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Peter Murray

 

This year the London Society has arranged a series of members-only visits to see behind the scenes at some of the capital’s most innovative architectural, design and engineering practices, and to hear the principals talk about the history and the vision of their businesses.

Last month we were the guests of Bob Allies of Allies and Morrison. Barry Coidan reports.

It’s not often you win an architectural competition by having no kids in the drawing, but Bob Allies believes that was why he and Graham Morrison won the open competition to design a new public landscape at the Mound in Edinburgh in 1983. They began working together in the evenings but after this success they formed the partnership the following year.

The design was deliberately austere – not to detract from the landscape of the site and the two public building that dominate it. The design used local sandstone – traditional material in a traditional way. Only fragments of the original scheme now remain.

By the 1990s, the UK was in the midst of a serious economic recession, yet plans for a new Embassy in Dublin went ahead despite government cut backs. Winning the design competition for the Embassy was Allies and Morrison (A&M)’s big break. The design was presented as a hand line drawing – before computer assisted design – an approach which the practice became known for, along with scale models which are an important means the practice uses to communicate its design ideas. An early example of which was the model for the new Abbey Mills Pumping station in east London. The original pump house was designed by Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s. These public commissions got the practice going, allowing it to weather the 1990’s recession.

Following these early successes, Bob then gave us a taste of some of the work Allies and Morrison has carried out over the years.

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Peter Murray

 

We’re very pleased to announce the London Society Saturday Architecture School for 2018, looking at the buildings and the architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Book for the whole series of five talks and you will save 20%. What’s more, if you’re not currently a member of the Society, if you book the series you will also be given 12 months membership of the London Society, giving you priority booking and members’ discounts off all Society events for the next year.

The 2018 series, held in association with the Cass Architecture school and running on each Saturday morning in June, will show how London’s architecture has evolved over the last 100 years or so, exploring the architecture of London from the halcyon years before the First World War, through a period of long reinvention to the present day when again the city is building and reasserting itself with a confidence of a very different nature. The five lecturers  are all practising architects and will present salient facts as designers rather than historians. There will be ample time for discussion and questions afterwards.

Full information on the individual classes and booking details can be found here.

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Peter Murray

 

New for 2018 is “How We Work” a series of informal evenings that will take members* into various of the capital’s exciting architectural, engineering and design studios. The evening will look at each studio’s past, present and future and one of the principals will share the practice’s vision, and outline their most significant projects.

During the year we hope to visit Allies + Morrison, Alan Baxter, Lifschutz Davison Sandilands and Make (details to be announced shortly), and the first of the events will be with Studio Egret West on 26 February. You can find out more about this and book tickets here.

How We Work” is for London Society members only, so if you would like to come along you will need to join or renew your membership. You can join the Society here – Professional Members can get two tickets for their company, Corporate Supporters can request up to five free tickets for each event.

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Peter Murray

 

In May and June the Society ran a series of five Saturday morning talks in the Building Centre in central London.

The series was designed to give non-professionals an overview on the evolution of the capital’s architecture, and we were fortunate to be able to call upon several knowledgable speakers: Alex Forshaw on medieval London; Dr Geoffrey Tyack on the Georgian city; Susie Barson on Victorian developments; Alan Powers on the city between the wars; and Chris Rogers on the contemporary city.

Each of the five talks had over 80 attendees, so it seems that we have tapped into something that is of great interest to both members and non-members and we’re currently looking at future series – there will certainly be something this autumn and we will develop the architecture theme in 2018.

The illustrations used by each of the speakers can be found here. For future courses we will look to publishing the information in some form.

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Peter Murray

how to read london

How to Read London: A crash course in London architecture

by Chris Rogers

Reviewed by Don Brown

Available from the London Society Book Service in association with John Sandoe Bookshop

This rather wonderful little book looks at some 100 buildings in London from the 17th century to the 21st and, with short, pertinent text and photos, sketches and drawings of details, explains the architectural significance of each, and how they fit into the building heritage of the capital.

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Peter Murray

 

Discover how London’s architecture has evolved over time, with this series of Saturday morning talks.

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People have been telling us that there are some aspects of London they want to learn more about, or to understand better. So the London Society are planning a series of informal Saturday Schools.

The first of these is on ‘the evolution of London architecture: five talks to help you gain a better appreciation of the history of London’s built environment.

If you book for all five classes in the School you will pay for just four – so that’s just £28 for members and £20 for student members. Non-members can book all five classes for £53 – which includes a year’s individual membership of the Society. You can find out more here.

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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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