Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jerwood Gallery wins planning

We were delighted to be granted planning permission last night for the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. There has been a great deal of local debate over the project, and the planning application seems to have set some kind of local record for the number of comments received - 365 in favour and 44 against. We were thrilled that it was in the end unanimously supported by the planning committee members.

We've had fantastic support from many local groups and individuals, so many thanks to everyone who has helped us in this process. We look forward to now developing the detailed design - the ambition is to start on site in spring 2010 and to open in early summer 2011.

The press release issued by the Jerwood Foundation can be downloaded here.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The trouble with Charles

Prince Charles's speech at the RIBA this week perfectly illustrated the difficulty of using words to describe architecture in any meaningful or specific way. On many levels, there was actually very little in his thesis that most contemporary architects would disagree with. Indeed, his statement that "Architecture defines the public realm, and it should help to define us as human beings, and to symbolize the way we look at the world; it affects our psychological well-being, and it can either enhance or detract from a sense of community" comes close to epitomising what most of our generation feel to be our primary responsibilities. Like Charles, we want to respond sensitively and intelligently to the context in which we build, and to involve communities in the process as fully as possible.

The trouble is that the same words can be used to describe very different outcomes when it comes to design. Responding sensitively to context can mean Poundbury pastiche or sculpted Gehry form-making, depending on your point of view. It is a shame that "the one mainstream figure with the profile to bring architecture to broad public notice" (AJ) doesn't get out more (or isn't allowed to) to talk to real architects about what they are trying to achieve. Has the Prince visited Accordia, for example? or talked to Fat about New Islington? (Sam Jacobs also has good comment on the Prince here.)

It is a shame that the prince is so well minded by his 'traditional' friends that he never gets into a proper conversation. The stilted exchange of formalities face-to-face and the tide of 'comment' in the media to which he cannot respond is no good substitute.