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Astragal: Tulip bombs on Norman Foster’s Instagram

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Whether it be photos of using some novel mode of self-propulsion, checking out the artisan produce of Martha’s Vineyard or reclining on a giant inflatable unicorn, Norman Foster’s Instagram account is regularly inundated with adoring comments from around the globe

So it might have been quite a shock when this cosy state of affairs was upended by his newest creation, the proposed Tulip tower. On uploading an image of the scheme exploding from the City of London, Norm perhaps unwisely compared it to his neighbouring Stirling prize-winning Gherkin and claimed it would bring ‘significant benefits’ to Londoners and visitors alike.

Perhaps the tip of the tulip is actually a lead balloon because that is how his post went down with his army of fans.

‘Maybe you should retire and work more on your foundation than coming up with these “sperm”,’ said one commentator, politely adding: ‘no offence’. 

Others resorted to begging Foster not to impose the design on London, with the terms ‘horrendous’ and ‘phallic’ appearing regularly.

We’ve all heard about how landmark architecture is changing to reflect the Instagram culture, but Foster may be wondering whether it might also stop a nascent ‘landmark’ in its tracks. 

Are days numbered for Waterloo IMAX?

A huge advert for the new Grinch film, wrapped around the BFI IMAX at Waterloo, raised hackles recently by proclaiming: ‘Welcome to south London. This is your last chance to turn around.’ 

Do advertisers booking space at the late Bryan Avery’s 1999 cinema, a 1,734m² cylindrical canvas described as the biggest in Europe, really need to resort to what one local called ‘vile anti-south London slander’ to get noticed? 

But murmurings have begun that the days for the cinema and its giant billboard cash cow could be numbered. 

Lambeth Council has singled out the site as a potential spot for a ‘tall building’ in its local plan, fuelling rumours of a goodbye to the BFI IMAX. 

Advertising magazine Campaign reported that ‘deep pocketed’ brands could be robbed of one of their favourite outdoor advertising sites. Perhaps the ad execs should have been more respectful of the location …

Open House visitors favour the traditional 

Foreign & commonwealth office main building

Foreign & commonwealth office main building

Perhaps Roger Scruton and the backers of the government’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful commission have got it right when they claim most people want traditional architecture.

It has recently emerged that the three most visited buildings during this year’s Open House London were all golden oldies, each more than 150 years old.  

Topping the list was the 1868 Foreign & Commonwealth Office (pictured) with 12,720 visitors, ahead of 22 Whitehall (built 1725) with 7,000 and Banqueting House (built 1619) with just over 5,500.    

The highest ranked modern-styled building was RSHP’s Cheesegrater (2013), coming in fourth place by attracting 4,548 architectural nosey parkers.

And, whatever Scruton thinks of Norman Foster (he recently laid into both his City Hall and Sage Gateshead), the public are clearly interested in his work – or at least where he works. Around 4,000 visitors called in on Foster + Partners’ Battersea home.

Even so, these were the only two truly modern buildings in the Open House top 10.  

Who’s on the matrix to design cybercrime court?  

Six architects have been shortlisted for a £170 million flagship court building as part of a new legal complex in the City of London, handling cases of cybercrime and fraud.

The scheme is backed by the City of London Corporation which recently announced it had secured all the land needed for the 3,000m2 scheme, having snapped up 68-71 Fleet Street, a 20th-century building on the corner of Whitefriars Street.

Each of the six architects will get £10,000 to draw up outline plans with an eventual winner of the £11 million contract expected to be revealed in January.

So who are the finalists jostling to land the prize project? According to insiders, the shortlist is a safe, entirely UK affair and includes Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, AHMM and Hawkins\Brown.

Presumably the cybercrime contest judges will be using a suitable ‘Matrix’ to score the teams.

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