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Astragal: Embarrassing installation pops up again

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Scottish architects reacted with almost unadulterated anger at the ‘embarrassing’ foam-clad RIAS-backed pop-up installation that appeared last month in Glasgow Central station

The marshmallowy structure showcasing 100 of the best ‘one-off houses or housing developments built in Scotland since 2000’, received widespread criticism and prompted a number of the practices featured on the house-shaped lightbox to write official complaints to the RIAS.

In response RIAS secretary Neil Baxter issued a Twitter ‘mea culpa’ and agreed to strip the installation of its blobby grey foam coat, admitting the cladding hadn’t worked ‘practically or aesthetically’.

However the structure’s return to the station concourse (pictured) now without its spongy protection has not been much better received.

One (quite well-informed) passing commuter said: ‘Many of the projects that have paid money to appear are obscured by the finish to the ridge. 

‘Meanwhile the ‘chimney’ is landing on to the door, which is perhaps a nod to being Mannerist, or architecturally illiterate.’

He added: ‘The longhouse or Highland house typology is never generally entered through the gable [and on top of this] the main board is bowing in the middle.’ 

Are you sitting comfortably?

Neave brown by garath gardner

Neave brown by garath gardner

2018 RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner Neave Brown’s passion for angles extends beyond architecture, to the arrangement of domestic furniture – as the AJ discovered when interviewing the legendary architect last week.

From his armchair, Brown proved rather particular about just where our reporter was positioned, first instructing their chair to be moved closer, and then (‘no, not that close!’) further back. 

At this point, Brown revealed he did not like to be interviewed face-on, but rather at a slightly, off-centre angle (‘it’s just less confrontational’). 

After several attempts, a satisfactory chair position was discovered and a fascinating interview could begin. 

Fancy meeting you 

Garden bridge  winter

Garden bridge winter

The transcripts from Margaret Hodge’s many Garden Bridge interviews make for incredible and often hilarious reads. 

Highlights include the testimony of Boris’s then deputy mayor for transport, Isabel Dedring, telling Hodge that she and her colleagues thought the Garden Bridge was ‘a crazy idea that would never happen’. 

Hodge also asked Dedring exactly who would have scrutinised the Garden Bridge Trust’s preconstruction spending in order to protect the public purse. Dedring replied: ‘Nobody really’, prompting Hodge to reply: ‘Jesus.’ 

There is also a delicious exchange between Hodge and Thomas Heatherwick, who tells her that the idea of a Garden Bridge emerged partly from a feeling that a meeting place was needed on the Thames. 

‘Southwark Bridge, all the main bridges, I’ve never met anyone who’s met anyone in the middle of a bridge,’ Heatherwick told her. To which Hodge retorted: ‘I met someone on Waterloo Bridge the other day.’

Will new award stand the test of time?  

Simon Sturgis

Simon Sturgis

The news that sustainability expert and architect Simon Sturgis is advising the RIBA Stirling Prize jury on the green credentials of this year’s six finalists was widely welcomed.

It did, however, prompt some industry commentators to wonder what had happened to the institute’s proposed and eagerly anticipated Test of Time award.

Plans for the new gong were first revealed at the Stirling Prize ceremony in 2014, billed as a prestigious new accolade to be handed to a previous RIBA award-winning building for its robustness, continued usability and eco-credentials.

Asked when the award might see the light of day, a spokesperson insisted it had not been abandoned but that there was ‘nothing to say at the moment’. Hopefully more details will emerge … in time. 

Someone report her to the ARB

Paloma architect tour

Paloma architect tour

Built-environment enthusiasts wanting to take a series of visits to well-designed buildings should be careful they don’t accidentally book tickets to see popular singer Paloma Faith. Her forthcoming run of concerts has been dubbed The Architect Tour, tying in her forthcoming album The Architect

A quick check on the ARB register suggests, however, that she may be yet to complete her Part 3.

In a Facebook post the singer wrote that The Architect ‘is very aptly named as it leads me on to my next announcement … I am going to take a short while off to have a baby.’ 

Clearly she hasn’t been reading her copies of AJ or she would know from Women in Architecture surveys that having a baby is the last thing you want to do to further your architectural career.

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