WAF Articles

WAFNewsletter Articles

Sign-up to the WAFNewsletter here

A great global art shed - Paul Finch - October 2019

When the Louvre decided to move its main storage facility from Paris, because of fears of catastrophic flooding, there was really only one location that made sense, writes Paul Finch. If you visit the recently completed Louvre Conservation Centre in Liévin, which will be possibly via organized tours, you are certain also to be visiting the Musée du Louvre-Lens, a few minutes away...READ MORE

In practice - Paul Hyett - October 2019

Ever heard of ‘Run’? You should have, especially if you are either in real estate or an American. And if you are in US real estate and you don’t know about Run then shame on you and read on...READ MORE

Reflections on the UK’s major architectural prize - Paul Finch - Oct 2019

Stirling Prize-winners are always the occasion for disagreement, writes Paul Finch ‘The architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year’ are supposed to win the Stirling Prize. It is a big claim, especially since only buildings in the UK – designed by RIBA members – are eligible. Moreover, the awarding of the prize is often complicated by individuals on the Stirling jury (institute presidents included) who think they should be sending a ‘message’...READ MORE

Off Beat - Jonathan Glancey - September 2019

Twenty-two years ago, Tadao Ando was in London to receive the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. We met an hour before he was due to give his acceptance speech so I could interview him for the Independent newspaper. Mrs Ando, his translator, was held up on the way to the Royal Institute of British Architects. Neither of us speaking the other’s language, I was wondering what best I should do when, reaching inside my jacket for a pen, I dropped my wallet on the table and a photograph I carried of William, my curly-haired mongrel, landed between Ando and me...READ MORE

In practice - Paul Hyett - September 2019

Off for a stroll in Sherwood Forest during a weekend trip to Nottingham, it struck me just how well Robyn Hood’s mission fitted with the ambitions of the UK Welfare State which sponsored so much of the significant architecture of the post-World War II era. In the early 13th century, the legendary character symbolized a free spirit to oppressed common people, fighting against tyranny, righting wrongs, and setting up his own system of justice by ‘robbing the rich to pay the poor’...READ MORE

Letter from LA - Frances Anderton - September 2019

I moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, a fascinating time. It was a moment of transition between yesterday’s and tomorrow’s LA; the tail end of four decades of Reyner Banham’s LA of Four Ecologies, involving near-total car dependency, sprawling and zoned development, and a lifestyle centered on private, personal space, much of it very affordable. This was a time when architects, many attracted by LA’s theory-free variant on postmodernism by the then-subversives -- Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Eric Owen Moss, etc. -- were able to test formal ideas on affordable single-family homes or small commercial or art spaces, out of sight of the critical glare found in global cities...READ MORE

Valencia’s Parque Central - Jeremy Melvin - September 2019

A sultry early evening during the high southern Spanish summer. Valencia’s Parque Central, the first 11.5 ha phase of a 23ha park on former railway tracks which took a convoluted route into the city’s main station. It is warm, slightly sweaty and with that close, mildly soporific effect that warm, humid weather contributes more to than anything other than the largest amounts of lunchtime wine. But the park, and the activities of its occupants, speak of pleasure and delight, and moreover pleasure and delight that could mitigate the effects of the atmospheric conditions...READ MORE

Books Received - September 2019

This month's reviews cover:

The Theatre of Work
Courtyard Living: Contemporary House of the Asia-Pacific
Millennials in Architecture: Generations, disruption and the legacy of a profession​
Walmer Yard


Underground in Andermatt - Jeremy Melvin - August 2019

If the Swiss Alps take us a little closer to heaven, it is probably not because of the native music, writes Jeremy Melvin. Yodelling, the soundtrack to the Sound of Music, the moan of the alpenhorn and the constant clamour of cowbells may evoke happy memories of strenuous climbs, delicious cheese or the discovery of some rare mountain flower, but they are not likely to induce transcendental experience. Richard Strauss tried to change that with his Alpine Symphony, but by his own admission a ‘first-rate second-class’ composer, the attempt to depict a day in the mountains falls slightly short...READ MORE

Exhibition Reviews - August 2019

At Home
Projects for contemporary housing
Maxxi Museo nazionale delle arti de XXI secolo
Via Guido Reni, Rome Until 22 March 2020

When Zaha Hadid’s Maxxi Gallery in Rome opened in 2010 it caused quite a stir. It was in the vanguard of a growing wave of projects which challenged the white box minimalist tyranny that dominated art gallery design, and it received many plaudits, including WAF’s very own World Building of the Year



Off Beat - Jonathan Glancey - August 2019

King’s Cross is an ambitious private development of showy new offices, shops and restaurants in central London. It occupies much the same area as 70 football pitches. In terms of planning, design and atmosphere it owes more to provincial English cities like Manchester than it does to London, or London, that is, pre-2000. In a bread-and-circuses manner, King’s Cross appears to be popular with a new generation of citizen-consumers. It is, however, decidedly unpopular with anyone who takes seriously the premonitions of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The development is bugged with facial recognition cameras keeping a forensic eye on the identities and movements of those using this patch of privatised city....READ MORE

In Practice - Paul Hyett - August 2019

Le Mans, the first stopover on a tour of some 12 European countries during a welcome summer break, well illustrates just how dominant a single – or repeating – event can contribute to our perception of a city. Venue for the 24-hour motor race that has run from 1923, the city is associated with heroic struggles of Bentleys against Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Audis against Jaguars and Aston Martins and, latterly, the dominant Porsches against the refreshed Bentleys and newly arrived Toyotas...READ MORE

Books Received - August 2019

This month's reviews cover:

Climax City: Masterplanning and the Complexity of Urban Growth​
Dream City: Creation, Destruction and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit​
Model City Pyongyang​
The Short Story of Architecture: A pocket guide to key styles, buildings, elements and materials​


Letter from London - Paul Finch - August 2019

The silly season is in full flow, writes Paul Finch The surreal political scene in the UK has been the context for a series of controversial/farcical events in the world of architecture. The first was the re-appointment of Professor Sir Roger Scruton, conservative philosopher, as a co-chair of the clumsily named Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission (let’s call it BeauCo). Only three months earlier he had been sacked for politically incorrect statements he had made in an interview with the left-wing New Statesman magazine. After a social media storm, he was summarily dismissed, without the benefit of an interview with the politician who sacked him, the Secretary of State for housing and local government, James Brokenshire...READ MORE

Letter From LA - Frances Anderton - June 2019

A soccer stadium for LA Los Angeles is a region that’s going through immense change, so much so that at an awards ceremony this week a new soccer stadium won the top design prize. Yes, you read that correctly, soccer. The Banc of California Stadium, designed by the design firm Gensler, opened last year near downtown Los Angeles, and its instant popularity attested to the impact of several decades of immigration -- from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe -- that has transformed LA from a baseball and (American) football loving city to one that embraces the global, beautiful game...READ MORE

International Olympic Committee Headquarters - Jeremy Melvin - June 2019

‘This is a movement about movement’, says Kim Nielsen, founding partner of Danish architects 3xNielsen, referring to the International Olympic Committee headquarters his firm has designed. Murmurs of assent emanate from colleagues and IOC staff who hear it. Olympic House, the IOC headquarters, has continuous, sinuous facade.​ The building’s serpentine façade is a series of similar modules, each angled to appear slightly different to, though in logical sequence with. its neighbours...READ MORE

Daylight and well-being - Velux - June 2019

Daylight in buildings can have a greater effect on our health and well-being than many of us might think. In society today, though, we don’t get enough of it. Green Solution House, a hotel and conference centre in Denmark, demonstrates that through leveraging daylight in building design, it’s well within our ability to create sustainable spaces that are both good for occupants and the environment...READ MORE

Daring rewarded at Tottenham’s new stadium - Paul Finch - June 2019

The official opening of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium in April this year was a symbolic moment, not just for the football club, but for the area as a whole. This was the biggest achievement in the area since it was devastated by riots in 2011 – riots which spread to other cities across the country – but which had a profound psychological effect on a once-proud north London community, now down on its luck...READ MORE

In practice - Paul Hyett - June 2019

We were pleased when the London First organisation used the atrium space in our office to hold one of their recent evening events. You know the format: a welcome glass of wine and some networking; 45 minutes of formal discussion around a ‘hot’ topic followed by Q+A; and then a chance for those with a late pass to chat some more and finish off the canopés...READ MORE

Off Beat - Jonathan Glancey - June 2019

In fits and starts on recent train journeys, I have been reading The Rings of Saturn by W G Sebald. Ostensibly a record of a walk the celebrated German writer and Anglophile made along the coast and waterways of East Anglia, the book is far more than a travelogue. So I was fascinated to read Sebald on the nitty-gritty of Lowestoft, a town I had an appointment to visit this month...READ MORE

Book received - June 2019

This month's reviews cover:

Modernity and Durability - Perspectives for the Culture of Design
Building on Tradition: The new architectural language of Qatar
White Houses



Bauhaus Museum Weimar - Jeremy Melvin - May 2019

On this year of celebrations for the Bauhaus centenary, Weimar has stolen a march on the other two hosts of that legendary institution, Dessau and Berlin. Earlier this year it inaugurated the Bauhaus Museum Weimar, designed by Heike Hanada, who won a competition in 2012, as part of a programme which places the Bauhaus’ emergence in the context of time and place. Appropriately so: this small central German city is where it all kicked off in 1919. The new museum, an apparently blank, cuboid concrete box set on the edge of the city centre and an urban park, contains some complex spaces, fabulous objects, and fascinating narrative displays. At night its striated walls streak with light, hinting at the fireworks within, but also marking its presence in the city....READ MORE

PIXEL JUICE – Architecture and Digital Disruption - Neil Spiller - May 2019

Changes in technology have manifested themselves in many different ways during the last thirty years- often disruptively for the architectural profession. How we procure, fund, make and design buildings has morphed in technologies wake, practices have had to continuously redefine their structures and their skillsets, but these changes are nothing compared to what is to come. Architecture doesn’t stop with buildings and cities, it encompasses, landscapes, virtual environments and spacecraft, all have complex virtual and actual components. Materials are changing also, the pre-eminence of dry hard materials is being challenged by soft and wet materiality. Top down’ construction methods are being questioned by emergent ‘bottom-up’ paradigms...READ MORE

Off Beat - Jonathan Glancey - May 2019

“Karlskirche is a celebration of the effervescent spirituality of the high baroque”, writes a one-star Trip Advisor reviewer from Australia of the famous Viennese church, “and it has been turned into a cheap money-making circus.” Working my way past a cacophony of shouty men in cheap red tunics selling tickets for Vivaldi concerts, I step inside Karlskirche, pay €8 at a crude Po-Mo booth and enter the nave. I take one hard look at a pair of enormous reflective Christmas balls dangling from the dome and at a makeshift lift-shaft ferrying a flashlight of boisterous tourists up to the church’s cupola, and walk back out. ...READ MORE

In practice - Paul Hyett - May 2019

During the 19th century Britain taught the world how to produce, in the 20th America taught the world how to consume. In the 21st century, it surely falls to China to teach our world how to sustain. In saying this, I recognize that with a population of 1.4 billion, China only represents some 18 per cent of the world’s population. Its proportion of the world’s population is also diminishing: it is anticipated that by 2050 its population (despite relaxation of the ‘one child’ policy) will only grow by 25 million, whereas India’s is expected to grow by 400 million...READ MORE

Letter from London - Paul Finch - May 2019

‘What is going on?’ is the sympathetic question we are asked by visiting architects, baffled by the ongoing farce we know as Brexit. The short answer is that few understand exactly what is happening, and those that do are in no position to predict the final outcome. All is uncertainty. Under the circumstances, things could be much worse. We have record UK employment levels, and the predicted exodus of EU citizens from our shores has yet to happen. Inflation shows little sign of unbalancing the economy and architects are not sitting about with begging bowls...READ MORE

Look at this - May 2019

For the last 30 years classic LA modernist houses by the likes of Richard Neutra, Rudolf Schindler, Pierre Koenig, John Lautner and others have been bought, lovingly restored and have soared in value. But one of the most iconic of LA’s early twentieth century homes has not gotten this treatment: the Lovell Health House. It was built at the edge of Griffith Park in the still wild hills of Los Feliz in 1929, and designed by Austrian immigrant architect Richard Neutra for a physician and naturopath named Dr. Philip Lovell...READ MORE

Book received - May 2019

This month's reviews cover:

The New Arab Urban: Gulf cities of wealth, ambition and distress
Design Champion: The Twentieth Century Royal Fine Art Commission 1924-1999
Aesthetics Equals Politics: New discourses across art, architecture and philosophy



Books do furnish a city - Paul Finch - April 2019

ALA Architect’s Helsinki library is a true civic landmark, writes Paul Finch. The Oodi Library in Helsinki is not in fact Finland’s central library, but the latest public face of a national library network which is part and parcel of that country’s history and cultural tradition. As a recent article in the Architectural Review (December 2018) noted, the transition from an oral to a literary culture only occurred in the 19th century, explaining the enthusiasm for the written word which then informed Finnish independence in 1917....READ MORE

Amos Rex - Jeremy Melvin - April 2019

It has always been possible to have a good time in Helsinki, despite decades of Russian domination, the harsh climate, and the grim granite-faced buildings with their strange figures from Nordic mythology painfully carved into their stone portals. For these reasons many of the city’s most exciting experiences were concealed under snow or needed determination to enter. From its opening last year, Amos Rex Art Museum, though, represents an important stage in a decades-long process which is turning the Finnish capital into one of the most appealing and engaging cities in the world...READ MORE

In Practice - Paul Hyett - April 2019

This is the first in a regular series of WAFN columns by former RIBA President Paul Hyett, a Principal in HKS Architects. ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us’. What a call to arms by Winston Churchill: design really does matter. It should, as Lord Palumbo said, ‘lift the spirit’ of all who use, or simply pass by, your buildings....READ MORE


Foster in Palm Beach: Architecture for art’s sake - Paul Finch - April 2019

Foster + Partners has reworked and extended Florida’s Norton Museum of Art to create a building worthy of the mother of the arts, writes Paul Finch. Photography by Nigel Young. If architecture is the mother of the arts, does that mean architecture itself is an art? And if it aspires to be so, is it restricted to what Adolf Loos described as the only architectural types capable of being art: the monument and the tomb?....READ MORE


Off-beat - Jonathan Glancey - April 2019

Columnist Jonathan Glancey considers the virtues of uncomfortable architecture. April showers are commonplace in England. This spring, a shower fell inside the House of Commons, with MPs having to abandon an arcane debate on tax policy. ‘I hope I can complete my speech before rain stops play’, said Justin Madders, Member of Parliament for Ellesmere Port, a famously wet corner of England. ‘I think there is probably some kind of symbol, about how many people view how broken parliament is, going on here...READ MORE


Talking about ‘Flow’- Abel Maciel - April 2019

The conference theme for WAF 2019 is ‘Flow’. Here, architect and academic Abel Maciel discusses the implications for Blockchain on the built environment To fully grasp the potential impact of Blockchain on the built environment, it is worth taking a holistic view of Industry 4.0. Previous industrial revolutions were erratically distributed across the world, with change often taking significant time before affecting communities generally...READ MORE


Look at this - April 2019

Lake Victoria is the world’s most densely populated rural area, yet poor road and rail infrastructure mean that life-saving medicine and cargo often can’t reach those who need them most. A drone network could transform mobility in the region; could a drone-port, as an entirely new civic space, open up economic opportunities for the region?...READ MORE


Book recieved - April 2019

This month's short reviews cover:

New Chinese Architecture
Evolution. The work of Grimshaw Architects: Volume 4, 2000 -2010
New Chinese Architecture
Making Marks
Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics
Tower Bridge. History, Engineering, Design
The Buildings of England: Hertfordshire​



By continuing to use the site you agree to our cookies policy. Accept