Category Archives: Conran & Partners

Love Architecture? Love collaboration.

As part of Brighton’s Love Architecture festival, which is taking place right now, arts commentator Cara Courage has put together an exhibition of Jim Stephenson’s photography of Conran and Partners’ architectural projects. The exhibition, entitled Collaboration, explores one of the many collaborations that typify architecture: between photographers and architects.

© Jim Stephenson

© Jim Stephenson

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Hoverhauling Brighton

Excuse the pun, please.

The head of our Brighton architecture office, Paul Zara, took to The Argus recently to talk about Brighton and Hove’s acute housing crisis, and his opinions on how to solve it.

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Pinspiration

Pinterest has been adding a healthy dose of pretty to our office lives for a while now. We love its clean, simple interface and great use of portmanteau.

So far we’ve been quiet observers, but today we’d like to introduce Conran on Pinterest. We have experts in branding, products, interactive and digital, architecture, interior and retail, and our boards are curated by all of them.

Conran on Pinterest

Conran Studio are hunting out their favourite brands, and Conran & Company their favourite products. Conran Singh and Conran & Partners are picking the best from the worlds of digital design and architecture.

At the moment, Vicki Conran is at Chelsea Flower Show (read more about her Artisan Retreat here), and she is kindly sending through her Chelsea highlights.

More to come soon – including a board of Terence’s personal picks…

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The Conran Manifesto

Terence talked to the Times last week, outlining his vision for a property-based path out of recession.

Conran Bricks & Mortar piece

Terence was interviewed off the back of an open letter to the Government (published in the Friday Times Letters section), which called for a revival of the “vision, ambition and pride” that dragged Britain out of the post-War slump. He cites new council housing and VAT exemption for the refurbishment of derelict buildings as key starting points.

“I truly believe we can build our way out of recession. There is a massive bubble of demand and one day that must burst and kickstart growth. But we need the Government to provide the pin-prick.”

Conran and Partners is currently working on 2,500 homes for house associations across the country.

EDIT: here’s the full text of Terence’s letter to the Times:

Sir,

After working in design and business for almost 60 years I am currently enduring my sixth, and without question, worst recession. During the last recession I built Europe’s largest restaurant in Soho, because I believe the way through difficult economic times is to be bold, seize opportunity and create.

At the end of the 1970s there was a housing surplus. I wouldn’t say the stock was all good quality but if somebody needed a home they stood a good chance of getting one.

That was down to the ambitious postwar political desire to transform this country and improve lives. In 2010 we built the fewest homes since the end of the Second World War.

We need that vision, ambition and pride again because I truly believe we can build our way out of recession.

Banks need to lend, developers need to commission architects, plannes need to approve projects quickly and efficiently and we need to build. There is a massive bubble of demand that must be burst to kick-start growth. We need government to provide the pinprick.

Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, throws out soundbites and tweets with Blairite fervour, but doesn’t appear to actually do much.

According to the charity Empty Homes, there are nearly one million UK properties vacant, a scandal that tweeting won’t help.

Housing starts are at near record lows and Mr Shapps can’t keep blaming “the last administration”. The coalition has been in government for almost two years now and excuses have worn thin.

— Sir Terence Conran, London SE1

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Architecture awards left and right

Left and right – or rather, east and west.

Hot on the heels of being shortlisted for a Housing Design Award Conran & Partners, our architecture team, are at it again.

They’re in the running for two categories of the Asia-Pacific Hotel & Property Design Awards, both for the stunning Hotel Icon.

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A Conran team led by Richard Doone (Managing Director, Far East) and Tina Norden (Associate Director) developed two dining areas for Hotel Icon, a 262-room teaching and research hotel in Hong Kong owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The Market is an informal food court and restaurant, inspired by traditional Asian food markets. Above & Beyond is incorporates a fine dining Chinese restaurant, bar, lounge, and private dining rooms.

Hotel Icon is shortlisted in both the ‘Bar/Club/Lounge’ and ‘Restaurant within Hotel’ categories.

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On the other side of the world, Conran and Partners’ new development on the site of the old Brighton Astoria cinema took the gong for Best Development at the 2012 ACUMEN Commercial Properties Awards.

Paul Zara, head of Conran’s Brighton team, headed the project, which will create Brighton’s greenest ever offices (the go-ahead was given by Brighton’s Green Party-led council). The plans include a rainwater harvesting system, natural air ventilation and solar shading.

As the judges put it,

“[The Astoria] will create much needed business space and jobs for the growing creative and culture sector in Brighton & Hove. The [architect’s] intention to supply employment space located on a sustainable corridor close to Brighton Station and the edge of the North Laine is spot-on.”

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Well done all round.

EDIT: the Asia-Pacific Design Awards site now features an interview with Richard to accompany the nomination.

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The Green Team

We’re very proud of our architects at Conran today. They have been shortlisted for a Housing Design Award for the Green Man Lane development in Ealing.

The awards are some of the most prestigious in public housing development, supported by the Government, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the National House Building Council.

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The view of the community café from Singapore Road

The Green Man Lane estate will comprise over 750 new homes for affordable rental, shared ownership and sale. New community facilities will include an hotel, a low cost gym and a market square with cafes, park and retail space.

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The whole site from above

The houses will achieve Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, and will utilise rainwater collectors and water-saving technology.

The project is headed up by Paul Zara, Director of Conran & Partners.

“We want this to be outstanding architecture that raises the spirits of those who live there. Our aim is to set new standards in Ealing and create a place where people will be proud to be a resident.” 

Being shortlisted for a Housing Design Award seems like to a good start to us, Paul.

You can read more about the 2012 Housing Design Awards here.

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Brightening Hove

New architectural projects often involve difficult choices – especially in Britain.  We live in a crowded country: there are 660 of us squeezed into every square mile of land we have, versus 83 Americans, or 295 Frenchmen. This puts developable land at a high premium.

Demolition of the crumbling Granada cinema on Portland Road, Hove, is now underway. The site is being redeveloped by Conran and Partners‘ Brighton office, and will encompass 35 flats, a GP surgery, a pharmacy and a separate leisure space.

It is a controversial project: undoubtedly, the loss of a 1930s art deco cinema, even if derelict, is notable. The local community has been divided on the project: many have mourned the loss of an historic cinema; others note that the dilapidated state of the building does little for Hove’s image, and that new housing is badly needed in the town.

Gala bingo hall © Jim Stephenson / clickclickjim

The derelict cinema building

We’ve led restoration projects throughout our existence: Terence Conran teamed up with Paul Hamlyn to save Michelin House, and our recent Boundary development resides in a sensitively-restored Victorian warehouse. Sadly, the Granada cinema was beyond saving.

The new building will have high sustainability credentials, and will include 14 affordable units. The flats will have roof terraces with sea views, and a shared garden to the rear. In a nod to the site’s heritage, the corner of the building will be clad in multi-coloured Roman bricks, Additionally, an artist is being commissioned for an installation in the stairwell, which will be inspired by the memory of the cinema, or perhaps of Diana Dors, who opened the building as a bingo hall in the 70s.

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