Ruth Slavid talks architecture

Bamboo harvest

Posted in education, Uncategorized by ruthslavid on March 3, 2011

I have been talking to Broadway Malyan about their recently opened building for Stoke on Trent sixth form college. The ambition was to have a – well an ambitious – building. It is designed with two atria, one full of buzz and activity, and the other much calmer and more contemplative. They have created a bamboo grove in the calm one, having consulted experts on which species would thrive. And thriving it is. So much so, that the bamboo will soon grow too tall for the space, and have to be trimmed.

But what to do with it? It turns out that red pandas adore this species of bamboo.

So the trimmings will go to the red pandas – or at least the really fresh ones will. Red pandas are apparently very fussy, so anything not quite up to snuff will be guzzled by the giraffes. What a happy tale.

Somebody values education

Posted in education by ruthslavid on October 9, 2010

I listened to Robin Lustig’s report on the radio last night about how Medellin in Colombia had become a much safer place, as the drug barons were driven out. How did they do it? One of the big drivers was education, and he cited the construction of  a new modernist school in one of the poorest areas.

It might not be my choice of architecture, and the policeman is a little worrying, but the argument was that the school became a beacon for the neighbourhood, that children felt valued, and that older learners who had had their education disrupted were returning to catch up. One former drug dealer was now teaching algebra.

Eat your heart out Michael Gove.

Railway of blood

Posted in education, streets by ruthslavid on July 16, 2010

I love the idea of the Blood Railway by Aimee O’Carroll, a student at the AA, which has just won the new award from Foster and Partners for sustainability and infrastructure.The idea is to link the London hospitals by infrastructure including the old railway that was used to transport the post, and transfer medical supplies, including blood, in that way.

O’Carroll doesn’t shy away from the obvious puns, such as ‘Whitechapel’s urban artery’ and there are obviously parallels between the circulation of the blood and the transport links in a city – London seems on the edge of a massive cardiac infarction most days. She’d have to sort out issues such as refrigeration, but it is a massively appealing conceit.

Unusual beacon in education

Posted in education by ruthslavid on July 9, 2010

Amidst all the gloom about education, it was encouraging to go yesterday to the opening of a small building, The Courtyard, at Langford Primary School in Hammersmith.

Designed by Surface to Air, it is a centre for excluded children, adapting and extending an existing nursery building. Light is plentiful, there is a private courtyard, and spaces included a circular, carpeted ‘pod’ for cooling down.

Decima Francis, of The From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation opened the school, and both she and the head teacher emphasised the importance of good design for children and the fact that, like adults, they benefit from being in well-designed spaces.

Doubtless digs like that at Michael Gove and his blunt axe are happening around the country. It will be interesting to see if a more slimline and effective approach to schools provision can rise from the wreckage of BSF – but I’m not holding my breath.

Door despair

Posted in design for disability, education, ironmongery by ruthslavid on May 24, 2010

There is a great article by Mary Beard, the world’s wittiest classics don, on the Times website (worth looking at before they lock it all down) about the doors on her new faculty building and the fact that, in attempting to cope with disabled access, they actually become impossible for anybody to use.

She is evidently not an expert in health and safety or building legislation, but that is the point. Unintelligent application of rules will lead to mad solutions like this. Made worse in this case by the fact that the department tried to deal with the need for manifestation by using an appropriate quote – only to find that the Greek lettering had been mis-spelt. Too clever by half?

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Marginal architects?

Posted in education, election, Uncategorized by ruthslavid on May 6, 2010

I wonder how many architects in marginal constituencies will change their voting decisions after BD’s piece about Michael Gove saying that architects are creaming off money from BSF? Those would be the architects who have been suffering under BSF then?

The only thing is, most of them will probably be in their offices until after 10 pm, so will have voted already, if at all.