This week, we have a colourful tale of giant chimneys, a certain shade of the colour blue, ever-more absurd house prices, a modern mausoleum and some excellent exploits in aid of the less fortunate

Hansom HT

Bleak houses

Greenwich Peninsula developer Knight Dragon has come up with an ingenious plan to improve the sightliness of its development and has asked artist Conrad Shawcross to camouflage the (unsightly) chimneys of an energy centre due to open there later this autumn. Called the Optic Cloak, the 49m-high structure is being marketed as a new landmark for this part of south-east London. It got me thinking: what else could we camouflage? Here’s my starter for 10 - the inevitable “will this do?” high-rises that are bound to be thrown up in this neck of the woods. For more ideas, see our sister publication Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup winner.

Hard times

On the hottest day of the year, no less, came an email about Christmas. As the temperature outside Building’s offices peaked to a rather toasty 32°C in central London last week and over 34°C further east in Kent, those nice people at Crash have asked me to pass on news of their Christmas appeal. By donating to its No Christmas Card Appeal you will help Crash put a roof over people’s heads when they are homeless, and help hospices to improve their buildings to provide care for those young and old with life limiting illnesses. More details can be found at

Great expectations

Attention all painters and decorators! Paint people Dulux have said the defining colour - their words, not mine - of next year is something called “Denim Drift”. In plain English, it’s a grey-blue. It goes on. “It perfectly captures the mood of the moment and is a true embodiment of the way we’ll live our lives in 2017.” As every Chelsea football fan will already know, blue is indeed the colour, it seems.

A tale of two cities

New reports by both Knight Frank and Aston Chase show an influx of celebrity buyers - including comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, designer Tom Ford and artist Damien Hirst - into Regent’s Park have pushed up house prices up even further in and around London’s most famous Royal park. Knight Frank’s report reveals Regent Park house prices went up 9% between 2014 and 2016, while Aston Chase highlights residential values in the area now average £2,500 to £3,000+ per ft2. Not a problem encountered down the road in Tower Hamlets.

Our mutual friends

The charitable and outreach efforts of construction’s finest never cease to amaze me. Firstly I doff my hat to Daman Ranby and Scott Green of consultant Edmond Shipway, who cycled a whopping 950 miles in six days from Lands End to John O’Groats, finishing last weekend, to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. To support them, visit Meanwhile, Willmott Dixon, Balfour Beatty and Scape have been going the extra mile to attract young people into construction. Willmott Dixon’s interior fit-out company teamed up with 13 young people from Southwark and Camden to refurbish the Construction Youth Trust’s Bermondsey Training Centre, while Balfour and Scape recently hosted their largest ever interactive broadcast on construction careers to over 3,000 students aged between 11 and 18. To encourage young people into the industry, you can sign up to Building and the Construction Youth Trust’s Experience Construction initiative at

The pavilion papers


Last week’s heatwave was a good time to put up a temporary pavilion, I would have thought. As September temperatures in London nudged into the 30s, the Architecture Foundation was holding a series of talks in Highgate Cemetery out of a temporary mausoleum designed by architect Sam Jacob. Among the talks was a tribute to the late Zaha Hadid and on what happens now we’re all leaving the EU. The weather played ball for the first two nights but waking up last Friday morning to apocalyptic weather reports, I did fear for the final event later that evening. Still, I’m hoping people went along having taken the advice of the title of that evening’s talk: Forget About It.

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