Corten and consequences

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

We all know how much architects love Corten, so when you see somewhere that is positively crawling with it, you think that somebody must have given their architect a really free hand.

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Learning from Norman

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Olly Wainwright has a great blog for the Guardian in which he describes the presentation process by four starchitects pitching to design a New York tower. Foster was the winner and we can see his pitch on video. Whether you love or hate his architecture, it is an object lesson in presentation. Wainwright praises him for using 'practical no-nonsense ...

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Change for the better

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

It is a tribute to the talent and imagination of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano that the Pompidou Centre, their first and only collaboration, still seems so contemporary and even challenging.

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Why websites are so important

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

After I wrote last week about the problem with architects' websites, somebody pointed me to the appropriately named Websites for Architects. Set up by Australian architectural photographer Nic Granleese and written in a week, it functions in the form of a 'bootcamp'. You sign up and it pushes a chapter at you each day. I haven't read it all ...

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Escher is alive and well and living (well almost) in India

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

The charm of Escher's drawings lies in the fact that he represents in two dimensions something that could not physically exist in three. So by definition one is not going to see a photograph that is an analogue of an Escher drawing. But you must admit that this comes pretty damn close: The charm and the trick lies in the fact that you can read the ...

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Why websites can be so wrong

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

I was talking to an architect recently about his work and he told me not to rely on what I saw on his website as it was so out of date. Then when I decided to email him, he told me that the spelling of his name (and hence his practice's name) on the email address given on his website was wrong. Websites are meant to be a communication tool, but sometimes ...

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Barn storming

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

I went last week to the old barn at Harmondsworth , described by John Betjeman (as you may just see in this photo) as the cathedral of Middlesex.

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Unlocking China with a team of five

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

There was some inspiring content at the RIBA's Guerilla Tactics conference this week, particularly in the session on working overseas. Guerilla Tactics is a conference on small practices, and those participating in the session were not the international behemoths from which one expects to hear. Instead they were representatives from surprisingly small ...

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Menage a trois

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

A lot of the films on BBC iPlayer are pretty dull or just go round and round - there is a limit to how many times one can watch Wallace and Gromit, however charming they may be.

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When one sculpture means a lot

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

In the Observer yesterday, Rowan Moore dedicates his page to the fate of a single sculpture. But if anybody thinks that that makes it a rather peripheral piece, they would be wrong. It would be hard to pack a larger number of pressing issues into a single piece. Moore writes about a Henry Moore sculpture which is owned by Tower Hamlets in east ...

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Poundbury - the gift that keeps giving

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

There was a time when the architectural world became really incensed about Poundbury - about its backward-looking aesthetic, and its sheer irrelevance to the issues of today. It was Prince Charles' vision of how small towns 'should' be - and a lot of effort was expended on explaining how wrong this was. Now it seems like an irrelevance. A lot of the ...

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Water water everywhere

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Here's an idea that is worth promoting. Landscape architect AREA has come up with a proposal called London Tap, a network of freely available drinking water around the capital. The idea is that it would remove the need for carrying/ buying all those expensive and non eco-friendly plastic bottles of water. Free drinking water is not of course a new ...

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Death to the mission statement

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

I wouldn't usually recommend that you read something in which the first paragraph is mind-numbingly dull, but you should make an exception for Maria Smith's latest column for RIBA Journal. (You can see her in the image below, shamelessly nicked from the website).  Because the tedium is the point. Maria is a clever and witty writer (as well as ...

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Is it too good to be true?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Can it be possible? The RIBA's Future Homes Commission has proposed a means for local authorities to invest in new housing using money that, effectively, is just sitting around.Its idea is that they can set up a housing fund from part of the money that they are holding in their pension funds. Of course this money is not 'doing nothing'. It is invested ...

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Lasting impact

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Goodness September is busy, with all the flurry of the London Design Festival, stuff happening everywhere. For a journalist, if you are so inclined, you can get through at least a week on booze and canapes and slightly pretentious conversations about stuff that nobody really needs. And, of course, there are some real gems. It might feel extravagant ...

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In praise of surprise

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Several architects have recently cudgelled their brains to produce carefully designed bird hides - perky structures that are an ornament to their environment and sit well in the landscape. But that is not always what you want. I was recently at Fowlmere Nature Reserve near Cambridge and came across a most mundane structure, a kind of supersized garden ...

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Strangers in the house

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

We might say blithely that 'an Englishman's home is his castle' but sometimes there are strangers not only at the gate, but inside the fortress. On Saturday there was an extraordinary kerfuffle outside my friend Gilly Shaw's house in Tooting, south London, as a blue plaque was put on it to commemorate the fact that Sidney Lewis, the youngest soldier ...

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Little cause for discontent in Dundee

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Building Design says that the V&A has wasted the time of architects who entered the competition for its new outpost in Dundee, given that winning architect Kengo Kuma has been asked to redesign to fit the budget. But how outraged should they really be? Not very, I suspect. Competitions are notorious for not producing workable designs, because ...

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Congratulations - again - to Cambridge

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

What an interesting choice the Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge, designed by Stanton Williams, was as winner of the Stirling Prize. It was a kind of stealth winner. While the Olympic Stadium was heralded as the popular choice (the choice of the Populous?), architectural pundits mostly argued that the winner would be Chipperfield (again) for the Hepworth ...

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