Monthly Archives: September 2016

XTid Associates Architects & Consultants

26th September 2016

London or León

As part of my open house yearly tour, I went to visit Burntwood School. I always enjoy spending a day out with friends visiting new architecture from then inside.

Burntwood School was not in my list. I am more into residential, especially private developments, however this year one of my friends was volunteering in this place and he convinced us with his offer of a one-hour visit round the secondary school.

The proposal was accepted, why not? It was AHMM design and awarded 2015 RIBA Stirling Prize.

There we were, contemplating that contemporary design which its facades reminded me to Ciudad de León Auditorium, borough community hall of León.

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Burntwood School                                                   Ciudad de León Auditorium

Ciudad de León Auditorium was designed by Mansilla and Tuñón Architects. An architectural practice from Madrid. It was inaugurated back in 2002 and awarded with the Premio de Architectura Española in 2003 (Spanish Architecture Prize). That year, it was also shortlisted among the finalist of the Mies van der Rohe European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture and VII Bienal Architectura Española (Spanish Architecture Biennale).

Don’t you think that they are like two drops of water? Was this building the inspiration to AHMM architects to design Burntwood School or it is just a burntdesign?

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By A.G

XTid Associates Architects & Consultants

9th September 2016

St. Paul’s Cathedral: Some things should Never Change

St. Paul’s Cathedral is widely recognized as a national symbol standing in the highest point and centre of the cithy’s financial district. This Icon defines the heights and skyline views of the city of London in order to prevent new constructions or structures from interfering with its protected views- but have all buildings complied with these regulations?

To be simply understood the Heights or Protected Vistas are a set of regulations, which limit building’s heights in order to protect St. Paul’s views and immediate vicinity. Where two policies are in conflict, the most restrictive one should prevail.

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The materiality and architectural form of any new constructions has to respect the historic significance of the Cathedral and its settings. New projects are providing creative design solutions to aid in the promotion of a better-articulated and interesting roof scape to counteract the strict regulations and policies in place.

Conflicting Policies

In the City Culture and Heritage chapter of the City of London LDF Core Strategy 2011, it is stated that some policies are to have a greater influence on the ‘bulk and massing’ of new developments over the height limitations regulations. But, on the 2012 LVMF it is clearly stated that any proposal, which is not consistent with the heights policies, is to be refused.

Some zig-zag their way through the policies, such as the Cheese Grater with its inclined façade.

However, the overlapping of regulations enables the creation of the bureaucratic maize in which one can easily bend rules as desired, and someone certainly has.

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On Shoe Lane, the already underway demolition of several buildings is to give place to the new 10-storey high headquarters of the American Multinational banking Frim, Goldman Sachs.

Heights vary from 55m to 66m on its south corner exceed by 12m to 23m the permitted height, bluntly and unapologetically surpass the development threshold plane of three of the protected views: Primrose, Greenwich Park and Black heath Point.

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Solely the Camden Council raised an objection to its construction during its planning application, stating that ‘there were not sufficient public benefits to outweigh harm caused to the setting of St. Paul’s Cathedral’. The remaining councils contacted did not share the same concern, as the building would only interfere with the backdrop view of their boroughs.

Permission was granted by officers based on visualizations submitted that it would ‘not harm the setting of the neighbouring listed buildings or adversely affect the character of the surrounding conservation areas’ – though it was only in 2013 that a discussion on effects of renders rose, and it was argued that such images would wrongly lead the clients and the general public into having an unrealistic idea of what would be built.

The current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has described his predecessor as being too ‘passive’ in regards to tall buildings and is to revise the London Plan. An alteration to the Heights is due to be made, as the preservation of London’s historic vistas seems to be challenged and ignored even more often, but will the new regulations allow for more skyscrapers to slip through bureaucratic loopholes?

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(You will probably find it difficult to locate St. Paul in the most recent skyline of London, right picture)

Or will St. Paul’s remain as London’s focal point but solely to become a privatized view for the new comers?

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If buildings to come must to be in accordance with the London Plan, will the infringing existing ones be forced to be demolished in order to comply with the Plan?

Iara Silva/Jose Aizcorbe