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Astragal: Merry fucking Christmas, love Piers Taylor

  • 10 Comments

Piers Taylor’s seasonal message from his practice Invisible Studio takes bah-humbuggery to impressive new levels. Read his miserable missive in all its grumpy gloriousness

‘So this is Christmas and I guess we should be sending you a card with an image of a building we’ve done this year, ideally covered in snow and looking great so you’ll either be impressed, or you’ll just remember who we are for one more year, or you’ll chuck it in the bin along with many others and then we’ll all begin again on our architectural merry go round. But this year, as the world burns, we have to ask, what the actual fuck?

‘Do we really want to be complicit in a culture where we can pretend that what we’re doing has any significance whatsoever in a world that’s so screwed, it’s making all of our eyes water, or that you’d even care that you’d received a glossy image from us with all this shit that’s going down in Trump’s America and May’s tragic Brexit farce in our disunited kingdom. Fuck that.

‘There’s no card, no pretence, and no denial that anything that we’re doing matters one jot. Merry Bloody Christmas.’

And a very happy New Year to you too Piers.

Carry on up the Tulip

Carry on tulip

Carry on tulip

Public comments made in response to the planning application for Foster + Partners’ proposed Tulip tower in the City of London make for interesting reading in the #MeToo era

While the 22 individuals who commented are evenly divided between supporters and opponents, those on both sides seemed unable to avoid remarking on the tower’s perceived phallic nature. 

Supporter Ray Tang congratulated Fosters on its ‘British sense of humour’, calling the tower a superb architectural joke in the style of the Carry On films and made at the expense of City bankers.

Meanwhile, fellow Londoner Diane Howard cited her objections in block capitals, claiming the Tulip outrages PUBLIC DECENCY.

‘This proposed recreational structure takes the form of an enormous dildo,’ she wrote. 

‘Whereas past towers have always had a certain phallic quality, this erection crosses a clear societal boundary of unconsentual [sic] public exposure. 

‘This proposal would constitute a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.’

Everybody walk the dinosaur

Photokevinirelandcpdinosauriguanodon

Photokevinirelandcpdinosauriguanodon

What do architectural practice Tonkin Liu and Guns N’Roses lead guitarist Slash have in common? The answer is that both are seeking to help the Grade I-listed concrete Victorian dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park in south London.

The creatures, which date from the 1850s, are in need of maintenance and restoration but many are located on an island, making this task difficult.

A £70,000 fundraising appeal in aid of a new lightweight bridge designed by Tonkin Liu has been boosted by welcome publicity from the British-born rock star, who spent part of his childhood in the capital.

‘If you feel obliged, please donate to a spot that has always held a special place in my heart,’ he told his 3.6 million Twitter followers last month.

Slash himself has donated a signed top hat to auction. However, as the AJ went to press, the appeal was still £20,000 short of its target. 

To donate, visit: spacehive.com/bridges-to-the-crystal-palace-dinosaurs

Alison Brooks: ‘a little bit biscuit, but very talented’

A combination of Brexit frustration and the dazzling wealth of global architectural talent on show at the World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Amsterdam last month left Peter Cook feeling rather unpatriotic. 

Chatting to Astragal in one of the event’s inflatable ‘igloos’, the Archigram founder said he was ‘embarrassed to be British’, both politically and architecturally. 

Have things not improved since his infamous ‘biscuit boys’ remark of 2016? 

‘No. British architecture is at a low. There is a certain mistrust of the special, a mistrust of the exquisite, a mistrust of the idiosyncratic.’ 

Nor was he happy about the government’s new housing commission, saying ‘somehow beauty has been hijacked by the right wing’. 

What about the government’s hunt for a new head of architecture? Would he throw his hat in the ring? 

Pooh-poohing that idea, he suggested Alison Brooks. ‘She does go a bit biscuit sometimes but is very talented,’ he said. 

  • 10 Comments

Readers' comments (10)

  • Gordon  Gibb

    Is the level that we have fallen as a profession to one where the press using our name can think it appropriate to put a profanity in a headline and then repeat it through an article? It seems that the reporting is of a person swearing. It has no other merit. With just what gravitas is this content delivered? This is shameful and embarrassing for us and for you. When a student decides to review AJ for research purposes in years to come, what are they going to think when they find this? Do you have so little respect for us and for those who follow after that you think this appropriate communication for an Architect? Take this down right away AJ, and reflect upon your conduct.

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  • Chris Roche


    Merry Xmas My Arse

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  • Industry Professional

    Agree with Gordon. Terrible judgement there.

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  • This will sure raise the prestige of the design profession in the eyes of the public.
    Infantile, pathetic and deeply troubling.

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  • I Love It !

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  • Cynical, distasteful, inappropriate - inflated by infantile media exposure that only adds to the mess we are perceived to be in. Such defeatist negativity is sad, if not pathetic. Perhaps Piers could pose for fewer mood images and become less visible, making for a happier Christmas for all who still feel ours is a profession worth pursuing.

    Have faith that the Westminster tragicomedy might soon be over and the comuppance to end all comuppances is inexorably closing in on the 'Donald'. Poke fun, and get on with what we do best, in the fond hope that RIBA and the AJ may one day realise that not all new architecture needs to look as if it came out of one software package (and one studio), and that Roger the Scruton(iser) is replaced with someone of wider and deeper knowledge, understanding and tastes.

    Happy Christmas everyone, and "All shall be well, All manner of things shall be well".

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  • Astragal could've reported Piers Taylor's (surely rather out of character) diatribe without the offensive headline - but then maybe both have got stuck into the Christmas plonk earlier than usual, and who'd blame them?
    However, Paul Finch, in his Christmas message, strikes a more optimistic note (helped, perhaps, by some corporate hospitality) - although the notion that the BBC has thrown impartiality to the winds in matters Brexit is debatable.
    Having said that, Paul would enjoy reading tomorrow's Private Eye's coverage of a Today presenter's extra-curricular activities.

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  • At a time when mental health concerns regularly come up in reports about the state of our population and profession generally and Architectural Students particularly I wonder if we should be considering if there is a message we are missing. All of the commentators above seem universal in condemning both the message and the fact it has been given any kind of published space. My first instinct was to agree, and yet I find some of the comments here more worrying than Piers 'diatribe'.

    -"It has no other merit. With just what gravitas is this content delivered? This is shameful and embarrassing for us and for you. "

    -"Such defeatist negativity is sad, if not pathetic".

    -"Infantile, pathetic and deeply troubling".

    I don't know Piers or in all honesty his practice or work, I'm not even sure who this seasonal message is directed at, - at least one commentator on here seems to think it , - "surely rather out of character".

    I could be falling for a silly joke, and yet I wonder if, at the risk of myself seeming foolish, I could just please ask, if you know Piers, maybe you could give him a call and ask if he's alright and needs to talk.

    Merry Christmas Everybody.

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  • Well said Ian. I suspect the poor man just needs a couple of weeks off and a nice big hug.

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  • Industry Professional

    Piers Taylor … always looking for his 15 miserable minutes of fame

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