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RIBA Conference 2007, Peter Lomax Blog

31 October 2007 No Comment

Peter Lomax, TCIAT Associate of Stephen George and Partners details the RIBA Conference in Paris… 

It was very nice of Corus to invite a group of Architects (and me) out to the RIBA conference 2007 in Paris – Eurostar, 3 nights in Holiday Inn Republique and excellent hosts kept us all entertained before and after the conferences.

The theme of this year’s conference was Collaboration and RIBA president Sunand Prasad gave good introductions to all the speakers.

The conference began on the evening of Thursday 25 October, with a rooftop champagne reception the Cite de l’Architecture & du Patriome for the opening reception hosted by Burro Hapold.

  Communist Party HQThe main conference at the French Communist Party HQ (designed by Oscar Niemeyer) was a good choice of venue for the Friday and Saturday morning speeches.Oscar Niemeyer (aged 100) gave a video welcome and talked of collaboration with Le Corbusier on the UN building (1947-1953)

Spencer de Grey of Fosters and Jean Nouvel spoke about their collaboration on the Walbrook Square development in London. Talked about how they reinstated the line of Watling Street that was blocked by the previous building on the site, how they are moving the Roman Temple of Mithras back to where it was originally found on the site and how the scale of the building has been reduced by the varied roofscape of the different blocks on the site (although they couldn’t agree on whether the roofscape were ‘clouds’ or ‘animals’)

Walbrook Square, EC4 is a striking new office and retail development which incorporates approximately 1 million sq ft net floorspace, with approximately 95,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant floorspace and 875,000 sq ft of office space.

  Rafael Vinoly (Tokyo International Forum. Completed in 1996) talked about the Howard Hughes Medical Institute campus project, Virginia USA in 2006.

Mike Davies CBE of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners is the man that wears red and worked on Lloyds building, Pompidou Centre and Terminal 5 Heathrow to name a few and has been with Richard Rogers from the start. Mike talked us through the T5 project which has a massive 170m clear span, allowing complete flexibility of the multiple floor space within (a similar concept to the earlier successful Stanstead terminal, but on a slightly larger scale)

Nick Terry of BDP gave an interesting talk on Building Information Modelling (BIM) which demonstrated that a full model of the building allowed all parties to input their expertise and arrive at a workable design with no clashes, although when we are working on speculative projects with no particular end user when the project starts on site, we never get the sort of lead-in period that BIM would require…………

Roisin Heneghan  of Heneghan Peng Architects and Tony McLaughlin from Buro Happold talked us through the Cairo Museum project, which all looked very impressive.

  However when someone asked about the extensive use of glass on the edge of the desert between the Pyramids and Cairo and how it would fare in a sandstorm the presentation did seem to unravel a little………

Ellen van Loon of Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) Rotterdam showed us a few interesting schemes including the very impressive Central Chinese Television (CCTV) building, Dutch Embassy and Casa da Musica, Porto. And how they collaborate with companies all over the world.

Will Alsop (Peckham Library Stirling Prize Winner) and Bruce McLean (Artist and Sculptor) gave a great comedy duo talk on collaboration ……….can’t see how these two are ever going to build much though………

Duncan Kenworthy  OBE (the producer of Four Weddings and a Funeral (94), Gulliver’s Travels (96), Lawn Dogs (97), Notting Hill (99), The Parole Officer (01)) gave an interesting insight into how films are made…….one thing I got from this, was the use of the ‘Daily Film Rush’ where each days filming is reviewed by the bosses and any changes can be caught and re-done before you go any further………something we can all do on sites – review whats happening by having photos emailed from site or use of remotely activated webcams.


Odile Decq partner at ODBC showed us some inspirational designs including a visitor centre in Osaka, Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome, and a ‘dancing’ bridge in France……

Under the Grand Arch, La Defense Thanks to Corus…excellent hosts and good company from Ana, Dave, Karl and Gary.  Good choice of hotel, centrally located to all the venues and to Gare du Nord, lots of good humour.

RIBA will be producing a DVD of the event and posting it out to delegates soon. When I get a copy I will ensure everyone gets a chance to watch it (maybe as a CPD lunch, but don’t try ordering ‘Porc’ like me in a French restaurant) 'Porc'

The views expressed here are those of the author, and not those of Corus Group or Stephen George and Partners

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