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Astragal: A miniature doughy metropolis

London bridge roll station by grimshaw © luke o'donovan
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To Somerset House for the Museum of Architecture’s Gingerbread City 2019, where more than 100 architects have come together to make a miniature doughy metropolis (masterplanned by Tibbalds).

All the projects were, of course, winners, but some were more winnery than others. For instance, Johanna Molineus Architects’ Punk Wafer Bridge was adjudged to be the ‘most creative’ structure, Darling Associates’ DashR the ‘most edible’ and the Sugar Plum Square by Phase 3 (headed by former Zaha Hadid protégé Tyen Masten) the ‘most creative’.

And there was some solace for Grimshaw after it missed out on this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize. Its London Bridge Roll Station (pictured) was highly commended in the best future transport category (the top transport prize going to The Waffle Iron Tower and Sugar Loaf Mountain by PLP Architecture).

Among the ginger judges was the University of Sheffield’s Satwinder Samra, who happened to be celebrating his own mini success.

Earlier this month the children’s DIY television programme The Dengineers – in which he stars as the expert architect on kids’ dream den projects – picked up a BAFTA award in the new Factual Entertainment category.

Sugar plum square by phase 3 the gingerbread city 2019 luke o'donovan (16 of 25)lr

Sugar plum square by phase 3 the gingerbread city 2019 luke o’donovan (16 of 25)lr

Source: Luke O’Donovan

Sugar Plum Square by Phase 3

Arresting developments for architect protester

What next for a man who has been arrested wearing a blanket and holding an umbrella atop a 3m-tall protest structure at Trafalgar Square? 

This was the conundrum facing Studio Bark’s Nick Newman, who was seized during an Extinction Rebellion protest in October but later let off after the Supreme Court quashed the police’s blanket ban on protest. 

Now Astragal can reveal that Newman has been arrested again, after allegedly glueing himself to bricks he had in turn glued to the road in central London. He was participating in another XR protest and was nicked on suspicion of obstructing a highway and causing criminal damage. 

As part of his bail conditions, Newman has been banned from entering the London boroughs of Southwark and Westminster.  

The change is gonna come 

What happens when you cross a former adviser to ex-Labour Party leader Ed Miliband with a night out at the RIBA? A blueprint for a new form of biofuel to heat buildings, perhaps? 

Ayesha Hazarika, the ex-adviser and now comedian and author, was handed the sorry job of moderating the pre-general election Housing Hustings at the institute earlier this month. 

Amid back-and-forth squabbling over the number of new houses that need to be built, former Lib Dem MP Tom Brake treated the audience to an anecdote about Architype’s Harris Academy Sutton in what used to be his constituency. 

The new secondary school, dubbed ‘Massivhaus’ in our building study, is the first to be built to Passivhaus standards. However, it is yet to be fully Passivhaus-certified as there is only one year group using it – meaning there is a shortage of hundreds of heat-emitting bodies, Brake recounted. 

Thus sparked Hazarika’s brainwave: ‘Maybe menopausal women like me can be a source of renewable energy,’ she exclaimed. 

Trouble brewing 

Waf robot crop

Waf robot crop

Despite the cold and rain, Astragal enjoyed visiting Amsterdam last week for the World Architecture Festival, run by the AJ’s parent company EMAP.

In attendance were the likes of Liz Diller, Peter Cook, Massimiliano and Doriana Mandrelli Fuksas, Francine Houben, Ian Ritchie, Roger Zogolovitch and the AA’s Eva Franch i Gilibert. 

One of the most surreal sights was the legendary Eva Jiřičná being made a coffee by a pair of (precise yet still alarming) robotic arms, which were being used by ABB Robotics to promote its stand. 

It’s fair to say that Jiřičná was not completely wowed by the €40,000 cyborg barista, complaining that it took it three times as long as a person to make her an espresso.

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