Another perilous descent into the turbid underworld of the industry’s psyche, where we discover Bouygues’ secret shame, spy on Sir Terry Farrell and make a surprising discovery in the underwear department

Tell us about your hang-ups

Are you having difficulty getting through to Bouygues? Insiders at the French megacorporation’s UK office tell me that their telephones haven’t been working properly for about a month now. Callers have been greeted with the engaged tone or have simply failed to get through to the right person. Quite an embarrassment for any large company, but in particular for the French giant. After all, it does own a £4bn-turnover telecoms business and is the third-largest mobile operator in France.

The measure of success

One of Building’s crack team of APC trainers, Alastair Bloore of Cyril Sweett, has revealed that when he’s not putting candidates through their paces, he’s training pretty hard himself. Alastair, 41, completed the European Triathlon in Lisbon last month, where he came 75th out of 86 in his age group. He said: “My aim was to not be in the bottom 10%. It may not sound ambitious but at least it was realistic! Next challenge is to inch my way up a few places.” Good to know our APC trainers aren’t all mouth and no (Lycra) trousers.

Alienation for architects

London’s finest architects thronged the stalls of the Young Vic theatre last week for the capital’s RIBA regional awards. The theatre itself won last year’s Building of the Year award, so it was a shock to find it clad with plywood boards, furnished with plastic chairs and lit by strip lights. Judge Joanna van Heyningen hurriedly informed the gossipy throng that the auditorium was not a building site, but actually a stripped-down set for the production of a Bertolt Brecht play, and that Haworth Tompkins’ award-winning designs were just the same as they had been last year.

For the girl who has everything

The latest trends in sustainable materials rarely make for scintillating reading, so it was with delight that I opened an email from gardening and design outfit Cura Vie, which proudly announced that its engineers had designed the world’s first sustainable lingerie. Yes, pants made from hemp, bamboo fabric and the like. You will be relieved to hear that the frillies are “panda-friendly”. No, not because they come in plus-size dimensions, but because they are made out of non-edible bamboo. Personally, I blame Sex and the City.

Coming a cropper

Nigel Ostime, a director at 3DReid, has been sporting an aerodynamic new haircut lately. Curiously, he didn’t get it done at the local barber, but at the architect’s away day. Ostime made the mistake of telling colleagues that he would shave his head for £500. As this took place at 3am in the hotel bar, the money was on the table in seconds and, before he knew it, Ostime had his new look. (He generously donated the money to charity.)

Five others from 3DReid are raising money for Cancer Research in an even more selfless fashion: by cycling 500 miles between 3DReid’s offices over five days. For donations and details visit

Credit: Scott Garrett

Mr Blur

Sir Terry Farrell, architecture’s busiest man, is adding yet another string to his bow, I hear. Not content with advising Edinburgh, the Thames Gateway and – allegedly – the new London mayor on good design, Farrell is curating an exhibition for New London Architecture entitled Digital Cities. One of Sir Tel’s chief wheezes for this will be an interactive map charting visitors’ movements across the capital after they leave the exhibition, using mobile phone technology. No, I don’t understand how it works either, but let’s hope the man himself uses it, and we can finally find out exactly how much time he’s spending in City Hall.