Tag Archives: Architecture

ART REPUBLIK Issue 14 released in time for Art Basel Hong Kong 2017

Art Republik Issue 14

‘Crossover’ – ART REPUBLIK 14 is out now.

In this ‘Crossover’ issue, which marks a change in editorship, ART REPUBLIK shines a spotlight on artists whose work push and cross boundaries.

ART REPUBLIK is bringing themes back with this ‘Crossover’ issue, to mark the change in editorship, and more importantly, to explore how contemporary artmaking increasingly relates to other creative fields such as architecture, design and music. One such story in the new issues is that of the B.Zero1 ring by Bulgari. For 2017, the luxury brand unveiled the new design that had been conceptualised by celebrated architect, the late Zaha Hadid.

Under new managing editor Nadya Wang, ART REPUBLIK refreshes its focus on the artworld in Southeast Asia from its vantage point in Singapore, with an eye on Asia and the rest of the world.

As ART REPUBLIK continues to champion emerging artists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the magazine plans to provide a more inclusive and expansive exploration of the art world, from public museums to commercial galleries, from policy-makers to artists as activists, and how they all connect to each other.

With the theme ‘Crossover’, the stories in the issue celebrate the openness and achievements of the people who embrace new fields, styles and ideas to make art. A special feature reveals the sources of inspiration five Southeast Asian artists look to, including Robert Zhao Ren Hui, Eiffel Chong, Alwin Reamillo, Zoncy and Anon Pairot.

Other artists featured in this issue include Filipino artist Ronald Ventura, Singapore avant-garde music performer Margaret Leng Tan, as well as the late Chinese photographer Ren Hang, among others.

Given the diversity of the art scenes in Southeast Asia and beyond, the magazine will include articles from more contributing writers, for fresh perspectives from individuals on the ground who are in the know. In the same vein, there will be more columns, from art law to the art market, to seek the views of industry experts on current trends and concerns. For this issue, read about the rise of the Vietnamese art market, as well as the new trend in corporate artist-in-residence programmes.

ART REPUBLIK 14 will debut at Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central. Previews of the art fairs are complemented by top picks for Hong Kong Art Week events, such as the ‘L’Arche de Noé racontée par Van Cleef & Arpels’ installation at the Asia Society Hong Kong, and ‘Zaha Hadid: There Should Be No End to Experimentation’ at ArtisTree in Hong Kong. There are also reviews of art events in the region, including Art Fair Philippines, Galleries’ Night Bangkok, and Art Stage Singapore.

“While we strive to inform, we also aim to entertain with more light-hearted thematic features and regular additions to the magazine. In addition, we have redesigned the magazine to make it lighter and sleeker while staying true to ART REPUBLIK’s bright, fresh and lively identity,” says Nadya Wang, Managing Editor of ART REPUBLIK. “We remain committed to making art accessible to one and all, and we look forward to growing the magazine with your support.”

Mr. Olivier Burlot, CEO & Publisher at Heart Media, comments: “The ‘Crossover’ issue represents the ART REPUBLIK team’s efforts to engage more closely and creatively with the art community to put in the spotlight the very best the region has to offer through a thematic approach. Exciting times ahead for the magazine!”

Visit ART REPUBLIK’s digital page, for more art news. The tablet edition of ART REPUBLIK is also available for subscription on all Google Play and Apple Newsstands via Magzter, which is supported on all Android and Apple smart devices.

Follow ART REPUBLIK on Instagram (@art_republik), where a new social campaign has been launched, anchored by themed posts thrice weekly: #MustSeeMondays (new art exhibitions and events to check out), #WayBackWhenesdays (noteworthy art historical facts) and #FeatureFridays (people to watch in the artworld).

Kensington Gardens, London hosts Serpentine Pavillion 2017 designed by architect Diébédo Francis Kéré

Architect Diébédo Francis Kéré

African architect Diébédo Francis Kéré has been chosen to design the annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion located in London’s Kensington Gardens. The Burkina Faso-born architect is the 17th architect to take on the task of designing a temporary structure on the grounds of the Serpentine Galleries. Inspired by a tree that serves as a central meeting point in his hometown of Gand, Kéré aims to connect visitors to nature and provide a space for community bonding. Kéré’s Serpentine Pavilion will be open from June 23 to October 8.

The design is marked by an expansive wooden roof that mimics a tree canopy and is supported by a central intricate steel framework. Enclosed by several curving blue walls as well as wooden blocks in a tessellated pattern, the design is reminiscent of textiles worn by young men from Kéré’s village. The roof, while providing shelter from rain, allows airs to circulate freely, providing shade on sunnier afternoons.

 Kéré makes the British climate a central element of his design, with a structure that engages with London’s ever-changing weather. An open air courtyard in the center invites visitors to sit on sunny days; when rain strikes, an oculus funnels water that collects on the roof to create a waterfall effects. The roof and the wall system are made from wood and create dappled shadows by day, while by night the structure is illuminated as small perforations light up with the activity inside the pavilion.

“In Burkina Faso, I am accustomed to being confronted with climate and natural landscape as a harsh reality. For this reason, I was interested in how my contribution to this Royal Park could not only enhance the visitor’s experience of nature but also provoke a new way for people to connect with each other,” said Kéré.

Kéré follows on from Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in designing the pavilion. BIG’s “unzipped wall” structure was visited by more than 250,000 people last year. In the new pavilion, the Serpentine will continue its public performance series, Park Nights, as well as hosting a program of events focusing on questions of community and rights to the city, inspired by Kéré’s commitment to socially engaged and ecological design.

Since 2000, Serpentine Galleries have been commissioning architects to create its pavilion each year, providing a chance for these usually international architects to create their first structure in England.

For more information, visit Serpentine Galleries.

Luxury properties in Pattaya, Thailand: Palace explores the Baan Plai Haad Resort near Wong Amat Beach

For those who crave the peace, relaxation and exclusivity of vacation resorts, luxury developer Sansiri introduces its latest residential development designed to bring the breeze and ocean waves to one’s doorstep. Situated in the prime location of Wong Amat Beach, the most peaceful and private beach in Pattaya, the Baan Plai Haad Resort Condominium promises a world of unparalleled comfort and serenity.

Designed by the award-winning Stephen J. Leach Architects Limited, who was selected as one of the TOP TEN Architects in Thailand 2013 by the BCI Asia Awards, this new beachfront property bears the perfect juxtaposition between modernity and the natural world. Residents are able to indulge in a beachside Jacuzzi offering exceptional respite close to the beach, a fully equipped Fitness Centre boasting beautiful sea views for a relaxing workout, a sprawling swimming pool set amidst lush tropical gardens created by the renowned world-class firm of T.R.O.P, and direct access to a private beach. The Infinity Sky Pool located on the rooftop also creates a stunning vision of an indigo sea connecting to a seemingly boundless horizon. At Baan Plai Haad, everyone is able to experience exceptional rest, from the young to the elderly, and the property features a specially fitted lift that easily connects residents down to the beach.

Staying true to a design concept that emphasises tranquillity, Baan Plai Haad offers a nature-inspired décor and an inspiring environment for relaxation and rejuvenation. Rooms with ocean views and a common area crafted to fit outdoor living are made with superb craftsmanship and fine materials, and a lofty and open lobby allows cool natural breezes to flow through. The development comprises one 31-storey building and one seven-storey building, with a total of 353 units. Sizes start at 431 sq. ft. for the single bedroom unit and increase to 1,658 sq. ft. for the largest three-bedroom apartment. With its serene beachfront lifestyle beckoning, the development is currently ready for immediate move-in.

For more information, visit www.sansiri.com

This article was first published in Palace 18. 

Architecture in London: Greenwich Peninsula to house the cultural hub called Peninsula Place

Famous for his ‘neo-futurist’ projects, Architect Santiago Calatrava will be behind London’s new landmark building, to be constructed on the Greenwich Peninsula. This project is part of 25-year regeneration project that aims to create 15,000 new homes on former gas works and agricultural land in south-east London. Dubbed Peninsula Place, the £1 billion glass building will boast some of the finest facilities including a tube and bus station, entertainment venues, bars, stores and a “well-being hub.”

Located in a neighborhood next to the O2 arena, the 1.4-million-square-foot complex will welcome visitors and residents in an 80-foot-high winter garden and glass galleria, topped by three towers of workspace, apartments and hotels. In the winter garden, an urban forest will sit beneath a glass cupola, providing natural light, while the towers will feature a stepped design that will reveal a series of green terraces.

In the 500-foot-long galleria, slim columns will create the effect of a tree-lined avenue and form a vaulting arcade above a promenade of cafes, shops and restaurants. A land bridge, featuring a mast and cables that create a giant sundial, will connect the Peninsula to a public park on the River Thames.

The building — for which a timeline has yet to be revealed — is part of a transformation of the Peninsula that is planned over several years in seven new neighborhoods surrounded by the Thames; In addition to providing more than 15,000 new residences, these areas will be home to the first major film studio in central London, a new design district and public spaces.

Peninsula Place is the first UK building by Calatrava, whose firm was behind projects including the 2004 Athens Olympic Sports Complex and 2016 World Trade Center Transportation hub in New York.

1 Undershaft Will Have London’s Highest View

1 Undershaft, designed by Eric Parry Architects, will be London’s second tallest building when construction is complete in 2020 and possibly the building with the most dubious name in the City; the tallest building in the UK is The Shard. The project was recently approved by the City of London.

Also known by the much nicer name ‘The Trellis’, 1 Undershaft will pierce the sky at 289.94 meters (approx. 951 feet), or 304.94 meters (1,000 feet) above sea level. For a little perspective, The Shard, is 309.6m (1,016 feet) in height.

The skyscraper will consist of 73 stories, mostly to be occupied by office space. A public square will be built at the base of the tower, along with a retail gallery for restaurants, cafes and shops.

At the very top, a viewing gallery will be open for the public, free of charge. This will actually be the UK’s highest.  The space will also have an education center for students to discover about London and its history.

“There could be no better place to observe how the fabric of London has changed over two millennia while thinking about what this means for the city of today and tomorrow,” said Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, which is working on the learning spaces at the top of the tower.


An aerial view of 1 Undershaft by Eric Parry Architects © DBOX for Eric Parry Architects

Eric Parry is behind the St Martin-in-the-Fields project at London’s Trafalgar Square as well as 10 Fenchurch Avenue, an office development in the City of London.

The tower was commissioned by Singapore-based Aroland Holdings Limited, which is currently developing tall buildings in capital cities around the world.

While a timeframe has not been set, it is expected the building will open in the 2020s.

gingerbread city Moa london

Architecture Museum Hosts Gingerbread Exhibition

Gingerbread City is made up of Caramel Wharf, Pancake Rise, Puddington… These are some of the six districts you will have the chance to visit in London this month. And if they do sound like some parts of a city, they are a lot sweeter, though not actually for eating.

These ‘neighborhoods’ are part of Gingerbread City, the latest exhibition hosted by the Museum of Architecture (MoA) and entirely made of sugar. Here you’ll find galleries, small shops, cafés and bars: everything can be eaten – but not yet! All we can say is we hope they’ve figured out how to keep the ants away. They are indeed submissions from some of the UK’s leading architectural schools and firms such 4M Group, Arup, Foster & Partners, Hopkins Architects and spacelab to a great gingerbread structures contest. A total of 64 teams are taking part and will be judged – the story does not say if the judges will be pastry chefs.. or Hansel & Gretel.

Feeling crafty? Workshops will be hosted as well – some might say they are made for families with kids, but no doubt adults with a sweet tooth will be welcome too.

The very sugary event, celebrating of course the British Christmas Spirit, is held as part of the museum’s winter fundraiser. The money raised  (a fee is imposed for a “Plot Passport” on each submission) will be used to to support MoA’s upcoming exhibitions and 2017 program.

Gingerbread City at The Museum of Architecture (MoA) London. From Dec 7 to 22. General public admission: free

Can Good Design Fix World? Karim Rashid Thinks So

Can Good Design Fix World? Karim Rashid Thinks So

Canadian-American industrial designer Karim Rashid is on a mission to change the world and it is not for money or even greater fame, it is for his mother.

“The world is a mess, it doesn’t work,” the 56-year-old groans as he reflects on his path to global fame and how he can give something back to the woman who raised him.

“We throw function out of the door. I don’t know why. Every hotel I go to, it’s a disaster: the location of the bathroom, the lights,” he tells AFP at Rome’s University of Fine Arts (RUFA).

The man dubbed by Time magazine in 2001 as the “the most famous industrial designer in all the Americas” has designed everything from manhole covers to buildings, and prides himself among other things on having reclaimed the color pink for men.

But for all his prolificness, he is still frustrated by the poor design of ordinary objects, which have a real impact on daily lives – like the family car.

“It is such a simple, simple thing. Like getting out of a car. In 1967 Citroen makes a car where the seat rotated: you get in, you rotate, right? It’s so comfortable.”

But not so today. “I mean my mother, who is 85, she can’t get in or out of a car.”

Rashid, sporting pink jeans, a pink jumper and florescent pink nails for his appearance as guest speaker at the university, says he was inspired to become a designer by his father.

He was born in Cairo to an Egyptian artist and a British mother and lived in several countries during his youth.

Furniture and party dresses

“When I was two years old, we lived in Rome. My father was a set designer for Cinecitta,” the historic film studio in the Italian capital.

“I had a father who was an artist, a painter, but he didn’t stop there. He would every night make furniture for the home because he had very little money, so he would make his own furniture,” says the heavily-tattooed designer.

“Some days he would wake up and make sketches of my mother, design a dress, take the fabric, cut it, sew it and that night go to a party, and my mother’s wearing the dress.

“So imagine if you’re a five-year-old child and you see this. I think you’d become a designer.”

The neon-lover, whose work can be found in more than 20 permanent collections including at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, shrugs off critics who say he should stick to home furnishings rather than delving into real estate.

“Architects can design products, but for some reason product designers can’t design buildings. Why not?” he asks.

“I’ve said, for me, designing a mobile phone is more difficult than making a building. And everybody got very upset!”

Rashid designed his first hotel in Athens in 2001, then did another in Berlin in 2008, before being courted by New York developers.

His projects for HAP (social housing) investments in the United States proved controversial and had to be toned down, but he shrugs it off.

“For me it’s not even architecture. It’s like looking at building as industrial design,” he says.

Zaha Hadid Architects for Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza

Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) unveiled the visuals for Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza at the building’s groundbreaking ceremony.

The upcoming 167,000 square hectare complex was designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to be honored with the Pritzker Prize. Satoshi Ohashi, director of the architecture firm’s China office, explained that she had designed the building “with concepts of integration, connectivity and fluidity.”

The 8-story building is divided into two sections, connected to each other with skybridges. Curves and waves remain as the main trademark of a Zaha Hadid building. One could see the building as a series of stacked rings. When viewed from above, the plaza will take shape of an infinity symbol – as implied in the ‘Infinitus’ of its name.


Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza by Zaha Hadid Architects © Zaha Hadid Architects

The Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza is designed as a gateway to the new Baiyun Central Business District, which will sit on the site of the former Guangzhou airport. There are six communities to be developed in the vicinity of that area.

The studio is using a “unitized insulated glazing system” to maximize natural light inside the building and help reduce energy loss. Perforated aluminum screens will protect those inside from direct sunlight while also recovering rainwater. Sensors will even monitor weather conditions, energy use and lighting to ensure efficiency and save power.

The building is expected to be finished in Q2 2020.


Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza by Zaha Hadid Architects © Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid died of a heart attack in Miami in March 2016. She was a key figure of 20th-century architecture. Born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, Hadid was the first woman to be crowned with the Pritzker Architecture Prize, one of the most prestigious in the profession. She is also the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Most Expensive: Eiffel Tower Stairs Set Record

Most Expensive: Eiffel Tower Stairs Set Record

A section of stairs from the Eiffel Tower in Paris sold for more than half a million euros, auctioneers said Wednesday – more than 10 times the pre-sale estimate. Yes, the estimate on this was 40,000 euros.

The 14 wrought-iron steps from a winding staircase between the second and third floors of the Paris landmark went for 523,800 euros ($556,000) after furious bidding at the sale in the French capital.

Auction house Artcurial said the dramatic sale on Tuesday had “unleashed the passions” of several international buyers, with bids rising rapidly from 20,000 euros, leaving the aforementioned 40,000 euro estimate far behind.

The prize eventually fell to a telephone bid from an Asian buyer.

Auctioneer Francois Tajan said “the battle over the phone and in the auction room for the stairs showed the profound attachment there is for a monument that is so emblematic of French culture.”

The stairs date from 1889 when the legendary French engineer Gustave Eiffel built the 324-meter (1,063-foot) edifice as the centerpiece of the Paris Universal Exhibition.

It soon became the most iconic feature on the Paris skyline, and is France’s most visited monument despite suffering calls for its demolition in the years after the exhibition.

It is still the country’s third tallest structure, and was the highest building in the world for 41 years until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.

The stairs were removed from the tower in 1983 to make way for a lift and cut into 24 sections, ranging from two to nine meters high.

Several were bought by museums while others ended up in the gardens of the Yoshii Foundation at Yamanashi in Japan, beside the Statue of Liberty in New York and at Walt Disney World in Florida, next to its copy of the Eiffel Tower.

Artcurial sold a larger 3.5-meter section of 19 steps for 220,000 euros in 2013.

Tajan said he was particularly “moved by the sale… having watched the first sale of the staircases in 1983 which was presided over by my father Jacques Tajan.”

Although the Eiffel Tower stairs fetched “an exceptional price”, the highest from the sale of Art Deco artifacts was four monumental sculptures by Georges Saupique which went for 1.24 million euros.

Saupique is best known for his bust of Marianne, the woman who symbolizes the French republic.

‘Álvaro Siza, Sacro’ Exhibition at MAXXI Rome

Zaha Hadid Architects Design Timber Stadium

6 Projects Awarded Aga Khan Architecture Prize

A dome-less mosque designed by a Bangladeshi woman architect and a Beirut institute by the late Zaha Hadid were among six projects awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture Sunday.

The prestigious prize was awarded at a ceremony in Al-Ain oasis city, in the United Arab Emirates, to the projects chosen from a list of 348 works.

They will share a prize of $1 million.

“Gone are the dome and the ever-prevalent minarets, the decorative panels of designed relief and calligraphy. In their place stand intricately structured brick walls that imbue the structure within a unique aura of spirituality,” said the jury describing Dhaka’s Bait ur Rouf mosque designed by Marina Tabassum.

As well as Hadid’s Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, the winning projects included Tehran’s Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge and Copenhagen’s Superkilen kilometre-long urban park.

They also included the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, a training facility for the NGO Friendship that works with communities living in rural flatlands of northern Bangladesh.

Beijing’s Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre was also among the winners.

Awarded every three years, the prize was established in 1977 and is given to “projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture”.

The awards were presented by UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and the Aga Khan IV, the wealthy imam of Nizari Ismaili Shiites.

Fuksas Cloud

Nuvola Brings New Edge to Rome Skyline

Massimiliano Fuksas, the architect of the now-complete Nuvola convention centre illustrated here, described this as his most frustrating project, though he is proud that it had been completed as first planned. “We first thought of it in 1995,” the 72-year-old said. “I have been through so many mayors on this project I can’t even remember all their names. But we have not changed a thing. If you look at the first sketches we did, this is what it looked like.”

With funding predominantly sourced from taxpayers, Cloud  – that’s what Nuvola means in English – is a convention center that will be able to host up to 12,000 people. Describing it that way robs this very striking building of its very striking story though. It is easily the most amazing new structure to go up in the Eternal City. The building is expected to be a potential game-changer for Rome’s visitor-based economy and EUR, the under-developed business district on the city’s southern edge created by none other than legendary bad hat Mussolini.


Seriously, this is Rome’s most significant architectural project since the 1960 Olympic Games. The city is plagued by a paralyzing cocktail of bureaucratic gridlock, corruption and the ongoing discovery of ancient parts of the city (something that persistently blocks new developments).

Basically, Nuvola is glass and steel box that houses a cloud-like suspended interior structure. This internal construct is no work of fanciful contemporary art though – this is where the main auditorium is so the structure is fully functional. It is reportedly the size of two giant zeppelin airships, as we reported previously. You might think the white, fibreglass-clad structure looks like a cloud, as Fuksas envisions but it could also be said to resemble a lung or another internal organ (use your imagination). Glimpsed from the outside in twilight it can seem strikingly like an ultrasound scan of a unborn baby.

Fuksas Cloud

The architect, who conceived of this project with his wife Doriana, does confirm however that his dealings with local officialdom have left him with no faith in the ability of public authorities in Rome to manage his masterpiece. “I wish they would give it to the Germans to run, they’d make it work – the Romans, no!” Fuksas won the competition to build the new center in 2000 but construction did not get underway until 2007 and was repeatedly interrupted due to a combination of red tape and cash constraints.

The building was finally completed thanks to additional funds raised last year by the sell-off of four Mussolini-era public buildings. How much it finally cost is a disputed issue but removing the legacies of Il Duce’s time in power are belated in the extreme. Fuksas says the Nuvola came in at 239 million euros ($260m), below the tender price of 275 million. Enrico Pazzali, the executive brought in to oversee completion, says the true figure is 353 million euros ($390m) but that he is nonetheless confident the Nuvola will prove a worthwhile use of public funds over time.

The former head of Milan’s hugely successful Fiera exhibition center, Pazzali shrugs off fears that congested, cash-strapped Rome is ill-equipped to cope with an additional influx of visitors. “Our research suggests that convention visitors generate at least twice as much per head as leisure tourists,” he told AFP. “We have the hotels and the Nuvola has the great advantage that it is close to the airport and it is on the Metropolitan (underground rail network).Fuksas Cloud

“Our estimates are that the economic benefits to the city and the surrounding area could be between 250-350 million euros a year,” Pazzali said. The Nuvola is the biggest architectural project in Rome since the work for the 1960 Olympics.

It joins a short list of significant contemporary buildings in the city that includes Renzo Piano’s auditorium, the late Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum and the Richard Meier museum built around the Emperor Augustus’s altar of peace, the Ara Pacis. For Fuksas, the construction adds to a list of high-profile projects that includes Shenzhen’s airport and Ferrari’s headquarters.


Hong Kong Jockey Club Innovation Tower Honored

Hong Kong Jockey Club Innovation Tower Honored

The Jockey Club Innovation Tower in Hong Kong has won the RIBA Award for International Excellence. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the building evokes movement and stands in stark contrast to its more conventional office building neighbors.

The Jockey Club Innovation Tower is home to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Design and the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation.

The tower’s interior and exterior courtyards create informal spaces to meet and interact, complementing the large exhibition forums, studios, theater and recreational facilities.

The 15-story, 15,000-square-meter tower accommodates more than 1,800 students and staff. For its fluidity and graceful curves, the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan has been shortlisted for the RIBA International Prize.The winner will be announced in December.

Unveiling of Fuksas ‘Cloud’ Construction

A new convention center in Rome that has been hailed as one of acclaimed architect Massimiliano Fuksas’s most ambitious buildings yet was unveiled to the international media Wednesday, ahead of its long-awaited opening next week. The Italian’s latest work resembles a giant, rectangular glass box encasing an interior dominated by a fluid, cloud-like structure that seems to float above the center’s lower levels and houses its auditorium. Made from steel and clad in cream-colored fiberglass the centerpiece of the new center is the size of two giant zeppelin airships.

It has been dubbed Fuksas’s “nuvola” (cloud in Italian), and its creators hope the innovative design will help turn the new facility into a popular destination on the money-spinning international conference circuit. The project has had a chequered history since Fuksas’s won the competition to build the new center in 2000 with a design based on an idea he had while watching clouds from a beach.

Located in the Mussolini-created EUR district of Rome, the project was initially supposed to be privately funded but failed to attract investors. Publicly-backed construction finally got underway in 2007 only to be repeatedly interrupted due to a combination of red tape and cash constraints.

The building has finally been completed at a total cost of 353 million euros ($390 million) thanks to additional funds raised last year by the sell-off of four Mussolini-era buildings, said Enrico Pazzali, the head of EUR Spa, the public body behind the project. “The architect’s wonderful vision has been realised 100 percent,” he told AFP, adding he was confident the centre would deliver its objective of delivering a major boost to Rome’s visitor-based economy.

“Our estimates are that the economic benefits to the city and the surrounding area could be between 250-350 million euros a year,” he said. Built over three levels, the new centre will be able to accommodate audiences of up to 6,000 people in its 9,000 square-metre plenary hall.

Construction required 39,000 tons of steel – the equivalent of nearly five Eiffel towers and expanses of glass equivalent to eight soccer fields, Pazzali said. Fuksas, 72, is one of the giants of contemporary Italian architecture.

His past projects include the futuristic new airport terminal at Shenzhen, China, Ferrari’s ultra-modern headquarters and Armani stores on 5th Avenue, New York and in Ginza, Tokyo. The EUR district takes its name from Esposizione Universale Roma, the world fair Italian dictator Benito Mussolini planned to stage there in 1942.

That plan had to be scrapped because of World War II with many of the buildings only half-finished. They were mostly completed in the 1950s and 1960s after the Roman authorities decided to turn the area into an edge-of-town business district that became a model for London’s Docklands and La Defense in Paris. The rectangular exterior of Fuksas’s new work references the rationalist architecture of many of the surrounding buildings.


8 Urban Residences with Sky Gardens

A private garden, a backyard with trees and flowers, these are luxuries that city dwellers must sacrifice for the conveniences of modern urban living. At least, that has been the prevailing notion. However, some of today’s architects view the matter quite differently.

“There is a huge disconnect between how we live in our cities and what we need, as human beings, for quality of life,” says Eran Chen, Founder and Executive Director at ODA studio in New York. “I don’t think that we should be forced to choose between enduring life in the city, or escaping to suburban areas.”

East 44th Street in New York City with a view of One World Trade Center and Sky Garden Terrace

East 44th Street in New York City with a view of One World Trade Center and Sky Garden Terrace

Chen’s solution to this disconnect is to combine the two typologies. His studio recently released plans for East 44th Street, a slender residential tower in Midtown Manhattan that has open floors for sky gardens. By “stretching” the building vertically beyond its original program, the studio was able to create gaps, 16 feet in height, between every two floors. The gaps in the building will contain full floor sculptural gardens equal to the footprint of the building and will be directly accessible from each apartment. In other words, each 2,800 sq. ft. apartment will have 1,400 sq. ft. of open private garden. The tower will contain 44 residential units in total, with one, two or three-bedroom layouts and a duplex penthouse.

Other Manhattan studios are also inverting the traditional sealed box approach to tower design. Nearby on East 37th street, a slim residential tower proposed by Perkins + Will, will have built-in parks and an outdoor cinema.  The concept for the 700 foot tower, which features four open-air sky parks at various heights, was to take the urban fabric of Greenwich Village, where row houses will have a small park at the end of the block, and tip it vertically. “It creates this balance of your own private apartment and shared outdoor greenery that becomes almost like that park at the end of the street, except in a vertical way,” says Robert Goodwin, design principal at Perkin + Will.

Designing for dense future cities that will house an increasing number of inhabitants raises a number of questions. “How do you create livability in a dense city?” Goodwin says. “How do you make tall buildings that people really want to live in?”  This is a challenge that confronts architects around the world. Today, many design innovative new projects that aim to achieve densification without compromising on quality of life.

Cloud Corridor, Los Angeles

Cloud Corridor, Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Chinese studio MAD has designed plans for Cloud Corridor, a high-density building with nine interconnected residential towers, that turns disparate neighborhoods into a vertical village with public spaces and gardens in the sky. The tower is meant to address the concern of suburban sprawl and also aims to connect people and nature. “The garden patios and courtyards provide a lush environment amid the surrounding urban density, and provide a retreat from the everyday among nature,” the studio says. The elevated corridors and multi-level garden patios shape the city skyline and provide viewing platforms for residents to overlook the city below and the natural landscapes beyond.

In Dubai, a new project called Suites in the Skai has 60 storeys with more than 500 apartments featuring their own sky gardens. Some also have swimming pools. Hussam Abdelghany, the associated design director at Atkins Global, says the sky gardens at the tower, which is due for completion in 2017, will increase shade and encourage wind penetration, producing a microclimate that will make the gardens a pleasant experience for most of the year, even when it is hot.

Diamond Lotus, Ho Chi Minh City

Diamond Lotus, Ho Chi Minh City

In Vietnam, studio Vo Trong Nghia Architects recently unveiled plans for the Diamond Lotus project, three 22 storey towers located on a finger of land between two rivers outside of Ho Chi Minh City. The project, which includes 720 residences, will be shielded from the tropical sunlight by swathes of bamboo and are connected via a planted roof garden that can be accessed from each apartment. “The connected roof provides the residents with a large green space, which rarely occurs in the city,” the studio said. While other developments are expediting the loss of greenery in the city, the architects say the green bridge and green façade of Diamond Lotus are not only a dedication to the comfort of inhabitants, but also “a contribution to the landscape, appearing as a green screen in the city.”

Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale

Allowing city dwellers to experience greenery and outdoor space is one factor motivating architects to incorporate sky gardens. But there are other advantages too. One of the first residential towers to incorporate sky gardens, Bosco Verticale, was designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri as part of the rehabilitation of the historic district of Milan between Via De Castillia and Confalonieri. The scheme comprises two towers, both of which incorporate trees, and one which houses 400 condominium units. In addition to providing residents with their own leafy oasis, the trees help to mitigate smog, produce oxygen and moderate building temperatures in winter and summer. The plants also attenuate noise.

Tower of Cedars, Lausanne

Tower of Cedars, Lausanne

Now Stefano Boeri has designed a new 384 foot tall residential building in Lausanne, Switzerland, that bears many similarities to the Bosco Verticale. Named Tower of Cedars, the project is set to house more than 100 trees, 6,000 shrubs and 18,000 perennials. The apartment units protrude from the structure and offer views toward Lake Geneva, while their roofs are designed to accommodate plants.

According to Boeri, the building in the Chavannes-Près-Renens district of the city will be the first tower in the world to be covered with evergreen trees, selected in part for their ability to withstand harsh climates, and also the environmental function of their leaves which absorb CO2 and produce oxygen. “With the Tower of Cedar Trees we will have the opportunity to realize a plain building that will have a great role in the Lausanne landscape. An architecture able to introduce a significant biodiversity of vegetal species in the middle of an important European city,” Boeri says. The tower will comprise 36 floors and include private residences, offices and commercial space. There will also be a gym and a rooftop restaurant.

While buildings with sky gardens easily invoke a sense of utopian wonder, they are not built without challenges, particularly when it comes to structural support. At the Bosco Verticale in Milan, the engineering team worked with botanists and horticulturalists to ensure that the structure could bear the load imposed by the plants. The steel-reinforced concrete balconies are designed to be 11 inches thick with 4.2 foot parapets.

Slender residential towers such as those proposed in Manhattan have small floor plates and architects must ensure the building porosity does not compromise the tower stability.

At East 44th street, ODA utilized structural lateral systems in addition to a central core that act as the main supporting spine. The initial design did not include beams as the floors were supported by the building’s core, but Eran Chen says this proved structurally challenging. “By adding the beams we created ‘sculptured gardens’ that doubled as a way to protect against inclement weather while still providing 360 degree views.” Each garden is effectively covered by the floor above it and is protected from rain and snow.

Chen says the garden gaps at East 44th street also serve to lessen the wind load impacting the building — other skinny skyscrapers accomplish this via unused gaps throughout the structure. And the expansive height of the garden space with also permit a suffusion of sunlight throughout the central core and perimeter.  “We are used to seeing New York City’s towers as monolithic boxes usually housing corporate power. But today, as these towers become more residential, they do not need to have the same scale or design. They shouldn’t express the same thing,” he says. “When it comes to residential towers, they should all contain accessible outdoor space for all residents.”

Still, some critics argue that outdoor gardens at these heights is impractical in a city like New York, where temperatures drop well below freezing in winter months and the wind, which is known to howl down the avenues, would in this case howl both below and above you.

In London some critics allege that developers use the guarantee of lush green spaces to get building plans approved, but rarely deliver on their promise. At 20 Fenchurch Street early CGIs showed a storyboard of seductive images with residents mingling among cherry blossom from a soaring vantage point. The tower was given planning permission in an area never intended for tall buildings on the basis that it would deliver a public sky garden. Once complete, however, the garden amounted to nothing more than a few spindly trees in pot planters.

While down in Singapore, green design is on everyone’s mind when it comes to new architecture and not just to get buildings approved. The latest project by architect Christoph Ingenhoven is at the forefront of green technology. Ingenhoven Architects coined the term “Supergreen”. A concept they live and work by. Their definition of Supergreen: ‘an awareness of energy and resources, both in design, construction and operation and in the realization of the building and its use.’ Marina One was designed with this in mind. Located in the heart of Singapore, at Marina Bay. The two towers will be able to take advantage of rainwater harvesting, solar power and natural ventilation. Most importantly, at heart of the development is a 65,000 sq. ft. park, landscaped to fit its natural surroundings. Whether or not other future developments will follow suit to this extreme in Singapore, remains to be seen. However, Marina One is certainly taking being green, to the next level.

As with all new building trends, early incarnations will include hits and misses. It may take some time determine which types of sky gardens are truly used and enjoyed by residents. But architects like Chen are bullish about the potential for vertical parks to transform the contemporary urban reality.  “We believe that true luxury evolved from the ability to have the best of multiple worlds without compromise, and in this tower, the best of urban living melds with the dream of a suburban backyard,” he says. “There’s going to be a time in New York City where living without a substantial outdoor space is just going to be unacceptable.”

Story Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth & Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE 15

Port House, Antwerp inaugurated September 22, 2016 © Helene Binet

Zaha Hadid Architects Visionary Antwerp Port House

Zaha Hadid Architects’ design for the newly inaugurated Port House, Antwerp is a blend of historical reverence and an evocative vision of the future.

Belgium’s Antwerp is Europe’s second largest shipping port, handling 26 percent of the continent’s container shipping but it lacked a central headquarters for its staff. The Flemish government’s department of architecture and the City and Port authorities thus organized a design competition for the new head office. The only requisite was that it preserve the fire station that was originally there.

The basis of Zaha Hadid Architects’ winning design was historical research, and follows a joint effort with a heritage consultant in the restoration and renovation of historic monuments. The elevated extension crowns the fire station building below in a clever juxtaposition of new volume and old Hanseatic design.

The old fire station’s central courtyard is enclosed with a glass roof, in which visitors can access a public reading room and library. The new extension provides panoramic views of the city and port. Its exterior has a glazed surface that reflects the changing tones of the sky. Triangular facets, a mix of transparent and opaque, ensure sufficient sunlight, and make reference to Antwerp’s reputation as the city of diamonds.

The new building is an active professional space with meeting rooms, open-plan offices, an auditorium, and a restaurant. Sustainable and energy-efficient design choices (reaching a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM environmental rating) minimize water consumption and maximize daylight.

If the original structure preserves Antwerp’s “golden century” in the 1500s, Marc Van Peel, president of the Port of Antwerp, said: “now above this original, a contemporary structure in shining glass has been built, which I am sure represents a new golden century for Antwerp.”

This structure is among over 30 projects that were under development at the time of studio founder Zaha Hadid’s death earlier this year.

Port House, Antwerp inaugurated September 22, 2016 © Hufton+Crow

Port House, Antwerp inaugurated September 22, 2016 © Hufton+Crow

German Gymnasium Most Beautiful London Restaurant

German Gymnasium Most Beautiful London Restaurant

The most beautiful restaurant in all London is a German gymnasium… Well, the German Gymnasium, in fact. This stunning two-story restaurant served in a former life as England’s first purpose-built gym and helped to host London’s first National Olympic Games in 1866. In a twist that might be hard to understand, the German brasserie has been named the most beautiful eatery at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2016.

The German Gymnasium, located in the heart of King’s Cross in London, was named the overall winner at the eighth annual event, which shines the spotlight on the most beautifully designed spaces around the world.

Lovers of good design will appreciate the German Gymnasium as it pays respectful homage to its heritage in preserving original details like the climbing hooks in the ceiling and cast steel columns.

German Gymnasium Most Beautiful London Restaurant

The building was completed in 1865 and was funded from London’s Germany community for the German Gymnastics Society.

Designed by Conran & Partners, the restaurant is described as a modern interpretation of a classic brasserie with German overtones. Warm walnut timber paneling and black and grey distressed leather upholstery are set off against fresh, contemporary accents like an occasional pink and red tone. The space features two bars, first floor restaurant, Grand Cafe and outdoor terrace.

The menu is likewise a celebration of the landmark’s German roots under the culinary vision of chef Bjoern Wassmuth, who has created a menu featuring a few classic Mittel-European dishes like schnitzel, currywurst, sauerkraut and strudels.

The Black Forest menu features black forest ham, truffled potato soup, venison “Baden Baden” with Spatzle and lingonberries and a chocolate sponge cake with cherries and chantilly called the “Danube.”


In the category of best overall bar design, the Blue Wave bar in Barcelona was given the top honor. Designed by El Equipo Creativo, the interior is conceived to evoke a wave about to break.

Located on the water’s edge in the Barcelona Port, designers used reflective elements and ceramic tile in various shades of blue and white to harken sea foam, sea waves and light.

Here are the international winners of the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2016:

  • Best Overall Restaurant: German Gymnasium, London, UK designed by Conran & Partners
  • Best Overall Bar: Blue Wave, Barcelona, Spain, El Equipo Creativo

Regional winners:

  • Best Restaurant North America: Torafuku, Vancouver, Canada, by Scott & Scott Architects
  • Best Bar North America: Kat & Theo, New York, USA by Aviva Collective
  • Best Restaurant Europe: Les Bains, Paris, France, RDAI
  • Best Bar Europe: Blue Wave, Barcelona, Spain, El Equipo Creativo
  • Best Bar Asia: Foxglove, Hong Kong, NCDA
  • Best Restaurant Asia: Shugaa, Bangkok, Thailand, Party Space Design
  • Best Restaurant Australia & Pacific: So 9, Sydney, Australia, Brand Works
  • Best Bar Australia & Pacific Bar: Pink Moon Saloon, Adelaide, Australia, Sans-Arc Studio
  • Best Bar Middle East Africa: News Cafe, Johannesburg, South Africa, Studio A
  • Best Restaurant Middle East & Africa Restaurant: Jo Grilled Food, Tehran, Iran, White Rhino Design Group
CEO of Italian design company Kartell, Claudio Luti

Sustainable Design: Improving Daily Life

Today, the design world embraces “green” and “meaningful” production more than ever. The concept dates back to the 1920s, when visionary US architect R. Buckminster Fuller advocated that “less is more” and that design should be “anticipatory” to help solve world problems.

“For both consumers and creators, interest in ‘the sustainable’ is growing each year,” said Franck Millot, director of the annual Paris Design Week – a major showcase of the latest trends in global furnishings and decoration.

“A designer doesn’t just create beautiful objects, they also think in terms of improving daily life,” he added.

French architect and designer Patrick Nadeau, a pioneer in urban hanging gardens and plant-based design, is typical of this line of thinking.

“Plants, vegetable material, with their colors, their matter, their translucence, they help create awareness, a living, evolving framework,” he said.

Nadeau received praise for an environmentally friendly social housing project in Reims, capital of Champagne.

Despite strict budget constraints, the homes were all made of wood and incorporated plants and sloping earthen walls – as well as optimal orientation – to enhance thermal insulation, lighting and harmony with nature.

Energy transition

Fuller’s notions hit home with the 1970s oil crisis. The embargo the Organization of the Petoleum Exporting Countries slapped on industrialised countries over US involvement in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War suddenly cut back supplies.

As a result, these nations began to rethink their dependency on oil. For Nadeau, the post-oil “energy transition” is also a responsibility for designers and architects.

“We must embrace these questions, if not we’ll resign ourselves to old standards rather than consider new ways of living.”

One who has taken up the challenge is Kartell, the high-end Italian design firm that has upheld plastics as a “vector” of modernity for 70 years. In April, it launched its first “biodegradable” chair made from plant-based waste and microorganisms.

“Such eco-design allows you to produce without destroying, it’s part of our strategy for the future,” Kartell president Claudio Luti told the French daily Le Monde.

The switch often involves a high-tech reinterpretation of age-old plant matter like linen fabric from flax, hemp, jute, seaweed and vetiver, an easily woven fibrous root common in Madagascar now much in demand in Europe and the United States.

Centuries ago, resistent linen was pressed in successive layers to make armour for Alexander the Great and painting canvas for the world’s great masters.

Today it is mixed with resin to produce snowboards, chairs, helmets and car doors – an eco-friendly substitute for products once reliant on fossil fuel-based carbon and plastic-based fiberglass. Similarly, tough jute is used to produce the solid hulls of boats.

Other materials find a second – often classier – life through “upcycling”, a movement to repurpose old or discarded objects so they do not add to the world’s garbage mass.

One specialist at the Paris Design Week was a Dutch firm with the motto “from waste to wonderful”. Called Rescued, it offers everything from paper chandeliers made of printshop waste to chair cushions fashioned from old blankets.

Luxury firms have also joined the trend, like Hermes whose “Petit h” laboratory recycles its high-end scraps for resale as mug holders, bracelets, even leather pinwheels.

One French designer adds modern bells and whistles such as wifi and bluetooth to big old vintage radios.

Slow design

Along with “upcycling”, another mantra these days is “Slow Design” – which took its cue from the Slow Food movement – “a holistic, sustainable approach that emphasizes the long-term benefit of products and their impact on the well-being of consumers and the planet”, said Design Week director Millot.

With “Slow Design”, “there is renewed interest in old-fashioned knowhow and craftsmanship, objects that have a history, where there is a human touch and a desire for reasonable consumption,” he said.

Millot concedes that touting ecology in what is basically a product-driven sales sector may be contradictory, but says he feels the young generation of designers are more “aware of the stakes”.

They include French industrial designer Julien Phedyaff who in 2014 created a washing machine dubbed “Unbreakable” – which won him the prestigious James Dyson award, named for the British inventor best known for his vacuum cleaners.

Designed to last a half a century, the machine comes in a kit to be put together and taken apart when parts need replacing or repairing – Phedyaff’s direct challenge to “planned obsolescence” in high-tech items and household appliances whose manufacturers are often accused of deliberately limiting the lifespan of their products.

Two years on, he is looking for partners to help commercialize his product.

Rome Reopens Spanish Steps After Renovation

Rome Reopens Spanish Steps After Renovation

From Friday, tourists and locals are once again be able to saunter up and down the Spanish Steps, after a year-long renovation to the Rome tourist landmark.

The famous marble steps will also stay open at night despite concern about potential damage to one of the architectural jewels of the Eternal City.

“The steps will not be closed at night. I think it is fundamental to let people have access… and to make them responsible for what they do at them,” said Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi.

Discolored by years of pollution but also caked in chewing gum and stained by wine and coffee spills, the Spanish Steps were restored to their original white glory by a team of 82 workers.

The 1.5 million euro ($1.7 million) restoration of the landmark, made famous in the United States by the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, was financed by upmarket jeweler Bulgari.

The firm’s boss Paolo Bulgari has voiced concern about a return by “barbarians” to the Steps, near to which the jeweler has a store.

In February 2015 supporters of Feyenoord Rotterdam, in the capital for a football match against AS Rome, ransacked the Piazza di Spagna at the bottom of the Steps, damaging its main fountain, known to Romans as La Barcaccia.

“The city pledges that the Steps will be maintained for as long as possible in its new splendour, and we will strive to prevent misuse which would damage it,” said Raggi.

The landmark, comprising 135 steps on three levels designed by archtect Francesco de Sanctis between 1723 and 1726, had not been restored for 20 years.

The work was the latest in a string of famous Italian monuments to have been renovated with funds from private donors, often from the luxury sector.

The first phase of a multi-million-euro makeover of Rome’s Colosseum was completed in July, in a project largely funded by fashion and shoewear group Tod’s.

Roman fashion house Fendi paid for a 16-month clean-up of the Trevi fountain which has been acclaimed by visitors.