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Astragal: Serota exposed at Bankside

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Tate director Nick Serota provoked the wrath of Neo Bankside residents last week by suggesting they put up net curtains to protect themselves from the prying gaze of visitors to Tate Modern’s new extension.

His unyielding stance so angered one resident that they were driven to create a new attraction for those on the 10th-floor viewing platform: life-size, cardboard mock-ups of the Tate director and his family Photoshopped on to underwear-clad bodies as a ‘see-how-you-like-it’ remonstration.

A speech bubble glued onto Nick’s head read: ‘I try to open people’s eyes and sometimes that is a painful process.’

Channelling the spirit of RMJM

Not much has been heard from … (understatement alert) ‘troubled’ former big hitter RMJM since bosses Peter Morrison and Declan Thompson were found guilty in Hong Kong last September of failing to pay staff wages.

But now the former AJ100 table-topper has re-emerged into the media spotlight with intriguing plans to celebrate its 60th birthday.

To mark the occasion, the once-illustrious and more-recently-contentious firm has bravely launched an Instagram contest to capture the ‘spirit of RMJM’. 

Submissions may harness collage, sketch, painting, digital or graphics and should be uploaded with the hashtag #RMJM60. According to the brief: ‘It can capture one RMJM building or several, or it could be something completely different. There are no restrictions!’ 


Vintage greats, such as London’s High Commission of New Zealand and the Royal Commonwealth Pool, could make an appearance, alongside more recent landmarks like the Scottish Parliament and Falkirk Wheel. 

But will the headline-grabbing redundancies, legal battles and short-lived alliances with Will Alsop and with RBS boss Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin also feature? 

The deadline is 14 October and the winner will receive £500 and see their entry displayed in 30 RMJM satellite studios across the globe. 

Jørn again

Utzon house 1

Utzon house 1

The only home in the UK by Sydney Opera House architect Jørn Utzon has gone on sale for £3.5 million.

The Grade II-listed 418m² property in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, was designed in 1962 by Utzon for his friend Povl Ahm, then chairman of Arup. Ahm took the concept designs and delivered them himself while Utzon was working in Australia.

The beautiful six-bedroom home has a wealth of admirers, not least Hugh Pearman, who described it in The Sunday Times as ‘probably the best modern house in the world’.

However it appears Utzon, who died in 2008, was unaware it even existed until late in his life.

Architect John Pardey, who visited him in Majorca  in 2007, recalls: ‘I took some photos of it over to Utzon the last time I saw him. 

‘He was delighted [but] he said that he did not know it had been built. However, he was impressed that it was entirely faithful to the design he had given his friend Povl Ahm.’

The property is currently listed on The Modern House.

Loitering with intent

Glasgow college night

Glasgow college night

While working on the Stirling Prize-shortlisted City of Glasgow College building, one of its architects had a bit of a run-in with the law. 

Having dropped his daughter off at a concert at the nearby Foster + Partners-designed arena, one of the Reiach and Hall team decided he would visit the site while he waited for the concert to end. 

But a public-spirited neighbour spotted him wandering around the site and called the police, and he ended up in the back of a police car having to explain he was the architect and not a trespasser.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man

Peter stringfellow renzoy16

Peter stringfellow renzoy16

Amid the recent deluge of Garden Bridge criticism, supporters seem to be less and less willing to place their heads above the, er, parapet.

But a knight in shining armour is coming to the rescue of the beautiful and bountiful maiden on the Thames. Step forward nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow. In a tweet sent last Thursday, Stringfellow boldly wrote: ‘Hi Sadiq Khan @MayorofLondon. Show that you are an inspirational Mayor and back the Garden Bridge it will be incredible for London! Peter’, and signed off with a smiley face.

If that doesn’t do the trick, nothing will. 

Let it flow

Zaha Hadid Architects, Port House, Antwerp

Zaha Hadid Architects, Port House, Antwerp

Source: Tim Fisher

The emotional opening ceremony for Zaha Hadid Architects’ new Port House in Antwerp last week had a fluminous theme to complement its Scheldtside setting.

A black-cassocked choir had been brought in to perform slow vintage favourites such as Ol’ Man River and Moon River as the cava flowedFuminous yet also American, perhaps making reference to the processing of migrants en route to the States. Also on the song sheet was Oh Shanandoah (‘’Cross the wide Missouri’); while Zaha Hadid Architects director Patrik Schumacher’s speech referred to dogged office members still involved at the final stages of the ‘diamond ship’ project as ‘the last of the Mohicans’. 

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