Ruth Slavid talks architecture

Sustainable crop

Posted in wood by ruthslavid on June 15, 2011

The hallmark of a good set of awards entries lies not in what has been shortlisted, but in what missed the cut. If really fascinating projects fail to get in, you know it is a good year. This is the case with this year’s Wood Awards. The organisers invited views of all the entries on the day that shortlisting was completed. The shortlisted projects looked great, but so do many that were left out. Why couldn’t that lovely stair be included? That intriguing table? That so desirable building. Fortunately, all the buildings and furniture that have been shortlisted look really good. My tip for the overall winner? Adam Khan’s floating visitor centre at Brockholes nature reserve in Lancashire. Wood and water – what a combo!


Getting away from it all in Japan

Posted in wood by ruthslavid on March 17, 2011

I love this peaceful escape on the Dornob website, a get-away-from-it-all refuge in the woods in Japan, designed by HSWSG.

The space underneath is protected from rain, and therefore liveable for much of the year, and the interior is enchanting. Let’s just hope it is still there, and can be enjoyed in the future. This is such a contrast to the terrible stories from Japan at present.

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Scots get cross

Posted in wood by ruthslavid on March 14, 2011

I have just been talking to Peter Wilson who runs the Wood Studio at Napier University about research into cross-laminated timber. I always assumed that UK timber was not high enough quality, because it grows too fast, but apparently this is not the case. The main issue, Peter says, is to do with drying the timber sufficiently without it twisting, because we harvest trees with relatively small-diameter trunks. But it is an issue that he believes could be overcome, and it would be a great added-value product to see produced in the UK. (This image comes from Binderholz, a company based in Austria and Germany).

Haarlem’s musical triumph

Posted in wood by ruthslavid on December 1, 2010

Dutch architect Frits van Dongen of  Architects Cie has won a much-coveted (although I don’t really understand what it is) municipal award for his Haarlem Philharmonie building.

The building is a mix of refurbishment and new insertions, including this wonderful sensuous and sinuous timber-lined space. I once heard van Dongen give an inspiring talk about his work in Madrid, and he gave me a copy of his monograph. The contents are good, but the cover is even better. It is very shiny, silver but shot through with green and pink. For a long time it was on our living room floor and when the sun shone in it projected wonderful, random colourful reflections onto wall and ceilings.

Lap of luxury

Posted in furniture, wood by ruthslavid on November 12, 2010

Luke Hughes, maker of beautifully crafted timber furniture, has been shortlisted for a Walpole Award, given to luxury brands.

Also shortlisted is Timorous Beasties, best know for its witty disrespectful Toile de Jouy wallpapers. The two companies worked together on the supreme court building. Good luck Luke Hughes.

Style over substance?

Posted in housing, wood by ruthslavid on October 26, 2010

A gorgeous looking stair in this house by Paul Cha architect, but it does raise a couple of questions.

Are they more flexible in the US than the UK about regulations? Would I dare go up it after a few drinks? Cha says he takes a Zen approach to his architecture, but not sure how Zen I would feel after a tumble down this.

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Riveting invention

Posted in wood by ruthslavid on October 22, 2010

Furniture designer David Colwell took the Innovation Award at the Wood Awards last night for his Achair.

Like all his furniture, it uses ash in its construction. The particular cleverness here is the use of a tubular copper rivet to create the joints.

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Best of Wood

Posted in retrofit, wood by ruthslavid on October 22, 2010

It was great fun to compere the Wood Awards last night, and to see Hawkins\Brown take top prize for their work at Stoke Newington Town Hall.

I love this picture of people ballroom dancing on the new sprung maple floor, and feel that the awards organisers missed a trick – they could have cleared the floor of the Carpenter’s Hall for dancing after the presentation! Apparently however, it is too slippery.

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.

Stadthaus on shortlist

Posted in housing, wood by ruthslavid on June 10, 2010

I was delighted to see that Andrew Waugh has been shortlisted for an RIBA research award for his innovative Stadthaus. This is what Andrew describes as ‘the tallest timber housing in the world’ built very fast and very effectively from cross-laminated timber. It would be great if they could get some more work like this – possibly with a client who is brave enough to expose the timber.

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