Currently showing blog posts for: November 2016 - . Go BACK to view all posts.
Peter Murray

Craft and materiality maintain their allure in architecture, despite the global age and rise of digital design. Practitioners Henry Squire, Roz Barr and Anthony Thistleton described three recent projects in London in which handcrafted elements or overt materiality play a large role, and London Society committee member, Susan Holder (ex Crafts Council) chaired the discussion on the enduring appeal of craft in architecture and how it contributes to London’s architectural character.

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Peter Murray

 

‘Lost’ spaces in Peckham Rye Station, bricked up in the early sixties at the time of the Beeching cuts, have been opened up over the past 8 years by the Peckham-based Benedict O’Looney architects. On 26 November, Benedict showed Society members the progress being made to bring back the station to its former glory.

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Peter Murray

 

On 8 November around 300 members and non-members of the Society came together in St Marylebone Parish Church to hear Sir Terry Farrell give this year’s Sir Banister Fletcher Lecture which he called “Shaping London”. Saul Collyns reports.

cwwxrnxw8aakfbyIn the 2016 Sir Banister Fletcher Memorial Lecture,renowned architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrell, set out a fascinating viewpoint of London that revealed new connections between London’s past, present and future.

Farrell began by underlining the importance of ‘place as client’ as the guiding principle of his work. He believes in examining what a place aspires to be, separating it from any client base in order to fully understand its intricacies.

Farrell’s place-based approach has compelled him to study the different factors that have shaped London’s development, and he captivated us with some of his findings. London has grown organically, with much of its geography dictated by the River Thames. A fascination with the river’s bends led Farrell to realise that it was always deeper on the outside bend, with a build up of silt on the inner bend. As the city grew, large settlements such as Kingston and Richmond were built on the outer bends, which are easily navigable by boat, whereas parks or areas of low land value are located on the inner bends (notably the city’s numerous docks). A lack of river crossings in east London has also impeded connectivity and thus development. No flat-level bridges (which Farrell considers to be a crucial component of city making) cross the Thames downstream of Tower Bridge, so Farrell recently proposed a plan for 8 new low-rise bridges to the east, which would provide much needed connectivity to support more housing development.

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Peter Murray

The Design Museum opens its new building in Kensington this week. Jessica Cargill Thompson had a look around.

img_1409Since Sir Terence Conran and Stephen Bayley opened the Butler’s Wharf incarnation of the Design Museum in 1989, it is fair to say that the capital’s cultural kudos has undergone a seismic shift. London is no longer the shabby relation of Paris, Milan and Barcelona, but a design force that attracts admiring glances from around the world.

‘A dream that has been a long time coming’

Having at least a decade ago grown out of its banana-ripening warehouse downstream of what could reasonably be considered London’s tourist map, it is with palpable relief to all involved, not least Sir Terrence himself, that the museum finally moves into its expanded new Kensington home this month. At last Thursday’s press launch, Conran described the moment as ‘a dream that for me has been a long time materialising; it allows all our dreams and ambitions to come true and promote a world class space that’s truly international.’

Reminding everyone of his own part in London’s embracing of contemporary design, and the need for Government to get behind it, he said: ‘It really does feel like our moment has arrived and that the importance of design to our lives and our economy is now truly appreciated.’ And to shared laughter: ‘Moving the Design Museum to Kensington is the most important moment of my career in design…so far.’

Commonwealth Institute revival

The new £83m home marries the showpiece architecture of the former Commonwealth Institute, a 1960s Grade II*-listed building by RMJM, famed for its hyperbolic paraboloid (saddle-shaped) roof, with the sleek interiors styling of John Pawson, and interventions by a number of leading architectural and engineering practices, most notably OMA, Arup and Allies and Morrison for the structure and exteriors.

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Peter Murray

 

lsj-cover-flat-470-printIssue 470 of the Journal of the London Society has just gone off to the printers, and members can look forward to receiving their copy before the end of the month.

To whet your appetite, a preview (sans cover and with the page crop marks still in place) can be seen below. Contents include:

  • A look at some of the capital’s regeneration hotspots – Old Kent Road, Battersea Power Station, The Olympic Park, West London by Cecil Sagoe, Peter Watts, Jessica Cargill Thompson, Jonathan Manns
  • The EU’s Urban Agenda was agreed in May – weeks before the UK voted to leave the EU. Janice Morphet asks, will London miss out?
  • Timeless London a photo essay by Mr Whisper
  • Kathryn Firth profiles one of the most notable urban planners in the world, Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, to find out why grassroots politics is still important and how she’s tackling the challenge of the suburbs
  • Tom Haworth commutes each day from Newbury to north London. Here he muses on how the city might better accommodate its citizens.
  • Are housing estates morally owned by those who live in them, or public assets for the good of the wider community? A new report sets out to referee. Ben Derbyshire, one of the report’s authors, explains.
  • A recent London Society discussion probed the value of high rise as the answer to our high-density housing needs. Is it really the inevitable panacea it’s made out to be? The event’s chairwoman Claire Bennie reports.
  • Inaugurating a series on the best writing on London, past and present, Peter Watts selects some personal favourites
  • Plus Geoff Tuffs’ “London Notebook”, book reviews and the letter from the Chairman

If you’re not a member and want to get your hands on a printed copy, either join today and we’ll send you one as soon as we get them in the office, or order via the online shop. The Journal is £7.50, post free.

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Peter Murray

1a884148c4f943288e33625235ef2a9cThe Institution of Mechanical Engineers warmly invites London Society members to join this year’s Thomas Hawksley Lecture, held at the Institution’s London headquarters at One Birdcage Walk.

The topic for 2016’s lecture is “i-Mobility for Sustainable Cities – are we nearly there yet?” and will explore the challenges presented by this future scenario and the possible technologies in intelligent mobility, smart cities and sustainable transport that will provide the solutions.

By 2050 up to 80% of the world’s population will live in cities, transportation will have been decarbonised and the Internet of Things, in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence, will have transformed everyday living.

People will expect highly effective personal mobility solutions that will be fully integrated across multiple modes and into the urban environment. Such mobility solutions must also be fully sustainable within a circular rather than a linear economy.

The lecture is free to attend and places are available on a first-come, first served basis.

To book, please visit the event website: click here

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Peter Murray

 

Yesterday evening around 300 members and non-members of the Society packed into St Marylebone Parish Church to hear Sir Terry Farrell give the annual Sir Banister Fletcher lecture.

There’ll be a full write-up in due course, but the slides from the presentation are available below.

 

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Peter Murray

 

The Society held two concerts recently, celebrating the 150th anniversary of English Heritage’s Blue Plaque scheme and the contribution to the culture of London made by musicians.

On 31 October, Pizza Express in Soho rocked to the sounds of Omar Puente/Al McSween duo, Yiddish Twist Orchestra, Gospel Singers Incognito and The Sugar Sisters – jazz musicians who all hail from London, exemplifying the melting pot of cultural influences that the City, and especially Soho, has become over the years.

The second concert was at Cecil Sharp House, home to the English Folk Dance and Song Society and celebrated those folk collectors memorialised with Blue Plaques; Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger. The stellar group of artists included Stick in the Wheel, Sam Carter and Lisa Knapp & Jack Harris. The relevance of the sung tradition of folk tunes and themes came through strongly, with Lisa Knapp and Stick in the Wheel in particular, powerful in their reference to the work of collectors of folk tunes and the importance of developing and promoting the tradition of learned aural culture.

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Peter Murray

 

home-image-319x406-6Can you help the Society find out a little more about you – our members, supporters and event attendees?

We’re putting together plans for 2017 and we’d like to make sure that we arrange tours, talks and walks that appeal; that the Journal is interesting and informative; that the Society is covering the ground that you wish us to.

If you could spare five minutes to complete this survey about you and your interests that would be a great aid to our deliberations. Click here to start.

In return, we’ll send a hardback copy of Peter Watts’s excellent history of Battersea Power Station “Up in Smoke” to two of the people who complete the survey, chosen at random from all who fill out the ‘prize draw’ form at the end.

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Peter Murray

 

The RIBA Stirling Prize: 2041oszqo2tl

by Tony Chapman

Review by Chris Panfil

For dozens of recommended London Books, check out the London Society Book Service in association with John Sandoe Bookshop

Tony Chapman’s “The RIBA Stirling Prize 20” is a beautifully and comprehensively illustrated book showcasing the winning and the shortlisted projects of this prestigious architecture award from its inception in 1996 until 2015. The introduction gives an overview of the history of the award and why it was named in honour of the architect Sir James Stirling – who apparently hated the RIBA. The rest of the introduction text is at times amusing, but at others opaque, with inside jokes and in-house references that most readers won’t be able to follow.

The main body of the book contains a useful summary list of the winners from 1996 to 2005, but unfortunately, a similar list is missing from the book for the period 2006 to 2015. That’s a particular shame, as such a snap-shot would efficiently illustrate the changing juries’ success in adhering to the selection criteria for the award. This was first set out by the RIBA as “not a question of style or appearance, it’s how you organise spaces and movement from a place and an activity; it’s nothing to do with appearance.” These words were first written by the late Sir James and are implicitly or explicitly accepted by most members of the western architectural establishment, at least since the dawn of post-modern times. However, the rich variety of architectural expression exhibited in the diversity of the winning projects suggest that “style” is a significant contributing component to the award. The winning projects over the years represent either the audacious design style and architectural virtuosity of practices such as Zaha Hadid, Alsop & Störmer, or Future Systems. Alternatively, it is the restrained style and ordered manner of a proto-modernism exhibited by such winners as Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios or David Chipperfield that succeeds in securing the award.

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