Evelyn Grace

Who is Evelyn Grace? Actually I have no idea, not even the wikipedia knows. What I do know however is that Evelyn Grace Academy is a new school, built in a relatively deprived area of inner-London (Brixton to be precise) with a large and historically under-achieving black and other ethnic minority population.

Why is it on my radar? The building happens to up for this years Stirling Prize for Architecture.

Designed by British architect Zaha Hadid its a sweeping ‘Z’ shaped structure with masses of glass and steel and natural light. It is an aspirational building designed inspire aspiration in an often over-looked group.

The sweeping curves and angles really do it for me, and I wish I went to that school!! Take some time to bask in the glory of it….

Whats the lesson here? I think its treat kids with enough respect to provide them with decent surrounds and environs and they’ll develop a sense of pride in their school and vicariously in themselves. Hopefully.

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Urban Planning Problem – Blackfriars Station

So you work for Network Rail and need to dramatically increase capacity at Blackfriars station. Space around you is extremely limited. You can’t dig down because they’re busy building a new underground station for Crossrail. You can’t build up because, well, its a railway and trains don’t like inclines.

You are near the river though.

Answer: You build the station on the actual approach bridge itself. Ingenious.

It utilises previously ‘dead’ space for the platforms and thereby saves space on the ground for the ticketing concourse etc. It also allows for much longer trains.

Looks swish doesn’t it?

Its an example of a bit of ‘thinking outside the box’ thats resulted in actually a far more elegant solution than could have been envisaged previously.

Lets get this show on the road… The Shard – London

The first thing I wanted to talk about was a new building in London called ‘The Shard’. I saw a news article about it several years ago and thought it looked cool, but then the recession came along and I guess I assumed that it had been cancelled.

Wrong. I was in London a few months ago and there it was, half built, half glazed, but there nevertheless.

London is building together quite an eclectic mix of skyscrapers and I know there are some people who believe that thecity should be preserved as it was in the 1900’s and part of me agrees. Another part (a bigger part) enjoys seeing new stuff jutting up against old stuff, especially when it looks this cool. Of course, the Tower Bridge/Tower of London area is a world heritage site so sticking in a giant steel oblong would have been a mistake, but a giant spire is a different thing altogether – after all London is covered with spires from the hundreds of beautiful churches and for a long time these comprised the skyline of the capital and so weirdly, even though its 10 times taller than everything around it, a giant glass spire doesn’t look out of place. It actually looks like a cathedral, albeit a cathedral to money and wealth rather than God.

Secondly, (and more importantly) when I was younger I’m pretty sure I was promised cityscapes of gleaming glass in interesting shapes (on Mars) and this is as close as we can get!

I’m keen to know what others think – or if anyone has an examples of neat architecture from where they live please comment. More pictures can be found at the official project website.