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Astragal: Was AJ scoop removed by Russian hackers?

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HRH hoax • Design Museum is looking a million

The AJ’s April Fools story, which was briefly live on our website on the first morning of the month, appears to have fooled quite a few readers

To be fair, the tale – concerning plans for a pair of cleverly-designed twisting towers (pictured above) close to St Paul’s Cathedral running into trouble due to connections to ‘dirty’ Russian money – did seem rather plausible. 

This was particularly thanks to the level of thinking behind the ‘hidden’ buildings and the high-quality renders provided by the AJ’s partner in deception, architectural visualisation firm AVR London.

On Twitter, reactions ranged from those questioning the credentials of the story’s ‘Easter bunny’ author Avril Firth to deadly serious enquiries as to whether the story had been suddenly removed from the AJ website at midday in response to legal threats or even as a result of direct action by Russian hackers.

Astragal also liked the strong reaction of @Badenas111 who took against the fictitious design of the buildings, commenting: ‘There are so many ugly new towers in London frankly this did not look like an April Fool. Londoners are being made 24/7/365 April Fools.’ 

HRH hoax 

Prince charles crop by dan marsh

Prince charles crop by dan marsh

Source: Dan Marsh

The best April Fools are never too far from the truth, and another example this year was dreamed up by our friends at the Architecture Foundation which announced that none other than HRH the Prince of Wales had joined its board of trustees. 

The story included a suitably bland statement from Clarence House alongside comment from foundation director Ellis Woodman in empire-building mode. 

‘Prince Charles has been an unrivalled contributor to architectural discourse in the UK and beyond,’ he proclaimed. 

‘His wisdom and courage have ruffled the feathers of certain designers at times, but I am sure his experience and taste will prove invaluable to the AF as we seek to reach a broad audience.’

Poignantly, those enjoying the story included the late urbanist Hank Dittmar, who worked for Prince Charles for many years as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. 

Dittmar – who died two days later aged just 62 – responded to the AF on Twitter with two simple words: ‘Good one!’

Design Museum is looking a million 

London’s new and old Design Museums are experiencing contrasting fortunes, it would seem. 

The new one, which opened in late 2016, is off Kensington High Street, occupying the old Commonwealth Institute building following a major retrofit by OMA, Allies and Morrison and John Pawson. It was not universally popular with architecture critics but it seems to be a hit with the public, and last week welcomed its one millionth visitor. 

The visitor was applauded into the building by museum staff and greeted by museum director Alice Black and architect trustee Asif Khan, while the overall number was hailed by museum founder Terence Conran who professed himself ‘astounded and delighted’. 

Sadly, it’s a different story for the museum’s old base south of the river at Shad Thames. 

The building is owned by Zaha Hadid Architects and recently released accounts showed that it has dropped in value and ‘could stand empty for some time’.

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