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Astragal: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water

Sharks crop
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What will the good people of east London make of this year’s Antepavilion shortlist? They would be forgiven for hoping Jaimie Shorten’s entry Sharks! doesn’t win, seeing as it consists of several sea predators clinging on to a life raft in Regent’s Canal

The shark school, Shorten explains, will apparently sing Charles Trenet’s La Mer’ in French as ‘a poignant reflection on the UK leaving the EU’. 

If that wasn’t enough, the architect has said each of the sharks will also give a lecture on ‘important themes in contemporary architecture and urbanism’. 

The project is inspired by The Headington Shark, a 7.6m fibreglass fish installed on a roof of a house in Oxford by its owner, despite the best efforts of the local council to remove it. 

We might expect another planning battle here. A waterway full of remoaner sharks might be too much, even for a pro-EU borough like Hackney. 

Architect’s antiviral fix 

Sun dayong antivirus

Sun dayong antivirus

Coronavirus continues its sweep through Europe, cancelling major sporting events, public gatherings and even postponing the 2020 Venice Biennale and MIPIM. 

Refunds for the French Riviera jolly are ‘unlikely’, according to organisers, leaving architects to mourn the loss of the chance to stand around the London stand with boxes of business cards – sorry, carry off satchels full of commissions from the beach. 

Not everyone is sitting around twiddling their thumbs, however. Chinese architect Sun Dayong has created a ‘conceptual design’ for a self-heating shield (pictured) for people to wear during the coronavirus outbreak. 

The mobile safety device is made of thermoplastic material – similar to bubble wrap – which encases the wearer in a personal bubble. Who said architects were no good in a crisis? 

Social housing proves a Challenge

Rshp y cube  16

Rshp y cube 16

It was almost as if the producers of University Challenge knew the AJ was planning to focus this issue on social housing.

In the recent ‘derby’ between Cambridge’s Trinity and Corpus Christi colleges, ever-terse quiz master Jeremy Paxman introduced a round dedicated to ‘affordable housing’.  

Led by Twitter-trending polymath Ian Wang, the otherwise-impressive Corpus Christi team struggled. 

Asked which architect designed the Y-Cube prefab (pictured) and the PLACE pop-up village – Paxman hinting about his earlier ‘less affordable’ Millennium Dome – they managed to dredge up the name ‘Rogers’. 

Their knowledge didn’t, however, stretch to the oeuvre of 2018 Pritzker Prize-winner Balkrishna Doshi. The students were unable to name the Indian state in which his Aranya Low Cost Housing was built. Answer: Madhya Pradesh. 

Nor were they able to identify the winner of the 2015 Turner Prize for its work on the Granby, Four Streets housing project in Liverpool. Answer: Assemble.

Honestly, what are they teaching kids these days?

(Editor’s note: Corpus Christi went on to bag 245 points – one of the highest scores of the series.)

Hospital pass 

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has started legal proceedings in a bid to recover £73 million in losses and damages on the troubled £842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

Since opening in 2015, the IBI-designed flagship hospital has suffered from multiple problems, including with the ventilation, toughened glazing, doors and the atrium roof.

The action was lodged last month against three companies, including contractor Multiplex, over numerous ‘technical issues’. 

Among the more eyebrow-raising sections from the document is a claim about defects with the EFTE roof over the atrium in the adult hospital.

As part of the fire strategy, this roof was fitted with a hot wire system which, if there was a blaze, would burn off sections of the ETFE to allow ventilation. 

The summons states: ‘When tested in October 2017, 18 sections of the ETFE roof unintentionally burned off. The hot wire system is accordingly not operational. A revised fire strategy has had to be implemented … as a result.’ 

How concerning!

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