New blogger information at DesignCurial New and updated information from blogger listed on http://www.http// en-us http://www.http// New blogger information at DesignCurial http://http// Tell us what you think of the new Blueprint - and win a year's subscription <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4936/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p><img alt="BP" height="50" src="" width="360" /></p><p>We'd like to know what you think of Blueprint's new format in our <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">online survey</a>.</p><p>In September 2013 Blueprint celebrated this its 30th birthday with a complete redesign and relaunch as a premium bi-monthly, 260-page magazine, 80 per cent of which is pure editorial.</p><p>We also launched this website, DesignCurial, as an online platform for both Blueprint and our sister magazine FX.</p><p>Now we'd like to know what you, our readers, think of the new format. We'd appreciate it if you'd take five minutes to fill out our online survey, and in return we'll give one of you a year's free subscription to Blueprint.</p><p>It's really easy - just <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">click here</a> or follow the link below.</p><p><a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;"></a></p> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 23:00:00 GMT The Importance of lighting in retail design <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4911/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p><em>By Mihaly Bartha, head of lighting at <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">gpstudio</a><br /></em> <br />The time when interior design and lighting were handled separately is long gone. Competition is getting stronger, with brands competing for customers on every level, from basic branding elements such as graphic and interior design through to online presence, lighting and audio visual elements.</p><p>Brands are now targeting all the senses of the consumer, and they forget any one of these at their peril.</p><p>Lighting has a direct influence on our mood, with 80 per cent of the sensory information the brain receives coming from our eyes. Lighting highlights architectural elements, product qualities and creates virtual spaces - impacting how we feel, what we think of a product, and ultimately the choice of whether to purchase or not.</p><p>This has become increasingly true with the evolution in lighting design in recent years. In the past there were very few options with lighting being either on the ceiling, wall or, occasionally, freestanding. Lighting within units was very rare and resulted in constant compromises, with the size and quality of the technology available constraining the options available.</p><p>New technologies such as LEDs now allow lighting to be fully incorporated into any interior or architectural elements. This opens up the opportunities exponentially but also creates new challenges as it means that closer cooperation is needed to ensure that the correct lighting is perfectly integrated into these elements.</p><p>This is one reason why we have combined Office of Light in to gpstudio, as it provides a seamless design strategy which can provide a truly integrated, and modern, design solution.</p><p>These modern lighting options can help amplify a brand strategy, providing an additional communication medium, which maintains a consistent image. Two brands that use lighting in a particularly consistent way are <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Apple</a> and <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Louis Vuitton</a>, two quite different companies that approach lighting in vastly different ways.</p><p><img alt="LV" height="477" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>The Louis Vuitton flagship store in London's Bond Street, designed by <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Peter Marino</a></em></p><p>Apple plays on its high-tech, state of the art identity through large back illuminated surfaces with cold colours providing a highly uniformed diffused light which produces clean lines and a modern, up-to-the-minute environment.</p><p>Louis Vuitton, on the other hand, uses atmospheric warm-toned lighting and halo-lit shelf systems to create an exclusive atmosphere that leaves customers feeling secure and pampered.</p><p><img alt="WS_1" height="467" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>The Whisky Shop in London, designed by gpstudio</em></p><p>Lighting can also be used to tell a story, which can be seen from our work with <a href="The Whisky Shop" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">The Whisky Shop</a> where close cooperation between interior and lighting design has resulted in a perfect harmony of products and branding, creating a design which emphasises the feel of the whisky and highlights some of the fables behind whisky production. Angels are said to take a share of all whiskies during the maturation process, with two per cent of volume being lost with each year, so we played on this with the newly refurbished stores featuring illuminated angel wings to engage customers in the story behind the spirit.</p><p><img alt="WS_2" height="1050" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>The Whisky Shop in London, designed by gpstudio</em></p><p>Lighting impacts on every aspect of the retail experience, from brand and product perception to consumer engagement and mood. This means that we need to consider lighting at every stage in the process, and understand the impact lighting can have on overall design plans.<br /> <br /><a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">gpstudio</a> is a strategic and integrated design consultancy, based in London and works with brands globally to create the most captivating environments, brand identities and digital communications, all underpinned by strategy and technical expertise.</p><p> </p><p> </p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 00:05:00 GMT Foster + Partners' raised cycle paths for London? Great idea, in theory <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4790/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p><em>By Johnny Tucker</em></p><p><em>Image: Foster + Partners</em></p><p>Move over New York with your <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Highline</a>, here's comes London and its even-higher-line - a network of cycle paths over existing railway lines proposed by Norman Foster and friends...</p><p>It's a nice, if improbably expensive, thought and there's always room for this kind of thinking outside the yellow-criss-crossed-box.</p><p>Called SkyCycle, the idea is to build 200km of cycle-only roads directly above the railway lines in the capital. There would be 200 access points to this network and each of the 10 routes would be able to accommodate up to 12,000 cyclist per hour.</p><p>The project is the brainchild of Exterior Architecture, Foster + Partners and Space Syntax.</p><p>I've cycled all over this fair city regularly commuting on my bike for more than a decade. I've witnessed cycling conditions grow ever worse as more and more bikes take to the road. Officially, over the last 10 years &quot;on major roads&quot; the number of cyclists has increased by 173 per cent.</p><p>It's way more than that in London, take it from me.<br />While the actual percentage of halfwits on two wheels has probably stayed the same, with increasing numbers come ever-more two-wheeled menaces.</p><p>This percentage in turn engenders an increased level of road rage among that not inconsiderable percentage of half-witted, often youthful and male drivers, trolling the streets.</p><p>Any positive change to this would be welcome, as it's not currently a recipe for success and this somewhat bitter commuter soup turns sourer every day. (The flavour is also adversely affected by the handful of bus drivers who also seem to take people cycling as a personal affront.)</p><p>The reality is that London is not a great city to cycle in and you really have to have your wits about you. It would be nice not to have to ride a bike and your luck every day...</p><p>So being extricated from this melee and raised into the sky would be welcome. That said, I can foresee a few issues with this latest scheme. For one it's going to be quite a steep climb up the ramps to some of these raised railway lines. Once you're up there it's going to be damn windy, except on the loveliest of days, which, like cyclist who respect red traffic lights, seem to be few and far between these days.</p><p>It will no doubt also need to be segregated as well, to stop cyclist getting on each others nerves now they don't have the cars to swear at. It will need lanes to segregate the Lycra-louts traveling à toute vitesse, from the be-suited Brompton boys and the day-glo framed, white wall-tyred, fixed-wheel freaks.</p><p>They in turn will be traveling that little bit faster than the heavily panniered brigade, who will themselves be out-pacing the hipsters on their unfeasibly old and noisy, clapped-out crapcyles.</p><p>My final thought is that because they are following railway lines, all these new cycle lanes will be heading into a few major hot spots. It would be nice if we all worked at King's Cross, Liverpool Street, Victoria et al, but we don't. So what happens at these hubs, as thousands of extra riders, tempted by the easy cycle in, now disgorge back onto the streets to fill up the 1m-wide bike lanes? Isn't that just going to make things worse?</p><p> </p><p> </p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 00:04:00 GMT Susan Tomlinson: why I started a women-only networking group <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4777/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p>I've worked in the construction and design and build industries for nearly thirty years now, in marketing for various companies including <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Herman Miller</a> and now <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">K+N International</a>.</p><p>When I started in the late Eighties, I hardly ever saw a woman at work, and very seldom in the top jobs.<br />Business, then as now, was often conducted and facilitated though networking events - often centring on sports such as rugby or golf.</p><p>I got used to fishing trips and golfing events. It was all part of the job, and though I was invited myself, I hardly ever saw any other women at these important events.</p><p>For many years, I'd been thinking about trying to do something to encourage more women into my industry, and to encourage women to network in the way men do - a process that's so important when it comes to building relationships and getting ahead in business.</p><p>Though my role with K+N, I often talk to facilities managers, and there are still very few women working in those roles. The reasons for this may be complex, but part of it is simply that it's an industry traditionally dominated by men, and women, being absent from networking events, may simply miss out on opportunities to progress.</p><p>As with every industry, there's also the fact that women tend to take time off to have and look after children, which limits their career progression and can make them feel even more isolated from the industry.</p><p>Thankfully, things are changing. New technology is making it easier for people to work from home, and this makes working practices more flexible. But there's still a lot to do in terms of changing attitudes - and I mean those of both men and women.</p><p>In April last year we staged our first <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">women only networking event</a>, and it was a huge success. The event involved a discussion about the so-called glass ceiling - whether women are prevented, by circumstances and attitudes prevalent in the workplace, from progressing to the top jobs. The opinions of the women who spoke were varied, but what came out of that event most strongly was that women felt excluded from the practice of networking.</p><p>We had women stand up and say: 'We'd like to network and we'd like to be good at it, but we don't feel comfortable with it at all, and guys seem to be very comfortable with it and have been practicing it for years.'</p><p>At our second event we had Debra Ward, the managing Director of Macro, taking about how to network and how to use social media to help build contacts within your industry.</p><p>Each event deals with a different topic, but each one is designed to make women feel comfortable about sharing their opinions and meeting like-minded women who they can do business with.</p><p>Each one has been more popular than the last, and we know they're working. I already know of several women who have found jobs through attending our events, and many more will have made connections that will help them in their work.</p><p>The next networking group for women in design, property and facilities management - our third - takes place on 23rd January. This time, the group takes the form of a 'Question Time', and the discussion will be about financial predictions for 2014. The event is already full, but please look out for the next one or <a href="&lt;a href=&quot;;&gt;Email Me&lt;/a&gt;" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">get in touch with me</a> to see how you could get involved.</p><p>There's still a lot of work to do to get women feeling comfortable about networking, but our events are always fun, with good food and drink and a relaxed environment where women feel they can be themselves, speak out about the issue they face in the workplace and, meet people that could be become business associates, colleagues - and friends.</p><p>A big part of the success of the group has been due to to the quality of our guest speakers and the support of like-minded intelligent and ambitious women and gents throughout the industry. Here's to a busy 2014 ahead!</p><p>To find out more email or go to the <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">LinkedIn group</a>. <br /></p> Tue, 14 Jan 2014 00:05:00 GMT John McRae: Inside Battersea Power Station <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4767/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p>I was fortunate to be one of the last members of the public to visit the main turbine hall and control room at Battersea Power Station before it officially became a building site last month. The Iconic London landmark is a truly heroic brick building that once provided a fifth of London's total electrical power and is now being rejuvenated and converted to house people with financial 'power'. On my tour I marvelled at the scale of the space, the control room and the peregrine falcon 'chimney' but wondered what makes this place so special?</p><p><img alt="Battersea 1" height="750" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Iconic: Battersea Power station during a promotional event for a TV programme last year. Photo: Alex Bland</em></p><p>In the UK during the 1920s electricity was supplied by numerous private companies who built small power stations for specific industries with some of the surplus power generated going to the public supply. There was a bewildering variety of incompatible systems, high cost and jealous competition between the numerous companies. This chaotic circumstance caused Parliament to decree that electricity generation should be a single unified system under public ownership yet it was a further 30 years before the electricity supply was nationalised.</p><p><img alt="Battersea2" height="966" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Inside Battersea Power Station. Photo: John McRae</em></p><p>The London Power Company was formed as a response by the private owners to delay the imposition of public ownership. Set up in 1925 it took up Parliament's recommendation that electricity generation should be in fewer, larger power stations. This led directly to the building of the first super station, to produce 400,000 kilowatts, in Battersea.</p><p><img alt="BInside" height="951" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>The control room. Photo: John McRae</em></p><p>The proposal to site a single large power station on the south bank of the River Thames at Battersea in 1927 caused a storm of protest that raged for many years. Questions were raised in Parliament about pollution which might harm the nearby parks and &quot;noble buildings of London&quot;. Now Battersea Power Station is one of the best loved landmarks after serving London with electricity for 50 years.</p><p><img alt="Newinside" height="378" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>What the planned redvelopment of Battersea Power Station will look like. Picture: The Battersea Power Station Development Company</em></p><p>Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was commissioned to design the building. His other buildings include Liverpool Cathedral, Bankside Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and the classic red telephone box. The largest brick building in Europe is in fact a steel girder frame with brick cladding. It is two power stations conjoined. The now familiar silhouette of four chimneys did not actually appear until 1953 so for the first 20 years the building had a long rather than four-square appearance, with a chimney at each end (known as 'A' Station). But even this appearance caused positive comments, described as a temple of power and to rank as a London landmark equal with St. Paul's Cathedral. The construction of 'B' Station was begun a few months after The Second World War to bring Battersea to a total capacity of 509 megawatts and the third largest power station in the U.K. With such impressive statistics is there anything else that makes this place special?</p><p><img alt="Chimney" height="638" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Plans for redevelopment include turning the chimneys into viewing platforms</em>. Picture: The Battersea Power Station Development Company</p><p>The four chimneys and monolithic brick facades have been an iconic symbol in London for many years but to me the magic lies within the building. My tour took me through the coal storage areas, the main turbine hall and finally the control room. It is here that the importance of the building is displayed right in front of you. The beautifully crafted machinery, valves and dials tell you exactly where the station served (including Warren Street, Goodge Street and Knightsbridge) and how much power was being drawn in each area. To see such a large area of London being controlled and monitored within one room is difficult to comprehend yet inspiring at the same time.</p><p>Battersea Power Station is now a decommissioned coal-fired power station located on the south bank of the River Thames, in Battersea, an inner-city district of South West London. A number of developers have tried (and failed) to rejuvenate the building and regenerate the area but it is only recently that consent has been secured to 'save' this Icon. I really hope that we can continue to enjoy and love the building once construction works have been completed and that not too much financial 'power' is required to access it.</p><p>John McRae is a director at <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">ORMS</a></p> Thu, 09 Jan 2014 00:05:00 GMT Activist Trenton Oldfield on the reality of life in a British prison <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4701/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p><img alt="BP" height="50" src="" width="360" /></p><p><em>The activist and founder of <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">This Is Not A Gateway</a> has won his appeal against deportation to his native Australia after being jailed for six months earlier this year for causing a public nuisance when he swam out in front of the Oxford v Cambridge boat race in protest against elitism and inequality in the UK. While incarcerated, Oldfield wrote to Blueprint about life in a British prison.</em></p><p><a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Urban activist Trenton Oldfield wins appeal against deportation</a></p><p><em>Trenton Oldfield writing from HMP Wormwood Scrubs, London, 26 November 2012</em></p><p>'To date, nobody at Her Majesty's Prison Wormwood Scrubs has been able to explain to me what the point of prison is. Is prison for punishment, retribution, public safety and/or rehabilitation? The usual answer to this question is a vague: &quot;a bit of everything, I think... What do you think?&quot; Prison seems to be an institution from another era propelled by its own momentum - its purpose and existence seemingly unquestioned While some of the material conditions are better than when Wormwood Scrubs was first built - toilets rather than buckets, for example - the ideas propping up its walls seem as old as the building itself. Despite 'advances' in many human endeavours, it is still totally okay to maintain an approach to people that is at least 200 years out of date. And despite the scale of prisons and increasing prison population, these seem to be forgotten spaces, forgotten people, in our cities. Yet in fact Britain is on a prison-building spree on a scale not seen since the 1800s. Looking around at my fellow prisoners its seems very unlikely the new cells will be for the criminally corrupt and incompetent politicians, 'journalists' and bankers that have deliberately undermined so many people's lives in their pursuit of capital accumulation.</p><p>I've been in Wormwood Scrubs since 19 October 2012. I was given a 6-month custodial sentence for swimming into the course of a 'famous' university rowing race. I did this to protest against the shocking rise in inequalities in Britain today and the underlying logic of elitism that pushes policy and culture to promote intolerable ideas of strong/weak, innovative/lazy, deserving/undeserving... The Oxbridge boat race is a symbol of this unequal and elitist culture, and Oxbridge is where many in the current government learned such ideas. In the three days preceding my protest action the Queen's coalition government introduced the Communications Data Bill to spy on and store people's digital data; the Queen herself gave royal assent to the fire sale of the National Health Service; and a minister for the Olympics, Hugh Robertson encouraged subjects to report on neighbours they suspected might protest at the 2012 Olympic Games.</p><p>The day of my sentence I packed a bag with books, under-clothing and writing materials. Knowing well the vindictive nature and insecurity of those who wish to 'Rule Britannia', I anticipated a prison sentence for my direct action protest, despite no laws being broken. One only needs to have read just some people's history of this nation and know a little about its abhorrent wars and aggression to know this is the way that the Crown likes to roll. From the moment the Crown dredged up an ancient common law to charge me, the question became &quot;how long&quot; would the sentence be?</p><p>Almost simultaneously with the judge stating &quot;I sentence you to six months&quot;, I was led out of the secured glass box, hand-cuffed, and taken on my first of many walks down long windowless corridors. I ended up underground in a blank concrete cell beneath the courthouse. There was a gasp from the custody staff - none had expected to see me. I waited for several hours. So began my experience in the great white void that is the 21st-century prison in Britain.</p><p>Around 4pm that day, as every day, hundreds of white vans ('sweat boxes') set off from courts on their way to a few giant prisons. My journey in this austere white van, with its heavily tinted window that made everything outside already dark, seemed to be to a destination whose culture and language were unknown to me. Unexpectedly my mind started to flood with clichéd urban myths, television and film images of life inside prison. This was happening even though I knew these stories and images are the actual panopticon - the real discipline being the 'fear of prison'.</p><p>It was difficult to block these images, and difficult to slow my heart rate when I was popped out of the van and into my first 'holding pen', where the latest 40 or so prisoners waited to be 'inducted' into Wormwood Scrubs. Despite the time-travel disorientation of sitting in a 19th-century vault, I was quickly put at ease when a number of soon-to-be fellow prisoners greeted me - some coming over to shake my hand, suggesting their favourite swimming spots and sharing comments along the lines of 'fuck the system'. It's been like this ever since, whichever wing I've been moved to; brilliant banter and gestures of solidarity.</p><p>Movement, believe it or not, is one of the main factors of life at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs. The Peoples Movement Office - perhaps the ultimate gatekeepers in this great void in the city - can make a substantial difference in the quality of everyday life in here. It's where visits are agreed, notifications posted, religious services and lectures requested, and gym schedules set up. It's also the office that arranges the transfer of prisoners between wings and to different prisons. The material conditions of different wings, even in the same prison, can be significant. If you find yourself on 'D Wing', as I did, your dignity is stripped right back - something that makes no sense to me. Maltreating people who likely had very little comfort 'outside' seems to create a self-fulfilling prophecy - certainly in making 'rehabilitation' unlikely. Who, where and how one is moved makes an enormous difference to life in and out of prison.</p><p>Movement sets the rhythm to each day. There are four 'rush hours' - officially called 'free flow' - when prisoners are being released, going to court or to classes or jobs within the prison. They are not usually announced but one becomes aware as a volcano of noise erupts and then gets louder and louder as more and more prisoners join the queue to make it through the gate. Many hundreds of prisoners (perhaps 900 or more) make their way down a central hallway connecting all wings to the main facilities. The first mass movement is around 8am, the second when people return at 11am , then 2pm, and again around 4pm. And on each occasion there is banter and laughter. In many ways it's a short walk to the next place - a bit like living in the Barbican?</p><p>In between these rush hours the wing more or less falls silent, the volcano of noise dropping decibel by decibel with the thud of cell doors closing. This is the time I read and write, the time I look forward to the most. My cell mate sleeps; most prisoners are now somewhere else - either on education courses or working to make fellow prisoners lives better (in the kitchen, in the yard, inducting new prisoners at reception, or doing vast amounts of laundry). The vast majority of prisoners want to work and some jobs are very sought after.</p><p>Movement also seems to be an important method in injecting a sense of vulnerability and instability. As soon as you feel settled, start getting into a routine or develop an understanding with a cell mate, you can be moved to another cell, wing or prison. It is my understanding 'the screws' are regularly rotated between landings, wings and prisons to prevent them from forming relationships and alliances with other guards and prisoners; alienation seems at the very core of the prison logic . In my second week I was issued with a notice to move to HMP Birmingham - something that didn't happen. Each day I hesitate when I hear keys outside the door - hoping I won't get the &quot;pack your stuff, you've got 10 minutes to get downstairs&quot;. Moves usually result in spending long periods in 'holding pens' and it's these I struggle with. They can be anywhere - in between gates in the main corridor, on stairs, in specific rooms, in shower rooms etc. The wait without anything to do can be deeply energy zapping. Mostly, however, it doesn't take long for some true characters to start cracking jokes, keeping everyone entertained and upbeat. There is a comradery in here between fellow prisoners that is every bit the opposite to the brutal Darwinist 'survival of the fittest' culture shown on television and particularly in films about prisons.</p><p>This is my experience of one prison and other prisoners at other prisons might have very different experiences. What I do know is that prisons are great white voids in our contemporary cities, a result of outdated ideas and judicial systems. Is it not here that 'reform' needs to happen?'</p><p><em>Trenton Oldfield has worked for over a decade in non-governmental organisations specialising in urban renewal, cultural and environmental programmes. He founded the not-for-profit organisation This Is Not A Gateway with Deepa Naik in 2007.</em><br /></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 00:05:00 GMT Urban hotels strive to offer unique design <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4669/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p><img alt="FX" height="50" src="" width="292" /></p><p>We've been through a hotel boom in New York and other major American cities in the past few years. Every segment, from ultra-luxury to select service has benefited. But at the same time, the increase in hotel rooms made the city hospitality market a lot more competitive.</p><p>In a city like New York, hotels needed to put more emphasis than ever on design and 'uniqueness' to help offset the city-wide reality of smaller room sizes and higher rates, as well as to stand out among competition. This strategy helped drive the independent/ boutique hotel market, but also pushed major brands into creating non-standard room designs. Brands such as Marriott Residence Inn specifically state that its prototypes are not allowed in NYC. Our designs look to achieve an authentic experience, unique to that locale. For example, in The Refinery Hotel, our work was heavily influenced by the location (New York's Garment District) and the building's past (a former garment factory).</p><p>While we have seen prominent examples of the elimination of room service, food and beverage operations continue to be crucial for urban hotels for the added revenue they bring, almost more importantly is setting the vibe, brand and buzz.</p><p>Different types of venues within a single property give guests options while keeping the energy flowing. This helps ensure that the hotel gets used by more than just the guest, and that locals are repeat users as well. Winnie's Lounge at The Refinery is the smaller, more subdued bar adjacent to the lobby with an intimate feel and great mixologists, while the Refinery Roof Bar can accommodate up to 200 people, is acoustically bright, and a place to see and been seen.</p><p>The NoMad Hotel provides even more dining and drinking options: the quiet Library Bar (its expansion is currently 'on the boards'), the Elephant Bar, the Skylight or Parlor Room Dining...and the Roof Bar with its own private dining room in the Cupola.</p><p>For the operations end of the equation, by paying attention to how the venues are staffed and operated back-of-house, we help clients stay profitable. We also incorporate areas that can be reserved or sold separately into the design and create flexible set-ups to accommodate the large breakfast crowds, while expecting and designing for the smaller lunch crowd. When designing a roof bar, how we move people and services up and down the building is a major consideration that should take place in the early planning stages. Also, ensuring a space isn't mothballed in either cold or warm weather is a must; the Refinery Roof Bar was designed for year-around use.</p><p>Hotels have an added pressure in keeping up with the ways we live and work with technology, and integrating design into hotel technology is a challenge we tackle frequently. iPads are ubiquitous, so are web-based guest services systems; guests use their own devices to view movies and listen to music. Mobiles make hotel phones all but obsolete - some brands now require only one phone per room and have eliminated the service from bathrooms.</p><p>The standardised design and reliable service that American hospitality companies once exported to the rest of the world is giving way to a more localised and unique design approach in major American cities.</p> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 00:05:00 GMT A building that resembles a vagina? It's only natural <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4658/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p>Ever since 30 St Mary Axe was unofficially rechristened '<a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">the Gherkin</a>', it's become a badge of honour for new buildings to acquire nicknames based on the things they remind us of. Now, of course, we have <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">the Shard</a>, the <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Cheesegrater</a> and the <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Walkie Talkie</a> - and that's just in London.</p><p>What, then, are we to make of one of Zaha Hadid's latest designs, the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar, which hit the headlines when it was unveiled last week due to its uncanny resemblance (or so many people have thought) to a vagina?</p><p><!-- This version of the embed code is no longer supported. Learn more: --><object height="290" width="515"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value=";force_embed=1&amp;;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=00adef&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="290" src=";force_embed=1&amp;;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=1&amp;color=00adef&amp;fullscreen=1&amp;autoplay=0&amp;loop=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="515" /></object><a href="">Al Wakrah Stadium</a> from <a href="">Zaha Hadid Architects</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p><p>Perhaps luckily for Hadid, there is already a '<a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">vagina building', in Chicago</a>. But that hasn't stopped the internet tittering and twittering. Unsurprisingly, the story went viral, with comments on Twitter ranging from facetious to complimentary.</p><p><a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">One website</a> also helpfully put together a list of six buildings that look like vaginas (thanks for that).</p><p>Where some people inevitably see an embarrassing lack of foresight on the part of those who designed the building (Hadid is adamant that any resemblance to female genitalia is purely coincidental), others see the stadium's likeness to female private parts in a positive light: a feminist riposte to the preponderance of penis-shaped buildings that dominate the skylines of our cities like some giant game of 'mine's bigger than yours'.</p><p>Indeed, Hadid herself has questioned whether the whole hoo-ha would have happened at all had this building been designed by a man (in fact it was designed by Hadid herself alongside Patrik Schumacher).</p><p><img alt="1" height="538" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Picture: Zaha Hadid Architects</em></p><p>Writing in the guardian, <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Holly Baxter</a> opined that there is 'something quite pleasing about a building shaped like a fanny'. She continued: 'The Qatari stadium's resemblance to a woman's private parts may be unintentional, but I for one applaud it. Perhaps the bigwigs who will be running the stadium should embrace this so-called faux pas and rebrand it as a deliberate nod towards the increasingly liberal Qatari policies concerning women in sport.'</p><p><img alt="2" height="537" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Picture: Zaha Hadid Architects</em></p><p>So what's all the fuss? Well, although Qatar may be one of the more liberal of the Gulf States, its attitude to female nudity and therefore representations (however accidental) of female genitalia in architecture are likely to be rather more prudish than they may be in, say, Sweden.</p><p>There's also the fact that the resemblance of the stadium to the female genitalia is wholly unintentional; instead, the shape of the building was actually based (rather predictably, you might say) on the design of a traditional Qatari dhow boat.</p><p>Speaking to TIME magazine, Hadid said: 'It's really embarrassing that they come up with nonsense like this. What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina? That's ridiculous.'</p><p>In fact, the comparison probably has more to do with Hadid's fluid, organic, natural looking architecture - the way her buildings seem to flow and undulate like something created by nature rather than by the hands of mankind.</p><p>In the end it's part of human nature to anthropomorphise - to see ourselves in the natural and man-made environments that surround us, and as everyone knows, nature is the best designer there ever was. The idea of 'organic architecture' is nothing new: the term was coined by Frank Lloyd Wright before 1960 and more recently architect and planner David Pearson proposed a sort of manifesto for the design of organic architecture including 'be inspired by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse' and <br />'unfold, like an organism, from the seed within'.</p><p>As architecture continues to break free of the straight lines and rigid materials that have been imposed on us by limited technology and lack of imagination, it's likely that buildings will start to look, feel and function a lot more like our bodies.</p><p>That we see ourselves and other things in inanimate objects is testament to our playful and creative imaginations: celebrate it, laugh it, give it a nickname if you will, but don't let it embarrass you - after all, it's only natural. <br /></p> Tue, 26 Nov 2013 00:05:00 GMT Inside Ernö Goldfinger’s Haggerston School <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/4613/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p>Ernö Goldfinger's contribution to Britain's architectural landscape is often overlooked, or sadly misunderstood. Indeed he suffered great controversy throughout most of his working life, only really achieving critical acclaim posthumously.</p><p>Educational schemes certainly didn't feature heavily in Goldfinger's work; in fact East London's Haggerston School was his only educational project. Built in 1964-5, the school is one of the best examples of Goldfinger's approach to space and his innovative use of materials.</p><p><img alt="Hag4" height="1037" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Photo: Tom de Gay / Avanti Architects</em></p><p>Let's not forget, this building is nearly 50 years old. It was conceived, and built, at a time when Britain's education system was starkly different to teh way it is now. Notions such as 'all-through' schools, 'break-out' areas and 'schools within schools' are more recent inventions, the products of a collaborative approach to school design that simply didn't exist when Goldfinger was working.<br /> <br />Thanks to a very sympathetic refurbishment by <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Avanti Architects</a>, Haggerston School has now been pulled boldly into the 21st Century. But aside from cosmetic improvements (the installation of double-glazing and other technological advances), Goldfinger's original vision for a school doesn't differ enormously from what we see today in other educational projects.</p><p><img alt="Avani1" height="562" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>Inside the newly refurbished Haggerston School. Photo: Tom de Gay / Avanti Architects</em></p><p>The John Madejski Academy (<a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Wilkinson Eyre Architects</a>, 2007), for example, was the first of the DFES' (Department for Education and Skills) secondary school exemplar designs - a Government-funded programme that invested £2.2 billion into 180 school projects nationwide - and is a shining example of sensitive architecture tackling a complex, mixed-use building.</p><p><img alt="Wilk1" height="915" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>John Madjeski Academy by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Photo: James Brittain</em></p><p>A basic comparison reveals very little difference in the approach to designing both Haggerston School and the John Madjeski Academy; they are both secondary schools, after all. Both have a series of separate buildings (although Wilkinson Eyre call theirs 'Clusters'); use light, space and layout to great effect, and harness materials such as concrete to form the backbone of their structures. The key difference, however, lies in two important elements - 'play' and landscape.</p><p><img alt="Wilk2" height="525" src="" width="700" /></p><p><em>John Madjeski Academy by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Photo: James Brittain</em></p><p>Goldfinger's scheme neglects to use the entirety of the site to its full potential, whereas Wilkinson Eyre (and Landscape architects, <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Grant Associates</a>) recognise the importance of the connection between buildings. At John Madjeski, there are outdoor teaching areas, carefully considered planting zones, a multi-use games area and a trail linking the main school building with the sports centre; Haggerston school boasts none of these nuances.</p><p><img alt="Haggerston2" height="467" src="" width="700" /></p><p>It is, however, a testament to Goldfinger's legacy that Avanti Architects stuck so closely to the original concept, only adding, amending and bringing a touch of colour into the spaces. Haggerston School is by no means perfect, and there are other Goldfinger projects - such as the headquarters for the <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;">Daily Worker</a> newspaper - that are arguably better realised. However, there remains a simple connecting truth that spans the 42-year difference between the two schools: children don't change, subjects will remain the same, and schools will always be full of 11-18 year olds trying their best to learn something.</p><p>Landscape aside, Haggerston remains both a testament to Ernö Goldfinger's genius and a well-executed, sympathetic educational building we continue to use today. <br /></p> Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:05:00 GMT Core blimey <img height='60px' width='60px' src= '/Uploads/Blog/2884/thumbnail.jpg'/></a><p>It is the 12th and final phase of the masterplan for the 13ha business park, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Contractor Lend Lease/Stanhope has festooned the core with colourful stencilled images of wildlife to alleviate the grey expanse of concrete. The building will eventually offer 31,000 sq m of workspace across 12 floors and is tallest structure within the development, notable for its extensive use of standardised off-site construction techniques. Completion is expected at the end of 2014.</p><p>By Gareth Gardner / Photography + Journalism / <a href="" onclick=";return false;" onkeypress=";return false;"></a></p> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 17:26:25 GMT