The revival of Brutalism and its rehabilitation in the eyes of the man on the street must surely be complete. A web-only exhibition, Concrete Feats, toasting the globe’s finest tough-nut concrete buildings, recently popped up, sponsored by … wait for it … Gocompare.com.
The ubiquitous insurance comparison site – known for its more Neoclassical opera singer – wanted, apparently, to further educate its audience about the joys of béton brut.
The link with home insurance seems tenuous, and the website features little that the architectural world wouldn’t already be familiar with. But the bespoke artwork in this online oddity is surprisingly good.
Gulls’ happy meal roof hazard
Victoria station roof
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s … actually you were right first time. It was a bird.
Fingers are being pointed at our avian friends for the failure of part of the EFTE-clad roof at Victoria Station in Manchester, which gave way last October.
Readers will remember how two people were injured as gallons of water fell on passengers when the pillow-like panel broke. The station’s main concourse also had to be closed off over fears other parts of the 10,000m² roof could collapse.
The incident at the station, which reopened in 2015 after a £44 million upgrade led by BDP, followed unusually heavy rain (even for Manchester).
Now a report into the incident by Network Rail has found that the real culprits were hungry seagulls who had punctured the EFTE pillows with their beaks. One theory is that the gulls were attracted by the smell from the McDonalds below rising up from a nearby ventilation unit.
La Défense on the offensive
Paris la défense seen from tour saint jacques 2013 08
Source: By Zinneke - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27736568
Paris’s out-of-town La Défense business district has predictably seized the opportunity to attract banks and financial institutions fleeing post-Brexit Britain with a catchy new slogan ‘Tired of the Fog? Try the frogs’ – though it does suggest its creator is stuck somewhere in the 1950s.
As part of the aggressive marketing push, the French capital’s answer to Canary Wharf has also announced that it will deliver seven ‘new’ skyscraper projects totalling 375,000m² of fresh office space over the next five years.
These include Jean Nouvel’s 220m-tall Hekla, unveiled last summer; Christian de Portzamparc’s Tours Sisters, first proposed in 2015; and the 320m-tall Hermitage Plaza revealed by Foster + Partners way back in 2008 and so – like the others – not very new at all.
Is Heseltine’s job make-believe?
There were nervous moments on the AJ newsdesk after former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine vowed to lead a rebellion on Brexit in the House of Lords in a self-penned piece in the Mail on Sunday. This was followed by speculation he might be sacked from his position as co-chair of the government’s estates regeneration panel, rather pulling the rug out from under the AJ’s forthcoming interview with the Tory peer.
As we went to press, however, he seems to have got away with his tirade. Or has he? On the government website Heseltine is described as an adviser to the department for ‘communities and local growth’ – a department that, to Astragal’s knowledge, is wholly fictitious.
UPDATE: Heseltine has now been sacked all his government advisory roles – fictional or otherwise.
Thumbs down from Amanda Levete
Amanda Levete by Peter Guenzel
Source: Peter Guenzel
Amanda Levete, it would appear, is not a believer in solidarity among the profession.
In an interview with The Times last weekend, the architect, who designed the recently opened Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, said: ‘Only 10 per cent of architects are any good … Look around London – how many projects in the past few years could you say were really great? A handful.’
Levete went on to describe some of the ongoing works in Battersea, south London, as ‘horrendous’.