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Constructive criticism: the week in architecture

The ruined castle that was home to Lady Jane Grey hits the holiday market, Rem Koolhaas's TV colossus opens for propaganda, and some Dutch architects blow bubbles

In the past year, Alain de Botton's Living Architecture initiative has made its name as a modernist alternative to the Landmark Trust, which offers holidays in historic buildings. But now the Landmark Trust is fighting back. The preservation-minded body is usually associated with stays in quirky spots, from pineapple-shaped follies to fabulous old forts, but now it has a brand new building in its portfolio. Well, sort of. Astley Castle in Warwickshire is a bit of both really: a new dwelling built within the ruins of a 1,000-year-old castle. More of a fortified manor house, the castle was extended again and again over the centuries, eventually becoming a hotel before it burned down in 1978. Previous residents included Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV, mother of the princes in the tower) in the 15th century, and Lady Jane Grey (the nine-day queen) in the 16th.

In something of a first, a new four-bedroom holiday home has been built inside the ruins, in a way that respects the existing structure without imitating it. The new design, by Witherford Watson Mann architects, holds the thick walls of the ruin together but uses a robust, contemporary language of concrete, brick and wood. Rather than putting the original building's history "at arm's length", say the architects, their approach engages with it: the finished building will retain a ruin-like quality (with all mod cons, of course). The project started in 2006, so it's not really a response to Living Architecture, but the result promises to be dramatic when it finishes in July.

Another conversion, of sorts, reaches completion on Saturday with the opening of the new Photographers' Gallery in Soho, London, more than a year late after funding difficulties. The architects are O'Donnell & Tuomey, whose An Gaelaras cultural centre in Derry was shortlisted for the Stirling prize last year. They've expanded the red-brick Victorian warehouse by slotting a two-storey black box on top, turning it into a building worth pointing your Hipstamatic app at. There'll be a cafe and bookshop on the ground floor, of course, and upstairs the first exhibition will be Edward Burtynsky's Oil series, which documents how one commodity changed the landscape.

The week after Rem Koolhaas made his cameo on The Simpsons by creating a Lego model of his CCTV building in Beijing, the real thing is finally finished. You could be forgiven for thinking the Chinese state broadcaster's HQ opened years ago. The unmistakable 50-storey folded skyscraper has hogged the architectural airwaves, and even been lauded as the greatest piece of 21st-century architecture by the New York Times. But it suffered a major setback last year when its adjacent, less glamorous sister building, known as TVCC, caught fire, possibly as a result of overzealous Chinese New Year celebrations. Now CCTV is up and running, all set to broadcast the London Olympics, re-runs of the Simpsons, and egregious state propaganda.

So protracted was CCTV's creation, its project architect Ole Scheeren has had time to leave Koolhaas's OMA practice and set up on his own. His Buro-OS is based in Beijing and Hong Kong, and has a number of projects in the region, including an arts centre in Beijing and a striking office tower next door to Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers. He also designed a fantasy floating cinema in Thailand a few months ago, for a bash curated by Tilda Swinton and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Having dated actor Maggie Cheung for the past few years, Scheeren's clearly moving in elite movie circles. So take that with your measly Simpsons, Rem!

Finally, having started with a 1,000-year-old ruin, here's the last word in ephemeral building materials: bubbles. It doesn't sound possible, let alone advisable, but Dutch practice DUS have just finished showing their wonderful Bubble Building at Rotterdam's International Architecture Biennial. On the downside, the pavilion doesn't last very long; on the upside, it takes no time to build. Visitors can do it themselves, in fact. All they have to do is pull up a series of metal wands from pools of bubble liquid on the ground in one co-ordinated movement and there you have it: an instant building, delightfully wobbly and reflective, very short lived, and different every time.

As well as being fun street art, the Bubble Building fits the Biennial's Making Cities theme: civilisation's ceaseless acts of building and rebuilding condensed from millennia into minutes. DUS even has a manifesto (Rule 13: Confuse). In the past, they've created a Buckminster Fuller-ish pavilion out of umbrellas, which they erected illegally in the street one night and held a party in. They've also utilised woven bicycle inner tubes and once built a temporary hotel out of recycled plastic bags filled with sand, which they put up (again without permission) around Dutch cities. "Its architecture was impermanent," they say, "but it remains in the memory of those who were there."

In other words, it complies with rule 18: Build mental monuments. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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