These days, the illicit thrill of sneaking into a hidden bar from the back of a video store is a mere blip on our adrenaline threshold. But a new speakeasy in Shanghai aims to reinvent the game with a sleek underground bar concealed behind the innocent facade of a sandwich shop. The diner setup is intact, but the glossy countertops in bright shades, neon lighting strips and polished minimalist furniture against unfinished walls emit a suspicious whiff of not-diner. Slot some coins into the vintage-looking Coca Cola vending machine in the corner and it suddenly swings outward, revealing a cooly-lit tunnel and the not-too-distant din of sophisticated chatter. A contrastingly different setting reveals itself: a chic, dimly-lit bar clad in dark tones of black and brown. By the entrance, floor-to-ceiling shelving holds bell jar-shaped whiskey bottles, a spotlight beneath each one illuminating the amber liquid within. A canopy of copper-inlaid lighting overhead echoes this warm glow, while white LED lights on a slanted plane behind the bar visibly project the liquor bottles outward. The owners of 'Flask and The Press' commissioned designer Alberto Caiola to create a mysterious, dynamic setting without feeling too try-hard. “Considering that Shanghai has already seen its fair share of hidden speakeasy-themed bars and lounges, we decided to build suspense and break it in an entirely unexpected fashion,” Caiola told Designboom. Suspended from a wall adjacent to the entrance is an installation of flasks covered by a veil so that only their outlines are visible. Rather than partitioning the seating areas, Caiola juxtaposed chesterfield sofas, bar stools and winged armchairs of different heights to visibly section the space. The wooden floorboards underfoot alternate from dark to light to dark again in keeping with this variation, while cascading cubes suspended from above relieve the low-ceilinged space of stuffiness. A wunderkind at visibly expanding a confined space, Caiola plays tastefully with convex mirrors and slanted planes to lengthen and focalize.
Posts tagged with "China":
Fresh off settling a legal dispute with New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler, Zaha Hadid has unveiled plans for her latest project. And even for the Queen of Swoop, this one is big. Very Big. Record-breaking big. Working with ADP Ingeniérie, a French firm that specializes in airport design, Hadid has drawn up plans for the largest airport passenger terminal on earth. The superlative terminal will, of course, be in China. Specifically, at the new Daxing Airport near Beijing. Conceptual designs for the roughly 7.5-million-square-foot space have all the trademark design flourishes of Hadid's work—an undulating roof, swooping columns, and a grand, polished interior. Gizmag noted that from above the terminal appears as a "massive mutant starfish." Not wrong. "Initially accommodating 45 million passengers per year, the new terminal will be adaptable and sustainable, operating in many different configurations dependent on varying aircraft and passenger traffic throughout each day," said Zaha Hadid Architects in a statement. The firm added that the terminal will serve as a multi-modal transit hub with connections to local and national rail lines. "Under the leadership of the Beijing New Airport Headquarters (BNAH) and the Local Design Institute, the joint design team consists of ADPI and ZHA, along with competition consortium group members Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and EC Harris," reported ArchDaily. The project is slated to be completed as soon as 2017.
The days of China as a staging ground for progressive, even experimental, architecture may be numbered. High-profile projects by Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, et al, while the delight of design aficionados around the world, haven't impressed Chinese President Xi Jinping—at least in a positive way. At a symposium on the arts held in Beijing at the end of last year, he made statements to the effect that "weird" buildings—an adjective that has not yet been codified—would not be welcome in the future. Government intrusion into architectural aesthetics is not, of course, without ugly precedent. Joseph Stalin—who was called "the father and friend of all Soviet architects" at the All-Union Congress in 1946—essentially conscripted architects to work for the state, forcing them to close their practices to deliver structures like the Seven Sisters, fortress-like buildings topped with Gothic-ish towers. (Un-fun fact: The project manager for these buildings was a KGB honcho, and the construction crews were composed of POWs and political prisoners.) Mies van der Rohe, in an act of cunning integrity, convinced the Third Reich of the importance of keeping the Bauhaus open, only to close the school himself in a statement of artistic principle. We wonder who among the contemporary architectural community might take such a stand—should the need arise—with regard to China.
City officials laid to rest Wednesday some, but not all, of the supertall rumors swirling around Chicago since July. Beijing-based real estate giant Wanda Commercial Properties is indeed planning what would be the city's third tallest building for 375 East Wacker Drive in the Lakeshore East neighborhood. Since news of the ambitious project first broke this summer, the design has visibly shifted. The project, dubbed Wanda Vista, is now 88 stories instead of 89. Its facade has traded sky blues for shiny silver. The highest of its three volumes is now the westernmost, stepping down towards Lake Michigan instead of up, as originally rendered. The form is still a cluster of three high-rises, made of stacked frustums—cut-off pyramid shapes—that interlock and terminate in green roofs. The middle tower would still straddle North Field Boulevard. Any real detail, however, remains obscured, as the projects' designers, Studio Gang Architects and bKL Architecture, are staying mum. Though the project awaits approval from 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and City Council, its developers hope to break ground in 2016. Plans for the mixed-use building include a five-star hotel, apartments, and retail, potentially to open by 2018. The 88-story project is estimated to cost $900 million, a sum not unreasonable for Wang Jianlin, Wanda's chief executive and the richest man in mainland China. Chicago-based Magellan Development, which has worked with bKL and Gang to develop the Lakeshore East neighborhood, owns a 10 percent stake in the project.
Having designed what is arguably Beijing's most recognizable building, CCTV, OMA is ready to make a similar, if slightly smaller, mark in Shanghai. They've just won a commission to design the Lujiazui Exhibiton Centre, located on the northern edge of Shanghai Pudong, a famed tower-filled area along the Huangpu River. The project, sponsored by the Lujiazui Central Financial District Development Corporation, takes its cues from its formerly industrial location along the former Shanghai Shipyard, and actually sits on a former ship cradle. It will be wrapped in a metallic mesh, exposing its steel structure and recalling the under-construction boat hulls once common on the site. The firm plans to transform the nautical ramp into a large-scale theatrical space for events, carving out a covered plaza under the elevated, cantilevered building. Completion is set for the end of next year, a lighting fast schedule for anywhere but China.
Contemporary monarchs and world leaders have a mixed record when it comes to dictating architectural taste (see Prince Charles: wrong on classicism, right on sustainable agriculture). Even so, it seems significant that Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for an end to “weird architecture,” the kinds of formally adventurous projects China has been building at a breakneck speed for the last few decades. It’s unclear at this point if he was expressing a personal preference or if this edict will have teeth. One Bird’s Nest too many?
This Saturday, Kean University, in Union, New Jersey, will launch the Michael Graves School of Architecture in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Michael Graves Architecture & Design. Over his career, Graves has racked up an impressive list of architectural accolades including the AIA Gold Medal, the National Medal of the Arts, and the Driehaus Prize for Architecture. The new school will be housed in the university's dramatic Green Lane Academic Building, designed by the Gruskin Group. Graves is designing a new facility for his school at the university's campus in Wenzhou, China. 'I think [it's] an A-plus," said Graves referring to his Wenzhou campus, in a video released by the university. "It's one of my better buildings, if not my best building. We're really pleased with it."
Illuminated steel pavilions mimic Chinese peaks.The hillside site of Fengming Mountain Park, in Chongqing, China, presented Martha Schwartz Partners with both a practical challenge and a source of inspiration. Asked by Chinese developer Vanke to design a park adjacent to the sales office for a new housing development, the landscape architecture and urban planning firm quickly gravitated toward the metaphor of a mountain journey. "That's why in the plans you see a zig zag pattern" to the path leading down to the sales center from the car park, said associate Ignacio López Busón. Steel pavilions scattered along the walkway pick up on the theme, taking the form of abstracted mountain peaks. "That's something the client really liked," said López Busón. "Once the idea was clear, it was all about developing the shape of them, and trying to make them look special." To refine the image of the pavilions, explained López Busón, "we first looked at the faceted nature of Chinese mountains. They aren't smooth at all." Fengming Mountain Park's metal structures feature an aggressive geometry that twists and turns above chunky legs. The pavilions' perforations and red and orange color scheme were inspired by a second cultural touchstone. "Martha was interested in the idea of the Chinese lantern," said López Busón. "The lanterns are red; then you put a light inside, and they become a nice gradient of red and yellow." The Fengming Mountain Park team started work on the pavilions with hand sketches, then brought the concept design into Rhino. There they played with the shape, developing a system of triangular modules that again represented mountain peaks. Then they transferred the model to Grasshopper, where they focused on the perforations and color. "We made paper models, but not too many because we were quite happy with the result in Rhino," said López Busón, who acknowledged that a compressed schedule was also a factor. The most difficult aspect of fabrication, said López Busón, was adjusting the design of the pavilions to fit the size of the laser beds to which Third Chongqing Construction Engineering had access. "We made a Grasshopper definition to guarantee that every triangle fit the laser bed. However, the final outcome showed several scars, which tells us that the developer likely reused some leftovers to save on materials." Both the panels and the supporting profile tubes were fabricated out of steel, to reduce costs. Martha Schwartz Partners originally proposed painting individual panels after cutting, then assembling the finished panels on site. "The fabricators didn't agree," said López Busón. "They built the pavilions first, then spray painted them." The result, he said, was favorable. "What you see is a smooth gradient from the bottom to the top." The perforations, too, help negotiate the transition from ground to sky. "We came up with a pattern that changes from bottom to top, which sort of dissolves the pavilion," said López Busón. "It's quite nice at night. There's also this nice merging between decoration and structure; you can't tell what is what." The experience of designing a 16,000 square meter park on an abbreviated timeline "was intense, but fun," said López Busón. "At the very beginning, we were following this traditional way of practicing architecture: Whatever we designed in three dimensions, we unrolled and put into AutoCAD." But as the weeks flew by, the designers streamlined the process, sending 3D models directly to the client—a process, he explained, that allowed the designers to catch and immediately correct a problem with the perforation pattern. "Without the digital tools, it would have been impossible."
Nike has covered a basketball court in Shanghai with LED sensors and the result looks like a live-action video game. The court is called the “House of Mamba”—not to be confused with the new “House of Vans” in London—and it's topped with reactive sensors that track players' every move. The House is part of Nike’s “Rise Campaign,” which the company described as “the first social basketball documentary drama in Greater China to inspire young people with a passion for basketball.” The House opened this summer with an appearance by Kobe Bryant, for whom the stadium gets its named—“House of Mamba” plays off Bryant’s nickname “Black Mamba.” Gizmag has a helpful breakdown of how exactly this court works: “It has a wooden base layer platform to provide a natural bounce, followed by a layer of over a thousand 2 x 2 ft (0.6 x 0.6 m) interlaced LED screens, a layer of thick glass on top of the screens and an adhesive basketball surface that provides bounce and grip covering the glass layer.”
The air in Beijing, China is dirty, and a new report suggests it won't be getting cleaner any time soon. Beijing residents received the grim news from the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection regarding the city's air pollution levels. Following studies done by the institute, researcher Pan Tao has estimated the return of safe air pollution levels in 2030. The World Health Organization has stated in the past that the concentration of PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less per cubic meter, should not exceed 35 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2013, however, the level of PM2.5 in Beijing measured 89.5 micrograms per meter.
Goettsch Partners landed its largest project in China, a cluster of five towers on 15 acres in Shenzhen’s Qianhai district. China Resources Land Limited (CR Land) hired the Chicago-based Goettsch to design 5.4 million square feet of space for offices, apartments, a five-star hotel, and retail. U.K.–based Benoy is the masterplanner, and is designing a shopping mall and retail areas at the towers’ base. CR Land and Goettsch have worked together before, including on two hotel towers at Shenzhen Bay. Shenzhen’s Qianhai district is in a “special economic zone” targeted for development by the Chinese government, which envisions the 5.8-square-mile area as the “Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta.” Goettsch’s towers will rise in “Neighborhood 2,” the most recent Qianhai parcel to host development that Chinese authorities say will total $45 billion by the conclusion of the area’s overhaul. Their announcement has spurred a small frenzy of building and land speculation, attracting billions of dollars of investment from real estate developers in this boom town about an hour from Hong Kong. Goettsch’s design plays off the blue glass of nearby buildings with a metallic-painted aluminum frame, using horizontal fins on the hotel and apartment towers to differentiate them subtly. As with many such megablock developments in China, ground-level shopping and pedestrian paths will link the five towers. Since it was designated a special economic zone in the late 1970s, Shenzhen has seen its population balloon from 30,000 to more than 8 million. Its reputation as China’s “instant city” has brought an influx of foreign investment, but it also speaks of the city’s struggles with pollution and dangerous working conditions. Perhaps best known in the West for making Apple products, Shenzhen is a manufacturing hub that has been called "China's Silicon Valley." In the wake of a “suicide crisis” at Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer in charge of Shenzhen’s most notorious Apple factories, the company moved most of their jobs north to Zhengzhou.
The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) has released concept images for their waterfront park in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Once installed, the park will be a breath of fresh air (both literally and figuratively) for residents in the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, China. The park, designed by West 8, is merely one facet of a larger project to create the West Kowloon Cultural District, which seeks to create a cultural hub in Hong Kong. To establish this cultural atmosphere, the project's planners seek to insert several performance venues and art venues in the park. Upon its completion, the West Kowloon Cultural District will host multiple facilities to provide space for exhibitions and events, a park, and a waterfront path. The buildings will help to facilitate cultural celebrations and large-scale public events while the outdoor space will produce quality “green” space. Three confirmed venues for the park are The Arts Pavilion, Freespace, and The lawn. The Arts Pavilion will be situated on an elevated hill overlooking the Victoria Harbor and will house exhibitions and events that promote the cultural arts. The edifice was designed by VPANG architects and JET Architecture. The Freespace will be comprised of a black box and an outdoor stage, where open-air events and concerts can be held. The black box refers to a space at the center of the park that will seat up to 900 people. Finally, The Lawn will comprise the majority of the park and will be able to hold 10,000 standing visitors, making it ideal for outdoor concerts and festivals.