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Astragal: Sadiq happy to see the back of ‘ugly’ Olympicopolis

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East London has waved goodbye to former mayor Boris Johnson’s Olympicopolis and said hello to Sadiq Khan’s East Bank

The ‘cultural quarter’ was put on ice while masterplanner Allies and Morrison embarked on a radical rethink after it emerged that the height of the scheme would spoil the view of St Paul’s from Richmond Park (nine miles away). 

But it seems the impact on south-west Londoners’ views was not the only sticking point for Sadiq, who admitted that he was not a big fan of the original designs. 

‘If I’m frank, if you’re going to have a visionary new East Bank the idea of having these ugly block buildings doesn’t do it for me,’ he told reporters.

Downsizing proves lucrative

Ra alma nac model crop

Hidden among the larger look-at-me models in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is a rather diddy 20cm-tall replica (pictured) of Alma‑nac’s competition-winning AJ/James Hardie House of Colour playhouse.

Readers may recall how its Upside Down House was designed as a fun-filled haven for kids, referencing ‘some of the surreal worlds created in children’s stories such as Alice in Wonderland and the film Up.’

The scheme is set to be built within Berkeley’s Green Park Village development in Reading.  

Collectors of architectural curios will be excited to learn that the model is for sale. They may be shocked, however, by the price tag: a fantastical £18,000 –  which is £3,000 more than the budget for building the real thing.

Vatican lacks messiah’s catering skills

Loaves and fishes

Loaves and fishes

The Vatican’s first ever showing at the Venice Biennale was surely the most extravagant at this year’s event, featuring 10 new-built chapels by global stars including Norman Foster, Eduardo Souto de Moura and Smiljan Radic in a park on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. 

But miracles were in short supply at the launch party. When the masses turned up, braving the midges to queue for glimpses inside each spiritual space, the champagne ran dry in minutes and 500 people were left hungry, thirsty and stranded – no loaves, no fishes, no vaporettos, and an empty vending machine.

Mysterious ways, indeed. 

Big name lined up for Brixton Market revamp 

Brixton market 2

Brixton market 2

The uncertain fate of south London’s Brixton Market has been much-discussed of late. 

At one time it looked as if Mike Ashley of Sports Direct infamy would be snapping up the site, which is home to 140 shops and restaurants. But a £30 million deal fell through earlier this year and the market was later sold to Hondo Enterprises – reportedly for £7 million more.

The company, owned by Texan socialite and DJ Taylor McWilliams, has tried to avoid early controversies by insisting that under its ‘stewardship [the market’s] unique character will be secured for the long term.’

In March the company said it had begun talking to ‘traders, the local community, and Lambeth Council’ as it worked up its plans ‘to protect and enhance the market.’

And to which architect has McWilliams turned to take this heavily watched scheme forward? Word on the arcade floor is that he is talking to David Adjaye.

Despite enquiries, there has been no comment from either the developer or the architect. There has been no denial either.   

Bummer in the summer  

schumacher crop

schumacher crop

Sadly, Zaha Hadid Architects principal Patrik Schumacher did not enjoy his trip to this year’s Venice Biennale. 

Writing on Facebook, he complained about the lack of architectural content which, he said, had been usurped by ‘one-liner installations which could be absorbed by stepping in and out for 30 seconds.’ 

He concluded: ‘It’s high time for UK architects to lobby to wrest control over the space from the British Council. 

‘I guess the RIBA would be a better guardian.’

V&A chief defends ‘unsafe idea’

Meanwhile, V&A director Tristram Hunt has hit back at critics of the museum’s decision to exhibit a section of Alison and Peter Smithson’s demolished Robin Hood Gardens estate at the biennale. 

Angry tweeters had hit out against the decision, which they claimed was distasteful celebration of gentrification. 

But, writing in the Art Newspaper, Hunt hit back, saying: ‘I see the role of the museum not as a political force, but as a civic exchange: curating shared space for unsafe ideas. 

‘And in an era of absolutist, righteous identity politics, these places for pluralism are more important than ever.’

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