Not yet found the perfect gift for your loved one? How about a bottle of Zaha perfume, a £100m apartment or two or maybe just a trip to the UK’s most romantic building? Wherever that may be...

Life is sweet

The mega-rich may have lost the odd billion here and there, but the recession doesn’t appear to have stopped all their spending. Candy & Candy’s luxury residential scheme at One Hyde Park is a case in point. Word reaches me that Mace and Bovis Lend Lease are bidding for fit-out packages on the scheme that carry a price-tag of between £25m and £35m, roughly the cost of building a secondary school. Buyers are presented with the shell and core only, fitting out their abode as they wish. The flats are going for up to £100m each. What credit crunch?

Eau de Zaha

It’s not easy being a starchitect these days. Big names are having to find new revenue streams to help them stay afloat. So it is that Norman Foster has designed a range of aeroplanes and David Adjaye has bashed out limited edition chairs. Now, Zaha Hadid’s ventures into furniture and shoes are to be followed – we hear – with olfactory design. Word on the street is that La Hadid is to follow Victoria Beckham et al and release a perfume. This will enable empowered female architects to smell like Zaha or like Zaha’s buildings, whichever is more pleasing to the nose. The bottle will no doubt look splendid, and cost the world. Sound familiar?

Love shacks, baby

Love shacks, baby

It’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and love is in the air at the RIBA. The architect’s institute has launched a competition to find the UK’s most romantic building, with familiar contenders such as Blenheim Palace competing with the more modern charms of, er, Wilkinson Eyre’s Millennium Bridge in Gateshead. Our own vote goes to the shortlisted Yorkshire Sculpture Park, not least because two of Building’s employees – one past and one present – are to be married there later this year. Aaaah. Vote for your most cherished erection at


One of the foremost experts on green housing and Passivhaus technology is Frankfurt-based architect Albert Speer and Partner. The firm was set up by Albert Speer Jr, son of Adolf Hitler’s chief architect.

Speer Jr, now an elderly man, is known more for his sustainable design expertise than his unfortunate historical links. Still, I would have hoped his minions would choose their words slightly more carefully – at a lecture attended by Building in Germany last week, one employee clearly told his audience that Passivhaus was “not the final solution”.

Bigger than yours

Back on the subject of starchitects, we were amused to read about Norman Foster’s spot of bother in Las Vegas. A signature 49-storey tower designed by the UK’s most prominent architect has had to be “cut in half” during construction after a contractor’s blunder. The Harmon hotel on the Las Vegas strip had to be topped out at 28 storeys after reinforced steel in the building’s concrete was found to have been installed incorrectly. Other big names in Vegas have fared rather more successfully – Cesar Pelli and Rafael Viñoly both have neighbouring towers that will now dwarf Foster’s effort. There’s a metaphor there if you look closely.

Without a paddle

What do high-profile politicians do when they get booted out of office? Hand out gongs at obscure awards ceremonies is one answer. It’s certainly true of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was up on stage last week doing the honours for CIBSE’s glamorous Low Carbon Performance Awards alongside Dame Ellen MacArthur. Unusually for Ken, he was upstaged in the gaffe stakes by his co-presenter. During her introductory ramble, endurance sailor MacArthur berated Transport for London for replacing paper adverts in the London tube network with power-hungry video ads and projectors. TfL then picked up two awards, including one for carbon-saving champion of the year.