Friday, December 18, 2009

London Housing Design Guide

London Mayor Boris Johnson's draft London Housing Design Guide, published in July, is continuing to cause controversy in architectural and property circles. The Guide simplifies the range of existing housing design guidance, and seeks to set a new benchmark for the design and quality of new housing in the capital by specifying minimum standards for a number of key design areas. It may see much wider adoption in the event of a Conservative victory at the next election.
Access: Free

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Empty Homes Agency

Christmas is a good time to highlight the work of the Empty Homes Agency, an independent campaigning charity which exists to raise awareness of empty property in England and promote sustainable solutions to bring it back into use. The Agency's website includes lots of links to useful information on the subject of empty homes, together with regional statistics and advice on regenerating such properties.
Access: Free

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

St Mary Axe then and now

The British Library has a blog relating to its photographic collections featuring images of London from the 1870s compared to present-day photographs taken from the same spot. The latest such pair of images to be posted up show the street corner at St Mary Axe and Bevis Marks, and are a particularly astonishing contrast.
Access: Free

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Forth Road Bridge

BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live programme on 12 December featured a gentle but enjoyable interview with Barry Colford, Chief Engineer and Bridgemaster of the Forth Road Bridge about his work, the ‘lively’ bridge itself, and the relationship between art and engineering.
Access: Free

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Glasgow Walk

'Building Design' magazine journalist Owen Hatherley has posted a long and well illustrated entry about a recent walk around Glasgow in his blog for 6 December 2009. As always, it's an entertaining and provocative read, although personally I'd have liked to see more coverage of my second favourite Glasgow architect, James Miller (1860-1947) whose contribution to the cityscape has always been rather neglected.
Access: Free

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Open air library from beer crates

The eastern German town of Magdeburg has a new open air library designed by Karo Architekten in collaboration with local residents. It has two unusual features: books can be freely accessed 24 hours a day and can be exchanged rather than borrowed; and structurally, the original assemblage of 1000 beer crates has been replaced by recycled custom cast blocks.
Access: Free

Monday, December 07, 2009

Beyond 3D mapping

New Scientist magazine recently (28 Nov) featured an article about the Ordnance Survey's work to demonstrate how highly accurate, large-scale 3D maps could change the way that urban environments are designed, managed and related to. To demonstrate the technology, the coastal resort of Bournemouth has been mapped using the Lidar laser technique, and New Scientist's website has a short video which outlines the enormous potential for both professionals and armchair explorers. It's also worth remembering that GSA library has a subscription to the hard copy of New Scientist.
Access: Free

Friday, December 04, 2009

Turning dunes into architecture

The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) blog features an intriguing video presentation from architecture student Magnus Larrson detailing his bold and imaginative plan to halt Saharan desertification by using bacteria to solidify the sand, and to then create habitable spaces within the resulting dunes.
Access: Free

Thursday, December 03, 2009

London's great outdoors

The London Mayor's office has issued a manifesto, 'London's Great Outdoors', which sets out a vision and objectives for the capital's public spaces. The document is supported by two practical programmes, 'Better Streets' and 'Better Green and Water Spaces' that explain how the vision will be delivered. The documents include case studies and are all available online.
Access: Free

Friday, November 27, 2009

'Survey of London' online

All 45 volumes of the ‘Survey of London’, which provide detailed studies of the city’s architecture and topography, have been made freely available online, thanks to a four-year project funded by English Heritage. Accessible via the British History Online website, the Survey contains a wealth of information about London, including drawings and photographs.
Access: Free

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Historic Scotland free weekend

Here's something to brighten the November gloom: Historic Scotland is offering free admission to 47 of its museums and heritage sites across the country as part of this year's St Andrew's Day celebrations. Admission fees will be waived during the weekend of November 28/29, and on St Andrew's Day itself, 30 November. Further information and a full list of participating sites can be found on the Historic Scotland website.
Access: Free

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From grey to green

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has launched its 'Grey to Green' campaign to highlight the need to invest in and manage urban green spaces in the same way as traditional 'grey' infrastructure. The campaign's website features some fascinating computer aerial visualisations of Liverpool, Gloucester and the inner London boroughs of Hackney and Islington, hand-coloured to show only their green infrastructure.
Access: Free

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

OS data to go online for free?

BBC news online is carrying an article suggesting that the Government will be making Ordnance Survey (OS) map data freely available to all from 2010. It’s not entirely clear what this will mean in practice, but the initiative seems to be driven by a desire to make small-area non-personal data on a variety of subjects available free in a raw form. The OS move will help people to interpret public statistics about issues such as crime, health and education by postcode, local authority or electoral boundary.

Monday, November 23, 2009

‘Nae taste and nae smell’

As an admirer of both the Victorians and the civil engineering profession, I thoroughly enjoyed the small exhibition at Glasgow’s Mitchell Library to mark the 150th anniversary the opening of the massive project to supply Glasgow with water from Loch Katrine, 26 miles to the north. The exhibition charts the decades of problems with the supply of clean water to the city before the mid-19th century, and illustrates the scale of the works needed to bring to fruition one of the Victorian era’s most outstanding civil engineering projects. GSA’s Mackintosh Library holds a volume of photographs by Thomas Annan which was published to commemorate the work.
Access: Until 31 December, free admission

Friday, November 20, 2009


Sir John Sorrell, chair of CABE, has explored whether, now that there is no longer the means for an architecture of wealth, we have the imagination to create new kinds of places which lift the spirits. His talk, 'Delight', was delivered earlier this week at an event at Tate Modern on architecture in an age of anxiety. It can be read in full online, although perhaps a podcast would have been a useful alternative.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Sustainable Cities index

This year's league tables showing the environmental sustainability of Britain's 20 biggest cities have just been released by think tank Forum for the Future, in a detailed report that is freely available online. It measures 13 indicators of environmental performance, quality of life and how well prepared the cities are for the future. The results make for interesting reading, with Newcastle consolidating its improvements in recent years to top the table this year. Glasgow, meanwhile, has sunk to 19th position, just above bottom of the table Hull.
Access: Free

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bad British architecture the self-explanatory title of this wonderfully splenetic blog.
Access: Free, but avoid if strong language offends you

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wells Coates: architect and designer

The British architect and designer Wells Coates (1895-1958) was a key figure in the Modern Movement. The website devoted to his work is in eight sections covering his early life in Japan, life with his wife Marion and daughter Laura, his friendships, and his ideals, which led to the formation of the MARS Group in 1933. Other sections include 'Success', which features Coates's most successful industrial design, the AD 65 radio for E.K.Cole, and the Lawn Road (Isokon) Flats. Hyperlinks in the text provide further information, together with a bibliography and list of exhibitions featuring Coates's work.
Access: Free

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


BLDGBLOG, launched in 2004, is one of the leading architectural, landscape and built environment blogs. Always worth reading, it includes interviews, images and reader comments on a huge range of fascinating topics. Its creator, Geoff Manaugh, has now distilled the content into traditional book form in the shape of 'The BLDGBLOG book', a copy of which is available in the GSA Library.
Access: Free

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

InfosmART Workshop, Weds 11 November 2009

Need help on how to reference a source, write a bibliography, or set out an essay? Librarian Duncan Chappell will be providing a short session of the Library's InfosmART site TOMORROW WEDS 11 NOVEMBER 2009 AT 12.30 ON THE TOP FLOOR OF THE LIBRARY. InfosmART provides a set of easy-to-follow interactive modules in finding, evaluating and citing information. Hosted on the VLE, the InfosmART resource provides an easy one-stop shop for all your information skills needs. This workshop forms part of the Library's 20/20 workshop programme.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The best tall building of 2009

Here in Glasgow we're all becoming attuned to any mention of Steven Holl Architects following the practice's award of first prize (together with Scottish firm JM Architects) to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. Holl's 'Linked Hybrid' skyscraper in Beijing has been named by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat as the 'Best Tall Building Overall' for 2009, and the story is covered online by the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic, Blair Kamin.
Access: Free

Friday, October 30, 2009

Neighbourhood statistics

I've had a few enquiries recently about how to find population and other demographic statistics for very specific geographic areas of the UK. For Scotland, the 'Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics' website provides, for free, a wide range of small area statistics including information on health, education, poverty, unemployment, housing, population and population density, crime and social/community issues. A similar service, 'Neighbourhood Statistics', is offered via the website of the Official for National Statistics and covers the whole of the UK.
Access: Free

Monday, October 26, 2009

Berlin Wall anniversary at the Goethe

The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is being marked by a series of exhibitions and film showings at the Goethe Institut in Glasgow. These include an exhibition of photographs of buildings, streets and squares in East Germany taken in 1990 and again in 2000 from the same viewpoints. The anniversary itself on 9th November features all-day film screenings and special displays. It's also a good time to remind GSA students that they are automatically members of the Library at the Goethe!
Access: Free

Friday, October 23, 2009

Who'd want to be an architecture student?

Journalist and former architecture student Tom Dyckhoff reports from Freshers' Week at the Bartlett School of Architecture in this article from the 'Times Online'. His piece is followed by some interesting feedback from readers...
Access: Free

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with David Chipperfield

To mark the opening of the exhibition 'David Chipperfield: form matters' at the Design Museum, BBC Radio 4's arts programme 'Front Row' has an interview with the architect about his background and work, the double-edged role of computer representations of buildings, and his reaction to being feted abroad more than at home in Britain.
Access: Free

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homes for our old age

CABE has recently published 10 case studies of housing schemes for older people, each of which offers inventive design and management solutions linking home and social care. The publication, 'Homes for our old age', also provides useful contextual information about age, poverty, dementia and isolation, and highlights the key issues facing commissioners and designers. Glasgow's Croftspar scheme, with its seven supported houses for people with dementia, is one of the featured case studies.