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Astragal: ZHA beaten by engineers in construction’s battle of the bands

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Astragal had its money on Zaha Hadid Architects’ in-house ensemble the Zed Hot Chilli Peppers (pictured) clearing up at this year’s battle of the construction industry bands

What they lack in gigging experience – this would be their first show outside of the ZHA staff parties – they make up in international stardust, boasting US frontman Drew Merkle and plenty of European influence in Maurizio Meossi (bass), Damiano Rizzini (drums) and Filippo Innocenti (guitar). 

Imagine the disappointment when the Construction Rocks best band award on the night went to … the engineers! 


Max Fordham
’s 11-piece group, Public M&E, took the gong for the second year in a row after blowing judges away with their 15-minute set – not of old-school hip-hop as their name might suggest, but back-to-back disco and soul covers. 

At least architects are doing well in the band-name stakes. Previous years have seen the likes of Assael Architecture’s Tender Package and Levitt Bernstein’s Passiv Attack taking part, with the latter winning the best band prize in 2013.

Swiss Cottage towers airbrushed away

Htachalcotsprojects 52 0 large

Htachalcotsprojects 52 0 large

A new TV advert for Sky Mobile – shot in Camden’s Swiss Cottage – has irked residents at the Chalcots Estate (pictured) after they realised their homes had been ‘airbrushed’ out. 

It’s a sensitive subject for the estate, which was evacuated in the aftermath of Grenfell fire after its own cladding – added in an HTA-designed makeover, partially to tidy up its appearance – was found to be flammable. 

Sky insists its intervention has nothing to do with how the tower blocks look and says it ‘certainly didn’t intend to cause offence’. 

A spokesperson told local paper the Ham & High: ‘In line with standard industry practice, we occasionally remove certain buildings, signs and billboards to reveal more of the skyline in our advertisements.’ 

At least one resident has cancelled their subscription in response.

Centre Point’s historical tribute

Centre point facade

Centre point facade

Conran and Partners’ refurbished Centre Point tower in central London appears to be paying homage to Richard Seifert’s 1966 original in unexpected ways with news that many of the luxury homes within it will remain empty.

Almacantar chief executive Mike Hussey reportedly told The Guardian that the developer had frozen efforts to sell apartments within the redesigned Grade II-listed landmark after receiving too many low offers, which he described as ‘detached from reality’.

It seems Almacantar is prepared to leave around half of the 82 homes empty until more certainty is delivered about the political landscape after Brexit.

This mimics the approach taken by property tycoon Harry Hyams back in the 1960s and 70s when he waited for a tenant to pay his asking price for the original offices, leading Centre Point to be dubbed ‘London’s empty skyscraper’.

Lovely to see modern architecture projects that respect the original use of a space. 

Is railway museum back on track?

For those following the progress of the much-anticipated Great Central Railway Museum in Leicester, it seems not all is lost.

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s decision, last December, to turn down a £9.5 million funding bid effectively spelled the end for WilkinsonEyre’s competition-winning proposal for a two-storey £18 million scheme next to Leicester North station.

But while WilkinsonEyre is no longer involved, sources claim the project isn’t dead yet. 

Project backer Leicester City Council is understood to be ‘still discussing the plans’, though a firm direction remains unknown. 

Watch this gap.

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Ditched - WilkinsonEyre’s scrapped Great Central Railway Museum scheme

Ditched - WilkinsonEyre’s scrapped Great Central Railway Museum scheme

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