Tag Archives: Conran & Partners

Moving day at Green Man Lane

Green Man Lane is a Conran and Partners-designed housing development in Ealing, that will eventually consist of over 700 new homes, including 338 affordable rentals, as well as parks and community facilities. (More info here.)

A few weeks ago, Phase 2a of the project was completed, and the first families picked up the keys to their new homes, ate some cake, and cut the ribbon! Continue reading

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On South Place

We’re delighted to spill just a few of the beans on our latest project: South Place Hotel.

South Place is D&D London’s first hotel. Perhaps unsurprisingly given their pedigree in restaurants, South Place will be “as much about meet and eat as sleep”, to quote General Manager Bruce Robertson. It will feature two restaurants and three bars, as well as its 80 stylish guest rooms.

South Place Hotel

A peek inside the South Place Hotel

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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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Conran: Debating our housing crisis

Given the current housing crisis in the UK, it’s useful to look back to the great decade of housing around 50 years ago. 

In the book “A Decade of British Housing 1963-1973” the period is reviewed, lessons are learnt and the future of housing is debated. 

At that stage only 6% of housing stock was made up of the output of the new voluntary housing groups (now called housing associations or RSLs) and by the end of the period architects were starting to look at a numbers of issues including reducing car use, shared surfaces, the end of fossil fuels, prefabrication, off-site timber frame construction and lack of land – so in many ways very little has changed!

The big opportunity that we are currently exploring is really about putting right some of those mistakes made 50 years ago.  

When estates like Green Man Lane in Ealing were built they were the great hope for the future: optimistic 1960s living, with all the facilities you needed – shops, GP surgeries, nurseries, and a post office.

But a mixture of bad design, bad management and poor construction meant that many of these estates had a limited lifespan.  At the time they met a need – slums were cleared away and bright airy new flats in the sky were the solution!

They in turn now offer a new solution.  Estate regeneration allows us to take a fresh look at these places.  Sometimes they need total demolition, with a complex plan for “decanting” residents, buying out or doing deals with leaseholders. 

And sometimes all or part of the estate can be refurbished.  Good buildings should be restored and re-used, despite their problems. Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens in East London is iconic and should be cherished. Look at the wonderful Park Hill in Sheffield saved by Tom Bloxham’s Urban Splash.

The result, if it works, can be high quality high-density urban living with multi-tenure housing serving diverse communities. 

When working with residents on an estate I always tell them that my hope is that, when complete, their estate effectively disappears and is replaced instead by streets, squares and courtyards that are part of the city and part of the community.

I think we’re getting this right  but we need to sort the issues around densification – we need schools, surgeries, shops, workplaces within easy reach, or ideally within these developments.  

But the architecture has to be the best possible too – and that’s where “tenure-blind” architecture comes in to its own.  If you need to sell flats and houses then the whole development must be good.  No more affordable housing in the worst part of the site!

We are producing good affordable housing and we are providing some of the greenest housing in the UK, with better space standards than many private developers, though we still build some of the smallest flats in Europe.

We looked at this issue of density over two decades ago at Butlers Wharf. It’s now a new city quarter with houses, flats, shops, restaurants, offices, a nursery and a museum.  It set new standards for urban living.

And now we are doing it again at a similar scale in Ealing, Walthamstow and other sites around London. 

These developments, when they are large enough and have a critical mass, can change our city for the better, and we can show that we have learned from history and can make places that work!

 Paul Zara, Director, Conran & Partners

Read more about our work on regenerating London’s housing estates here: www.conranandpartners.com

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Conran: Azhar on Architecture…The influence of the man behind ‘James Bond’ design…

Azhar is back! 

Architectural Director Azhar from Conran & Partners talks today about the inspirational work of a great hero of his: Sir Ken Adam, Film Production Designer and Art Director.

Recently one of my dreams came true! I attended the BAFTA tribute and the 90th birthday celebration for Sir Ken Adam, arguably the most important and influential production designers in modern times!

 

Sir Christopher Frayling talked about Sir Ken’s immense influence, and particularly his book ‘Ken Adam, The Art of Production Design’.

The speeches were very moving, with personal accounts from, Jim Clay (Children of Men) on Dr Strangelove, Nathan Crowley (The Dark Knight) on Barry Lyndon, Martin Childs (Shakespeare in Love) on The Ipcress File, Eve Stewart (The King’s Speech) on Goldfinger; Actors and Art Curators alike spoke warmly of their encounters with the charming Sir Ken.


Sir Ken Adam was born in Berlin in 1921 and moved with his family to London in 1934 where during the war he was one of only two Germans to fly with the RAF.

Following his time in active service he trained as an architect at the Bartlett, University College London. However, it was in 1948 that Sir Ken started his foray into the film industry as a draughtsman. 

I thought I would talk about a few of his pieces that have inspired and influenced me over the years.

Dr Strangelove (1964)

The ‘War Room’ is probably one of the most amazing sets ever made and almost defines the ‘cold-war’ idea of power.

Famously, when Ronald Reagan first came to power and asked to be shown the war room, he was immensely disappointed when he was taken to a bland conference room. Rumour has it that he had his war room re-designed to provide a suitable environment for making critical decisions!


Ipcress File (1965)

The studies for the hypnoytic chamber are abstract and suggestive… intriguing, Len Desighton’s antidote to James Bond. Michael Caine’s character Harry Palmer is brilliant…


Thunderball (1965)

Fort Knox in Thunderball: Again one can imagine the real Fort Knox gold room can only be disappointing in comparison….


You Only Live Twice (1967)

The volcano set was the biggest of its time, imaginative and incredible. Less said about Sean Connery pretending to be Japanese the better!


The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

It has so many amazing sets, the most memorable of which has to be the underwater world of the villain. The whole film is rich with futuristic designs including the adaptation of the Lotus Esprit. I did read that Colin Chapman (the competitive founder of Lotus cars) parked a prototype of the Lotus Esprit outside the studio of Cubby Broccoli, the producer of the Bond films, and when Sir Ken saw it he decided it had to be incorporated into the film. I forgot to ask Sir Ken whether this was a true story…!

Sir Ken’s output is amazing; his influence on modern design and architecture is immeasurable. It is not uncommon to hear people say “that looks like a Bond influence” … in fact it should be “that looks like a Sir Ken Adam influence”. 

Thank you Sir Ken!

PHOTO: Portrait of Sir Ken Adam, by Stanley Kubrick

DOWNLOAD: The official event publication for production designer Sir Ken Adam’s BAFTA tribute. http://www.bafta.org/access-all-areas/ken-adam,1742,BA.html

BOOKS

Christopher Frayling, Ken Adam – “Ken Adam Designs the Movies: James Bond and Beyond” (2008)

Christopher Frayling – Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design (2005)

Philip French, Christopher Frayling – “Moonraker, Strangelove and Other Celluloid Dreams – The Visionary Art of Ken Adam” (1999)

Alexander Smoltczyk, “James Bond Berlin, Hollywood. Die Welten des Ken Adam”, Verlag nicolai, Berlin 2002,


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