This September sees us back at Designjunction Cubitt House, we hope you can join us for another exciting London Design Festival.
London Open House weekend... always a wonderful opportunity to get out and about to see behind the facades of some of London's great architecture. This year we were thrilled to be able to take a peek inside the Derwent London Angel building; an inspiring example of what can be done to transform an early 80s office block. With perfectly executed finishes and crisp detailing by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris the existing concrete frame of this six-storey office building has been re-used and re-wrapped with a highly energy-efficient glazed skin. Visitors were able to enjoy the main atrium of the building which featured a striking Ian McChesney sculpture and seat in the foyer, as well as make it up onto the roof garden with its impresive view over the city.
The Angel Building was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2011 and has won awards from RIBA London, the British Council for Offices and New London Architecture.
London Open House has now shut it's doors for 2014, but we're already looking forward to next year's event.
After many years of admiring and supporting the great work that Maggie's Cancer Caring charity do, I was honoured recently to have the opportunity to visit a Maggie’s Centre for myself. Maggie's Centres are based all over the country and are available for use by anyone who is affected by cancer. The objective of each centre is to provide "emotional, practical and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends". "Maggie's unique model of psychosocial support transforms the way that people live with cancer" and their vision is to provide access to " high quality, evidence based psychological, emotional and informational support" to everyone in the UK who is affected by cancer.
Inspirational architecture is integral to the ethos of Maggie's Centres. Each Centre is designed by a different architect with the brief "to create a space that is both uplifting and protective, in which people can find the strength to live with hope and joy in the face of a cancer diagnosis". I visited the centre located atCharing Cross Hospital in West London and was imediately struck by the liveleness of this small bright orange building with its floating roof, its high quality architecture and the thoughful attention that's been given to the landscape around it. This building is immediately welcoming as you approach it up a winding path flanked with stone sculptures and wooden benches. Inside the building greets you with a domestic scale that creates an environment that is at once open and friendly. This particular centre was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, with gardens by Dan Pearson and was opened in 2008.
I was grateful to see the great work that goes on within Maggie's and am keen to continue my support for them.
I was delighted to be invited to the Garden Museum recently by Maggie's Centres to hear a talk given by the inspirational fashion designer Sir Paul Smith, renowned landscape & garden designer Dan Pearson and award winning architect Stephanie MacDonald of 6a Architects. The evening focused on the connections between fashion design, garden design and architecture, their relationship to one another and the natural world around them. I attended the evening with Clive from Quarterre and we both left feeling very inspired... by the speakers as well as the Museum itself. Housed in a listed former church The Garden Museum was redeveloped by Dow Jones Architects in 2008 to incorporate a timber clad two-storey structure that wraps around the perimeter of the existing building, providing galleries for the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. It's an impressive space. To the rear of the church there is a pretty 'Knot garden' which provides a quiet retreat in the heart of the city in which to enjoy coffee and cake from the Museum's cafe.
All in all it was a great evening and a good introduction to an interesting museum that I know I shall return to soon... if you fancy a visit too it's located on the south bank of the Thames opposite The Palace of Westminster and Tate Britain.
Had a very enjoyable evening out on Thursday night in Spitalfields at The Icon Awards 2012. This was an inaugural event and was one that should definately be repeated... the relaxed atmosphere was completey different to the other award evening formats - it was a standing event with drinks and canapes in Hawksmoor's elegant Christ Church. Great too to see such a diverse list of nominees; from Tokyo based Design Studio Nendo & London Product Design Studio Berg, to Internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid & the Olympic Velodrome Building by Hopkins Architects. In the end though it was Barber & Osbergby, Thomas Heatherwick, O'Donnell + Tuomey and San Rocco who were amongst those who walked away with the top prize... Congratulations to everyone involved.
We recently took a trip up to Boxpark . Billed as the "world's first pop up mall", it will apparently be 'popping up' for the next 5 years... This inventive idea has been sited right next to Shoreditch station and has been created out of 60 shipping containers. Each container has been fitted out individually to create a mini shopping district of well known brands which have been selected by invitation only. What makes Boxpark so interesting is to see these 60 identically sized industrial units all the same, yet all so very different...
Puma & Marimekko
Pieminister & Phaidon
DC & Frae Frozen Yogurt
Vans & Etnies
Crussh & Irregular Choice
The home of Assemblyroom is in Crystal Palace, South East London... an eceltic and interesting neighbourhood with a really strong sense of community. Named after Joseph Paxton's glass masterpiece that was built to house The Great Exhibition of 1851, The Crystal Palace sadly burnt down in 1936 and now all that remains are the grand staircases, the terraces and the sphinxes standing guard at the entrance to what must have been a truely awesome building.
The grounds of The Crystal Palace still exist as a public park today with lakes, ornamental gardens, and most impressively of all 33 life size concrete dinosaurs by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins... always a joy to walk around, they never fail to delight!
The hub of Crystal Palace is equally interesting... centered round 3 streets known locally as The Triangle it's layout gives the shopping area a village like feel rather than the more standard one road , one high street approach. Couple this with the abundance of independent shops, cafes and restaurants in the area and it makes for a great place to live and work!
The Alma & The Blackbird Bakery
And to top it all off... it's only 28 mins to Shoreditch...
To find out more about what's on offer down this way, check out The Triangle SE19
So we're just surfacing from 4 days stood inside a windowless shed in Earls Court but I'm pleased to say we're all still smiling! It's been an enjoyable show at 100% Design this year from both a visitor's and an exhibitor's perspective... plenty to see and good attendance. We were located at the far end of the hall in the 'Futures' section where there was a good mix of people and product, from the elegant timber furniture of Young & Norgate to the experimental and exciting concept lighting & architecture of D*Haus.
Elsewhere in the hall there was an equally eclectic mix - from the elegance of Dare Studio and minimalism of Pottinger + Cole to the complete over the top audacity of Maximo Riera's animal chair collection (which everyone seemed to be talking about!)
This year also had a large international input with stands showcasing contemporary design from Norway, Korea and Argentina to name but a few... but our favourite was 'South West View' Contemporary Design from Chile - particularly the natural simplicity of the woven lampshades by The Andes House.
We spent a wonderful New Year down near Lewes with our very good friends George & Roger. They've been hard at work for a nearly a year now building a new wing extension to their Victorian cottage and it's really looking great. Following in the footsteps of the local black shiplapped agricultural vernacular, the extension will comprise of a kitchen/ diner on the ground floor and a master bedroom and family bathroom on the first floor. The glass bifold doors on the corner of the kitchen / diner open the building right up onto the garden, creating a modern family space for all to enjoy... we can't wait to see the finished article... Good luck with it G & R!
Nothing beats a crisp autumn morning down by the sea, with a good coffee and a dash of inspirational architecture... and I'm pleased to say that the East Beach Cafe in Littlehampton recently provided all of the above for us... Inspired by a piece of drift wood, this self supporting building has been created by Thomas Heatherwick out of hundreds of flat ribbons of steel and was completed in 2007... well worth a visit.
If you haven't already had chance to see this year's summer pavillion at the Serpentine we fully recommend paying it a visit. This is the 10th commision for the annual pavillion on the lawn of the Serpentine Gallery and this year it has been designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The structure consists of bold geometric forms that celebarate the colour red... Did he get his influence from the iconic london bus, the post box and the traditional telephone box? Whatever the inspiration, it's a great summer stop off to grab a quick coffee, play a game of chess or table tennis and soak up the atmosphere...
What a great start to 2010... We managed to trudge through the snow to the Design Museum to see a very inspiring exhibition by David Chipperfield; the master of beautiful understated intelligent architecture. With plenty of projects (realised and conceptual), models and drawings on display this really is a show worth visiting.
We had a great week enjoying all that the London Design Festival had to offer; from the larger more mainstream trade shows to the smaller (and often more interesting) side shows... Here are a few of our best bits:
The Dock; a really interesting venue which included a host of great designers from graduates to individuals to more established design companies such as: Tom Dixon, Tye & Co, Case Furniture and Massproductions.
Shiregu Ban's 'Paper Tower' sculpture (a 22m high structure made out of cardboard tubes) at the Royal Festival Hall
The Together Chair by Ben Huggins at Tent
and finally an installation we were very glad we stumbled upon, which was displaying the wonders of Corian
Open House weekend has just been and gone for another year... a brilliant annual event which allows access into 700 buildings of every conceivable type, style, size and function, across London. This year we chose to visit two buildings with a firm connection; the first was the office of Allies and Morrison architects and the second was The Blue Fin Building, located on the same street and conceived and built by the same architects. Allies and Morrison are a practise that I have long admired; I first became aware of tem through their work for the Contempoary Applied Arts on Percy Street, when in 1997 they designed their new gallery and shop. From that point on I have sought out and visited many of their projects including: the Centenary Building at our wonderful local museum The Horniman, the new planetarium at Greenwich Royal Observatory, the Atterbury Street entrance to Tate Britain, the refurbishment of the Royal Festival Hall and the creation of the fabulous restaurant Canteen at the RFH.
So with all of this in mind I was keen to see where the magic happens... and so to 85 Southwark Street. Located on a busy road this is a 3 storey building with an impressive glass facade, accentuated with perforated yellow shutters. We were taken on a tour around the building by one of the architects who was very enthusiastic about the environment as a workplace and we were shown around every square inch of the space, from the reception through to the roof top terrace, the meeting rooms, the open plan office space, the kitchenettes and (amazingly) their very own model making shop. Even though the building had a large number of visitors traipsing through it, it still managed to retain an atmosphere of calm, understated strength and beauty; the architect's use of exposed concrete, simple materials, accents of yellow, the Alvar Alto furniture and a great attention to detail make this a very modest building, which reflects the quiet ingenuity of it's creators.
And so to the Blue Fin Building literally across the road, which is in direct contrast to the architect's own office... This is a 12 storey edifice, home to the headquarters of the publishing giant IPC; a sleek corporate building where the facade is peppered with random 'blue fins' from which the building gets it's name. Set around a central atrium this building boasts a state of the art presentation theatre, a winter garden, striking landscaped outdoor terraces on the 10th floor and an 11th floor staff restaurant with magnificent views out over Tate Modern, the Thames and beyond. It was on this floor that I discovered I'm not imune to an unnerving sense of vertigo, as I peered over the glass balustrade, down to the ground floor reception area! Fortunately I held it together and was able to explore the many meeting rooms, workspaces and breakout areas that go to complete this impressive building, which although huge does not appear too overwhelming as the architects have managed to retain the understated minimalism and quality of detailing for which I have long admired them for.
We are proud to announce that we have just purchased a book called Good Office Design by David Littlefield which features our work for eOffice Manchester. Compiled as a series of case studies, this book charts the trends and innovations of workplace design from 2002 to the present day. All of the projects featured here have been selected from the British Council for Offices award winners, with the intention of "shedding light on current best practice in the sector where matching the needs of business with the needs of staff is increasingly important for commercial or organisational success."
Needless to say we're delighted to have been included in this publication and we are genuinely impressed with the book overall; the quality of the projects, the images and the writing make it an interesting read for anyone looking to make the most of their work space.
It's late summer and at Assemblyroom that means it's time for a day trip out to see this years summer pavillion at The Serpentine Gallery. Commencing in 2000 this is an annual event which showcases a temporary structure by an internationally acclaimed architect or designer, who, at the time of the Serpentine Gallery's invitation, has not completed a building in England. This year it is the turn of Japanese architects, Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA who describe their structure as ‘floating aluminium, drifting freely between the trees like smoke. The reflective canopy undulates across the site, expanding the park and sky. Its appearance changes according to the weather, allowing it to melt into the surroundings. It works as a field of activity with no walls, allowing uninterrupted views across the park and encouraging access from all sides. It is a sheltered extension of the park where people can read, relax and enjoy lovely summer days.'
and enjoy a lovely summer day we did... drinking coffee under the canopy and admiring this wonderfully playful structure with it's mirrored surfaces, organic shapes and openness. Supported by slender stainless steel columns the floating polished aluminium roof plays with the light and blurs the boundary of the surrounding landscape... encouraging us to engage with the structure with a child like sense of fun...
During a trip to The Lighthouse (Scotland's Centre for Architecture, Design and the City) in Glasgow last week we were fortunate enough to come across an excellent exhibition entitled 'Between Heaven and Earth'. This is a major retrospective of the Los Angeles based architect John Lautner. Trained by Frank Lloyd Wright and with a career spanning over 50 years, Lautner is best known for his private commissions: Elrod House (which featured in the James Bond movie 'Diamonds are Forever') and Chemosphere.
With such strong sculptural forms, innovative materials and innventive structure, Lautner's architecture is truely visionary... If ever an excuse was needed to visit LA, this is surely it...
you'll come across the offices of the Spanish architectrual practise Selgas Cano Architects. Located in Madrid, this contemporary yet unobtrusive building is half submerged into the ground in a woodland setting, reminiscent of bird or animal watching shelters. However, with views out at ground level on three sides and such a light, clean and colouful interior it is clearly an office and looks like a great place to work. Photography by architectural photographer Iwan Baan