This week, causes for confusion include a mysterious marketing campaign, a dubious safety claim, a phantom contract and a rather naughty search term – plus, the RIBA’s clever job creation scheme

It’s a bust

If you want any further proof that Google is taking over the world, just ask Balfour Beatty about its latest rebranding venture, which last week turned Haden Building Management into Balfour Beatty WorkPlace. One branding solution considered was the abbreviation BBW, but during a video conference with boss Kevin Craven, a brave member of staff pointed out that if you tapped BBW into the search engine, top of the list came “big beautiful women”. Don’t try it at home.

Shifting Sands

A cautionary tale about the speed of the global recession: Middle East-based interiors specialist Depa sent out a press release on Monday boasting of their latest contract win at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, worth an astounding 224 million dirhams (£40m). The only problem? Developer Las Vegas Sands had already put the project on ice owing to severe funding problems.

Let them drink Coke

I gather the residents at Berkeley Homes’ St George Wharf development in Vauxhall, south London, had to manage without water last weekend – again. Subcontractor Peppiatt was already in the middle of replacing the pipework and leak detection equipment in two blocks. You’d think residents of expensive Thamesside apartments could expect better, wouldn’t you? And you’d be right. One of the blocks with the wrong pipework was for social housing residents and the other contained affordable housing. Talk about the great unwashed.


Conspiracy theories abounded at the Inspace Homes do at the Tate Modern last week. Surprisingly, however, the principal topic was not whether Taylor Wimpey will survive to see 2009 but what on earth Inspace had done to the iconic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames. It finally emerged that the purple and red words being projected onto the dome were not Inspace’s latest advertising campaign, but an art installation to mark the 300-year anniversary of Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. You read it here first, Charles Saatchi.

Job lot

Never let it be said that the RIBA fails to look out for its own. No doubt concerned that its members are short of work, the venerable institute is to put some of its fees towards a redesign of the outdoor areas of its central London HQ – and has launched a competition to find an architect. So far, more than 3,600 architects have applied to redesign the original 1934 building, but given the paucity of projects on most practices’ plates, can even more entries be expected for this latest job? aSend any juicy industry gossip to

Improving on reality

We’re all used to government targets but the project team on London’s Thameslink rail upgrade was puzzled by the Environment Agency’s demand that they keep pollution below a certain figure – which was actually lower than existing levels. Is this merely wishful thinking? Or a ploy to keep the capital’s commuters in permanent misery?

Playing it safe

Last week I was treated to a tour of a construction site in Abu Dhabi. I asked my guide, an architect on the scheme, how health and safety standards were faring. He assured me that they were much improved. “You would be surprised,” he said. “Health and safety standards here are probably the best in the world”. No sooner had he made this claim than half a dozen site workers breezed past wearing not a single hard hat between them. Surprised indeed.