Spencer de Grey has taken charge of the Architecture Room at the Royal Academy this summer. With a theme of sustainability in its widest sense – societal, environmental, economic and creating great buildings that enhance the urban environment and create great spaces – the Weston Room is piled high with projects. At one end are the large projects such as Spencer’s own masterplan for Amaravati in India, PLP’s ‘Timber Vortex’ in the Hague, and Richard Rogers’ Urban Living Room for Schenzhen, in addition to his Leadenhall Building in London. At the other are the small and beautifully detailed including Feilden Clegg Bradley’s Croft Gardens in Cambridge, Naill McLaughlan’s Bishop Edward King Chapel and Eleanor Derbyshire’s Passive Vinery. Thomas Heatherwick, as you would expect, has several projects showing his dexterity from the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo to his Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) in Capetown, based around an old concrete grain silo decommissioned in 2001 and bringing new life to the area around it.
Traditional detailing is here too, with BDP’s thatched panel for an Enterprise Centre near Old Oak Common and Monika Marinova’s stonework detailing for Stoke Town Hall, contrasting with Ian Butcher’s three dimensional ‘Dubai Top’, bursting with energy and colour.
In among the many projects, it is good to see that the Public Sector such as hospitals are commissioning well-designed buildings such as Edward Williams’ Midland Metropolitan Hospital, and it was fascinating to see EPR’s proposals which, with its photo-catalyst surface is intended to reduce the pollutant No2 from the urban area, while transforming the ghastly roundabout at Old Street. Fingers crossed that something might come of it….
This room is so full of the best of architectural design that it deserves multiple visits to see and appreciate everything.