Newcastle Station Clock

Newcastle Station Clock

Monday, 9 December 2013

Arrogant Architects 005

    Renzo Piano

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Excrement Utopia

After an 18 month absence, it's time to welcome back one of my favourite mini-series; yes, it's the return of "small conceptual projects that are poorly thought through and even more poorly explained"!

This time it will be the lambasting of a scheme by Milo Ayden De Luca to provide temporary shelter for homeless people mounted on streetlights named Excrescent Utopia. This is something of a first for the series: previous projects have centred around masturbatory self-inspiration and inept interpretation, or bourguois £400 a night camping holidays. As the first project with a genuine aim to help those in need, I had best make sure that my criticisms are both warranted and comprehensive.

Why we should listen to Kanye (even though he doesn't deserve it)

It must be that time of the month again for Kanye West because this week he took it upon himself to be a bloody nuisance and 'grab the attention' of the design world again.

Yes, for those of you that missed it, Kanye West decided once again to show off his seriousness as a 'designer' by... jumping on a tabletop at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Yep, you read that correctly. A tabletop. Harvard. Predictably, people in the design world paid a moment's notice, rolled their eyes and tutted, before getting on with actually designing stuff - rather than pratting about like Kanye was doing.

Now before we get down to business, I want to ask two very good questions on behalf of Archiendo:

Arrogant Architects 004

    Norman Foster

Arrogant Architects 003

    Will Alsop

Arrogant Architects 002

    After a two year Hiatus Arrogant Architects is back!

    Buckminster Fuller

Monday, 25 March 2013

Where Did All the Patrons Go?

The second of my articles written for ArchDaily.

At the close of the 19th century, the funding of architecture was enriched by a new paradigm: that of the wealthy patron and philanthropist, who financed buildings through a sense of moral and social duty. This resulted in a number of grand public buildings, spanning cultural, educational and political institutions: the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Music Hall, a huge number of Carnegie Libraries and even the UN Headquarters would not have been possible without the generosity of these men.

Where are gifts like these today? Are there modern versions of people like Carnegie and Rockefeller? In the 21st century, an age of encroaching corporatism and “the one percent”, it might be easy to believe that this form of construction funding is dead. This interpretation, however, does not reflect the reality at all. In fact, the recent history of the ‘wealthy patron of architecture’ is more interesting than you might think, and is rooted in the lessons learned from the pioneers of the past century.

Discover more about the fate of the architecture patron on the ArchDaily website.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Non-Design: Architecture's (Counter-Intuitive) Future

The first of my articles written for ArchDaily.

Global architecture underwent a seismic shift in the 20th Century. Governments, keen to mitigate the impoverishing effects of rapid urbanization and two world wars embarked on ambitious social housing programs, pairing with modernists who promised that design could be the solution to social inequality and poverty. Today, the problems inherent in these mid-century tower blocks are well documented and well known, and these modernist solutions to poverty are often seen as ill-conceived failures.

If the 20th century was all about designing to solve social problems, then the 21st century has been about the exact opposite – not designing to solve social problems. These days, it is much more common to see architects praising the social order and even aesthetic of illegal slums, which in many cases provide their residents with a stronger community and higher quality of life than did many formal social housing projects of the past. The task of architects (both today’s and tomorrow’s) is to develop this construction logic: to use design and, rather counter-intuitively, non-design to lift these urban residents out of their impoverished conditions.

Read more about the social potential of non-design on the ArchDaily website.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ask yourself

Firstly, I would like to apologise for my absence, I know it has been a long time since my last post. I have finally decided to give in from the constant pleas for me to return which were mentioned in passing by one person back in November.
The reason for my return is this, it is my opinion that I may have inadvertently stumbled upon something which could give meaning to every single thing you ever do.
It came to me one grim January evening when I was alone in my flat; I was making my way through my seventh bowl of mushroom soup in as many days (bulk buying veg to save money does have its drawbacks). To keep me company I had nothing but The One Show, the highlight of the evening was going to be Question Time, but that was over three hours away. The wind was rattling through the window's gaps and the fire was providing little respite to the cold. As the TV presenters introduced another article I had little interest in, probably Gyles Brandreith on how turnips helped to win the Battle of Waterloo or something, it came to me;

The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything...

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

NEWS: Archiendo Gains Credibility (a bit)

Your beloved archiendo began as a band of rag-tag, freewheeling students brought together by the remarkable fact that we were always right, but unfortunately with little qualification to back up our insights. Post graduation, whilst most contributors went off into the big wide world to gain experience and confirm their suspicions of correctness, I did not. However, after months of attempting to break through into real architectural writing, I am highly pleased to announce that starting Monday, I will be an Editorial Intern at ArchDaily.

This does not mean that I'm going to forget about Archiendo! As an editorial intern I will be doing a bit of writing, and will be sure to post links to my articles on ArchDaily (for obvious reasons I will not be pasting them in their entirety onto Archiendo). And of course, I will always need this blog as an outlet for inappropriate architectural ideas.

In the meantime, as part of the selection process, I was asked to write about a building that I used every day. Through fear of this writing never getting aired, I am going to place it here, as it is an important subject very close to my heart. Enjoy.

Thursday, 3 January 2013


I should not be here. I should not be writing this post, I don't have time. I apologise if it's rushed, sloppy. What I should be doing is jobhunting, not especially because I'm desperate for a job IMMEDIATELY but because if I don't have a certain number of applications in the bag by tomorrow, the government will take my benefits away. That's important. Remember it for later.

This post is not so much linked to architecture, but architectural journalism, music - culture in general. Architecture is involved, but it is perhaps a sideshow rather than the main point. Anyway, here goes:

Friday, 7 December 2012

Tribute to Oscar Niemeyer

Roughly once a month for the past year, a recurring thought has crossed my mind, leading me to Google the term "is Oscar Niemeyer still alive?" (I always took care to avoid the less hopeful "is Oscar Niemeyer dead yet?") Sadly I will never again engage in this cycle of dread and relief, because Niemeyer died Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro, at the age of 104 years and 356 days.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Michael Gove, You Plank!

Michael Gove from Robert Gordon School

Stephen Twigg from Southgate Comp
 So Michael Gove has decided to ban curves on all future schools. Well done sire, well done. Glad he's on the right page and understands everything there is about building schools.  Putting aside the fact that curved roofs are very efficient (think of an arched bridge) there really is no need to create enriching spaces in which kids can enrich their minds.

So we at archiendo were curious what sort of school Michael Gove was educated in. Surely it must be a little comprehensive yes? He must be a man who really understands what it is like to spend 15 years of a depressing education cramped into a featureless box day in and day out. An education he must of had where the teachers are induced into heavy lethargy by their shoddy staff rooms; the kids trapped by bullies in narrow corridors and classrooms that trap the kids at a desk (almost a precursor for the uninspiring keyboard tapping mouse shuffling duties of their future)

Sadly not.

Design not DEZEEN

Design something, not DEZEEN something.

I was always under the impression that design was a discipline in which you began with a human event or issue (say the problem of sitting down to rest or needing somewhere in which to record your thoughts). You then turned this idea over and over in your mind with much frustration and mental pain until you figured out a solution that satisfied all the aspects of the problem as neatly as possible. Through this process, came the understanding of a problem, the understanding of the human and ultimately a hint at what perfection and beauty could be. Furthermore In the higher echelons of design, an unknown need or desire of the human is brought to our attention and then has an elegant solution swiftly provided that brings a feeling of serenity to us.
 Unfortunately this noble notion of what true design seems to have been corrupted in society today. Have we lost this definition?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Fast Architecture

In the recent weeks there have been some shocking news articles about architecture that places the profession in an area of the public mind-set that most would rather it wasn’t. This week The Architects’ Journal announced the results of a new survey which shows that 15% of the public don't know what architects do. This comes after last week's news that an architecture practice in Scotland has been offering a 70% discount on the deal website Groupon; so it now seems those who do know what architects do aren't going to know the true value of the profession.

It's easy to complain about these revelations, as many people on the comment sections of the websites have, but in true reflection of the pioneering spirit of the profession and in the face of the economic climate I think we should embrace it. And here's how…

Monday, 14 May 2012

An archiendo appeal on behalf of ISPRADEFW

Susan asked that we keep her identity secret for fear of reprisals
This is an urgent appeal by archiendo on behalf of The International Society for the Protection and Rescue and Awareness of Disadvantaged Entourage Figures around the World (ISPRADEFW).

With final projects at architectural education establishments approaching, fears are growing of a greater than ever number of apocalyptic, distopian renders this year. Initial predictions have even mooted that renders could reach sizes well over A0 in size.

ISPRADEFW believe that this could leave to thousands of entourage being exposed to unnecessary dismay and depression at the hands of merciless students.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Why I'm Unhappy About the Direction We're Going Through Time

First off, let me say that I wasn't sure where to write this. At first I had planned to write it on my own website alongside other serious architectural theory (plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug plug). And certainly, much of the thought behind it is quite serious. On the other hand, as I thought it through I realised that I wouldn't be able to refrain from a ridiculously opinionated conclusion. So I decided it probably belongs here instead - particularly seeing as the conclusion has a nasty habit of being the part that people remember about a piece of writing. Anyway, onwards...

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

WOW... Pritzker Atones for Last Year

Readers may remember that a little over a year ago, Archiendo writers were less than impressed with the Pritzker Prize jury as they selected Eduardo Souto de Moura for the biggest prize in architecture. But it seems they have spectacularly corrected themselves with this year's laureate, Chinese architect Wang Shu. The official press release can be seen here.

The designs of this 'young' architect (he is 48) come perhaps as close as it is possible to be to Archiendo's prototype*: the attention paid to historical and cultural continuity is striking; his designs seem to privilege experience rather than focusing on being photogenic; and he is a big fan of reusing materials. What's more, he seems to have a completely natural feel for a certain breed of humanist architecture, which he shows with his pearls of wisdom peppered throughout this article on Dezeen. So without further ado, lets have a look at some of the designs he has been rewarded for.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Our First Annual Awards Ceremony, Hosted on Our First Annual Anniversary

At the exact time of writing this sentence, Archiendo is 1 year, 9 hours and 31 minutes old. So well done us.

To celebrate this epic milestone, I thought I'd give you a breakdown of our first year at Archiendo Towers. In pie charts. Yes, pie charts are dull. Yes, they're intentionally poorly presented, I ran them through MS Paint just to give that authentic crap-tastic feel. And no, I didn't use any scientific methodology for any categories, it's just my opinion - but then if you havn't gotten used to that yet, you must be new.

Don't worry, I'm going to give out some joke awards at the end, hopefully that will be a laugh.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Over the last few months there have been a few interesting stories in the media about self-constructing buildings and structures such as Flight Assembled Architecture, Endless and Pike Loop. Corbusier spoke of the industrialisation and mass-production at the start of last century. As CAD and BIM are taking over at the start of this century, maybe were moving towards fully automated mass-production. This got my bored, lecture trapped mind thinking soon instead of printing we will be pressing ‘Build’.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

RIBA RIBA on the Wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Archiendo has always had a "soft spot" for our icon spawning friends at Zaha-Parametric Banana- Hadid architects. However having just read an article recently published in the Architectural Review by one of her leading Parametric Monkeys (Patrick Schumacher) I felt myself nodding my head in agreement to almost every pleonastic word that he put down on the page.

"Architecture can be as much a catalyst for progress as innovations in science...However, I doubt if the invention of other worlds as arenas for innovative design is the way to achieve this"

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Archiendo T_Shirts

Insinuate your own opinion where ever you walk. Now only £16.00

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Tiago Barros: Architect, Visionary... Comedian?

We've all been there. Someone says something, and if they're joking then it was witty and funny. If they're not joking, then the person is ignorant, abrasive and unpleasant.

Well, I've found the architectural equivalent of this: Introducing Tiago Barros.

Friday, 14 October 2011

ArchiGRAD, Better Than Architecture School?

This July I graduated from Part 1 in Architecture and I am well aware that times are tough, see (Tough Times for Architecture Students). Even with a decent mark from a respected architecture school I have had little luck with getting responses from the many CVs I have sent out let along interviews.

To combat the architectural stalemate I have found myself in I joined ArchiGRAD. ArchiGRAD is a scheme run by the two universities in Newcastle, Northern Architecture and plus three architects.
Everyone who is part of the scheme is an underemployed architecture student at some level. ArchiGRAD uses this pool of unutilised architectural knowledge to run various projects in the local area. As part of the ArchiGRAD rules they do not take paid projects which would take work from regular practices. They also don’t charge fees and none of the GRADs get paid for their work, so have to hold down part-time jobs as well.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Stirling Prize 2011

Yesterday the RIBA announced the Stirling Prize winner to be Archiendo’s ‘favourite’ architect Zaha Hadid, with her pointy school the Evelyn Academy.

According to the RIBA this is this year’s best building in Europe designed or build by British architects. Better than the other shortlisted entries; An Gaelaras by O’Donnell and Tuomey, The Angel Building by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), The Folkwang Museum by David Chipperfield Architects, The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres by Bennetts Associates and The Olympic Velodrome London 2012 by Hopkins Architects.

However the public seems to think otherwise.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Back in March I wrote an article on the sameness that all architectural websites seem to have, read it here. The first line reads;
"All architectural practices need a website to attract clients, show off their work and to give them a public face in this modern world of ours, unless you're Herzog and de Meuron that is."
Well since then Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, who are evidently great readers of our blog, have taken my advice and decided they want a public face in this modern world, and today launched their new website. They have also heeded my warning and decided to ensure that they're website does not follow the same old template as every other architecture practices website.

Imagination is Dead

There are two toys from my childhood which I enjoyed the most, which undoubtedly pushed me towards the career path I am on today, Lego and Meccano, yet terrible things are happening with these toys.

Though before I rant, first, a very brief history lesson about the two.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Two hours to kill in Liverpool

Due to my over cautiousness with time when booking connecting train tickets home from a flight into Liverpool I have found myself stuck in Liverpool south parkway waiting for a train for two hours with bugger all to do. This and the sudden drop in temperature from my last location have put me in a very bad mood. A bad mood that is being increased by a pet hate of mine in public buildings, piped music. So thanks to the free WiFi provided by Merseytravel, I'm too stingy to buy a mobile data package, I'm going to have a rant.

'Pause to gulp horrible boiling brown water the machine claimed to be coffee as the cafe is shut.'


You find me in a charitable mood. Now, regular readers (not there is any evidence that we have any) will know that charitable moods are rare among the writers of Archiendo - most of our posts to date can be categorized as either ironic, satirical commentary or straight forward, hard-line criticism.

Initially, I was going to go for the ironic, satirical commentary approach, using this building as an example. However, upon further inspection, I found myself rather liking the building, and felt rather guilty about using it for my own pessimistic gain. So, as I'm in a charitable mood, you're about to get two posts for the price of one.

The building, by the way, is the registry office of St Vicente in Madeira, by Duarte Caldeira. More details on Dezeen.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Just a Quickie...

Perhaps the most amusing thing I have discovered recently: Interior and Environmental design student Ruth Bowie's Thesis project, a huge complex dedicated to the promotion of healthy, safe and most importantly fun one night stands.

Obviously, I'm not going to do the whole moral outrage thing. Ironically, The Sun has taken that initiative already. In the interests of fair representation, Ruth's blog is here.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Cave 2.0

Next up in my series of "small conceptual projects that are poorly thought through and even more poorly explained" (I'll come up with a snappier name if I do a third in the series) is this funny looking bubble, via Bit Rebels. First things first, it's basically a plastic bubble, containing one room and a porch, and with no visible structure to speak of, I can only assume it's inflated a little bit like a bouncy castle, with the constant pumping of air also acting as ventilation. The design is, predictably, meant to connect us with nature - and more strangely, to question our relationship with our "boxes of loneliness", known to the non-poetic among us as 'houses'.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I Wish I’d Known

Right, so what they don’t tell you about when you finish your first three years of architectural education is that everyone leaves. If you want to stay in your university town you will have to learn what it’s like to try to live a normal life not living and breathing architecture. Having managed to get a couple of weeks work (installing new monitors and computers in the architecture studios – well it’s money at least) I have found myself working 9ish till 5ish every day and coming home to an empty house. None of the people who I knew on my road are still there; they have all moved home or to a completely different part of town! Even the velp has returned home (away from here) for summer.

Now, we have started getting a weekly organic veg delivery. The quality has been great so far, I’ve really enjoyed it. I have discovered that aubergine works fantastically on pizza and spinach dough works much better with fresh spinach than the frozen stuff I’ve been using all year. The aforementioned female is the vegetarian and so we tend to eat meatless meals in the evening, if I have meat I try and have it for lunch. When she’s not around however, I don’t really know what to cook in the evenings. Since I am off travelling at the end of the week I want to use up as much food as I possibly can and not buy anything new in, and hence to make the most of my carnivorous freedom I decided to go for my least favourite thing to cook tonight.

Now they say pasta is a student’s dream but I just find it hideously boring. I think I’ve got away with cooking it less than five times this academic year. With my pasta I managed to use up a nice selection of beans, including broad beans which I have realised are just as much fun to shell as they were when I was six on the allotment with my Grandad. There’s some onion and fresh spinach on there as well (and let's not forget the generous sprinkling of grated applewood). I only wish that I had a vegetarian here to enjoy this feast which although tasty, I have to say does not really satisfy my cravings for meat!

Maybe I will make another vaguely relevant architectural post on here in the future. To be honest I just thought I’d share my attempt at ‘student food’. (Having just graduated and all).

Saturday, 9 July 2011

I suggest it was Part 2 Student, in the Corner, with a Spreadsheet

A 'who done it' mystery has emerged on the Building Design website this week that even the combined wit of Miss Marple and Inspector Morse would struggle to solve before the end of a hour long episode.

The charge: Designing the Swiss Re Building, better known at the Gherkin.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Tough Times for Architecture Students – 21st June, Portland Place

A free train fair to London to a conference on the tough times architecture students are facing? Go for it! This was probably the most fast paced dialogue I’ve ever been part of; discussions ranging from how to make yourself stand out to employers to the additional freedoms the RIBA is accommodating with PEDRs. It’s great that it is recognised that the requirements of education need refining to those of practice, with the former asking for a ‘PTT’ (“portfolio that thick” – Niall McLaughlin) and the latter requiring an efficient and complete communication on two A1’s.

There were deep reaching questions as to whether the RIBA should change their prescribed curriculum to tailor to practice or to focus on design proficiency. It was exceptionally reassuring to see so much support for the student perspective; Dale Sinclair doesn’t employ anyone for free, when he had international students working for him paid by their own governments he paid them as well! Whilst fantastic ethically most of us can only dream of getting one salary let alone two, and that leads rather neatly onto my only major criticism on what was a very enjoyable event. There are no jobs! ZAP architecture have it right; students currently studying five years at university with two years in practice can expect to amount expenses of £63 726, BUT they have NO guaranteed job. Those entering on the new fees will spend around £88 726. All of the arguments as to what the RIBA should be prescribing to institutions and what the students should be doing to tart up their CVs are great, but ultimately pointless for us, the unemployed, quickly running out of money. Out of a graduating cohort of around 80 I only know of six or seven who have found work. What then for the rest of us?


P.S. In case you were wondering the wonderful portrait here is Niall McLaughlin, a great chair to the event and very friendly person (even if he does look a little stern here)!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Architects in SPAAAAACE! (or not)

A group of fools known as Bureau Spectacular have made this pointless contraption, a rotating module that is supposed to explore zero gravity architecture and furniture. The mad scientists themselves had this to say about it: "This installation grew from the hypothesizes [sic] that in zero-gravity, one can rotate in architecture and treat all surfaces as plans – i.e., walls, ceilings and floors. Without gravity, all surfaces can be occupied. The distinctions between orthographic drawings become obsolete."

Some readers may be able to sense from my tone here that I think the whole premise of the design is, um, a bit flawed - but here's the original article if you wish to read it:

Sunday, 10 April 2011

"nicer and more beautiful than it will be during the games"

“Of course, I have a feeling that the look after the games might be nicer and more beautiful than it will be during the games, but I think it’s not so important for just a few weeks of the games." -Denis Oswald, the Chairman of the IOC’s coordination commission
Courtesy of Read more
A comment about one of Archiendo's 'favourite' architects, Zaha Hadid and her Aquatics Centre (swimming pool to you and me) for the London 2012 games.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Kofi Shift Notes: Birdwatching

Look at any artsy concept render or student final presentation lately and you will notice a common feature in them all, gracefully lifting into the sky will be a flock of birds.
A Google search with the query "why do so many renders have birds in?" offers no answers, so it's going to be down to me to find out these answers.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Le Corbusier Was Actually a Robot Sent From the Future

Nearly 46 years after the event, the doctor who infamously advised Le Corbusier not to go for a swim has revealed a terrifying truth that he discovered on that day:

"I was listening for his heartbeat, and all I heard was whirring and clanging. When I mentioned it, he blurted out that he was a robot sent from the future to help enslave mankind"

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

YAWN...Pritzker gets dull

So once again, the Pritzker award has been announced (dezeen), this year instead of excitement, there was a sense of silence & boredom across the archiendo office floor. Souto de Moura?

Time for Less Chaos on Britains Pavements

The Highway Code for Drivers and Riders recommends that whilst moving "you should keep to the left" (rule 160), and also "only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right"(rule 163).

However the Highway Code recommends nothing like this for pedestrians, the most advice given is basically the same as the message given by the singing hedgehogs. Now I reckon this is the cause of the problem. (The problem being that when you walk down a busy street it's inevitable that you will be bumped, jostled and generally pushed around). The pavement has no system to avoid head on collisions, so I would like a brief indulgence away from architecture and into town planning.
I think it's obvious where this is going and what I'm about to propose.

If the pavements where split into two lanes, one for each direction of travel as with the road, thus dramatically reducing bumps, jostles and general pushing around and the resulting fatalities. Now you make think this a bit extreme and authoritarian, but when applied to the wider context it makes increasing sense.

The pedestrianised high street of any town or city can be mayhem, especially at the weekend. People walking against each other, walking slowly, walking fast, stopping, cutting across, our high streets are chaos. On the road we have dual carriageways and motorway for congested routes akin to the high street, so we apply this methodology to the high street. On dual carriageways the Highway Code states "you should stay in the left-hand lane. Use the right-hand lane for overtaking or turning right. After overtaking, move back to the left-hand lane when it is safe to do so." (rule 137) Why can't the high street be split up with slower lanes for those who walk slowly and lanes for those in a rush to pass them. No more will the elderly be mowed down by late business men rushing to a meeting. And for those who like to indulge in a bit of window shopping, why not have crawler lanes, jostle free browsing will no longer be a dream.

Naturally there will be a financial impact for implementing this to our townscapes, but this will be made up for by the savings the NHS will make on plastic surgery to broken noses. Now obviously I'm not suggesting that we role this scheme out on all of Britain's streets, there's a lot of them (I can't find a figure for this but I have it on good authority there's a lot of them). A very similar system is already in operation on the escalators of the Tyne and Wear Metro system where those wishing to stand all stand on one side allows people to walk past them easily, this works very well and is enforced by the very British 'tutting' system at anyone who does not comply. The next stage should be shopping centres, the worst offenders then eventually the whole country.

One can only hope that someone from the Department of Transport is reading this.

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Kofi Shift Notes: A short guide to designing a website for your architectural practice

All architectural practices need a website to attract clients, show off their work and to give them a public face in this modern world of ours, unless you're Herzog and de Meuron that is.
Now I know this may sound very complicated and off putting, having to design it and put it all together, but don't worry I'm going to tell you how to do this.

First you will want a nice white background, otherwise you might not look minimalist enough. For extra minimalism you might want to consider having an entry page so that when people visit your site the first thing they see is your logo and then they have to click enter before they see anything of use (you can even hide this for even more minimalism). This may seem pointless but it's just not, OK.

Now on your homepage you want nothing but a few tabs linking to other pages and then a central image box showing a slideshow of your best buildings, remember to make these all very artistic and show only the good bits of your building. It's also important to make sure that if the viewer sees a building they like that they can't just click on the image to find out more about that building.

I mentioned that your homepage will have some tabs linking to other pages, you probably want to only have a few pages such as 'about us', 'people', 'projects', 'news' and 'careers'. Make sure that clicking on these doesn't just load the page, have a fade transition, or even a slide-in or drop-down animation (see an amateurish PowerPoint presentation for examples).

The 'about us' page is where you're going to explain to the client how much better than any other practice your practice is. Make them realise you're really unique and have much better morals than any other practice in the world. So I would just write a few short sentences with something generic, throwing in the following keywords: 'innovative', 'spacemaking', 'sustainable', 'priorities', 'approach' and 'excellence'. This is guaranteed to make yourself stand out from the architectural crowd.

Your 'people' page is where you really get your friendly personal approach to come across, have some cheery photos of the main figures in your studio looking busy, in black and white of course to keep an element of seriousness. You don't really need to give any more than this, maybe their name and position, but definitely not any detail of how to contact this person directly.

The 'projects' page is where you will really sell yourself, have lots of very artistic photos of buildings you've designed, it doesn't matter if they're not built or even if they can't physically be built, just as long as they look good. Order them into the groups 'residential', 'commercial', 'health/education', 'leisure/sport' and 'master planning'. This makes it look like you have that many projects that they can't possibly all fit on the one page, so you must be good!

If your practice constantly gets reviews then you will want the 'news' page. This will allow you to show off to everyone how much everyone else likes you, just have a list showing the title of each article you've appeared in on Dezeen, The Architects Journal or even Archiendo.

A 'careers' page is sometimes nice, this will make people looking for work think you have places available but then you can shatter their hopes and tell them briefly 'We don't have any places available at this present time.'

Oh you may want to put your contact information somewhere but you can just hide that in a corner or wherever you can find room.

This may sound very complicated and you might now be panicking as you know nothing about web coding, but you can hire a web programmer to do all that for you, but remember not to take any of their advice on website layout and design, you're an architect, they're a web programmer, what could they possibly know about web design that you don't.

The Kofi Shift Notes are written during a Kofi Bar shift in the space of an hour and under the heavy influence of caffeine, whilst it starts with what may be a sound fact, the resulting rambles are probably best ignored for any real truth.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Avoir respect pour votre contexte?

Have a look at the Dezeen article about the proposed Russian Orthodox Church and Cultural Centre in Paris, spitting distance away from the Eiffel Tower, by Russian Architects Arch-group and French Studio Sade Sarl.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Avoir respect pour votre contexte?

Have a look at the Dezeen article about the proposed Russian Orthodox Church and Cultural Centre in Paris, spitting distance away from the Eiffel Tower, by Russian Architects Arch-group and French Studio Sade Sarl.

Sorry I should have warned you about it first, don't worry your shoes will clean.
At first it would appear that somewhere in the Franco-Russian translation the phrase "to be built in Paris" got lost. A quick check with Google Translate shows that "Sera construit à Paris" translates in Russian to "Париже", unfortunately I neither speak or read Russian so I have no idea if this still means the same, but translating it back to French gets the original result so I doubt this to be the problem.

So it can only mean that the designer honestly thought that Russian style church domes would look perfect next to the Eiffel Tower, and not any old domes, golden domes. To add insult to injury these domes break freely into a sweeping cloth like glass roof. Thankfully when standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower this will go some way to hiding the arched white building below and oddly countryside like landscaping that would be more at home somewhere near Moscow. Oh and surrounding this is a glass wall of multimedia screens.

The worst thing is apparently this is fitting in with the context, apparently it uses a "symmetrical composition of the kind that is traditional for the old centre of Paris." And I suppose the golden domes are just of the sort Napoleon really wanted for the Arc de Triomphe.

They spend so much time in architecture schools trying to teach us to build considering the context then someone does this, makes you wonder why the tutors bother.

So next time you show someone your holiday photos from Paris, don't be surprised if they ask if you tried the vodka.

To see full information about the building, see the Dezeen article

Monday, 21 March 2011

Have You Seen how Green I am?

There have been many fads in architecture’s history. There’s been spikey buildings (Gothic); football shapes (Byzantine); ratio driven abodes (Classicism); insane blobs (Parametricism), featureless blobs; excessive gluttony (Rococo); the list goes on... They storm onto the global architecture scene, make a big noise; “change everything” then get ditched as cliché and passé a few years down the line.

But the latest fad is the one that worries me the most. Sustainability. My History lecturer on my degree course was obsessed with the modernists. He believed we were in a state of no ornament. I believe he is wrong, we are in a state of sustainability as ornament. Some argue that sustainability has become as integral to a building as structure, it’s here to say. But the problem is you don’t NEED sustainable features to make a building exist, it is a superfluous attribute that is added if you have the dollar.

We are blessed today to be in an era where it is considered ‘cool’ to build with the planets best interests at heart. But i often ask how much a turbine on top of a tower is doing, solar panels on your neighbours roof? Sure, visually they scream about your green credentials, about how much you sincerely care about the planet.

“Look what I’m doing to save the world, are you doing your bit? Hmm? No, thought not, I’m a more compassionate human being”

That’s what they’re are all saying. It saddens me that by the time I make my debut into the real architecture world, this fashion will be on the down side of the popularity bell curve. It’ll be in the ditch at the wayside pining for our attention of the architects and engineers.

I hope for all god that I’m wrong. I myself am determined not to let it slip. We can fix the world, and I know that this is an attitude born of the 60s that has remained strong for the last 50 years. Long live the hippies in the building profession.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Who's Boss?

In my recent searches for local architects I came across an interesting practice near Gateshead, who in their team working policy claim "[they] do not believe that hierarchies should exist in an intellectual and creative atmosphere."(1) I find myself wondering just how easy this is to do, and to what extent a business can run without a hierarchical structure. There are lots of different elements within an architectural practice to which this could be considered. Here are my initial thoughts.

There is almost definately a hierarchy of experience, and this is probably quite useful, as well as necessary. It provides the younger designers in the office people to learn from, as well as ensuring that any hot-headed ideas or methods are reigned in before being unleashed upon clients. The difficulty, comes when you begin to consider the hierarchy of opinion; having everyones opinion counted and considered is relatively simple to implement; treating everyones opinion equally must surely be very difficult for the figure head of the company, especially if the majority vote is against his or her inclination.

Whilst some people may have 'more' knowledge or 'greater ability' in certain aspects of the job there will always be differences in strengths and weaknesses, as well as preferences as to which work to do within the office. Does the practice need to be democratic right down to the scale of who makes the tea in the morning?

Before I mentioned a figure head (due to lack of a better word), by which I was referring to a managing director who doesn't independantly manage or direct. If all things in the office are to be democratic then maybe they would take the role of chairing discussions, however to be truly equal it would surely need to be a rotating chair. (See post below 'The Kofi Shift Notes: The second most fun item in the studio'). This must come down to responsibility for decision. If everyone in the office can act under their own authority and with the democratic support of colleagues then there seems no need to have a figurehead who ultimately takes the blame for mistakes. If people are given autonomy, then with it they must ultimately accept the underlying individual responsibility.

People will not strive to 'move up the ladder,' since there is no ladder to climb. Each individuals focus would be on getting the job done, and since they are responsible for their own action, they would not try and evade doing their work, as they would soon be ousted by the democratic majority.

In this set up everything must be transparant, from each individuals wages (which could probably be relatively fairly based upon experience or amount of work taken on, ) to interviews for new positions in the office. Whilst it would probably be quite awkward getting used to this kind of set up, removing the taboo of how much your colleagues are paid is one step closer to having a completely open and honest company.

To be truly creative people need to 'stop being afraid of being wrong.' (2) Removing hierarchies, and 'fear of reprisal' from an office setting gives people the opportunity to experiment with the way that they do their work, and whilst it may slow the process in the short term, it will almost certainly improve the process in the long term.

The social atmosphere, and in general, worker satisfaction, improves within a workplace when a hierarchical structure is removed. (3). It is however quite possible that turnover will go down.

It is people who really care about their colleagues who implement this kind of structure to a business. They must work as hard as they possibly can to manage all of the issues mentioned above to maintain a workplace which is fair and welcoming to all, whilst full well realising they will be making less money.

I have the upmost of respect for anyone who puts the happiness and wellbeing of others before their own financial gain, and I hope that more architectural practices in the future will do this.

(1) - NNA

(2) - Ken Robinson

(3) - Dan Pink

Friday, 18 March 2011

The Kofi Shift Notes: Which Primary Colour?

One of the first things we learn in art whilst in Nursery or in Primary school is that the three primary colours are:

Red, Yellow and Blue

and from these we can mix our poster paints to create any colour we want, mixing them all gives us brown and the limit of colour is the amount of paint in our bottle. Black and white are only achievable from using black and white paint.

Then, when we move on in our education and start ICT we learn the primary colours are in fact:
Red, Green and Blue

mixing them together creates white and not using any creates black. The most we can use of any one colour is 255, 255 of what is unknown.

Once we get to architecture school we then learn on our first colour plot, that the three primary colours are actually:
Cyan, Magenta and Yellow

Mixing them all together would create black, but to create black we would in fact have to use Key, a black which is so special it's no longer called black. White is made from nothing. Of any of these colours we can use up to 100%.

Should any of us ever create a website for the practice we then encounter the Hex system, colours for the web. For these the primary colours are anything from:
0-1 as long as there's only 6 of them and they follow a #
This is very confusing and I shall mention on them nothing more.

Then when we specify the colour the walls of our designs need painting in we will probably use the Dulux colour system. Again the primary colours are not colours but instead colour groups:
Neutrals, Creams, Yellows, Oranges, Pinks, Blues, Greens and Natural Hints.
All rather vague in reality but at least it makes some sense. Mixing them is probably a bad idea as you will get an uneven colour across your wall and quantity is defined by the size of your tin.

Now as everyone seems to be coming up with their own primary colours, I think its time I had my own, they will be:
Toast (the smell of), Gamma radiation and Speed.

Your screen may not be TGS compatible as they are relatively modern colours, in which case they will appear blank. For health reasons don't look at Gamma too long as it may result in radiation burns.

Now I know they are all things that can not be observed visually, but that doesn't seem to matter. Mixing them all together will cause a black hole, mixing just Toast and Gamma will create a #DIV/0! error and some kittens may just die. Measurement of each colour will use octaves.
In my opinion, an all round better system.

The Kofi Shift Notes are written during a Kofi Bar shift in the space of an hour and under the heavy influence of caffeine, whilst it starts with what may be a sound fact, the resulting rambles are probably best ignored for any real truth.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Zaha Unveils New Brand of Paper

Zaha Hadid Architects have unveiled plans for a new brand of paper marketed exclusively to other architects. The concept (left) was intended as a way to save paper, marking another soujourn for the practice into environmentalism.

"In the modern world, cutting down on waste is paramount" explains Hadid. "It simply pained me to see how my practice was printing plans for buildings onto rectilinear pieces of paper. I thought, why can't my paper be a more suitable shape for the plans that I design?"

Patrick Schumacher, Hadid's second in command and longtime champion of parametric design, describes the exact process of creating the shape: "We used a very complex computer algorithm to determine the perfect shape of a building. We then ran that a huge number of times using different variables, and the final shape was an average of the outcomes. Therefore, the shape of the paper we have designed is actually the perfect shape for any building"

When questioned about the suitability of the paper for other architects (who have been occasionally known to design rectilinear buildings), Hadid retorted "My colleague Patrick has done extensive research into this, and concluded that funny looking, angular buildings are good for people - even if a person doesn't even like them". Schumacher backed her up on this claim, arguing that if people don't like the way their buildings look, that is in fact an error of judgement, one which a large portion of the public needs to be educated out of.

Described by her friends as "nauseating" and by complete strangers as "kinda scary lookin'", Zahahahaha is on a mission to prove that she can save the entire planet using 17, 37 and 53 degree angles - and this inconspicuous piece of paper is set to be the next step to proving her point.

P.S. I know this was clearly all very silly, but I'd like to just point out that the bit I put in italics is in fact part of a real argument that I really genuinely had with Patrick Schumacher himself. Honestly. Now read it again and think seriously about that. Yeah. I know, I thought the same thing as you are thinking now.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The Kofi Shift Notes: The second most fun item in the studio

The office chair is definitely the second most fun object in any studio; no studio is complete without a chair on castors to spin those idle minutes when the flow of ideas clots well before leaving the imagination.

A brief delve into the long and colourful history of the office chair reveals many delightful tibbets of throw away knowledge.
Some say that it all began with the Centripetal Spring Armchair in 1849 designed by Thomas E. Warren in New York (note 1). Others, including myself, argue it was the great Charles Darwin of naturalist fame who conceived the office chair, adding wheels to the chair at his desk allowing him to glide from specimen cabinet to specimen cabinet (note 2). The chair boomed with the industrial revolution allowing people to fly across offices from desk to filling cabinet to printing press without the need to stand. It might be arguable that the office chair is the major factor responsible for the Industrial Revolution itself.

This leads us to today, where a huge global population furnish offices and studios alike. Allowing designers to spin away their frustration and pass the long hours with highly organised races. A whole range of races are possible from the classic circuit to drag races and the more adventurous off-road rally. Spinning whilst short of ideas must surely help as it only logically follows that the revolution of the body placed upon the spinning chair will result in centrifugal force extracting ideas from the imagination centre of the brain and causing them to fly outwards and onto paper.

The future of office chairs remains as mysterious and misty as its origins, but it remains safe to say that within the next 50 years, maybe the next 20, that office chairs will be able to drive themselves using power created from on-board nuclear fusion engines, whilst the executive models will forgo wheels all together and fly across the design studio. It is truly a wonderful age to be sitting in.

Note 1. See: BA Business Life
Note 2. See: Wikipedia: Office Chair

The Kofi Shift Notes are written during a Kofi Bar shift in the space of a hour and under the heavy influence of caffeine, whilst it starts with what may be a sound fact, the resulting rambles are probably best ignored for any real truth.