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Astragal: Top dogs of architecture

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A photograph of Groupwork + Amin Taha’s faithful terrier Moo in the AJ earlier this month has prompted other practices to share news of their own office dogs

Architects are of course concerned with beauty so perhaps it’s no surprise that these are exceptionally well-groomed pooches and most appear to be pedigrees. Admire them all in the above picture gallery.

Special mentions go to Architecture for London’s cocker spaniel Monty, who appears to be a fully paid up member of the team who ‘leads walking tours of Clerkenwell’, and to Masie (pictured) of PiP Architecture in Cambridge, who appears to be the boss.

A crisp response

Pringle building

Pringle building

Readers may recall how Hopkins Architects’ 2012 London Olympics Velodrome was dubbed the Pringle owing to the resemblance of its roof to the popular stackable crisp.

But Japanese architect and 2013 Serpentine Pavilion designer Sou Fujimoto has taken tributes to the salty potato-based snack to a more literal level. His recent show at Japanese House in Los Angeles showed off a range of models and playful mini-architectural experiments, including one made of Pringles.

His caption read: ‘It should be possible to make architecture like hills. To be more specific layering hills is architecture.’

Among the other materials crafted into shelters were a glass ashtray, a door handle and a greying dish sponge…

Not so fast

It’s been a tough start to life for Norman Foster’s Tulip. A bulging postbag of objections has been dispatched to the City of London from the great and the good, with grievances aired by Historic England (would ruin views of Tower of London), the GLA (would breach London Plan) and Historic Palaces (upset by its ‘exotic form’). 

Faced with such negativity, the backers commissioned an independent poll, which suggested that, actually, two-thirds of Londoners ‘support the Tulip’. 

It has also upped the ante on the PR offensive, offering the press juicy new morsels such as rollercoaster expert-designed ‘dining cars’ in the tower’s exterior pods. 

The Evening Standard’s restaurants section has seen it all before, however, remarking wearily that the vertigo-inducing capsules would travel ‘only at about the same speed as the London Eye’ (yawn). 

Projected anger

Plans to comprehensively redevelop (mainly as shops) nearly 40 Soviet-era Brutalist cinemas built during the 1960s and 1970s across suburban districts of Moscow have sparked fury. 

And the architect working up concept designs for new ‘neighbourhood centres’ to replace the cinemas is none other than Amanda Levete’s London-based practice AL_A. 

Local architectural journalist Anya Shevchenko told the AJ the programme was ‘no less than outrageous’ and could see the ‘original designs ruined giving way to some standardised “Zaha Hadid for the poor” look.’ 

She added: ‘The real needs of residents are ignored, imposing just another shopping mall instead of covering the great shortage of social infrastructure, which declined after the fall of the USSR.’ 

All aboard the Bauhaus bus

Bauhaus bus

Bauhaus bus

It may look like a mini-wheeled-replica of Walter Gropius’s 1919 workshop wing of the Bauhaus school in Dessau, but this ‘little bus’ (pictured) is actually a pacifist ‘Trojan horse’

That’s according to Berlin-based design collective Savvy Contemporary, which commissioned architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel to design the inhabitable 15m2 mobile model, dubbed the Wohnmaschine. 

The tiny facsimile has been built as a counterpoint to the centennial celebrations of the famous Modernist art school.

The trailer will travel the world – stopping in Dessau, Kinshasa, Berlin and Hong Kong – to spark debate ‘about topics that are preferred to be swept under the carpet’. 

These include ‘state violence, structural racism and the newest violent shift to the right in Germany’.

A spokesperson for Savvy Contemporary claims this roving workshop will ‘test [the Bauhaus’s] legacies’ and ‘challenge and act against the neocolonial power structures inherent in [today’s] design practices, theory and teaching’. 

They added: ‘Ultimately, the aim is to reverse and reshape the notion and manifestation of the Bauhaus school and to create a new school of design which might very well turn into an “unschool”.’

Jumping aboard the Bauhaus bandwagon in a different way is comedian Vic Reeves, who will pay tribute to the school in a BBC4 programme later this year.

Reeves will join recent graduates from Central Saint Martins to stage a Bauhaus takeover for a week in an ‘immersive art experiment’ aimed at recreating life at the German art school, which operated till 1933.

Whose idea was this Celtic Crossing?



Whose idea was the proposed bridge between Scotland and Ireland? The answer depends on who you ask.

According to former foreign secretary and tousled-haired Garden Bridge pusher Boris Johnson, it was the deputy prime minister of the Republic of Ireland.

Earlier this month, in the run-up to a business summit in Dublin, Johnson told the local press that the tánaiste Simon Coveney had approached him about the idea of building a 35km-bridge across the Irish Sea. 

Johnson, who has repeatedly backed a fixed link between the UK and Ireland, said: ‘When I was foreign secretary, my Irish counterpart Simon Coveney came into my office and said: “let’s build a bridge” – and he wasn’t being metaphorical. He was entirely serious’.

Strangely, this is not how Coveney remembers things. He says his priority has always been ‘preventing a hard border’ between Ireland and the UK and protecting the Good Friday Agreement rather than looking at ‘an engineering challenge for the future’.

Yet, AJ readers will be more than aware of who the real father of the Irish Channel link plan is: architect Alan Dunlop who promoted the idea last January as a riposte to Johnson’s pipe dream for an England-to-France bridge.

Speaking about Johnson’s latest mutterings, Dunlop told Astragal: ‘What began as a bridge to a Celtic Powerhouse has become Boris’s Brexit Backstop.’

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