Friday, 24 October 2014

Here's the Heads Up #23

Describing Architecture at the City Assembly House, image by Orla Murphy

Here's the latest Heads Up on exhibitions and designy deadlines in Ireland and London. The emphasis is on what's coming up or ending soon to serve as a reminder - to me as much as to you guys - to catch things while we can...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Central Saint Martins

Studio space in Central Saint Martins, Stanton Williams Architects

Up until about a month ago I worked in the Students' Union at the University of the Arts London (UAL), which is a relatively recent bringing-together of six of London's top art schools. UAL has a host of campuses all over the city, designed in different eras or repurposed in different ways. While I wasn't based there all the time, one of my favourite sites within UAL's impressive portfolio is the recently completed Central Saint Martins campus in King's Cross. Designed by Stanton Williams Architects, it's the anchor in the ongoing redevelopment of the King's Cross area by developers Argent and it opened its doors to 5,000 students in 2011.

Monday, 13 October 2014

LDF 2014

1-2-3 Mirror by Klas & Schenk-Mischke at LDF 2014

London Design Festival returned from 13 - 21 September, with heaps of exhibitions, trade shows and events all over the city. I excitedly began attending talks, launches and happenings and really enjoyed the more curated or discursive aspects of the festival. But by the time I reached my third trade show, my energy - and patience - began to wane. There were a whole host of great new products launched, and then A LOT more that weren't great at all. And while different but not great is one thing, when I saw product after product after product all looking the same... sigh. BUT there was some cool stuff on display, so I thought I'd take the four main recurring themes I noticed and show you my favourite versions of them (or antidotes to them). Behold:

Monday, 6 October 2014

Post Tropical Lighting

Last night I went to see Irish musician James Vincent McMorrow play at the Shepherd's Bush Empire. This was the second time I saw him perform live, the first being in the Barbican back in January (how dreamy!). James is an amazing songwriter and performer and his most recent album Post Tropical is one of my favourites of the past few years. But great music aside, his performances of late have been done amid stunning lighting design by Conor Jacob. Conor has filled the stage with pyramids of light, each glowing, pulsing and changing colour as each song unfolds. In the background, 3d mapping brings a round surface, interruped by yet more pyramids, to life. It's not so easy to describe in words what he's achieved, and I certainly can't do it justice. Instead, click through to watch a video of the lighting in action, directed by Emma J. Doyle and made by James "purely to capture something that I love, and to share with people ... This video is all about the lights." James is currently on tour around Europe, so you might be able to see the show in a venue near you...

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Social House London

World's End Estate, Chelsea, image via

Though not my intention at the outset, my first ever Open House London experience last weekend saw me visiting, among other sites, a number of social housing schemes, giving me a little more insight into the work done by London authorities to house thousands of families in the 60s and 70s. While definitely not exhaustive, I got a sense of high-rise in Elephant & Castle, low-rise in Tulse Hill and a mixture of the two in the most high-density development of the three in World's End, Chelsea. Each tour was a fantastic insight not only into the design and intentions behind each development, but the daily life of each scheme, as each tour was led by residents. Britain has an amazing stock of post-war housing, but it's very much a depleting stock: I recommend opportunities such as Open House to see them while you still can, while books such as Concretopia by John Grindrod and A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley give good insight into the rise and fall of postwar socially-minded architecture here in the UK.