Having gained consent at the first and second reading, The Passages, a one million square foot mixed use residential development in Vancouver was approved at the City of Surrey Public Hearing and third reading yesterday.
The Passages site is at the heart of the emerging Surrey City Centre in Vancouver, where there is a drive towards a high-density, transit-orientated and walkable downtown core to address a critical housing need. The character of tall buildings and how they merge to form a beautiful skyline with humane and diverse streetscapes has been a key design driver.
The proposal for The Passages on Whalley Boulevard is for an open city block, with free-flowing public space at its heart, lined by a mix of uses which aim to serve its residents and the wider City of Surrey. The Passages proposes buildings without a front or back; all façades are on display and active, serving as extensions of the public realm.
There is an opportunity to create an exceptional urban condition by focussing on freedom of movement and public space accessed by a series of passages, leading you to an open piazza at its centre. This is an unusual urban strategy in North America, where city blocks tend to be enclosed, and dense. Therefore, the urban design has chosen to focus on a scheme with an activated heart, bringing movement through the site and offering a wide range of activities for residents and neighbours to use and enjoy. An amenity for the city.
There are three building typologies proposed across the site: Tower, Mansion Block and Point Block. Together they offer a variety of typologies and scale, which individually contribute to the unique character of the development, offering façade variety, texture and family structures, all contributing to offer a stimulating backdrop to the landscaped passages at grade. We have sought to refer to natural forms such as stone for the low-rise buildings, made up from the ground like monolithic carvings. As for the towers these refer to dense vertical forests. The textured bark of trees, tonal references from moss and lichen come with a strong desire to resist ‘flatness’ and complacency associated with residential architecture of this scale.
Alison delivered a presentation to the University of Stuttgart for the Sto-Foundation November Talks season. She began her lecture entitled “Making it real – Archetypes and Ecosystems” by reading a statement on today’s crises in which she commented: “We overuse the word crisis”.
Alison Brooks Architects have topped an international competition to design two new residential buildings within the International Quarter London (IQL) development in Stratford, east London. Lendlease and LCR announced today that Alison Brooks Architects was selected from five practices invited to submit initial designs for two new residential and mixed-use buildings within the 22-acre development.
The buildings will include commercial space, a creche, and over 330 homes; increasing the number of properties available at IQL via affordability schemes such as Shared Ownership and Help to Buy.
Public consultation on a final set of designs is expected to begin in January, and the proposals will be consulted on and exhibited locally. They will demonstrate the very highest standards of architecture, while also melding seamlessly into the existing mix of residential, commercial and retail property at IQL. Plans for the public spaces around the buildings will refine the original masterplan and provide a continued focus on outside space, accessibility and nature.
Justin Davies, Head of Residential at Lendlease, Europe said: “Alison Brooks Architects have a wealth of experience in designing high quality residential buildings, and they have been hugely collaborative throughout this process. We are keen for that approach to continue as we take forward a project that will see us double the amount of housing on offer at IQL.
Adrian Lee, Development Director at LCR, said: “These designs will play a crucial role in delivering much-needed new homes for London and contributing to the Government’s housing targets, while bolstering IQL’s reputation as one of the capital’s top destinations to live and work. The area has leading cultural institutions and outstanding leisure and sporting facilities on its doorstep, which help it stand out as a great place to locate. We look forward to welcoming Alison Brooks Architects to the IQL team to bring new flair and design excellence to Stratford and to ensure that the new buildings will have sustainability at their core.”
Alison Brooks said “We’re honoured to have been selected to work amongst the exceptional architects working in the IQL and the wider Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park context. Our intention is to bring new character and urbanity to this park-side site, evoking the spirit of early 20th Century residential towers of New York and Chicago. Our proposal is conceived as a series of nested hexagonal columns that form ‘park ledges’ rising above a colonnaded base. We look forward to developing this concept with Lendlease and the wider Stratford and QEOP communities.”
IQL stands at the gateway to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The joint venture development between Lendlease and LCR is creating a vibrant new neighbourhood within the heart of Stratford, which brings together new homes, offices, and a diverse range of shops.
Image: Makower Architects’ masterplan for the International Quarter London.
Parlour Magazine have published an in-depth interview with Alison Brooks, in which she discusses a range of topics including her early career, the value of professional recognition, urban housing project work, the challenge of balancing work and motherhood, and the future of the profession.
“I started studying architecture at the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1981 and graduated in 1988. It was a long education, because the Waterloo program involved working every other semester after the first year, so that stretches out the program by about two years. It means that you’re very skilled up and switched on by the time you graduate….”
Michael Mueller delivered a lecture at the Palazzo Pucci in Florence, on ABA’s approach to designing with timber. The event was organised by The Plan Magazine and AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council).
The hall of the Palazzo was packed with about 400 architects – some had to stand throughout the more than 2 hours event.
David Venables (AHEC) described the variety of American hardwood species: they are now trying to introduce more red oak to construction. He also discussed new ways of mapping deforestation and growth of forests and explained how quick the American hardwood regrows, even with harvested timber.
In the context of a contemporary culture saturated with the virtual and the illusory, Alison Brooks delivered a lecture to the Bartlett on both the agency of the architect and the role of architecture as a critical grounding force. She described the ways in which memory, conscious and sub-conscious experiences of ‘real’ places contribute to instinctive creativity (a fundamental human characteristic and critical form of authorship in architecture).
Introduction to Lecture:
This Is Not A Fake
‘I thought I should start by explaining what I mean by this lecture title. I’m sure everyone in this room is aware of the number of crises we’re facing as a society, and as human culture in general.
There is the climate crisis. We’ve finally realised that the artificial division between “human culture” and “nature” carried down through centuries of so-called “human progress” must be reversed. This a huge project that should bring together all of humanity, and in which architecture must play a very big part.
There is the crisis of truth. Facts are manipulated by biases of many kinds, by political, religious, or commercial agendas. What is real? There is even a crisis in the overuse of the word crisis! We are simultaneously becoming immune and over-sensitised to transgressions of behaviour and language, to natural and man-made disasters, to image bombardment that digital communication has enabled.
So where does that leave architecture?
I’d like to put forward a declaration of optimism. That, although we are operating in a maelstrom of information and disinformation, the work of the architect is not a fake.
Problem solving, imagining, detailing, producing instructions for building: these acts although sometimes dream-like are commitments to the real, the solid, the permanent, the instrumental. We are tied to the fundamentals of being: we make places for people to spend time, share experiences, form memories and collectively flourish.
We hope projects and clients will offer us opportunities for poetic licence and, as a result, enrich others’ lives with meaning. We all know this is a privileged role that comes with huge responsibilities to current and future generations, institutions, corporate entities and the planet.
Maybe the most important role that being an architect allows us, within limits, is to express our individual conscience. Architects Declare, that I have signed up to, is fundamentally an expression of conscience. It is a catalyst for change in personal behavior and working practice. Therefore my position is that through our individual expertise, poetic instincts and collective conscience, architects are uniquely able to commit to, and act on, a better common future. We humans are part of the real and natural world and our project, as architects, is to prove it.’