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To re-use or not to re-use...

Words:
Jan-Carlos Kucharek

Considerations of the Parliament's effect on Richmond House and Portcullis House, and plans for Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens

Hard on the heels of the Richmond House debacle, which will see William Whitfield’s Whitehall grade II* listed building pretty much demolished to squeeze in temporary Commons’ and Lords’ debating chambers, Michael Hopkins’ nearby Portcullis House has been refused spot listing. Part of the Parliamentary estate, it was willingly posited by its architect as a suitable candidate for the very function being foisted on Richmond House. Now remodelling of the 2001 building is set to lose the water features in the atrium (part of the original fire strategy) ‘to increase its capacity’ – all because it is ‘hugely popular’ for users.

Something that certainly can’t make that claim is Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s 2002 scheme in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. It was never popular, and this garden cum urban interchange remains blighted, says the local press, by negative user feedback and anti-social behaviour. Ando’s concrete, more suited to the strong light of Manchuria than Manchester, sits ill here; so his curved wall may be turned into a green one, or part demolished – to create a more ‘family friendly’ space with food and beverage outlets. Not a very Ando-ish concept.

Of course, re-use and re-purpose are real buzzwords now but both examples show how such apparent logic might result in perversity. The popularity of one precluding its repurposing to obviate demolition of another, and the lack of popularity of the other eliciting a knee-jerk reaction to remove public space and hand it over to prettification and commercial interests. But we are a fickle society and, as the Chinese curse goes, we live in interesting times. 


 

Below, Jan-Carlos Kucharek enjoys three stand-outs from the inbox

End of an epoque

PiP’s always loved a tile – especially going out on them on the occasional night; so when it saw these bespoke circular ceramic ones, part of Perrier Jouët champagne’s ‘Metamorphosis’ installation at last year’s Design Miami, it warmed the cockles of its heart. Drummed up by Italian designer Andrea Mancuso, the ceramic cave was there to showcase his six exclusive crystal coupe designs, crafted on the Venetian isle of Murano, for the 200-year old house’s Belle Epoque cuvees. The effervescent PR doesn’t go into either Mancuso’s after-party or post-show recyclability of his stand, but we suspect that one, the other – or both – got well and truly smashed.

Vacs pop

Looking like the lovechild of James Dyson and Ted Rogers’ 3-2-1 show booby prize Dusty bin, Dustcontrol UK proudly launched its new range of Tromb industrial dust extraction units at the ‘much-anticipated Executive Hire Show 2020’. Now, while Dyson’s busying himself diversifying into driers and lights, it’s good to see the nuts and bolts Tromb sticking to what it knows best with its bulky ‘pre-separator’, ‘filter change system’ and ‘motor package that’s easier to remove.’ We especially like its DC Box cleaning cabinet – a vacuum cleaner that…er, cleans a vacuum cleaner: a facilities maintenance cover version of 80s grebo band ‘Pop will eat itself’.

#cryface

In a world where elections can be won or lost by Russian-hacked Twitter campaigns, it’s good to get a, ahem…handle on the social media worth of some of TV’s home and interiors stars. Website sellhousefast.uk has researched some interesting, if uncorroborated, stats on influencers’ commercial value to advertisers. DIY SOS’ Nick Knowles makes an eyewatering £1122 per post, more than twice Kirstie Allsopp’s tears-of-post-completion-joy-making £534. Restoration Man George Clarke holds it together at £339 and while Location co-host Phil Spencer must be feeling gazumped at £94, Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud gets a decidedly un-grand  £71 per post.

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