Over the last 30 years I have been involved with work as an architect expert witness dealing with land disputes, planning, construction disputes and building defects. I wouldn’t drop my design work and go over to the dark side completely – indeed I consider it very important that an expert should also be an active designer – but a different view of the architectural world with plenty of intellectual cut and thrust brings a welcome touch of variety.Read More
Cockaigne, for those who don't know, is a mythical land of milk and honey and it was the name chosen back in the early sixties by a newly formed group, full of utopian aspirations, who went on to build the well-known Ryde housing in Hatfield which has been my home for the last 26 years. With so much current discussion of the merits of co-housing, so much study of successful schemes abroad, and so much frustration suffered by those who try to get schemes off the ground, it is worth looking again at the Cockaigne scheme, possibly the first UK example, to see what it is that has led to its on-going success.Read More
In the beginning there were hospitals, early examples being very widely spread in Alexandria, Baghdad, Paris and elsewhere, and these were primarily, as you might expect, places of care for the sick and wounded butin northern Europe during the early middle ages a new and different kind of hospital, a charitable residence for old men, begins to appear. The first known example is St Peter’s hospital in York, founded by King Aethelstan in 936 and the earliest remaining is the St Cross Hospital in Winchester dating from 1133.Read More
My wonder and blunder are both stations both originally built in the nineteenth century and both recently modernized.
Antwerp station, designed in 1895 by Louis Delasencerie, is by no means huge, but is a Beaux-Arts jewel with a magnificently lofty glass domed waiting hall reminiscent of the Paris Opera, from which grand stairs lead up to the original elevated tracks below the single great arch of the train shed. What makes the station so special though is what has been done recently when the decision was taken to add eight new tracks below ground, four of them being new high speed through lines.
The threat of the “the workhouse” has been a very real and terrifying one for many families over the last four hundred years, but as times change and the desire for renovation has grown, the old workhouse has reinvented itself – with help from imaginative architects.
Richard Morton, of RM Architects, looks at how the workhouse can be transformed from austere and forbidding structures to beautiful and practical homes for an aging population.Read More
In 2009 HAPPI, the Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation, launched its first report on older people's housing, bringing many new ideas and a very welcome emphasis on design quality to a sector where such things have previously been the exception rather than the rule. In particular the HAPPI report included studies of some excellent schemes in northern Europe which provide a fertile source of new thinking for extra care schemes and care homes in this country.Read More
Some years ago I designed some houses for the first phase of what was then Prince Charles’s new architectural experiment at Poundbury on the edge of Dorchester. There were about six different architects involved each being allocated a few houses of known shape and size within Leon Krier’s master-plan. Following a design code we all came up with sketches which were then pinned up as street scenes for discussion and criticism. The individual flights of design bravado were then gently brought to earth to avoid an over rich mix dominated by architectural egos. This thinking was later reflected in the arguments put forward by Allies and Morrison stressing that we should value good, ordinary architecture rather than letting ourselves become obsessed with iconic showpieces.Read More