These are the ramblings of the diarist Hansom, his one-week mission to explore new gossip, to seek out embarrassing facts and amusing trivia, to boldly go …
Fine upstanding towers
The Sigmund Freud memorial competition to build the world’s tallest tower in the Middle East appears to be getting stiffer. Balfour Beatty, Carillion and Laing O’Rourke are in the running to build the 600 m Burj Dubai tower, but I hear this scheme has created a wave of plans to build ever more impressive proofs of economic virility. There are plans for another Dubai tower that could break the 1000 m mark, making the poor old Burj look rather half-cocked. And now, not to be outdone by its upstart neighbour, Abu Dhabi is apparently planning to go higher still. Call me old-fashioned, but I always think it’s what you do with your phallic symbol that counts.
Form follows function
The myth that landscape architects apply pastel colours merely to prettify urban spaces was laid to rest at the RIBA conference last weekend. Brian Evans, partner of landscape architect Gillespies, slipped in a brief plug for his practice’s makeover of Buchanan Street in Glasgow. “We were not too proud to use every element available to urban designers, including blue street lights,” he said, before explaining: “Drug addicts can’t shoot up under blue lights – they can’t find their veins.”
From PFI to LEP
Staying with the RIBA conference, the delegates were given a new three-letter abbreviation to play with: the LEP. This stands for Local Education Partnership, the government’s multibillion-pound schoolbuilding vehicle. As delegates tried to work out whether or not they should welcome the initiative, BDP director Richard Saxon merrily pondered: “So will people getting involved in LEPs become Lepers?”
A very public mistake
I see the financial travails of Jarvis was the top story on Channel 4 News last Thursday. Bit of a shame, then, that Jon Snow kept talking about its work on the Public Finance Initiative. Oops.
Does anyone have a spare temporary building that dare not speak its name? The Children of Honduras Trust charity, which collects food and supplies for Central American youngsters, need a new one, after their P********n reached the end of its life. Ideally they would like a 40-footer. Call David Yates on 01623-635935 if you can help.
Architects 'R' Us
Architects Richard Rogers and John McAslan shared the stage at the launch of McAslan's excellent refurbishment of the Peter Jones store off Sloane Square, where they shot the breeze with The Guardian's diminutive architecture critic Jonathan Glancey. The main bone of contention arising from the discussion concerned that oft-celebrated landmark building, the Basingstoke branch of Toys 'R' Us, which Glancey controversially held to be 'banal'. "I don't know what his problem is," sulked one developer. "I've always quite liked it." A clear example, if it were needed, of why we leave architecture to the professionals.