Tag Archives: Architecture

This isn’t a Church in Europe

Church of St. Alphonsus, colloquially known as Novena Church (after a series of intercessory devotions to Mother Mary), is one of Singapore’s most iconic Catholic churches, rises as a striking Gothic-inspired sanctuary after being closed for an extensive overhaul. Featuring soaring arches, intricate columns, a dome and 24 large stained glass windows, it will transport you to Europe in its beauty.

Two angels holding candelabras; the new church can now accommodate 1,500 worshipers in air-conditioned comfort.

With a 67-year history, the Novena Church closed for an extensive $54-million revamp since 3 years ago to provide a more conducive and accommodative environment for worshippers.

Reopened in late 2017, the building is inspired by European Gothic architecture, with a gleaming new exterior is clad in granite. The facade features soaring arches, intricate columns, a dome and 24 large stained glass windows.

A set of the Stations of the Cross hand-carved from plaster and cast in fibreglass. The set of 14 stations was made in Cebu, Philippines and took one and a half years to complete.

Besides beautiful limestone designs, the church interior is now air conditioned with a special antiviral and antibacterial scent that features the essential oils of frankincense, rosemary, lavender and citrus.

A three-storey building housing a 200-seater auditorium and multipurpose hall has also been constructed to replace the previous termite-infested building.

Majestic panels of stained glass at the East End of the church feature full portraits of Our Lady of Ransom (left), St Joseph (right), and Jesus, the Most Holy Redeemer in the centre.

The design team behind the revamp described the building to be “reminiscent of European churches”, its original, conserved form back in the 1950s designed by the architectural firm Swan and Maclaren. This design is rare for modern Catholic churches in SIngapore that favour more practical styles due to land constraints.

Mr Melvin Gamayot of CGN Architects said that the project was pressurising: “I usually design condominiums and commercial projects such as hotels, so I had a lot of sleepless nights coming up with a design and communicating this to contractors.”

A look at the traditional curved ceilings inspired by King Solomon.

He shares his source of inspiration from the bible scripture of king Solomon’s temple carved with engravings of palm trees. “I clad the columns of the main sanctuary hall in curved segments of limestone to create the appearance of a cluster of thin palm tree trunks with ribs, reaching for the heaven.”

An exterior view of the old (left) and new prayer halls of the Novena Church, vastly different in size.

More popularly known as the Novena Church, the Church of St. Alphonsus is located on 300 Thompson Road. 

Zaha Hadid Designs a Futuristic Fortress

Nested deep in a Russian forest lies the Capital Hill Residence. Zaha Hadid’s sole private residential project, the legendary Iraqi-British architectural visionary designed this private residence for Doronin, the “Russian James Bond.”


Zaha Hadid’s only residential design has finally been completed deep in the Barvikha Forest near Moscow.  The $140 million USD private residence is designed for Vladislav Doronin, a man that Hadid – the late Iraqi-British architect – was known to have called the “Russian James Bond.”

According to the project video, the concept was conceived over a decade ago with the first sketch on a napkin. Doronin, the owner and chairman of luxury chain Aman Resorts, said to Hadid; “I want to wake up in the morning and I want to just see blue sky. I don’t want to see any neighbors and I want to feel free.” To which Hadid replied: “You realize you have to be above the trees?”

There are two sections to the house: one nested in the sloping forested landscape, and another component located 22 metre above the ground.

The latter component of the house is a perfect response to Doronin’s request, housing the master suite at a staggering 36 metres above ground. Linked to the rest of the house through a slender column where one can access through a glass lift or concrete stairway, the space is built with clean, glazed walls. The master room extends out to two balconies that offers a sweeping view over the treetops.

The main, forested terrain of the house contains three floors, artfully sheltered by angled glass facades and broad roofs with geometric edges overhanging the clear walls. The ground floor contains the other spaces such as a lounge, living room and kitchen. The entrance, guest and children’s bedrooms, and a library are set across the first floor, along with a myriad of leisure facilities integrated seamlessly into space. Apart from an expansive 65-foot-long swimming pool, massage areas, a hammam, the home even boasts a beautiful Japanese garden and a nightclub.

Following Zaha Hadid’s unfortunate passing in 2016, Hadid’s former business partner Patrik Schumacher took over the reins of the company. Describing the project as a dream commission, Patrik states that the project is “an absolute testament to Zaha’s genius, … , who develops new levels of enjoying life on this planet”.

“This is a masterpiece. It has Zaha’s signature features of organic intricacy, complexity of spatial arrangement, a lot of surprises, and a lot of craftiness and beauty.”


Watch the video below where Doronin explains his vision for his residence project, meeting with Hadid a decade ago, and witness the breathtaking work of art.


Botanica Luxury Estate in Phuket

Botanica Luxury Estate in Phuket

Botanica Luxury Estate is pleased to offer overseas buyers and investors very flexible payment plans through a five-year Rental Programme. When the custom-built residence completes, Botanica Luxury will rise on the most desirable address in Phuket.

Currently under construction, the development will comprise 21 elite residences with bespoke villas and areas of 265 to 700 sqm to accommodate up to five bedrooms. The luxury development is just a close proximity to the pristine Bangtao or Laguna neighbourhood, offering plenty of boutique shops and restaurants along the 8 km stretch of white sand.

Designed by AAP Architecture, the firm has been involved in the development of private homes on Phuket for over 12 years and the architectural designs thus far, have attracted onlookers to pause and fully immerse in the sanctuary living environment that evokes peace and calmness, and relish the beautiful mountain scenery.

Perhaps, the Botanica Luxury is the grandest villa ever designed by the architectural firm, consistently pushing boundaries and bringing vibrancy to every landscape they design and custom build.

Each villa centres around a natural stone tiled pool. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The villa features a free-flowing floorplan that is capped by a vaulted, teak wood ceiling and framed by concertina glass doors. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The transom windows above the glass doors allow the light to flow into the house and give added elegance to the main area of the home. (Botanica Villas Phuket)

The tile flooring in the home area matches that on the terrace for a seamless transition to the outdoors. (Botanica Villas Phuket)


Architect Max Núñez Ghat House in Chile is the South American home for Tony Stark types

Max Núñez Ghat House in Cachagua, Chile is the South American home for Tony Stark types

Max Núñez Ghat House in Cachagua, Chile is the South American home for Tony Stark types

Designed by architect Max Núñez and majestically landscaped by Alejandra Marambio, the Cachagua, Chile, Ghat House (previously known as House Z) is located on a mountain slope with a 25º inclination. The steep slope leading into the Pacific Ocean served as direct muse for Ghat House, its design, structure and room organization were determined by the topography.

Max Núñez Ghat House in Cachagua, Chile is the South American home for Tony Stark types

The inclined surface of the roof runs parallel to the natural slope of the site, supported by 15 pillars, each unique, and each softening up the harshness and brutalist concrete structure. The unusually proportioned, asymmetrical large staircase weaves in and out of Max Núñez Architect’s Ghat House, dominating both visually and as a physical feature. But truly, it’s the topography, defined by the slope which forces Max Núñez to organise the interior spaces of recently completed 340 m² meter Ghat House according to the steepness of the slope, creating interior spaces of varying levels with different sizes and heights.

The slope which forces Max Núñez to organise the interior spaces of recently completed 340 m² meter Ghat House according to the steepness

The slope which forces Max Núñez to organise the interior spaces of recently completed 340 m² meter Ghat House according to the steepness

Even the pillars of different sizes and shapes are constructed to support the interior levels with its own exacting structural needs. Individual geometries and shapes make each structural column and turns it into a heterogeneous feature in its own right, avoiding structural monotony in usual pillar support design. Ghat House uses its columns to frame the landscape, carefully cultivated by Alejandra Marambio, to amazing effect.

Four lighter areas cladded in wood interfere with the surface of Max Núñez’s Ghat House roof and the space below it. Three of areas volumes contain the private rooms, while the fourth, smaller in dimension, contains direct access to the roof. These volumes are located under, beside, and above the roof, like the dynamic staircase weaving in and out of the Cachagua Ghat House establish ambiguous relations between the private and public areas of the house.

For more information: Max Núñez Architects

A-Frame Cottage by Jean Verville Architecte

The house presents an A-frame construction

The cottage, built in the 1960s on an enchanting site of the Laurentians in Canada, presents a triangular structural form. The architect employed different approaches to develop a new layout that rejects repetitions with a feasible approach that allows complete freedom and flexibility. The goal is to create a home that will provide a relaxing feeling for this family retreat away from urban frenzy.

The architect who helms this project has pursued a PhD in Arts at UQAM. Following a series of research in Japan, focusing on “Art House Projects”, has led the architect to a reflection on the artistic experience within architecture and bringing out the possibilities of hybridisation between arts and architecture, and their impact on the architectural creation process.

Challenging the initial hypothesis of lack of space, the architect opted instead for subtracting floor areas in favour of spatial quality. At the same time compressed and fragmented, stratified and unobstructed, the living area decreases from 88 m2 to 64 m2 by intensively exploiting the densification of spaces.

In this A-Frame Cottage project is a representation of diversified production in architecture, installation and scenography, offering a new modality of appreciation of architecture with new openings pointing sometimes the lake, sometimes the sky, to better converse with the landscape.

The living space opens to nature and is joined by a compact kitchen area enjoying space clearance from the staircase as well as the double height of the structure.

Doubled with a reading corner nestled in a triangular alcove, this room all dressed in wood reveals a fascinating place entirely dedicated to areas of interest and relaxation, away from the living spaces of the ground floor.

Ingeniously playing with scales, Verville managed to increase the perception of visual depth by exploiting limits and openings to admirably draw part of the density of this space. A window positioned on the floor of the master bedroom allows natural light pouring in all around and that enhances the brightness of the kitchen area below. The entire space, emphasising a double-height, offers a natural view of the lake from the bed optimising the views of the surrounding nature.

Images courtesy of Maxime Brouillet

The Mad Architect: Ole Scheeren has made a career out of Deconstruction

Ole Scheeren is a German architect, urbanist and principal of Büro Ole Scheeren Group. On hindsight, one surmises it should have been a no brainer that Scheeren has become one of the most prominent architects of our time. From working at his father’s office designing furniture during his teens to winning the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Silver Medal in 2000 while attending architecture school, the 46 year old Scheeren has been responsible for award-winning and laws of physics confounding architectural projects across the globe.

Mad Architect Ole Scheeren has made a career out of Deconstruction

One might wonder if the prefix “mad’ might be an editorial attempt at clickbait but Luxuo assures you, it is not. As an architect, Ole Scheeren is indeed as mad as they come. Take the 234-metre, 44-story skyscraper on East Third Ring Road, Guanghua Road at the heart of Beijing’s Central Business District, Scheeren’s CCTV Headquarters is not just an architectural icon but an ode to madness – The main building is not a traditional tower, but a loop of six horizontal and vertical sections covering 5,090,000 sq ft of floor space, creating an irregular grid on the building’s facade with an open center.

Remment Lucas “Rem” Koolhaas, renowned Architectural Theorist and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University once opined that Beijing’s CCTV Headquarters “could never have been conceived by the Chinese and could never have been built by Europeans”. Indeed, in 2007, Scheeren won The Times’ World’s Most Ambitious Projects award and in 2008, he made a clean sweep of Best New Global DesignArchitecture’s Ten Best and Wallpaper’s Best Building Site.

Scheeren’s CCTV Headquarters is not just an architectural icon but an ode to madness

The blocks of The Interlace are stacked four high at the center to provide maximum of 24 floors, providing almost every home with a wide view of the surrounding areas.

During that time, Scheeren had also been working on The Interlace. A 1000-unit apartment building complex in Singapore, tone-deaf in terms of Feng Shui (it’s not good to live above an empty space of nothing) but an architectural masterstroke for its jenga-block design, bequeathing the award-winning development the appearance of 31 irregularly stacked bricks.

Consisting of six story blocks staggered in a hexagonal arrangements surrounding eight spatial courtyards, each with their own swimming pools that are part of the architecture and not just mere amenity features. The blocks of The Interlace are stacked four high at the center to provide maximum of 24 floors, providing almost every home with a wide view of the surrounding areas. CNBC described it as “a challenge to traditional architecture not just in Singapore, but all over the world”. By 2014, Interlace won Urban Habitat Award. By 2015, Ole Scheeren took home World Building of the Year at the year’s World Architecture Festival.

His recent architectural opus? The Mahanakhon, a new 314-metre skyscraper in Bangkok, currently Thailand’s tallest building. Opened in December 2016, Mahanakhon is a mixed-use skyscraper featuring the unconventional appearance of a glass curtain walled square tower with a cuboid-surfaced spiral cut into the side of the building. Home to 209 units of The Ritz-Carlton Residences Bangkok, it looks complete like a pixelated ribbon skyscraper which then barely survived an epic battle between giant Jaeger Robots and Pacific Rim monsters – The Mahanakhon appears to be falling apart thanks to the horizontally and vertically divided glass walls contributing to the building’s “pixelated” appearance. Priced between US$1,100,000 to US$17,000,000, it is one of the most expensive “partially constructed” condominiums in Bangkok.

Guardian Art Center currently under construction in close proximity to the Forbidden City

Scheeren is currently working on Guardian Art Center, a exhibition space and headquarters for China’s oldest art auction house currently under construction in close proximity to the Forbidden City. For all intents and purposes, the concept Guardian Art Centre is essentially a glass box sitting on top of a set of smaller grey stone structures reminiscent of the hutong or narrow alley houses of old Beijing.

Check out his TED talk on why architecture should tell a great story:

Hungerburgbahn in Innsbruck

Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architect

Since the Hungerburgbahn was built ten years ago by Zaha Hadid Architects’, the expansive architectural shelter has become an integral part of the vibrant city of Innsbruck, Austria.

The glacial-inspired stations have played not only a major role in offering passage for travellers and passengers, making transits between the connecting stations from the downtown Innsbruck to the Norkette Mountain to Hungerburg, but also is symbolic to the city’s alpine character.

Ten years later, the stations continue to attract visitors from all around the world. Today, Innsbruck will be celebrating 10th anniversary of the Hungerburgbahn with events running throughout the winter with architectural tours included.

Hungerburgbahn in Innsbruck

All four stations fashion curvilinear geometries characteristic of Zaha Hadid Architects. Each form has been designed and customised to fit each site’s unique context, topography, altitude, and passenger circulation. Perhaps, the station’s most distinctive feature is the roof, portraying the gorgeous landscape meant to echo the natural ice formations of the alps. While simultaneously being reflections of the passenger circulation underneath.

Jaw-Dropping Station Design

Together with the contractor Strabag, Zaha Hadid Architects won the competition to build the Hungerburgbahn in 2005. Since its completion, the stations became widely known as the world’s largest structures made of double-curved glass. The project was soon shortlisted for the Stirling Prize by the Royal Institue of British Architects in 2008.

Since December 2007, over 4.5 million passengers have made more than 8 million journeys on the funicular railway between the centre of Innsbruck up the Nordkette mountain to Hungerburg.

In 2017 alone, over 600,000 passengers made 2.1 million journeys on the railway and used its four stations designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).

The Charm of Zhoushan’s Cloud Mansion in China

The Charm of Zhoushan’s Cloud Mansion in China

Perched on a hill of Zhoushan in China, this mansion is quite unconventional where the living environment looked very scattered and inadequate to build houses due to the land’s topography. It was said that 70 per cent of these houses in the village had been excavated with only two houses left vacant for nearly 70 years. But modern design can lend a fresh approach to transform these two vacant houses into one accommodation by bringing a garden and courtyard walkway across a pebbled path to make the ambience more welcoming.

They called this mansion the “Zhoushan Clouds Court” and we can see how the name was roughly derived. Indeed, the completed Mansion seemed like a huge cloud floating in the blue sky and using the right construction material, can provide a secure living space yet one with a multi-angled view, will probably make this house rather unique.

Comprised of bedrooms which were previously two old houses, and the studio had been converted from an old kitchen with collapsed roof to one that’s been replaced by a glass ceiling

The all surround beautiful views of the island village on the hillside

However flawed the site may be, look hard enough and you might just see the beauty of this whole island village from a different perspective. The massive glass panels provide a multi-angle “view”, allowing occupants to look out to the vast sea view picturesque.

Designed by Chinese-based architectural design firm, Evolutionary Space, the new house spanned over 265 sqm of area size and the project was completed in 2017. Set on a beautiful location with a sea facing view, the house is elevated approximately four metres above sea level and constructed of stone and reinforced concrete as the main structure to resist the extreme weather caused by the ocean erosion. Thus, giving the house the firmness of structure and complete safety.

From architect design ideas and sketches to realisation

The architects had a very challenging time throughout the entire design process, considering that they had a very short lead time to draw up a concrete plan between three to five days to propose the architectural, interior and landscape design to their client. They also had to carefully select the most appropriate construction materials that would suit the weather condition of the mainland island, which the designer considered key.

Ground level courtyard

For homeowners who love greenery and enjoy luxuriating in the open spaces or love gardening, the courtyard is a secluded spot for barbecue or become outdoor spaces for rarefield plants or kitchen herbs. Slightly nearer the end of the peaceful courtyard where the tall ceiling holds a swing set for meditative breaks, or enjoy the touch of breeze sweeping across the lawn on a sultry afternoon.

Upper level courtyard

There are two courtyards: one on the lower level and the other on the top level (pictured above) facing the sea. Courtyards have very serene and enchanting spaces where outdoor living flow freely out of its door; they can also provide respite away from the common noise and clutter of the world outside. This upper courtyard is expansive enough to place an outdoor ping pong table alongside the massive dining table for recreation purpose.

Woolsey outdoor ping pong table

This Woosley Outdoor Ping Pong Table is made with high pressured laminate and is laminated to a Russian Birch core, which is applauded for its durability, moisture and scratch resistance properties. This outdoor table can be easily transformed from a dining or conference table in just a matter of seconds, and can be ready for gameplay. Quick and easy to mount or unmount via quick bolts to the table, the ping pong table comes with two custom-made Burmese teak and maple paddles and three-star Japanese balls.

While the interior of the bedroom is expansive to house a bath as well as large-scale furnishings. Imagine how it feels like to cosy up and feel warm sitting next to the large pane of unobstructed glass on a rainy day, and watch the rain pitter patter while sipping to a cup of hot camomile tea. Life is beautiful!

The shape of this house is elongated horizontally, akin to the shape of a “container” in which the social home space can accommodate as many as 20 guests and it is huge enough to house a long sofa set and other smaller furniture pieces like a lounge chair, a coffee table made of white oak or solid teak that can add accents to the lounge area to evoke a sense of freshness and modernity.

Furnish the living hall with either a heritage HP-3 Headphones (left) or a heritage headphone amplifier to groove in to your favourite music. The first, delivers the legendary sound of Klipsch to its fullest capacity. With Klipsch, it’s not just about design, you’re taking home a piece of American audio heritage that has over 70 years of history rooted in its acoustic technology. The headphone amplifier has a low-level distortion and is ideal to enhance the quality of any headphone or audio system plugged into it. Made with genuine walnut veneer and encased in formed aluminum, the headphone amplifier is designed to exude a vintage feel to fit well with any interior. The audiophile features useful functions such as synchronous USB interface, dual amplifiers for balanced output, versatile inputs and outputs, including the anodised aluminium for great feel and tactile response.

Melding the new and old world’s influence is like unifying both mutual understanding and respect that maximise the effects aligned with harmonious coexistence, the current “aesthetic” and the old “relics” merging and common prosperity.

Wine and Brandy Distillery Museum & Warehouse for Alliance-1892

A Distillery Museum & Warehouse for Alliance-1892

This Distillery Museum & Warehouse is built on an empty lot next to a railroad in 2016. Constructed by Lead architects, Levon Ayrapetov, Valeriya Preobrazhenskaya, Diana Grekova and Yegor Legkov for Alliance-1892, the team was tasked to create something that is symbolic to creation and rebirth. The architects explored all the possible architectural elements and the plan they came up with was to demonstrate the role of the distillery in the life of the city.

“Based on the fact that brandy ultimately comes from grapevines, rich in Christian symbolism from the Tree of Life to the Blood of Christ,” the architects incorporated several literary symbols into the design. The project quickly evolved into the creation of a highly symbolic architectural ensemble, with the main function of the warehouse to store brandy barrels. Part of the complex is to serve both public functions and receptions.

The architects proceeded with the idea to conceptualise the lower part of the warehouse building symbolic to a Yin sign, which exudes the traits of deep, cool, low and internal. Like Mother Earth as a nurturing and childbearing woman, it is tightly bound to the earth, grows into and from it, protects and preserves the life within.

Literary symbols were used in the design to conjure up images of harmonious interaction among different symbols and signs

A lot of wood and metal are some of the paired symbols that formed the shape of The Distillery Museum and Warehouse buildings. Some of the symbols formed are the opposites such as internal and external, male and female, low and high and closed and open.

Pictured above, the other end of the wooden block was deliberately constructed to look like a high-volume triangle, which means the elements of both wood and metal, according to the works of the architects, they are meant to generate space between and inside themselves, jointly organising the space around them.

For example,  the architect approach the terms ‘preservation’ and ‘nurturing’ in the form of male and female. So, based on the feminine principle, ‘preservation’ and ‘nurturing’ embody a lot of “depth, darkness, naturalness, earth, heaviness and fullness, in contrast to the masculine ideas of presentation, show, productivity, rigidity and emptiness.”

Another interesting notion was ‘He’ and ‘She’ become mates who give birth to architectural form in space. “Moving around and between, far and near, one can see how these two forms move closer, merge, stand motionless for a fraction of an instant, then disconnect to play their part in a fascinating dance.”

Garden Enchanted: Villa Jardín in Mexico City’s west side

This outdoor apartment project called “Villa Jardín” is located on Mexico City’s west side, occupying the lower level of a building. Designed by ASP Arquitectura Sergio Portillo, the architecture firm is based in Mexico City and founded in 2014. In this project, the architects focus on contemporary practice of architecture and urbanism and approach the context and the environment by using only high-tech materials and quality regional products.

The southwest houses a private garden made of wood construction material that can make the garden feel more like a contemplative space instead of a confined high-rise terrace. The modern architectural outdoor space features three themes associated with mother nature: The first; shows a pool of water that symbolises the purification of the access space, while endowing the access with movement and sound. The second; consists of a garden of energy stones and the third; is a vegetable garden, designed to blend the gully’s natural vegetation with the terraces.

ASP Arquitectura Sergio Portillo had purposely incorporated elements into the design process to produce a series of specific, outdoor spaces whose function is directly related to the apartment’s indoor activity. The outdoor section is designed like a Garden Box to offer home owners a secluded respite or on this sheltered patio, allows the house to be opened to the breeze where people can gather to mingle and generate meaningful dialogues, just as it would a dialogue between the newly constructed building and its environment in the form of landscape and unifying indoors with outdoors.

The northeast holds two terraces joined by a pergola; the first features a living hall and a dining area. The vertical garden is built of wooden boxes reclaimed from the shoring system used in the construction. The second terrace rests on a lower overhang to exude a sense of deep connection with the landscape. There’s a staircase underneath the structure that connects the Garden Box to the larger living hall.

This open module is designed for an intimate interaction between the spectator and the garden, leading one from the main hall to the bedrooms, the TV room and kitchen. According to the ASP Arquitectura Sergio Portillo, the indoor section are designed to have a linear axis. This gives unobstructed access to the rooms, through the common and semi-private and private areas. Likewise, “the outdoor layout follows a parallel design; a wall runs along the axis that encloses and divides the areas based on the required activity.”

Tale As Old As Time: Austria’s krypt.bar in Wasagasse, Vienna

The counter plate features the European walnut and the lower part of the bar counter features the Sahara noir laurent gold marble in a mirrored pattern. | Images courtesy of David Schreyer

Down the lanes of Wasagasse, Vienna, there are empty street front shops and there’s an ancient heritage building on the location that existed since the late 18th century, in which the building has just been transformed into a cocktail and underground bar, which is quite an aesthetical gem.

BFA and Büro KLK Architects were tasked to convert the spaces within, playing around with the theme “Archeology in a Jazz Club” and breathe life into the venue again where visitors to the bar+club can lounge and chill out at ease.

According to the historical investigations, the heritage building was described as “a semi-legal establishment in the 50ies and 60ies in an era of Vienna’s flourishing jazz scene represented by names as Joe Zawinul or Fatty George.” To retain the old world’s charm, nothing needs to be reinvented but simply reveal the generic “genius loci”.

Due to some strict guidelines concerning the conservation of a historic building, the interior design works embraced a few challenges; the static structure, the ventilating pipes and other additional installations were cladded in gold composites, the krypt.bar sprawled over the long structural flooring made of Italian nero marquina marble and each tile had to be manually laid in a herringbone bond. Moreover, the structures within had to be secured with a load-bearing trussing in-line with the engineering requirements.


Sofa DS- 1025 by Ubald Klug are arranged with the brand-new bean bags by Alexander Wang for Poltrona Frau

But as with all such interior spaces, the whole idea is to bring illumination to the space. Distinct furniture and lighting element such as the Platner arm chairs by Knoll and the candle light designed by Ingo Maurer are placed in krypt.bar to exude an impression as if it was “directly carried out of a museum of international furniture design”.

Leading to the indoor bar lounge, the undecorated brick wall exudes a quiet and deep sense of aura greet the guests upon entering. There’s a mirrored vestibule to a “floating” staircase which was implemented in a contemporary style throughout the design to suggest a touch of “Sunset Boulevard”.

To create a “nearly surreal venue fallen out of times” impression, the interior designers constructed several alcoves, a hidden booth, secret hallways surround the centerpiece along with a small art gallery.


The project was completed in Spring 2017.


Half-Sunken into the Sea: Architects Snøhetta reveals plans for ‘Europe’s first underwater restaurant’

The semi-submerged building in Norway will function as a restaurant and a research centre for marine life

How often do we come across a complex yet eccentric architecture that is deliberately built to tilt, a futuristic apartment built to standout with its semi-rotation or even a person-made modern skyscraper built to a teetering angle?

Well, there are a few,  such as the Capital Gate tower currently under construction in Abu Dhabi, UAE, that leans four times as far as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, also better known as the church’s bell tower, and La Luciole Concert Hall in Alencon, France, an architecture construction showing two tilting “cylinder-looking” towers partly hidden underground.

But you’d have already known these.

While some building exteriors are indeed built to impress and show to the world the most astonishing sides of human’s civilisation, and how the relationships of both buildings and the reveal of a marvelous beauty from human’s inclinations towards art play a significant role in our landscapes today.

Snøhetta designs “Under”, Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant in Norway

Very soon, we will have Europe’s first underwater restaurant located at the southernmost point of Norway. Designed by Snøhetta, it will feature a semi-submerged building that will house a restaurant, marine research centre and artificial mussel reef.

“The sea bed facing the building will be optimised to encourage fish and shellfish to proliferate, and the walls themselves would act as an artificial mussel reef.” – According to the statement

“Under” in Norwegian’s context means very close to “wonder”, designed to emulate a concrete grey box with a restaurant able to accommodate up to 100 guests. According to Snøhetta, whether sliding into or out of the water, there’s a front-facing 11m x 4m panoramic glass panel, giving a view into the depths beyond.

Part of the restaurant will cater to biology research activities during the day to study marine biology and fish behaviour

Inspired by the coastal zone, the interior will feature subdued dark blue and green shades contrasting with warm oak and the 1m thick concrete on the outside

“Under” is another project within Oslo- and New York-based Snøhetta’s portfolio of waterside architecture works. They have also previously designed Times Square Reconstruction project in Manhattan, the Desmond Tutu memorial arch in Cape Town and the SFMOMA extension as well as the Norwegian Opera and Ballet.


Modern homes with unique architecture: Eccentric shapes and illusions dominate the designs

Gone are the days of you double window, single door, chimney houses. These days, the trick is to perfect the balance between design, functionality, and luxury — the ultimate home experience. From quirky locations to unorthodox shapes, these houses manage to blend both exquisite architecture with a taste of character. We take a look at some of these unique houses and their little quirks below!

The Wave House

Located along 1234 Morningside Way, Venice California is a house with a rather atypical shape. The Wave House bids adieu to your usual angular house designs and instead features a cascading white aluminium skin, emulating the movement of its namesake. Designed by architect Mario Romano, the organic structure is made up of 300 custom cut aluminium pieces, coming together to bring to life the fluid motion of waves. Rising two stories high, the house is 530 square meters, providing ample living space. Adopting an open concept, most of the house’s interior spaces such as the living room opens out towards the outdoor patio and pool. Because of the countless fin like tiles layered atop one another, the shadows cast throughout the day are constantly evolving.

Shell Residence

Nestled in the Karuizawa Forest in Nagano, Japan, are two oblong spheres that make up the Shell Residence. Made of reinforced concrete, the two-story shell shaped structure contrasts against the natural environment of the forest. Commissioned by Japanese architect Kotaro Ide, the house was made with the intention to co-exist within the harsh conditions of Karuizawa. Openings in the ceiling allow for natural light to stream in, creating an ambience that is tranquil. Staying true to traditional Japanese design, the interiors are dressed in earthy elements. Deck wood is used for the patio while cherry hardwood flooring lines both levels. Natural light is allowed to filter in through gaps in the ceiling, creating a warm environment for guests to lounge in. In essence, this house is both a contrast, as well as a part of nature, melding elements of nature into its simple aesthetic.

The Flying House

Upon first look, it’s difficult to see where this house starts and ends with sloping ridges and peaks. Built for a pilot and his family, the Flying House in Incheon, South Korea is an aviation themed home designed by IROJE KHM Architects. Painted in white hues, this 195 square meter space is brightened with semi-sheer roof canopies. In addition, each room opens out to the garden, creating an airy sensation throughout the structure. Traditional Korean elements such as the Rumaru pavilion meld into the contemporary design of flowing spaces and climbable terraces, bringing harmony to the space. The minimalistic design coupled with a hint of green throughout the house lifts the house to new heights.

House On The Cliff

Now, this house is a sight to behold! Constructed on a hill with an inclination of 42 degrees, The House On The Cliff resembles a villain’s lair. The most interesting portion of this house is its zinc roof. Made up of many overlapping zinc tiles, the house is part of an illusion itself. When seen from above, the roof tiles emulate waves of the sea. Yet, when seen below, they resemble the scales of a dragon. Designed by GilBartolome Architects, the two-story house is an architectural feat on its own, having to meld into the face of the cliff whilst still maintaining its status as a luxury abode. The unusual location, however, is a blessing in disguise, gifting guests with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Pole House

One of Australia’s most iconic homes, The Pole House is a spectacular piece of property with an even better view. Perched atop a 132-foot pole along Great Ocean Road, the house overlooks Fairhaven Beach and the ocean. Accessible only by a 76-foot glass balustrades bridge, you will no doubt feel as though you’re walking on air. Many have been awed by the illusion of the floating house, which had been built before the 1970s. Recently refurbished and renovated, the house is now a magnificent holiday home with a gorgeous 360-degree view of the coastline. Two walls of the house face the sea and have been replaced with floor to ceiling high glass panels, making the home the ultimate private paradise for a quiet getaway. A fun fact: The pole and foundation of the home were so strong that the entire base structure survived one of Australia’s worst bushfires in 1983. Talk about being in tip-top shape!

Chinese contemporary architecture: Reinterpreting traditional designs in the modern, urban China

A bird’s nest, a boot, a pair of trousers — some of China’s most infamous contemporary buildings resemble everyday objects more than edifices. And together, they have embodied China’s desire, throughout the latest building boom, to assert its superpower status through an extraordinary built environment.

But this flamboyant approach to design is poised to change. The Communist Party recently announced offensives against “bizarre” architecture and Beijing has unveiled rules making it harder for “strange” buildings to be given planning permission. Included in the new guidelines, released in a statement from China’s State Council last year, is a ban on buildings devoid of character or cultural heritage. Instead, the directive calls for buildings that are “economic, green and beautiful”.

The announcement made waves in the architecture and design worlds and was widely reported in the international media. But for many Chinese architecture firms the decree was far from revolutionary: for years, local studios have been quietly designing restrained buildings that are sensitive to their historical and urban contexts.

Beijing’s Haiting Villa townhouse by Arch Studio balances layering of wood with spare interiors.

Yung Ho Chang, an early pioneer of contemporary Chinese architecture established China’s first private architecture firm, Atelier FCJZ in 1993 and has long emphasised the need for architectural vernacular that is rooted in China. “Today, we have too many buildings in China that may look fashionable on the outside… and not at all connected with their locales”, the architect told me in 2012.

Chang’s most famous residence is the Split House. Unveiled at the 2002 Venice Biennial as part of Pan Shi Yi’s Commune by the Great Wall, it was one of the first projects of its scale that relied on Asian designers rather than Western “starchitects”. Poised on a steep slope, it is literally split in half, with a short glass bridge joining its two sides and forming a V-shaped plan that opens to the hillside. In many respects, the house is Chang’s take on the traditional Chinese courtyard dwelling. “When you see it from the outside, the house seems withdrawn, like any other courtyard house”, Chang describes, “But inside, you realise that it, in fact, is totally open to nature”.

Wang Shu, another pioneer of contemporary Chinese design, set up his Hangzhou studio, Amateur Architecture, with his wife Lu Wenyu in 1997 with the express aim of returning to traditional techniques of craftsmanship. The architect, who was later awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, spent nearly a decade travelling to the countryside to remote villages to learn about traditional building techniques and he incorporated traditional motifs and materials such as bamboo, wood and recycled bricks into his own designs.

META-project’s Courtyard by the Sea adapts a traditional dwelling to modern lifestyles

One of his early residential projects, the Vertical Courtyard, also references historic lane and courtyard homes. Wang contemporized the traditional building typology by turning the quadrangle on its side and creating double-height courtyards on every floor. “Every family has a courtyard and a roof”, Wang says of the project. “And even though the building is 100m tall, it still maintains the feeling of living only two floors high”.

This detail is important to Wang, who believes that much of modern architecture is too concerned with the building and not its inhabitants and how they actually live and feel. Building at a human scale remains crucial given China’s rapid rate of urbanisation and its ballooning megacities. And, following in the footsteps of the early pioneers, a number of design studios are addressing this and other challenges by drawing from the Chinese vernacular.

ZAO/standardarchitecture which is based in Beijing, recently completed the Micro Yuan’er project, an adaptive reuse initiative that introduces a series of micro spaces, a children’s library, an art space, dance studio and craft studio, into the darshilar neighbourhood and thereby attempts to preserve the many layers of traditional hutong (a lane or alley in a traditional residential area of a Chinese city, especially Beijing) life.

The attitude toward Beijing’s courtyard dwellings has typically swung between total eradication and a kind of static preservation. With this project, Zhang Ke, founder of standard architecture aimed instead to recognise the unique topography of courtyard living that developed in Beijing over the past 60 years and he considers the project a statement about how China should treat its urban history. “Altogether [the many components] keep, maintain and conserve the special quality of this big messy courtyard”, he says. “It becomes a place people feel used to, but they clearly realise something contemporary is going on”.

The Niyang River Visitor Center in Tibet, by ZAO/standardarchitecture

Zhang believes that re-imagining the courtyard, which is at the centre of traditional Chinese culture, could help to propel China’s new phase of building. “I think it could generate a new revolution in urban renewal in China if we start with courtyards—the traditional dwelling units—which is a biological study where you do genetic research of cells then new forms of life can be created”.

When it comes to luxury residences, local design studios are also eschewing American-style suburban mansions and instead re-interpreting traditional Chinese dwellings for contemporary lifestyles. Beijing-based studio META-Project recently completed a renovation of Courtyard near West Sea for a client who wanted the building to accommodate a variety of programs, including a teahouse, dining and party space, office and living areas. The firm’s solution was a design that moves between the traditional, introverted qualities of a courtyard house, and contemporary, extroverted areas that encourage social interaction. “Intervention in the hutongs needs to be based on the true understanding of life and culture…instead of rigid protection to its physical appearance”, the studio says.

Even China’s industrial architecture is taking reference from history. Beijing’s Arch Studio is perhaps best known for the Haitang Villa, an elegant townhouse that blends indoor and outdoor spaces and balances layering of wood with spare interiors. But the firm also recently completed a 60,000 square foot organic farmhouse in Tangshan that is influenced by traditional courtyard buildings.

The firm’s idea was to create a magnified version of a courtyard house with a self-contained and flexible workspace that formed a harmonious connection with the surrounding flat fields. The resulting structure is made up of material storage, a mill, an oil-pressing workshop and a packing area. There is an external corridor at the boundary of the building that connects the four areas and an inner courtyard that spans out randomly around the building and lets in light and air. The structure also sits in a 60cm cement base, a method of moisture-proofing the wood, which makes the farm look as if it is softly floating above the fields.

“I think the current status quo of China, with more reflection and possibilities, is even more exciting than the previous period of wild development”, says Zhang Ke. Subtle architecture may not grab headlines, but it does tend to outlast the more garish designs. And with the Chinese government backing projects that exhibit restraint and cultural specificity, the next phase of construction may end up producing more long-lasting structures that improve the lives of those who inhabit and interact with them.

This article was first published in Palace 19.

Interview with designer Aldwin Ong of Wilson Associates

In his own words, Aldwin Ong started his career in design from humble educational beginnings. However, he was always pushing the envelope in where he gained his inspiration. From outside passions away from the industry, to attending classes unrelated to his field during university, his thirst for knowledge has given him a different insight. Based in Singapore with Wilson Associates, he has worked on diverse hotel projects such as the Four Seasons Serengeti and the New World Hotel in Beijing, experiences which give him an excellent viewpoint on the changing design landscape of the region.

What inspired you to take the leap into the industry?

Early on in my career, I had the pleasure of meeting a client who wanted to create the “best” hotel in honour of his late wife. It was his legacy to her. The tides were against him; time, the Asian financial crisis, and family and friends who did not share the same faith that he could complete his dream. Every single detail was scrutinised as I toiled with him for 18 hours a day to make his dream a reality. The experience I felt when we successfully opened the hotel was immeasurable. This further spurred my drive to give each project my ultimate effort.

What is a driving force in your design ethos?

I’ve always been fascinated by relationships and diversity. It is remarkable to see such a range of worldly cultures and yet to find a homogenous connection between them too. One can see it when travelling to remote destinations, only to see a familiar corner, or smell a particular scent that gives a sense of belonging. Best of all is in the common denomination of how food culture is experienced. The spirit of hospitality in every culture is communal; it has no divide. I’ve always wanted to capture that experience, so hospitality design was a natural inclination for me. I want to create designs with a soul.

Do you have a particular mentor who challenges and inspires you?

Four Seasons Serengeti

Architectural visionaries such as Mies Van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Tadao Ando; industry design leaders as Tony Chi, Yabu Pushelberg; and gastronomy mavericks like Heston Blumenthal. Each of these individuals do not compromise on the quality of their work and fight hard (despite obstacles in life) to aim for their ultimate goal; achieve the highest possible level of quality, and breaking boundaries.

Where do you draw your ideas from?

Design should be organic and unrestrictive. It does not mean that we do not conform to standards or rules, but guidelines need to be challenged. It is important to engage the client in this process and see how far we can go. By drawing upon stories that surround the locality– a colour, perhaps a game or even the direct opposite of what is expected– we take the client on a journey to discover and unravel layers in our design. We like to re-invent, and we like to play with contrasts; calm and frenzy, nostalgic and provocative, black and white. Lastly, details, details, details; I’m a self-professed control freak. I’m still under therapy for this!

Away from the studio, you are a prolific chef. How does the gourmet and the designer combine?

There is a fascinating symbiotic relationship between a chef and a designer. Both are passionate about their creations, take immeasurable time and effort to search for the perfect concept, then test, re-test and finally craft the “dishes” to solicit the ultimate response from the guest. It is interesting to see how chefs and designers hide in the background, hands clenched just anticipating how their work will be received.

Just like in design, I do not have a signature style or dish. I let my inspiration, audience and the moment influence what I create. When we conform, it makes us victims of cookie-cutter techniques.

You are also a keen photographer. Do you draw on this passion in your “day job” too?

Swimming pool at the Hilton Jinan

Photography, for me, is a way to capture feelings. In another life, I would be a portrait photographer as I find human emotions the most fascinating subjects to focus on. I draw on both of my passions and many many other influences every second I am conceptualising my designs. My culinary and photography obsessions guide me to study material or design proportions carefully as an incorrect furniture size or scale can destroy an entire space. It takes a while to ensure every piece fits the puzzle.

What will have the greatest impact on architectural design in the near future?

Interconnectivity is key; areas need to be multivalent. Spaces are becoming a prime commodity so they need to be multi-functional and able to fold and unfold into varying functions. Social media is dictating social behaviour. People do things at the same time and in shorter periods, so design needs to reflect that. I try to go beyond skin-deep approaches in design by trying to study social trends and human behaviour and so I need to integrate these social developments in my projects. Technology has, and always will be, a major factor in how humans interact and that dictates how we sculpt spaces. technology will be more integrated so we need to work out how to innovate this. Architects are supposed to be social sculptors and are often asked to create utopia. We may not be able to predict the future, but we can anticipate the wants, desires and needs of the people.

This article was first published in Palace 19.

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

Parisian Louvre pyramid designer I.M. Pei turns 100

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

The Louvre Pyramid, designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum

The Chinese-American designer endured a roasting from critics before the giant glass structure opened in 1989, with up to 90 percent of Parisians said to be against the project at one point.

“I received many angry glances in the streets of Paris,” Pei later said, confessing that “after the Louvre I thought no project would be too difficult.”

Yet in the end even that stern critic of modernist “carbuncles”, Britain’s Prince Charles, pronounced it “marvellous”.

And the French daily Le Figaro, which had led the campaign against the “atrocious” design, celebrated its genius with a supplement on the 10th anniversary of its opening.

Pei’s masterstroke was to link the three wings of the world’s most visited museum with vast underground galleries bathed in light from his glass and steel pyramid.

It also served as the museum’s main entrance, making its subterranean concourse bright even on the most overcast of days.

Pei, who grew up in Hong Kong and Shanghai before studying at Harvard with the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, was not the most obvious choice for the job, having never worked on a historic building before.

But the then French president Francois Mitterrand was so impressed with his modernist extension to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC that he insisted he was the man for the Louvre.

The Socialist leader was in the midst of attempting to transform Paris with a series of architectural “grands projets” that included the Bastille Opera and the Grand Arch of La Defense.

Already in his mid-60s and an established star in the United States for his elegant John F. Kennedy Library and Dallas City Hall, nothing had prepared Pei for the hostility of the reception his radical plans would receive.

He needed all his tact and dry sense of humour to survive a series of encounters with planning officials and historians.

One meeting with the French historic monuments commission in January 1984 ended in uproar, with Pei unable even to present his ideas.

“You are not in Dallas now!” one of the experts shouted at him during what he recalled was a “terrible session”, where he felt the target of anti-Chinese racism.

Not even Pei’s winning of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the “Nobel of architecture” in 1983, seemed to assuage his detractors.

Jack Lang, who was French culture minister at the time, told AFP he is still “surprised by the violence of the opposition” to Pei’s ideas.

As the Louvre is the former palace of the country’s kings, Lang notes that “the pyramid is right at the centre of a monument central to the history of France“.

“The project also came at a time of fierce ideological clashes” between the left and right, he added.

The Louvre’s then director, Andre Chabaud, resigned in 1983 in protest at the “architectural risks” Pei’s vision posed.

The present incumbent, however, is in no doubt that the pyramid is a masterpiece that helped turn the museum around.

Jean-Luc Martinez is all the more convinced of the fact having worked with Pei over the last few years to adapt his plans to cope with the museum’s growing popularity.

Pei’s original design was for up to two million visitors a year. Last year the Louvre welcomed nearly nine million.

For Martinez the pyramid is “the modern symbol of the museum”, he said, “an icon on the same level” as the Louvre’s most revered artworks “the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace”.

The Eiffel Tower, now synonymous with Paris, faced opposition during the time of its construction

The Eiffel Tower, now synonymous with Paris, faced opposition during the time of its construction

Pei is not alone in being savaged for changing the cherished landscape of Paris.

In 1887, a group of intellectuals that included Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant published a letter in the newspaper Le Temps to protest at the building of the “useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower“, an “odious column of sheet metal with bolts”.

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Brutalist Sydney Map: Exploring architecture and design of Brutalist buildings

Molecular Science and Biochemistry building, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Molecular Science and Biochemistry building, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

The Brutalist architecture aesthetic has always provoked extreme reactions. Considered “concrete eyesores” in the past, the perspective has shifted considerably, yielding a rising popularity and even a “design icon” status. London-based independent city guide publisher Blue Crow Media has accordingly placed a spotlight on this genre. A Brutalist guide to Sydney was released Monday (following three previous Brutalist maps of London, Paris, Washington; a Brutalist Boston Map will also be available in Spring 2017). The publisher has also released other internationally-minded maps highlighting urban Art Deco and Constructivism.

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Sydney Town Hall, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Each two-sided guide includes a map, an introduction to the movement in the city, and stark black-and-white photographs. Details for each building include the precise location and the architects or practice responsible for the construction.

The Brutalist Sydney Map encompasses 50 of the most significant examples, within the city and suburbs. Lesser-known structures include the Buhrich House II (conceived by the émigré architects Hugh and Eva Buhrich) and the Eastern Suburbs Railway Vents (attributed to Mansfield Jarvis and Maclurcan). There are edifices that may need to be commemorated through the photographs, like the Sirius Apartments, by Tao Gofers and the former New South Wales (NSW) Housing Commission (likely to be sold without heritage listing), and Bidura Children’s Court, by former NSW Government Architect (now sold and likely to be demolished).

Bidura Children's Court, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Bidura Children’s Court, Brutalist Sydney Map. Image courtesy of Glenn Harper

Brutalism by the mid-1970s was well-adopted within the architectural practices of Sydney. The city’s luminous disposition seemed an ideal setting to highlight the textured surfaces of this architectural approach. Key to the adoption of this was the NSW Government Architect and the design architects of the NSW Public Works Department. The range of public projects in this style was pushed forward through collaborations with European-trained émigré architects.

Glenn Harper, a Senior Associate Architect and urban designer at Sydney’s PTW Architects, founded @Brutalist_Project_Sydney, and documented this aesthetic for the guide.

Charting the evolution of Bulgari B.zero1 ring and introducing B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Over a decade ago, Bulgari established the B.zero1 ring, inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. It was named B.zero1, to symbolise the “B” of Bulgari and the zero.1 of infinite beginnings.

The B.zero1 ring has since evolved into an iconic collection for Bulgari, engendering numerous reinventions, such as the 2010 B.zero1 designs by Anish Kapoor in celebration of the collection’s decennial. It has come to embody charisma, allure, independence, and spiritedness. In October 2016, the Smithsonian Institution declared the B.zero1 ring a “jewel of extraordinary design” in their compendium, ‘Gem: The Definitive Visual Guide’.

This year, Bulgari presents the B.zero1 Design Legend, conceptualised by the late Zaha Hadid. The Iraqi-British architect is well known for her daring ideas and the signature curves in her many architectural projects all over the world. These have garnered her many awards throughout her career, including the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, for which she was the first female recipient, and the Stirling Prize in both 2010 and 2011.

Art Republik discusses the B.zero1 Design Legend with Maha Kutay, Director at Zaha Hadid Design, to find out more the collaboration between Bulgari and Zaha Hadid, and the inspiration behind the ring’s design.

How would you summarise Zaha Hadid’s vision in architecture and other works? Moving forward, how will her vision influence the works of the firm?

Zaha’s vision undoubtedly redefined architecture and design for the 21st century and captured imaginations across the globe. Marrying concepts of integration and connectivity with technological advancements, ecologically sound materials and sustainable construction methods, she has never looked at the disparate parts, but worked hard to understand them as a whole, to raise standards and benefit all.

Zaha taught us to work with curiosity, integrity, passion and determination, and everyone at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) is committed to continuing this legacy.

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

How did Zaha Hadid come to work with Bulgari for the B.zero1 Design Legend?

The discussion for this collaboration took place at the launch of the Serpenti Installation at the Bulgari Hotel in Milan in April 2015, when Zaha Hadid and Bulgari’s CEO Jean Christophe Babin first discussed the idea.

B.zero1 seemed to be the perfect project for a reinterpretation of its original design. As the original B.zero1 design was based on an architectural icon — the ColosseumBulgari decided to start this new collaboration with Zaha Hadid, one of the most renowned architects of our time.

Hadid looked back to the classical design of the Colosseum and reinterpreted it for her design of the B.zero1. How else has she looked back and reinvented past designs in her own style so that they become cutting-edge designs of today?

Not really; rather than being tied to a specific building, I would say that the inspiration comes from a variety of elements we have used and still use in the development of our architectural concepts: repetition; linearity; fluidity; explosion and vortex motion. We are always investigating existing ideas and established traditions — especially in this case, considering Bulgari’s bold and distinctive heritage — but then we reinterpret those ideas into something new.

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid pendant in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid pendant in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

What is it about fragmentation and abstraction that captured Zaha Hadid’s imagination for her work?

Zaha studied architecture at the Architectural Association where, at that time, they were addressing and deconstructing ideas of repetitiveness and mass production, and she became interested in the concept of fragmentation and with ideas of abstraction and explosion. Her work first engaged with the early Russian avant-garde — the paintings of Moholy-Nagy, El Lissitzky’s ‘Prouns’ and Naum Gabo’s sculptures, but in particular with the work of Kasimir Malevitch. Malevitch was an early influence for her as a representative of the modern avant-garde intersection between art and design; he discovered abstraction as a heuristic principle that could propel creative work to new and higher levels of invention.

The Evolution of the B.zero1 Ring


"Bib" necklace in gold with emeralds, amethysts, turquoises and diamonds, 1965.

“Bib” necklace in gold with emeralds, amethysts, turquoises and diamonds, 1965. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Amidst 1950s diamond-focused designs, Bulgari begins fashioning rebellious creations with semi-precious and precious stones together, inventing an unprecedented style with colour combinations.


"Tubogas" bracelet-watch in gold, ca 1972.

“Tubogas” bracelet-watch in gold, ca 1972. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari pursued the metamorphosis of bijouterie through the materialisation of motifs which employed atypical constituents, such as steel, silk, and ancient coins.

In addition, Bulgari unveiled the inaugural Serpenti Tubogas timepiece. Tubogas, or the mechanisms extrinsic to soldiering employed to construct bands of smooth, elegant curves, developed into a representative technique of Bulgari’s in the sixties.


Bulgari B.zero1. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari B.zero1. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari debuted the B.zero1 ring. The ring was impelled by Bulgari’s appetency with the capital of Italy and the structure of the Colosseum. The inaugural B.zero1 was well received by jewellery aficionados, who characterised the ring as timeless and sui generis.


Several other variations of the B.zero1 ring as well as pendants, earrings and bracelets were introduced.


Bulgari B.zero1 pink gold and steel ring by Anish Kapoor. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari B.zero1 pink gold and steel ring by Anish Kapoor. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 was reinterpreted by British sculptor Anish Kapoor. To commemorate B.zero1’s tenth anniversary, Anish Kapoor transformed the original tubogas-inspired spiral into a layer of shiny, mirror-like appearance, integrating contemporary art with B.zero1’s distinctive character.


B.zero1 pink gold and blue marble four-band ring. Image courtesy of Bulgari

B.zero1 pink gold and blue marble four-band ring. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The noteworthy B.zero1 marble ring collection was revealed, which harmonised the external bands of pink gold with the exceptional green, brown and blue marble.


B.zero1 Roma pink gold and bronze ceramic four-band ring. Image courtesy of Bulgari

B.zero1 Roma pink gold and bronze ceramic four-band ring. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 Roma Ring was released in celebration of Bulgari’s anniversary of 130 years, featuring bronze ceramic enclosed in pink gold bands, which evoke the monolithic structures of Italy’s capital.


B.zero1 in pink gold and black ceramic with pavé diamonds along the edges. Image courtesy of Bulgari

B.zero1 in pink gold and black ceramic with pavé diamonds along the edges. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Bulgari presented the gamesome B.zero1 ceramic ring collection, enhanced with pavé diamonds on the edges highlighting the stylish motif of the circular double logo. The B.zero1 ceramic ring collection, informed by clean lines, elegance and finesse, paid homage to the Bulgari Chandra collection, launched in 1994.


B.zero1 Perfect Mistake. Image courtesy of Bulgari

B.zero1 Perfect Mistake. Image courtesy of Bulgari

One of the most recent additions to the B.zero1 collection is the B.zero1 Perfect Mistake, which blossomed from a second prototype devised much earlier in 1999, that did not quite turn out the way it was intended, but seemed perfect to revisit for 2016. B.zero1 Perfect Mistake harmoniously amalgamates pink, white, and yellow gold, and exemplifies the conversion of a creative mistake into resplendent imperfection.

Additionally, the B.zero1 bracelet form materialised through a third prototype, which constituted a band that received maximum extension or stretching. The B.zero1 bangle bracelet expresses adventure, with nuances of delicacy.


B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid 4-band ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid four-band ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

This year, Bulgari incorporates an adaptation of the inceptive B.zero1 ring by Zaha Hadid into the collection. The collection’s latest addition is cleped the B.zero1 Design Legend. Distinguishing the central body of the ring are oscillating waves framed by B.zero1’s signature two exterior bands.

The B.zero1 Design Legend has been unveiled in a four-band, pink gold manifestation alongside three-band versions in white or pink gold, and an avant-garde pendant in pink gold. The design incorporates the two Bulgari hallmarks — the BVLGARI double logo and the tubogas motif, in a deconstruction of its inaugural predecessor, and stretching the boundaries of bijouterie design.

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

The B.zero1 Design Legend by Zaha Hadid ring in pink gold. Image courtesy of Bulgari

Zaha Hadid’s Projects in Asia

The Peak Leisure Club, Hong Kong, Not Realised

The Peak Leisure Club, Hong Kong, Not Realised, Zaha Hadid Architects. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

The Peak Leisure Club, Hong Kong, Not Realised, Zaha Hadid Architects. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

In 1982-1983, Zaha Hadid won a competition to design a building divergent to existing skyscapes in Hong Kong. This design secured the architect global recognition. Her painted impressions of the Peak transpired from her voyage across China in 1981.

The Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, Completed in 2010

The Guangzhou Opera House, Completed in 2010, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Virgile Simon Bertrand

The Guangzhou Opera House, Completed in 2010, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Virgile Simon Bertrand

The Guangzhou Opera House took five years to complete. The double boulder structure represents two stones deposited on shore from the Pearl River. The stunningly detailed Guangzhou Opera House comprises a large performance hall which seats 1800 people and a multipurpose hall designed to seat 400.

Galaxy SOHO , Beijing, Completed in 2012

Galaxy SOHO, Beijing, Completed in 2012, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Hufton+Crow Photographers

Galaxy SOHO, Beijing, Completed in 2012, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Hufton+Crow Photographers

The Galaxy SOHO was Zaha Hadid’s inaugural project in China’s capital. Its construction generated controversy over the compromise of heritage in favour of modern development. Conceived with the intention to provide seamless access between retail spaces and office spaces, the project showcases the architect’s skillful play with unconventional shapes, geometry and lines.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, Completed in 2013

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, Completed in 2013, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Virgile Simon Bertrand

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, Completed in 2013, Zaha Hadid Architects. Photography by Virgile Simon Bertrand

The proposal for the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or the DDP, conceptualised by Zaha Hadid and Samoo Architects and Engineers Construction, won a global design competition in 2007. The futuristic structure, which incorporates art halls, a museum, design labs and the Dongdaemun History and Cultural Park amongst other amenities, realised over seven years.

The Sleuk Rith Institute, Phnom Penh, Detailed Design Stage

The Sleuk Rith Institute, Phnom Penh, Detailed Design Stage, South Facade and Memorial Park, Zaha Hadid Architects. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

The Sleuk Rith Institute, Phnom Penh, Detailed Design Stage, South Facade and Memorial Park, Zaha Hadid Architects. Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

The Sleuk Rith Institute was designed in 2014 as the site for documents relating to the devastating legacy of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The Institute is determined to learn from Cambodia’s past in order to heal and shape Cambodia’s future, and Zaha Hadid Architects have provided a design that pays respect to the Institute’s mission while diverging from conventional monument forms.

This article is written by the Art Republik Editorial Team and was originally published in Art Republik 14.

Immerse yourself in the Bulgari B.zero1 Design Legend Virtual Reality Experience at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Singapore from today to April 12.

Architecture exhibitions in Berlin: ‘Mind Landscapes’ on architect Zhu Pei to open at the Aedes Architectural Forum

Yang Liping Performing Arts Center in Dali, Yunnan, China | © Studio Zhu-Pei

Yang Liping Performing Arts Center in Dali, Yunnan, China | © Studio Zhu-Pei

Beijing-based Zhu Pei is part of a new generation of Chinese architects offering solutions to the country’s urbanization. An upcoming exhibition in Berlin will look at the architect’s approaches through five of his cultural buildings, seen in models, plans and films as well as his striking ink drawings. The exhibition, ‘Mind Landscapes’, runs from April 1 to May 28 at Berlin’s Aedes Architectural Forum, an institution devoted to contemporary architecture.

The show will feature projects that merge local narratives and traditional forms of expression with a new visual language, says the Forum. The five buildings to be featured, all currently under construction in China, include the Yang Liping Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, both in Dali, the Shijingshan Cultural Center in Beijing, the Shou County Culture and Art Center in Anhui province, and the Museum of Imperial Kiln in Jingdezhen.

While tackling urban growth, Zhu Pei’s work draws from traditional aesthetic concepts of space and structure, allowing him to create solutions that are specific to their location and region. The result, say organizers of the upcoming exhibition, are buildings with “a specific character within a contemporary architectural form.”

Zhu Pei studied architecture in Beijing and California and in 2005 founded Studio Zhu-Pei, known for its work on the Cai Guoqiang Courtyard House renovation in Beijing (2007), the OCT Design Museum in Shenzhen (2012) and, more recently, Beijing’s Minsheng Art Museum (2015).

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Museums to visit in Portugal: MAAT in Lisbon opens its doors in a new building with 2 exhibitions

After an initial opening in October, MAAT the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon reopens to the public on March 22 with two exhibitions that will show off the entirety of the new museum building.

Designed by the architecture and design studio AL_A, the museum is housed in a brand-new, low-slung structure that joins a recently renovated power station, together making up a greater art campus.

Located on the Tagus river in the neighbourhood of Belém, the MAAT building is designed so that visitors can walk over, under and through it. Inside, it contains four gallery spaces under an undulating roof, while outside, new public spaces have been created both atop the roof and along the water. The facade is made up of nearly 15,000 crackle-glazed tiles that capture the changing light.

MAAT is being completed in phases, and the first phase opened to the public on October 5. With this reopening, the museum will reveal its four galleries, a restaurant and further public spaces; also still to come are a park and a pedestrian bridge linking the campus and waterfront to the city.

Opening March 22 and ending April 24, ‘Utopia/Dystopia: A Paradigm Shift’ is being called a “manifesto exhibition” for the new museum examining how ideas of utopia and dystopia have been represented in art and architecture since the 1970s, and especially in the last five years. More than 60 works will be featured in the large group show, including Archigram, Archizoom, Didier Faustino, Yona Friedman and Aldo Rossi, as well as artists Kader Attia, Cao Fei, Cyprien Gailard and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Running from opening day through April 24 will be a new version of the performance/installation ‘Order and Progress’ by Héctor Zamora, for which the remains of traditional Portuguese fishing boats will occupy MAAT’s Oval Gallery.

Among the museum’s future programming, three exhibitions will open on May 17 to coincide with the second edition of ARCOLisboa.