Posts tagged with "Castles":

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Abu Dhabi's oldest building stands strong after intensive stone restoration

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Architectural heritage is something of an anomaly in the city of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Since 1950 the city has grown from 4,000 residents to nearly 1.5 million, many of whom are housed and working in miles-long rows of concrete tower blocks. The 18th-century Qasr Al Hosn castle stands as a rare historical monument in this remarkably modern city, and the local government just recently completed a decade-long architectural conservation program restoring and stabilizing its masonry walls. The Qasr Al Hosn was built by the ruling Bani Yas tribe in the 1760s as a coastal bastion defending the city’s fresh water well and regional trade routes. The walls and towers are built of coral and sea stone and are lathed in a render composed of burned and crushed seashells mixed with white sand and water. Rich in minerals, the render takes on a bright white and iridescent finish that glints under the sun. Apertures are located throughout the concentric rings of walls, naturally drawing ventilating gusts throughout the complex. And as a virtue of the thermal mass of the formidable walls, the sequence of courtyards is considerably cooler than the surrounding city.
  • Facade Manufacturer Zublin Construction
  • Architects The Department of Culture & Tourism Abu Dhabi
  • Lead Contractor Zublin Construction
  • Preservation Consultant Elgaard Architecture
  • Location Abu Dhabi, U.A.E
  • Date of Completion December 2018
  • System Coral-and-sea stone masonry with seashell render
After centuries of wear and tear, as well as the ill-thought coating of the original masonry with a thick cementitious render and decorative layer of white gypsum, the castle was due for a significant restoration. The restoration of historic structures, especially those of major cultural significance, requires painstaking material and historical research. The Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT) deployed a team to “carefully remove strips of the modern render layer which enabled us to determine that a high extent of original masonry was still intact and to discover that the original render was still in existence in areas,” said Mark Kyffin, DCT Head of Architecture. “This enabled us to analyze the constituent parts of this material, under laboratory conditions, for replication and application in the ensuing remedial works.” With the information gathered by laboratory observation, the team developed a new render replicating the porosity and thermal qualities of the old. Research of preexisting masonry sections also provided insight into its original hand application, a process appropriated by the modern construction team. While the use of render shields masonry from the elements—think of it as a coated rainscreen—the condition of loadbearing elements determines the structural longevity of the building. The walls that surround the complex are just under two feet in width, with significant voids caused by internal stone deterioration. To fill these voids, the DCT set up a gravity-injected mortar grouting system. "Loose mortar was removed from the external facing masonry joints and temporarily replaced with cotton wool," said Kyffin. "This enabled the wall to be a sealed enclosure and prevented grout from seeping through the facade." The external cotton wool was removed once the internal grout had cured, with gaps in the masonry subsequently being repointed. Historical research also played a significant role in the conservation process. Researchers pored over photographs, diary extracts, and oral testimonies of those who lived in the building during the 1940s, gaining further knowledge of key building features. Abu Dhabi is surrounded by desert. For centuries, the city exclusively sourced its timber from an adjacent and expansive mangrove forest. The dimensions of internal rooms were dictated by the maximum height of the local mangrove forest; the tallest mangrove poles can measure close to twenty feet. In conjunction with the restoration of the Qasr Al Hosn, the Department of Culture & Tourism collaborated with Danish architecture firm CEBRA to landscape nearly 35 acres of open land surrounding the castle. Also unveiled in December, the design features polygon-shaped concrete formed to resemble the sun-baked earth and rolling water features that course pass shade-providing vegetation.
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Spare a billion or two to help build a real life version of Tolkien's Minas Tirith?

There's something about those CGI scenes of Middle Earth in Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings that really tickles the imagination. Apparently, they're inspirational enough to prod one group in Southern England to put together a campaign to build a real life version of J.R.R. Tolkien's hilled city of Minas Tirith. And they're asking the world to fund it. A determined group of architects and structural engineers launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign seek to recreate the fictional city in all its white-walled, mountainside glory—and it won't be cheap. The so-called Realise Minas Tirith project has already raised over $94,000 of the approximately $2.8 billion budget with 47 days left to reach its goal. The project won't receive any funds unless its entire budget is met by that deadline, so it's a pretty safe bet to chip in a few bucks. "We all share a love of Tolkien's work, and a desire to challenge the common perception of community and architecture," project leader Jonathan Wilson said on his Indiegogo page. "We believe that, in realising Minas Tirith, we can create not only the most remarkable tourist attraction on the planet, but also a wonderfully unique place to live and work.We're fully aware of the scale of our ambition, but we hope you realise just how special this project could be." If the funds are raised in time, the group plans to break ground in 2016 and open their gleaming new city in 2023. There is precedent for such a monumental hill-city building campaign. Take, for instance, Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, pictured below.
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On View> Glimmering light installation recalls the destroyed baronial towers of Bannerman's Castle near New York City

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home, … facing the stars hope—a new constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it—together. —One Day, by Robert Blanco. Written for the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013. Melissa McGill's light-based public art project, Constellation, arises from the romantic ruins of Bannerman's Castle on Pollepel Island, a mysterious sight glimpsed from trains heading north 50 miles from New York City just shy of Beacon, and nearby to West Point and Storm King. If you’ve ever wondered about this fleeting apparition, this art installation, which will be up for two years, is the perfect vehicle for visiting the island or gazing from the riverbank. Video shot by drone of Bannerman Castle. (John Huba) Starting in 1884, Francis Bannerman VI, a pacifist who hoped that future wars were unnecessary, was the world’s largest dealer of used military items, operating the first Army/Navy surplus stores through purchases of enormous quantities of government surplus goods at auction. After his largest purchase of 90 percent of the captured goods from the Spanish-American War in 1898, he had a dilemma—storage space was limited in New York City and authorities frowned on housing his vast cache of explosives at the company headquarters on lower Broadway. So he purchased Pollepel Island from Mary Taft of Cornwall in late 1900 and constructed a series of arsenals and houses of his own design in Scottish baronial style with Belgian influences, and a coat of arms with an invented crest including the Scottish flag, a grappling hook, and a flaming bomb. There was even a working drawbridge. Bannerman designed his castle as an optical illusion: it looked bigger than it actually was. In the spirit of surplus, he built it out of scrap metal, blasted rock, brick, and concrete, and used old bedframes as rebar, and buoys as decorative balls. Cannons were placed throughout the island. Two years after Bannerman’s death in 1918 (two weeks after the end of World War I), the castle’s powder house exploded. According to the New York Times the reverberations were heard 75 miles away and windows were blown out in towns along the east side of the river. Nearly 50 years later in 1969, most 
of the rest of the complex burned in a fire lasting three days, leaving only the remains seen
 today. What remains are thin stage-set facades seen from the riverbank, propped up by slanted long metal rods behind. Adding to the magic lantern quality is appearance by the Bannerman ruins in Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest (1959) flashing by from a train; a two-second appearance in Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), along with Angkor Wat and the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, which serve as transporters to the inhabitants of the planet Cybertron to Earth; swum past by Joseph Fiennes in Against the Current (2009); and the secret location of George Washington's tomb built by the Masons in FOX TV’s Sleepy Hollow. It was also the site of the April 2015 death of kayaker Vincent Viafore, while out with his fiancé Angelika Graswald. Constellations are our ways of creating narratives to connect the dots—or stars—giving the seemingly random order in the form of a figure, an action, or a myth. McGill has created her own Constellation with lighted points referring to the Bannerman castle structure still standing, as well as components that no longer exist, thereby connecting past and present. She also delves even further back to the Lenape, the indigenous Native Americans of the area, referencing their term Opi Temakan which means the White Road or Milky Way. In McGill’s reading, the natural and manmade are intertwined. She says it is absence and presence; fragments and pauses. Booking Boat and Kayak Tours, and Best locations to see Constellation on land here. Audio Guide, Video, Tour Information and more can be found here.
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Quest to Save A Mysterious Hudson River Castle

Preservationists are at work attempting to salvage what remains of a New York architectural oddity. The strange medieval-looking structure known as Bannerman's Castle is located on Pollepel Island, a small stretch of land about 60 miles north of Manhattan on the Hudson River. Scottish-American Arms mogul Francis Bannerman IV built the series of buildings in the early 20th century to act as a personal residence and home to his extensive arsenal. Since the 1920s, however, the castle has suffered from neglect and a series of devastating storms and fires that contribute to its current dilapidated state. In 1993, care of the island was handed over to the Bannerman Castle Trust.  By that point the structure had already born witness to a massive 1920s gunpowder explosion and a 1969 fire that raged for three days and gutted most of the timber interiors. Large portions of the masonry fell victim to a storms in 2009 and 2010. In late November, Putnam-based construction company Tiny Houses began efforts to stabilize some of the extant masonry. Trust president Neil Caplan is in the process of raising funds for further renovation efforts, including transforming the island's home into a visitors center. Bannerman purchased the island in 1900 after locals grew concerned with the quantity of explosive weaponry he was stockpiling in his Brooklyn Navy Yard warehouses.  He proceeded to construct seven structures on the site all bearing a stylistic resemblance to the castles of Bannerman's homeland. The estate's downward spiral began with the Scotsman's death in 1918. For inspiration, trust members are looking to similar structures that have been repurposed in ways that ensure the feasibility of their preservation, such as Saugerties Lighthouse which lies farther up the Hudson, and Boldt Castle on the St. Lawrence River. While the island has already hosted kayak trips, hiking excursions, performances, and a wedding, camping programs and concerts are in the works for the coming year.
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Restored ruins of Astley Castle Win UK's prestigious 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize

A few years ago, 12th-century-built Astley Castle was no more than a fire-ravaged, crumbling medieval structure in the English countryside. Now, since its clever restoration by Witherford Watson Mann Architects in 2012, the Landmark Trust-sponsored residence in Warwickshire has been deemed “building of the year” as the winner of the most prestigious architectural prize in the United Kingdom, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ 2013 Stirling Prize. With its fortified ruins artfully incorporated into contemporary construction as a luxury vacation home, RIBA President Stephen Hodder praised the Astley Castle restoration as “an exceptional example of how modern architecture can revive an ancient monument.” However, this year RIBA was unable to secure a sponsor to provide the £20,000 given to winners of the past, BD Online reported. This is the first year that the Stirling Prize comes with no cash value. After a 1978 fire ravaged the already crumbling 12th century Astley Castle in Warwickshire, England, the Landmark Trust in the United Kingdom was not willing to give up on its preservation. In 2007, the charity organization held an architectural competition for a reimagining of the medieval structure and awarded Witherford Watson Mann Architects the project. The architecture firm restored the most ancient parts of the ruins and reinvented the structure as a luxury vacation residence, strengthening the old structure with new stone and timber and repurposing its rooms as modern quarters. At the trophy presentation ceremony in London on September 26, Hodder gave Witherford Watson Mann Architects their first Stirling Prize win, commending their design and explaining RIBA's decision thus:
“[Astley Castle] is significant because rather than a conventional restoration project, the architects have designed an incredibly powerful contemporary house which is expertly and intricately intertwined with 800 years of history. Every detail has been carefully considered, from a specific brick pattern to the exact angle of a view, resulting in a sensually rich experience for all who visit. This beautiful new building is a real labor of love. It was realized in true collaboration between a visionary client, designer and contractors.”