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MAY 2014

A Day Out Of The Office

We breathlessly boarded the 08.55 to Darlington. Like skilled waitresses we had kept our homemade, oversized, A1 box perfectly level throughout our chase through Kings Cross Station.  The immaculate foam-board creation fitted perfectly on top of a  double-seat on the near-empty train. East-Coast mainline rules are clear however; the guard reminded us that seats are for people only and at Peterborough we were duly ordered to deliver our carefully crafted friend to the dedicated luggage wagon at the front of the train.

The box was purposefully constructed to house a 1:150 context model of Bishop Auckland Town Square with ‘slot-inable’ building options for the site in question.  The model was made for a meeting with Durham County Council and English Heritage at Auckland Castle that same afternoon.
Despite our ticket inspector’s fussiness, we were carried to our destination with the box and its contents in good order.

After a communal lunch with the review panel, the dozen-odd experts collected themselves around a table where the model had been assembled. The object took up so much space that notebooks occasionally and apologetically slid from the edges of the table.

For the following three hours, a multitude of building blocks representing different proposals for the new Welcome Building were inserted into the corner site. The new building is to link town and castle, engaging the new with the old, with our site at the axis of this pirouetting dance.
As we waltzed around the model, interchanging different pieces into our self-made jigsaw, a negotiation occurred between the many different people around the room, a parallel perhaps to the building itself.

During the second part of the afternoon, the presentation became more conceptual. The tower – the key feature of the proposal – was discussed in its meaning, shape and materiality. Was it a campanile, a siege tower, a lighthouse or a scaffold? Each version was debated with varying levels of approval or skepticism. We answered  questions by pulling off bits of white card or finding any handy props to add on to the model; notepads, milk jugs and i-phones were used.
We left the meeting feeling excited, there was only this box to get all the way back to the office.

Image shows part of the paper model, with multiple versions scattered about, sitting on a windowsill after the meeting.

Anne Schroell studied at the Bartlett School of Architecture. She worked for Tonkin Liu and De Matos Storey Ryan as well as practices in Luxembourg and Austria before joining Niall McLaughlin Architects in 2006.  The main projects Anne worked on are Deal Pier Café in Kent, Somerville College Student Accommodation in Oxford, Peabody Housing in London. She is currently running the Auckland Castle project which consists of 2 new buildings. One is a new gallery attached to the castle and the other is the Welcome Building and Tower for orientation and ticketing.


APRIL 2014

Collaboration with Kim Wilkie wins Natural History Museum Competition

Niall McLaughlin Architects with Kim Wilkie have won the bid to redesign the setting of the Natural History Museum, in a two-stage international competition, organised by Malcom Reading. The team was the unanimous choice of the jury, who included Graham Morrison of Allies and Morrison, former cabinet minister Michael Portillo, Sophie Andreae, a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces and Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum.

Jury chair, Ian Henderson said of the scheme, ‘The challenge was to find a team which would consider the changing nature of the Museum, a team who would think holistically, both spatially and intellectually, considering the Museum and the Grounds together. Niall McLaughlin Architects did this brilliantly.’

The commission gives the opportunity to re-imagine the extensive entrance grounds to the world famous museum in South Kensington, London and provide a fitting context for the architectural excellence of the 19th century Waterhouse building. The museum is a global leader in scientific research, housing over 80 million species from around the world and is one of the top visitor attractions in the UK.

The team is looking forward to working with the museum to develop a proposal that will transform the experience for the 5 million visitors that the museum welcomes each year and showcase the museum to the wider cultural quarter centered on the newly redeveloped Exhibition Road.

Link to the Architects Journal
Link to BD OnLine
Link to the Evening Standard


APRIL 2014

Whilst visiting New Zealand as guest lecturer for the 2014 Futuna Lecture Series, Niall McLaughlin was interviewed by Kim Hill for the Saturday Morning Show on Radio New Zealand. During the 40 minute conversation they discussed ideas behind a range of the practice’s projects including a private house on Ireland’s west coast, the athletes’ housing scheme for the London Olympics and an apartment block for the Peabody Trust in Silvertown.

The conversation also drew in wider architectural themes, touching on contemporary attitudes to construction and sustainability, Modernism’s tendency towards introversion, and the increasing disconnect between abstract ideas and built form.

Niall concluded the conversation saying, “I do think that buildings should be embodiments of ideas, and people working with architects should be confident to say, ‘These are my ideas. What kind of buildings can you make out of them.’ ”

To listen to the full interview click here.