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Astragal: Will Heatherwick wade into Canada Water controversy?


There are early signs that height corridor obstacles might stand between British Land and its vision for Canada Water, after Historic England said its proposed tower cluster would have a ‘profound and far-reaching’ impact on London’s skyline

But which architect would feel bold enough to brave out the controversy of designing one of these skyscrapers?

So far, the developer has only revealed who is behind the first phase (Allies and Morrison and Morris+Company), but a peer into Southwark’s planning portal reveals Heatherwick Studio’s name put down next to a ‘landmark building’. 

The document includes concept sketches for a tower on the edge of the dock reaching as high as 162m with retail, offices, and even rooftop restaurants. 

Nothing to see here but a pre-planning plot study, says British Land, while a spokesperson for Heatherwick Studio said it could neither ‘confirm or deny’ it had been appointed to the project. 

Calatrava’s three-pin plug – on or off?

Calatrava greenwich

Calatrava greenwich

There have been rumours upon rumours that Santiago Calatrava’s £1 billion vision for London’s Greenwich Peninsula simply won’t happen.

The famous Spanish engineer and architect revealed, in February 2017, his huge all-white, three-tower scheme (above) shaped like an upturned plug.

Those arriving through North Greenwich Underground would enter a 24m-tall glazed winter garden and a 152m-long galleria of repetitive slender columns forming an ‘avenue of trees’ supporting the glass canopy above. 

Backed by developer Knight Dragon, the 130,000m2 project would, if built, also spell the end for Foster + Partners’ North Greenwich Interchange.

But those in the know believe the designs will not be realised, partly because the towers and winter gardens are inextricably interlinked, making the scheme extremely difficult to phase. 

Knight Dragon, however, remains utterly bullish. In July it told the AJ it had ‘absolutely not scrapped Calatrava … nor do we consider he is not a fit for us’.

Chief executive Richard Margree later added: ‘We admire Santiago’s work as well as his ambition and look forward to the part he will play in our innovative development.’

Just a reminder to Knight Dragon that the development – set to be Calatrava’s first in the UK – was scheduled to be submitted for detailed planning last year (it already has outline approval) and complete by 2023.

So who will be proved right? The developer or the rumourmongers? 

The hole truth

Descent into limbo

Descent into limbo

Visitors to the Royal Academy’s summer show will have spied the giant red dot on a steel frame, designed by Anish Kapoor, sat in its entrance courtyard.

The piece, Symphony for a Beloved Daughter, created by the brains behind the ArcelorMittal Orbit may not have blown minds but at least it wasn’t a danger to the public.

According to reports, a visitor to Porto’s Serralves museum had to be taken to hospital after falling into an art installation there by the British artist. 

Designed in 1992, the piece Descent into Limbo (pictured above) features a 2.5m-deep hole, painted black to give the impression of an infinite drop, and set into the floor of a cube-like structure.

The Italian man in his 60s has since been discharged from hospital. The gallery, which temporarily closed the installation, said it now planned to put up extra warning signs.

As one Twitter wit put it, the man had found a ‘deeper meaning’ in the cartoon-like hole. 

The joint will be jumping

Shutterstock california light

Shutterstock california light

In the UK, the cannabis industry seems to largely operate from lofts, cultivation only betrayed by unusually large heating bills. In California, where the drug has been legal since January, the industry no longer needs to shy away from the limelight.

Los Angeles practice M-RAD has proudly announced it has been hired to design a private members club for ‘the elite cannabis industry players’.

The club will occupy part of a seven-storey building, in downtown LA’s historic jewellery district, originally built in 1913 – just six years after California became the first state to prohibit marijuana. M-RAD will convert it into a modern mixed-use space while preserving its historic characteristics.

Its tenants will include cannabis retailer MOTA, a cannabis industry creative agency, a ‘marijuana law firm’ and even a 230-seat restaurant which M-RAD has designed to ‘suit the contemporary cannabis connoisseur’. 

Rumours its menu will consist primarily of nachos and chocolate bars are believed to be entirely unfounded.


Readers' comments (2)

  • If Heatherwick really is being elevated from purveyor of curiosities to designer of 'landmark buildings' developers and planners should be careful what they wish for.

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  • Oh no, not Heatherwick too.

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