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Astragal: Kanye West puts a call-out for architects

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Could Foster’s Ground Zero tower be resurrected? Apple engages Melbourne • Elephant in the room • All change at the Mexican nightclub • ‘Horrible location’

Has your architectural ambition fundamentally been to make things ‘as dope as possible’? If so, Kanye West may have a job for you

The US rapper has announced he is expanding his Yeezy fashion brand to include an architecture arm, Yeezy Home. Over the weekend he tweeted: ‘We’re looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better.’ 

Yeezy Home will be the realisation of an ambition that West spoke about in 2013 while being interviewed on BBC Radio 1. He told presenter Zane Lowe: ‘’I hang around architects mostly. People that wanna make things as dope as possible. I’m learning what I want. This is the reason why I’m working with five architects at a time.’

West has recently made headlines with his support of Donald Trump. Astragal trusts this doesn’t extend to copying Trump’s reluctance to pay his architects. 

Could Fosters’ Ground Zero tower be resurrected?

Rogers Stirk Harbour’s 3 World Trade Center tower in New York opens up to the globe’s architectural journalists next month. But what of its soaring neighbour, Astragal hears you ask

In 2015, BIG revealed a stacked-box design for 2 World Trade Center – a replacement for an earlier Foster + Partners proposal (pictured) which had four extruded squares culminating in a clover of diamonds at its peak. Clients 21st Century Fox and News Corp reportedly thought Fosters’ design ‘more suited for an investment bank than a modern media company’.

However their deal with site owner Silverstein Properties never materialised. 

It is understood the tower at the Ground Zero site can only be built if a tenant is found. And that tenant may yet be a bank. Deutsche Bank was said to be casting its eye over the site late last year, and the tenant will ultimately decide which design it wants. In which case Fosters’ tower could well be back on the table. 

Watch this 260,000m² space.

Apple engages Melbourne

Melbourne plaza web

Melbourne plaza web

Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere, the row rumbles on over Fosters’ Melbourne HQ for Apple. Set to be built on the city’s much-loved Federation Square, the building (pictured) has received an icy reception from locals, despite winning planning approval. 

The two-tiered pavilion will replace an Aboriginal culture centre. Residents have cruelly dubbed it the ‘Pizza Hut pagoda’ because of its resemblance to the fast food chain’s logo. And they have mobilised against the plans with posters and flash-mobs decrying the ‘opportunistic corporate takeover’. 

The tech giant is planning to hold daily ‘Today at Apple’ arts workshops, to ‘educate and engage the community’. But it would appear to be engaging the public very effectively already.

Elephant in the room 

Stop elephant 2

Stop elephant 2

Talking of negative community feedback, the London College of Communications’ Capital City exhibition – intended to document the often-uneasy relationship between money and property – got off to a rather awkward start when protestors stormed the launch party. 

Having waited until veteran psychogeographer Iain Sinclair completed his speech, the Stop the Elephant Development group took over the main gallery space, unfurling their banners, turning up their loud hailers and chanting: ‘No to gentrification, yes to social housing.’ 

The audience responded with a mix of shock, indifference and encouragement – with more than a few staff discreetly indicating their sympathy. The campaign seeks to derail plans to relocate the college to a new development on the site of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. 

Among those present was Central Saint Martins head Jeremy Till, who was caught on camera politely declining an interview with the protesters.

All change at the Mexican nightclub  

The ministerial merry-go-round at the Department of Housing has taken another spin, with James Brokenshire hurriedly ushered in to replace Sajid Javid –  off to the dizzy heights of the Home Office. 

This revolving door policy has been equally applied to the department’s name. Formerly the DCLG, it rechristened itself MHCLG earlier this year; the M standing for ministry and the ‘H’ being an assurance that housing is a government priority. 

Javid’s parting shot was a word of advice for those still stumbling over the rebrand. 

‘I know you’re struggling with this,’ he told a design conference in London, ‘but it’s MHCLG – or MOHOCOLOGO – it sounds like a Mexican nightclub, but there you are.’  

‘Horrible location’

Ahead of his presidential visit to London this July, Donald Trump has once again been badmouthing the capital’s Nine Elms district, where Kieran Timberlake’s new US Embassy opened in January.

Speaking to a rally of supporters, he criticised the cost of the new building and described Nine Elms as a ‘horrible location’. As if the developers struggling to sell their nearby luxury flats didn’t have enough problems. 

Kanye West photo by David Shankbone

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