Review of the Year 2011: Architecture

22 December 2011
Reading Time
3 minute read

Architects very much bear the brunt for their designs. Not only must buildings now be conceptualised and realised years ahead of their intended use, but public tastes and needs must be predicted, committees must approve and all manner of ethical, ecological and financial stringencies simply must be met or they will go STRAIGHT TO HELL. So when a firm or individual pulls it off, and the public embrace the intention and spectacular landscape of their hard-work, we must all loudly applaud together, but not in unison – that’s creepy.

We were really impressed in 2011 by The New World Centre by Frank Gehry – an extraordinary, defining feat in permanent musical architecture with its gigantic potential for audio visual projections as well as acoustics. Equally important to their purpose are the Maggie’s Centres – built by collaboration between architects and lifestyle designers like Paul Smith and appearing across the UK this year. And of course, as London residents, how can we ignore the amount of new and regenerative Olympic-themed activity going on with land mark buildings and exciting sporting structures? But our top picks look like this…

Stanton Williams

Stanton Williams was awarded Architect of the Year, The Schueco Gold Award for its two-fold contribution to British architecture. As well as the responsive and beautifully set Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge, we also saw the much-discussed and undeniably grand new building for Central Saint Martins at King’s Cross in London. Epic projects, both of them, with a living, breathing, environmental and landscape conscience that has set the bar for new research and education buildings very, very high.


Not only did we enjoy a small interview with Assemble in Issue #6 of the magazine we also put together a showreel of animations to screen in the canal-side alternative cinema Folly for a Flyover in Hackney Wick. The Folly was a satellite site for the Barbican Watch Me Move season and won the 2011 Bank of America Merrill Lynch CREATE Art Award (mouthful). This young band of architects who were also behind 2010’s ingenious public offering The Cineroleum, are an incredibly engaging group who are – to quote ourselves – “re-imagining exciting possibilities for unusual urban spaces and taking ownership of the entire process.”

Ro & AD

We were totally won over by Ro & AD’s simple concept of a submerged bridge, a lá Moses, and couldn’t wait to post it up. It received some of our highest stats in the architecture category and certainly caught the imagination of many an other design site, with its sub-mersive (sorry) ingenuity. They were nominated finalists at the Dutch Design Awards 2011, and rightfully so.

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About the Author

Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

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