Harsh financial truths about architecture

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Last week The Architects' Journal published the AJ100, its annual survey of the UK's biggest practices. Much of it is a celebration of success, with awards, new entrants and even the respondents feeling reasonably upbeat about the future. But it also contains some sobering truths. I found the most sobering aspect to be the table that ...

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Fifty shades of concrete?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Christopher Beanland is a self-confessed (or maybe that should be self-professed - nothing to be ashamed of) lover of Brutalism.

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Should we be allowed to get up to no good?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Horticulture Week reports that Richmond Council in southwest London has rethought its new policy of leaving parks unlocked overnight. Apparently it introduced the policy on 1 April, only locking one particular garden after that date. But it has now bowed to pressure from residents (and no less a figure than local MP Vince Cable) and is to start ...

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Summer in the city

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

It's cold and it's grey and most sensible people are thinking about where they might go for their summer holidays. But for others summer has other connotations as well.

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Could biogas be the answer?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

There is something very appealing about the use of biogas to generate energy. Animal waste is a great source of pollution (not least with methane, which is a terrifyingly potent greenhouse gas) and yet it could be a 'free' source of energy. The idea is not new.350 homes in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, for instance, receive their electricity thanks ...

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Mars in Hawaii

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

There is an article in today's Guardian (which oddly doesn't appear to be available online) by Sheyna Gifford, a medical doctor who was one of six people who spent a year in the caldera of a volcano on Hawaii simulating life on Mars.The article first caught my eye because it said that one of the sextet was an architect, although on closer inspection ...

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Is the Orbit really too small?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

The most contentious statement at a seminar that I chaired last week came from Clive Dutton, executive director for planning, regeneration and property at the London Borough of Newham, host borough for the Olympics. 'The only thing wrong with the Orbit is that it should have been three times as big,' he said about one of London's most contentious and ...

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Remote museum design

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

How many museums are built every year? And how many more do we need? And just how excited do we get about them? It is easy to get blase, but I was really thrilled when I read that museums specialist Metaphor is working on the development of a museum about St Kilda, the remotest island in the Hebrides. The island is more than 40 miles from its nearest ...

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Remembering the ever-youthful Rick Mather

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

It was sad to see on the AJ website today that the architect Rick Mather had died. Sad because one never likes anybody to die, sadder because he had done and was still doing some excellent work. And somehow even sadder because, although he was in fact 75, he seemed so young. I remember that when Mather was elected to RIBA council in 1998, ...

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What hope for women?

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Zaha Hadid, arguably the world's most visible female architect, may have been on Desert Island Discs last week, but for less tall poppies the news isn't great.

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Antarctic proves a great school for design

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Last week's AJ published my review of the Halley Research Station in the Antarctic, a curious piece to write, not least because I haven't been there. Normally the rule when writing a building review is that you have to visit to see for yourself, but Halley is so remote that a visit would take several weeks and cost thousands of pounds. Instead, ...

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Architecture from the road

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

As a dedicated pedestrian I consider architecture as something to be savoured from street level and at walking pace. Then you can enjoy the details, peer in the windows or, if it is boring and bland, wonder just how long it will be before this dreary building finishes.

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Small is not beautiful - when it comes to homes

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

In the latest blast in its campaign to see more spacious and lighter homes, the RIBA has issued the results of a poll by IPSOS Mori showing that natural light and space are the most important consideration in our homes. 80% of the public would be more likely to choose a home with minimum space standards and, damningly, wanting more space and light is ...

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On having too much choice

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

We all know about the perils of having too much consumer choice - standing paralysed in the supermarket as we try to decide between 20 different brands of olive oil. But it can happen in our buildings too, as the idea of giving the building occupant maximum control tips over into making them think about things that they really don't want to think about.

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Shanghai is bund to get better

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Yesterday on the AJ's Footprint eco blog, architect Rab Bennetts reported from Shanghai. His reason for going was to visit the nascent Ecobuild. For which he deserves my respect - I couldn't even face the trek to Excel, let alone halfway round the world, although the tiny event that he reports sounds less daunting than London's behemoth. But what ...

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A fond farewell

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

How important are journalists to the architectural profession? They certainly have a part to play in making their work better known, and in shaping the public face of the profession. Not to mention that sometimes they can destroy or at least seriously dent reputations. And over the past few decades there have been a number of commentators who have taken ...

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Space really is the final frontier

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

There is a fascinating and only slightly belated obituary in the New York Times of an architect called Danforth W Toan. He was, apparently, one of the first to think about designing for space, coming up with simulations of the way that space could be used in a constricted space station. And I mean space. What is fascinating is that he realised ...

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Seen through fresh eyes

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

The new concourse at King's Cross station, designed by John McAslan and Partners, doesn't have a clock. But who needs one to meet under when you can meet instead at the base of the fantastic structure that supports the roof?

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It's time to ask for help

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

As we approach the end of the financial year, it seems a good time to talk about business matters. Running a practice is difficult , especially a small one, or even as a sole practitioner - the way that many architects start out. Some may blame inadequacies in architectural education for their problems, but actually the demands are enormous: designer, ...

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No luffing matter

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Posted in The Architecture Blog by Ruth Slavid
19
May

Apologies for the dreadful pun, but this story is about a luffing tower crane that partially collapsed on a site in Greenwich, London during Storm Katie.

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