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Astragal: Not only a celebrity but a mastermind to boot

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Architect Piers Taylor hit TV screens just before Christmas as one of the contenders on BBC One’s Celebrity Mastermind. Fame-hungry readers will be encouraged to learn that the Invisible Studio founder counts as a celebrity, and one wouldn’t want to spoil this by suggesting it was his role as co-presenter of BBC Two’s The House that £100k Built that qualified him for his place in the black chair.

His fellow A-list contenders were comedian Shappi Khorsandi, paralympian Lee Pearson and DJ Chris Stark, but Taylor did the profession proud. He not only won the quiz, but displayed an impressive breadth of knowledge, picking Bob Dylan as his specialist subject after the producers steered him away from his original choice – Pritzker Prize-winning Aussie architect Glenn Murcutt – which they felt was a bit too specialist. Such range compared well with Taylor’s closest competitor, Stark, who rather creepily chose to answer questions on his Radio 1 colleague, Scott Mills.

Taylor was presented with a tall triangular glass trophy, which presenter John Humphrys suggested could be the shape of his next building. ‘Renzo Piano’s already done one like that in London,’ Taylor reminded him. 

BIG project just got smaller

Big opportunity pavilion

Big opportunity pavilion

After an ‘eventful’ 2016, the ever-optimistic architectural profession hopes 2017 will be a year of opportunity rather than one of stagnation and client retrenchment.

Not a good start, then, in Dubai – particularly for world taker-on-ers BIG.

Readers may remember that in March Bjarke Ingels’ superstar practice was selected to design one of the three centrepiece pavilions (visualisation, pictured) for the emirate’s Expo 2020, alongside Foster + Partners and Grimshaw.

Ironically BIG was to mastermind the ‘opportunity’ pavilion at the heart of the 438ha Expo site in Jebel Ali.

However the AJ hears that the project has effectively been shelved, though a smaller, less expensive structure may be built by the practice on the same plot.

A spokesman for the Expo confirmed: ‘We are currently working with BIG to reassess their presence on the site.’

Happy New Year. 

Getting Gabby over Dunelm House

Dunelm house from the south west

Dunelm house from the south west

Gabby logan

Durham University’s Dunelm House, the Brutalist students’ union building designed by Architects’ Co-Partnership but now threatened with demolition, has won the backing of Durham alumna and TV presenter Gabby Logan

Culture secretary Karen Bradley rejected Historic England’s call for a Grade-II listing for the building in December, saying she was minded to approve a certificate of immunity, but the Twentieth Century Society is expected to appeal the decision.

The former Welsh international gymnast tweeted to her 409,000 followers: ‘Very sad news. Spent many a happy afternoon (and evening) in Dunelm.’ 

Boris-backed Heatherwick design in trouble

New routemaster

New routemaster

It looks like it’s the end of the road for the Thomas Heatherwick-designed New Routemaster bus. 

Last week it was revealed that in an attempt to save costs mayor of London Sadiq Khan had discontinued any further purchases of the model, which was commissioned by his predecessor Boris Johnson. 

The controversial revamp of the distinctive red London bus had previously come under fire for its stifling levels of heat, and in March last year almost 500 buses had to be recalled after problems with their steering. 

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