This week’s report from construction’s hidden world tracks down Sunand Prasad and Jarvis Cocker on route to the Arctic, takes the air in Dubai and uncovers a strange transformation in Edinburgh

Sunand ice

Sunand Prasad’s passport is to be adorned with yet more international stamps as the globetrotting RIBA president has been asked to join celebs on the “Cape Farewell” cruise to the Arctic to heighten awareness of the Earth’s dwindling resources. I am told that Prasad will help “respond to and inspire a sustainable cultural vision” for climate change, along with pop maestros Jarvis Cocker, KT Tunstall and, er, “beatbox” superstar Schlomo. Although I have been assured Prasad’s contribution will be purely architectural, is it too much to expect a bid for Christmas number one from the diminutive prez? A cover of Ice Ice Baby would seem appropriate.

Pedal to the metal

To the Olympic park for the launch of Hopkins Architects and Expedition Engineering’s latest designs for the velodrome. At the venue, I happened to bump into Dean Goodliffe of ISG, whose firm is due to start building the £80m cycle park in spring 2009. Despite the challenges of being an Olympic contractor, Goodliffe was on super-confident form. “I can’t wait to get started!” he announced with barely contained glee. “I wanted to get going this year, but they won’t let me!”

He then dashed off to be photographed with triple-gold-medal-winning cyclist Chris Hoy. With enthusiasm like that, it might not be just Hoy breaking records at the velodrome …

No fire without smoke

“Don’t forget to breathe” is the bizarre slogan that developer Kerzner has chosen for its 1500-room Atlantis luxury hotel on the Palm Jumeirah Island in Dubai, currently being completed by Laing O’Rourke. Given that the hotel was damaged last week by a fire that broke out after a welding accident, I would have thought that anyone holding their breath for the planned 24 September opening date might do well to heed Kerzner’s advice.

The admirable Crichton We are used to developers renaming sites in the hope of squeezing the last ounce of cool – that is, lucre – from them. However, architect Bennetts Associates was slightly surprised when a similar request came from a group of staid Edinburgh university mathematics professors. Apparently the staff at the £41m Informatics Forum wanted to ensure that their swanky new headquarters in the city centre had an appropriate address. It seems its Potter Row tag simply would not do. What the profs were after was 10 Crichton Street.

One and zero – binary code – geddit?

Several exchanges with the Post Office later and it was smiles all round. For once it seems an architect has managed to get the numbers to add up.

The time machine

Consultant engineer Buro Happold hosted a delightful evening at the London Transport Museum last week. Since its recent refurbishment by Wates, the venue is as close as you can get to a ride on a twenties tube train without actually having to go into a coma and having your own Life on Mars experience. Unfortunately for the hosts, the experience was all too realistic for some: the lengthy queue out into Covent Garden outside eerily reminiscent of early 21st-century travel.

Bag me a spectator

I would like to reassure any readers alarmed at our photograph of the ladies’ archery event at the 1908 Olympics (last week, page 44) that, contrary to our slightly off-target caption, the competitors were not in fact firing into the crowd.

It has been pointed out to us by Arup librarian and keen bow-woman Andrea Beddard that the picture depicts a “two-way round”, an event that is still popular today and involves using targets at both ends of the archery field.

Frankly, I’m not sure that sounds any safer.

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