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Grenfell Tower fire triggers emergency safety review across UK’s 4,000 high-rises

The UK government has launched an emergency review of the country’s high-rise apartments following the Grenfell Tower fire, with cabinet minister Sajid Javid saying residents of similar buildings could be rehoused for their safety.

The communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC Breakfast programme this morning that an emergency fire safety review was now underway.

“What we’ve already started, and this started right away, is an emergency fire review of all similar buildings throughout the country,” he said, explaining that the first step involved identifying buildings that had used similar cladding.

“There are about 4,000 high-rise buildings in the country but not all of them have been re-cladded – but also let’s not just make the assumption that it is all about cladding,” he continued.

“We need to be led by the experts and as soon as we have more information from the experts, which we expect either later today or certainly over the weekend, that is what I think should be used to do these emergency inspections.”

The minister also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where he said that following the review, the government would do “whatever is necessary” to ensure the safety of residents in high-rises.

When pushed on whether that could extend to evacuations, he responded that the government would act on “whatever they [investigators] come back with. There can be no shortcuts to this. It should never have happened in a country like Britain in this century, today.”

“Whether its changes to those buildings, rehousing, whatever it is, that is what will have to be done,” he said.

The government is under increased pressure after it emerged that expert reports from last year warned against the kind of cladding used in recent renovations at Grenfell Tower.

The 24-storey tower near London’s Notting Hill had received an £8.7 million facelift in the lead up to the fire, which broke out around 1am on Wednesday morning.

Aluminium-composite panels used to cover the facades of the high-rise were quickly identified by onlookers as appearing to help the fire take hold.

London firm Studio E Architects and contractors Rydon oversaw the £8.7 million refurbishment of the 1970s building, which was completed last summer. Rydon has claimed the building met all necessary fire regulation and health and safety standards at the time of completion.

However, there are claims that safeguards to stop the spread of fire were removed during the works, and it is unclear whether these were replaced.

Emma Dent Coad – the design writer recently elected Labour MP in the historically Conservative area – yesterday supported claims that recent renovations may have played a role in the spread of the fire.

“I can’t help thinking that poor-quality materials and construction standards may have played a part in this hideous and unforgivable event,” she told The Guardian.

The overhaul of the 1970s building has been in part attributed to the area’s gentrification. Planning documents for the works from 2014 point to the need to update the facade improve the view from nearby luxury developments.

Many of the tower’s occupants had raised concerns about the superficial level of works.

Concerns about fire risks were brought to the attention of property managers the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation and the owner, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

No less than 10 complaints regarding fire risks were reported by residents on the Grenfell Action Group blog, which claims their repeated complaints “fell on deaf ears”.

In a column for Dezeen today, Owen Hatherley argues the fire has highlighted the widespread neglect of the UK’s residential high-rises, and the undeserved contempt held for the people that live in them.



Touchdown for Lansdowne Place development

The Dubai-backed €650m-plus Ballsbridge development Lansdowne Place in Dublin, which includes luxury apartments and an hotel in phase two, gets its first formal launch today, predominantly with 24 two-bed apartments at €900,000. There are also two one-beds at €825,000, and two three-beds priced at €2.15 million.

Being built on the site of the former Berkeley Court/Clyde Court hotel (previously associated with Sean Dunne) which was demolished last year, the overall development will total up to 490 apartments, a 150-bed hotel and 75,000 sq ft of commercial and retail development.

Kicking off the high-end scheme in Dublin 4 is the official public launch of 28 apartments, out of 215 being built in phase one. It features a 6,000 sq ft, three-storey marketing suite opening up which includes two-bed and three-bed show units, with interiors by London-based interior architects Goddard Littlefair, on their first residential project in Ireland.

Bankers and Brexiteers, as well as traders-down from some of the capital city’s valuable red-bricks (among which this development is placed) can be expected to cast an eye over the scheme, designed by O’Mahony Pike Architects over seven ‘pavilions’, and selling via Sherry FitzGerald and Savills.

The first completions are in the first half of 2018, and it’s known that 29 have already been booked in off-market pitches. Green Property’s Stephen Vernon (who bought a holiday home in Glandore in 2014 for €1.7m) is among the early birds, understood to have picked up a large penthouse for a possible €4m-plus. Values for new apartments around Ballsbridge, in smaller niche developments, have topped €1,000 per square foot.

Backed by investment entity ICAV which is owned by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), the ambitious 490-unit and upper-end market-testing Lansdowne Place is being delivered by the seasoned team at Chartered Land — Dundrum Shopping Centre is among their top developments — who have been appointed by ADIA as development and investment managers for the major project.

The mixed-use investment comes as Ballsbridge recapitalises on its stellar location post-crash recovery, with about 750,000 sq ft of new offices also expected over the next two years, including One Ballsbridge, and other major schemes around Shelbourne Road and the RDS.

According to Sherry FitzGerald and Savills, “Lansdowne Place sets a new international standard for apartment living in Ireland and provides a unique opportunity to own a property of unrivalled quality, in a premier location.”

Sizes range from one bed apartments at 782 sq ft, through two-bed apartments from 954 sq ft to 1,627 sq ft, and the two €2.15m three bed apartments at 1,910 sq ft.

Purchasers/residents at Lansdowne Place will get membership of a London-style purpose-built leisure facility and 24-hour concierge service, offering library, lounge, cinema room, gym, sauna, treatment rooms, and hospitality spaces.

The site at the corner of Lansdowne Road and Shelbourne Road was, for 150 years, site of the former Trinity College Botanic Gardens, and the new scheme has landscaping by Bernard Seymour, Landscape Architects which “will retain many original specimen trees, recalling the botanic history of the site.”

Irish Examiner


Plan to demolish Ormond Hotel for development approved

Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes has been given the go-ahead to demolish and redevelop the Ormond Hotel on Dublin’s Liffey quays, three years after first seeking permission.

The hotel, which features in James Joyce’s Ulysses, was bought by developer Bernard McNamara in 2006 for €17 million, a year after it closed.

He put it on the market in 2009 with a price tag of €7 million, but it was subsequently bought for less than €2.5 million, by Monteco Holdings a company owned by Air Asia boss and football club owner Mr Fernandes.

Monteco in 2013 applied for permission to demolish the Victorian hotel and replace it with a 170-bedroom, six-storey hotel.

However, Dublin City Council refused permission, as did An Bord Pleanála on appeal. The board described the scheme as “monolithic” and “unsympathetic”, and likely to “seriously injure” the character of a conservation area.

The company put together a new plan for a five-storey hotel with 121 bedrooms, twice the number of bedrooms as the old hotel. It was granted permission from the council last year.

However the scheme was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by local residents, largely because of its scale.

An Taisce highlighted the hotel’s cultural significance, since it is the scene for the Sirens chapter of Ulysses.

The Ormond Hotel opened in 1889, but was rebuilt, with the demolition of original houses, in 1900.

The developers pointed out that the existing hotel building earmarked for demolition does not contain any remnants of the hotel as written about by Joyce. However they said it was “considered appropriate for the proposed development to provide some recognition and acknowledgment of the Joycean theme” by embedding text from the book into the floor and courtyard with bronze plaques or lettering.

An Bord Pleanála has granted permission, on condition that the new hotel operated as “The Ormond Hotel” to reflect and retain the site’s connection with the city’s literary culture.

Irish Times


College Green Plaza to create a world class civic space for Dublin

Dublin City Council has presented an exciting and creative design renewing College Green as a civic space in the heart of Dublin.  This new pedestrian priority space will significantly improve the quality of the city’s public realm.

Designed by Dixon Jones/Paul Keogh Architects, working closely with Dublin City Council, the newly shaped College Green development will be a dramatic 7,300 sq. metre area for people to enjoy in the heart of the city centre.

Extensive article in May/June issue of Plan Magazine


Dublin’s tallest office building will house 2,000 workers

Having reported on planning permission being granted in Plan Magazine March/April 2016, we now bring you an update on the progress of the Exo project.

Dublin’s tallest office building is to be built over the next two years at Point Square on the city’s docks.

Estate agents are to begin seeking tenants for the building, called the Exo.

Developer Harry Crosbie originally owned the site that will house the Exo. State agency Nama appointed Receivers Stephen Tennant and Paul McCann of Grant Thornton in 2013 after taking control of his property empire, which owed it up to €500 million. The Three Arena and the Bord Gáis Theatre were also caught in the receivership.

Mr Tennant and Mr McCann plan to appoint a contractor to build the 73m structure, which could house up to 2,000 office workers once it is completed.

Roland O’Connell of Savills said the property company – which is agent for the building along with CBRE – would begin the search for potential tenants now that construction had moved a step closer.

Construction will take two years, which is generally the lead-in time required to secure larger companies.

Mr O’Connell is expecting that Brexit could draw more commercial tenants to Dublin, but argues that it is the icing on the cake, as the capital’s office market is already strong.

The proposed tower would be higher than the Exo, rising to a height of 88m (nearly 290ft), compared to 59m (194ft) for Liberty Hall, just across the river Liffey, which was Dublin’s tallest building for decades until it was outstripped by Monte Vetro, the Google HQ in Grand Canal Dock, at 67m.

Irish Times


The Creative Energy of Zaha’s Sketches

A year after her untimely passing, we take a look back on one of the hallmarks of Zaha Hadid’s career as an architect: her sketches. In October we wrote about how her paintings influenced her architecture. Now, we examine her most emblematic sketches and the part they played in the initial formal exploration of her design process.

Drawings, whether done by hand or digitally, are the result of a personal, intimate process of thinking through a project and setting a path for the general development of the design.

Possessing different characteristics and intensities, each sketch is a reflection of the author’s thoughts–acting as both a kind of signature and the theoretical seed of a larger process. Some architects use sketches to define details and create their design from that starting point, some use the drawing itself to determine the form of a project, and other architects draw the context in order to imagine the specific location of their project.

Zaha’s exceptional, unique sketches don’t have much to do with concrete visions of what a project will eventually be. On the contrary, her drawings are profoundly influenced by her admiration for artistic abstraction.

The beauty lies in the formal liberty that Hadid mines as she approaches what will eventually become her buildings. The drawings depict formal exercises, spatial conceptualizations, compositions, construction systems, structures, or contextual relationships (among other things). They are an invitation to use the liberty gifted to us by the act of drawing.


Winter Wonder Land

The new Kulm Eispavillon in St Moritz  is a regeneration project by Foster + Partners that is set to reinstate Kulm Park as the social focus of this part of the resort by returning it to the community.

The initial aim of the project was to restore the existing 1905 eispavillon which played host to the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics. The building had been abandoned for many years, and had fallen into a state of extreme disrepair.  The new scheme brings the building back to its original state with the ice skating rink as the focus, also introducing a new club restaurant and sun terrace for visitors and the local Engadin community to enjoy. To expand the old eispavillon’s capacity to host events, a new multipurpose pavilion has been incorporated with links to the historic structure.  Designed in the spirit of a mini-stadium, it is set to be the focus of the annual calendar of sporting and cultural events including the medal ceremonies at the Ski World Championships held in St Moritz in February 2017, as well as music festivals and shows of classic cars.

Located on the northern edge of the Davos Plaun, which forms an ice rink in the winter and a wide lawn for outdoors exhibitions and events in the summer, the new extension is a flexible structure that will provide a platform for a wide variety of activities throughout the year, from a sun terrace to a concert stage.  The design of the new pavilion continues the Engadin tradition of woodcraft, with a cantilevering canopy that extends from the street edge to form a partially covered space, sheltered from rain and snow.  The canopy is made of horizontal wooden slats which allow for views through to street level.  The structure extends into a wall that curves around the northern corner of the site, terminating in a smaller sun canopy at the other end.  This allows for views towards the skating rink and the surrounding mountains from the street, while protecting the site from the cold winds that blow into the valley.
Adjoining the new pavilion, the historic eispavillon has been regenerated, reinstating not just the architecture, but the historic spirit of the place – a celebration of skating, sport and sun.  There is a new restaurant and exhibition area on the first level, showcasing various memorabilia that evoke the alpine tradition of the valley, so in that sense it is also a museum.  The refurbishment is faithful to the original style, preserving the historic features, along with a sympathetically designed ‘Orangerie’ as an indoor-outdoor space with picturesque views of the valley.  Facilities for skating and curling equipment hire can be accommodated in the future and an outdoor bar is located on the lower level with direct access to the Davos Plaun.

Lord Foster, Executive Chairman and Founder, Foster + Partners: “I approached this project not only as an architect, but as a sympathetic resident of St Moritz; to me it was all about bringing the historic structure and the Davos Plaun back to life, to recreate a space for the local community. The restoration of the old eispavillon and the new extension seek to re-establish Kulm Park as the social focus of this part of the town, providing a new destination for visitors and residents of the Engadin valley alike. The new Kulm Eispavillon will be at the heart of the sporting schedule of St Moritz, and will also provide a flexible space for a variety of outdoor events throughout the year, from music concerts to car exhibitions. Using the local tradition of wood, the entire ensemble is designed to be of the place, both in spirit and materials.”

Appeared in Plan Magazine March/April 2017


On International Women’s Day, 50 inspirational women in architecture and design

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Dezeen editorial team has nominated 50 women and female-led studios from the architecture and design industry who inspire us. In no particular order…

There are few people that have done more to push the boundaries of 3D printing than MIT Media Lab professor Neri Oxman. Her pioneering design research projects have resulted in a pavilion constructed by silkworms and robots, a technique for 3D printing glass and a haunting collection of death masks.

Tatiano Bilbao
Nominated by Amy Frearson

She shot to fame designing a residence for artist Gabriel Orozco, yet Mexico-based Bilbao gets far more excited talking about her ideas for overhauling the homes of the country’s poorest. She was previously an advisor to Mexico City’s housing department, and has used that experience to develop innovative solutions that could change lives – like the adaptable house she presented at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Nominated by Rima Sabina Aouf

There aren’t many designers who would respond to a brief from Marcel Wanders to design “a lamp that even my grandmother would like” with a life-size horse, but that chutzpah is what sets Front apart. Although only two (Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist) of the original foursome remain, they’ve been standard-bearers for collective creative leadership in an industry too often ruled by egos.

Odile Decq
Nominated by Jessica Mairs

“Radical goth” Odile Decq is well known for her bold architectural and personal style. She has been forthright in her advocacy for gender equality in the profession throughout her career, and scooped a number of awards recognising it. Shunning teaching positions at prestigious institutions across the globe, she founded her own architecture school – the Confluence Institute – three years ago to challenge conservative and outdated teaching methods.

Neri Oxman
Nominated by Alice Morby

There are few people that have done more to push the boundaries of 3D printing than MIT Media Lab professor Neri Oxman. Her pioneering design research projects have resulted in a pavilion constructed by silkworms and robots, a technique for 3D printing glass and a haunting collection of death masks.

Es Devlin
Nominated by Marcus Fairs

The hyper-energetic, hyper-intelligent stage designer has worked with practically every big name in the music business, most recently masterminding Katy Perry’s politically charged appearances at the Grammys and the Brits, but still dedicates significant amounts of time to her first (but less financially lucrative) love, the theatre, collaborating regularly with the National Theatre in London.

Jane Duncan
Nominated by Marcus Fairs

The current RIBA president, only the third woman to hold the post, is a breath of fresh air at the rather stuffy, male-dominated institution. She ensured the late Zaha Hadid got a long-overdue Royal Gold Medal and, at the other end of the scale, has introduced warmth through simple touches such as asking guests at formal RIBA dinners to show their appreciation by applauding the kitchen staff.

Grafton Architects
Nominated by Eleanor Gibson

Irish duo Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara are among the most well-respected architects in the industry, thanks not only to their powerful but poetic architectural style, but also to their warm personalities. Their Dublin-based firm Grafton Architects is nearly 40 years old, but is showing no signs of slowing down – in the last 12 months they won the inaugural RIBA International Prize for a Peru university, and were chosen to curate the next Venice Architecture Biennale.

Vivienne Westwood
Nominated by Rima Sabina Aouf

She’s one of the original punks, and certainly the one who’s stayed the most relevant. Vivienne Westwood is always in the headlines for something, and usually something good – like walking her own runway at 75, posing in a “Don’t let an older generation decide your future” T-shirt, or campaigning for action on climate change.

Camille Walala
Nominated by Eleanor Gibson

With a personality as vibrant as her colourful designs, Walala is renowned for her Memphis-style paintwork. Her grand canvases continue to pop up everywhere, adorning everything from a cloakroom at London’s Roundhouse to a WeWork co-working office. She has even applied it to a zebra crossing.

Roksanda Ilincic
Nominated by Marcus Fairs

The Serbian-born fashion designer and neighbour of Dezeen has dressed powerful women including Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron (Melania Trump bought her number off the peg) but eschews the airs and graces of other fashion royalty, remaining down-to-earth and accessible.


Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta Named 2017 Pritzker Prize Laureates

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta have been named as the laureates of the 2017 Pritzker Prize. Their projects emphasize materiality and craft – considered use of color, transparency (and thereby light) define an oeuvre which ranges from public buildings to houses, a kindergarten and a winery.

The three architects—all of whom are Spanish Catalan and originate from Olot, Girona (where they are all presently based)—have worked collaboratively together as RCR Arquitectes since 1988; they simultaneously graduated in Architecture from ETSAV, the School of Architecture in Valles (Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura del Vallès) a year prior. This 39th incarnation of the Prize represents the first instance in which three architects have been recognized at once, and only the second time—following Rafael Moneo in 1996—that Spanish practitioners have been honored.


Shane O’Toole and Dr Ellen Rowley Honoured

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), the regulatory and support body for architects in Ireland, presented two esteemed awards at its Honorary Fellowship Lectures, which took place at the RIAI headquarters recently.

Award-winning architectural critic Shane O’Toole received an Honorary Fellowship, while architectural historian Dr Ellen Rowley received an Honorary Membership. Both delivered lectures at the sold out event. Shane O’Toole spoke on the topic “When Wrecking Balls Swing” while Dr Ellen Rowley’s theme was “Women in Irish Architecture in the 1940s”.

More in the March/April issue of Plan Magazine.


Irish projects up for Mies van der Rohe Award

The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe have announced the list of 356 works competing for the 2017 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award.

“The nominated works are stimulating, innovative and have improved the existing conditions of their sites. They push boundaries and have set new standards based on strong collaborative and participatory strategies.” said Ivan Blasi, Coordinator of the Prize Nine Irish buildings have been nominated.

Folding House Ireland Cork – A2 Architects + TTT – (thirtythreetrees) Landscape Architects

Roscommon Civic Offices – ABK Architects

dlrLexicon Central Library and Cultural Centre –
Carr Cotter Naessens Architects

Waterford Fire Station – McCullough Mulvin Architects

Model School Inchicore – Donaghy + Dimond

Merrion Cricket Pavilion – TAKA

St. Angela’s College Cork – O’Donnell + Tuomey

Hazel Lane Mews Houses – Dublin Design Studio

Brick House, Dalkey Avenue – de Blacam and Meagher Architects

See January/February Issue of Plan Magazine available on subscription email catherine@mcdmedia.ie



Planning Granted For a 267 Unit Housing Development in Dublin

Builder Cairn Homes has been granted planning permission for a large project in west Dublin that will see the construction of 267 dwellings.

The scheme is the first element of a much larger development that is planned by Cairn at the site in Adamstown.

Cairn has received permission to build 199 houses, 60 apartments and eight duplex units at the first phase of the new development.

The company is currently building on a number of sites in the greater Dublin region, including its extensive Parkside development on the Malahide Road.

The five sites on which it was active as of last year are expected to yield a total of more than 1,150 homes. Another five sites it plans to build on this year will deliver an additional 2,750 homes.

Cairn Homes, whose ceo is Michael Stanley, floated on the stock market in June 2015, raising over €440m. In December 2015, it subsequently raised an additional €52m. In 2016, it raised €167m.

In a November trading update, Cairn Homes said that it was on track to complete 100 house sales in 2016 across its active sites, and meet its medium-term objective of delivering 1,200 housing units a year by 2019.

Cairn’s portfolio includes 29 separate development sites which will accommodate more than 12,000 units, 90pc of which will be in Dublin.

Cairn Homes was founded by Mr Stanley and the company’s chief operating officer, Kevin Stanley. Another founding investor is director Alan McIntosh. Mr McIntosh is the founder of London-based private equity group Emerald Investment Partners.

Mr McIntosh is also a co-founder of pub chain Punch Taverns – the second-largest in the UK. Emerald retreated this week from a battle with Heineken to buy Punch, with the chain expected to be valued at £410m (€477m).

Irish Independent


€20m Grade “A” office landmark development launched in the heart of Cork city

A €20 million office development at Camden Place will provide 150 construction jobs with up to 500 jobs coming on-stream in Cork city centre on completion. Demolition will commence in February, with work on the 65,000 sq ft of lettable floor space expected to take 12 months.

Award-winning Cork architecture firm Boyd Barrett Murphy-O’Connor (BBMOC) has designed the statement building, which will lead the rejuvenation of the city’s northern quays. The contemporary development by Stone Work Properties Ltd incorporates the much-loved existing Venetian-style façade into a 21st century glazed exterior.

Welcoming the news, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Simon Coveney said the Camden Place redevelopment will strengthen Cork as a key location for global commerce: “This exciting project is very welcome news for Cork city, a city which has emerged from the downturn as a global centre of commercial excellence. It will cement the city’s position nationally and internationally as an attractive location for multinational enterprises and indigenous enterprise. Developments, like this one at Camden Place, will ensure the Cork region not only attracts but retains investment, business and jobs.”

The five floors of world-class office space will be capable of hosting 500 employees and is available to let. Camden Place faces the Cork Opera House and Emmet Place and is adjacent to Apple’s city centre location and the popular Huguenot Quarter. Large floor plates, as favoured particularly by the FDI and Tech sectors, range from 9,000 sq ft to 16,500 sq ft. The building shall be built to achieve the highest global standards with LEED environmental accreditation and incorporates the most efficient and sustainable methods. The building is also adjacent to the Carrolls Quay multi-storey car park, where 100 parking spaces will be made available.

The commercial agents advising Stone Work Properties Ltd say there is a huge appetite in Cork for buildings of this calibre.

Sean Healy, Director at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “Camden Place is an ambitious project that will redefine Camden Quay and encourage further investment in the area. The new offices will attract global corporates as well as local businesses, who will be enticed by the contemporary office space, the good city centre location and proximity to Cork’s business district, social areas and connection to air, rail and bus links.”

Alan Moran, Director at CBRE, also commented: “This is a statement development for Ireland’s second city. We see the new building as being symbolic of the resurgence of the city’s quays as active centres of commerce and the ambition of people to have an excellent work/life balance.”

The Camden Place redevelopment takes place at a time of increased demand for office space in Cork. The city has become a favourite with multinationals seeking to locate in Ireland, and in more recent years in city centre locations in order to attract suitably skilled staff. This is due in part to the lower costs involved compared with Dublin, and convenient access to skilled graduates from University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology, and the wider southern area. Cork’s reputation for an attractive life-style and affordable cost of living is another huge draw for corporates seeking to create a workforce in Ireland.