Ruth Slavid talks architecture

Soil sweetness

Posted in landscape design by ruthslavid on March 3, 2011

I was surprised at Ecobuild to find British Sugar exhibiting, promoting topsoil. When I asked what the connection was, they said that when sugar beet comes in for processing, it has quite a lot of soil on it. They remove this soil, process and age it, and sell it as topsoil. A virtuous circle.

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Wood and sun

Posted in landscape design, wood by ruthslavid on July 8, 2010

This is Helen and Hard’s rather wonderful pavilion in the John Madejski Garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Made entirely of wood (even sitting on a base of wood chippings) it is part of the exhibition ‘Architects build small spaces’.

But what is equally entertaining is the view in the opposite direction:

The very beautifully landscaped garden becomes a giant play space in hot weather, just the right side of riotous. Refreshing in every sense – but likely to disappear, I suspect, when free entry to museums inevitably goes.

Rat tales

Posted in housing, landscape design by ruthslavid on June 26, 2010

Noel Farrer of landscape architect Farrer Huxley was telling horrific stories, using a phrase that is new to me – ‘rat bloom’. This is what happens when conditions are so favourable, that the rat colony expands to occupy all the available space. When he worked on Broadwater Farm estate in north London, they poisoned all the rats which then filled several skips. And on Abbey Orchard Court development, a Peabody estate in Victoria, he opened a 10 foot deep inspection chamber to find it solid with rats – yuk.

But it was the need to redo the courtyard that led to Farrer persuading Peabody to banish the cars and create an entirely new and very successful environment.  He led a tour round the estate and its neighbours as part of the London Festival of Architecture, and I will be writing about it in Specification Magazine’s Hotels, Sport and Leisure supplement.