Behind the  Scenes: Blog

Hugh Pearman
Custom and practice: the new housing sector tailor-made for architects
Britain needs to build new homes as never before. Private volume housebuilders can only do as much as their shareholders and land holdings will allow – and their products are variable to say the least.
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Titanic of the desert: Architecture of records

24th March 2014 Marwa Al Sabouni
World biggest artificial island, tallest skyscraper, most expensive horse riding competition, the list goes on and on. 

Custom and practice: the new housing sector tailor-made for architects

24th March 2014 Hugh Pearman
Britain needs to build new homes as never before. Private volume housebuilders can only do as much as their shareholders and land holdings will allow – and their products are variable to say the least.

Joseph Rykwert, Royal Gold Medallist 2014

25th February 2014 Hugh Pearman 
Architecture needs people who stand apart from it and interrogate it. Not necessarily as critics of this or that building – we are two a penny – but as thinkers who in turn shape the way we think about things. 

Constructive Engagement

25th February 2014 Hugh Pearman
Architecture is occupying the Royal Academy. Don’t miss it...

Royal Gold Medal crit

25th February Elanor Young
A crit is a nerve-wracking experience at any time, writes Eleanor Young. 

Brits Assemble

14th February 2014 Hugh Pearman
It was something of an exalted occasion. The usual exhibition-opening crowd at the RIBA found itself swelled by the presence of Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael and Patty Hopkins, and Terry Farrell..

What happens in Vegas…

14th February 2014 Jan-Carlos Kucharek Apparently, the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip have only been dimmed twice in living memory-once in 1999 to mark the death of Dean Martin and again in 2005 for that of Frank Sinatra. Having been there, it’s not surprising  to think that this weird and unique city, marooned in the Mojave desert, should take a ‘time out’ to commemorate both a notorious boozer and mafia schmoozer- for Las Vegas really is a law unto itself...

De Young Museum: Alien invasion

24th January 2014 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
I suppose the most surprising thing about the de Young Museum is the way that it creeps up on you. I mean, it’s in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park – a long sliver of a green...

Diary | The time traveller's life

23rd January 2014 Maria Smith
If only we knew yesterday what we'll know tomorrow, but things change so fast

Late-flowering BSF

23rd January 2014 Eleanor Young

Gollifer Langston's Garden School in Hackney, London, is one of the last Building Schools for the Future projects. It's a good place to grow.

Origami architecture

18th December 2013 Hugh Pearman

This was a sneak peek rather than a launch: Dublin-based architects O’Donnell + Tuomey recently hosted the Architecture Association of Ireland at a site visit to their nearly-complete Saw Swee Hock Students’ Centre at the London School of Economics. RIBAJ was delighted to be invited along...

Oh what a lovely war | book review

18th December 2013 Hugh Pearman

'What has one to do to defy aerial warfare? The general staffs offer, in substance, the following verdict: according to the current state of urbanism, only those cities... designed according to the model of the Radiant City will withstand aerial warfare successfully.'

RIBA President's Medals

Three Bartlett students have scooped the top three awards in the RIBA’s Presidents Medals Students Awards, writes Eleanor Young...

120th anniversary party

2nd December 2013 

120 years is quite a birthday. Celebrating its anniversary this November the RIBA Journal also marked its relaunch with a party in the rough and ready spaces soon to be transformed by AHMM into Derwent’s White Collar Factory...

Tate Britain by Caruso St. John

19th November 2013 Hugh Pearman

The Art Deco/Swedish Grace revival starts here, in the Tate Gallery on London’s Millbank, in the hands of architects Caruso St. John.  30 years ago this would have counted as postmodernism, so there is a wry symmetry...

McLaughlin takes Wood Award gold

19th November 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Niall McLaughlin might have been pipped to the post for the 2013 Stirling Prize by Witherford Watson Mann, but his Bishop Edward King Chapel outside Oxford was declared a very worthy recipient of both the Gold Award and Structural prize at the 2013

Another country

23rd October 2013 Hugh Pearman

Hugh Pearman loses himself in the land art of the Americas. It's a far cry from our idea of public art...

Drawing on a rich heritage

21st October 2013 Eleanor Young

It has been a busy 100 years of architectural drawing in which the drawing office has been replaced by the CAD monkey in parlance that reflects the jettisoning of drawing boards...

Serpentine Sackler, London

17th October 2013 Eleanor Young

Zaha Hadid Architects' best buildings use a massive material lightly (think of the flowing concrete curves of Wolfsburg's Phaeno Science Centre). Its new Serpentine Sackler Gallery...

Snøhetta | Maggie's Centre

20th September 2013 Eleanor Young

Snøhetta’s first permanent building in the UK has opened. The sweeping curve of this 350m² Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Aberdeen is far smaller than the Turner Centre, Margate...

Jewish community centre

19th September 2013 Eleanor Young

JW3 is London's latest, US-style, centre for the Jewish community

Close, but no cigar | Lisbon Triennale

18th September 2013 Hugh Pearman

It's trying, and full of ideas, but with hardly any architecture the scattered Lisbon Triennale is too much like hard work.

Joseph Rykwert, Royal Gold Medallist 2014

18th September 2013 Hugh Pearman

Joseph Rykwert, who will receive the 2014 RIBA Royal Gold Medal as approved by the Queen, has been in fruitful conversation with architecture for some 60 years.

Precious mettle

19th August 2013 Hugh Pearman

Ernö Goldfinger was an architect with a formidable reputation, both in his own lifetime and today. The tales of high-handed behaviour in the office (rages, sudden sackings and equally sudden reinstatements appeared to be the norm), plus the way his neighbour Ian Fleming borrowed his name for his eponymous Bond villain in 1959, was enough to give him a warrior aura.

Time to reflect | RIBAJ 120

19th August 2013 Eleanor Young 

It is not often that the profession has a chance to reflect. Questions such as ‘When does conscience kick in?’ and ‘How do you make architecture count?’ might sound like just a dinner table conversation but thinkers, doers, clients and architects at the first two of the RIBAJ120 showed how critical they are to everyday practice – and, as Deborah Saunt said, at the heart of being an architect.


Royal Academy Summer Show 2013

13th June 2013 Hugh Pearman “It always worries me that when you display models and drawings on a neutral colour, they get lost,” says Eva Jiricna, curator of this year’s architecture room at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition...

A smile that lights up the room

12th June 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek La Gioconda; stolen, attacked, graffittied, copied; the old girl’s been through the wars. For over five hundred years her enigmatic smile has made the Mona Lisa the most famous painting in history...

Charles Correa: dirty work but someone's got to do it

17th May 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek It was a moment of interesting cultural awkwardness. Charles Correa, talking at the RIBA’s Florence Hall, opening the ‘Out of India’ exhibition commemorating his gift of 6,000 drawings to the Drawings Collection had spent the last hour taking us through a potted history of his oeuvre and was now answering questions from the floor.

Happy Talk, Maggies Centre | Eleanor Young

17th May 2013 Eleanor Young ‘It is so moral, so British, to claim the disk roof is at that angle for PVs not for the beauty of it.’ So said Charles Jencks co-founder of Maggies’ to Ted Cullinan, the architect of the latest Maggies Centre in Newcastle...

British Museum extension | Hugh Pearman

15th May 2013 Hugh Pearman The last time I took a close look at progress on the British Museum’s new £135m extension, it was 2011, and just a great big L-shaped hole in the ground...

In splendid isolation

17th April 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek Looking at Rachel Whiteread’s latest show, you can understand author Harper Lee’s dilemma. There she was with her 1960 book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, a work so singular and in touch with the zeitgeist...

Tamed by time | ICA

16th April 2013 Hugh Pearman This is a startlingly small exhibition. So small, that this review will have no difficulty describing every key work on display. There are just five, plus two glass cases, and a large wall photo.

Digging deep: RIBAJ visits the reopened €375m Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

12th April 2013 Hugh Pearman The Rijksmuseum has reopened after a rebuilding programme lasting over a decade, and costing €375m. For that time and money, you expect to find a marvel. It’s not quite that, but it’s good.

Going round the Benz

22nd March 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek My twin sisters used to be pen pals with a pair of Stuttgart twins by the name of Franziska and Martina Zehrer- and it was they who convinced me on a visit one year that everyone in Stuttgart drove a Mercedes...

Tiger Territory | London Zoo

22nd March 2013 Eleanor Young Visiting London Zoo I have always found the big cats the most disappointing. Sleeping or walking rather slowly in the distance, they in no way live up to their starring roles on an Attenborough programme...

Light work

22nd March 2013 Eleanor Young It might not sparkle quite as much as a Christmas tree, but there are lessons on life at the Hayward Gallery's Light Show...

A wider critique

7th February 2013 Eleanor Young The President’s Medals crit with Royal Gold Medallist Peter Zumthor was a very grown up affair...

Shipshape and Bristol fashion

25th January 2013 Eleanor Young George Ferguson, architect, entrepreneur and Mayor of Bristol since late last year has been laying out his vision for reshaping the city...

Show me the Manet

25th January 2013 Hugh Pearman Realist or proto-Impressionist? Manet, the subject of the Royal Academy’s latest blockbuster show, was both of those. Also a fair imitator of the Old Master style when he wanted...

From hard house to my house

25th January 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek From the far end of the hall where I entered, I couldn’t quite see, but there was no avoiding the resonant booming of what sounded like Kodo drumming...

The View from The Shard: Old Streets, New Perspectives

11th January 2013 Jan-Carlos Kucharek Looking out from the Shard’s new viewing gallery at the city of London 244m below, I wonder what artist Wenceslaus Hollar would have made of it...

Piano Man

11th January 2013 Hugh Pearman There aren’t many people who could have commandeered the View From the Shard for a private party weeks before it opened to the public, but Williams Matthews is a special case...

Too good to lose

13th December 2012 Hugh Pearman On Monday (December 17) the city council will vote on whether to demolish it. There has been a chorus of dismay, from concerned local residents through to national critics....

A London Shed

13th Dec 2012 Eleanor Young Basil Spence, BDP, Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios; there is a long history of architectural firms established in regional bases deciding that they have to be in London to crack the city...

Interview with Ed Vaizey

29th Nov 2012 Hugh Pearman Culture minister Ed Vaizey, who in the autumn reshuffle took on responsibility for architecture, got a good press with his first visible act in this...

The Bristol challenge

18th Oct 2012 Eleanor Young With the election for the first mayor of Bristol just weeks away the Construction Industry Council are challenging candidates to say what they want for the city and its built environment...

Stirling stuff

18th Oct 2012 Hugh Pearman It's all about the mood of the room, the Stirling Prize ceremony. Down the years there have been good nights and bad nights...

Work of art?

18th Oct 2012 Eleanor Young Farshid Moussavi has completed her first building in the US, in Ohio. The dramatic $18.7m (£11.6m) ‘gem’ of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland opened in mid October...

It's show time!

21st Sept 2012 Jan-Carlos Kucharek I don't know if it's the Olympics, but there is a definite sense that London is design a-buzz, if the crowds at the three events I attended are anything to go by...

Porthmeor Studios

12th Sept 2012 Eleanor Young We leave the Atlantic surf and body borders of the summer beach to go down into the cellars. Moments away from the St Ives tourists on the sand is Porthmeor Studios...

Walthamstow Carnivalesque

12th Sept 2012 Hugh Pearman
I last visited Walthamstow in 1980, and only went there then because the now-defunct Walthamstow Building Society (slogan: “Don’t Blow it, WalthamStow It”) was the only lender who’d give me a mortgage on my first flat...

The Beaney

12th Sept 2012 Eleanor Young
A huge leaded bay window, mosaic panels, a pair of griffins above the stone steps. This is the familiar entrance of Canterbury’s town gallery and library, better known as The Beaney Institute and Royal Museum...

Venice Architecture Biennale

30th Aug 2012 Hugh Pearman
If you’ve never been to one, know this: the Venice Architecture Biennale is not a single thing, even though it is always given a single theme...

Drinks at the AA

14th Jun 2012 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
Despite having been a Bartlett boy, and with fond memories of its workshop courtyard turned into a great moshpit for the summer show, I’ve always had an enduring preference for the AA one...

Where Europe meets Asia

14th Jun 2012 Hugh Pearman
Years ago I went to Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, to see Foster and ...

Protect and survive

18th May 2012 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
The 2008 Stirling Prize winner, Accordia, is looking good. The 9 ...

The world of Pugin

18th May 2012 Hugh Pearman
In this, the bicentenary of the birth of the great Gothic Revivalist ...

Altered States

18th Apr 2012 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
Last week, on the day that architects Make submitted their planning ...

China Syndrome

18th Apr 2012 Hugh Pearman
The reaction from the audience was pretty well uniform: blimey, why ...

Rockin’ the Square

7th Mar 2012 Hugh Pearman
The Fourth Plinth on Trafalgar Square in London is the one which was ...

High performer

7th Mar 2012 Eleanor Young
It may be grim outside today but a summer of orchestras and proms in ...

The Blue Peter Garden

16th Feb 2012 Hugh Pearman
‘Blue’. ‘Peter’. ‘Garden’. Individually, each of those words makes ...

It’s another Wold

19th Jan 2012 Hugh Pearman
I love the wolds of East Yorkshire. Gently rolling uplands, fields ...

Room for London

12th Jan 2012 Hugh Pearman
A holiday cottage on top of London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall? In the ...

To list or not to list?

6th Jan 2012 Hugh Pearman
As widely predicted, Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s of London building was ...

A ditch in time

6th Jan 2012 Eleanor Young
Take one Roman Wall, a Norman castle and a Victorian museum and you ...

Boxing not so clever

7th Dec 2011 Hugh Pearman
If a shop ‘pops up’ then one imagines it will pop down again pretty ...

Icon alert! Piers Gough’s new Canada Water library

7th Dec 2011 Hugh Pearman
As widely predicted, Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s of London building was ...

Garden City?

25th Nov 2011 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
And so the debate over the Aberdeen City Garden project rumbles on ...

Masterpiece revealed

23rd Sep 2011 Hugh Pearman
I never knew this place existed. Or rather, I’d seen its Gothic ...

Clerkenwell Design Week

12th Jul 2011 Jan-Carlos Kucharek
Ensconced on the fourth floor in the RIBA Journal’s offices, slap ...

Two waterside museums

20th Jun 2011 Hugh Pearman
To go in the space of a week from Zaha’s Riverside Museum in ...


8th May 2011 Hugh Pearman
What is the lifespan of a building, or a building

Big fish in the City

20th Apr 2011 Hugh Pearman
It vexes me just a little that the new Heron Tower in the City of ...

Where’s that bus? Owusu in Accra

17th Mar 2011 Hugh Pearman
We like the look of the proposed $90m super-bus system for Accra, ...

Dizzying heights of the Burj Khalifa: Just don’t

18th Feb 2011 Sara Loane
We all have our moments of madness. Mine was going up,
up, up to the ...

Inside the 2012 Velodrome

18th Feb 2011 Hugh Pearman
I did so wish I’d brought my shiny new bicycle. Though frankly, ...

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