Tricks of the light

Seeper has made castles disappear into thin air, created walls that ripple in time to music and frozen London’s Senate House into a solid block of ice. The work of this arts and technology collective is proof of one of founder Evan Grant’s favourite quotations: Arthur C Clarke’s assertion that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. When I edited this lighting special for Icon magazine, I got him to explain exactly how they do it. Also included: interviews with designers Rolf Sachs, Thierry Dreyfus and Arik Levy, and a very power and plug-hungry photoshoot of some beautiful and intriguing new products.

Studying the classics

What are the Elgin Marbles doing on a housing block in London’s Olympic Village? That was the question on the cover of Autumn’s issue of Concrete Quarterly, which I edit for UBM and The Concrete Centre. The magazine’s lead article covered Niall McLaughlin Architects’ very striking facade for the athletes’ accommodation in Stratford. Continuing the visual concrete theme, we also featured a surprisingly attractive sewerage pumping station elsewhere on the Olympic Park, a dazzlingly white court building in Portugal, and David Chipperfield’s purple-grey Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield.

More adventures in concrete

If you’d like a tour of Europe’s most sustainable building, look no further than the summer issue of Concrete Quarterly, which I edit for the Concrete Centre and publisher UBM.  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s new Swiss HQ is the only building in the world to have met the exacting standards of both the US LEED environmental rating scheme and Switzerland’s own Minergie – chosen because they were the toughest the client could find. Six different types of concrete went into the structure, and even if  it’s unlikely to win any high-flown architectural awards, I think those exposed concrete finishes have a certain charm. Also in this issue: Vodafone’s bonkers-looking new office in Oporto, and a gorgeous aircraft museum in Krakow that’s like a paper aeroplane made out of concrete…

How the world might not end

If you think green building is a niche topic, head down to Ecobuild. It’s not only one of the largest events in the UK, but the largest in the world focusing on sustainable construction and architecture. More than 50,000 people came to ExCeL in east London for Ecobuild 2011 – and when I was there, most of them were trying to fit into the conference hall where Brian Cox was speaking. But there were a great many other contributors over the three day programme, with a very diverse range of views and interests. I edited a blog on the Ecobuild site in the months leading up to the event, which meant I got to talk to them about all sorts of things including why climate talks fail, the truth about eco-cities in the desert and why Christmas houses might not be a total sustainability nightmare…

Concrete in the afterlife

Does any company preside over an uglier set of buildings than BT? Well, there’s now one less hideous eighties monolith to marvel at, with the complete refurbishment of the Angel Building in Islington. It’s almost unrecognisable with its glass and exposed concrete, and a new facade that restores the old line of the Georgian terraces. It’s also very sustainable, with a BREEAM “excellent” rating. Architect AHMM kept the project’s carbon footprint low by keeping the old concrete frame – which made it an ideal cover star for the Spring issue of Concrete Quarterly magazine, which I edit. You can read the latest issue here.

Hard news

Concrete Quarterly has been the magazine of choice for architects who admire the scale, the starkness or the sinuous curves of concrete buildings since 1947 – and it still hasn’t made it on to Have I Got News For You. At the website of The Concrete Centre, you can read the latest edition featuring the gargantuan Bodleian book fortress, which I edited. Or you can go right back through the archive to read the first edition, which I didn’t.

How many Turkish architects can you name?

If the pub quiz at my local ever introduces a round on the world’s largest architecture firms, I will definitely be taking home the beer glass of £1s. This month, I edited BD magazine’s World Architecture 2010, the definitive annual survey with profiles of every single one of the top 100 firms, wherever they may lurk. And where they will mainly be lurking in future is China. There’s an enormous amount of data contained in the supplement, but one consistent theme throughout – the money is headed East, the dominance of the US and Europe is in decline, and when the property market recovers from recession, it’s not going to look anything like it did before.

Digital editions of things I’ve edited

I manage all the content for Building‘s contract publishing supplements which, by the magic of the web, are now available as digital editions. Here you can have a virtual flick through a recent eight-pager for ICI – as it’s about paint, it was a good excuse to have fun with a very lairy colour scheme. And today we published a 32-page magazine for the government’s waste quango, WRAP. But this one is probably my favourite, for Waitrose earlier this year, which was rather more successful than my shortlived stint on their checkouts in 1994.

I’ve also edited quite a few editorial supplements – like this one on the retail sector in November 2007, this careers guide with a sustained “Choose Your Own Adventure” theme (complete with “If you decide to leap the ravine, turn to page 5” links) and this one, focusing on construction in the Gulf states – a must if you like pictures of very tall buildings…