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Astragal: Orchestrating Jean Nouvel’s downfall

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Is the Atelier of the great Jean Nouvel about to go into liquidation? 

This will happen, it says, if has to pay the €170 million fine the Philharmonie de Paris is attempting to levy after the architect’s concert hall opened late and over-budget – €213 million over budget to be precise.

As for opening late, Nouvel may argue that it didn’t open late enough. He declined to attend the building’s opening in 2015, claiming it was being held prematurely before it had undergone proper acoustic testing.

Nouvel is counter-suing, with his lawyers rubbishing the fine as ‘totally disproportionate’ and ‘unprecedented in the world of architecture’. They told The Guardian it would amount to a death sentence for Nouvel’s studio. 

Also calling in the lawyers is Brad Pitt after a federal judge ruled that he will remain a defendant in a case against his nonprofit housing venture, the Make It Right Foundation. 

Last November, directors of the organisation, founded in 2007 to build affordable homes after Hurricane Katrina, asked the court to remove their names from a class-action lawsuit filed by two homeowners who claim defective and improper construction. 

Pity Brad then who, despite arguing he is neither a builder nor architect, may yet be held responsible.

Bottled water, outrageous; designing airports, yeah whatever 

Evian bottles

Evian bottles

The chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, John Gummer, believes we should all do our bit environmentally. Speaking last week at a climate conference for the property industry, he angrily hit out at the glass bottle of Evian in front of him.

‘What on earth are we doing bringing Evian water here?’ he asked. ‘This is a heavy bottle and it’s been carried from France. I also want to know why this building has got the lights on? Turn the lights off.’

But is it only the easily fixed aspects of global capitalist consumption that Gummer is able to criticise? 

The construction of the enormous new skyscraper he was sitting in – nicknamed the ‘Can of Ham’ – did not seem to attract his ire; nor did the prospect of leading UK architects chasing global airport work despite their declarations of climate emergency. 

‘Somebody is going to build that airport,’ he replied nonchalantly when asked for his opinion. Capitalist first, environmentalist second then.

Barber’s town not coming like a ghost town

Mcgrath 03 mvs web

Mcgrath 03 mvs web

Source: Morley von Sternberg

Eyebrows rose this week after it emerged that Peter Barber’s Alhambra-accented affordable housing scheme in Stratford, east London, is inhabited by … precisely no one. This despite the McGrath Road project (pictured) completing last spring. 

Factor in a historically difficult site and non-typical London design and one feared tumbleweed would enter stage right, blowing in from David Adjaye’s fashion-quarter ghost town in nearby Hackney.

Happily, such concerns can be dispatched to the bin marked ‘hearsay’. A Barber apparatchik reveals that all 26 homes were snapped up on a single September open day. 

The delay is linked to strict rules from client Newham Council to ensure deserving locals get on the housing ladder. The homes are 100 per cent affordable and 100 per cent shared equity, which involves a bit more paperwork than normal. 

Everyone should be in by Christmas. Has shared equity ever been this festive?

You’ve seen the station, now eat the cake 

Shutterstock gingerbread

Shutterstock gingerbread

The Great British Bake-Off may be over (Steph was robbed, incidentally) but there is something massive, tasty and architectural coming to fill this aching cake-shaped hole.

In December, more than 100 architects from 87 practices will be showcasing their confection-meets-construction skills in the annual Gingerbread City exhibition – being held in London’s Somerset House.

The show is organised by the Museum of Architecture, this year on the theme of transport. Among big names contributing to the munchable metropolis are Fosters (with Gingerbread Air, a sustainable air travel research centre), Hawkins\Brown (Sugarset House) and Hopkins (Chelsea Bun Bridge).

However, eyes will undoubtedly be on Grimshaw, which has promised to deliver London Bridge Roll Station – presumably a sugar-infused replica of its Stirling Prize-shortlisted mega-scheme.

Entrance to the display (7 December to 5 January) is £9 for adults ,with proceeds going towards the Museum of Architecture’s Grant Giving Fund ‘to support architectural entrepreneurship and public engagement’. 

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