Tag Archives: London

Hotels opening in 2017: Check into these new accommodations in Paris, Bora Bora and more for your upcoming holidays

Arthur Streeton, 'Circular Quay,' 1892 at 'Australia's Impressionists' © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Art Exhibitions in 2017: 4 museums Revisiting Major Art Movements in New York and London

Taking a break from the contemporary world, sometimes it is necessary to trace the roots of the modern artworks we know and love, going back to its historical references. With that in mind, refresh your knowledge of some of history’s major art movements in 2017 with these four exhibitions.

“A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde” – December 3, 2016, to March 12, 2017, at MoMA, New York, USA

MoMA is retracing the rise of the Russian avant-garde movement, from the First World War to the end of the first five-year plan of the USSR (the inter-war period). Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, it presents the movement’s first experimental projects (paintings, drawings, sculptures, etchings, books, films, etc.)

“Surrealism in Egypt: Art and Liberty 1938-1948” – November 17, 2017, to March 11, 2018, at Tate Liverpool, UK

This is the first comprehensive museum exhibition about the Art and Liberty Group (Art et Liberté -jama’at al-fann wa al-hurriyyah). This collective of politically engaged artists and writers with surrealist leanings lived and worked in Cairo in the late 1930s until the late 1940s. “Surrealism in Egypt: Art and Liberty 1938-1948” shows how the movement, usually associated with European artists, transcended borders, notably thanks to travel and correspondence with artists such as André Breton and Lee Miller.

“Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites” – October 4, 2017, to April 2, 2018, at The National Gallery, London, UK
'The Arnolfini Portrait', 1434, Jan van Eyck at 'Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites' © National Gallery, London

‘The Arnolfini Portrait’, 1434, Jan van Eyck at ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’
© National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is focusing on the painting “Arnolfini Portrait” by Van Eyck, exploring how the work became a beacon by which Pre-Raphaelites forged a new style of painting. The exhibition brings together “Arnolfini Portrait” and other paintings for the first time, highlighting the piece’s influence on the work of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).

“Australia’s Impressionists” – December 7, 2016, to March 26, 2017, at The National Gallery, London, UK

“Australia’s Impressionists” is the UK’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Australian impressionists. It presents the movement as a unique artistic current, certainly linked to its French and British counterparts, yet also entirely distinct.

london invest properties berkeley homes south quay plaza aerial view

Invest in London, UK: Brexit takes down housing prices, attracting international buyers

As a city that has long been one of the hubs of global finance and has made multiple appearances on the lists of top places to live for the ultra-high-net-worth individuals, London has certainly got its advantage when it comes to attracting international investors. With its relatively transparent legal system, security and access to top educational institutions, London has got that magnetism that has continued to attract investors in 2016. According to The Wealth Report 2016 by Knight Frank, a commercial and residential property consultancy, London has overtaken New York for the second consecutive year in a row as the leading city for the world’s wealthy, based on where they spend their time, grow their businesses and invest in real estate.

Although London’s property market has gone through peaks and troughs over the last 18 months, it continues to appeal to domestic and international buyers alike. Following the natural dip in housing prices after the EU Referendum and the weakening of the Sterling, the housing market in London has strengthened the value proposition for knowledgeable buyers, with a spike in enquiries from purchasers from Asian countries, including China and Singapore.

“London remains a safe haven for investment and a hub for the world’s high net worth individuals”, says Charlie Walsh, Director, Sales at Lodha UK. “Many buyers have identified that they need to act now to secure strong long-term growth”.

Advantageously located developments in prestigious districts of London continue to attract buyers from overseas who seek a great investment that can offer a home for generations to come. Lodha UK’s Lincoln Square is one of such developments, located in London’s historic and legal quarter between Covent Garden and the financial district of the Square Mile, next to some of London’s most prestigious educational institutions, theatres, restaurants and fashion boutiques.

Areas undergoing regeneration in London have also presented a great opportunity for investors, with prices continuing on an upward trajectory. London Docklands and Canary Wharf have been rapidly gaining investors’ interest with the development of new residential properties, restaurants, bars, concert venues and retail malls. The new high-speed rail link connecting West and East London – the Elizabeth Line – has been contributing to higher property values for homes along the route. With a scheduled 2018 opening, pricing around the Elizabeth Line, including areas like Canary Wharf, are expected to rise 7% over the next four years.

“It is a great time to buy in London, especially in areas that are undergoing change,” says Jacob Sullivan, Director of Sales & Marketing, Berkeley Homes South East London. “House prices in areas like London Docklands continue to experience growth compared to areas such as Kensington and Chelsea, where there has been a significant decrease in prices over the last year”.

 

On the market

Lincoln Square, Lodha UK

With its advantageous location in London’s historic and legal quarter, next to the world renowned institutions like the London School of Economics, as well as world class theatres and restaurants, Lincoln Square is an upcoming destination that will offer state-of-the-art facilities and exquisitely designed residences in the heart of the city. The development will offer elegant, warm, contemporary residences ranging from studios to four-bed apartments and two penthouses with interiors designed by Bowler James Brindley. The residents’ amenities, curated by Patricia Urquiola, will include a private club and a library, a cinema room, private dining room for up to 36 people, as well as snooker and games rooms, while the wellness facilities will feature a 25 metre swimming pool, a spa and a high-tech gymnasium.

Price: from GBP 900,000 (approx. USD 1.19 million) available on lincolnsquare.co.uk

 

Lincoln Square interior

Lincoln Square interior

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Lincoln Square entrance

South Quay Plaza, Berkeley Homes

Poised to become one of London’s tallest residential towers when completed, the mixed-used South Quay Plaza will feature a stepped tower structure built at a 45-degree rotation to maximise water views and a panoramic city skyline, offering a valuable proximity to the London City Airport and the upcoming Crossrail that will connect Heathrow to Canary Wharf in less than 40 minutes. With its structure and interior designed by Foster + Partners, the residential facilities and amenities will span 1,500 square metres, with the entire 56th floor being dedicated to the residents’ club lounge, featuring an expansive outdoor dining section, bar, screening room, library and conference room. Additionally, the Health Club will offer a magnificent 20 metre infinity pool overlooking the Thames and other wellness amenities including a thermal suite with hot pool, sauna, steam room, treatment room and relaxation lounge.

Price: from GBP 695,000 (approx. USD 922,000) available on southquayplaza.london

 

berkeley-homes-south-quay-plaza_terrace london nvestment properties

Berkeley Homes terrace

DBOX for Berkeley Group - SQP - london investment properties

Berkeley Homes interior

Text by Olha Romaniuk

This story was first published in Palace Magazine

 

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist's paintings on display at Musee d'Orsay

Cezanne exhibition in Paris, France: See the artist’s paintings on display at Musee d’Orsay

An exhibition, titled ‘Cézanne Portraits’ will feature over 50 of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s portraits at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Beginning on June 14 till September 24, the exhibition will move onto London‘s National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C

Regarded as one of the most prominent painters of the 19th century, Cézanne painted almost 200 portraits in his lifetime, with 36 self-portraits and 29 of his wife. Visitors will have a rare opportunity to see artworks from museums and private collections from Brazil, Denmark, France, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

‘Cézanne Portraits’ will be look back at the artist’s career from a chronological perspective, observing the shifts of his painting style and methods throughout the years, as well as his focus on complementary pairs and multiple versions of a subject.

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“Madame Cézanne in a Yellow Chair,” 1888-90, by Paul Cézanne © Wilson L. Mead Fund, 1948.54, The Art Institute of Chicago. “Cézanne Portraits” at NPG London

The works to be displayed will include paintings of Cézanne’s uncle Dominique from the 1860s, to portraits of Vallier, his assistant in Aix-en-Provence – one of his final works.

“Up until now, Cezanne’s portraiture has received surprisingly little attention, so we are thrilled to be able to bring together so many of his portraits for the first time to reveal arguably the most personal, and therefore most human, aspect of Cézanne’s art,” said Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London.

“Cézanne Portraits” is a collaboration between the three museums and will show at all three venues. It will be on display at the Musée d’Orsay from June 14 to September 24, 2017; the National Portrait Gallery in London from October 26, 2017 to February 11, 2018; and the National Gallery of Art from March 25 to July 1, 2018.

1 Undershaft Will Have London’s Highest View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

London Luxury Bargains: Brexit Effect

While the prospect of Brexit is weighing on much of the British economy, tourism and luxury goods businesses are cashing in on bargain-hungry visitors lured by the slide in the pound.

London’s tourism agency says sales of goods eligible for sales-tax exemption have gone up by a third since the Brexit vote in June, which sent the pound sterling plunging against the euro and dollar.

“We calculated that over the last four months it’s been about 12 percent cheaper for Europeans to come and shop here,” said Chris Gottlieb, head of leisure marketing at the agency London & Partners.

The pound is now at 1.17 euros compared with 1.3 euros before the shock vote to leave the European Union, while it has also fallen to $1.25 from $1.49.

The result is that London has become the cheapest city for luxury goods shopping in the world in dollar terms, according to a study by Deloitte.

Going to spend much more

In tourist areas, the effects are evident. “We’re going to spend much more money than we planned to,” said Radostina Nonova, a Bulgarian tourist, laughing as she lugged her bags on Carnaby Street – in the heart of London’s shopping district.

“We didn’t plan to shop too much but it’s obvious that the prices are very good for us. So we shop and we can afford to eat and drink outside. That was not possible years ago,” she said.

French tourist Christophe Disic said he did not come just because the pound was low but “when we changed our money we realized we had a few more pounds for fewer euros”.

When speaking to US tourists, shopkeepers are quick to take out their calculators.

“We’re an American brand. Our products are designed and assembled in the States. But with the weakening of the pound it actually happens to be cheaper for the American tourists to buy an American product in London,” said Denis Sagajevs, who works in Shinola, a shop selling watches and leather accessories.

“It’s affected by the fact that they can claim VAT on their way back. We pretty much on a day-to-day basis explain that to customers from the States. It happens to be quite a strong sales driver,” he said.

50 percent increase in shoppers

Some shops are adapting their advertising and sales tactics to the new consumer behavior.

“Before the vote, European tourists were couples who came to be together and maybe bought a couple of things,” said James, the manager of a luxury men’s clothes shop on Carnaby Street.

“Now, there are groups of friends who rush in. They grab everything they can carry.”

James estimated that European and US shoppers coming to his store have increased by around 50 percent.

Instead of spending on costly advertising in British newspapers as it did before, his firm is changing tactic to appeal more to overseas visitors.

They have put up signs outside Underground train stations near the shop. But there are doubts about how long the boom can last.

While the good health of the British economy was confirmed by solid growth of 0.5 percent in the third quarter, the official forecasts for 2017 have been lowered to 1.4 percent from 2.2 percent.

“Our British customer sales are not as strong as before the vote and we don’t even know if this tourism boom is going to last,” James said.

gingerbread city Moa london

Architecture Museum Hosts Gingerbread Exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Contemporary Christmas: The Connaught, London

Merry Contemporary Christmas: The Connaught, London

Famous London hotel The Connaught has unveiled its Christmas Tree 2016. Designed by British sculptor Antony Gormley, the 17.5-meter-high Western Red Cedar tree has been transformed into a giant beam of light for a contemporary approach to the festive season, via a luminous pole running up its core.

“I thought that rather than decorating the outside of the Christmas tree it would be fun to light its core; the trunk, transforming it into a radiant center against which the branches would become illuminated and silhouetted,” said Gormley. “At this, the darkest time of the year and at a moment of global dysfunction, I hope this magnificent tree conveys a feeling of continuance and vitality.”

Most expensive houses in the world: 5 residential streets only the richest can afford

Having an exclusive postal code is certainly desirable but being on the right street in the right city adds weight to the tried and tested mantra in property investment: location, location, location. From Hong Kong to Miami and the French Rivera, we take a look at the top five most expensive residential streets in the world.

1) Peak Road, The Peak, Hong Kong

Nestled amidst the greenery of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak, Peak Road tops our list as the most expensive residential street in the world. Located at the summit of Hong Kong Island, properties along this prestigious address not only offer panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong city skyline, but also provide a respite away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Just 15-minutes away from Central, properties on Peak Road average at $10,591 per sq. ft. Records were set for the Hong Kong property market when the 124,000 sq. ft. 75 Peak Road sold for HKD 5.1 billion ($657.7 million) last year.

2) Kensington Palace Gardens, London

London’s ‘Billionaire Row’ is a private, mansion-lined street that is home to the ultra-wealthy and various foreign embassies. Located next to Kensington Palace, average property values; though available properties are rare, cost GBP 42.6 million ($55.19 million). The most expensive property was a 16,500-sq. ft. mansion that sold for GBP 80 million ($124.23 million) to tycoon Wang Jianlin.istock_13481081_medium

3) Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco

Situated in the glitzy city of Monaco, the Avenue Princesse Grâce, named after Hollywood legend Grace Kelly, is the most exclusive and expensive street in this tiny principality. Home to lavish seafront residences selling for $7,990 per square foot, the palm-tree-lined avenue has a slew of notable residents such as Andrea Bocelli, Lewis Hamilton, Roger Moore, and Helena Christensen. However, due to finite space, apartments and properties on the street are currently only available for rent.

4) Indian Creek Island Road, Biscayne Bay, Miami

Located in the exclusive island village of Indian Creek, Miami’s ‘Billionaire Bunker’ is the most expensive residential street in America, where massive waterfront estates average at a hefty $21.48 million. The 294-acre island consists of just 35 estates bordering a private 18-hole golf course, and is heavily protected by its own security force which guards all amenities. The most expensive property was sold for $47 million to a Russian buyer and boasts 13-bedrooms, a 3D theater, and a 7-limo garage!

5) Boulevard du General de Gaulle, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat

Boasting spectacular views of the Mediterranean Côte d’Azur, Boulevard du Général de Gaulle is one of the priciest streets along the French Riviera, with luxurious beachfront villas costing $79,000 per sq. m. (USD 7,339.35 per sq. ft). Located in the prestigious Cap Ferrat (above), the boulevard is also home to iconic hotels such as the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine. Palace Magazine is published by Lux-Inc.

Top 5 Billionaire Hotspot Cities 2016

In advance of the likely the first billionaire presidency of the USA, our friends at Palace Magazine looked at cities around the world that draw the most attention from the billionaire class. It is of course no surprise that Donald Trump’s home turf, New York City, is a magnet for the one-percenters but you might be surprised to learn that Beijing trumps Shanghai in the billionaire stakes.

New York City

Home to the world’s top financial centres like Wall Street and Silicon Alley, New York draws more moneymaking tycoons than anywhere else in the world, with 79 billionaires holding a combined net worth of $364.6 billion residing in the city. The city also hosts three of the world’s 10 richest people: industrialists Charles and David Koch, each worth $44.6 billion, and ex-New York City Mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg, worth $49.8 billion.

Hong Kong

Asia’s financial capital comes in second with 68 billionaire residents worth a combined $261.3 billion. A lover of luxury, Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royce automobiles per capita than anywhere else in the world, and is home to the most powerful figures in Asia: business magnate Sir Lee Ka-shing, ranked the second-wealthiest man in Asia with a net worth of $32.8 billion, and real estate tycoon Lee Shau-kee, worth $25.1 billion and ranked the second richest in Hong Kong.

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The financial capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow has the third most number of billionaires in the world; 60 individuals worth a total of $217.6 billion. Moscow’s super-rich include various self-made commodity moguls such as gas and petrochemical magnate Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s richest man, worth $16.5 billion, and oil and banking mogul Mikhail Fridman, worth $15.6 billion.

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Beijing, one of the world’s ancient capitals, comes in fourth with 51 billionaires worth a combined $149.9 billion. Its wealthiest residents include China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, worth $30 billion, as well as Jack Ma, worth $28.3 billion. Both Wang and Ma have recently invested in American entertainment firms, with Wang purchasing Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion, and Ma investing in several Hollywood blockbusters.

London

With a strong property market and a reputation as one of the world’s most glamorous cities, London remains an attractive destination for the super-wealthy (Brexit notwithstanding). The city counts 48 billionaire residents who boast a combined wealth of $187.7 billion. They include American businessman Len Blavatnik, worth $14.7 billion, and Indian-born businessmen Sri and Gopi Hinduja, worth $19.9 billion.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

South Quay Plaza Skyline

Brexit Effect: Future Of London Real Estate

In the hours and days following the UK referendum, in which 51.9% of voters elected to exit the European Union, much of the country looked on in shock. The campaign had been a bitter and visceral one, driven by inciting rhetoric around British immigration, the economy and the bureaucratic elite, but many inside Britain and abroad did not expect the leave vote to prevail.

As the world grappled with the results, the markets reacted on a scale not seen since the financial crisis. The pound plunged to the lowest since 1985, Asian stocks tumbled and just days later news came out that Standard & Poor’s had stripped Britain of its triple-A credit rating. The vote has set the nation up for bitter divorce talks ahead, and, since there is no precedent for a country leaving the 28-member-state EU trade block, uncertainty reigns over how exactly the UK will negotiate its new position within the political and economic landscape.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza

This uncertainty has already affected the property market, particularly in London where some buyers have been pulling out of purchases, concerned about the city’s future. The UK Treasury warned before the vote that residential property prices would be as much as 18% lower if the country voted to leave. Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Economics said housing market activity and prices were at “very serious risk of an extended, marked downturn following the UK’s decision to leave” the European Union. He predicts home prices could fall 5% in the second half of 2016 and a further 5% in 2017.

“The vote in favor of Brexit will generate a period of renewed uncertainty in the prime London residential market”, said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank in London. “Some demand, especially from investors, will be delayed and in some cases redirected”.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza Resident’s Floor Terrace

Brexit presents renewed uncertainty following a string of events that have already dampened London’s property market. From 2009 to 2014, London repeatedly made headlines for record-breaking sales of super prime mansions to wealthy buyers from Russia, the Middle East and Asia, many of them in the city’s central neighborhoods, the so-called ‘golden postcodes’ that include Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Mayfair and Holland Park. However, since 2014, the market has slowed.

Some of the headwinds have come in the form of taxes. A new stamp duty rate, introduced in December 2014, charges 10% on properties worth over GBP 925,000 ($1.3 million) and 12% on those over GBP 1.5 million ($2.5 million). As of April this year, buyers of second homes and buy-to-let properties face another tax; a 3% stamp duty surcharge intended to level the field between investors and first-time buyers.

The effect of the new stamp duty rates was already being felt in the market, with far fewer transactions recorded in the $2 million plus range. Then, the Brexit campaign gave buyers and sellers further pause. “Buyers and sellers postponed decisions because of the prospect of entering unchartered economic and political territory,” says Tom Bill, Head of London Residential Research at Knight Frank. According Knight Frank data, demand remained subdued in May 2016 even for properties where asking prices had fallen by 10% or more.

South Quay Plaza

South Quay Plaza Corner View

In a city that draws significant investment from international markets, local political upheavals are only part of the puzzle. Over the past year, major foreign investors in British property have been hit with their own setbacks: low oil prices in the Middle East, currency problems in Russia, a recession in Brazil and stock market turmoil in China, all of which have contributed to few high-end transactions. In 2014, Mideast investors made up 15% of prime central London buyers; in 2015 they made up 4%.

According to Yolande Barnes, Head of World Research at Savills, the Brexit campaign became a convenient excuse for a slowdown in the market that was already occurring. Savills figures show prices in prime central London dropped 6% in 2015, and deal volumes shrank have as much as 40%. “Brexit has been a very good excuse for people not to do anything in a market where people wouldn’t have done anything anyway”, Barnes says.

Nevertheless, the unexpected referendum outcome has added another, greater hurdle to a market that was still adjusting to stamp duties and global geopolitical factors. “The prime London property market would benefit from something that appears unlikely in the near-term: an uneventful six months”, says Knight Frank’s Tom Bill.

For some foreign investors, however, the current turmoil represents an opportunity. Buyers will get increased value in purchasing London properties as a result of a depreciating sterling, says Peter Wetherell, a Mayfair-based broker. “For overseas buyers, this big and dramatic drop in the value of sterling will effectively offset the Stamp Duty and tax adjustments and it will make prime London property a lucrative investment for overseas investors bold enough to take a punt despite the market uncertainty”.

View from One Tower Bridge — Master Bedroom

View from One Tower Bridge — Master Bedroom

For many who believe in London’s long-term resilience, the current market disruptions do not change the overall attractiveness of the city, particularly as a haven for wealth preservation. Research from Knight Frank shows that over the last decade the city has drawn more than twice the number of High Net Worth Individuals from emerging markets (114,000) than the US and Australia combined (42,000 and 22,000 respectively). Investors are drawn by the city’s safety, good schools, green environment and central time zone, factors unlikely to change as a result of the Brexit vote.

The city is also actively investing in the future. A wider look at the real estate market also reveals that while demand for Prime Central London property has fallen in recent years, there has been an uptick in interest around greater London, where regeneration schemes and renewed connectivity and infrastructure projects are shifting the landscape of luxury living.

“As the golden postcodes of London became less affordable after the financial crisis, buyers have increasingly looked for better value further afield”, Tom Bill says. Though they are looking for better value they still want “best-in-class specifications and facilities”, and this means there is a growing focus on the quality of schemes rather than a desire to be in a specific area.

Developers have tapped into this demand, and it is raising the overall level of quality of new-build developments, which increasingly incorporate amenity packages, services, commercial and cultural components. While such experiments in urbanism and place making are common in cities like Miami, Hong Kong or Singapore, they are a relatively new phenomenon in London.

Southbank, one of the first areas to be revitalized, was not previously on the map for wealthy investors, but has experienced a faster rate of growth compared to other prime neighborhoods and serves as an example of how new markets can mature, says Tom Bill.

One Tower Bridge

One Tower Bridge Exterior

In addition to The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe), the area is the site of More London, master planned by Foster + Partners, and One Tower Bridge, a project from Berkeley Homes that combines luxury residences with shops, restaurants, pedestrian walkways and a lively riverfront park. In addition to its cultural offerings, The Ivy, a popular London brasserie recently announced plans to open a ground floor location at One Tower Bridge, and The London Theatre will soon occupy the development’s 900-seat sunken theater. The scheme itself incorporates significant space to outdoor living, also a novelty for London. “What is really special about this project is the amount of dynamic terrace and roof space, along with outdoor kitchens, hot tubs and gazebos”, says Murray Levinson, a partner at Squire & Partners who designed the project.

From the top of the Tower Penthouse, which comes complete with a roof terrace and hot tub, you can see the across the Thames to the city of London, the Tower Bridge, Tower of London and beyond. The lower-rise buildings, positioned facing the river, feature sliding glass doors that open onto wide terraces with views of City Hall and Tower Bridge. The views have been a strong selling point for the project, which is currently 90% sold. The quality of construction (interiors feature handcrafted joinery, polished marble worktops, Miele appliances and home automation systems), has also been a draw, as has the amenities package: 24-hour concierge service from Harrods Estates, a gym, spa and indoor pool are included. Roughly 23 units remain, including select penthouses. These are priced around $3,900 per square foot.

The mixed-use concept is also proliferating in greater London with schemes such as Nine Elms slated to include 20,000 new homes, and further west, White City, which is the site of a $10 billion overhaul that aims to transform the area from a stark, largely commercial landscape into a lively neighborhood with 5,000 new homes, shops and an office hub for media related companies. As part of the revival, London developer Stanhope is converting the former BBC headquarters into luxury residences.

To the east, tall towers are also multiplying in a city that was once defined by a more uniform, low-scale urbanism. At Canary Wharf, Herzog & de Meuron has designed a new tower nicknamed the Rolling Pin because of its tall cylindrical shape, and Foster + Partners have designed South Quay Plaza, the tallest residential project currently under construction in the EU.

One Tower Bridge

One Tower Bridge Triplex Terrace View

Historically a busy port, and more recently the site of a burgeoning financial district, Canary Wharf is also becoming an increasingly coveted place to live. Expectations for future growth are bolstered by the arrival of the new Crossrail Line, scheduled to run in 2018, which will significantly cut travel times to central London. Today the area still feels largely corporate, but developers intend to blend residential and commercial programs with increased connectivity as the community matures.

“Canary Wharf is becoming more mixed-use and will grow to a population of 200,000,” says Harry Lewis, Managing Director of Berkeley Homes who is developing South Quay Plaza. “Rental yields are higher here, and the arrival of the Crossrail will be a game-changer.”

South Quay Plaza is situated on the waterfront directly opposite the CBD and though many of the adjacent buildings are built right to the edge of the shoreline, Grant Brooker, Head of Studio at Foster + Partners wanted to approach the site differently. “It’s important to let daylight through”, he says, explaining that by skewing the cube-shaped towers, which have a relatively small footprint (over 64% of the site will not be developed), he was able to create many more exposures. “The building doesn’t have a rear side”, he says. “Every unit has fantastic frontage”.

Brooker’s team also uses their extensive experience designing buildings internationally to create a comprehensive amenities program, which features a health club, spa and 20-meter pool, and a residents’ club lounge that spans the entire 56th floor and includes a bar, screening room and a large terrace. “The type of amenity that is required for a building to really work was missing in earlier developments in London”, Brooker says.

Scheduled for occupation starting in 2020, South Quay Plaza will include 888 units across the 36-storey and 68-storey towers ranging from studios to three-bedroom residences and penthouses. So far Berkeley Homes has released 350 units with prices starting from $990,000. To date, half of these units have sold, and demand from Asia has been strong: 50% of the project’s international buyers hail from China.

Adam Challis, Head of Residential Research at Jones Lang LaSalle says regeneration schemes such as Canary Wharf are particularly popular with Asian buyers because they understand the long-term investment potential. “They understand it because they have seen it happen in their own countries”, he says. Challis has also noted an overall shift in buyer attitude in recent years, wherein investors are taking the long view, looking carefully at programs, schemes and neighborhoods and approaching the decision as an investment in London as a whole.

Time will tell how Britain manages to negotiate its exit from the European Union, and how London fairs as a result of the changes. Much will depend on Brexit’s lasting implications for British businesses, particularly those in the country’s enormous financial sector. Before the referendum, London’s population was projected to grow by 100,000 people a year for the next decade and housing supply was lagging. For those who believe in the city’s future and continued potential for growth, now might be an opportune time to take the plunge.

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

Illuminated river art project london

“Illuminated River” Contest Lights Up Thames

Lighting up the Thames after dark, is the ambition of London’s “Illuminated River” art project, originally launched by writer and filmmaker Hannah Rothschild. “Imagine going to Paris or Rome and not being able to walk alongside the Seine or the Tiber. Imagine New York without the Brooklyn Bridge lit up. And what would Londoners think if St Paul’s or the Houses of Parliament or the National Gallery were dark most of the time? The Thames is our liquid history and we must reclaim it.” declared Rothschild to the Guardian.

ai Guo-Qiang - 'London Bridge is Falling Down' © MRC and Adjaye Associates

Cai Guo-Qiang – ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’

Architects and agencies were asked to propose creative designs for Westminster, Waterloo, London and Chelsea bridges. The winning proposal will transform 17 bridges along the River, making it “a ribbon of light”. Among 100 entries, 6 projects have been shortlisted: Adjaye Associates, A_LA, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Leo Villareal with Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands and Future\Pace, Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella, and Sam Jacob Studio with Simon Heijdens.

Each team has taken a different approach to the project. London-based Adjaye Associates, for example, have assigned a different artist to each bridge, including the world-renowned contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang, and have focused on the bridges’ individual histories. Architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands have worked with Leo Villareal, the imagination behind The Bay Lights installation on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in 2013, to create an interactive light display that would involve participation from a ferry boat operator. The designs by Sam Jacob and Simon Heijdens show a three-dimensional ribbon of light rising and lowering with the tide.

A River Ain’t Too Much To Light / Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella. London Bridge. © MRC and Les Éclairagistes Associés

A River Ain’t Too Much To Light / Les Éclairagistes Associés with ecqi and Federico Pietrella. London Bridge.

The successful projects are presented this month at the Royal Festival Hall exhibition, where the public are invited to share their opinions on the designs via a short survey, although the vote itself will be decided by an 11-member jury. The winning team will be announced on December 8, and the installations will be completed in 2018.

London Named World’s Best City Brand

In the 2017 edition of the World’s Best City Brands report prepared by consultancy group Resonance, London scored the leading edge over cities like Singapore and New York which took second and third spots respectively.

To determine the strongest city brands in the world, researchers looked at everything from the quality of a city’s parks and open spaces; diversity of people; safety, economic prosperity; variety of restaurants and nightlife; and the quality of arts and culture.

Overall, the list is represented by cities in Europe, the US, Australia, Asia and Canada.

Thanks to the city’s dynamic shopping scene, gastronomy and pulsing arts and culture, London saw a record 31.5 million visitors in 2015, marking a 20 percent increase from just five years earlier, note Resonance researchers.

“London, right now, is a tight, highly curated Venn diagram of multi-ethnic revelry, enviable luxury retail, coveted universities and colleges (more than 40 institutions of higher education are based in the city), and the restaurants to sate the palates of curious global wanderers,” reads the report.

And according to their metrics which looks at social media, comments, and shared images, no other city generates as many online reviews and content for visitors.

Likewise, it helps that the British capital is easily accessible, with five local airports connecting international visitors from around the world.

And while the results of Brexit may have sideswiped the city’s reputation for inclusivity, given that London is considered more a city-state than Britain’s capital, researchers predict the city will “come back brighter from adversity.”

For the list, Resonance examined metropolitan and capital cities across six categories: place, product, programming, people, prosperity and promotion.

The results were shared at the World Travel Market trade show in London Tuesday.

Here are the top 10 world city brands according to Resonance:
1. London
2. Singapore
3. New York
4. Paris
5. Sydney
6. Amsterdam
7. Los Angeles
8. Tokyo
9. San Francisco
10. Toronto

Tate Modern Hosts Elton John Photo Collection

Sir Elton John’s fans will be soon able to discover one of the English singer and songwriter’s unheralded passions: Modernist photography. Only a few know he started a personal collection in 1991, focusing on artists and pieces disrupting the medium. Since then, he has gathered several thousand of photographs.

After having kept that collection private for years, Sir Elton John agreed to expose a part of it to the public at the Tate Modern, in London, during a special exhibition.

The Radical Eye: modernist photography from the Sir Elton John Collection” brings together selected pieces taken between 1920 and 1950 by some of the most-known avant-garde artists from the last century.

Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John

From documentary photography to portraits and abstract work, John’s collection will document the evolution of photography during the first half of the 20th century.The pieces selected for the exhibition will be flown in from the singer’s multiple properties around the world. In all, over 150 rare and iconic photographs by more than 60 artists will be on show.

Anticipated highlights from the exhibition include portraits of 20th-century icons Georgia O’Keeffe, Jean Cocteau, Igor Stravinski, André Breton, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as groundbreaking modernist works by photographers André Kertész, Man Ray, Berenice Abbot, Alexandr Rodchenko, and Edward Steichen.

The Radical Eye collection will be displayed in the Tate Modern, barely six months after the London museum completed its major architectural renovation in June 2016. Those interested in the exhibition are invited to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RadicalEye.

 “The Radical Eye: modernist photography from the Sir Elton John Collection“, Tate Modern London, from Nov 10 to May 7, 2017.

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten Returns to London

Acclaimed New York-based French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will be opening a new culinary establishment at London’s Connaught hotel next spring.

Vongerichten’s restaurant will serve French cuisine in a casual atmosphere for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. The luxury hotel also houses Hélène Darroze’s two Michelin-starred restaurant.

The new dining space will mark Vongerichten’s return to London’s gastronomy scene. Previously, his acclaimed restaurant Vong occupied The Berkeley before closing in 2002.

“I am excited to make my return to London, one of the most vibrant and dynamic food destinations in the world and I hope to create a new restaurant at The Connaught that reflects both my signature farm to table cooking style but with a few surprises,” said the chef in a statement.

The latest opening will expand his restaurant empire, which includes outposts across the US, China, Hong Kong, France, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico. His flagship New York restaurant Jean-Georges holds three Michelin stars.

The restaurant at The Connaught is slated to open in the spring of 2017.

StreetXO Opening in London: Culinary Theater

It has taken two years but StreetXO is finally opening its doors October 31 in London. The restaurant, by Madrid chef David Munoz is a casual and affordable spin-off from DiverXO in the Spanish capital.

In London, the restaurant will feature a menu of Southeast Asian and South American street food, which will help showcase Munoz’ repertoire of fusion Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. According to food blog Fine Dining Lovers, the menu will offer dishes such as Beijing dumplings with crunchy pigs’ ear and strawberry hoi sin, steamed club sandwich with ricotta cheese and quail egg and shichimi-togarashi. StreetXO is set to have 14 small plates on the menu that will change regularly.

Known for his unique food combinations and culinary theater, the chef’s original culinary venture in Madrid is known as the Cirque du Soleil of gastronomy. Prior to opening his own restaurants, the chef worked in the kitchens of Nobu and Hakkasan.

Claridge’s Christmas Tree Gets Apple Makeover

Claridge’s Christmas Tree Gets Apple Makeover

One of the world’s most famous Christmas trees will be getting an Apple makeover this year… Luxury London hotel Claridge’s announced last week that its annual Christmas tree will be designed this year by Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, and Marc Newson. Both Ive and Newson are currently at Apple Inc.

Widely recognized as two of the world’s most influential designers, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Sir Jony Ive is the designer of Apple products such as the MacBook Air, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, while Marc Newson, CBE, has worked with some of the most prestigious brands in the world and is currently Brand Ambassador for Qantas Airways and Designer for Special Projects at Apple. Newson is particularly remembered for the Lockheed Lounge, one of our favorites here.

Interestingly, news reports reveal that Ive and Newson are also long-time friends of the legendary Mayfair hotel. Well, the hotel’s Christmas tree has become a seasonal landmark and draws both visitors and Londoners alike to admire its festive design.

This is the seventh year that Claridge’s has invited a favorite guest to design the tree in their own unique style, with Paul Jackson, Claridge’s General Manager commenting that, “Christmas has always been a truly special time of year at Claridge’s and we are delighted to welcome our friends Jony and Marc to spread their legendary creative magic this year. We truly believe their innovative spirit and ground-breaking approach will make this year’s annual tradition one to remember for our guests.”

The tree will be unveiled in Claridge’s lobby on Friday, November 18, 2016.

Invest in These: 6 Floating Villas

Flying over the Maldives in a prop plane, islands appear like green pebbles in a blue-green sea. From above, constellations of resorts are also visible, their villas often snaking out from the edge of the land, hugging the sides of boardwalks and perched atop wooden stilts.

Not all villas are tethered to docks, however. At some new resorts, the bungalows have been designed to float on the Indian Ocean. One such project is named The Ocean Flower and includes 185 floating villas arranged in the form of a Maldivian flower. Designed by Dutch architecture firm Waterstudio, the two level villas have three bedrooms, private plunge pools and are priced from around $2.5 million.

The Ocean Flower

The Ocean Flower

“What we tried to do with our office is to take the difference between a normal house and house boat and make them the same,” says Waterstudio founder Koen Olthius. He began designing floating homes in the Netherlands, but now exports the concept to worldwide locations.

The Ocean Flower forms part of The 5 Lagoons, a master-planned resort in North Male atoll, a 20-minute boat ride from the capital of Male that is a joint venture between Dutch Docklands International and the Maldives Government. Waterstudio is also designing the Amillarah, another phase of The 5 Lagoons that will feature10 floating private islands arranged in an archipelago configuration. Each will have a private beach, pool, greenery and a jetty to moor yachts.

In the Maldives, where natural islands are small, scarce and vulnerable to tides and rising water levels, resort developers are progressively turning to floating architecture. “The concept suits [the Maldives] perfectly,” says Dymitr Malcew, a Singapore-based architect. He designed a luxurious floating home concept for a French developer in 2012 and has since received inquires from resort developers and private investors around the world, including the Maldives.

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew Floating Homes, Maldives

Malcew’s house concept features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a terrace and full-height windows that provide optimal daylight and views. The home is built on a floating platform that can be easily moved and electricity is supplied via solar panels, or a network if it is docked at a marina. It also has a water purification system. “I was inspired by the automotive and luxury yacht markets rather than a typical architectural approach,” Malcew explains.

The floating house concept is not confined to the Maldives, however. In Thailand, resorts like The Float House River Kwai Resort in Kanchanaburi features floating villas made of teak wood and bamboo, each having a private balcony and pier. Thai design firm Agaligo Studio has also introduced a modern take on the floating vernacular with the X-Float, a series of floating resort villas on the River Kwai that are made from lightweight steel framing clad with fiber cement siding and plywood. The units are all oriented to maximize river views while also shielding the intense tropical sun.

Hong Kong-based consultancy BMT Asia Pacific has also created floating home concepts it likens to a ‘stationary yacht,’ designed to create novel experiences for holidaymakers. The Sea-Suite debuted in 2014 with three models – Floating Lodge, Houseboat, and Beach Cabin, each of which use an egg-shaped mold as the basis for transportable, easily adaptable and nautically minded lodging designs. The newer SeaScape edition features expansive 40-foot decks on a triangular floor plan. Each villa is customizable and can be expanded with the option to add on a variety of units, including a sun deck or covered pool, making the floating resort up to 1,800 sq. ft. in size. The design also features an underwater bedroom housed in a 13-foot diameter acrylic column that creates an aquarium effect with 360-degree views of marine life.

The Floating Seahorse

The Floating Seahorse

A new project in the Middle East unveiled in December also proposes an underwater bedroom. Kleindienst Group’s new development is called The Floating Seahorse and features a collection of floating villas off the coast of Dubai. The structures are designed like unpowered boats and have three levels: a submerged master bedroom and bathroom designed to offer views of the surrounding marine life, a main level with a kitchen, dining area and deck, and an upper level that has an informal bed, kitchenette and glass-bottomed Jacuzzi. Developers sold around 60 units when the first models went on sale. The remaining seahorses are priced from $2.8 million.

“We are seeing a trend worldwide, where High Net Worth Individuals are looking not only for a penthouse, but that private island feeling,” says Koen Olthius. In his home country of the Netherlands, 50 percent of the population lives below sea level, and the Dutch have spent centuries constructing dikes, pumps, and drainage systems to keep the encroaching North Sea at bay. Floating houses have provided an alternate solution – as far back as the 17th century, barges were repurposed as homes.

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

The Floating Seahorse, Interior

In recent years, floating structures have again grown in popularity, particularly in the face of extreme weather. The obvious advantage is that they move vertically with fluctuations in water levels caused by tides, heavy rainfall or other flooding. They are also easily relocated.

But beyond the pragmatic reasons, floating homes are also appealing to prospective residents because they afford an intimate proximity to water, and a feeling of openness, with light and views that are more akin to a boat than a house. A ‘normal’ house requires a large margin with the water level to prevent flooding. With a floating home, openings in the façade can safely be placed just 35 cm above the water level.

In the United States, floating homes are most common on the West Coast, particularly in Seattle where Lake Washington, Lake Union, and The Locks offer sheltered water edge conditions ideal for floating structures. Standing inside the floating home is an incredible feeling, says Eric Cobb, a Seattle-based architect who works on floating homes. “When you are on the first floor, you are maybe a foot off the water level and it feels like you are on a boat. It’s an amazing experience to have a sliding glass door off your bedroom and the water right there.”

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

SeaScape Luxury FLoating Villas Concept

In recent years floating homes in Seattle have become increasingly regulated due to their impact on the shoreline. “They are big, they create massive shaded areas and it impacts eco systems,” says Cobb. Municipal regulations now prevent the development of new floating home slips, although the resale market is thriving.

Koen Olthius at Waterstudio believes such municipal regulations reflect an “old-fashioned way of thinking” and stands in the way of allowing floating homes to proliferate into the mainstream market and create what he believes is a more sustainable housing model. “The experience we have in Holland makes us experts in how large and small foundations can be,” he says.

Many architects argue that since floating systems are adaptable and can be moved at short notice without leaving scars on the environment, this makes them a more sustainable and durable way to build. BMT’s SeaScape model, for example, is designed for offshore locations around small islands where a minimal footprint is key. The overall power load is also mitigated by the option of installing solar panels on the roof, as well as by natural ventilation. “While we haven’t specifically focused on green features in the design, a number of them are intrinsic to a waterside location — improved natural ventilation from sea breezes and temperature moderation through the hull from seawater,” says Sichard Colwill, Managing Director of BMT Asia Pacific.

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

Amillarah Private Islands, Dubai

The concept also provides a solution for humanitarian causes, particularly in low-lying, flood-prone regions. Luxury developers have funded much of the recent innovations to floating homes, but Olthius says a new wave of demand is coming from land-strapped and flood-prone cities from the Ukraine to China.

In the UK, design firms have proposed similar typologies as a means to deal with flood-stricken areas of the nation and as a solution to London’s housing shortage. Baca Architects recently developed a buoyant home for an NLA competition to address the capital’s housing crisis. The project aims to install prefabricated floating housing on disused space along the 50 miles of rivers and canals in Greater London, as well as the 150 hectares of additional “bluefield” space in its docklands, marinas and basins.  For Koen Olthius, the transition to water homes is simply a matter of plugging them into the existing grid. The demand for floating homes is clear, he says, now it’s a matter of negotiating with municipalities and insurance companies and educating them on the long life span of water homes, and their low maintenance costs.

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

The Float House River Kwai Resort, Thailand

If sea levels begin to rise as predicted, municipalities may have no choice but to embrace the floating home model. For the moment, some countries are more open to the idea than others. Waterstudio has spent the past two years working on a project in Florida, but have encountered considerable resistance from the local community. “If I have an empty space of land, you understand that I can build there, but if I have a piece of water, everyone complains,” Olthius says. “In the US people have a stronger feeling of rights and of privacy compared to other parts of Europe or Asia. These homes can benefit the whole community.”

However, even if there isn’t a dramatic rise in sea levels, Olthius says he is committed to building on water. “We are concerned with urbanization, with the price of land, the need for land,” he says. “Water gives us three things: space; safety and flexibility, and a very short response time to changes we cannot foresee.”

Story Credits

This article was first published in Palace Magazine.

8 Urban Residences with Sky Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cloud Corridor, Los Angeles

Cloud Corridor, Los Angeles

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

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

Diamond Lotus, Ho Chi Minh City

Diamond Lotus, Ho Chi Minh City

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

Bosco Verticale

Bosco Verticale

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

Tower of Cedars, Lausanne

Tower of Cedars, Lausanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story Credits
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth & Robbie Wilson

This article was originally published in PALACE 15

London Natural History Museum Receives Makeover

London Natural History Museum Receives Makeover

Thanks to architects at Niall McLaughlin Architects and landscapers Kim Wilkie, London’s Natural History Museum is expected to have a few new features. With the planning permission granted this year, the museum is currently in the fundraising stage and aims to complete the project by 2020.

The introductions will enhance the museum’s access, grounds and wildlife garden starting with the entrance, the Square. Set to be a more enjoyable space, where visitors can gather and relax, the changes will stretch onto the Eastern Grounds. The Eastern Grounds will feature a new bronze cast of a diplodocus as well as a geological timeline of the Earth’s evolution complete with intricate landscaping. The bronze cast is not the same as the ‘Dippy the Diplodocus’ signature that currently sits in the Museum’s central hall — it will leave the museum in 2017 to go on a UK tour in 2018.

London Natural History Museum

The Western Grounds

The Western Grounds are set to be expanded and will see the Wildlife Garden double in size and three quarters of its current iteration set amidst the urban greenery. While London’s Museum of Natural History opened its doors to the public in April 1881, its origins stretch back at least a century prior. The initial concept for the space was drawn up and proposed by Sir Hans Sloane. The high society doctor was an avid traveler and collected natural history specimens.

Upon his death in 1753, Sloane’s will allowed for the British Parliament to purchase his 71,000-item collection which they then agreed to house and display in a museum. The British museum, which was specially built for this purpose, later added findings from Victorian explorers to its collection from new species of exotic animals and plants from the British Empire. The Romanesque structure is attributed to Alfred Waterhouse, who used terracotta as a key material due to its resilience in harsh climates.

London Natural History Museum

The Colonnade at night

Until 1963, The Natural History Museum remained a part of the British Museum after which it officially received its current name in 1992. “With over 5 million visitors every year, we have an incredible opportunity – and responsibility – to inspire many more people to learn about nature,” the museum spokesperson said in a statement. “We believe the plans will do just that, all the way around the museum rather than in just one corner.”