Building Towers gets some well-deserved coverage, Canary Wharf’s seagulls get more attention than they deserve, a secret marriage goes viral, the South Bank looks for funds, and Berkeley Homes joins the FTSE 100
Bursting to go
As a person of culture, it was a pleasure to hear about the new museum opening on Kyushu Island, Japan. Dedicated to that bathroom staple, the toilet, the museum charts the evolution of its humble history from the first flushing model in 1914 to today’s mod-cons featuring heated seats and built-in deodorisers. The smooth, white, curved edges of the building, from leading toilet manufacturer, Toto, reflect the 950 products featured inside. There are even lavatories designed and built for the state guest house in Tokyo used by visiting dignitaries and bathrooms installed at the capital’s Hotel New Otani for the 1964 Olympics. None of it bog standard, I’m told.
Berkeley Homes has entered the FTSE 100, taking the number of housebuilders in the main index to four for the first time in living memory. The firm joins Persimmon, Barratt and Taylor Wimpey. Back in 2007, at the peak of the market, there were only two housebuilders in the index and following the global recession in early 2014, there were none at all. The firm’s rise to the FTSE 100 is the icing on the cake for Berkeley’s top brass who recently revealed they were enjoying the spoils of a £42m bonus pot after seeing the firm’s share price rise by 200% between 2010 and 2015, out-performing the majority of stocks on the FTSE 100 index.
There’s something in the water around Canary Wharf and not just the tonnes of fish or the regular presence of Sammy the seal, fresh from breakfast at Billingsgate. For it appears wildlife residents have been having more than their fair share of babies this summer, forcing Canary Wharf Contractors to rethink plans for demolishing old buildings on Wood Wharf. One of the old industrial buildings standing on the site remains thanks to a seagull family being on its second lot of fledglings for the summer. Loath to disturb them, CWC has decided to wait them out, working around them instead.
Regular readers will know that Building Towers moved to a swish new-build skyscraper earlier this year, which is not at all in keeping with the shabby cool my hacks attempt to cultivate. Eagle-eyed readers may soon spot that a photo of our 19th-floor caff with views over London will appear on the front page of a forthcoming RIBA publication, BIM for construction clients, written by Building blogger and former BDP chairman Richard Saxon. Saxon says the image - if not the occupants - is intended to convey the kind of bright future made possible by BIM.
Crowdfunding is all the rage, but is the Southbank Centre being a tad cheeky trying to get the public to fund the final £3.9m it needs for the restoration of its brutalist complex on London’s South Bank? The venue has been given £4.9m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £16.7m from Arts Council England, but needs £3.9m to complete the works, including the restoration of the Hayward Gallery’s glass pyramid roof. The plans were drastically scaled down earlier this year in response to protests by skateboarders against replacing their long-standing skate park in the complex’s undercroft with restaurants. Is this appeal for funds an upshot of stripping out these commercial elements?
Till death do us part
There was widespread coverage last month when veteran broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil - best known for his work fronting Daily Politics and This Week on the BBC - tied the knot in secret in the south of France. Neil, 66, dubbed the Bachelor of Fleet Street by The Guardian, grabbed the headlines, but his bride Susan Nilsson, reportedly 22 years Neil’s junior, is perhaps better known toBuilding readers - she is head of communications at engineering consultant Waterman. Our congratulations to the happy couple!