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Astragal: de Meuron reveals top tip for winning work

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Francis Crick Institute too open for some • St Hugh’s switcherooI wannabe like you

Spiralling budgets are an age-old problem for architects – and a constant source of friction with their clients. But Pierre de Meuron of Swiss practice Herzog & de Meuron has some advice for persuading developers to back potentially budget-busting projects: just don’t tell them how much the scheme will actually cost

Speaking at the recent World Architecture Festival in Berlin, de Meuron told the audience: ‘Often if you would say how much the building would [actually] cost at the end – especially for a public building for the politicians – it would never be built.’ 

The architect made the confession during a discussion about his own experience on the €789 million Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg – a project that opened seven years late and 10 times over budget. 

The architect added that the project was more ‘interesting and unique’ because, ‘despite all of the difficulties’ it was still completed by the ‘will’ of the city

Francis Crick Insitute a bit too open for some

Francis crick wellcome images

Francis crick wellcome images

Source: Wellcome Images

Francis Crick Institute

It was designed to encourage cross-disciplinary conversations among its occupants. But now it appears that, for some, there is just too much talking going on at the HOK and PLP-designed Francis Crick Institute (above).

Kerstin Sailer, a reader in social and spatial networks at the Bartlett School of Architecture, told The Guardian her research into the performance of the 91,000m2 building had shown a level of disquiet with the lack of quiet.

‘Some people say it is very loud, specifically close to the atrium,’ she said. ‘One person said you get visitors coming in, public events, people celebrating passing their PhD, so there is a lot of background noise.’

The Crick doesn’t seem too fussed by the complaints, however. Nicholas Luscombe, leader of one of the Crick’s research groups, explains: ‘My view is the layout has been extremely successful in terms of what it set out to achieve. You keep bumping into people and that has created new collaborations for me.’

St Hugh’s switcheroo

St hughs oxford

St hughs oxford

The AJ has learned of an interesting switcheroo at St Hugh’s College Oxford – alma mater of PM Theresa May.

Earlier this year the 131-year-old college launched the search for an architect to rework a tired, existing building; a search that took it to Hawkins\Brown

The selection seemed apt – a practice with a wealth of higher-education experience and one whose work could sit well with the college’s most recent architectural additions: the 2000 Maplethorpe building and the 2014 Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre Building, both by David Morley Architects.

Sadly it seems that Hawkins\Brown is now no longer the project lead on the proposals and that its fate was sealed by external, financial forces.

According to sources, having seen Hawkins\Brown’s competition-winning designs, a significant overseas benefactor became interested in the redevelopment. But, given the unknown donor’s willingness to pump millions of pounds into the project, it was perhaps unsurprising that the mystery sponsor wanted to bring in its own architectural team to work on the college plans.

The newcomer? None other than Heatherwick Studio, which increasingly seems to be the go-to practice for the super-rich benefactor. The designs are eagerly awaited.

I wannabe like you

Viewers of last week’s House of the Year final on Channel 4 who didn’t fast forward through the adverts may have noticed that one practice, housing specialist Dyer Grimes Architecture, looks to have shelled out big-time for a spot repeated in all the commercial breaks. 

It seems safe to say that the money was spent on the slot rather than production of the actual ad, which was a somewhat static affair, inviting people to claim their free Guide to Building a Dream Home

But perhaps what was most striking was that the ad featured a prominent image of managing director John Dyer Grimes (left), who possibly shares a barber and stylist with House of the Year presenter Kevin McCloud (right).

Grimes and mccloud

Grimes and mccloud

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