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Astragal: Libeskind's our main squeeze

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Daniel Libeskind revealed an unexpected dimension to his talents during an event this month, informing the audience he is an accordion virtuoso.

Speaking at the London Festival of Architecture gig, Libeskind, who was born in Poland and lived there till the age of 11, revealed that in his younger years he had played his accordion on Polish TV, and had even won a coveted America Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship for his musical skills. Disappointingly, he had not brought an accordion with him so was unable to demonstrate whether he still has the squeezebox chops. (The above illustration is a Photoshop artist’s impression.)

The architect went on to make another revelation: he bumped into Donald Trump several times during the US president’s property days. Pressed on this experience by host and BBC Radio 4 presenter Samira Ahmed, Libeskind was unable to offer many further details, saying: ‘I just remember his hair.’

How to lose a marginal seat

Barwell and book

Barwell and book

Just when the country really could do with a housing minister in place for more than three minutes, we get a new one thanks to Gavin Barwell’s failure to retain his seat of Croydon Central in the general election.

As several commentators noted, Barwell – now serving as beleaguered Theresa May’s chief of staff – lost his marginal seat despite being the author of a book entitled How to Win a Marginal Seat.

One recent comment on Amazon calls the book ‘A statistical outlier … after peer review, the effects outlined in this experiment could not be repeated.’

Looking more closely at this tome reveals yet further irony in the form of a testimonial by a certain Boris Johnson, who gushes: ‘To win Croydon is to win Britain today – and Gavin Barwell shows how it can be done.’

Which leads to the inescapable conclusion that, having lost Croydon, the Tories have now lost Britain. 

Architecture will eat itself

Architectural bake off

Architectural bake off

We trust there were no soggy bottoms when practices including Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners and Allies and Morrison battled it out at the Great Architectural Bake-Off earlier this month (entries pictured above), organised by architect WATG. 

Teams had to recreate an iconic building in cake form, exploring the London Festival of Architecture’s theme of ‘memory’. Cue a sponge St Paul’s Cathedral by Squire & Partners, WilkinsonEyre’s chocolate-topped Battersea Power Station, and Stonehenge with marbled icing courtesy of David Collins. 

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners was crowned Star Baker thanks to a gingerbread version of the firm’s own design for the Arenas de Barcelona. 

A hazelnut-infused Beinecke Library earned SOM a prize for tastiest bake, while the hosts themselves received an honourable mention for their edible Cathédrale de Brasilia. 

Rogers’ old office reinvented

Thames wharf studios xlibber

Thames wharf studios xlibber

Thames Wharf Studios: by xlibber 

When Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners moved out of its famous Thames Wharf Studios in Hammersmith, it was widely assumed the office would be flattened to make way for a major riverside development.

Indeed the practice was even hired by landowner and ex-Rogers managing director Marco Goldschmied with London & Regional Properties to draw up plans for a residential-led redevelopment scheme for the site (see AJ 13.03.15).

Those proposals included the demolition of the much-loved, barrel-vaulted offices – designed by Rogers and Lifschutz Davidson in the mid-1980s – which the practice subsequently left vacant when it moved to the RSHP-designed Cheesegrater.

But now it seems the owners no longer want to pull down the famed building. Instead plans have emerged by architect Cousins & Cousins to convert the office into a ‘wellness space’ providing a ‘welcome sanctuary from the clutter and chaos of modern city life’.

Perhaps some of the Rogers staff will be tempted back …

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