47 episodes

Provocative and irreverent architectural talk series hosted in East London by Straight Talking Architecture Practice Fourth_space

Negroni Talks Fourthspace

    • Arts

Provocative and irreverent architectural talk series hosted in East London by Straight Talking Architecture Practice Fourth_space

    Negroni Talk #S9 AI or Die: Advance or Interference?

    Negroni Talk #S9 AI or Die: Advance or Interference?

    Negroni Talk #S9 AI or Die: Advance or Interference? by Fourthspace

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Negroni Talks #A2

    Negroni Talks #A2

    Having provoked debates interrogating all things “Architectural” from its base in east London, “Negroni talks…!” is hitting the road to discover how the Politics Of Architecture plays out in other parts of the UK. Heading North, South, East and West, The Negroni Talks On the Road Tour aims to hold ‘4 talks in 4 towns’, taking a look at what’s happening on the ground by focusing on local factors that shape the built environment, and what this means for it’s inhabitants.

    In overview, the Series presents essentially the same discussion in each of the places visited. This repetition is a means to spotlight differences, but also those areas of similarity between urban environments to make comparisons at a national scale. The fabric of each village, town and city across the land stands as a witness to the fallibility of decision-making where private agendas and the public interest collide. Recording the passage of time in material forms, every built landscape provides its own version of a common history - namely the cause and effect impact that buildings and property have as a political player.

    The talk series poses a series of questions to prompt the discussions:

    Process: Building is a simple act with an abundance of complexities. What are the fundamental flaws in the current overall system by which buildings are created?

    Planning: A broken system suffering from a distinct lack of vision? Does it address need and if so whose? As a reactive body, does it have the ability, the will, or the funding to ensure that beyond the concerns of the individual, there is a grander master plan?

    Policy: Is there a lack of assertiveness, a lack of confidence, a lack of knowledge or a lack of ideas on how to carefully harness market forces for the common good?

    Permission: Who decides? Are the interests & the imagination of those who say yes or no, broad enough?

    Playing the game: Who sets the rules and is breaking them the only way to build what is really needed?

    Procurement: Finance tends to dominate discussions about delivery and determines (and often limits) the scope of what is possible? So, what of our ambition? What could be?

    Potential: Where and how is it being wasted?

    Place-making: Can new buildings offer a necessary variety so that they serve all demographics in society and assist in creating more collective spirited communities in the future?

    Progressiveness: How do you create processes where quality and invention are expected and not hoped for?

    Performance: How do you ensure that all buildings contribute socially & environmentally?

    Past Problems: The built environment offers lessons on mistakes made. It illustrates what works, what has time proven longevity and where ideas/experiments have failed. With the benefit of hindsight, are we clear in what we are doing and what we need to avoid?

    Purpose: What is the point of building? Should we ask this before we do anything?

    Planet: Can ‘development opportunity’ become redefined so that new building is allied more with existing built fabric?

    Power: How can heritage, identity and representation be used positively to decentralize, diversify and empower?

    Politics: Despite the posturing and of our politicians and the promotion of Britain as ‘Great’, are our built environments blighted by a national malaise and if so what can be done to overcome this?

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Negroni Talk #41 - Absurdity In Architecture

    Negroni Talk #41 - Absurdity In Architecture

    Absurdity In Architecture

    When you think about it, Architecture is quite absurd. The importance placed upon the differences between one building design and another, the dedication to detail, the careful choreography and the assertions of taste and quality, all seem to be on a different planet when one looks up at the huge global issues that confront us. The time and energy, the resources spent on the particularity of a design's development, feels somewhat self-centred, myopic and at a remove from the issues of the larger world beyond.

    So too the nobility with which the profession regards itself, the award winning credibility, the multiple skill-sets, the being seen to do the right thing all wrapped up in standard issue PR parlance. What persists is a certainty and conviction with which an architectural design is declared as being the right answer, the correct response, irrespective of how misplaced history often proves such claims to be.

    Architects belong to a list of professions, and along with lawyers and doctors it takes the longest time to qualify for, so you might think that the job is solid, respected and agenda setting. However, getting work to support any practice is basically a shot in the dark. Fees are embarrassingly low. Planning decisions are made on the political whims of elected officials. Clients commission what they want a design to be rather than enquiring what is possible/best. The contractor has come to design architecture as much as the architect. And let’s not get started on cost consultants.

    With all of the increasing uncertainty, we seem to have pulled up a seat at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. We find ourselves stuck in/out of our time, knowing that we are no longer what the profession once was, but with no clear idea of how we should really be going forward. Rather than entertain the nonsense and riddles, would it not be better that we steered the conversation towards an examination of what are we all doing and why?


    Jason Sayer, Architecture Today (chair) Sean Griffiths, Professor of Architecture
    Cath Slessor, Twentieth Century Society
    Nisha Kurian, London Borough of Tower Hamlets Dan Burr, Sheppard Robson

    amongst others….

    • 2 hr 30 min
    Negroni Talks #40 Decency By Design

    Negroni Talks #40 Decency By Design

    Decency By Design

    What does it mean to be an ethical architect? Is it about the way you run an architectural practice, the type of work you produce, the people you work for? They say that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’ and whilst we’re seeing a growing trend of practices becoming B-Corps, does that mean you’re a ‘decent’ company?

    With the de-regulatory drive to relax the rules and make permitted development easier, the sheer scale of the Post Grenfell cladding crisis, along with recent headline-grabbing ‘scandals’ about the impact upon people having to live in mold and damp infested homes, we really have to think about what buildings are saying to the general public about contemporary standards and the role of the architect. When buildings start to kill people, something has gone terribly wrong with our sense of humanity. Is the architectural profession an ethically motivated defender of values, or complicit with those profiteering off our collective low standards of living? It seems that the powers that be are mostly interested in quick fixes by whatever means necessary, as envisioned by the political brainwave that empty offices and shops can be converted to help solve the national housing problem. The results could very well foster a new wave of rachman-esque modern-day slums, so what protections remain, and who are the guardians of them?

    There could be potential opportunities for sensitive and intelligent projects that could help reinvigorate cities, which might be achieved much quicker than going through the red tape of traditional approval processes. Could this be the time for architects to actively lead a movement to create innovative schemes that benefit the local community, or is it just another moment where they will remain a facilitator in the destruction of social value?

    Developers are always looking for the maximum return on their investments, but their architects should also try to promote decency within regeneration projects and help protect those most affected by changes to our built environments throughout the country. At this moment it remains unclear which way things will go, however, are there simple solutions that could fix several problematic issues in one fell swoop?


    Rob Fiehn (chair) Alasdair Ben dixon, Collective Works
    Sanaa Shaikh, Native Studio
    Emma Osmundsen, Sixty Bricks Jerry Tate, Tate + Co

    amongst others….

    • 1 hr 20 min
    Negroni Talk #S7 - FROM HERO TO (NET)ZERO: Carbon Footprints

    Negroni Talk #S7 - FROM HERO TO (NET)ZERO: Carbon Footprints

    Negroni Talk #S7 - FROM HERO TO (NET)ZERO: Carbon Footprints

    We are in a climate emergency and the built environment contributes 30-40% of the world’s carbon emissions. We have to do something about this and seemingly some governments across the world have belatedly recognised the collective need for us to head towards a net-zero future. Ok, so there’s a plan and we all know what we’re doing, right, but can someone explain clearly what net-zero actually means? Also does the whole tree planting/off-setting thing really work? It’s just that recently there have been a series of news articles exposing suspicions that it’s all bullshit….

    As always action will speak louder than words in a world still wedded to processes/materials with high levels of embodied carbon and standard issue PR about ‘being sustainable'. We’re playing a dangerous game with the environment with the 'reality-check’ of carbon neutrality being the only player. How can we make sustainable strategies effective and what happens when political policies change the rules while we’re playing? What can we do to make sure that there is a long-term strategy for the planet, whilst making places for us to live and raise our kids?


    George Morgan (chair) Matt Bell, Heatherwick Studio
    Tara Gbolade, Gbolade Design Studio
    Jonathan Fashanu, Studio Dash Mitakshi Sirsi, Broadway Malyan

    amongst others….

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Negroni Talk #39 - Talking Shit! DRAIN AGE

    Negroni Talk #39 - Talking Shit! DRAIN AGE

    Talking Shit! DRAIN AGE

    Stone Age... Iron Age... we are now living through the Drain Age...

    Regular news reports of flash flooding showing homes filled with filthy water suggest that our treatment of water maybe based upon suspect principles. The mounting evidence is that our ‘interventions’ within the natural world are more and more frequently coming back to bite us in our cities, towns and villages. Is architecture a key factor in our divorce from reality?

    We put bleach in water, and we drink the water. Man-made fat-bergs cause sewers to back up and the pressures put on pipes appears to coincide with the shameless profiteering that comes with pumping raw sewage into our wildlife, watercourses and seas.

    We should ask ourselves what and where we are building. Flood plains made rigid by acres of tarmac and paved hard landscape leave water with nowhere to run except funneled down into hidden tubes that lead ‘somewhere else’.

    What is out of sight, remains out of mind.

    We also have to look inside and question the impact within buildings. Architects and designers seem stuck in a tug or war between consultants, subcontractors, and the estate agents doctrine of the ensuite 2nd bathroom, where the volumetric space in which people are to live comes in second. Rooms seem required to work around the unmovable obstacles of the service pipe and its associated boxing out.

    Water, so vital to life itself, is in its cyclical nature the most recyclable of resources, so what of its use and its waste? For millennia, humankind lived more humbly amidst nature. Buildings tend to create comfort and convenience by ‘protecting’ us from the elements, but in the landscape of the future can they play a greater role and a more holistic approach to health and sustainability?


    Dave Hill, OnLondon (chair) Dr Julia King, London School of Economics
    Andy Downey, Elliot Wood
    Katharina Erne, HTA Design
    Michael Judd, Hawkins\Brown

    amongst others….

    • 1 hr 14 min

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