Currently showing blog posts for: April 2018 - . Go BACK to view all posts.
Peter Murray

A Place for All People

by Richard Rogers and Richard Brown

Reviewed by Lettie McKie

Available from John Sandoe Books

There are some architects whose reputation proceeds them. And then there is Richard Rogers, the original starchitect.

From the first moment of this excellent co-authored autobiography the reader is plunged into Rogers’ technicolour world of optimistic, egalitarian, wildly experimental and unapologetically modern architecture. It is impossible not to emerge starry-eyed and breathless.

He and Richard Brown tell the Rogers’ story in a fun, accessible style that mixes personal anecdote, potted history of 20th Century architecture, highlights from his career and political commentary. It is readable and enjoyable even for those who aren’t normally interested in architecture.

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Peter Murray

 

The London Society is delighted to welcome Almacantar as its latest corporate supporter.

Almacantar is a property investment and development company, specialising in large-scale, complex investments in Central London with the potential to create long-term value through development, repositioning or active asset management.

Since its launch in 2010, Almacantar have acquired over 1.5 million sq. ft. of prime assets in the heart of London including:

  • Centre Point: the tallest luxury residential building in the West End and boasts panoramic uninterrupted views of London
  • Marble Arch Place will set a new standard for luxury living, overlooking Hyde Park with high quality office and retail space
  • One and Two Southbank Place: the only high-quality office space to be built in Waterloo since the 1980s

Collectively the Almacantar team has vast industry experience and expertise in the property industry which enables us to confidently embrace the challenge of redeveloping complex buildings.

Before founding Almacantar, CEO Mike Hussey spent seven years at Land Securities plc, the largest property company in the UK, where he was an Executive Board Director with responsibility for the London portfolio and Strategic Land portfolio. He is well regarded in the public capital markets and ran a team of over 200 people at Land Securities. Property Director, Kathrin Hersel was Development Director at Land Securities where she worked on a range of transformational developments including One New Change, Wellington House and 20 Fenchurch Street.

London is a world-class city full of history and culture. It instils a strong sense of community – something which the company fosters within all of its properties. London’s position, language, culture, skilled workforce, legal system, quality of life, healthcare and education make it a unique place to live and work. It’s a cosmopolitan city that has everything in one place – financial and insurance services, advisory services, tech and creative industries, government, research centres and top educational institutes are all based here.

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Peter Murray

 

On 10 April the Society’s ‘Planning for 10 Million Londoners’ series touched on one of the most constantly controversial issues in London’s planning – the preservation or otherwise of the Green Belt. Colin Wilson of the GLA stuck his head over the parapet; Ben Taylor of Hawkins Brown reports.

Let’s release 3% of the Green Belt. Not the nice parts that people enjoy, just areas already inside the GLA boundary that are unused or cut off by infrastructure and London. Then pockets of virtually abandoned, often contaminated land can be put to better use for housing or industry and London can undo its top button and expand without anyone getting too upset. This is what Colin Wilson argued for in his talk, Rationalising Land Use Allocation in the Green Belt – the latest in the London Society’s Planning for 10 Million series. In a presentation he first gave to the deputy Mayor of London’s office a year ago, Wilson made a pragmatic and insightful case for re-examining parts of the Green Belt that fall short of the green and pleasant land held within the public imagination and which could offer a more beneficial purpose. This was backed up by an account from Ismail Mulla of Enfield Borough Council on how the local authority was preparing for the growing population challenges ahead.

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Peter Murray

 

On 22 March the London Society were fortunate enough to welcome Alan Powers, author of multiple books on modern architecture in Britain, to give us an insight into the developments of architecture in the 1930’s. Finbar Bradley reports.

Alan was eager to point out that with him at the wheel, this journey would not merely be a single path on a chronological venture but would create points which will make people reflect upon their views. He did not disappoint.

Putting the 1930s into context, after the Bank of England abandoned the Gold Standard, the progression toward using materials and goods only of English manufacturer began. There was a mentality that everything was possible and imagery such as William Walcot’s docking zeppelins at the Savoy Hotel in 1950 seemed feasible. Charles Glover’s Kings Cross Airport was another project of idyllic taste, but lacking in the reality of the time.

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Peter Murray

 

We’re very pleased to be able to add a couple of extra speakers to the Planning for the Unknown: London in 2050 panel discussion that the London Society is running in association with CityMetric next week.

  •  Jeremy Skinner, Senior Manager of Growth and Enterprise at the GLA, who led the team that produced the London Infrastructure Plan to 2050
  • Neil Bennett, lead partner at Farrells architect/planning practice for strategic infrastructure and urban design projects
  • Rose Grayston, policy manager at the housing charity Shelter
  • Nicole Badstuber, a doctoral researcher in urban transport governance and policy at UCL and Knowledge Exchange Coordinator at the UCL Transport Institute.

The discussion will be chaired by Jonn Elledge of CityMetric. If you want to know how London might evolve in the next three decades, or if you have opinions you’d like to share, come along to what will be a fascinating debate on our possible futures.

There are some tickets still available here.

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Peter Murray

 

The theme for the summer issue of the London Society Journal will be ‘a future informed by the past’, engaging with the ongoing development and evolution of London, but with a respect for its history.

All ideas are welcome on this broad theme. To get you thinking, the sorts of subjects we might include could be (but aren’t limited to):

  • a building or culture or community that’s key to the identity of a neighbourhood
  • an area undergoing, or about to undergo, regeneration (how does it respect, or not, existing place and identity)
  • a proposed new building, or one under construction, that could become a new landmark
  • an example of placemaking where the past has successfully informed sensitive redevelopment (it could even be something from another city that we could learn from)
  • icons it’s time to let go of or things London’s lost that we now regret
  • areas, communities or cultures that have been obliterated, and what we can learn from past mistakes made
  • using technology to find out about the past and our experience of the city eg the best London apps (the past informed by the future!)
  • ruins
  • nostalgia
  • history and identity
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Peter Murray

 

The new London Society Book Group will be holding its first meeting on 9 May in the evening (venue tbc, but central London).

The book being discussed is the Booker Prize-winning ‘Offshore‘ by Penelope Fitzgerald.

The discussion will be continued online , so even if you can’t make the meeting you can still contribute to the debate. (And you don’t have to be a London Society member to come to the meeting or take part in the online discussion.)

To join the mailing list for this meeting and for future books, please sign up here.

Set among the houseboat community of the Thames, ‘Offshore’ is a dry, genuinely funny novel, set among the houseboat community who rise and fall with the tide of the Thames on Battersea Reach. Living between land and water, they feel as if they belong to neither…

 

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Peter Murray

 

The new edition of Planning in London magazine is now available to read online (see below, or click here).

There are contributions from Paul Finch, Hank Dittmar, Julia Park and Tchail Chassay (among many others), features on Garden Cities, Old Oak Common and Planning for an Ageing Population, as well as reviews, letters, opinions and other features and regular articles.

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Peter Murray

 

We are very pleased to welcome Fletcher Priest Architects as the latest corporate supporter of the London Society.

“London is the great world city. We are very proud to live and work here and in two other Hanseatic cities Köln and Riga. As architects much of our work is here. We strive to contribute to the continued success and pleasures of the city. Fletcher Priest works at the urban, architectural and interior scales and explores our own research themes.”

Fletcher Priest is a cosmopolitan, award-winning practice with around 100 people working on significant urban design, architectural, interior, graphic design and research projects from offices in Cleveland Street, W1. Their work spans all scales for a wide range of clients in many sectors with their UK portfolio mainly concentrated in London and the South East, but with major projects in cities such as Manchester. Outside of the UK Fletcher Priest currently work in Germany, the Baltic and Brazil.

Corporate supporters do much to help the continued growth of the Society, providing vital funds to support events, membership recruitment and our publications.

 

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Peter Murray

 

As we continue our investigation into how we plan for a London with 10 million inhabitants, we look at the constraints – how does the Green Belt impact on the development of London? And the opportunities, what sort of infrastructure do we need in the future?

Of course the two are inextricably linked. Crossrail 2 will create substantial pressures in boroughs like Kingston for development in the Green Belt; if we seek greater connections to the Rest of the South East (ROSE) then substantial lengths of track will pass through areas where no new development can take place extending commuting times.

The LSE published a report in 2016 which suggested that one of the most promising ways to achieve strategic development would be along a limited number of corridors. These would be made up of a chain of centres along public transport links. As well as additional housing, these corridors would provide commercial and industrial space that is increasingly being squeezed out of London itself. The corridors would be bounded by ‘green wedges’ with green spaces which would be improved environmentally, aesthetically and for recreational purposes. Last month The LSE published a more detailed proposal for a corridor along the London/Stansted/Cambridge route which suggests a more rationalise allocation of land than the ad hoc development which is taking place currently. In the absence of any political will to address issues around the development and the Green Belt his is the sort of debate that needs to be encouraged and in which the Society will continue to play its part.

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