London is swinging again.
It is not simply the Biennale, however, which is evidence of London's claim to be the liveliest architectural city in the world. London-based practices are working internationally as never before. In New York alone in the last two months, Zaha Hadid has had a triumph with her New York Guggenheim exhibition (p88), while Messrs Foster and Rogers have both won commissions for buildings at Ground Zero. Work recently started on Chris Wilkinson's mega-tower in China; David Chipperfield continues to work globally; the sensational Madrid Airport by Richard Rogers Partnership has just opened (p34). Meanwhile Rem Koolhaas, for many years a resident in London, is finally designing here, with a media city masterplan and office headquarters.
Meanwhile, the Modernism exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum has been followed up by Future City, a marvellous show from the French FRAC Centre. This tribute to experimental and theoretical architecture since the 1950s, staged at the Barbican, is a reminder of how cities and countries go through cycles of energy and interest, not necessarily for reasons that can easily be analysed. The question the architectural community in London is asking is whether all this energy and talent will translate into a truly memorable 2012 Olympics. In this respect, Future City is instructive, emphasising as it does the power of the informing design idea to transform local environments, and entire cities at some psychological level. Achieving such transformations requires acts of imagination, not only from designers, but from clients, planners and funders too. The Olympic testing ground will validate or deny London's credentials to continue being the world's great hotbed of creative design.
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|Title Annotation:||view; London Architecture Biennale|
|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2006|
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