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Astragal: Norman Foster’s ‘Unicorn time’

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Foster’s latest Instagram post shows him in reflective mood

The faithful among Norman Foster’s 230k Instagram followers will be familiar with his pictorial oeuvre.

Its bread-and-butter content is best described as the boy’s toys – snaps of the starchitect whizzing about on water-borne gadgets, testing out superyachts, fiddling with drones and riding bicycles. 

Time for the unicorn .

A post shared by Norman Robert Foster (@officialnormanfoster) on

But it is a twist on the account’s other staple – the ‘sketching post’ classic – that has gone straight in as the best work, undoubtedly the magnum opus of the @normanfosterofficial account. 

On 28 July, Foster dropped a pic of himself, pen in hand, floating serenely around a swimming pool on a giant psychedelic unicorn complete with rainbow-coloured wings. ‘Time for the Unicorn’ was Foster’s cryptic post. 

Another brick in the Wall of Answered Prayer

Readers may be wondering whatever became of the RIBA-organised competition The Wall of Answered Prayer.

Launched two years ago, it sought designs for a sculptural landmark on a prominent – but still secret – location close to a motorway outside London with the winner constructed from a million bricks, each one symbolising a prayer answered. 

A five-strong shortlist was revealed early last year, which included Southampton-based Snug Architects and Stefano Baseggio from Italy. Since then, things have gone quiet.

But fans of Sunday-night telly may have recently spotted the brains behind the dream: Richard Gamble, a former chaplain to Leicester City FC, who appeared on BBC1’s Songs of Praise talking about the competition. It seems the shortlisted teams will be visiting the mysterious site at the end of the month and that the contest will restart shortly after.

Gamble first had the idea for the wall 15 years ago. But, as he will know, ‘the end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride’.

Gamble’s own prayers may yet be answered. 

Vanessa Feltz has a theory about where the Garden Bridge money went

Once upon a time, broadcaster Vanessa Feltz seemed pretty supportive of the Garden Bridge. Back in 2016, she had the ‘fragrant’ Joanna Lumley on her BBC Radio London show and gave Lumley, a trustee of the charity developing the Heatherwick-designed scheme, plenty of airtime to wax lyrical about this ‘gift to London’ and its many horticultural delights. 

How times have changed. Last week, Feltz had the AJ’s Will Hurst on her programme and expressed complete incredulity that the bridge could cost the taxpayer almost £50 million, given that it was, you know, never built.

‘Even if the model was built of solid gold and studded with rubies and cabochon sapphires, we still don’t get how this could have cost £46.4 million,’ Feltz remarked. Quite.

Ashford’s flies undone

Open to the public crop  marc wilmot

Open to the public crop marc wilmot

Kent-based archi-artist Alex Chinneck is at it again. In 2013 he created a £100,000 installation in Margate, which gave the impression of the front façade of a building peeling away to reveal the rooms inside. 

A year later he created a two-storey house from 8,000 wax bricks in London’s Southwark Street, designed to gradually melt away; and an installation in Covent Garden that created the appearance that the 184-year-old market hall was floating in the air. 

Now he has created a new ‘sculpture’ in the Kent town of Ashford. Open to the Public, which appeared overnight last week, features the illusion of an empty 1960s office building being unzipped. If only Chinneck could do the same to 66 Portland Place so we could really see what was going on at RIBA HQ …

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