The anti-Garden Bridge brigade phone it in, RIBA gets theatrical in an ex-Shed, Prince Charles’ fears about fish are published, and someone has to pay at Balfour Beatty. Plus, Make parks itself in its new studio


Hanging on the telephone?

There may now be a builder for London’s Garden Bridge - an overseas consortium led by French contractor Bouygues was appointed this month - but this hasn’t deterred the hardy band of protesters still fiercely campaigning against the scheme ever seeing the light of day. At a lively meeting at St John’s church in Waterloo, attended by opponents including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby, chief campaigner and local resident Michael Ball slammed Lambeth council for “selling public open space on the South Bank” and gave out the mobile number for the council’s deputy leader for finance and investment Paul McGlone so that the 350 mostly-critical attendees could express their views to him directly.

It’s grim down t’ studio

The RIBA London Awards were held in what must now be described as the temporary theatre outside the National Theatre (the, er, temporary name The Shed has since been reclaimed by its owner, a small venue on the North York Moors). The prestigious event to present the architect organisation’s awards was squeezed in between performances of a play called Beyond Caring, which is set in a sausage factory. Our host for the night, RIBA president elect Jane Duncan, apologised that there wasn’t time to remove all traces of the play from the award-winning venue. She quipped: “The characters work long hours for very little money, clearing up other people’s mess. I know how they feel and I expect you do too.”

The Black Spider strikes again?

The upshot of Prince Charles’ “black spider letters” being disclosed after a 10-year legal fight by The Guardian was mainly that “Patagonian toothfish” trended for a time on Twitter. Sadly none of the letters related to Chelsea Barracks, where the Prince’s notorious intervention is thought to have seen Richard Rogers removed from the project. But the letters did reveal his concern over the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed redevelopment plans for Smithfield Market and his subsequent delight when
Tessa Jowell listed one of the buildings set for demolishment, ultimately scuppering the plans. Charles also wrote numerous letters to Jowell offering historic building advice and on behalf of the prime minster of New Zealand, regarding conservation funding for Antarctic huts built by polar explorers Scott and Shackleton.

Performance related pay issues

Balfour Beatty is the latest company to report disquiet from its shareholders at the remuneration packages for its directors. Nearly a third of its investors last Thursday voted against approving the firm’s remuneration report for the 2014 calendar year - which incorporated a two-thirds pay rise for last year’s acting executive chairman Steve Marshall, and a pay package offered to newly-installed chief executive Leo Quinn, who started on 1 January this year, of between £800,000 and £2.3m,depending on his performance. Balfour Beatty reported poor results for 2014 in March, with a £304m overall pre-tax loss for the year and a £317m operating loss within its UK construction business. The firm acknowledged the number of votes against, noted that 2014 was a difficult year for the company, and promised to conduct a “thorough assessment of the feedback”.

Park and recreation

Make studio

To Fitzrovia, and Make’s annual party, one of the best architectural shindigs in the calendar. My driver was disconcerted to find he couldn’t park his cab in its usual spot … because that’s where the party was held. Make has made its new studio in a former underground car park - and a jolly good job it has made of it too. Allow me to describe the scene: you enter down the original ramp, now fitted with shallow steps, alongside which some of the practice’s models are displayed. Inside there’s a lot of concrete and exposed services. Some of my favourite details were in the toilets, where the original posts retain yellow paint - as well as flecks from carelessly driven cars. Apparently one of the hardest tasks was relocating drainpipes which ran through the space. They seem to have mastered this as none of the night’s downpour found its way into the party.