As 2021 draws to a close, Isabel Allen reflects on some of the highlights of her first year as editor of Architecture Today.


As 2021 draws to a close I wanted to wish you happy holidays and reflect on some of the highlights of my first year as editor of Architecture Today.

It’s been a joy to publish an eclectic-but-brilliant bunch of buildings both online and in print including our cover stars: AHMM’s Post Building in London; Mole Architects’ Freeholders in Wells-next-the-Sea; Coffey Architects’ Cove Ridge on the North Devon coast; Gort Scott’s The Rock in Whistler, Canada and Invisible Studio and Ellis Williams’ East Quay Cultural Centre in Watchet, Dorset. The quality of the coverage is testament to the brilliance of our contributors – practising architects who are unfailingly generous with their expertise, opinions and time.

Thanks are also due to the stellar line-up of architects, developers, engineers, psychologists, acousticians, scientists, manufacturers and clients who have taken part in our podcasts and webinars – visit our new events page to view over 120 presentations from throughout the year.

Webinars such as From marginal to mainstream: can passivhaus become the new norm? and Beyond COP26: an action plan for change proved a fantastic means of sharing knowledge and fostering the sense of professional community that has seemed particularly precious during periods of enforced lockdown.

An exhilarating few days at COP26 reinforced that this sense of shared purpose is stronger than ever. The twin horrors of global pandemic and imminent climate catastrophe have relegated style wars to the wings and put collaboration – and hard science – centre stage. This makes it particularly poignant that we lost Richard Rogers and Chris Wilkinson within the space of a few days this December: two visionary architects who exploded the myth that science, engineering and technology are at odds with beauty, compassion and grace.

The baton has been passed to new generations. Architecture Today is proud to support the Architectural Drawing Summer School, an initiative that encourages new and diverse talent into the profession, and privileged to give a platform to the most talented architects practicing today.

My picks of 2021:


Photograph by David Grandorge

Lavender Hill by Sergison Bates

Sergison Bates developed the site of a former sheet metal factory in Lavender Hill, London, into a community of nine dwellings with a courtyard garden at its heart in Patrick Lynch enjoys the uncanny sensation of stepping into the backyard of a busy London street and being transported to an entirely different world.

Read Patrick Lynch’s review of Lavender Hill


Photograph by Timothy Soar

In practice: Yẹmí Aládérun

For Yẹmí Aládérun working as a client and delivering affordable housing provides a platform to activate the power of architecture and shake things up from the inside.

Read Yẹmí Aládérun’s take on Peckham in a text accompanying a portrait by Timothy Soar


2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. From Mies, Detlaf Mertins, Phaidon 2014

Still standing: Seagram Building

In the first of a series of revisits, Architecture Today’s new contributing editor Ian Volner assessed the significance of an instant icon that has stood the test of time, beginning with Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building.

Read Ian Volner’s account of the Seagram Building


My kind of town: Nigel Coates

The British architect, designer and writer on making a second home in Florence, where he has set up a workshop in the “bowels” of the Porta Romana district.

Read Nigel Coates’s My kind of town


Andrew Clancy and Nana Biamah-Ofosu in conversation with Isabel Allen

The trouble with education, learning from the Architectural Drawing Summer School and the importance of talking frankly about architecture as a career.

Listen to the podcast