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Astragal: the architects who love our new prime minister

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Astonishingly, even a run-in with the AJ over a certain bridge project wasn’t enough to prevent Boris Johnson’s rise to power as the nation’s new prime minister

And while he doesn’t appear to have much support among architects, there are exceptions, at least among architects who happen to be in the Conservative Party.

Earlier this month, architect and Buckinghamshire Tory councillor Warren Whyte declared his backing on Twitter, writing: ‘To get #Brexit done, I’m supporting @BorisJohnson for leader of the Conservatives.’

Elaborating on his conclusion, White told Astragal: ‘We need to bring back enthusiasm, excitement and ambition to our national politics. We can’t do that until Brexit is finally sorted, and I believe Boris has the appetite to make it happen.’

Meanwhile Liam Jones – the Tory mayor of Frodsham Town Council in Cheshire and an architectural assistant at Randle White Architects – has offered implicit support to another of Johnson’s controversial political endeavours.

Referring to Sadiq Khan’s refusal of Foster & Partners’ Tulip tower, Jones wrote: ‘The Garden Bridge, now this, I think it’s a real shame.’ 

Office politics 

Centre for music dsr crop

Centre for music dsr crop

The City of London has batted away rumours that a redesign of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Sheppard Robson’s £288 million Centre for Music is underway. 

Astragal has heard that the design team is busy axing the office element in the centre chunk of the luminous pyramid, planned for the Barbican site. This was the bit that was supposed to enable the music centre to ‘operate without ongoing public subsidy’. 

Perhaps prospective tenants thought an office sandwiched between two music venues might just be a bit noisy?  

Gardeners’ question time

The London mayor’s decision to throw out Norman Foster’s Tulip tower opened the door for the social media smut brigade to pump out a steamy torrent of innuendo and vulgar comparisons, including likening the tower to a giant vibrator.

Among the more considered responses, however, was a belated request for some descriptive accuracy – at least from the Foster + Partners crew themselves.

Enter Classical architect and chairman of the RIBA’s Traditional Architecture Group, Francis Terry. He responded: ‘Has the marketing team who named it ever seen a tulip?’

Always time for a dig at Trump

Full points to Daniel Libeskind, who managed to crowbar light Trump-bashing into an interview about his forthcoming Maggie’s Centre at Hampstead’s Royal Free in north London. 

Explaining the sustainable elements of the cancer care centre, such as its Douglas Fir-clad façade, he was asked whether he backed the Architects’ Declare campaign. 

‘Of course!’ he replied. ‘It’s critical for the survival of our cities. You’d have to be crazy not to understand climate change – like our president!’

Sadly for Libeskind, it seems some UK architects think you’d also have to be crazy to like his design. 

‘Oh god, make it stop,’ tweeted Piers Taylor in response to the news the Polish American starchitect was returning to north London, while young British practices questioned why Maggie’s had not just given the commission to … a young British practice.

Put that in your Pipe …

One of Khan’s deputies can be added to the growing list of those with reservations about the aims of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. 

Jules Pipe, deputy London mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, told an AJ100 breakfast in King’s Cross this month that the beauty commission had put too much emphasis on Classical columns and not enough on design. 

It was ‘schizophrenic’ of the government, he said, to be pushing for planners to police beauty on the one hand, while removing councils’ ability to refuse poor-quality homes on the other. 

A room full of nodding heads, chomping on bacon and eggs, signalled agreement among architects. 

Shutterstock breakfast

Shutterstock breakfast

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Well Mr Warren Whyte, there are two ways to get Brexit done, the better being to Revoke / Remain, and I shall be supporting any party which offers that.

    If by excitement you mean illegally proroguing (yes the courts decided that just now) Parliament, and lying, then count me out.

    Let's get back to dealing with the real problems of the Nation and sort out under-development outside London and the catastrophic laissez faire of Fire Regulations which have wasted millions of pound on unsafe buildings, not to mention quite a number of lives.

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