Stirling Prize shortlist revealed

The ShardRIBA has released the shortlist for its prestigious Stirling Prize.

Six new buildings have been shortlisted for the Prize, which is awarded to the project that has made the most significant contribution to architecture in the United Kingdom.

The nominations, which include Renzo Piano’s The Shard, are drawn from the public, commercial, and educational spheres.

Zaha Hadid, a previous recipient of the Stirling Prize, has also been nominated for the London Aquatics Centre.

The winner will be announced by RIBA on the 16th October.

Find out which buildings have been nominated here.

Photographs of Design Museum revealed

The Design MuseumPhotographs of the new Design Museum in South Kensington have been released.

The museum, which is currently under construction, is due to open in 2016 and will be three times the size of the current building.

The £80 million project will include design workshops and a design library, a free-to-enter permanent collection and a gift shop.

A virtual tour of the site was made available online last year.

Find out more here and let us know what you think about the project.

How to build ten houses in a day

How to build ten houses in a dayA company in China can construct up to ten buildings a day, thanks to its innovative use of 3D printing and waste material.

Yingchuang New Materials uses its own technology to print walls and other structures (the roof is the only part that can’t yet be printed) made out of cement and construction waste.

The company demonstrated their method by building ten houses in 24 hours at a Shanghai industrial park; apparently the printing process itself took twelve years to perfect.

Watch a news report of the construction below, find out more about the process here and tell us what you think of this unique take on prefabrication.

The Think Tank shortlisted for Best Branding and Positioning Award

AluK Branding and MarketingThe Think Tank has been shortlisted in the Construction Marketing Awards 2013 for our work with AluK (GB) Ltd.

We have been working with this leading aluminium building systems manufacturer since November 2012, supporting them across all their marketing activities following the launch of the AluK brand in the UK in April 2013.

We have been shortlisted again this year in the Best Branding and Positioning category, a category that we won last year for our work with Rexel.

Having worked with AluK to define the brand messages and values for the UK marketplace, we then developed a strategy for the launch and ongoing marketing of the brand and its products to both the trade and specification marketplaces.

Fingers crossed for the results, which will be announced at an industry event on 5th December in London.

Find out more about the Construction Marketing Awards and see the shortlist here.
Construction Marketing Awards 2013

And, find out more about AluK here.

15 beautiful religious conversions

Respecting old traditions but given a new and interesting purpose, these fifteen churches, monasteries and synagogues have been transformed into homes, libraries and nightclubs.

These houses of worship have been adapted to modern designs whilst retaining the awe-inspiring original architectural elements like vaulted ceilings, arches, altars and stained glass windows.

One of our favourite examples is this thirteenth-century Dominican church in Maastricht Holland, which has been transformed into ‘Selexyz Dominicanen‘, a massive bookstore.

The 1,200-square-meter church will all of its elegant arches and vaults has been filled with a modern three-story volume containing row after row of books, to take advantage of the full height of the structure.

Have a look at the rest of these stunning architectural creations here.

Giant penguin towers over London

London Zoo penguinLondon Zoo has announced plans to to transform London’s iconic Gherkin building into ‘The Penguin’  over the summer.

ZSL London Zoo has commissioned a production team to draw up a dramatic redesign of the famed skyscraper to remind visitors to the capital not to miss their penguins in 2012.

They plan to approach city bigwigs with the bold concept of turning the prominent Swiss Re Building – more commonly known as The Gherkin – into a giant penguin.

Not sure whether this idea will fly, especially being a penguin.

See more over on London Zoo’s website.

The Think Tank heads off to Nordbygg, Sweden

Did you know that Nordbygg is the biggest building exhibition in Northern Europe? I did (as I have been working on it for a few months)…but last week I attended the fair and was reminded by anyone to whom I said ” Förlåt, jag prata inte Svenska” (I don’t speak Swedish) as they immediately wanted to be sure that this non-Swede knew how proud of the exhibition they are.  

Well, they should be…with three halls packed to the brim at Stockholmmassen, just 10 minutes outside of Central Stockholm, this event is full of tools, materials and everything you can think of to do with the building industry. Over three days I had the opportunity to speak to journalists from many Scandinavian publications and experience the building industry from a completely different cultural perspective.  

I had the privilege of going to Stockholm with our client Formica Group to help launch its VIVIX exterior facade panels. Offering opportunities to play with colour and shape, VIVIX panels can complement or add interest to office buildings, public, cultural and sports facilities, transportation centres, industrial buildings, educational facilities, residential developments and more.  

Eva Hoernisch, Formica Group Design Manager, Europe, was on hand and together we were able to take a few moments to explore the building materials section. With her eye on colour Eva spotted a stand with insulation sample pieces in the most beautiful colour palette. We were dumbfounded at first as to why insulation would be so colourful until we realised it correlated to different degrees of density. VERY clever!  

With room for FIKA (traditional Swedish coffee and cake), a little of bit of Swedish entertainment and a lot of hard work, being part of Nordbygg was definitely an experience to remember.

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How the Chinese build a 30-story hotel in 15 days

This is how pre-fabrication is done in China or ‘How the Chinese build a 30-story, five-star hotel in only 15 days.’ 

Built by the Broad Group, it used prefab construction techniques for ninety-three percent of the high-rise. The 17,000 square meter hotel is known as T30, is located in the Lin Gang Industrial Zone in Xiangyin County and comprises of over 350 rooms, a restaurant, bar, gym, swimming pool on the top floor, underground parking and a helicopter pad.

Interesting viewing.



Faces of British Architecture Exhibition

To celebrate British architects and engineers Icopal has commissioned a series of portraits by Timothy Soar, with commentary by Isabel Allen. The series represents UK’s leading experts, innovators and visionaries in architecture and engineering, responsible for many iconic buildings and landmark developments. The exhibition, curated by Lorna Soar, can be seen at The Building Centre in January and February 2012.

THE BUILDING CENTRE – LONDON 9th January – 29th February 2012

Image courtesy of Faces of British Architecture


Building cities on the ocean

In a recent article the Economist looked at Seasteading or building floating cities.

The discussion features modern libertarians, such as Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal,  who have the dream of setting sail to found colonies of like-minded souls and to do so they have decided that they must build new cities on the high seas, known as seasteads.
The Economist says, ‘It is not a completely crazy idea: large maritime structures that resemble seasteads already exist, after all. Giant cruise liners host thousands of guests on lengthy voyages in luxurious surroundings. Offshore oil platforms provide floating accommodation for hundreds of workers amid harsh weather and high waves. Then there is the Principality of Sealand, a concrete sea fort constructed off Britain’s coast during the second world war. It is now occupied by a family who have fought various lawsuits to try to get it recognised as a sovereign state.’

To read the full article please click here

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Top Five Building Product Brands Chosen by Architects

A new survey of UK architects lists Kingspan, Trespa, Velux, Schüco and Otis as the “strongest brands in building materials.”

In the Q1 2011 research from the European Architectural Barometer, which is a quarterly study of attitudes of 1200 architects across Europe, architects were asked which brands they perceived as “strongest” in building materials such as bricks, concrete, mortar, insulation, facade and cladding material, aluminium systems, construction floors and roofing material. The top five firms for the UK were Kingspan (with 40% of responses), Trespa (15%), VELUX (8%), Schüco (7%) and Otis (6%).  

Read more on Building Products

Beetle’s House for V&A Museum

Artist Terunobu Fujimori has created a tiny building for the Victoria and Albert Museum as part of the exhibition “1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces”. Web Urbanist says, ‘Looking like a prop from a Tim Burton film, the little structure lives up to its name: Beetle’s House. It stands on four slightly off-kilter legs presenting its charred pine wood exterior, like the protective shell of an insect, and seems as if it could get up and walk away at any moment.’

See more here

The Think Tank –


White roofs to save energy


US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, has been promoting the benefits of ‘white roofs’ and the energy savings they could provide in the USA.. He has now mandated that all new roofs on Energy Department buildings be either white or reflective to provide a cooling effect. He estimates that is could save $735 million per year if 85% of all air-conditioned buildings in the US had white roofs. Wow!
Read more on Inhabitat

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Tim Crocker films the 2012 Olympic Site

Tim Crocker has been filming oprogress at the 2012 Olympic site in London. See how Zaha Hadid’s aqauatic centre, Hopkin’s velodrome and the Populus main stadium are coming along.

View on Building TV

2012 Olympic Site under construction

2012 Olympic Site under construction

Thames Water opens first UK desalination plant

Thames Water has opened the UK’s first desalination plant at Becton in East London. The Thames Gateway Water Treatment Works has been opened to help ensure London – which is classed as “seriously water stressed” – has a much-needed back-up supply during prolonged periods of low rainfall. London is classed by the Environment Agency as ‘seriously water stressed’. This is because the region’s large population means that the amount of rainfall per head of population is very low. London actually receives less rainfall than Rome, Istanbul, Dallas or Sydney.
Read more here

Click here to see video

Test track on roof of world’s largest car dealership

Construction has begun on New York and Istanbul based architecture firm GAD and architect Dara Kirmizitoprak’s design for the world’s largest car dealership in Istanbul, which features a test track on its roof. The 216,000 sq m development is composed of five stories, two of which are underground, and features 56 cafes, restaurants and refreshment venues, 42 insurance companies, 24 banks and 74 trading companies. Offering 443 different brands and 2526 different types of car, the aptly named ‘Autopia’ can be more accurately defined as an auto-mall after it’s hugely extensive range of commercial features.

Read more here


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Winning at the BEMA awards

The Think Tank won two awards at the Built Environment Marketing Awards (BEMA), one in the Best Campaign over £25K category for ICI Paints (Akzo Nobel) and another in the Best launch category for the launch of Ecolution, a renewable energy systems provider. We were also Highly Commended in the Agency of the Year Award.


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