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:

Saturday, 10 April 2010

A bit of a whiff in Auld Reekie

You know, there's so much archibollocks around it's difficult to know which joy to share first, really. Thanks to all who have sent me info, all is safely in storage ready for a wider audience.

A wee one for today though, and possibly one that could be of interest to Bad British Architecture also.

Yes, yes, it is hard to believe that anyone could look at the above and think anything other than 'Stap me, that's vile', but no, ever game, that stalwart rentagob from Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Graham Birse couldn't wait, twinkling with sincerity, to laud it to the heavens in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "The proposed development by Morbaine is exactly the kind of investment Edinburgh needs to help us rebound from recession.

It's important that we find sustainable economic use for this site in order to create jobs and value for local people.

"Shoppers will benefit from increased choice and the extra competition generated will help ensure they are getting value for money."

A public exhibition outlining the design, which will include artists' impressions of the proposed store and a chance to talk to members of the project team, will be held at Slateford-Longstone Church Hall on Wednesday, 14 April, and Thursday, 15 April from 10am to 9pm both days.

Yes folks, that's right, not an architect involved, clearly, but at least one ARTIST:

And indeedy, there's a project team... it must be true, I read it in the Johnson Press:

The inspiration for the 'industrial aesthetic'?

Don't get crushed in the rush.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Towering infernal

One day around the tower (Zaha Hadid - Marseilles) from Exmagina on Vimeo.

This was posted on the Dezeen website 1st April; I'm not sure it was intended as a joke, buy hey, ho...

This time-lapse movie by Marseilles studio Exmagina activity surrounding the CMA CGM tower in Marseilles by Zaha Hadid over the course of one day.

The movie was shot between June and December 2009.


Whenever it was shot, WHY? There's an overlarge  building, and not very exciting pics of skies and fast-action traffic. There's a soundtrack which is as tedious as the images. Portentious muzak does not make a building doing nothing any more interesting.

And this 'building going nowhere' stuff has been done before... and whisper,  it wasn't really thrilling the first time... was it, be honest? I know, I know you were young and under the influence of Certain Substances which made it seem to be so much more WOW, but really, haven't we moved on?

For those (like me) with a short attention span (possibly the legacy of those Certain Substances and Andy Warhol we were exposed to in our yoof?) this 'tower' movie has the virtue of being short and not at all pretentious and if no whistles it has bells:

From 8:06 p.m. on July 25 to 2:42 a.m. on July 26, 1964 Andy Warhol pointed a black and white motion picture camera at the Empire State Building and filmed without sound track it for six hours and 36 minutes. This color video was made on Sunday November 19th, 2005 at 01:42 p.m. and lasts 2 minutes 28 and 4/10th seconds and contains a sound track with needless gratuitous commentary.

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Monday, 5 April 2010

That Olympic Legacy... size isn't everything!

Updated July 1st: according to today's Architects' Journal, there is to be an addition. Yes I know, you didn't think the lily could be gilded, but it seems so... the rooftop caff has been abandoned, and a new Kathryn Findlay designed shiny coily thing will now snake around the structure and apparently glow.  Yes the article is accompanied by a load of archibollocks. Naturally you can only read the AJ if you hand over a shedload of spondoolicks, so that probably means many reading this also won't be able to see the pictures of this latest gewgaw.  Naturally you won't be reading to the end of this post where somehow (for academic research purposes) as a PS there seems somehow to have snuck in an extract...

The Tower of Babel was apparently a reference, according to Kapoor...

Last week saw the publication of plans for another of the 'regenerative' efforts which those spending quadzillions of pounds of our cash (and robbing many a genuine good cause by the diversion of Heritage Lottery and other funding to this two-week sports bonaza/bore, depending on your viewpoint) wish us to believe will be of lasting benefit to the nation.

This is the ArcelorMittal Orbit by Anish Kapoor. No doubt in time the title will be shortened and it will become affectionately known as The Arse. Before it is even begun, the press bumph released tells us that of course it will be 'iconic', so who are we, gentle readers, to doubt it? I don't know if it's really architecture as I haven't studied the plans sufficiently to see if it will be connected to the drains, but there's certainly been enough hype about it to be a worthy contender for this humble blog, and it is claimed it's a building.

Press Release excerpts, courtesy of Dezeen:

The ArcelorMittal Orbit set to become UK’s largest sculpture.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, today unveiled the artist and design chosen to create a spectacular new visitor attraction in the Olympic Park.

Pass the sick bag, Boris... no idea whose cheek your tongue was in when sanctioning your involvement in this classic example of the genre, cliched and with adjective overload. You cannot be seeeerious!

Award winning London-based artist Anish Kapoor has been given the commission of a lifetime to design the spectacular new public attraction in the Olympic Park. The stunning artwork, to be entitled ‘The ArcelorMittal Orbit’, will ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games, providing the key Olympic legacy Mayor of London Boris Johnson envisaged for the East End.

Still awake?

The breathtaking sculpture – thought to be the tallest in the UK – will consist of a continuous looping lattice of tubular steel. Standing at a gigantic 115m, it will be 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York and offer unparalleled views of the entire 250 acres of the Olympic Park and London’s skyline from a special viewing platform. Visitors will be able to take a trip up the statuesque structure in a huge lift and will have the option of walking down the spiralling staircase.

And yes, there is a diagram to show just how tall it will be, alongside other structures which can genuinely be called 'icons' (no of course I'm not suggesting you are being manipulated to consider it is worthy of such company e'en before this huge erection is - er - erected...)

According to the Telegraph:

Olympic Park to get tower 'to rival Eiffel'

First London stole the 2012 Olympics from under Paris's delicately upturned nose. Now, it seems, the capital is stealing the concept of her Eiffel Tower as well.

For the Olympic Park is to get a mini-Eiffel at the behest of Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.

400ft high – admittedly a little shy (yes, just a little... but hey, it's the Torygraph, and we can't allow those Frenchies to have something bigger and better, can we now?) of the Paris landmark's 1,063ft, but higher than the Statue of Liberty – the Olympic tower will resemble a giant ampersand of coiled metal.

Encompassing a spiral staircase, the folly is the brainchild of Anish Kapoor, the artist who recently staged a sell-out exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts...

Still, we as a nation aren't stumping up all the cash, hence the name... Thankfully, it would seem that in a spirit of unbounded public generosity and not in the cause of worldwide publicity, dismiss that thought at once,

ArcelorMittal will fund up to £16million of the £19.1million project with the outstanding £3.1 million provided by the London Development Agency. The unveiling also marks ArcelorMittal’s announcement to become a tier two sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to support the infrastructure and success of 2012.

Oh Boris, oh Boris oh bollocks, yer havin' a laugh and we know it!

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: ”Long after the Games are over our aim is to have a stunning spectacle in east London that will be recognised around the world. I’m thrilled that when visitors from every corner of the globe plan trips to our must see attractions they will now eagerly include the ArcelorMittal Orbit! It will be an internationally acclaimed family attraction and I would like to thank Mr Mittal for his generous support. Anish Kapoor’s inspired art work will truly encapsulate the energy and spirit of London during the Games and as such will become the perfect iconic cultural legacy.”

The Torygraph has more of your gushing:

Mr Johnson helped chose the winning design from 50 submissions, after putting out a brief that he wanted a tower that was at least 100m (328ft) high to attract tourists to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

Encompassing a spiral staircase, the folly is the brainchild of Anish Kapoor, the artist who recently staged a sell-out exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Mr Johnson helped chose the winning design from 50 submissions, after putting out a brief that he wanted a tower that was at least 100m (328ft) high to attract tourists to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

Nicknaming it the "Hubble Bubble", because it looks like a giant shisha pipe, he said of Kapoor's design: "He has taken the idea of a tower, and transformed it into a piece of modern British art.

"It would have boggled the minds of the Romans. It would have boggled Gustave Eiffel.

"I believe it will be worthy of London's Olympic and Paralympic Games, and worthy of the greatest city on earth."

The tower will be comprised of a series of loops, constructed of steel pipes formed into a lattice made up of triangular sections.

Kapoor said: "It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic of it". He promised it would give those who climbed it "a truly spectacular view of London".

Cecil Balmond, deputy chairman of engineering firm Arup, worked with Kapoor on the concept. He said: "The opening comment to me was 'Boris Johnson is looking for an icon to match the Eiffel Tower.' So of course that was irresistible to me."

Those who suffer from vertigo might be advised to stay at ground level, however, according to Balmond.

"We wanted to see if we could create a structure that seemed unstable, seemed to be propping itself up," he said.

"So, we've slowly evolved a form that seems to be teetering, weaving itself, a loop."

The pair worked previously on an installation for the Tate Modern's turbine hall in 2002, a giant tubular sculpture made of blood-red PVC called the Marsyas.

The tower will be named the ArcelorMittal Orbit after the billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, who is donating 1,400 tonnes of steel for the project. He said that Mr Johnson had mentioned the idea to him during a fleeting meeting "in a cloakroom in Davos last year."  (That's right, in a cloakroom, for which presumably you can read they met in the lav, so yes, poss they are taking the pee?)

"We were both on our way to separate dinner engagements so we had only a few moments to discuss it.

"But I was immediately interested because I remember the great excitement felt throughout the city when it was announced that London had been selected."

Mr Johnson said: "I know very well there will be people who will say , 'You are nuts, you are bonkers, in the depths of a recession, to be building Britain's largest piece of public art.'  (Noooo...)

"But both Tessa [Jowell] and I have said that this is the right thing for Stratford, for the games and beyond."

He added: "If Paris can have the Eiffel Tower, then we thought the Olympic site had to have ... something. I can't say yet what the public will choose to baptise this structure. Whatever people chose to name it, he said it "represents the dynamism of a city coming out of recession".

Had the Press Release been dated 1st April, and not March 31st, then this might have been seen as a classic piece of foolery, to aid the gaiety of the nation, and stand in perpetuity alongside the Great Spaghetti Tree Hoax of 1957.  However, it would seem someone thought it OK that the nation should be allowed to consider that one T Jowell actually spake thus in some sort of seriousness:

Aaaaagggghhh indeed Tessa!

Minister for the Olympics and London Tessa Jowell said: “This stunning structure will become a new iconic London landmark towering 115 metres into the London skyline. Alongside the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre, Anish Kapoor’s brilliant design will be like to honey to bees for the millions of tourists that visit London each year. Having been involved in this project from the outset, I’m now looking forward to seeing it go from a great idea into a brilliant reality.”

I see. Really buzzy, eh, Tessa? Zzzzzzzz indeed.

Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota, who sat on the advisory panel, said: “We are delighted that Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond will give London a new structure which is one of the most exciting new commissions of our time. The collaboration between Anish Kapoor, Cecil Balmond and Lakshmi Mittal bridges art, architecture, engineering and business to produce a new landmark for London.”

So, that's it then... we have no choice but to accept it's going to be a great work of genius, landmark, an icon...  and no doubt vibrant to boot.

And the great artist himself, what says he?

The Tower of Babel was apparently a reference, according to Kapoor; "There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it."

Indeed, although, with heads above the clouds, will the paying punters be able to see anything much?

The Telegraph has a short video, worth watching (after the ad) for the small glimpse of him talking artyfartyspeak, Boris babbling, national figures making tits of themselves by pretending the Emperor has a glorious set of raiment and applauding the unveiling of the model, and a number of the Clapham omnibus persuasion giving their informed opinions.

The Beeb has another video of Kapoor talking about his masterpiece:

And here, in all its glossy glory, sent to Archibollocks so all can share the delight, thank you Anon, who was one of the lucky recipients, is the official brochure. 16 pages of Boris, the artist, and others spouting with accompanying pics,  if your stomach can stand it. If you read nothing else, read Boris's introduction; you simply couldn't begin to spoof it, it's so hilarious.

Kapoor Olympic Tower

As an antidote, I give you the views of Hugh Pearman, architecture critic of the Sunday Times


"God help us all," I wrote on first seeing the renderings of what is officially known as the ArcelorMittal Orbit. "That is by a considerable distance the worst piece of public art I have ever seen. Please stop it."...

....Conclusion: the form is terribly misconceived: a mash-up of Kapoor motifs from various of his other works, combined with a desperate attempt to shoe-horn something of the Olympic logo into the form. That would be bad enough at any scale, but then the whole thing is blown up to superscale. It gets worse: this is a sculpture that also tries to be a building. That's not the same thing as a sculptural building at all. A sculpture that tries to be a building, rather than merely referencing a building, is bound to fail...

Rowan Moore in the Observer:

...It's hard to see what the big idea is, beyond the idea of making something big, and the official blurbs don't add much light. These are full of words such as "wonderful", "incredible", "spectacular" and much-repeated "greats". There is some 24-carat guff. The work is variously said to be like "an electron cloud moving" and to have "this sense of energy, twist and excitement that one associates with the human body as it explodes off the blocks down the 100m straight"...

Will Wiles blog, Spillway:

Shock of the Ewww

...When I opened the emailed press release containing an image – that is, one (1) image – of the Anish Kapoor’s design for the ArcelorMittal Orbit, my immediate reaction was “fucking hell”. Instant and powerful dislike, coupled with instant horror: not a bad reaction to a work of art, but much less desirable in a structure that I think will be visible from my bedroom....


Douglas Murphy, as ever being calmy erudite:

...Just when you thought public sculpture couldn't possibly get ANY WORSE, this appears. Looking like a shat-out Tatlin's Tower, this utter bollocks is the fault of Anish Kapoor and Lakshmi Mittal and Boris Johnson and Cecil Balmond, who all deserve to be called idiots as a result... Well, you'll be glad to know that the word 'iconic' appears six times in the press release... Apalling. Truly appalling...

Blog tags: despair, drivel, public art

Last word. The Observer, editorial yesterday:

It is almost impossible to predict what will work, but something that speaks of our (not mine...) shared sense of culture seems a good bet.  That the Orbit is part of that great shared endeavour of the Olympics gets it speedily off the starting blocks. (Oh, ho ho ho...) It is clearly designed as a spectacle to draw people. It will achieve that, at least during the games themselves. And after that? Too often, these sites fall into disrepair. Johnson will need to ensure the new park matches his ambitions.

And if not? Well, Kapoor's Orbit will still be worth a visit, for it will allow us to climb to the top and look away.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Yea, verily, The Mayor.

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Findlay coils steel escape route around Kapoor’s Olympic tower

1 July, 2010
By Merlin Fulcher

Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay Architects has introduced a ‘glowing, metallic’ secondary element to Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s proposed ArcelorMittal Orbit landmark for the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

Visitors to the Orbit will enter past two ‘honest straightforward industrial buildings,’ the plant room and entrance pavilion, into a fibre-glass canopied ‘dark space’ where an escalator connects to the viewing platform.

‘It’s not a straightforward tower,’ said Findlay, whose steel-plated coil will be both the main means of escape and the exit.

Plans for a restaurant at the top of the tower have been scrapped, and construction will start once planning permission, expected in August, is received.

Daniel Bosia, Arup’s design director on the gravity-defying project, said: ‘The scheme is extraordinary simple in its principle but the application and reiteration of the principle throughout the 300m length makes it complex, not complicated.’

A report has suggested the tower could have an ‘adverse impact’ on television signals, potentially affecting 525 homes in Stratford.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Drawing a veil...

Pic nicked, no shame, from Scottish Cinemas website:

The proposed Olympic Tower will be dealt with in another post. For today, I give you this piece of sphericalobjectsspeak, courtesy of Anon:

...However the idea of the memory veil respecting the mass of the old cinema auditorium had been retained and refined.

The architects had wanted to explore the idea of layering and how the building could dissolve into the sky. The veil has the double function of both signifying memory and shielding / screening the office space from the noise of the buses at the West Regent Street terminus. The double skin façade of the office tower would incorporate integral solar shading. The cores of the office tower on the south elevation were not expressed rather they were suppressed behind the curtain wall. The position of the cores assisted the solar shading of the building.

The architects had been influenced by Toyo Ito’s Sendai Mediatheque, and both the new extension to MOMA by Yoshio Taniguchi and Loius Vutton store by Jun Aoki in Manhattan...


Words fail me...  although clearly not those involved.

Proposal for former Odeon Cinema, Glasgow.  Architects: Alan Dunlop, Gordon Murray.

A Touch of Glass?

The former Odeon cinema in Glasgow's Renfield Street has been lying empty for the last two years while developers formulated various plans to capitalise on the building with its distinctive Art Deco frontage. Now the city planners have agreed that all but that facade, which wraps round the corner of the building, will be demolished. In its place will be a huge 11-storey-high glass office block which will dwarf the original frontage. The £100 million building is to be known as "Paramount" after the original name for the cinema on the site...


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Bollocks and architecture

OK, a new blog, dedicated to the excesses of Purple Prose put out by certain architects (and at times other 'creatives') and developers to justify their 'creations'.

All are welcome to submit entries for this blog.

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