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I am very proud to post that this month the Architectural Review features Kingston Unit 2 rather heavily, showing work of selected students including public house study drawings of The Grapes by Carlos Dos Santos, Thomas Sellers, Alexandra Bailey and myself. It also rates the unit in its article Top Ten London Architecture Units alongside units from institutions such as The Architectural Association and The Bartlett (UCL).

I was thrilled to see that a portion of a large 1:20 section of the Grapes Public House created by Carlos Dos Santos, Alexandra Bailey, Thomas Sellers and myself in a recent edition of The Architects’ Journal. I was however disappointed when I noticed that the only credit for the work was given to Carlos. This is a shame because although a large amount of this particular portion of the section was done by Carlos and he has also been the stand out student of the year, which has resulted in him being put forward for the RIBA President’s Medals, it is upsetting that a piece of work that is a collaboration between four people is not acknowledged as such. The section not only required four skilled individuals but also their ability to work as part of a team to complete, and resulted in a piece of work we were all very proud of.

“The fundamental difficulty in mosque design arises from the fact that it is not always possible to draw clean lines between what is feasible and what is not, when there are only a few rules governing mosque architecture. The Koran refers to the word masjid twenty-eight times, but in none of these references is there any relevance to mosque architecture. Equally, the Hadith, the Traditions of the Prophet, do not specifically refer to mosque design and, surprisingly, there is no major historical account of architecture by Muslim scholars. The only rules that qualify a building as a mosque are that it should be a clean enclosure or sheltered space, with a mihrab oriented towards Mecca.”

“It must be said that the architecture of the mosque is generally in a stagnant state, due in no small measure to the erosion of regional vitality. The unquestioning acceptance by the clergy of modern planning requirements has severed the mosque from its lifeblood and made it a detached monument, whose importance as sculptural form is essentially untraditional. The resistance of the clergy, on the other hand, to all design innovation has made most architects today adopt the conventional approach and use the familiar imagery as the safest path to client satisfaction.”

“A truly contemporary approach must take into account the needs and aspirations of the people for whom the mosque is built. The technology is the means by which it is built, and the choice of technology, to be appropriate, must depend on honest response to such considerations rather than through literal expression of past styles that the mosques of the future will retain their differences and remain close to the spirit of Islam.”

Ihsan Fethi, “The Mosque Today

from Sherban Cantacuzino, “Architecture in Continuity” (1985)

“Techniques of design, however, cannot serve in lieu of a committed point of view, or faith. This is a point that needs to be stressed in days when it is all too easy to succumb to oversimple scientism. It is not enough for the designer to produce forms with high performance standards. He has a social, technical, and artistic responsibility, and, if necessary, he must be prepared for the sake of these to commit himself to the principles not previously tested. A commitment of faith is not less valuable for being a personal commitment or, as it is sometimes termed, a prejudice. Presumably, it is the prejudice of a highly skilled and gifted individual able to sort out the particular aspects of his culture that need to be reflected in form.

Every designer must be so committed in order to be able to identify the frictions and rough edges in his culture that are not yet expressed in existent forms. And only after he has identified them can he begin to discover what implications old and new issues alike may have design.”

Serge Chermayeff & Christopher Alexander, ‘Community and Privacy‘ (1963) p.116

I am currently writing a paper on responsibly retrofitting existing dwellings within the UK. One of the most useful resources has been the Energy Saving Trust who have produced a large range of documents addressing almost anything energy conservation orientated. The most relevant and interesting I found was the Domestic Energy Efficiency Primer, which you can download directly from the EST website here. It looks at every area of a dwelling and suggests what possible improvements can be made, addressing several types of construction common in houses in the UK and advising as to the level of experience needed to undertake each measure.

Brenda Boardman’s 2007 bible on how to meet 2050 targets of 80% carbon emission cuts.

READ IT!!!

The most talked about environmental talks are about to commence in Copenhagen. Much hope is pinned on this summit and I don’t think it is an exaggeration at all to say they have the power to save the world over the space of a week. Great Britain has had the aim to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 for some years now. Brenda Boardman’s 2007 Home Truths is a comprehensive paper on how this could be achieved proving that these figures are not just pure fiction. The fact that the world’s leader will be assembled in one place to talk about world emissions is a miracle in itself, but as highlighted by this Guardian article the summit could save the world, but equally it could also doom it.

Why is this post appearing on an Architecture blog? For far too long architects only gesture towards sustainability. A small windmill on your roof does nothing and despite their reputation, solar panels (photovoltaics) are not green. Sustainability can be designed into a building without sacrificing other architectural qualities, in fact it can enhance a project if embraced.

Taken straight from the pages of L.W.A.P.D. this is a video by the Architect’s Journal showing their top five comic book cities. All are fantastic cityscapes but one of the complaints is that Gotham City (the skyline to Batman’s caped crusades) is destroyed to match Tim Burton’s description for his first two films. Films though can also be a fantastic source of beautiful cityscapes of the future such as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or even animations like Sky Blue but also interpretations of what cities can become if the world goes horribly wrong such as Children of Men, is perhaps slightly more interesting, even if less spectacular.

In Design for London’s own words “The vision for the East London Green Grid is to create a network of interlinked, multi-purpose open spaces with good connections to the areas where people live and work, public transport, the Green Belt and the Thames. This will be a richly varied landscape that will include diverse uses to appeal to all.”

As a very powerful project which hopefully will create balance to the large amount of development for the 2012 olympics this text gives an insight into the extent of the Green Grid, which is being earmarked as a strategy for the rest of London. It is also the basis for one of the modules this year.

The vision for the East London
Green Grid is to create a network
of interlinked, multi-purpose open
spaces with good connections to
the areas where people live and work, public transport, the Green Belt and the Thames. This will be a richly varied landscape that will include diverse
uses to appeal to all.

I found this book while using one of my very few spare minutes to browse Magma bookshop, one of the better design book stores. Matthew Frederick here has presented 101 principles in Architecture in plain english rather than the rather confusing language often used by lecturers, tutors and professionals. With all bases covered from presentation tips to model massing it should be the first thing Architecture students should read before starting the long haul of 7 years of academia, as well a a good refresher for Architects at all levels.