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Astragal: Rachel Whiteread's valley of the dolls

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This year’s winner of the Ada Huxtable Prize Rachel Whiteread made her reputation with her 1993 work House, a concrete cast of the inside of an entire Victorian house.

Not only did it win her that year’s Turner Prize, but also the short-lived K Foundation Award for ‘worst British artist’ with a prize that, at £40,000, was deliberately double that of the Turner. Whiteread reluctantly accepted the cash after being told it would otherwise be burnt.

House was controversially demolished by the local council the next year. But a subsequent work focusing on a considerably smaller scale of dwelling has proved more enduring, and goes on permanent display at the V&A Museum of Childhood, east London, next month. 

Place (Village) features a ‘community’ of around 150 dolls houses in a variety of architectural styles, ranging from Georgian mansions and Tudor cottages to Modernist fortresses. 

A touch of Azerbaijan for North Greenwich?

Last millennium there was scant reason to even go to North Greenwich, unless you wanted a new wing for the pranged Escort from the scrapyard. 

There was an ordnance works there in the Napoleonic Wars and later it was given over to industrial uses – mostly British Gas’s – for similar Nimbyistic reasons: it was ‘out of the way’. 

Richard Rogers’ Dome and the Jubilee Line extension set the ball rolling for the regeneration long fought-for by local MP Nick Raynsford et al

Now the realisation of Allies and Morrison’s masterplan for North Greenwich – increasingly referred to as the more aspirational ‘Greenwich Peninsula’ – is in full swing, with the first visualisations revealed of Santiago Calatrava’s dramatic transport hub centrepiece, with some remarking on the superficial resemblance of its triple-tower arrangement to HOK’s Flame Towers in Azerbaijan (pictured right). 

Looks like this long-neglected patch of south-east London has gone from Back of Beyond to Baku Beyond! 

Calatrava + hok

Calatrava + hok

No one likes a sore loser, Maki 

Fumihiko maki 2010

Fumihiko maki 2010

Source: jeanbaptisteparisderivative work: aghith - flickr: Fumihiko Maki, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.w

A severe case of double standards as Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki laid into Foster + Partners’ appointment to design a new £500 million capital for the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, calling the decision ‘choreographed’. 

Maki’s practice had won an earlier contest to design the 200km2 settlement, beating RSHP and India’s Vastu Shilpa Consultants in March, but its scheme was shelved due to ‘adverse public reaction’ despite a fee reduction, change in local architect and design revisions requested by the client.  

Maki said it was ‘insulting and fraudulent for the government to create an illusion that the winning firm is somehow unfit for execution of the given tasks.’ 

Which will garner little sympathy from Zaha Hadid Architects whose competition-winning design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium hit the buffers following outspoken criticism spearheaded by none other than Fumihiko Maki. 

Hadid herself spoke out over Japanese authorities and architects ‘colluding’ against her winning scheme which was replaced by a Kengo Kuma design following a second competition.

End of the line for Vauxhall bus station

Vauxhall bus station

Vauxhall bus station

Arup Associates’ barely adolescent but already much-threatened Vauxhall bus station looks increasingly likely to be bulldozed later this year.

The almost 13-year old ‘ski-jump’ building was first threatened with demolition in 2011 when a contest was launched to design a new ‘linear walkway’ across the site.

After those plans were abandoned, in 2013 Lambeth Council drafted in Terry Farrell to look at creating a new high street around the busy transport interchange south of the Thames.

Now the council and TfL are understood to be submitting a new application this spring to improve traffic flow in the area.

The Twentieth Century Society will not make another attempt to list the structure. Its previous bid, in 2014, fell on deaf ears and the society fears a second effort would also fail.  

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