Monday, 14 November 2011

Having a H-archi-tack

I’ve been spending the better half of this month pouring over the injustices that present themselves as the modern day hospital. As we all know, the NHS is long standing institution that sits, perhaps not uncomfortably, but I suppose tentatively within the spectrum of politically, and socially conscious.  For both citizens home and aboard that both benefit from such an organisation, and for those that are left with a bitter and ever lasting after taste of coming into contact with this socialist beast, it remains a major player, for better for worse, within British culture.

Now being a blog that’s meant to attempt to talk about architecture in some form of knowledgeable format, it would of course makes sense to delve into a piece of hospital architecture that summons the good bacteria from within, a sort of Actimel archetype just for places of health care. But I fear hospital buildings of this type are far and few between, and we’re left instead with a fast food burger that is, while cheap and affordable for the masses, leaves you both wishing to flee the premises as soon as consumption is complete, and with a questionable desire to end your life, even if the latter notion it’s just though a verbal “figure of speech” murmur.

It seems that as hospitals are at the expenditure of the tax payer, the building has to be on the cheap side, and not only does it have to be on the cheap side, it has to look on the cheap side; the solution? An inevitably, and horrifically un-imaginative brick exterior, and a gloriously pale white wash interior giving all but those that have lost their sight a clear cut feeling of depression. This made worse by the prologoned wait in the waiting room. As you sit glumly in the company of the variously should bed bound characters seeking the attention of a good doctor, you can’t help but crave anything other than the environment you’re stuck in. But why is it that one of the most fundamentally important elements to the workings of a modern community is so underplayed architecturally?

This lines me up to drop in at least one of the unconventional hospitals that have done away with the politically acceptable bore fests that are typically erected. Now this is no new piece of architecture that has delighted the many children that have unfortunately been part of its history; The Evelina Childrens Hospital, by Hopkins Architects, it's a real charmer. The brief was simple “design a hospital that wasn’t a hospital”. Lovely. And it worked. Even more lovely. Now the ins and outs of this design are there for anyone to explore. So i leave it to you....

....or just click on this. Far

Sunday, 6 November 2011

World Architecture Festival 2011

I just returned from the World Architecture Festival, although it’s only slightly worldly, nor festival-y…it’s a conference of smartly dressed men donning the latest understated greyscale garment, infiltrated by few others...

Regardless of first impressions, there was time to enjoy the mêlée of gorgeous work presented by a unique range of characters, from the witty and charismatic, to the confused and obnoxious. A chance to watch judges challenge the architects with both piercing questions, and less so piercing questions…”Your name is BIG, why are you so small?” to which the slight and well postured defendant quickly retorted “because we’re busy”….love it.

It was a chance to meet and greet the architectural famous, to speak directly to directors, designers, critics, and commentators. It was a chance to rub shoulders, ever so gently, with a group of people that are ever so slightly trying to change the world. But this was not a political rally, nor a dogmatic affair of banners and hard hitting punch lines. There was no over riding motif of radical change, it was a collective of people who made comment, made gestures of change, or hinted at new form. Some dared a little too far into the realms of conceptual design, and some where a little too delicate and floundering. But all the work on offer had one simple, unifying property, to make the world a better place.

Now I immediately shun, or at least squint slightly at token lines such as the one just written, but without churning over reams of text to fully articulate something slightly classier and devoid of cliché, it remains a simple truth.

And with that, I share with you the link to WAF for you to explore the great mass of projects on offer, and in particular, the firm that I have a slight affiliation with, Desitecture.