It seems that Lord Foster's practice may soon be upping sticks from its headquarters on the banks of the Thames at Battersea. The practice has grown so much, he says, it is running out of space. "I'd love to see us in a space with a bigger footprint where we can regroup," the great man told me at the Venice Biennale last weekend. However, Foster does not intend to move far.
"A very high proportion of our people have relocated to that area and they walk or cycle to work. We're not moving out of that area."
I understand Foster, who designed the existing headquarters, would like to design the new one. No doubt he will start thinking about it seriously if he makes it on to the shortlist.
Forget the Parthenon
Hats off to the Greek architectural community for coming up with a theoretical definition for something that's always intrigued me: those reinforcement bars that stick out of the roofs of practically every house in the country. Apparently, the term is "spaces in waiting" – meaning that owners may get round to building a new floor on their houses, eventually. The phenomenon is studied in the Greek pavilion at the Biennale, where it seems to be considered among Greece's great contributions to architecture: "It's one of the most characteristic things you'll see in Athens," I was told. And there I was thinking it was a wheeze to avoid completion tax.
Prague down the drain
At the Biennale I bumped into Czech-born architect Eva Jiricna. She recently visited her native Prague, which is still devastated by the recent floods. Metro tunnels are damaged, building foundations undermined and the clean-up operation will take months, Jiricna tells me. She is angry that a system of temporary flood barriers, proposed a few years ago, was never installed along the river banks. "It stinks," she says – metaphorically and, I gather, literally.
We're all working class now
Nurses, firefighters and teachers are all considered vital enough to be considered "key workers" – but what about site workers? Tim Carpenter, managing director of Willmott Dixon Housing, thinks that builders are just as important to the economy and should qualify for the affordable housing schemes being provided in central London. "Site workers should be considered key workers," he says – but he rather undermines his argument when he adds: "And so should managing directors."
We the people …
American Architects have failed to come up with a decent proposal for the World Trade Centre – so now the public is having a go. CNN's website (see above) is inviting ideas, and has so far received 1600 submissions. It seems US citizens have more imagination than their architects. Angele Libreri from North Carolina, for example, proposes a Statue of Liberty-style torch for the site. "The Eternal Flame would be a perpetual reminder of all those who were lost … I'm not an architect, so I have no idea how high it could be built – but I would build it as high as it can go." See the other proposals at www.cnn.com/specials/2002/wtc.ideas.
How big are the speakers?
Meanwhile, another proposal for the site has come up with a way of avoiding airborne attacks. The WTC2002 Cyber City, designed by one Derek G Turner, will "have a state-of the-art external security system, which at this stage revolves around sound waves that have the capacity at a specific frequency to repel flying objects." Right.
When Lord Rogers goes on about urban renaissance, we all know he means modernist buildings and urban design, not the sort of stuff promoted by Prince Charles. Or does he? Last week he was praising the streets of the renaissance Italian town of Siena. Er, but didn't reactionary Prince Charles do exactly the same? And didn't he beat Rogers to it by 10 years?
… and finally
Housebuilders have a new enemy: cricketers. In its attempt to get youngsters interested in the game, Channel 4's test match programme has launched a cartoon series called The Pride Side.
It features four cricket-playing lions whose game is threatened by a cigar-chomping developer who intends to build houses over their wicket …