Have we just witnessed the death of the Guggenheim effect? For the past decade, cities across the globe have sought to emulate Bilbao's architecture-powered makeover with their own equivalent of Frank Gehry's show-stealing art gallery. But things are not going so smoothly in Aberdeen. A couple of years ago, a plan was put forward to transform Union Terrace Gardens – two-and-a-half-acres of green, open space in the city centre – into a "granite web" of gardens, pavilions, plazas, a cultural centre, and an outdoor amphitheatre. Designed by top US architects Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, responsible for New York's successful High Line park, it promises to "fuse nature and culture into a vital social network in the heart of the city". Some locals have alternative descriptions for the £140m scheme, such as "Teletubby Park", the "McGuggenheim", or in the case of Private Eye, "an exercise in civic suicide and vandalism". Local oil magnate Sir Ian Wood has pledged up to … [Read more...] about Constructive criticism: the week in architecture
Architecture biennale venice
A house made of cork will go up against a whisky distillery and one of the busiest stations in the UK to be named building of the year in the most interesting and varied Stirling prize shortlist for some time. They are joined on the list, which celebrates innovation in British architecture, by a new visitor centre for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an opera house inserted into a 17th-century stable block in Leicestershire and an exemplary development of low-energy council housing in Norwich. Energy efficiency rightfully looms large on this years’s list, following the recent launch of Architects Declare, a call to arms from a large group of previous Stirling prize winners for an urgent “paradigm shift” to ditch carbon-hungry practices. The Cork House in Berkshire, designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, offers one such alternative. Built from expanded cork blocks, made using waste from the cork stopper industry, the structure is carbon … [Read more...] about Stirling prize 2019 shortlist: from a cork creation to a Teletubbies-style whisky distillery
Between the Olympic stadium, the London Aquatics Centre, and the ArcelorMittal Orbit squiggle – not to mention Westfield shopping centre – the east London neighbourhood of Stratford has acquired more than its fair share of high-profile buildings in the last decade. But even as the Olympics recedes into the past, a new debate is now raging over what might be the most controversial proposal yet: the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sphere. In March this year, MSG submitted a planning application for a spherical entertainment complex, 90 metres high and 120 metres wide, containing restaurants, shops, a nightclub and the centrepiece: a 21,500-capacity auditorium. The same diameter as the London Eye and almost as tall as Big Ben, the giant sphere will be covered 190,000 sq ft of LEDs, programmable to display images on the exterior. What MSG London executive vice-president Jayne McGivern describes as “a joyous ball of magic”, Newham councillor Harvinder Singh Virdee has … [Read more...] about Like Piccadilly Circus, but spherical: is east London ready for the MSG Sphere?
The high court ruled today that the Qatari royal family's property company breached its contract with a partner company when it withdrew a planning application for the £3bn Chelsea barracks development after the intervention of Prince Charles. Mr Justice Vos said Qatari Diar, which is owned by the royal family, breached the contract when it withdrew Lord Richard Rogers' modernist designs on the eve of a planning decision. The Prince of Wales had complained directly to the prime minister of Qatar, saying "my heart sank when I saw the plans" and advocating a more traditional design. CPC Group, the company owned by the Monaco-based property developer Christian Candy, who had been Qatari Diar's partner on the project, was claiming £81m in compensation because it said the reason behind the decision to withdraw breached its contract. Candy argued that the withdrawal was a direct result of the prince's intervention with the prime minister and the emir. Qatari Diar had argued that … [Read more...] about Qatari Diar breached Chelsea barracks contract, court rules
The Qatari royal family was forced to scrap plans for a £3bn housing development in central London for "political and diplomatic" reasons after the Prince of Wales urged the emir of the gulf state to abandon them, the high court has heard. The Qataris "floundered" after Prince Charles and his aides launched a "fight to the finish" to derail designs for more than 500 apartments on the former site of the Chelsea Barracks by Lord Rogers, the modernist architect with whom the prince has repeatedly clashed. The court heard on Monday that during a face-to-face exchange over tea at Clarence House, the prince "pissed in [the emir's] ear about how awful the scheme was", causing him to order aides to withdraw the designs. The claims about Prince Charles's intervention came on the first day of a trial in which the Qatari government's former development partner, CPC group, owned by Christian Candy, sought to recoup up to £81m in alleged lost earnings after the prince became involved last … [Read more...] about A tale of two princes: how Prince Charles altered the landscape with a word in the Emir of Qatar’s ear