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Rakewell

The Rake’s progress: last week in gossip

5 September 2017

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Building Design magazine has announced the shortlist for this year’s Carbuncle Cup, the annual competition to identify the worst new building in Britain. This year’s contenders are a particularly deserving lot: the shortlist features the Nova Victoria building and the Park Plaza Waterloo in central London, a horrendous block of student housing in Portsmouth and the wacky new entrance to Preston railway station.

The most deserving winner, however, would surely be Simpson Haugh’s Circus West development at Battersea Power Station. ‘Unfortunately, this scale of overdevelopment has been forced on the power station because of a series of bad deals made by a series of owners needing to recoup their investments,’ says BD editor Thomas Lane, adding that it managed the feat of ‘making Europe’s largest brick building look small’.

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In other architecture news, Frank Gehry is to design a museum in North Adams, Massachusetts. And not just any museum: the ‘Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum’ will feature model trains puffing around scale versions of buildings from the last 150 years, and is being masterminded by former Guggenheim director Thomas Krens.

Who wouldn’t want to see a miniature locomotive steaming around a 35ft model of the Empire State Building? Erm, the young Frank Gehry, it turns out: ‘Model railroads are not something I was infatuated with as a child’, he told the New York Times. ‘We were poor, and we didn’t have the money to buy that stuff.’

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Sir Roy Strong is on combative form – as ever. In an interview with the Sunday Times, the former V&A director couldn’t hold back from having a pop at his former fiefdom. The venerable institution, he opined, is ‘playing to the gallery’ by staging ‘too many fashion shows, frankly’. But Sir Roy reserved his harshest words for Tate Britain, a museum he claims has ‘gone down the drain’. Not that he isn’t aware of how all this reads: ‘I’ll get a byline that reads, “embittered old museum director says …”’

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Finally, a Twitter thread from @VictorianLondon proposing some creative solutions for funding shortfalls, courtesy of a enterprising staffer at Alexandra Palace during the 1880s…

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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