Tag Archives: Architecture

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.”

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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.

5 Must-Read Design Books 2016

The London Design Festival is bringing the art of design to the heart of the British capital, from now until September 25. Here is a look at some useful reading material to bring you up to speed with the world of design this fall.

Hadid by Philip Jodido, published by Taschen

After her sudden and unexpected death this year, this book celebrates one of the leading figures of world architecture. Known for her large, bold structures with audacious curves, Zaha Hadid was the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. This Taschen monograph looks back over the renowned architect’s extraordinary career.

Arita / Table of Contents: Studies in Japanese Porcelain by Anniina Koivu, published by Phaidon

The art of Japanese porcelain manufacturing began in Arita, some 400 years ago. This book, published by Phaidon, celebrates traditional Japanese ceramic culture through the ages.

Volez Voguez Voyagez (Louis Vuitton) published by Assouline

Based on the recent Louis Vuitton exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, this book from Assouline is ideal for anyone who couldn’t catch the show. It is also a great way to discover the world of the famous French luggage maker, intent on making traveling effortless and fashionable.

Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, published by Flammarion

In 1803, Joséphine Bonaparte – wife of the future Emperor of France – acquired the Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris, which she renovated for her son, Eugène de Beauharnais. Becoming an embassy during the 19th century, the Hôtel is a visible incarnation of Consulate and Empire décor styles. This first monograph dedicated to the building is due for release in November.

Cartier Dazzling: High Jewelry and Precious Objects by François Chaille, published by Flammarion

Although mere mortals can only dream of donning Cartier’s legendary jewelry creations, this book showcases a selection of the luxury label’s dazzling delights. The tome is written by the same French fashion writer behind The Book of Ties.

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

10 Nominees for Designs of the Year 2016

We love great designs and we’re pretty sure you do too so covering the Beazley Designs of the Year 2016 nominees is a no-brainer. Ok so you might be scratching your head about that name but basically, this is the Design Museum in London’s world-famous Designs of the Year. Really, it is so famous the names are just the Design Museum and Designs of the Year, which is just awful for SEO (if anybody at the Museum is paying attention).

Now in its ninth year, Beazley Designs of the Year celebrates designs released over the last 12 months that “promotes or delivers change, enables access, extends design practice or captures the spirit of the year,” as the Museum’s official message reads. The nominees will be on view at the Design Museum in London from November 24, 2016 – February 19, 2017, when the space reopens in its new headquarters in West London. Oh yes, about that name again. Beazley is not an effort to associate the awards with a name, just the name of the sponsor this year.

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Fondazione Prada in Milan by OMA © Courtesy of Fondazione Prada, Photograph by Bas Princen

The nominees in six categories include architecture (from small-scale domestic to public parks), fashion (collections from student graduation shows to iconic fashion houses), graphics (beautiful packaging, books, magazines, branding, exhibition design, typefaces), products (furniture, toys, packaging, lighting, technology, homeware), plus digital projects and transport.

Standouts from this year’s architecture category include Herzog & de Meuron’s recently completed Tate Modern Switch House, the gold leaf-painted Fondazione Prada in Milan by Rem Koolhaas’s firm OMA, Bjarke Ingels’ sloped 600-apartment residential building in Manhattan with a silhouette reminiscent of a shark fin, and Beijing studio MAD Architects’ undulating Harbin Opera House featuring two concert halls and a public plaza.

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Residential building in Manhattan by Bjarke Ingels Group © Photo by Nic Lehoux

Graphics nominees include the designers of Malaysia’s protest posters that demonstrators could access online, a clever first aid kit for refugees and the design of David Bowie’s final album cover. The Bowie album cover was released on the iconic musician’s birthday (and just days prior to his death). Its dark simplicity was intended to reflect the musician’s mortality, per graphic design collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook, who did five of Bowie’s album covers.

The product shortlist includes a Space Cup for astronauts, a sleek Kodak Super 8 camera, minimalist Muji kitchen appliances, and LEGO figures. Another candidate, Adidas x Parley running shoes, used existing footwear manufacturing processes but replaced the usual synthetics with yarns made from recycled gill net dredged from the sea.

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

First aid kit for refugees by Erwin k. Bauer, Anne Hoffman, Dasha Zaichanka, Katharina Holzl, Miriam S. Koller © Photo by buero bauer

Collections produced by Craig Green, Agi and Sam, and Richard Malone are highlighted in the fashion category. The transport category includes a digital compass for bicycles and a crowdfunded bicycle helmet. The digital category included OpenSurgery, a do-it-yourself surgery robot for an at-home laparoscopy.

A winner will be selected in each category, and one overall winner will be announced on January 26, 2017.

Previous winners have included Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center (for the Republic of Azerbaijan) in 2014, and the 2015 prize went to a microdevice made to mimic complex tissue structures of the human body, designed by a duo at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute.

Here are the 10 designs that caught our eye this time. More images follow after the break.

  • 1. Harbin Opera House by MAD architects
  • 2. Fondazione Prada in Milan by OMA
  • 3. Residential building in Manhattan by Bjarke Ingels Group
  • 4. First aid kit for refugees by Erwin k. Bauer, Anne Hoffman, Dasha Zaichanka, Katharina Holzl, Miriam S. Koller
  • 5. Adidas x Parley running shoe by Adidas Sustainability Team, Adidas Design Team, Alexander Taylor, Parley for the Oceans, Sea Shepherd
  • 6. Tokyo Tribal by Nendo
  • 7. Precious Plastics by Dave Hakkens
  • 8. MUJI kitchen appliances by Naoto Fukasawa
  • 9. Kodak Super 8 Camera by Yves Behar, Ilgu Cha, Sarah Neurnberger, Steven Overman, Danielle Atkins
  • 10. Space cup by Mark Weislogel, Andrew Wollman, John Graf, Donald Pettit, Ryan Jenson
Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Adidas x Parley running shoe by Adidas Sustainability Team, Adidas Design Team, Alexander Taylor, Parley for the Oceans, Sea Shepherd

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Tokyo Tribal by Nendo. © Photo by Akihiro Yoshida

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Precious Plastics by Dave Hakkens. © Photo by Dave Hakkens

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

MUJI kitchen appliances by Naoto Fukasawa.

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Kodak Super 8 Camera by Yves Behar, Ilgu Cha, Sarah Neurnberger, Steven Overman, Danielle Atkins. © Photo by fuseproject

Designs of the Year 2016 Nominees

Space cup by Mark Weislogel, Andrew Wollman, John Graf, Donald Pettit, Ryan Jenson. © Photo by Samantha Cristoforetti (ESA NASA)

Frank Lloyd Wright building may rise again

Frank Lloyd Wright Building May Rise Again

One of the world’s most famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, was commissioned to design a visitor’s pavilion in Banff, in the Canadian province of Alberta, at the turn of the 20th century. Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the locale was increasingly growing as a tourist draw.

Completed in 1914, in collaboration with Canadian architect Francis Conroy Sullivan, Wright’s structure cost an estimated $20,000. His open plan approach was radical relative to the design norm of rigidly structured rooms. Wright preached liberating space, steeped in a desire to closely associate man and nature.

Wright’s edifice eschewed, however, the locals’ request for a multi-purpose winter sporting facility. Wright implemented his signature “Prairie” style for a picnic shelter: a long, low structure that emphasized the horizontality of the surrounding vista.

While Wright used natural materials (cedar, spruce, local stone), his low-hipped roof was incompatible with the realities of the region’s snowy winter weather. Moreover, the building’s absence of heating was hugely problematic in such a cold climate. His structure was critically dismissed as “neither ornamental nor useful.”

Frank Lloyd Wright building may rise again

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Banff Pavilion Exterior, circa 1920. © Photographer Unknown

The pavilion’s recreational grounds, which were located adjacent to the river, frequently flooded; one 1933 flood caused severe structural damage. In 1938 the pavilion was demolished, replaced with tennis courts and, at a later date, a skateboard park. No traces of the building remain today.

A small committee advocating to resurrect the building was formed in the early 1980s. The movement gained support from the architectural world, and the possibility of using Wright’s old sketches would enable a faithful restitution of structure.

Earlier this year, the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative – an organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of the renowned architect – petitioned the Banff Town Council for permission to rebuild the structure. American filmmaker Michael Miner is leading the effort, having set up a nonprofit to facilitate fund-raising. The architect’s grandson, Eric Lloyd Wright, is an advocate as well.

At a meeting held on March 29, 2016, the Banff council accepted the proposal on speculative terms, since some pragmatic requisites, including funding, have yet to be determined.

Frank Lloyd Wright building may rise again

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Banff Pavilion. © Calgarian architectural illustrator Bill Ross

“Council supported the initiative in principle, so that they could consider reconstruction at the Banff Recreation Grounds, and asked that the Initiative submit a feasibility and cost analysis study… plus an assessment of the project on the community,” said Diana Waltmann, Manager of Communications and Marketing for the Town of Banff. No deadline was imposed. Once the Council receives the above information, stakeholders (including Parks Canada and local businesses) would have to weigh in.

“Over the last 35 years there have been a number of efforts to see it rebuilt. Only recently however, has Banff’s Town Council demonstrated a sincere willingness to move ahead,” the Frank Lloyd Wright Revival Initiative (FLWRI) stated in a press release.

The Banff structure was ultimately only one of only two Frank Lloyd Wright buildings constructed in Canada. The other, a private cottage located in Ontario, still stands.

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Attend These: 6 Design Exhibitions, Paris

You might already be familiar with big-name shows such as Maison & Objet (from September 2 – 6) and Paris Design Week (September 3 – 10), but there are a number of smaller, off-beat gems in every corner of the French capital to check out too. Here are six design exhibitions even the most critical of design fans would love.

Muji Pop-Up Exhibition, September 2 – 25 2016; Rue des Blancs Manteaux
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The Muji pop up exhibition will focus on the brand’s visual identity. © Muji

Founded in Japan in 1980, Muji’s “no-brand” branding ironically made it a household name with its focus on product quality above all else. It is easy to see how one of its founders, Ikko Tanaka – an integral Japanese designer in the 20th century – conveyed the Muji spirit to everything, including the poster designs; a selection of these will be on display at the pop-up exhibition next month.

“Roger Tallon, Design in Motion”, September 8, 2016 – January 8, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs
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Roger Tallon and his models for the TGV 001, TGV Duplex, and TGV Atlantique trains.
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / A.D.A.G.P. 2016

Highly regarded as one of France’s pioneering industrial designer, Roger Tallon might have passed away in 2011 but his remarkable work lives on. He was responsible for the design of many trains, such as the TGV Duplex, the Eurostar and the Montmartre funicular railway. Throughout his 60-year career, the prolific designer also had the route maps for the RER (Paris’ suburban rail network), Wimpy chair M400 spiral staircase, 3T tableware and Teleavia portable TV to his name. Now, many of his lesser-known works in the form of drawings, photos, documents and models – which he donated to the museum in 2008 – will finally be on display to public.

“The Spirit of Bauhaus”, October 19, 2016 – February 26, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs
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Poster for the 1923 Bauhaus Exhibition in Weimar.
© Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin

Marcel Breur, creator of tubular furniture, and photographer Florence Henri (student of Paul Klee and Vassily Kandinsky) both had one thing in common: they both attended the Bauhaus art school in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin from 1919 to 1933. The institution, famous for producing many influential artists and designers brought about a new approach to daily living by bridging the gap between all disciplines of art, including music, photography, architecture and even engineering. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs pays homage to this artistic movement by not only displaying original Bauhaus pieces, but also via the historical periods and their art forms which fueled the school’s spirit.

Exhibition of Jean Nouvel furniture, October 27 – February 12, 2017; Musée des Arts Décoratifs
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Triptychs, 2014, walnut and colored mirrors (Gagosian Gallery and Galerie Patrick Segui).
© Aline Coquelle

You might know Jean Nouvel for his architectural work but his furniture designs are mostly unknown pleasures. From 1987 to present day, the French architect has more than a hundred designs to his name. These will be displayed in various parts of the museum together with their advertising campaigns, of which he also designed in 1998.

“1976-2016: 40 Years of Magis Dreams”, August 31 – October 3, 2016; Pompidou Centre store (main image)

Italian furniture company Magis celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with a retrospective of its history and most recent collections. The mini exhibition, which coincides with Paris Design Week, will also feature Magis’ symbolic cast iron mule, which was specially designed by the brand’s 76-year-old founder, Eugenio Perazza.

AD Interiors exhibition dedicated to collections, September 3 – 18 2016; Monnaie de Paris
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The Ora-Ito-designed kitchen for the 2016 AD Interiors exhibition which this year is dedicated to collections.
© Ora-ïto / “AD Intérieurs 2016, Univers de collectionneurs”

Six years ago, Architectural Digest magazine celebrated its 10th anniversary with its first AD Interiors exhibition, where 10 handpicked designers and interior decorators had to design a room using their style and expertise. For this year’s iteration, participants –including Ora-Ïto, Tristan Auer and Fabrice Ausset – have to create décor for a room based on the theme of the collections.

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London Royal College of Art: Shortlisted Architects

London’s Royal College of the Arts is well on its way to having a brand new campus at Battersea South, having shortlisted seven architectural practices from its design competition. Founded in 1837, the Royal College of the Arts was named top art and design school this year in the annual QS World University Rankings. The institution offers MA, MPhil and PhD degrees across the disciplines of applied art, fine art, design, communications and humanities.

london-royal-college-of-arts-architects

View of Stanford University’s Art and Art History Building in Palo Alto, California, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro © Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Soon, the school will not only expand its campus but also its curriculum to include robotics, sustainability and city design, thanks to £108 million in funding from the UK government. The new campus – encompassing 15,000 sq-ft – will host the new range of courses with a focus on merging design, science and technology.

“The building has to reflect the radical nature, experimentation and high design standards of the world’s pre-eminent art and design university,” said Dr Paul Thompson, Rector of the RCA and Chair of the architectural Selection Panel.

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The Building of Columbia College Chicago Media Production Center in Chicago, Illinois, designed by Studio Gang.

The seven finalist teams were selected from a total of 97 practices from around the world. The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges that included RCA Rector Paul Thompson, the college’s architectural dean Adrian Lahoud, urban design expert Ricky Burdett and MoMA curator Paola Antonelli. The shortlisted teams have had experience designing educational facilities before. Diller Scofidio + Renfro worked on the Brown University’s Centre for the Creative Arts in Providence, Rhode Island and Stanford University’s Art and Art History Building in Paolo Alto, California. Herzog & de Meuron were selected for Blavatnik School of Government at UK’s Oxford, Lacaton & Vassal for the Architecture School of Nantes in France and Serie Architects for the New School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore. Meanwhile, Studio Gang designed the Columbia College Chicago Media Production Center in Chicago, Illinois.
The winners are expected to be announced in October 2016, and till then, we’re eagerly awaiting the new design plan for the campus.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Gets Acoustics Overhaul

The Sydney Opera House will undergo a multi-million-dollar overhaul, with an emphasis on improving its acoustics, once described as worse than an aircraft hangar, officials said last week.

The Aus$247 million ($190 million) revamp is the biggest since Australia’s most recognizable building opened in 1973 and includes other upgrades to the main concert hall and the foyer, along with a new function center.

Describing the landmark as a “symbol of modern Australia”, New South Wales state deputy Premier Troy Grant said the renovations were necessary to help the Opera House – the country’s busiest performing arts center – meet demand.

The refurbishments in the concert hall will involve the installation of a new acoustic ceiling, specially designed acoustic reflectors, automated draping, and a 3D surround-sound system.

The second-largest performance space, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, is also being redeveloped.

There has long been criticism of the acoustics of the concert hall, which is located inside the largest roof sail of the Opera House.

US actor John Malkovich in 2014 said the acoustics were so hideous they “would do an airplane hangar a disservice”.

“It’s lovely to drive by on a motor boat and it has a very nice crew, and very capable, but the acoustics are hideous,” the American star told a local newspaper then.

In 1999, Sydney Symphony Orchestra chief conductor Edo de Waart threatened to boycott the venue during the 2000 Olympics, calling its acoustic reflectors “a joke”.

“The doughnuts (clear, circular reflectors above the platform) are a joke. They might as well be toilet seats. They do nothing whatsoever,” de Waart told the ABC then about his frustrations, which were shared by his predecessors.

“It’s very frustrating. You get no help from this hall. It actually takes away from the sound the orchestra makes.”

Danish architect Jorn Utzon began work on the harborside structure in 1957 but quit the project in 1966 during construction following a storm of controversy over budget blow-outs and his artistic vision.

Changes to the interior design after Utzon departed left the building – which was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007 – with acoustics criticized as inadequate for international opera standards.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s managing director Rory Jeffes said his musicians were excited about the improvements, adding they would deliver the “true ambitions” of the original creators.

The concert hall revamp is expected to start in mid-2019 and last for 18 months.

British Airways i360 close

World’s Tallest Moving Observation Tower Opens

The world’s tallest moving observation tower is set to open in Brighton next week, sending visitors up 450 feet in the air on a vertical cable car.

Designed by the same architects who dreamed up the iconic London Eye, British Airways i360 is England’s newest landmark, erected in the seaside resort town of Brighton about an hour’s train ride south of London.

Designed like a futuristic glass viewing pod, the capsule glides slowly up to 450 feet, where it stops and allows riders to take in the 360-degree views across Brighton, the South Downs and the Sussex coastline.

Flights last about 20 minutes when taken in the day and stretch out to 30 minutes after 6 pm when the pod transforms into the Sky Bar, serving locally produced sparkling wine.

The tower’s completion comes 10 years after the idea was first conceived by husband and wife team David Marks and Julia Barfield. The tower itself is powered entirely on green and renewable energy, and the pod’s descent generates half of the energy required to power its ascent.

At the base of the tower, the beach building is set to house a trio of different dining options that will include a formal dining area, a tea room and casual café with terrace that overlooks the pier. Other features include a children’s play area and retail spaces. Tickets are now on sale. The tower opens to the public August 4.

British Airways i360 Bristol scenic

San Shan Bridge Unveiled for Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing’s ever-evolving landscape will soon see a futuristic, double-helix bridge named San Shan Bridge come 2022, when the city hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

Stretching out from across the city to the mountainous region of Zhangjiakou over the river Gui, the infrastructure – translated to “Three Mountains” – is part of the government’s efforts to provide more efficient transportation to the event location for athletes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Referencing the union of the five continents, just like the interlaced rings of the Olympic logo, the 452-meter-long bridge sees three sets of cross-connected structures that reflects its name. Each of these structures have a maximum span of 95 meters and are supported by high-strength steel cables that crisscross the bridge in an elegantly woven design. To facilitate movement, the bridge will also be separated into transportation and pedestrian sections via two strips of trees and bushes.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

Beijing and Vienna-based architecture firm Penda – whose portfolio includes the bamboo pavilion “One with the Birds” for Beijing Design Week 2015 – will work alongside global engineering consultants ARUP on the ambitious task. If ARUP sounds familiar, it is because the prolific firm has taken projects such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters in Seattle to completion and are currently working on Apple Campus 2.

Beijing WInter Olympics_San Shan Bridge_

However, the San Shan Bridge is but part of a larger city expansion scheme for the Chinese capital. Beijing Horticultural Expo 2019 (a future exhibition hub) and a more extensive transport system (11,700km of metro planned for 2050) will cater to the city’s aspiration of evolving into a supercity – the third largest in the world at that, with more than 21 million people.

Morocco Unveils Mohammed VI Bridge, Africa’s Longest

Lighting up the Moroccan skyline is the Mohammed VI bridge. With its multi-colored, variable LED lights, it is hard to miss Africa’s longest cable-stayed bridge. Named after King Mohammed VI of Morocco, it was inaugurated earlier this month.

The bridge spans 950 meters in length and is six lanes and includes two 200-meter tall towers while being held together by 160 cables. The connector between the Moroccan capital, Rabat and the city of Salé was constructed by China railway Major Bridge Engineering Group and took five years to be completed.Mohammed-VI-Bridge-Morocco-close-up

The colorful display is achieved with the help of Philips Lighting, who has dressed the bridge in LED lights to commemorate the inauguration. Using Philips Color Kinetics technology, operators can choose between 16 million colors for eye-catching light shows along the bridge. The lights that run along all the cables and pillars are expected to be “up to 75% more energy efficient that conventional lighting systems.”

This is hardly the first bridge to be lit up thanks to Philips’ LED lighting system. From the London Bridge, to the Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey and even the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston, the light manufacturer has been lighting up bridges the world over.Mohammed-VI-Bridge-Morocco-Philips-Lighting

While the Mohammed VI bridge holds the title as the longest bridge in the continent, it is only the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. The longest cable-stayed bridges in the world (not counting pipeline bridges) are currently the Russky Bridge in Russia (1,104 meters) and the Sutong Bridge in China (1,088 meters).

Grimshaw Architects Expand London Heathrow Airport

In some good news since Brexit, it seems plans to give London’s Heathrow Airport a well-needed makeover might soon be a reality, with a little help from architectural firm Grimshaw.

Announced July 19, the London-based firm ousted competitors the likes of Zaha Hadid Architects, Benoy and HOK with its “visionary concept designs, which pushed the boundary of what an airport could and should be” and “unique ideas around how Heathrow could be expanded in a sustainable but affordable way.”

Its concept design, revealed in a clip below, sees a new international terminal that features a satellite concourse, control tower, urban center and landscaped exterior. As per the brief, their submission showed innovative, contemporary lines with an emphasis on sustainable infrastructure. The Central Terminal will also be redesigned to become the host of Terminal 2, with a large skylight and curving balcony that will house retail outlets.

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Heathrow’s head of design Barry Weekes is quoted insisting that “with the concept architect and programme client partners now in place, we are now ready to begin the process of expansion once the government makes the right choice for the whole of Britain.”

London Heathrow Airport is certain the upgrade will go ahead despite disapproval from public figures, as well as environmental and local advocacy groups, citing the importance of a new runway and terminal for Britain, especially in the current European climate. However, the final decision, which lies with the Transport Minister, still remains to be seen, as new Prime Minister Theresa Lay continues to strongly oppose the expansion.

Le Corbusier’s Works Are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

It was a long time coming but better late than never, we say: architect Le Corbusier’s works will be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For those who aren’t familiar with the French titan of design, Le Corbusier (whose real name is Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris) was a pioneer of the Modern Movement. His works have more than just an artistic impact; Le Corbusier was also influential in the domain of urban planning, and was dedicated to providing better living conditions in crowded cities.

One need only look to the Indian city of Chandigarh for an example of his works, or to his French masterpieces like the La Cite Radieuse housing project in Marseille. With an emphasis on functionality, bold lines and materials of concrete, iron and glass, the chosen creations exemplify Le Corbusier’s contributions to modern architecture.

Seventeen of his projects were classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which they span across seven countries – France, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Japan and India. Testament to his global impact and his unfaltering belief in dreaming big, the grand master is finally recognized for his efforts.

UK, Turkey Dominate World Architecture Festival

When you have 50 projects hailing from one country in the shortlist of 343 projects and 58 countries, you know you’re at the top of your game. This is the case for the UK, which topped all other countries in the number of shortlisted firms in the World Architecture Festival; they are closely followed by Turkey at 28 nominations, and Australia at 25.

To be held for the first time in Berlin from 16-18 November this year, the World Architecture Festival award categories cover almost every kind of structure, from schools and malls to stadiums, transportation hubs and offices. In the House category, Australia dominates with five firms out of 17. This, however, is nothing compared with the UK, where several architecture companies – think Zaha Hadid Architects, Crab Studio and Glenn Howells Architects among others – achieving multiple nominations. Truly impressive.

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All 300-plus firms will compete for 32 awards, of which the “World Building of the Year” and “Future Project of the Year” are the most coveted. Last year, the former was awarded to “The Interlace”, a vertical village designed by Buro Ole Scheeren, while the latter was awarded to Vancouver House by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Only time will tell which firms will emerge triumphant this year.

For more details on all the projects nominated for the World Architecture Festival, check out their website here.

Icefjord Centre: Climate Change Observation Deck

The UNESCO world Heritage site Sermermiut Valley will soon host the Icefjord Centre. The space, which is set to be created on the edge of the valley, is designed by Danish architectural firm Dorte Mandrup.

The center will be used for research, exhibitions and as a location for locals and foreigners to discuss environmental issues such as climate change. Providing a breath-taking view of the Ilulissat, Icefjord’s 250,000 year-old Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, the design was chosen over five other entries. Those in the running included world-renowned architects Snøhetta, Olafur Eliasson and Kengo Kuma and Associates.

Shaped like a boomerang, the wooden frame curves around the rugged landscape with the roof of the structure acting as a bridge, viewing platform and seating area for guests. The multi-functional roof also acts as the entrance to the World Heritage Trail. Fitted with large glass panels, the center’s harmonious relationship with the surroundings offer guests a chance to witness the “constantly changing view that enhances the experience of the landscape by framing the fantastic viewpoints.”

Another use for the center, perhaps the most important one at that, is to provide scientists a space to research the Earth’s climate via the glacier. As the Greenland ice sheet is currently the second-largest body of ice in the world, the location of the Icefjord Centre is ideal for studying climate change. Set to be completed in autumn 2020, the project is funded by Greenland’s government, Qaasuitsup Municipality and the Danish philanthropic organization Realdania.

Masterpiece London Exhibition to Honor Zaha Hadid

When one’s name is known far beyond one’s vocation, you know you’re dealing with a legend. Zaha Hadid is one such person, and her death in March this year has the world (still) mourning her loss. Known mainly for her extravagant parametric and neo-futurist designs (one need only look to the Guangzhou Opera House for an example), she has also dabbled in furniture, shoe design, jewelry and other creative domains. To honor her contributions to the artistic world, the Masterpiece London design fair 2016 will commemorate her works through the exhibition of some of her lesser-known projects.

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Curated by Francis Sultana, CEO of David Gill Gallery, London Masterpiece will narrate her life’s story. Expect pieces from Hadid’s Liquid Glacial furniture collection (above), personal items, sketches, paintings and photographs to fashion pieces, such as her United Nude Nova shoes and her reinterpretation of the Louis Vuitton “Icone bag.” Her drafting tools will also make an appearance – even seemingly mundane objects are endowed with great importance when they belong to an expert.

Masterpiece London is on now till to July 6 at the Royal Hospital in London’s chic Chelsea district. General admission tickets will set one back £28 (approximately $37).

For more information, visit the site at www.masterpiecefair.com.

Focus: Baan Bang Sa Ray House by Jun Sekino

Commissioned as a holiday home for an extended family, the Baan Bang Sa Ray House takes full advantage of its ideal location and expansive lawn. Built in Chonburi province, some two hours away by car from Bangkok, the house is also a mere kilometer from the Gulf of Thailand. The plot is spacious enough for a par three golf course that is constantly cooled by sea breeze.

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The owners comprise a three-generation family who enjoy escaping from the city during holidays and on long weekends. The designer Jun Sekino, founder and principal of Junsekino Architect & Design Co., Ltd, took this as a cue to create a series of private spaces and common areas where each family member can relax in solitude or mingle with family and guests. Between these two zones Sekino also provided flexible spaces that can accommodate any number of uses.

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The house is accessed from the main gate by a driveway and a walking path that lead to the house. On the south side are the main entrance, garage, and service areas, while on the north side are the gardens and the putting green. The house is positioned and designed to catch the sea breeze. The ground floor is an ample open space that can be converted into an entertainment area or an additional storage space if necessary. At the back is a drawing room that is connected to the golf course and serves as transition space between indoors and outdoors.

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The second story, where the public areas are located, has large doors and windows that take in natural ventilation, lighting and views. A stairway leads to the second storey where a series of common areas are laid out. This includes the living room, dining room, study, and work space. Outside is a terrace with a swimming pool.

The private domain and family rooms are on the third storey. The entire floor is sectioned into two wings of bedrooms connected by a drawing room and the adjacent living room.

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As the enormous roof covers nearly 80 per cent of the house, it is designed to be as light as possible. Together with the ceiling, they add a touch of warmth to the entire house despite its expansive size. A selection of natural materials, including wood and stone, was selected for the house to give it an organic, warm character. The house turns into a wonderful sight at night. With its glass sliding doors and several openings, the lights turn it into a virtual lantern.

This article was originally published in FORM Magazine.

Zaha Hadid Retrospective Shows In Venice

In contrast with the classical ornate interior décor of the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, the designs of Zaha Hadid stand as fiercely futuristic and sleek. Not everyone has been a fan of this kind of style, viewing it as cold and mathematical, or even totalitarian in nature. Still, this juxtaposition, whether intended or not, is a perfect way to introduce the work of the late visionary architect. A retrospective exhibition of Hadid will run in the palazzo, alongside the Venice Architecture Biennale, until November 27. It will feature paintings, drawings and models of her work – both finished and unfinished.

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Malevich’s Tektonik

Hadid is widely known for being one of the greatest female architects – as the first woman to achieve the Pritzker Architecture Prize and to receive the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Her own style is strongly influenced by the Russian Avant-Gardists. Their love of simple geometries and colors can be seen throughout her various plans – with one of these actually being named after Russian artist Kazimir Malevich.

Grand Building's for Trafalgar Square

Grand Building’s for Trafalgar Square

The Malevich Tektonik (1976 – 1977) was one of Hadid’s earliest works. It was a 14-storey hotel on Hungerford Bridge over the River Thames in London, which was her fourth-year project while studying at the British capital’s Architectural Association School of Architecture. The building model is put together with strictly cubical shapes standing in contrast with the extensively wavy, almost biomorphic, forms of her later works. Other unrealized projects displayed include the Peak Club in Hong Kong and her Grand Buildings designed for London’s Trafalgar Square.

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Displayed in conjunction with Hadid’s own drawings are the photographs by famous architecture photographer Hélène Binet. She’s done many of Hadid’s works great justice through the composition of the photographs, accentuating the stark cohesiveness of the architectural forms.

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Fans of Zaha Hadid will be able to get their fill of the architect’s work at the exhibit – ranging from the London Aquatics Center in the UK, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, to the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, USA. Her legacy will loom large even after her death, for many many more years to come.

You can find out more about the exhibition over here.

Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects and Luke Hayes

New Photos, Video of Tallest Glass-Bottom Bridge

If you are afraid of heights, look away now because this story is all about the world’s tallest and longest glass-bottom bridge. New photos have emerged of what’s poised to become, arguably, the world’s most dizzying glass-bottomed bridge in China. Scroll to the bottom of the article for the video.

Located in the national park that inspired the floating mountains of James Cameron’s film Avatar, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is not for the faint of heart, connecting two precipices 300 meters above the canyon floor. The transparent bridge spans 430 meters in length, 6 meters in width and can accommodate up to 800 people.

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Designed by Tel Aviv-based architectural firm Haim Dotan Ltd., the feat of structural and architectural engineering holds 10 world records including the world’s highest bungee jump. The bridge is meant to be “as invisible as possible,” work seamlessly with nature and give visitors the sense of floating in mid-air.

Zhangjiajie National Park is located in the northern part of Hunan province. The bridge is expected to open this summer.

Though the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge will claim several bragging rights when it opens, the one title it won’t hold is being China’s first glass bridge. Last fall, a glass walkway opened in central Hunan province at a more modest height of 180 meters.

More pictures follow,below the video:

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tallest longest glass bottom bridge China