Posts tagged with "London":

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Whimsical Green Promenade Aims to Revive London's Disconnected Vauxhall Neighborhood

From the mid-17th to the mid-19th century, crowds of Londoners sought entertainment at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, located on the south bank of the River Thames. The acres of greenery that made up the garden were once the site of numerous whimsical attractions, including tight-rope walkers, concerts, fireworks, and narrow winding walkways perfect for amorous adventures. Today the neighborhood of Vauxhall, located in the heart of Nine Elms, is mostly known for the railway arches that slice across the neighborhood, disconnecting it from the riverside and labeling it as the “missing link” between the New US Embassy Quarter and London’s South Bank. In an effort to revive and reconnect the historic neighborhood The Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA) and Vauxhall One, an organization dedicated to making Vauxhall a safer, cleaner, and better place for business, created the Vauxhall Missing Link Competition. They invited registered architects, landscape designers, and urban designers to submit their ideas for “an outstanding new addition to the urban environment.” The new plans for Vauxhall, which aim to seamlessly merge a vibrant green environment within an urban setting, unmistakably mimic those of the New York City High Line. According to the competition brief, the intention behind the new scheme is to “Reconnect the disjointed parts of the neighborhood, to build a better visual perception of Vauxhall beyond its roundabouts and roads and to create an identifiable pathway and narrative through the area, linking the railway arches, green spaces and public art into a distinctive place once again.” Erect Architecture and J&L Gibbons won the international competition with their imaginative design titled “The Promenade of Curiosities.” Chris Law, Public Realm and Development Director for Vauxhall One, said in a statement, “Erect/ J&L Gibbons entry was really special. It has so many quirky and innovative features. We really want to make a difference by regenerating Vauxhall through green and sustainable measures and their entry was outstanding.” Inspired by the historic Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and the New York City High Line, the firm designed a contemporary promenade that will feature a series of permanent and temporary art installations. It incorporates lush rain gardens, which will be equipped with sustainable drainage systems and will feature green pathways lined with curiously pruned trees and paved with different textures, creating a fanciful setting reminiscent of the historic gardens. The new project is part of a larger masterplan that involves the transformation of the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Area (VNEB). The first phase of development, the Regeneration of the Rail Arches, is already underway. Vauxhall One commissioned a different architect to work on each individual arch so that the end result will be a series of distinct, uniquely designed arches that will no longer barrier the neighborhood from the riverfront, but hopefully create a safe and vivid walkway and bicycle path that will link visitors to it.
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Proposed Garden Bridge Over the Thames Invites Commuters to Slow Down

Heatherwick Studio has envisioned a refreshing way for Londoners to safely commute from the North to the South side of the city that doesn’t involve the hassle of waiting for a bus, squeezing onto the overcrowded "Tube," or sitting in mind-numbing traffic. The firm, which has been working closely with actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley to develop the design, proposed a pedestrian garden bridge that will extend across the River Thames, providing Londoners with a safe, green river crossing. The idea first blossomed in response to the Transport for London’s call for submissions for the design of a pedestrian link that would span the river. They selected Heatherwick Studio’s vibrant design, which features a lush garden walkway supported by two fluted piers that will be filled with flourishing wild flowers and thrive with abundant plant life. According to Design Boom, Lumley enthusiastically commented on the new plans for the walkway by saying, “This garden will be sensational in every way: a place with no noise or traffic where the only sounds will be birdsong and bees buzzing and the wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water. It will be the slowest way to cross the river, as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes all around; but it will also be a safe and swift way for the weary commuter to make his way back over the Thames.” This lively new pedestrian river crossing, which is estimated to cost about $95 million, is to be built between the already-existing Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges, and would be the first bridge to be built over the River Thames since the Millenium Bridge in 2000. With green space covering almost 40 percent of the city, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. This new garden walkway will provide London with yet another, always welcome, peaceful green public space that is sure to attract visitors and locals looking to breathe in some fresh air and appreciate the pleasant riverside views.
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London's Olympic Village To Become Urban Housing Project

The London 2012 Games may have ended over 10 months ago, but even without the 17,000 athletes that lived on the premises, the Olympic Village is still brimming with commotion. Construction has begun onsite to refurbish the still-nearly-new structures into a residential housing system, Get Living London, in a new neighborhood called East Village. The site's new owners, the sovereign wealth fund Qatari Diar and British property developer Delancey paid $870 million for the Village and development land close by, according to The National. Since the global financial recession in 2007 and exacerbated by a housing shortage, London residents have been struggling to adequately affordable and quality housing. Get Living London presents renting as a suitable option instead of buying a home. The Olympic Delivery Authority is eliminating temporary structures to supply shared dining facilities. As part of the refurbished East Village housing complex, 2,818 new kitchens will be installed and the site will include an education campus, a health center, and restaurants. Local housing association, Triathlon Homes, will offer 1,379 apartments to house low-income Londoners, and the remaining flats will be rented out on the open market.
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Terry Farrell & Partners Comissioned for Master Plan of London's Royal Albert Docks

In the early 1900’s the Royal Albert Docks, located to the east of the city of London, served as London’s most prominent source of international trade and commerce. Now the 130-year-old docks, which over the years have been closed to commercial traffic and only used for watersports, will be transformed into London’s third booming financial district. Terry Farrell & Partners have been commissioned to carry out the complex master plan of the 35-acre site. The project was born as a result of a $1.5 billion deal struck between London Mayor Boris Johnson and a private Chinese Developer, Advanced Business Park (ABP). The investment holds great significance for the British and Chinese economies, as it is the first and largest investment made by a Chinese developer in London’s property market. The mixed-use development, which is scheduled for completion by the year 2022, will house over 3.2 million square feet of office, retail, and leisure space and will become the largest financial development in the UK, creating over 20,000 full time jobs, and contributing almost $9 billion to the British economy. This international business district will grow to become a world-leader in high technology, green enterprise and research and will also serve as an international hub for the exchange of knowledge and ideas, as Asian businesses seeking European headquarters have already begun to show interest in setting up their businesses at the new waterfront development. The first 600,000 square foot phase of the project is expected to open in 2017. [Via BD Online.]
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Landscape Architect Proposes a Cycling Superhighway Over a London Canal

500-cyclists and pedestrians an hour simultaneously traveling along the same route bordering the Regent's Canal in north London certainly makes for one congested—and with cyclists and pedestrians jockeying for limited space, a treacherous—commute. According to BD Online, landscape architect Anthony Nelson, director at Design International, has proposed a dramatic solution that could resolve the long-standing battle between fast-moving cyclists and slower pedestrians. The plan would elevate cyclists up to 13 feet into the air on a lightweight steel platform interspersed with cultural hubs, a sort of High Line for bikes, to completely detach the bicycle path from the pedestrian walkway. Nelson told BD challenges include raising the path to allow large boats to pass beneath and crossing other bridges where clearance won't allow the path to cross underneath. Nelson plans to gain additional feedback from waterway users this summer—during the months in which waterway congestion is at its highest—before presenting the project to politicians in the fall.
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Has London's Pickle Plan Gone Sour?

The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.
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Pulsate: Architects Design a Dizzying Tile Showroom in London

The Capitol Designer Studio in London's Primrose Hill was recently outfitted with an electrified-looking array of porcelain tiles by architects Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent. The installation, called Pulsate, draws from images of Op Art and Gestalt psychology creating an almost dizzying effect, zigzagging from dark gray tiles to light gray tiles and back again. The result is a space where perspective is distorted and where benches are lost along walls. However, the temporary installation is also a retail shop, the product being the very SistemN tiles by Marazzi lining the walls. As Jencks explains on the project website, there were two concepts that drove the installation: "One is about perception—how you perceive distances and shapes; and make sense of space. The other is about how to display an object that's for sale; we wanted the space to be more than just a showroom selling tiles; to rethink the commercial transaction as something more creative." Each tile was meticulously placed to complete the intricate design. If one tile was even a millimeter off, the whole pattern would be off. The ground slopes and the tiles are spread 360 degrees throughout the studio. Lights run along the seams between floor and wall and wall and ceiling, offering the slightest bit of assurance of the studios form. During the nine months the installation stands, the space will host fashion shoots, lectures, and product lunches.
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Vlad Tenu Gets Down to the Bare Minimum


MC/2* is composed of .04-thick laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets. Each component is flexible, but when assembled the surface becomes rigid.

The triangular MC/2* is the latest iteration of London-based Romanian architect Vlad Tenu’s Minimal Complexities Series. With this prototype, he continues to explore the idea of creating minimal surface geometries from modular components—a thread that has been present throughout much of his work. This time, he has pushed the boundaries even further by whittling down the components. The undulating structure, made of translucent laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets, was first unveiled hanging from the ceiling of the Open House event for Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012. It was then exhibited months later, at the International Architecture and Design Showcase at the London Architecture Festival 2012. This prototype follows a natural progression in this ongoing series, which gained recognition when Tenu was named the winner of the second annual Tex-Fab Repeat Digital Fabrication Competition for his Minimal Complexity structure in 2011.
  • Fabricator  Surface
  • Architect  Vlad Tenu
  • Location  London, UK
  • Date of Completion  2012
  • Material  .04-inch-thick polypropylene, aluminum rivets
  • Process  Processing, laser cutting, hand riveting
For this project, Tenu created an algorithm within software program Processing that dictates basic geometries on minimal surfaces. “The method that is behind this project is having a very flexible number of particles added and removed from the system that constantly updates itself into a minimal geometry, and that is what the algorithm originally refers to,” said Tenu. Tenu fabricated Minimal Complexity from 16 modular variants. For MC/2*, he reduced that number to just two different components. Over the course of two afternoons, Tenu and colleagues from Surface assembled the 500 components into 250 modular regions. The entire structure, which can stand independently or be suspended from the ceiling, spans 10 feet in length, 7 feet in width, and 5 feet in height. While the individual pieces are light and malleable, made of .04-inch-thick laser-cut polypropylene, “Structurally the piece is very rigid and quite strong compared to the material which is very flexible. It can easily be self-supporting,” said Tenu. “I am always trying to integrate ideas of very pragmatic applications,” said Tenu. “With these prototypes, the idea is to test systems and learn from the special properties of them.”
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A Panoramic View of London From the Top of The Shard

It's been a good year for breathtaking views of cities around the world so far. Today the observation deck at the top of Renzo Piano's Shard Tower in London opened to the public after London Mayor Boris Johnson cut the ribbon on the 800-foot-high platform. To celebrate, The Guardian has launched an interactive panorama of London taken from the top of the Shard, some 1,150 feet above the city streets, complete with the wooshing sound you very well might hear if you were actually perched atop the tower. The panorama also features stories and statistics about buildings and places throughout the city as you pan and zoom for the rest of the evening.
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Design Museum London Calls For Thrifty Fabrication With "Unlimited Edition"


Making a strong, modular and architecturally significant pavilion on pocket change

For the Designers in Residence exhibition, Design Museum London asked four teams to respond to a brief entitled "Thrift."  The four resulting projects address the notion that "the limitations of economy require more resourceful, inspired and intelligent use of materials and process" and that the constraints of thrift ultimately lead to "a more creative and fully resolved outcome" than a project with limitless resources. One of the four chosen proposals came from Lawrence Lek, an architect and sculptor who worked with Ken Yeang in Malaysia and Foster + Partners in London before founding his eponymous studio in 2011. For his project, "Unlimited Edition," he reflected on how he has approached fabricating prototypes since completing his studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in 2008. "I remember a lot of students' work, and mine especially, could be very extravagant with materials because being in school you have the luxury of many resources… One thing I found difficult just after leaving the academic world was actually fabricating prototypes."
  • Fabricator Lawrence Lek
  • Designer Lawrence Lek
  • Location Lodon
  • Date of Completion  September, 2012
  • Materials Plywood, zip ties
  • Process Digital modeling, CNC cutting, plywood bending
Without the ability to move freely between digital modeling and CNC milling, not to mention the wealth of other equipment available to him at AA, Lek decided to simplify his entire approach. "I use materials in an economical way out of necessity rather than an aesthetic idea," Lek said. "I try to make the most effective shape from limited materials." Instead of seeing this as a burden, Lek commented, "Thrift is the opportunity to create something completely unexpected from a very simple material technique, making the most of whatever opportunities or materials you immediately have." Lek decided to make a pavilion because, among other reasons, "it's like an extra small, deluxe version of an architect's work." He also wanted to see whether he could apply his experiments with bending plywood to create strong, modular, free standing, three dimensional forms that could be transported and assembled with ease, and then disassembled and used for something else. He began by experimenting with symmetrical shapes found in nature and cut small, Rorschach-like patterns out of paper, combining them in a variety of formations. He then made models from thin pieces of plywood, which he soaked and shaped into place. After the wood dries and the ties binding it into place are removed, the wood retains its shape without compromising the integrity of the materials. "I'm using plywood, which is lightweight but just thick enough that when it forms a shell it can be quite strong. Also I want it to be light so you can transport it just by carrying it in pieces. That's more like a tent, whereas most pavilions are made with really thick and heavy components that need a crane to be put into place." Once Lek developed a stable shape he tested it out with larger pieces cut from full size 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets by a CNC miller. He used the larger shapes to make furniture as well as modular units that he used to create the "Unlimited Edition" pavilion. He built a water tank slightly larger than the 4-by-8-foot sheets so he could soak them in his studio. Wrangling them into shape by himself was markedly more difficult than shaping his original palm-size models, but Lek was able to make the six pieces he needed to build the pavilion, which he secured with zip ties. Though Lek's acceptance into the Designers in Residence program afforded him the means to develop this fabrication process, he's still experimenting with all the possible applications. Potentially, Lek can patent his design and either sell the basic plans or manufacture and flat pack the pre-soaked plywood forms themselves. More importantly, his experiments show how large, sophisticated structures can be made from the most basic materials and processes. Wasteful fabrication methods and costly materials are not only unnecessary, they act as a barrier between a person interacting with the raw functionality of the space. "Most design products are designed to be stand alone objects," said Lek, "but it's when I join them together that they form another structure as well. That brings me back to my initial interest with design, playing with forms that by themselves don't really do anything, but it's when you join them together they suggest a function." Designers in Residence runs through January 13, 2013.
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BLOOM, The Olympic Design-Build Game

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A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in London

If you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL's Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics. Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city's history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. BLOOM Andrasek and Sanchez began the game by building the first structure themselves, which completely disappeared by the end of the Olympics as people took turns adding onto it and taking pieces away. "Some people really like building whilst others enjoy the act of destroying what someone else did. For us this is mainly the collection and release of energy," the designers wrote in an email. Though BLOOM doesn't have any hard and fast rules, the basic guidelines for building were posted on large banners and two BLOOM team members were on hand to answer questions and teach people how to create larger formations. "As much as we provided help, most of the interesting stuff that people built came out of a group of people taking some time to learn how the system behaves just by playing." Andrasek and Sanchez also had fun playing with BLOOM and testing out different kinds of structures. "We have built maybe five different versions of structures between Victoria Park and UCL, and each time it's different as we keep developing skills of how to do it better,” they wrote. “We reached 3.5 meters in height, but it could go higher as long as we keep on reinforcing the structure. On the other hand, there's a risk with taller structures that can collapse at any time. This did occur several times but the cells are only 200 grams so it’s quite harmless and such an event becomes a motivation to start the game again." BLOOM The BLOOM team brought out 2,000 new pieces each day to facilitate the game and encourage people to build bigger and higher. "The energy for BLOOM is sourced from people's interactions. None of the pieces can do anything on their own. Only by putting together thousands of them is when the game and the BLOOM garden emerge. The final piece is a collective act of imagination, search and play." The games are on hold for now, but will begin again soon for the Paralympics, which runs from August 28 - October 9, 2012. After that the pieces can either be collected and used to start another game elsewhere or they can be sent back to Atomplast to be recycled into something new.
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KieranTimberlake Refines London's US Embassy Designs

The State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) released new renderings by KieranTimberlake of the United States Embassy to be located near London's Vauxhall neighborhood.  The project has acted as something of a petri dish for the development of OBO's Design Excellence program, which was modeled on a similar program at the much-beleaguered GSA. The London project has been watch closely by federally commissioned architects who must comply with design requirements that combine energy efficiency, sustainably, intense security, and high design. "They continue to use this project as a test case for sorting that stuff out and to continue to achieve really high levels of refinement and design excellence," concurred James Timberlake. In a forerunner of efficient practices espoused by the policy, OBO sold their Saarinen-designed building in swanky Grosvenor Square, which in turn paid for the new building on the up-and-coming south side of the Thames.  An OLIN-designed landscape incorporates anti-ram deterrents that the OBO guidelines officiously dub "Embassy Perimeter Improvement Concepts" or EPIC. "I wouldn’t call them barriers," said Timberlake, who noted that despite offset and security setback requirements, 40 percent of the compound remains accessible to pedestrian traffic. If anything, he said, many of the major refinements are through the building's engagement with landscape, including water management in ponds that collect runoff for irrigational reuse, as well as for security. Certain technological advancements have insured that the highly efficient envelope incorporating photovoltaic technology will indeed go forward largely as planned. The rooftops of three entrance pavilions will also hold photovoltaic panels. But it is the envelope that has gone through the most rigorous analysis. An open outer structure acts as an ETFE shading element with a fritted layer that includes photovoltaic patches measuring 6 by 12 inches.  Cast struts holds the cable stayed system apart from the glass box, bowing slightly at the midsection, giving the building a slight protrusion, like a proud, swollen chest.