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Astragal: Fosters’ Bloomberg building proves strangely camera shy


Much of the backlash over Foster + Partners’ recent RIBA Stirling Prize win has focused on what, if anything, its Bloomberg HQ gives back to the City

Is it a ‘good neighbour’ which has generated new areas of public realm and created a subterranean museum dedicated to Mithras the bull-slayer? Or is it merely a billionaire’s vanity project and temple to corporate greed? 

A Bloomberg security guard has enriched the debate over the building’s civic contribution by stopping architect Nathalie Baxter from taking photographs of Britain’s best new structure. 

Baxter, on a visit to London to attend the prize-giving ceremony, said she was instructed to delete her snaps as they were ‘the property of Bloomberg’. 

‘It makes you question the role of these buildings when they can’t be appreciated from a public footpath in a capital city,’ she remarked. 

Postscript - statement from a Bloomberg spokesperson

‘This was a regrettable but isolated incident resulting from a security guard’s misinterpretation of our guidelines. We do not have a policy in place to restrict personal photography of the building’s exterior and have taken measures to ensure this does not happen again.’

Playing with the triangle  

Museum of london annee triangle site bottom left

Museum of london annee triangle site bottom left

Has it really been more than two years since Stanton Williams and Asif Khan won the contest to design the Museum of London’s new home inside the historic Smithfield market complex? Yes, it has. Two years and three months to be exact.

It is understood the designs have been slowly chugging along and should finally be ready to submit early next year.

However when the application is lodged with the City of London, readers will note that a triangular site (the annexe/Red House building, pictured below) will not form part of the museum’s onward plans.

This will also come as news to the losing finalists – BIG, Caruso St John, Lacaton & Vassal and Sergison Bates among them – which all looked at incorporating the plot in their submissions (AJ 28.07.16). 

Proposals for this building effectively made up around 25 per cent of the museum’s proposed footprint. 

Instead, Astragal believes, Stanton Williams has been asked to look at alternative uses for the block – including potentially housing ‘a wide range of cultural organisations’. These options may be revealed before the end of the year. 

Hopefully the actual cost of relocating the museum from the Barbican to Smithfield (the budget for the build was originally set at £150 million) will be made public soon too … 

In a flurry over Florey  

Florey building paulchapman

Florey building paulchapman

Queen’s College Oxford has denied rumours on social media that it is planning to sell James Stirling’s Grade II-listed Florey Building (pictured).

But it has also distanced itself from consented, but contentious, plans to extend the iconic university structure.

Reports surfaced on Twitter recently that the college was set to place the 1971 student residences on the open market.

Queen’s bursar Andrew Timms categorically and strenuously denied that a decision to sell had been made, but was less forthcoming when asked about Avanti Architects’ scheme to create an extra 25 rooms inside the Florey Building as well as a two-storey annexe.

Avanti won a competition for the job in early 2014 and gained planning permission for its proposals two years later.

But asked this month how the project was progressing, Timms said: ‘We have not begun work on that scheme and currently do not plan to do so.’

He refused to elaborate on his statement while Avanti declined to make any comment.

Not everyone will be upset if the scheme dies a quiet death. The proposals came under fire in 2016 from local architect Alan Berman, founding partner at Berman Guedes Stretton, as well as Stirling’s friend and former colleague Thomas Muirhead.

Ice, ice baby

Disruption shell scanlab

Disruption shell scanlab

Bartlett graduates Matthew Shaw and William Trossell – founders of ScanLAB – have transformed the small screen with their stunning interactive visualisations in the BBC Invisible Cities series. But it appears the innovative duo also have an activist streak.

Earlier this month, the pair won an international ideas competition with a proposal to dump replica icebergs at the front doors of London’s 10 worst polluters. The winning scheme involves using frozen salt water to create 10 digitally fabricated scale replicas of ice floes from the Fram Strait area in North West of Svalbard. Pictured above is one at Canary Wharf.

The floes are based on ‘millimetre perfect’ data gathered by ScanLAB, Greenpeace and Cambridge university five years ago which featured in an exhibition at the Architectural Association Gallery. 


Readers' comments (4)

  • Er, ok, but where's the rest of the Bloomberg story? If he was on the public pavement then the security guard needs reminding of the law. Disturbing given the police had to issue reminders to their officers a few years ago.

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  • This is an ongoing issue with security people in general and has been for years. Most have no idea what they are talking about and can be aggressive and obstructive for no reason.

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  • Phil Parker

    Fake news.

    Much of the backlash against Bloomberg HQ has been fuelled by the AJ who are desperate to trash the RIBA Stirling Prize in favour of the AJs own little emerging group of architecture awards.

    Shame architectural journalism has sunk to such a depth. What would the great Peter Davey think?

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  • For Phil Parker: very dismissive and rather bombastic - shades of Trump - but you wouldn't want to see us descend into a 'bonfire of the cameras' would you?

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