Boots on the Royal Academy, Helsinki Library and dirty carpets
Now that the Royal Academy has got the former Museum of Mankind at 6 Burlington Gardens back from its tenant, the Haunch of Venison, Boots hears plans are afoot for an architecture programme in part of the space.
What this might involve no one will say — although it’s rumoured to include a group show of young (or not so young) British practices. Embedding architecture shows more firmly within the RA should come as no surprise — it was always Charles Saumarez Smith’s intention to up its profile when he took over in 2008.
Each year up to 40% of the cost of the Serpentine Pavilion is covered by selling it on to a private owner, and deep-pocketed steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal has already put his name down for the latest one by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei.
He presumably won’t have too much to pay in transportation costs. He and his wife Usha live at 18-19 Kensington Palace Gardens — once the most expensive house in Britain — which stands all of 500m from the pavilion’s current location.
Boots hears Berkeley Homes boss Tony Pidgley is planning an invited competition for the 6ha Wapping Village site in east London that the housebuilder acquired last week from News International for £150 million. But don’t hold your breath — only four firms are to be invited.
Meanwhile, an open competition for Helsinki Library has attracted 530 entries, Boots hears, but more interesting is the amount of work consultants will do for free.
The detailed brief demanded a design and a fully worked-up energy model — which alone might represent three days’ work. Let’s hope it doesn’t go the same way as the competition to extend Asplund’slibrary in Stockholm which, despite 1,160 entries, was abandoned due to a change in local government.
And finally, shocking news reaches us about architects’ cleaning habits — or rather lack of them. According to a survey by carpet cleaning specialist the Rug Doctor, nearly half (41%) of architects say they don’t have time to do a thorough cleaning job and a quarter (24%) do the minimum required.
But architects, it transpires, are not as dirty as other carpet abusers. While 29% of architects admit to going outside barefoot and then walking around the house without washing their feet, this compares to 42% of teachers and 30% of travel agents.
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