Paralympics excitement…!

Why did I sign up for a 4:00am start? Well, I need to be at the coach station by 5:15 to get the coach to London to see the Paralympics!

Still can’t believe I got tickets for this and we’re going to the 9:30 aquatics session, which has the heats of many of the swimming events. After that it’s a chance to see the rest of the Olympic Park and maybe even get into another event.

Cannot wait to see the biggest regeneration/development project in Europe. : )


Stirling Prize: Zaha Hadid – Evelyn Grace Academy…

And the Sirling Prize goes to…

Zaha Hadid for the Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton. See also this Guardian article on the building for more detail.

It’s like a futuristic and brutal office building. Very joyless and high on formality. Or, it’s a very clean and tidy headquarters of a blue chip company. It reminds me of City Hall, on the South bank. It’s not the sort of place which seems to inspire creativity. Maybe an alternative McLaren racing factory?

The standard phrase that it ‘makes the students feel valued’ has been rolled out. Just because something is new and costs the earth does not mean it automatically leads to feelings of value. Some of the interior designs are just bland, monotonous, sterile and sapping – I can’t believe i’m saying this about a Stirling Prize winning building!

Robocop director Paul Verhoeven would recognise the style of design from his ground-breaking films, part Robocop metal and part OCP headquarters.

I was so under-whelmed by the shortlist this year. I can’t believe this has beaten the Olympic Velodrome, designed by Hopkins Architects.


Blackfriars Station solar panels…!

Britain’s largest solar array – when it opens next year! More than 4,400 panels in total.


Riots, looters and thieving…

I wasn’t going to jump into this whole debate but i’ve seen a few things over the last couple of days which has changed my mind. Gloucester hasn’t escaped the influence of the riots, with some vandalism and fires started in a couple of places and some clashes with police.

The impact image from the first phase of the riots was the burning of the of the Carpetright building, with people escaping from the flats above.

Since then, i’ve also come across a few other interesting things, including a website which features altered photos of a number of the looters.

Another is YouTube video link to an interview with a local resident of London, who makes some good points about why the riots started.

My personal view is that there was some basis for the initial protest based on the initial fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, in that Mr. Duggan didn’t shoot at police first and was dragged from his vehicle then shot. In an area where there is existing tension between police and residents, this was always going to escalate. The subsequent looting and vandalism is not acceptable.

Some of the basis for why these people feel it is acceptable to go out and vandalise property, loot shops and endanger lives is that the example being set by influential members of our society is so fundamentally flawed. Politicians have been involved in illegal expenses claims for years, banks have been taking wild and irresponsible risks and gambles with our money for years (culminating in a long recession with all it’s associated problems and impacts), the police have been criticised for their handling of the student protestes and various enquires, religious hypocrisy has reared it’s head again in the form of the abuses of children.

So, the Government, police, bankers and religious leaders are not providing the kind of moral guidance which is needed, particularly at a time when the world economy is suffering and unemployment is high. When every job in some of these areas attracts in excess of 50 applicants, it must be very hard to get out of the situation. A recent job vacancy in my organisation attracted over 90 applicants, all with degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

The fact that the looters feel they have nothing to loose in doing what they are doing is a very sad reflection of the situation in some parts of our urban areas. I can’t imagine being in a position where I have nothing to loose. It must be a pretty grim position, especially as they know they are being filmed, photographed and now tracked down.

Having said all of that, all of this is not some kind of justification for what happened, but it is part of why it happened. I can’t condone much of what’s happening and not what’s happening in other urban areas. Compared to the real poverty experienced by the vast majority of the world’s population, people in this country are in a much better position, but it’s easy to say that when i’m not in that position!


Michael Faraday Community School – Alsop…

Some amazing images of a recently opened school in Southwark, London.

In the AJ article, Will Alsop explains that one of the key things which stuck in his mind from the parents and children, was the need to design a place which was really exciting and unusual, so the kids would want to go there. This school is located in an urban setting whose demographic rating (ACORN) puts it among the lowest categories in terms of deprivation and ‘inner city adversity’.

I love the contrast in forms and colours between the roof and yellow stair feature, around a central courtyard. Amazing use of light and colour.


Excel Phase 2…

Just looked at this scheme in the Architect’s Journal.

Right now i’m loving the use of coloured steel panels in architecture + the use of slim boarding. I’m thinking a combination could work well.


The Razor…

Amazing images in the Guardian of the new ‘Razor’ building in London.

World’s first building to have integrated wind turbines. It will produce 8% of the buildings total energy needs and generate roughly £16K of funds each year, through the feed-in tariffs.