Saturday, 17 March 2012

Where Thames' smooth waters glide...

I have @BillEllson  to thank for this; on Twitter he called it "pretentious guff" and I wouldn't dare argue...

"The site location is situated adjacent to the A12 northern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel"

Yes, it does make one yearn for open stretches of water, perhaps the mighty sea, anything to escape from  the constant roar of traffic and the stench of exhaust fumes.

Indeed, as it says in the bumph:

"The bespoke design took inspiration from the presence of the River Thames, reflecting the calming form of the flowing water surface..."

© Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. a delightful site all about the mighty River Thames (click to enlarge pic)

"...The shadows cast on to the pavement makes the pavement appear like the sea..."

 Fantastic you cry! Tell me more!

OK! this project also brings:

• Environmental enhancement
• Acoustic barrier
• Innovative design
• Public realm rejuvenation

Yes yes!

What is it?

Em... a set of railings?


Friday, 5 November 2010

"I live in a box next to the motorway..."


So you want to be an ARCHITECT?

"You truly are an idiot, you make me want to drink  a bottle of bleach"

A little humour via t'internet, as frankly I can't really be too arsed at the moment to try to be original. It's so much easier stealing stuff from others. All art is theft, right? Well, 99.9% of architects aren't original in their output are they? So why should I attempt it?

I loved this and thought Archibollocks readers would also. I leave it to you to decide which of the two is talking the bollocks...

*With thanks to @Anthony_DiMase, who drew it to my attention!

And if that isn't enough, how about:

Truth Vs. Advertising: The Banana Republic Architect Ads

The Banana Republic ad with the architects—it's everywhere! And it raised some questions for us. So we asked an architect—we'll call him Frankie Lloyd—who works at "a large firm downtown with an eccentric, megalomaniac starchitect at the helm" how the ad stacked up to his reality. The answers may surprise you!

Gawker: So have you seen those Banana Republic ads?

Frankie: No, I haven't.

Gawker: Okay, pick up a copy of any magazine. Well, any medium to highbrow magazine — the New Yorker or New York mag will work well.

Frankie: Yeah, OK. I saw the one inside the cover of this week's New Yorker.Wow, the colors of those shirts are very bright!

Gawker: So what is it like being surrounded by nubile 23 year olds in khaki coordinates at all times?

Frankie: I am not really sure, to be honest with you. I think I may be involved
in some different types of architecture than these people.

Gawker: What do you mean, it's not really like that?

Frankie: Well, firstly, these people look really well-rested and almost obscenely casual. If this were a real meeting, the model on the table would have some stray marks on it. More likely, it would be shattered in a million pieces on the floor.

Also, in my experience no architects dress like that - the Liebeskind eyeglasses and black turtleneck/blazer, German expressionist style is still the bottom line at most nyc offices. Most people are executing variations on this basic Sprockets-y theme.

Gawker: Well, you guys do spend a lot of time in the airy conference room overlooking the Hudson, staring at little wooden dollhouses and making flirty-eyes at each other, right?

Frankie: I think this is a myth more dangerous than the "Michael Brady is an architect" myth. The Brady Bunch story is totally feasible if you consider that he was an architect and he got divorced, most likely because he worked too much and cheated on his wife with someone from the office. That part is probably true, but that is where the Brady resemblance to reality ends. Honestly, there is just no way he is at home doing sketches and having Peter and Cindy barge in with their completely pedestrian nonsense and still be able to get any real building done.

Gawker: Which of the ladies in this ad most resembles a lady from your office?

Frankie: There was only one woman with four or five guys in the ad that I was looking at in the New Yorker. She did not seem to reflect the disproportionately large number of Asian women in the field, so on this basis alone I won't take a stab at this resemblance question.

That having been said, there is a guy with curly hair sitting at the table who looks like a lighting designer I have worked with. Those guys are total lightweights.

Gawker: Do people wear trench coats indoors a lot at your office?

Frankie: People do tend to wear trench coats a lot. I think architects probably are really into outerwear. In our office at least, for most of the year they blast the air conditioning to keep us awake all day and maintain design productivity. I don't know if this is like an industry-wide practice, but it is very effective.

Gawker: How would you describe your cheekbones, compared to those of the architects in this advertisement?

Frankie: Yeah, I mean, compared to these people my cheekbones are so highly undistinguished. I have nothing more to say on this question. architect

Gawker: How often do ladies put their giant hobo bags on the conference table during a meeting? Do you think that's appropriate?

Frankie: It is somewhat common. One woman in the office rocks one of these when she goes to the construction site. She's kind of homely, but I think the bag helps the general look and it gets her the whistles and catcalls she so desperately craves from construction workers.

Gawker: Do you think these ads will inspire a lot of youngsters to become architects when they grow up?

Frankie: If I were a high schooler with architectural aspirations seeing this, it would probably be too seductive to resist. Five years in a design program, however, at a sufficiently respectable design school will bleed most of the color out of this person's palette and leave them crushed and vulnerable enough to fully engage the profession.

Architects. Architecture.

Yup, listen carefully.

So you want to be an architect? Are you fucking KIDDING ME?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Sources of inspiration...

OK this one's a joke courtesy of  @Archimatects on Twitter

Recommended reading and there's a book if you like what you see.

This one's a bit of a laugh also but it's for real: one of the six designs on show currently in Dundee for the proposed new museum.

Apparently REX Architects from the US were 'inspired' to drop that in to the Silvery Tay by the 'Scottish bluebell'.  Look just in case you didn't spot the source of inspiration there's even a picture of said flora, which is actually a harebell

...evoke a bluebell - the resulting form is an unexpected but iconographic building concept, resembling a scottish bluebell

Aw. All sorta natural and eco and fluffy wabbits stuff then.

Nothing harebrained at all about mirror glass starships surrounded by seawater and the less than sunny Scottish weather.

Dare I suggest, REX (and some are suggesting it's not so different from one you have done for Belfast and other places) stating this is  a 'Scottish bluebell' in order to somehow make it seem contextual in fact is a classic of the Archibollocks genre, and yes of course we see the joke?

Now please do stop as our sides are splitting.

For those unaware of the so-called  'V and A at Dundee' (and there's far more to be said about this entire project and maybe I will over on the Republic blog) there is currently an official website where all can 'have their say' on a forum.

Today's batch of informed comment brought this post:

Shanika: Queen of the Bronx!, 05th October 2010 Says:

What up homies!

Right, let me declaaaaaaaaaaare my P.O.V for all those not initiated into how I roll. I'm Shanika,Queen of the Bronx and what I say goes-- got it?

This design by some dude called REX (crack-pot name) ain't all that. What's wiff all the biatches on this site praising this mutha f*ucka monstrosity! It just an ugly glass mess!
You guys be trippin' if you fink this be what Dundee needs!

Let me declaaaaaaaaaare that this ain't iconic...................unless by iconic you mean a hot stinkin' mess then hell yeah, this be that!

Kuma, Messi or however they spelled are betta than this -- and trust me, I know what I'm talkin' 'bout coz I once redesigned my sista LaMoniqua's bathroom with lucious pink carpet and aubergine tiles so there! I know design and I know this REX fing just ain't good enough!
So, you heard it from me peepz and I ain't neva wrong!

Peace and out!xxx

Check out the rest, join in the discussion:

There's an entire lifetime's worth of Archibollocks currently being spouted there. There's also  a certain amount of sense.

...As others again have mentioned, where is the originality that was asked for in the design brief? Having looked at various architects websites, it becomes quite obvious that many other designs by Rex and others look surprisingly like this latest "unique" design; with Zurich, Belfast & Seattle (to mention a few) all having very similar external forms and finishes...

Don't forget also to check out Dave at Auchterness's alternative proposals for the site.


Monday, 23 August 2010

Child with Balloon alert!

A sighting of that architects' favourite cliche, the Child with Balloon!

Clearly, an architect of the future! Minimalist and white yes - tick, carefully considered clothing, a poloneck,  briefcase to hold those 'napkin sketches',  artistically mussed hair... and a balloon. Really serious specs to follow when he's older.

At the moment I can't repost the pic, but can point in the general direction:

Malcolm Fraser Architects, proposals for conversion, re-use and extension of the Speirs Centre, Alloa.

Here, page 2

standing outside, lone child (what, no Responsible Adult in close proximity?) on the right of pic, peering wistfully in to the building, and yes, there's no disguising it, that's a balloon.

No, nothing else Bollocks about it, fine proposals, re-use of a historic building, my favourite metal with stone (zinc I hope)  all described and drawn with admirable clarity. The trees deserve a special commendation.

It's just... well, actually, when was the last time you saw a child with a balloon? Why are they so beloved of architects desperate to show people doing 'stuff ' around their buildings?  Why is this an ever recurring image?

And why not a flasher in the trees, a dog crapping on the pavement, drug dealers plying their trade, a ned with a tinnie of Special Brew, an OAP being mugged, even a random pole dancer?  You know, NORMAL life?

Come on Malcolm... a challenge...

Unlike a certain Alan Dunlop, a self-portrait included possibly isn't wise though, if the comments here are to be believed:

Nice enough trees though I think I prefer the MFA ones.

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse...

It did. The Arse that is, the 'Olympic Tower'.

And so I have updated the original post on this with fresh news. Yes, it's had further 'design input', now added to the mix is something which makes it appear the bastard love child of a Helter Skelter and an accident in a scaffolding pole factory.  This coily thing is from architect Kathryn Findlay, and it will glow in the dark, apparently. Well, why not.

Of course this hasn't as yet received planning permission, but no doubt that's a mere formality now, especially since Seb Coe, the starchitect of the whole 2012 Olympics thing,  has been made an Hon Fellow of RIBA. Even Prince Charles won't be able to prevent this happening,  more's the pity.

In the meanwhile, to get you aglow with excitement, you could cast an eye over the Nouvel Cuisine going up in Lunnon, the 2010 Serpentine Pavilion...

Nouvel’s body of work is unparalleled in its innovation and range. His approach is characterised by a conceptual rigour, rather than by an overarching aesthetic. He emphasises research, analysis and discussion, creating designs that are highly individual to each project. A key part of Nouvel’s process is his embrace of other disciplines, including music, literature and the moving image.


The design is a contrast of lightweight materials and dramatic metal cantilevered structures; the entire design is rendered in a vivid red that, in a play of opposites, contrasts with the green of its park setting. The colour reflects the iconic British images of traditional telephone boxes, post boxes and london buses. 
The building consists of bold geometric forms, large retractable awnings and a freestanding wall that climbs 12m above the lawn, sloping at a gravity defying angle. It experiments with the idea of play in its incorporation of the French tradition of outdoor table-tennis. Striking glass, polycarbonate and fabric structures create a versatile system of interior and exterior spaces. The flexible auditoria will accommodate the serpentine gallery park nights and marathon and the changing summer weather.

So basically, its a glorified marquee, only it's red. Very, very red. Oh yes, RED.  Inside, you will be flatteringly bathed in the sort of tinted light that makes you look like a boiled lobster.

And it has a wall which slopes, defying gravity.

Clearly, M Nouvel, in jolly japester mood,  experimenting with play, had been reading this post when he conceived this pavilion!

How to really confuse your party guests:

How to Defy Gravity in Ten Easy Steps!

Then there's ping-pong.

And that summer weather! What creative fun can be had in the park in the changing summer weather!

That one's temporary; as one red shiny glow in the dark thing goes down, another one will be going up. And up. And up.


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Friday, 23 April 2010

Something for the weekend...


The V and A extension that (thankfully...) was never built

May 16th An update! A video interview with The Great Man ! Unmissable!

Thanks to Chris Matthews*, a small piece of archived radio.

So, yes, it takes time to listen, but hey it's Friday.   Save it for savouring.  Live a little. Crack open the Lambrusco you've been keeping for that special occasion,  feet up, and ... Daniel Libeskind. Who appears to not think he's excessive, not at all. No sireee.

Architecture in the 20th CenturyMedia: Listen now (30 minutes) Availability:In RealMedia only.

Last broadcast on Thu, 25 Mar 1999, 21:30 on BBC Radio 4 (see all broadcasts).

Synopsis: Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rise in so-called spectacular architecture at the end of the 20th century. Is architecture to do with what we live in, where it’s located, the buildings that accommodate at best so much more than a few private bodies, or is it the spectacular, even show-off, extravagance, even fantasy, of architects - or is it engineers who see the huge swash of public money as an opportunity to plant a place in posterity?

Daniel Libeskind has been heralded as one of the greatest architects of his generation and of the latter half of the 20th century. He is the architect of some spectacular buildings - two of which are the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the highly controversial Spiral Extension to London’s own Victoria and Albert Museum, which his critics have described as looking like imploding cardboard boxes.

But why are we witnessing at the end of the century a sudden glut of spectacular buildings, such as Libeskind’s? What do they say about the state of contemporary architecture? And do they show a blatant disregard for history? Is it merely‘the architecture of excess in a world of diminishing resources, a chic counterpoint at the end of the 20th century’?

With Daniel Libeskind architect of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Spiral Extension to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum; Richard Weston, architect and lecturer at De Montfort University.

However, while I know you can't wait to listen, it's possibly not convenient right now, seeing as how you are browsing this on the quiet at work, so here's a little reading:

The building is shaped like a deconstructed Jewish star. Arriving in the new building from the old one, you are presented with three different routes,each one symbolic of a different aspect of Jewish Berliners' experience. One terminates in "the Holocaust void", a tall empty unheated space through whose bare concrete walls you can hear the muffled sounds of the city outside. It is lit up by a single high up slit that offers no view of the sky. Libeskind describes this space as "literally a dead-end"--an expression of hopelessness. Another passageway leads outside to the "Garden of Exile", originally called the ETA Hoffman garden, a close-packed forest of pillars open to the sky where no surface is horizontal or vertical--this creates a sense of the exile's disoriented view of the world. The third and longest route winds through the buildings interior. Its exhibits will describe the joint histories of Berlin and its Jews--it will show all sides of the story, "contribution, assimilation, then termination...

An interview with Hugh Pearman from 2001:

Daniel Libeskind interview. The full version of the article published in The Sunday Times Magazine, 29.4.01.

Libeskind understands context, he just treats it differently. "It’s the same context. You just take it one more step. It’s not just that the building fits into its context and is just a passive, inert bit of matter. A building also has a responsibility to transform the context, give it back something more. Not just taking from its surroundings, but also contributing. Enlivening, transforming."

Er ... right. No, of course that's not bollocks, it's just our minds are on a lower plane than Mr L's.

And a recent piece in the Torygraph...

The thin end of the wedge: an artist's impression of Daniel Libeskind's extension to the Dresden Military History Museum Photo: DANIEL-LIBESKIND.COM

I never open the New Yorker without finding something revelatory, and a recent issue proved the point. It was an account of the cultural conflicts in Dresden over the rebuilding of the city after it was bombed first by RAF Lancasters and then, the next afternoon, by the US Air Force, 65 years ago this weekend.

The author, George Packer, explained how it is important to many Dresdeners to try to pretend that the bombing (and, indeed, the whole war) never happened. When the city was in East Germany, some of the more important buildings were restored, though the Frauenkirche was left as a pile of rubble as a spurious “monument” to capitalist aggression. After reunification, a movement began to rebuild the great church, and that is now completed. The mood in the city is to try to rebuild as much as possible in the same place and on the same scale as before February 1945.

Some new architecture is shockingly. . . good. There is one glaring, and ironic, exception. Almost the only building of note to be spared the conflagration was the old garrison, a large and solid 18th-century edifice. It has for decades been a military museum of one sort or another, and that is its function today. However, Daniel Libeskind, a radical architect of Polish parentage, is building an extension to it. We have controversy enough in this country when it is proposed that glass appendages be added to our great old buildings, whether it be the National Gallery or the British Museum. Libeskind has designed something far more determined than that.

As one looks at the long frontage of this grey stone baroque building, one will see near its left extremity a huge end of a glass wedge, taller than the existing construction, breaking through and jutting forward, like the transparent prow of a great ship. Libeskind has designed a V-shaped addition to the museum, and it is the tip of the V that is slicing through and out in front of the existing building. Inside, all angles are unpredictable and apparently quite crazy.

On his website, Libeskind says that he is creating (bollocks alert)

 “a space for reflection about organised violence” and that he “opens up vistas to central anthropological questioning”.

If you know what that second point means, please tell me, as I haven’t a clue. I cannot decide whether Libeskind has been brilliant or utterly appalling. I suspect he is the latter, though the mock-ups on his website of how the finished product will look are rather incredible: and there is a poetic justice about taking the only undamaged building from that night and allowing it to share in the proceeds of destruction in this way.

No doubt when it is built it will be a wonder of the world: I am determined to go to see it as soon as I can after it is finished this year. However, most Dresdeners appear to be in shock, not so much for the violation of the old garrison, as on account of a determination by an outsider to interrupt their plan to rebuild as much of their city as possible, and to maintain that the bombing can be erased from the collective memory....

Read on:

Cheapest of cheap shots I know, but hey, irresistible: spot the Libeskind:

With architecture writers' columns full of  round ups of  the triumphs (few) and disasters (many)  of the Labour years now appearing in every paper, all predicting the icon is dead, hubris is soooo last decade dahlings, at the bottom of your soul, no matter what you may say in public as really,  it's not done to say the Emperor is naked, you have to give a small cheer.

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Friday, 16 April 2010

Gobbing on...

Or, the weird wonderful and wacky world of 'affordable' housing... especially when it's paid for by er... us....

Upside down house, Poland

Updated 16th May Malcolm has added an excellent rant to expand on the points made  below in today's Herald

Original post:
A quick archibollocks post, sparked by the debate in today's Building Design between 'Leading Scottish Architect' (well, he's usually described thus, apart from when he's described as Award Winning Leading Scottish Architect, or Edinburgh's Leading Architect, so who am I to not do likewise?) Malcolm Fraser, Director of Malcolm Fraser Architects, Geddes Honorary Professorial Fellow at Edinburgh Uni:

(well, OK, that's not Malcolm Fraser but the BD pic, see below, has some of the qualities of Mad Axeman about it so I prefer this one)

and Scottish Government Housing Minister  Alex Neil.


Is Scotland set to repeat the mistakes of Kickstart?

16 April 2010

Yes, says Malcolm Fraser; no, argues housing minister Alex Neil, it’s vital for the nation.

Now the laws of copyright probably say I can't here repeat it all, but it's all available to read online and if you aren't already registered with the BD website, it's quick, easy and free.

However, Malcolm Fraser's part is written in his own inimitable style, so here it is, in full, he can sue me later (and I make it clear that this is NOT THE ARCHIBOLLOCKS PART as I don't want the Wrath of Malcolm to descend) for your enjoyment:

Our banking and housebuilding industries are intertwined, and went down together when the weight of their hubris burst their helium-filled credit bubbles.

Public money bailed out the banks, but the government did not require them to improve or reform, simply begged them to take our money and go back to business as usual. Now it’s doing the same for housebuilding, through Kickstart and, in Scotland, the National Housing Trust.

It’s a bailout, with public money going to the housebuilders to re-start “shovel ready” schemes. Such schemes, of course, will take the two standard forms: diddy-boxes, car-dependent and decorated by “gob-ons” (the industry term for pediments and half-timbering); or urban-lumpen flats with bolt-on G&T cages.

As products they are very poor. But the wee flurries of criticism, of poor design and the sidelining of our design quangos miss the point: yes, Cabe and, in Scotland, A&DS are there to try to make building a bit less rubbish; but, as it’s our public money, why should we tolerate rubbish in the first place?

While I take it that Scotland’s response will be a bit fluffier, with some less-profit bits, the point remains: if government borrows money on behalf of the community it should invest it with the community’s interest put first, not the housebuilders’. This means public homes — council housing — properly commissioned, and designed by our best architects with the full involvement of the communities they are to build for.

Righty, not a lot to argue about there, so far so fine, we all know and wonder at the blocks of shiny tat with tiny balconies thrown up by the acre all over the country and at Leith, and the mass housebuilding schemes of no architectural merit at all which litter every town and village throughout the land.  Housing it may be, architecture it certainly isn't.

As for the Housing Minister, pictured below all thrusting jawed serious sincerity (no, the phrase 'serial killer' didn't even enter my mind)

well, yes, it's the usual politician's waffle, written no doubt on his behalf by some civil servant who can't wait for the weekend's car washing ritual and a round of golf. All part of a cunning plan so you don't  read beyond the first paragraph, but there's some serious bollocks sneaked in part way...

Despite serious financial constraints, the Scottish government is determined to increase the supply of affordable housing at a time when there is a shortage of such homes in many parts of Scotland.

We and the Scottish Futures Trust are working closely with several Scottish Councils to boost construction on mothballed housing sites and deliver around 1,000 new homes through a radical new National Housing Trust (NHT) initiative.

A key priority will be to ensure that homes delivered through the trust are affordable and offer good value for taxpayers’ money. But this initiative is about more than that. We are not in the business of supporting developers financially to build poor quality homes.

Yeah yeah blah. Time for a cuppa. Fine. But wait... read on...

We are discussing with councils what their requirements will be for homes in their area to agree criteria for assessing bids from developers. These criteria are likely to require that all proposed homes meet, at the very least, the 2007 Scottish building regulations to ensure that space and energy efficiency standards are sufficient.

Hang on...

Let's fly that one up the flagpole again...

These criteria are likely to require that all proposed homes meet, at the very least, the 2007 Scottish building regulations to ensure that space and energy efficiency standards are sufficient.

Homes will only be acquired by the initiative once they have been completed to the agreed standards. Also, by having a medium-term interest in sites that they bring in to the NHT, developers will have a strong interest in ensuring homes are well designed as they are taking the majority of the risk if tenants do not want to live in the homes or if there are difficulties in selling them after five to 10 years

So... we are talking here about bailing out developers to carry on building, without any guarantee that the 1,000 'affordable' houses to be built using your money and mine are to meet the minimum regulations? WTF etc?

And as for

developers will have a strong interest in ensuring homes are well designed

Yeah. Right.

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PS Who could disagree with the comment posted? Not me!

So, the buildings are likely to be required to meet Scottish building regulations? Not will be required, only likely? What's the purpose of regulations then, if they aren't mandatory? And as for 'well designed', how about ensuring a few decent architects are employed? You know, skilled people who have some pride in their work, and a proven record of good design, in order that the sort of poor quality housing Malcolm Fraser describes with such eloquence isn't what is on offer? Here's an opportunity to set standards for some exemplary modern homes, yet nothing Alex Neil has written brings any sense of confidence that this isn't simply another bail out with few strings attached.

Wider reading and more from Malcolm on this: