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O'Donnell Tuomey - surface and surface

Masses of stepped flemish and mesh bond brick work from Irish Architects O’Donnell + Tuomey at the new London School of Economic Student Centre. I had a chance to visit the site during construction in November, interiors seemed a little dark behind the perforated brick but the stairs and level changing sequences were impressive, particularly the poured concrete spiral on the top floors named the “baby elephant”. Photographs by Dennis Gilbert.

www.odonnell-tuomey.ie

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Duggan Morris - surface and surface

Duggan Morris Architect’s new urban infill project on Curtain Road in Shoreditch, London is nearly complete. The existing three story brick building is crowned with a contemporary lightweight volume proportioned into bays defined by it’s context while contrasting beautifully with the depth and ornamentation of the retained georgian facade. Photography by Jack Hobhouse.

www.dugganmorrisarchitects.com

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Astley Castle Stirling  Witherford Watson Mann - surface and surfaceIt was announced this evening that Witherford Watson Mann Architects have won the RIBA Stirling Prize, an architectural equivalent to the Mercury Prize. The project consists of the preservation and conservation of the 12th century Astley Castle structure in Nuneaton, North Warwickshire for the Landmark Trust. The sensitive insertion by Witherford Watson Mann provides new accommodation within the previously fire damaged castle ruin. Although my money wasn’t on this one I have to admit it really is a beautifully unique building with well crafted details and stunning interiors. As it’s part of the Landmark Trust it’s technically a holiday home that’s open to use by the public. No doubt it’s already booked out for the next few years after this evenings event but you can check that here.

www.wwmarchitects.co.uk

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Harpa - mark halpin - surface and surfaceHarpa is the new opera house of Reykjavik, visible from the coast and throughout the city. It’s a large prism, reflecting the changing skies and harbor. The project was nearly halted during the Icelandic economic crisis but thankfully due to the government’s appreciation of the arts as an integral part of life in Iceland the project was fully funded to completion.

Designed by Henning Larsen Architects in collaboration with Danish Artist Olafur Eliasson on facade duty with Sebastian Behmann, Harpa was completed last year. The building’s south facade of over 1,000 ‘quasi bricks’ influenced by the local basalt geometric columns create a kaleidoscopic layer constantly changing the internal light of the building. This crystalline veil is beautifully contrasted by the monolithic anthracite poured concreted of the music halls.

“The building’s name Harpa refers to the musical instrument, the harp. It is also the name of the first month of spring in the Nordic calendar – and for the people of Iceland this means the promise of better times.” Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir (Musical Director of Harpa)

I got a chance to see John Grant play here on Saturday where he started his tour of his fantastic second album ‘Pale Green Ghosts’. First four photos are from me and the rest are from Henning Larsen / Olafur Eliasson.

www.harpa.is

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