The month in architecture

Everything you need to know that happened in March

Published 31 March 2016

Six top architecture news stories this month – from a very sad loss, to new projects and prizes.

  • 1. Zaha Hadid RA dies

    First, a very sad news item for the RA and the world of architecture – the sudden death of Zaha Hadid RA, aged 65. Celebrated internationally – in London, perhaps most famously for the Olympic Aquatic Centre – Iraq-born Hadid was the only woman to receive the Pritzker Prize (2004) and earlier this year, won the RIBA Gold Medal. She died in Miami following a heart attack on Thursday 31 March. In this tribute, the RA’s Head of Architecture and two of her fellow architects pay tribute to a great talent.

  • London Aquatics Centre, Zaha Hadid RA

    London Aquatics Centre, Zaha Hadid RA

    Photo: Hufton+Crow

  • 2. Controversy over Spanish castle restoration

    There has been widespread horror and derision in Spain this month as the restoration of historic Castillo de Matrera was revealed. The ruins, which were severely damaged by adverse weather three years ago, have been shored up by plain stone walls, made from modern materials, which return the stones to their original shape and dimensions.

    Locals and conservation groups have been outspoken in their condemnation of such an approach, but the overseeing architect, Carlos Quevedo, explained that there were three aims behind it: “To structurally consolidate those elements that were at risk; to differentiate new additions from the original structure – thus avoiding the imitative reconstructions that are prohibited by law; and to recover the volume, texture and tonality that the tower would originally have had.”

    No matter what your opinion, this case raises important questions about approaches to heritage preservation.

    Read more on the architects’ website.

  • 3. RSH+P reveals Skyfarm designs

    The London-based architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partner, have come up with an alternative to traditional farming which they believe could be less land intensive and be integrated into cities. Skyfarm is a bamboo-framed vertical structure which incorporates different farming systems from straightforward planting to aquaponics (which could be used for fish farming), and would enable foods with short life spans such as berries and salad to be grown close to market.

    The tower would also feature water tanks and wind turbines. The firm believe that it could be a solution to the problem of an ever-increasing world population, as it is fear that agricultural land for food production may run out.

    Find out more.

    4. Olympicopolis images unveiled

    The Architecture firms Allies and Morrison and O’Donnell + Tuomey have released new images of their designs for a new cultural quarter in east London’s Olympic Park, for which they won a development contract in May 2015. The 70,000m2 site, named Stratford Waterfront, will include new buildings for the V&A and Smithsonian museums, a 600-seat theatre for Sadler’s Wells and a campus for the London College of Fashion, as well as a residential development. Building is expected to start in 2018, with the complex opening in 2021.

    Find out more.

  • 5. Public figures speak out on housing

    The leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, the architectural historian and broadcaster Jonathan Meades and the writer and comedian Stephen Fry have all spoken out this month for changes to be made to the architectural profession in Britain.

    First, Corbyn spoke out against residential development schemes, such as the £800m Bishopsgate Goodsyard project in Hackney, which he has branded “immoral and wrong.” One-bed flats are expected to cost a whopping £1m, which many fear will force those on average salaries and below out of the area. Then, Meades called for statutory employment of architects on all construction projects, which he thinks would bring Britain’s housing up to the same level as the Netherlands, “the finest in Europe.” There is currently no legal obligation for architects to be involved in construction projects. And finally, Fry, speaking at BD’s Architect of the Year Awards, appeared to agree, warning that many of the UK’s best architects were leaving to work abroad because they aren’t appreciated here: “We ought to be living in a golden age of architecture, if we could allow architecture to take centre stage in the business of development and construction.“

    6. Are gamers the new architects?

    An LA architect and game developer believes that video games could become a significant tool for designing and developing urban areas. Jose Sanchez has launched Block’hood, a neighbourhood-building simulator which he thinks would help architects to view cities on a global scale, rather than considering them at a local level. He also hopes that it will engage a global audience with the challenges currently faced by urban architecture. Block’hood forces players to satisfy the ecological, social and economic demands of a sustainable neighbourhood as they create it.

    Find out more.

  • Block'hood


    © Jose Sanchez