered design of a school environment can also markedly improve levels of attainment among average students. Consequently project like Maggie's and Burntwood School are for me the most deserving. Whitworth is stunning absolutely, but not life extending, enhancing nor affirming to the same extent.

    Maggie’s for me therefore.

  • Conservationists 'ignored' over Hoskins' Calton Hill plans

    Alan Dunlop's comment 4 September, 2015 10:37 am

    It's very unusual for Charlie Hussey to respond to the work of a fellow architect in such a critical way but frankly I have to agree with him, it's frankly awful and a significant step backward. As foir the other usual supsects quoted, I would not expect any other response.

  • How to become a famous architect

    Alan Dunlop's comment 24 August, 2015 1:11 pm

    Paul, give yourself a break, take the dog for a walk, maybe. Have a holiday or do a bit of gardening, you'll feel better.

  • Kuma's V&A Dundee could never be built to budget, finds report

    Alan Dunlop's comment 18 August, 2015 11:44 am

    Again Paul, not all architects....as I'm sure you know.

  • Revealed: AJ/Hoare Lea Bursary finalists

    Alan Dunlop's comment 15 July, 2015 10:23 am

    Congratulations Anneli on making the final shortlist and good luck to all involved.

  • Scotland’s 2016 architecture festival lands £400k funding boost

    Alan Dunlop's comment 14 July, 2015 8:51 am

    Not every architect, Paul.

  • Partridge's Chicago: My kind of town

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 May, 2015 3:25 pm

    Good list, but you missed Walter Netsch's Inland Steel

  • Schools: What is the impact of austerity?

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 April, 2015 9:18 am

    Clever piece Helen. Concise. All you need to know, really.

  • RIBA moves to scrap Part 3

    Alan Dunlop's comment 25 March, 2015 10:27 am

    "Currently students enter practice with poor business and client skills and receive very poor pay in return".

    March Students of architecture are in my experience, clever, articulate, critically engaged and motivated by a belief that architecture can improve lives and be a catalyst for positive change. They may have poor business skills but leave university highly motivated and with the expectation that they are entering a profession with integrity, purpose and a clear artistic and philosophical direction.

    Instead, are more likely to find a profession that is currently bogged down with issues of low fees/ low pay; value engineering, speculative work, meaningless competitions, BIM and supplanted by project managers, “key stakeholders” and accountants.

    The universities, not the offices, are where architecture as the mother of the arts is still practised, and ideas about place making, aesthetics, beauty and a willingness to experiment is undertaken, architecture and urban design discussed and critical engagement expected.

    It is practice that is letting students down, not the other way around.

  • New London School of Architecture opens for applications

    Alan Dunlop's comment 24 March, 2015 10:12 am

    "Practice" needs to move closer to architectural education, not the other way around.

  • Urbanist Group: ‘We work with the best architects’

    Alan Dunlop's comment 20 February, 2015 11:22 am

    sustainable-solution..viable...improved experience", yep, all there. Just "key stakeholders" missing

  • Hoskins reveals contentious hotel plans for empty Edinburgh landmark

    Alan Dunlop's comment 6 February, 2015 2:50 pm

    The building is impressive and it’s great that it could be brought back into use but I would not underestimate the challenges ahead in converting such a significant, neo classical monument as Hamilton’s Old Royal High into a hotel. The program is in many ways incompatible and the plan of the Grade A building seems resistant to such a conversion and judging by the supporting comments it look like the hotel accommodation will sit separately from the main building. I wish Hoskins luck but it won’t be easy. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to assess the real merits of the proposal as it stands from the very general and non-descript cgi image and loose concept sketches provided. I would hope that is not intentional by the developer
    and that much more detailed information is made available soon.

  • Rachel Haugh: 'The name change is not going to change me'

    Alan Dunlop's comment 24 January, 2015 12:14 pm

    ......I can remember your beautiful pen drawings and a meticulous drafting skill, Rachel. All the best.

  • Revealed: Five practices shortlisted for Mac revamp

    Alan Dunlop's comment 8 January, 2015 10:37 am

    I defer to few people in my appreciation of Mackintosh and have written frequently and spoken on the BBC about his genius. The true worth of the Mac building and example of Mackintosh's profound talent is that it is still a working art school, over one hundred years since its completion, with the exception of the library. That was a museum space. However, you had the knowledge that Mackintosh once stood in that space, talked with the craftsmen, developed the design, you were always very much aware of his presence. That connection is now lost and cannot be replaced, no matter how good the replication.

    It is a shortlist that avoids controversy and for me disappointing that there is not one "wildcard" on the list, like Mackintosh himself was in the 1890's.

    However, most of all I find it ironic that such an esteemed institution like the Glasgow School of Art, that prides itself in innovation in art and makes such a play of having four winners of the Turner prize should now play it so safe.

    Who could do it? I can think of a few and have faith in my profession that we could rise to this challenge and could produce a new library that can meet modern requirements and it can still be beautiful, inspirational and well considered.

  • Revealed: Five practices shortlisted for Mac revamp

    Alan Dunlop's comment 8 January, 2015 7:59 am

    Very safe shortlist.

  • Scottish architects split over £1,000 festival payment

    Alan Dunlop's comment 12 December, 2014 10:58 am

    I'm happy you're content Jim. True, I have not attended a convention since 2004 and it will probably be another ten years before I attend another. Yet I 'd be interested if you could suggest another architect who has written more positively about architects and architecture in Scotland in recent years. I'm up to my neck in CPD.

    However, I have read the 2011 document and as far as I can detect the publication has had absolutely no influence on the Scottish Government or public procurement in Scotland:

    Small and medium sized practices still are still restricted or barred entry; Design quality of new buildings and fitness for purpose has not significantly improved, The Scottish Futures Trust or "Hub"s are driven by bottom line economics not design quality ; We are no clearer on the expertise of those judging PQQ's or those involved in the final tender selection of public sector procurement process.

    However,as the profession is dogged by a lack of respect, which has resulting in low fees and long hours, the Presidents call for pricing, reliability and value for money in the process seems to have had an effect but not in the way anticipated, I suspect.

  • The Vinyl Frontier: Barrowland Park by LOCI Design

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 December, 2014 7:00 am

    Great project that has lifted a whole area of Glasgow's saltmarket and reinvigorated an important site that has been bordered by rotting timber panelling and derelict for years. It has transformed the space between London Road and Gallowgate from an area filled with rubbish, rubble and abandoned syringes to a space used by local residents, office workers and joggers.

    The change in gradient from Gallowgate to London Road has been expertly handled, with the incorporation of gabions, retaining walls and bench seating. There are also quirky elements, not fully noticeable at first, like the rainbow pathway that includes the names of the 2000 or so bands that have played at the nearby Barrowlands and a blue Dr Who police box which is sure to delight local kids.

  • Scotland at the Venice Biennale: from idealism to calamity

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 November, 2014 9:12 am

    " between 1950 and 1970 no European country invested less in social housing." Very interesting, what's the source/reference?

  • Morgan McDonnell's 'intricately woven' Edinburgh scheme wins 2014 Doolan Prize

    Alan Dunlop's comment 6 November, 2014 7:29 am

    "Intricately woven....a virtuoso performance, highest standards of place-making " really?

  • Search begins for architect to restore the Mac

    Alan Dunlop's comment 14 October, 2014 10:40 am


  • Punters backing O’Donnell + Tuomey to win RIBA Stirling Prize

    Alan Dunlop's comment 14 October, 2014 10:34 am

    I too have just visited the building, David. You make a valid point about the rain. Seeing how the weather will affect the brick facades over time will be interesting but I disagree strongly that the building is "ill resolved". In my view, it's a truly remarkable and original work carried out with rigour on a very difficult site, whether it wins the Stirling or not. I hope it wins but despite the "hype" it may not. How often has the clear Stirling favourite lost out?

    Anyway, Rory Olcayto's comment seems particularly relevant to your post "James Stirling’s portfolio is practically defined by risk - every one of his great buildings flirts vigorously with failure."

  • Amanda Levete: the social networker

    Alan Dunlop's comment 29 September, 2014 1:07 pm

    I am genuinely puzzled how a practice with few built projects and limited profit before tax can run an office of 55 people?

  • Maggie’s Lanarkshire by Reiach and Hall

    Alan Dunlop's comment 9 September, 2014 12:04 pm

    Beautiful, considered work.

  • Stirling Prize shortlist: the critics react

    Alan Dunlop's comment 17 July, 2014 4:01 pm

    mmm...me too Joe, Ortus looks like a stunning project.

  • Are there too many architecture schools?

    Alan Dunlop's comment 5 July, 2014 12:11 pm

    "I have now wandered though another raft of end- of-year shows which display huge endeavour and creativity...but exhibit endless unbuildable, unreal, irrelevant and ultimately forgettable projects that will evaporate as soon as the shows close."

    Sadly I have too, in the UK but also China and USA as critic, reviewer and also external examiner. Often brilliant cgi images and stunning drawings from cleary talented students of ultimately pointless projects.

  • Aedas unwraps limestone-inspired University block in China

    Alan Dunlop's comment 10 June, 2014 12:36 pm

    Having just returned from Suzhou and this building, I believe this project would be a very relevant and informative case study for those architects interested in how things are done in China. Focusing on the high aspirations and design intent of the architect, compared to what the LDI's and contractors understand and are capable of delivering.

  • Anger as Strathclyde school of architecture leaves Brutalist home

    Alan Dunlop's comment 5 June, 2014 6:20 am

    Why not use the currently vacant architecture studios of the Fielden building at Strathclyde University as much needed temporary studios for students of the GSA, while restoration work is undertaken.

    A generous offer of solidarity, respect and friendship from one great institution across the city to another needing help which will be a positive reuse of much respected Fielden building?

  • Mac fire: the show goes on for GSA fine art students

    Alan Dunlop's comment 5 June, 2014 5:58 am

    Why not use the currently vacant architecture studios of the Fielden building at Strathclyde University as much needed temporary studios for students of the GSA, while restoration work is undertaken.

    A generous offer of solidarity, respect and friendship from one great institution across the city to another needing help which will be a positive reuse of much respected Fielden building?


  • Glasgow School of Art by Steven Holl

    Alan Dunlop's comment 11 May, 2014 10:34 am

    Very good piece. It's true the critics have been negative, much of it I think as a consequence of the architect's metaphysical archibabble, which makes Kahn the personification of clarity and suspect post rationalisation.

    It's in it's relationship with the GSA and Holl's stated intention of an "homage" to Mackintosh, which became a
    " complementary contrast.....if you want to respect someone; you do the opposite" that the building is compromised and Holl left open to much criticism. It is undoubtedly a strong work of architecture. Considered and skillfully constructed and as this piece points out, Glasgow is the better for it.

  • Red Road flats demolition 'spectacle' scrapped

    Alan Dunlop's comment 15 April, 2014 8:28 am

    I agree Matt, many of the "mistakes" of Red Road were down to mismanagement but don't necessarily agree that it has been deliberate and that Sam Bunton has been scapegoated to an extent.

    I also agree that there is nothing to applaud but the correct decision has now been made, for whatever the reason we should, as Glaswegians interested in promoting our city internationally, celebrate that.

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