The month in architecture

Everything you need to know that happened in May 2015

Published 28 May 2015

The biggest architecture news, the latest prizes and the wackiest new projects – rounded up into one handy post each month.

  • 1. Clandon Park House destroyed in fire

    It was nothing short of a tragic start to May for the National Trust, as the stately home Clandon Park House in Surrey went up in flames on 29 April. The 1720s Grade-I listed Palladian mansion has been reduced to a shell after the blaze spread from basement to roof in a matter of minutes. The incident raises new conservation and preservation questions for the charity, as it seeks to reassess which items in their collections have the greatest heritage value to the population and would be saved first in the event of another fire.

    Read updates on the National Trust website

  • 2. OMA unveil Fondazione Prada

    The firm headed by the global architect, Rem Koolhaas, has unveiled the new Fondazione Prada arts centre, after it was established by the fashion house Prada in 1993. Housed in a renovated distillery in Milan, it includes a gold-covered exhibition building known as the Haunted House, a café designed by the film director, Wes Anderson, and a mirror-clad cinema. Uniting Hollywood showbiz, cutting-edge architecture and high fashion, this is surely one of the most glamorous buildings to open in some time.

    Fondazione Prada website

  • 3. First multi-storey skate park announced

    Capitalising on the success of its new Folkestone Triennal arts festival, architect Guy Hollaway is hoping to make this sleepy seaside town the latest cool kids’ hangout by building the world’s first multi-storey skate park. Not only will there be three floors for skateboarders and BMX riders, but also a boxing ring, a climbing wall, a café and a rooftop terrace which will offer views over the English Channel. Hollaway sees the project not just as an opportunity to regenerate this traditional town, but as a strategy for encouraging young people not to leave for the big city, taking the future with them.

    See more pictures on Guy Hollaway Architects website

  • 4. Zaha Hadid's Mexican city centre

    The architect and Royal Academician Zaha Hadid has unveiled a design for a new residential development in Monterrey, Mexico, in her trademark style of undulating curves. Originally asked to design 12 high-rise towers, Hadid surprised the panel by proposing a community-orientated scheme of serpentine blocks nine-storeys high, surrounding a park at its centre. Esfera City Centre will sit in a valley between two mountain ranges that has a subtropical microclimate, and each individual building has been designed according to the position of the sun and the direction of the harsh winds experienced in the area.

    Read more about the project on Zaha Hadid Architects webpage

  • 5. Sir John Soane’s Museum opens newly renovated private apartments

    Possibly the most eccentric historical building in London, the Sir John Soane’s Museum has opened a hitherto unseen suite of rooms to the public, providing further insight into the mind of this brilliant collector and architect. The private apartments of Sir John Soane and his wife Eliza have been painstakingly restored to Soane’s exact arrangements over six years, as Phase II of the museum’s long-term £7m renovation project. The restoration has been lauded by critics and industry experts, particularly for its triumphant centrepiece, the Model Room.

    Read a review of the new opening on The Guardian

  • 6. World’s biggest hotel for holy city of Mecca

    A dome surrounded by four helipads on top of 45 storeys, planted in the desert next to Islam’s holiest site, the Abraj Kudai hotel-city will have 10,000 rooms, 70 restaurants, a shopping mall, food courts and conference centre… and five whole floors reserved for the use of the Saudi royal family alone. In close proximity to the Grand Mosque, this £2.3bn monstrosity is just the latest in a series of moves by the Saudi government to replace cultural and religious heritage with luxury tourism, and deepens campaigners’ concerns that very soon pilgrims will be priced out of Mecca and Saudi Arabia’s other holy sites altogether.

    Find out more on the Guardian

  • 7. Glimpse of Garden Bridge plans

    Newly unveiled images of Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge reveal lush green areas based on woodland glades, cliff-tops and London’s old parks and gardens. The lead garden designer Dan Pearson has aimed to locate the bridge in London’s rich and unique history of public parks and gardens, even as the Garden Bridge Trust face a judicial review into the planning application process for the construction of actress Joanna Lumley’s famous dream.

    Read more about Dan Pearson’s plans on the Garden Bridge Trust website

  • 8. First design studio to be nominated for Turner Prize

    The young architecture collective Assemble have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize, in an historic moment for the intersectionality of art and architecture. The 18-strong group has been nominated chiefly for its work in Toxteth, Liverpool; an area at the centre of the 1981 race riots which has since fallen into decline. Architects worked with local residents and a community land trust to refurbish 10 Victorian terrace houses under threat of demolition, showing that regeneration can mean renewal without a total replacement of existing structures and the histories attached to them.

    See more of Assemble’s projects here and discover the Turner Prize shortlist here