Rowan Moore’s finest architecture of 2021 | Architecture

What can be reported of a planet the place a person billionaire desires to build a big tulip-shaped tower of little sensible use and a further needs to home countless numbers of learners in windowless rooms in a block with all the appeal of an Amazon distribution centre? The first, designed by Foster + Companions for the Brazilian Jacob Safra, was intended in some way to strengthen self-confidence in the Town of London by making what would have been only the world’s second optimum flower-themed absurdity, a taller Lotus Tower acquiring currently been crafted in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The next, Munger Hall, is the dormitory for the University of California, Santa Barbara, in which in return for donating $200m of the $1.5bn charge the 97-12 months-outdated Charlie Munger is insisting that 94% of people have no natural light-weight in their rooms.

At the very least the British govt noticed sense and refused the Tulip planning permission, whilst options are even now continuing for Munger Hall. Each projects appear pushed by moi, but in the large house involving the brutal functionalism of the latter and the redundant gesturing of the previous you could hope to uncover sites in which attractiveness is put in the support of the normal and uncommon demands of human existence. My top five, I submit, obtain this.

‘Sensual joy’: Maggie’s centre, Southampton. Photograph: Hufton+Crow

In climate unexpected emergency news, there was a bit of a fad this calendar year for briefly relocating trees in places exactly where you really do not usually locate them – in the courtyard of Somerset Home, out the back again of Tate Contemporary, on a “mound” at Marble Arch. The strategy was to say anything or other about the significance of possessing mother nature in cities, but any suspicion that these initiatives were being, like the Tulip, a teeny little bit gestural was resoundingly confirmed by the distinction in between the lush landscape that publicity illustrations or photos promised for the mound and the bedraggled actuality.

Much more usefully and much less glamorously, it proceeds to sink into public and formal consciousness that it’s environmentally superior to refit buildings exactly where attainable alternatively than rebuild them – that there’s minimal level in sinking substantial carbon and electricity costs in a creating that may possibly give some payback in a few decades’ time. Development was also manufactured with the technology of constructing massive structures with timber – by no suggests a cure-all for problems of sustainability but a action in the appropriate route.

The boggling horrors of the Grenfell Tower inquiry carry on to unfold. Tales hold coming out of failures by companies, regulators, contractors and consultants to halt the setting up becoming wrapped in products that quickly caught hearth. Queries are now getting asked about the effect of the coalition government’s attempts to deregulate design – as David Cameron place it at the time, to “kill off the health and basic safety culture for good”.

There had been losses to the globe of architecture and style and design: Zeev Aram, the architect and retailer who did considerably to popularise the get the job done of Eileen Grey Chris Wilkinson, whose tasteful significant-tech constructions incorporated the Gateshead Millennium Bridge Virgil Abloh, who took his architectural teaching into manner layout the brutalist maestro Owen Luder. Over all, Richard Rogers, the co-creator of one particular of the most substantial of all postwar structures, the Pompidou Centre, but also a tireless and productive campaigner for the renewal of metropolitan areas.

The best five buildings of 2021

The Serpentine Pavilion 2021, designed by Counterspace.
The Serpentine Pavilion 2021, developed by Counterspace. Photograph: Iwan Baan, [email protected], www.iwan.com/Iwan Baan

1. Serpentine Pavilion, London
Counterspace

Complex architecture impressed by cross-cultural conference destinations.

2. Maggie’s centre, Southampton
Amanda Levete Architects

Sensual joy for cancer sufferers and their beloved kinds.

3. Cohen Quad, Exeter School, Oxford
Alison Brooks Architects

The regular quadrangle reinvented with wit and charm.

4. A Property for Artists, Barking, London
Apparata

A glimpse of what economical housing could be.

5. Lambeth Palace Library, London
Wright and Wright

A dignified way of housing a large selection of cherished textbooks in the grounds of a historic palace.

Marble Arch Mound

Turkey

Marble Arch Mound, London
MVRDV

Lovely thought – a temporary synthetic tree-clad hill – but disastrous execution.