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Karl_b

Architecture

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The talk about the new stadium has got me a bit wound up about the acceptance of mediocre architecture in this country. I've been working in an architect's office for 7 months now and what I'm finding is that clients and planning are, generally, in favour of traditional design instead of something new and contemporary.

 

For example I was asked to draw up a scheme for some 'luxury' flats in Peckham and I produced a design that was modern yet hinted towards the local vernacular. We were happy with it but we came back from a meeting with a planning advisor and were told that there was absolutely no way we would get it built, not a chance. I was a bit pissed off but have no choice to accept it. I have now worked the scheme through with input from the planning advisor and what we have ended up with is a horrible looking block that is supposed to look like a 'London Villa'. It doesn't, it looks awful and is further from suiting it's surroundings than the first scheme. The planner has ended up dictating the design of the building, if this is happening then why employ an architect? Just get a builder to do it.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love old buildings as much as I do contemporary ones, it's the constant longing to design something traditional that frustrates me. We live in the 21st century, not the 18th, 19th or 20th. Buildings should be designed to suit modern life and this is happening in other countries, the Dutch being a great example of how to bring good design into the mainstream.

 

Take housing as another example, planners tend to favour duo-pitched roofs over mono-pitch or flat ones. Pitched roofs are a waste of space and money, both in construction and energy bills. The reason traditional houses don't have flat roofs is because they didn't have the building technology to make them water tight and insulated to a high standard. Now we do, but we persist with pitched roof houses, it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

 

Over 80% of new homes fail to reach CABE's (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) standards, and soon a new Michelin-Star style rating system will be brought in to mark the standards of new houses. This is great news and hopefully one that will kick start a new generation of architecture in this country.

 

Anyway, rant over. It would be good to get some of your opinions on the subject as it's one that I am deeply interested and involved in.

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Can't say i know too much about Architecture but yours sounds like the plight of many a creative mind.

 

Only today I was reading an interview with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos who spent decades in the TV industry banging his head againt the wall, because, as he puts it: 'When you first get into the industry you think they want new ideas, new ways of doing things, but they don't, they just want copies of whats worked before, to play it safe, and it slowly grinds you down'

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Can't say i know too much about Architecture but yours sounds like the plight of many a creative mind.

 

Only today I was reading an interview with David Chase, creator of The Sopranos who spent decades in the TV industry banging his head againt the wall, because, as he puts it: 'When you first get into the industry you think they want new ideas, new ways of doing things, but they don't, they just want copies of whats worked before, to play it safe, and it slowly grinds you down'

 

That's a good way of summing things up and it seems to be a very British and American problem.

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Did you see some of the mad shit they were touting as the 'fourth grace' at the Pier Head though? I think there's still an apetite out there for, ahem, bold designs!

 

Would have fit right in!

 

IA-10-02-2003-Fourth-Grace.jpg

 

 

mcphee_3graces3.jpg

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Will Alsop did that and I hate him, he's a massive twat. We had a lecture with him and I got to speak to him afterwards (this was the equivalent of normal people meeting Jude Law or something) and he just came across as very preachy and condescending.

 

He has some good ideas about architecture but he'll never be ranked alongside people such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano or Herzog and de Meuron.

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Will Alsop did that and I hate him, he's a massive twat. We had a lecture with him and I got to speak to him afterwards (this was the equivalent of normal people meeting Jude Law or something) and he just came across as very preachy and condescending.

 

He has some good ideas about architecture but he'll never be ranked alongside people such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano or Herzog and de Meuron.

 

Sounds to me like any other creative industry then if some kind of 'pop star' designed that shite! i.e people at the bottom and in the middle just have to tow the line and play it safe, but the select few who catch a break are given free reign to produce what they want.

 

Agian thats pretty similar to what David Chase says, once someone had given him his break (after twenty years!) to make his own show, the offers came flooding in where producers would literally say 'unlimited money, go make us a masterpiece' but by that time he was aso jaded with the people he'd effectively be working for that he couldn't be arsed.

 

I suppose the challenge for you is to bide your time until you catch a break, and try not to be so pissed off with the industry that you don't tell him ot her to stuff it!

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I do get pissed off with it but I really love what I do and the practice I'm in is great and has a good balance of design and conformity. You're right about the 'pop star' idea as there are buildings by celebrity architects that would get laughed out if it was by an unknown.

 

I'm happy to work hard and make my way up from the very bottom and I'll enjoy every minute of it (well maybe not every minute) and one day I hope I can look back and say I'm proud of that.

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I do get pissed off with it but I really love what I do and the practice I'm in is great and has a good balance of design and conformity. You're right about the 'pop star' idea as there are buildings by celebrity architects that would get laughed out if it was by an unknown.

 

I'm happy to work hard and make my way up from the very bottom and I'll enjoy every minute of it (well maybe not every minute) and one day I hope I can look back and say I'm proud of that.

 

Good for you fella, sure you'll make it with that attitude!

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I fucking love architecture and I love modern stuff, although I love the great Victorian and Edwardian architecture of this country, too. In fact, the juxtaposition of one with the other is ace. I've got a little pipe dream to build my own gaff one day. If it ever comes even vaguely close to fruition, I'll be on to you Karl.

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I'm happy to work hard and make my way up from the very bottom and I'll enjoy every minute of it (well maybe not every minute) and one day I hope I can look back and say I'm proud of that.

 

That's the key. Keep at it lad and don't ever get disheartened. Working as an architect for 10 years, I've found that the key is to enthuse your client as to the possibilities. Then, when the inevitable dumbing down process kicks in, keep a hold of the essence of the scheme and endeavour to improve the result. You'd be amazed how simple application of the proportional laws of the Febonacci spiral can enliven a dull building.

 

I've been fortunate to work for enlightened clients recently and had two schemes nominated for an RIBA award (one of which won). Both schemes were highly contemporary, and despite initial misgivings (mostly from engineers and nimbys) the public opinion since completion has been very favourable. Sometimes you have to be forthright, but always have a good reason for what you've done. Always, always endeavour to fulfill the Vitruvian Triumvirate of Firmness Commodity and Delight and you won't go far wrong.

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karl you were onto a no brainer (phrase of the day) LUXURY & PECKHAM. two words mate that might aswell be a and z in the dictionary

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I am interested but i have little or no knowledge - i'm a bit of sponge information-wise apart from football. Useless.

 

Anyway my exes Dad was saying there'd be many more self sufficient houses built by their owners if they could get through the stiff planning rules. He's practically built his and now has a wood attached! One of things i miss about my ex is her Dad.

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Sustainability is easier to attain than people think. Key things to remember:

 

  • Environmental strategies should be implemented from the start, not added as an after thought.
  • Large south facing glazing will maximise solar gain, this is free heating.
  • Wind can be used to promote cross ventilation, it is also free.
  • Increasing the quality/quantity of insulation will make as big a difference as any.
  • High quality materials are expensive because they are of a high quality. Don't cheap out for the sake of it.
  • 'Eco-friendly' doesn't mean mud huts.
  • Try and source materials locally.
  • Pre-fabrication isn't as bad as it sounds.
  • Good design is more sustainable. It's cheaper in the long run to build something more expensive but which will last longer, than something ugly which will be ripped down in 30 years.

  • Upvote 1

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That's the key. Keep at it lad and don't ever get disheartened. Working as an architect for 10 years, I've found that the key is to enthuse your client as to the possibilities. Then, when the inevitable dumbing down process kicks in, keep a hold of the essence of the scheme and endeavour to improve the result. You'd be amazed how simple application of the proportional laws of the Febonacci spiral can enliven a dull building.

 

I've been fortunate to work for enlightened clients recently and had two schemes nominated for an RIBA award (one of which won). Both schemes were highly contemporary, and despite initial misgivings (mostly from engineers and nimbys) the public opinion since completion has been very favourable. Sometimes you have to be forthright, but always have a good reason for what you've done. Always, always endeavour to fulfill the Vitruvian Triumvirate of Firmness Commodity and Delight and you won't go far wrong.

 

Good advice, thanks. The Fibonacci spiral is something I've studied but never really thought about applying, I will read up on this. I also should re-read Vitruvius' texts as I think there is a lot to be learnt from those.

 

Congratulations on the RIBA nominations and award, must be a great feeling.

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I fucking love architecture and I love modern stuff, although I love the great Victorian and Edwardian architecture of this country, too. In fact, the juxtaposition of one with the other is ace. I've got a little pipe dream to build my own gaff one day. If it ever comes even vaguely close to fruition, I'll be on to you Karl.

 

I'd be delighted to help you out. Didn't your old man build his own house?

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He has some good ideas about architecture but he'll never be ranked alongside people such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano or Herzog and de Meuron.

 

You just made those names up didn't you?

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This is my favourite of the recntly built ones over here, the turning torso in Malmö.

 

tt.jpg

 

Does it actually turn? I think that would make me dizzy...

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I hate modern houses. By which I mean I hate the crap modern houses that get built on a mass scale by developers. I love proper modern contemporary desgin - lots of glass and open space etc but you only see them on Grand Designs. Watched a repeat of a Ch4 documentary on More4 by Alain De Bouton the other day looking at why we end up with naff mock Georgian and mock Tudor. He went to Holland and the modern housing was a breath of fresh air.

 

I think it is the monstrosities of the 60s and 70s that turned into delapidated urban ghettos that has scared local authorities and developers away from anything contemporary. That's a shame and i hope it changes.

 

My Dad was an architect and I used to watch in awe as he sketched out ideas on the kitchen table - he got his best ideas at 3am and used to get up and work so when you got up at 7am he had done this fabulous pen and ink sketch of what some desolate urban docklands could look like. And today lots of them do look like that - and it all started in my Dad's head on our kitchen table. Great stuff.

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There was an interesting programme on More4 last night - a Grand Designs offshoot where they looked at using reclaimed materials for buildings.

 

Some were brilliant - the Earth Centre, I think it was called. They had used 40-odd thousand used tyres as building blocks and packed them solid with earth and non-biodegradable household waste for strength, then covered them to make it look like those rendered buildings you get in Spain.

 

But then some were shit. Someone had made a house boat, but just scavenged old building materials. They could have done better on Scrapheap Challenge.

 

Just found: http://www.greatbuildings.com/

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I'd be delighted to help you out. Didn't your old man build his own house?

 

Aye. If it ever happens, I'll get him to project manage (assuming he's still around to do so - I can't see this happening any time soon).

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Good advice, thanks. The Fibonacci spiral is something I've studied but never really thought about applying, I will read up on this. I also should re-read Vitruvius' texts as I think there is a lot to be learnt from those.

 

Congratulations on the RIBA nominations and award, must be a great feeling.

 

Cheers mate. Had to pinch myself when it happened.

 

My favourtite book on architecture is 'A Pattern Language' By Christopher Alexander. It's part of a set that studies how disparate, unconnected civilizations throughout history arrived at similar architectural conclusions. It looks beyond mere styles to uncover an universal language of humanist architecture that is consistent throughout the world. It's a beautiful set of books that really gets to the 'truth' of design and it's potential to truly liberate people and society as a whole - A message too often lost in a society which values style over substance.

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