We’re uncertain what’s happening at Google HQ, unsure if the Queen has been sticking her oar in, and doubt the wisdom of building next to a nightclub. But why anyone would buy a flat without windows is a total mystery
Could the Serpentine pavilion architect BIG be about to take on an even more high-profile commission? The practice of Bjarke Ingels is already working on Google’s headquarters in California with Thomas Heatherwick and the rumour is that it might be about to do the same for the firm’s headquarters in London at King’s Cross. That project is officially still being designed by Stirling prize winner AHMM. But asked whether he was in discussion with Google about King’s Cross, Ingels replied: “I can’t say more.” Hmm.
Room with a view
Two families in Brazil will have the comfiest seats going for Rio’s Olympic Games this summer after refusing compensation to relocate. The families have found themselves fenced inside the £1.7bn Olympic park by the developers and are now ensconced inside a property that will overlook the games’ aquatic centre and velodrome. Rio’s council is vowing to evict the families and the city mayor Eduardo Paes has made a court application to remove them from the site.
We are not amused
Could royal displeasure have forced the hand of the Livingstone brothers to revise plans for the revamp of Hilton Park Lane? Plans from architect Hopkins have been submitted to Westminster council for a “refreshment” of the 28-storey tower to reduce its visual impact. The 1963 structure towers over the back garden of Buckingham Palace, which is said to have irritated the Queen so much she has never attended a function there. I suppose it would stop you stripping off for a spot of sunbathing.
The debate on tall towers has once again reached the pages of the Evening Standard. Last week we noted chairman of think-tank New London Architecture, Peter Murray, thinks it is “inevitable” more tall towers will go up in the capital. Not so, says Duncan Wilson, the boss of Historic England, who hits back: “Tall buildings in the right places can make exciting contributions but they should … not be springing up in the wrong places.” Wilson calls the towers “hopelessly generic”. Meanwhile, in the letters pages of the Financial Times, a reader objects to the executive director of the Garden Bridge Trust claiming the bridge “will use currently unused space”. John Howkins writes in to take umbrage with Bee Emmott’s stance. “Space above a river is not unused,” he writes. “It is free air, open space, a public resource, giving views. For an individual to claim that the public’s view of the Thames is ‘unused’ and ripe to be closed off for private development is appalling.”
Sound and fury
London’s Ministry of Sound nightclub in a formerly grungy and unloved corner of the capital’s Elephant & Castle area has long been on the frontline of the battle against gentrification. The nightclub fought an Allies & Morrison-designed block of flats nearby in 2013 and successfully obtained improvements, including acoustically sealed windows to shield residents from the noise. Now the dance mecca has objected to a 40-storey SOM-designed “cultural quarter”, fearing an influx of residents three doors down could force it to close. The Ministry has instructed acousticians to model SOM’s scheme and the impact the club would have on it. Presumably they’re hoping that the known risk of the development being bombarded by din will be enough to deter the developer from going ahead.
Through a glass darkly
Windows or no windows - that is the latest decision facing cash-strapped flat hunters. A new development in London close to Brixton tube station is selling eight flats in a former office block for up to £465,000. The flats have all mod cons apparently - all mod cons, that is, except windows. Yes, it seems that the sole source of light in some of the apartments will come from light wells. Furthermore, the listing warns that the final layout is subject to change and images should not be relied on. As the estate agent’s blurb says: “There can be no equivalent in SW2.” Or in the rest of London hopefully.
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