Architecture Week 2007

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #207, 6th June 2007

So much to do and see this year that it’s hard to resist the temptation to sprint from one event to the next, pausing occasionally to ponder on the nature of sustainable urban communities (green is this year’s theme). After all, only shallow, list-obsessed media types would try to suggest that you could pick out ten “must see” events from the rich spread on offer.

So here’s ours…

Frank Gehry + Sydney Pollack In Conversation
Fri 15/06 (7pm)

Not exactly underground, we admit, and a degree of mutual back slapping expected between the master of shiny-curvy and his filmic chum, but surely not to be missed?

Wind To Light (installation)
15/06 till 24/06
Commissioned by RIBA and onedotzero, light man David Bruges plans to have mini wind turbines powering hundreds of LEDs on the South Bank. On 21/06 (7pm) at RIBA catch Bruges as he and other speakers discuss the project.

Mind The Gap (tour of an Eco house under construction)
Sat 16/06 (1 – 5pm)
Our list is a bit light on the green theme so far, but this looks interesting. Especially if you’ve never witnessed the glory that is a building site, albeit an unusually narrow one.

Brave new world? The Barbican And Golden Lane Estates (tour)
Mon 18/06 (6:30 – 8pm) and Fri 22/06 (6:30 – 8pm)
If you pride yourself on your knowledge of London’s architecture, sooner or later you need the lowdown on Chamberlain, Powell & Bonn‘s Barbican, and its forerunner, the Golden Lane Estate. Now is good.

Guided Tour Of White Cube, Mason’s Yard
Tue 19/06 and Fri 22/06 (10am)

Forget art and trophyism, as in anything Damien Hirst makes is an automatic commodity, but do think of his lack of humility and of an adolescent with a God complex. Back to architecture… new minimalism and Jay Jopling‘s rather OTT penthouse office and roof garden.

The Building Futures Debate: This House Believes London is Full
Wed 20/06 (6:30pm)
Full, as in a Northern Line tube at London Bridge in rush hour. Or not full, as in Greenwich Park at dusk on a winter’s evening. More London debate, in case you couldn’t get enough.

Architecture In A World Of Climate Change
Wed 20/06 (6 – 8:30pm)
Ken Shuttleworth, Foster‘s former designer-in-chief, now head man at Make, will talk about his practice’s eco-leaning work, rather than how he designed the Gherkin. He’s not bitter.

21st Century Architecture
Wed 20/06 (6:30 – 8:30pm)
Not only a debate worth going to, but a chance to see Allies and Morrison‘s new observatory makeover.

Bartlett School of Architecture Summer Show 2007
Fri 22/06 (6 – 10:30pm), Sat 23/06 (10am – 8:30 pm), Sun 24/06 (10am – 5.30pm)…

Strictly speaking they’d be doing this anyway, but always worth going along to check out the work of budding young Alsops and Allfords.

Debate London – The Architecture Foundation Presents Five Major Debates
Fri 22/06 – Mon 25/06 (7:30 – 9pm)
A stellar line-up of highly opinionated folk, including Zaha Hadid, Zoe Williams, David Adjaye and others. Will our Ken be scandalous? Will Nigel Coates be arcane? Will Jacques Herzog be asked about his unsightly extension?

NB: Architecture Week 2007 runs from 15/06 till 24/06.

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Chris Wilkinson

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #179, 4th October 2006

It’s worth strolling down Floral Street once in a while, not to see the inexplicably popular standy-still-statue people, but rather to gaze skyward at a rather ingenious and beautiful footbridge by architects Wilkinson Eyre. A series of squares rotate across the void to connect two awkwardly offset openings — anything but pedestrian. In an age of architectural hyper-production, it’s tempting to make sense of things by inventing an “ism”. (Deconstructivism, anyone?) At best, the labelling of architects can favour style over substance. At worst, it’s just plain wrong. You could claim that Wilkinson Eyre’s work has its roots in high tech — true in a sense, but it doesn’t help to describe their work. Best known for some of their bridge designs, which include that most delicate of Stirlingwinning structures, Gateshead Millennium Bridge, as well as some closer to home, there’s a strong theme of poetry rather than prose. Chris Wilkinson has described himself and partner Jim Eyre as “more artists than technicians”, and as their projects become increasingly expressive, it’s easy to see what he means.

NB: Wilkinson Eyre: Architecture On The Ramp is on display at the RA till 13/11.C

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Summer Nights 2006: the Europeans

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #175, 3rd August 2006

London’s been feeling decidedly Mediterranean lately — some of us have even been leaving the house without socks on. So what could be better than some truly continental culture, in the form of the Architecture Foundation‘s Summer Nights series? Each features a genuinely up-and-coming young European practice, with the bonus that one day you’ll be able to say “I remember them ages before they were famous…”.

Jakob Dunkl – Querkraft
Wed 09/08 at 7pm

Querkraft are award-winning Austrian architects who already have a considerable portfolio of realised work under their belts.

Silvia Ullmayer and Allan Sylvester – Ullmayer / Sylvester
Wed 16/08 at 7pm

London based practice (although one half is German) who’ve already made an impact with their first building.

Teresa Sapey – Teresa Sapey Architects
Wed 23/08 at 7pm

Madrid based Sapey joined architecture’s big hitters when she designed the carpark for Madrid’s starchitect-drenched Hotel Puerta America, but her “independent” work is becoming increasingly well known.

NB: for architecture flashers make sure you catch the Barbican’s Future City exhibition (runs till 17/09).

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Peter Cook & Wolf D Prix

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #173, 19th July 2006

“Our concept of the design describes an approach to the explosive nucleus of the tension-charged area of complexity.” Most radical visions of future urbanity never really make it off the drawing board, but Wolf Prix is that rarity among architectural thinkers and urban theorists; a lot of his ideas get built. Working through Coop Himmelb(l)au, the practice he co-founded in 1968, Prix claims that almost nothing changes between sketch stage and final realisation. Sounds hard to believe, but there is a certain mad directness about his buildings — you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d discovered a shortcut past the world of engineers and other such distractions (making it seem that way, of course, is the clever bit). Anyway, we’re being unfair to Peter Cook here, whose ideas have inspired at least two generations of architects, and who has managed to turn his hand to the odd realised building once in a while. Hopefully an interesting clash then between the theories of (so-called) neo-constructivism and pop art.

NB: this talk has been programmed in conjunction with Future City – Experiment And Utopia In Architecture 1956-2006 (runs till 17/09).

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London Architecture Biennale / Architecture Week 2006

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #169, 21st June 2006

The London Architecture Biennale has collided head-on with Architecture Week this year. The Biennale is bigger and better than its predecessor in 2004 and stretches from Southwark to Clerkenwell via the Millennium Bridge. On Sunday the architectural festivities comes to an end.

With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to pick a “best of”. Below are some events that caught our eye…

Future City Experiment And Utopia In Architecture 1956 – 2006
Runs till 17/09
Archigram weren’t the only dreamers of utopia, you know. 50 years of radical architectural thinking; a short history of the future.

Alex Lifschutz: South Bank Tour
Wed 21/06 (6 – 7:30pm)

Alex Lifschutz never fails to entertain, and knows his stamping ground well — the Golden Jubilee bridges and the OXO Tower are both his. (Includes free champagne, apparently!)

Maxwell Hutchinson: Pub And Churches Crawl
Wed 21/06 (6:30pm)

The week just wouldn’t be complete without former RIBA President Maxwell Hutchinson guiding you round his favourite hostelries. And his favourite churches, of course.

The Borough Market Feast
Thu 22/06 (8 – 11:30pm)
Talking of the market… what better reason to come south of the river (unless you already live there) than a slap-up archifeast from top chef Tomasina Miers.

Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings And Legacy In Japan
Sun 25/06 (12 – 2pm)
Frank Lloyd Wright‘s American work is well known; his work in Japan much less so. A chance to catch the director’s cut of this new documentary, plus Q&A with the directors.

Modern Architour Bus
Sun 25/06 (1 – 5pm)
We don’t do open top bus tours do we, as they’re for tourists. All aboard for this notable exception.

World’s Biggest Pecha Kucha
Sun 25/06 (7:30pm)
A stellar cast of architectural talent hangs out for the chance to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each (this is mad, surely?). Speakers include Rem Koolhaas, Will Alsop and Thomas Heatherwick among many, all for a very short time, presumably.

NB: the London Architecture Biennale and Architecture Week 2006 both run till 25/06.

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Ian Simpson: Height

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #155, 9th March 2006

DIFA Tower, Stone House, 122 Leadenhall Street, Heron Tower, the Minerva Building, City Road Basin, 1 Millharbour, the Willis Building; it seems that London is about to become Manhattan-on-Thames, with the Gherkin as the pilot project for a whole swathe of towers being planned to spoil the views of St Paul’s. By way of helping out, Manchester has loaned us its very own tower man, Ian Simpson, to design a really rather large (and not at all phallic) tower on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge. Confusingly, it’s to be known as the Beetham Tower — the same name as Simpson’s newly opened tower in Birmingham. And, er, the name of his other new tower in Manchester. What’s interesting about these towers is that they aim to bring high rise living back into fashion, although this time for the rich, rather than poor people, who only ever moaned about the lifts breaking down anyway. It’s certainly worked for his first residential biggie, No 1 Deansgate, where Manchester’s trendiest urbanites, plus the Beckhams, couldn’t wait to snap up vertically advantaged apartments.

NB: alternatively, you can catch Eva Jiricna on the same night, who will be talking at The Gallery about her life and work.

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David Adjaye

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #148, 18th January 2006

The British architectural establishment has always preferred its modernism to be like its architects: reserved, polite and understated (and even, dare we say it, white). Art in architecture has its place — a rectangle of neatly defined colour on one wall, but never too much to scare the corporate horses. So the old guard of high modernism is having a hard time with David Adjaye, particularly because, like Will Alsop before him, he’s now winning major public commissions. Adjaye, they feel, is too cool for his own good. An avowed self-publicist, he’s fronted a TV show (the greatest single cause of jealousy in architecture) and hangs with the East End art set rather than his architectural peers, often building houses for themChris Ofili and the Chapmans rank among his clients. And where better than the Whitechapel Gallery for a show of 10 of Adjaye’s major public projects — just down the road from his new Ideas Store (a sparkling contemporary take on the public library); he’ll be joined for this launch event by observer of eclectronica Kodwo Eshun.

NB: Making Public Buildings runs till 26/03. On Sun 29/01 (2:30pm) catch David Adjaye as he chats with urban theorist Richard Sennett.

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Deutschlandscape: Epicentres at the Periphery

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #147, 15th December 2005

The common perception of contemporary German architecture is that they put all their energy into their cars, leaving it to foreigners to design the buildings to make them in. But Germany’s stand at the last Architecture Biennale aimed to provide a different perspective, and for those that didn’t get to go, it’s been reassembled at the V&A. It’s tempting to make a comparison with the SuperDutch and Swiss Made+ shows, including as it does some of the new generation of architects such as Carsten Roth, but this is an exhibition as much about the grimness of peripheral areas of our cities and what to do with them, as it is about architectural glamour shots.

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Marcos Novak

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #141, 2nd November 2005

If architecture is as much about creating places as it is about bricks and mortar, then can a building be real if it only exists in a virtual domain? Marcos Novak would respond with a definite “yes”. Describing himself as a “trans-architect”, he came to prominence in the early nineties as a notable theorist and could be described as the godfather of virtual architecture: constructs that are conceived, and more to the point inhabited, entirely in cyberspace. And once there, why be limited by the constraints that have historically applied, such as the laws of gravity? Novak has dubbed his work “liquid architecture“; his 3-dimensional forms are created from abstract mathematics which “bend, rotate, and mutate in interaction with the person who inhabits them”. Some would argue that the very essence of architecture is the collision of theory with reality. Novak might respond that in our increasingly on-line world, “reality” exists as much in cyberspace as it does on the street.

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Kjetil Thorsen (Snøhetta)

June 2, 2009

Kultureflash #140, 19th October 2005

Another chance to catch Kjetil Thorsen of architects Snøhetta revealing how such a relatively tiny Norwegian practice has achieved such global success. The firm came to international prominence over a decade ago when they won the commission to create the new library at Alexandria (a Herculean task if you pardon our mixing of myths) and more recently their carefully integrated Norwegian Embassy, Berlin. Competition wins for the forthcoming New York WTC Cultural Centre and Oslo Opera House have set the scene for their most ambitious location to date: Margate. Surprisingly, this formerly-fading Kentish seaside town is about to become the recipient of an extraordinarily radical design with its new Turner Contemporary — imagine a giant pebble that’s landed on its edge in the sea.

NB: on 01/11 catch Jan Kaplicky as he presents a personal selection of projects, inspirations, ideas and imagery from the beginning of his career to the present day work of Future Systems.

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