Tag Archives: Architecture

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

Rotterdam Staircase Honors Wartime Reconstruction

Standing tall in the heart of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is a 29-meter staircase built to head up to the roof of the Groot Handelsgebouw building, leading to a view spanning over the city. This staircase is made entirely from scaffolding, and seems almost like a diagonal board leaning on the side, perched on crossing lines. All this was put together by Dutch design firm MVRDV to celebrate 75 years of post-war reconstruction.

The city was heavily bombarded during World War II by Germany – leading to the Dutch surrender to prevent further attacks. These days, Rotterdam has built itself up as one of the largest ports in the world and a leading light of contemporary architecture. It is the architecture bit that involves the new staircase.

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At the top, visitors can observe the sights from a temporary observation deck. They can also enjoy a new line-up of refreshment facilities and find out more about the development from a rooftop information center. The location was even home to the former Kriterion Cinema – a popular haunt in the 1960s. It’s reopening specially for the event with movies, debates, and performances on show.

“Back in the day, I would look out over Rotterdam after the film in Kriterion. It offered a fantastic view of the city,” explains Winy Maas, co-founder of MVRDV. “The roof of the Groot Handelsgebouw, one of the best buildings from the reconstruction period in the Netherlands, deserves to be used as a basis for the next re-invention of Rotterdam. With these stairs, we want to offer this suggestion and celebrate at the same time.”

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Maas hopes that the stairs will become a permanent fixture, noting that it “must create more liveliness on the roof and show a second layer in the next step of urban development of Rotterdam”. It’ll also be another monument to showcase how far humanity has come from the turmoil of the war period, and the staggering costs of it.

Prague to be Remade by Zaha Hadid Architects

We’ve come a long way from Kafka’s Prague. While the city’s most famous author never mentioned it directly in writing, when you move through the spiraling derelict and bureaucratic architectures of his literature, you’re bound to wonder what kind of place it was in his time. Now, the city has to take in demands from its contemporary urban fabric – including growing service and IT sectors – and for that they’re calling in Zaha Hadid Architects to set things up anew. The architecture firm will work with the city to develop a design that aims to regenerate a brownfield urban site adjacent to the city’s Masaryk Railway Station. The new buildings will be futuristic and gleaming, hopefully bereft of the suffocating structures of Kafka’s offices.

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The whole design will stitch together Prague’s various districts (1,3 and 8) to create a sequence of buildings and interconnecting public spaces along Na Florenci Boulevard. Adjacent to the railway station will be a new public plaza, providing a gateway to the city. The buildings will vary in scale and style the curved wavy forms that characterize the work of the late Zaha Hadid. The whole thing is due for completion in 2022.

“In collaboration with our partners and the city, we have developed an urbanism for the site which draws inspiration from our analysis of the city and the site’s dynamic circulation networks, creating an architectural response that is sensitive to context, unifying in aspiration and contributes to the urban fabric of Prague” said Craig Kiner, Project Associate at ZHA.

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This adds another interesting piece to the list of memorable projects taken up by the firm, which includes the London Aquatics Center in the UK, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, USA, The Guggenheim Museum in Taiwan and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales. Hopefully, Zaha’s vision will be honored in the streets of the Prague, even after her passing.

Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Unit One Design: Private Sierramas Residence

Unit One Design needs no introduction to architecture and design aficionados. Founded in 1996 by John Ding and Ken Wong, its body of work spanning private homes and boutique developments is distinguished by creativity, elegant ideas and crafted details. The raison d’etre of this architecture and design studio is to create spaces that leave a lasting impression on the people using or visiting them—a goal that drives it to ever greater heights, winning numerous local and international awards, among them the PAM (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia) Award 2014 in Single Residential Category for this remarkable private residence in Sierramas.

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Unit One’s work is always based on ideas that are rooted to context which translates into a unique solution for a specific site. This ensures that a building cannot be transferred to a different spot simply because it just wouldn’t work there. Blessed with a high vantage point overlooking the lake, the house was orientated to exploit the views attained from this direction. In response to the difficult site, the house is organized geometrically and conceived as a set of three concrete frames sitting in parallel succession from the lake. These concrete frames are used as a device to layer the different portions of the house and to cater to the needs of a growing family, the private spaces are hung from above as enclosed boxes that leave the public spaces totally open.

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While Unit One is renowned for its understated palette, their deft manipulation of space, material and volume creates impactful architecture. To create an unforgettable first impression, a tall main door makes a dramatic statement at the entrance, and gives guests a sense of arrival. This is reinforced by the Juliet balcony beside it which also runs all the way through the house to address security concerns. The expansive living and dining area with its double-height volume is accentuated by a cluster of Tom Dixon Pipe Pendant light that adds a subtle sheen to the space. This sizeable living and dining area opens up to the pool and main deck to create a large entertainment area with an external link to the leisure areas below, while a monolithic counter top extends to the exterior, further reinforcing the idea of a seamless transition.

The spacious deck has room for relaxing and entertaining.

Privacy is often a concern in homes and demarcating spaces so that the need of the family who uses it are met were considered in the overall layout. Tucked in the back, the master suite has the complete privacy of a wing all to itself, while the children’s bedrooms and the owner’s private office are arranged at the front part of the house. The façade is clad with a layered timbre structure that doesn’t just allow natural light to filter in, but also functions to restrict solar gain and prying views. Shrewdly placed at the edge of the house, the swimming pool forms a backdrop for unrestricted views of the lake.

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This story was first published in FORM.

Taipei Named World Design Capital 2016

Held biennially, the World Design Capital (WDC) is a city promotion project that celebrates the accomplishments in design. As populations grow and economies prosper, the future success in cities are largely reliant on urban planning, design and management.

Taipei joined Torino, Seoul, Helsinki, and Cape Town when it was inducted into the league of World Design Capital this year. A global event initiated by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), WDC is selected every two years among applicants with the most design potential.

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Taipei, like other cities, is expected to face many social challenges in the future, including population, economy, urban environment, healthcare, ecology, and housing, as it grows and matures. In 2012, the city government began initiating several projects under Public Policy by Design. Taipei was the first city in Taiwan to adopt design as a means of urban transformation. Through cross-departmental integration of the city government and participation of experts from industry, government, academia, design professionals, and citizens, the Taipei City government reviews urban problems and uses design thinking to develop public policy based on people’s needs.

In addition, Taipei was the first city in Taiwan to hold a series of courses on design thinking in order to cultivate public servants’ knowledge of the concept of design thinking to permeate into all government agencies. Based on the spirit of ‘adaptive city’, WDC Taipei 2016 hopes to call on local designers and citizens to promote urban innovation in Taipei through co-design.

Through Adaptive City – Design In Motion, WDC Taipei 2016 will demonstrate that Taipei is an adaptive city that continues to improve, and strives to solve social problems through social design.

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WDC 2016 is expected to be an urban transformation movement in Taipei. Using design thinking and design management as the basis for its innovative guidelines for urban governance. WDC will invite design enthusiasts to engage in major areas of Quality of Life and Health, Ecological Sustainability, Urban Regeneration, and Smart Living.

WDC 2016 will seek participation of leading local designers from industrial design, graphic design, brands, products, architectural space, and public art to lead citizens to experience design and nurture diverse innovative capacity for the city from the professional perspective. These select design professionals will be enlisted to propose related recommendations for design based on their education and experiences in their field. In addition, they will also propose prospective thinking on public policy implanted in WDC Taipei 2016, hoping to use innovative design thinking of technology, resources, manpower, and cultures to influence experiences and build a liveable city.

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The strength of Taipei City is people’s activities. Taipei City is a place with integrated new and old cultures. For example, Neihu belongs to a technology park and a residential area; Ximending has featured film culture and the fashion trends for over 40 and 50 years, respectively. Taking a closer look, one can easily discover many compatible features in every area around Taipei City; unfortunately, most citizens in Taipei ignore these features due to busy life and consider ‘inconvenience’ to be the norm. The creation of every design needs time to verify.

Through time and practicality, people review whether design brings positive response to people or life. “Through WDC, let the spirit of Adaptive design not only prosper in 2016, but also pass down continuously for years through people’s experiences and events,” said Liao Chun-Hao, chief convener of Taiwanese designers. Many people do not realise that they actually engage in design, Taipei, even Taiwan, categorises design into detailed fields and considers design as producing beautiful things or styles; in fact, design includes services, thinking, planning, etc. Liao reiterated that when people are solving problems, they are engaging in design.

Click here for full information on Taipei WDC 2016, and view the calendar of activities here .

This story was first published in FORM.

 

Interview: Designer Tim Bowder-Ridger

Conran + Partners has become one of the most well known and respected design studios in the world. Founded in 1989 by Sir Terrance Conran, they design everything from hand crafted furniture to large-scale mixed use developments. At its helm is Mr Tim Bowder-Ridger. An 18-year-old veteran at the company. He joined Conran in 1997 and today leads teams across the globe as it’s Managing Director. Our friends at Palace magazine sit down with him to get an insight into what it takes to oversee a company at the forefront of international design.

How did you come about joining Conran + Partners and what’s been your favorite project over the years?

I joined Conran and Partners 18 years ago, at a time when the London restaurant scene felt truly explosive. Conran were instrumental in this change in consumer attitude to eating out and I was attracted to this exciting cultural shift. Consequently for a few years following my arrival, I led on all Conran Restaurant projects, overseeing the design and implementation of what have today become classics. This part of our work continues today with the completion of our 100th restaurant and bar just before Christmas.

But my passion for residential and hotel design is at the core of what we do as a practice. Inevitably my favorite project is the one I am in the middle of working on at any one point. Currently that is Centre Point in central London.

In this project we are reinventing an icon of 1960s brutalist commercial architecture into a spectacular apartment building, whilst repairing the city fabric at the East end of Oxford Street.

How has your design philosophy and style changed throughout the past almost 19 years you’ve been with Conran + Partners?

I began with a relatively conventional professional approach of white modernist architecture that imposed a language onto whatever the context was.

Our approach at Conran and Partners has a greater flexibility in the ways of answering the user’s needs. It is always contextual, engaging with the physical and cultural reference points of its location to create a narrative that is explicit in the design solution. Always trying to create a specific sense of place in a world that is in danger of becoming ever more generic.

What do you believe has made Conran + Partners so successful?

The success of Conran and Partners rests upon the core value that has been with the company from its founding which is to make aspirational design accessible to as many people as possible.

We work across all sectors and scales around the world, but our underlying thread is always to bring about quality design that is articulate and tangible to the people who are going to use the buildings whether as occupants or simply as members of the community within which the building exists. The world population has become much more design savvy. People travel more, read more, eat out more, shop more.

There is a greater level of expectancy when it comes to design and creating a memorable experience. An indication of success to us is when people not involved in our project can describe the point of design without being told it… hopefully in positive language!

We focus on mainly luxury residential property at Palace. Can you tell me a bit about any upcoming residential projects you will be working on? Centrepoint? Any others?

Culture, for me, is the new luxury. Centre Point, which I mentioned earlier, is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful listed buildings in London. It is a prime development where we are converting what was office space into 82 extraordinary apartments which marry the spirit of the 1960’s with the vibrant hot bed of creativity London exuberates today. The building is located in the very heart of London’s cultural district within a few minutes’ walk of the British Museum, Theatre Land and the national galleries.

Once the project has finished in 2017, it will be one of the most exciting addresses in the heart of one of the most exciting cities in the world.

Blake Tower, Richard John Seymour

Blake Tower

Our Blake Tower project is another exercise in reinventing a 1960s piece of Brutalist architecture located within London’s Barbican Estate; a cultural oasis within itself. The apartments have been strategically planned to engage with the building’s original architectural anatomy of pickhammered concrete structure, with a contemporary palette to provide extremely stylish homes.

Both developments are outside of London’s traditional luxury neighbourhoods but are incredibly sought after in the fact they are rare opportunities to buy into a creative way of life and to own a unique piece of London’s art and design scene.

We work all over the world, with live projects currently in Copenhagen, Tokyo, Istanbul, Jakarta and Auckland. With all these projects, the overarching story stems from the culture of the area and the building, to create unique experiences of their location.

They will appeal to a generation that is fundamentally very cultured, though of course that is not a pre-requisite.

How is Conran + Partners expanding across Asia?

Our love affair for working in Asia began in the late 90’s with a new urban quarter in the heart of Tokyo.

Appointed as part of an international design team, we were involved in the architecture, interior design, landscape design, product design and graphics for the Roppongi Hills Development. The scheme, which occupies an 11-hectare site, is as significant to Tokyo as Canary Wharf is to London, and is well known for the mix of luxury apartments, restaurants, bars and private members clubs which we created at the time.

We subsequently continued with large scale architecture across the city, completing Japan’s largest single mixed-use development last year with Futako Tamagawa. I fly out to Tokyo next week to develop another residential project and will be visiting every six weeks or so. It’s a fantastic city and I love the Japanese approach to design, culture and, of course, food.

Our other thrust in Asia, however, is led by our hotel work, having designed a plethora of private members clubs, hotels and restaurants throughout Hong Kong, India and South Korea. We are currently in the midst of designing a new luxury 5 star hotel in Jakarta. It will include over 200 rooms, a luxury spa, multiple bars and restaurants, and another (whilst not strictly in Asia) in Auckland.

What trends are you currently seeing in Modern Architecture and Design?

A strong recognition of the quality of 20th Century Modernism, which represented a clarity of thought and an honesty of implementation. Many of our briefs are currently about reinterpreting that into the 21st Century, taking on-board the technical and lifestyle changes that have happened in the interim. A credible representation of our time.

Horseferry Road

Horseferry Road

What would you say is the most exciting city for Modern Architecture?

London for its combination of enormous energy and a value attached to quality design.

On the other hand, Tokyo, for me personally, whilst a difficult market to get into for foreign designers, is fascinating to work in, not least because of the synergy between the Japanese design values and our company perspective, such as clarity of approach, the importance of narrative, attention to detail, clean lines and a simple palette of materials. Possibly the least ostentatious culture in the world.

Walk me through your daily routine.

I tend to arrive to the studio early. An hour or so before everyone else to answer emails, read the news, gather my thoughts and focus on designing uninterrupted. The day quickly becomes a mix of back-to back management meetings and project reviews, of which I am either the lead designer or is being directed by another member of the senior team. On average I have three business lunches a week, sometimes along the River Thames but quite often around Soho or Mayfair. It’s a chance to properly catch-up, throw some ideas around and work through a design. Either way, always armed with an A5 sketchbook and 2B pencil. I’ll then head back to the studio, touch base with my design team, before finding a quiet corner to work through some ideas. I finish the day either by going out to dinner with clients or friends, or visit our local independent cinema with my family. Otherwise, subject to how big my lunch was, I will drive down to the country to exercise my horses.

When you travel, what do you like to bring with you? Smartphone, tablet laptop etc…

I take all of the above plus a pile of magazines. Air travel in particular is a chance to escape from my phone and find time to think. My constant companion is my luggage. Rimowa, a classic German brand made of solid aluminum looks beautiful new but over the years patinates fantastically.

Favorite restaurant to take clients?

Quo Vadis in London is a great location to take clients. The atmosphere is glamorous enough to be interesting but not pretentious. In Tokyo I would recommend a table at Plate. It’s a small independent establishment with exceptional dishes made of quality ingredients. The owner is very eccentric and offers a Japanese take on Italian cuisine.

Liked or respected?

Hopefully a bit of both, achieved through keeping a sense of humor; no matter how challenging a task at hand is.

Leadership style?

To give everyone I work with ownership of their task and therefore ownership of the overall strategy.

Tim Bowder-Ridger Portrait edited colour 2

Story Credits

Text by Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE Magazine