A Jewish cultural centre in London

TEN years in the making, London's first purpose-built Jewish community and cultural centre has finally opened its doors, and it is unlike any other Jewish building in the city. On an otherwise grim stretch of Finchley Road in north-west London, and accessible via a slender bridge, the elegant new glass-fronted, four-storey centre is designed to appeal to people of all ages, Jew and non-Jew alike. Its opening weekend drew large crowds for classes in krav maga (an Israeli form of self defense) and cooking demonstrations. 

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Extreme machine

When London-based Hugh Broughton Architects won the competition to build Halley VI, Britain’s latest Antarctic research station, the outfit had never built anything like it. It was 2005, and a year earlier the firm had entered the competition almost on a whim. ‘They were looking for a practice with a large portfolio of projects to draw upon, with lots of experience in sustainability and prefabrication,’ recalls founding director Hugh Broughton, laughing, ‘and a proven track record that included work abroad and remote installations.’ At the time, his office was renovating a basement in Soho and doing some office refurbs in the UK, having completed only one project abroad, the Malaysian headquarters of the British Council in Kuala Lumpur.

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The Retrofit Revolution

“There is no doubt that reworking existing buildings is a highly rewarding and responsible area of work for architects,” says Rab Bennetts, director and co-founder of Bennetts Associates, a London-based firm known for its strong sustainability ethos. Recycling old buildings is not only a matter of reducing environmental impact, he says, but also an opportunity to “retain memories, discover richer textures and use ‘found’ spaces that require innovative design solutions.” Reusing existing buildings can also act as a natural curb on emissions, Bennetts explains, because they are often more compact. 

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Oscar Niemeyer auditorium - Ravello

Ravello, off South Italy's coast, is one of the most beautiful and romantic spots on earth; and Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer's all-white curvaceous auditorium is set amongst its luxuriant rocky hillsides and against the backdrop of the refined Amalfi coastal town's trademark awe-inspiring brilliant blue sea and endless open skies.

 

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Fuksas Movement

Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas may be a busy man, but he's also a terribly jovial one. As he recites the long list of where he has been in the last few days, and who he has met, the smile never leaves his face. “My life is impossible, I have no possibility to work,” he concludes, somewhat flamboyantly. He says he can't wait to get away from it all for a couple of days and head to his house on the southern Italian island of Pantelleria. We are in the architect's Rome office, located over several floors of an airy Renaissance palazzo in the heart of the Centro Storico. Fuksas wears his usual attire: a dark sweater and jacket; his manner is informal and approachable.

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Light fantastic

People and place are what influence the architecture of Richard Meier. And he’s a purist when it comes to light, creating spaces where you can’t help but look up in awe

For Richard Meier, fashion has no place in modern architecture. 
Meier’s commitment to a completely white palette is legendary, while his relentless manipulation of light and space is an enduring trademark in a world where trendiness often takes precedence over substance. His preoccupation with how his buildings will fit in to their surrounding environment - and be used by the people for whom they are destined - has remained unchanged over five decades; Meier’s modernist principles are constant but never static. 

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