Posts tagged with "France":

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If at first you don't succeed: Jean Nouvel's leaning towers of Paris gets planning approval after initial rejection

After an initial rejection by officials from the Paris Council, French architect Jean Nouvel has been awarded planning permission for his firm's so-called Duo Tower project on the Eastern banks of the Seine. Located in the Quartier De La Gare district of Paris, the project follows on the heels of another pyramidal tower by Herzog & De Meuron planned for the city. Since Paris has dropped its construction height limit, the project is one of the first to be jumping on the high-rise bandwagon. Taking advantage of the new lack of restrictions, the taller tower will rise to 590 feet while the lower block will reach just over 400. Nouvel's towers have been a source of controversy in the French capital. A fierce opponent of Parisian high-rises, Mayor Patrice vowed to fight the scheme earlier in the year. Speaking to Le Parisien he said "I will attack this permit with a gracious solution." Unimpressed with the towers winning planning approval, he went to on to say, "the permit/license of construction was validated on the basis of a grossly false photomontage," arguing that the renders did not accurately portray the visual effect the building would have on the skyline. Touted to cost over $570 million, the mixed-use towers will provide over one million square feet—about 24 acres—of office space, and include a hotel, auditorium, restaurant, and retail area. Of this space, some will be accessible to the public with the restaurant offering views over Paris and along the river. Construction is set to begin next year with the project aiming to be complete by 2020.
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French architect Dominique Perrault wins 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award

The Japan Art Association has announced that French architect Dominique Perrault, most famous for the National Library of France in Paris, has won the 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in the architecture category. Perrault is one of five laureates, joining Tadanori Yokoo for painting, Wolfgang Laib for sculpture, Mitsuko Uchida for music, and Sylvie Guillem for theater / film. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 21, 2015, Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each Praemium Imperiale winner with a specially designed gold medal and a testimonial letter. The award also brings with it roughly $122,000 (15 million yen). The 62-year-0ld architect “treads his own bold path,” describes The Guardian, with designs that “can be wildly imaginative … [or] … abstractly minimal.” Success is nothing new for Perrault who has already won the the Silver medal for town planning in 1992 and the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1996. In 2010 he was also awarded the gold medal by the French Academy of Architecture for all his work. Previous winners include architects Steven Holl in 2014 and David Chipperfield in 2013.
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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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Help save this high tech masterpiece by Odile Decq and Benoit Cornette from the wrecking ball

Benoit Cornette and Odile Decq’s 25-year-old Banque Populaire de l’Ouest (BPO) building is threatened by demolition after the owner was unable to sell it and subsequently received permission to tear it down. The building’s double glazed, suspended facade and its panoramic elevators were considered major technical innovations when it was built. The architectural heritage of the building is under threat for purely financial matters, but if the building can receive a pending classification, it would allow the architects one year to draw a plan to refurbish, repurpose, or otherwise save the building. A petition was launched on July 7th, and can be found here. According to the Save the BPO website,
It is time to act and react. The stake is to save a major building of the 20th century…BPO’s building brought international recognition to its authors with a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1996. Their innovative approach of mixing architecture, engineering and industry in search of a new spatiality was highly acclaimed at the time. Technically exceptional with its architectural experimentations, the BPO’s building embodies the “high tech” movement at the same level as the HSBC Tower in Hong Kong or the Lloyd’s Headquarters in London.
Sign up for updates to learn more at the group's Facebook page or on Twitter.
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First in 40 Years: After initial rejection, Herzog & de Meuron's triangular skyscraper is set to break ground in Paris

Paris' city council ruling against the controversial Tour Triangle skyscraper back in 2014 was just overturned by the same governmental body. Mayor Anne Hidalgo approved of the jagged, triangular, Herzog & de Meuron–designed tower and has said she looks forward to the opportunities it will bring to the French capital. During construction, an estimated 5,000 workers will be employed and another 5,000 employees are predicted to occupy what will be Paris' third-tallest structure. Tour Triangle will be Paris’ first skyscraper since Montparnasse in 1973. The Triangle, located in the Porte de Versailles neighborhood, promises amenities that will cater to both professionals and tourists alike within its 43 stories. The tower includes 70,000 square feet of office space for creative and tech start-up companies and another 24,000 square feet of co-working space. For vacationers and out-of-towners, the tower plans to build a 120-room hotel with a lower-level daycare and upper-level dining facilities. Take a look at a gallery of renderings below. All photos (Courtesy Tour Triangle)
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See the Grand Palais submerged in a virtual waterfall in 3D projection mapping design by Japanese art collective teamLab

Recently, Paris’ Grand Palais was awash in the cascade of a virtual waterfall, transforming the beaux-arts palace into a captivating scene from the lost city of Atlantis. TeamLab, a Japanese collective of technologists and artists, used 3D projection mapping to create the holographic play of light and shadow, while maintaining a fidelity to the laws of physics. The artists calculated the movement of the waterfall by creating a 3D model of the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées in a virtual computer environment and allowing water to cascade over it. “The water is expressed as continuum of hundreds of thousand of water particles that flow in accordance with how the computer calculates the interaction of the particles,” teamLab explained in a post on its website. “Once an accurate water flow simulation has been constructed, 0.1 percent of the water particles are selected and lines drawn in relation to them. The waterfall is expressed as the combination of these lines.” The torrents of water fall with arresting slowness and are deflected as they “collide” with the silent statues and columns of the magnificent building. TeamLab, the brains behind Tokyo’s interactive hanging gardens and LED Christmas trees, programmed a slight time lag into the cascade as a nod to their Japanese ancestors, who perceived time and space as “on a longer axis.” The artists allege that only if one “does not feel a barrier between them and the waterfall,” or, in other words, cedes their full attention, can the viewer truly experience the artwork’s underlying intent. The projection mapping light show was created as part of the Art Paris Art Fair 2015.
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French law mandates green roofs or solar panels on all new buildings in commercial zones

It’s serious crunch time in France for environmental policymaking as regulations tighten in deference to the 2020 goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent. Paris is also scrambling for brownie points as it prepares to host the UN Conference on Climate Change this November. Lawmakers in France recently decreed that all rooftops of new commercial buildings must be covered in either plants or solar panels. Other major cities have gone to similarly stringent lengths, with the city of Toronto, Canada, mandating green roofs on all new buildings in 2009—whether residential, industrial or commercial. Expected foliage cover ranges from 20 to 60 percent depending on the size and type of building, with residential dwellings less than six stories high exempt from the mandate. Green roofs are an apt counterweight to the urban island phenomenon, in which urban zones are found to be several degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas because of their concrete density relative to moist, permeable land and vegetation. On the other hand, green roofs create an “isolating effect” that cools the building, reducing energy needs for heating and cooling in winter and summer, and retain rainwater to reduce excess runoff and flood likelihood. A green roof also bodes $200,000 in savings over its lifetime, according to researchers at Michigan State University. French environmental activists had initially lobbied for far less leniency, calling for every roof on every new building to be entirely covered by plants, without the option of installing solar panels instead. The Socialist government sought a middle-ground appeasement, convincing activists to limit the law to commercial buildings. France still lags behind other European countries in terms of solar deployment, installing just 613 megawatts of solar photovoltaics in 2013, falling behind countries that had installed at least 1 gigawatt in previous years, according to a 2014 report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association.
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French artist Julien Salaud creates enchanting constellations from thread coated in UV paint

Awe-inspiring and mystic, French artist Julien Salaud’s constellation-like thread art evokes teeming scenes of nature, mythologies, and prehistoric cave paintings. And lasers. Polygonal representations of birds of prey in flight, freshwater fish, deer, a human draped in the regalia of a forest god, bears, and felines arc over the walls and ceilings with arresting abandon. The artist’s spider web–like world of constellations glows with threads coated in UV paint visible only under UV light. The threads are knotted around nails embedded in precise positions on the walls and ceilings of the gallery. Salaud is a trained biochemist who spent 10 years gathering data on the impact of human activity on wildlife in the French Guyana. When he defected to the art world after cottoning on that he and science were not “compatible,” wildlife continued to be the muse of his etchings, drawings and sculptures, which are loosely architected around Ernst Cassier’s definition of of man as animal symbolicum, describing man as entrapped by symbols and meanings of his own creation. Salaud’s twilight zone between dreams and reality, observable only in darkness, was produced during an art class held by the artist at Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art with Israeli art school graduates and selected artists from the Museum’s educational staff.
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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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An architect from Vancouver wants to build the world's tallest wooden skyscraper over a roadway in Paris

Back in March, AN wrote about Rüdiger Lainer and Partners' plan to construct a wood skyscraper in Vienna. The so-called HoHo project would rise 276 feet and be about three-quarters wood. Now, Vancouver-based architect Michael Green, whose eponymous firm is behind “the tallest mass timber building in the United States” has proposed a timber tower for Paris that would be 10 stories taller—making it the tallest such structure on earth. That is, if it gets built. The tower is part of a mixed-use scheme called "Baobab" that Michael Green Architecture (MGA), along with Paris-based DVVD and developer REI France, submitted to Réinventer Paris—a city-sponsored competition that asked architects to propose "innovative urban projects" at one of 23 sites across town. MGA and its teammates went with Pershing, an under-utilized site that the competition says "will be at the heart of the Porte Maillot renewal operation, a strategic part of Greater Paris, linking the central business district with La Défense.” Along with the wood tower, which MGA says is carbon neutral, Baobab has a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing, a hotel for students, agricultural facilities, a bus station, and an e-car hub. The development would span across an eight-lane roadway. “Our goal is that through innovation, youthful social contact and overall community building, we have created a design that becomes uniquely important to Paris,” said Michael Green, Principal of MGA, in a statement.  “Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture.” Shortlisted proposals are expected to be announced this summer, so we will have to wait until then to see if Baobab has a chance of taking shape. [h/t CBC News]
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Wispy-looking design for Herzog & de Meuron's new Bordeaux stadium features 900 slim columns

A new Bordeaux stadium by architects Herzog & de Meuron debunks the hulking typology of a sporting facility. The architect compares the “elegant” and “lightweight”-looking design to a “classic temple,” which doesn’t seem all that hyperbolic. Surrounded by 900 slim columns on all four sides supporting a sharp-edged rectangular roof, the 42,000-seat stadium is composed of two superposed tiers divided into four sections. The entire seating area is shielded from rain and shine by a semi-translucent roof canopy. Photographs show unusually lavish legroom between each row of seats. The stadium structure itself is composed of three key elements: the bowl, raised above ground level, for games and spectators, the concourse as a transition between the playing field and its external surroundings, as well as the external landscape itself. The latter fell under the ministrations of French landscape architect Michel Desvigne, who created an area for community sporting activities as well as a children’s playground. “Special attention was paid to the integration of the structure into the grand landscape,” Herzog & De Meuron said in a statement. Rather than taking aesthetic cues from the historic city center of Bordeaux Lac, the firm based its designs on the willowy pine trees of the Landes Forest located south of the city. Between the matchstick forest of columns throughout the stadium weaves a “ribbon-like” structure designed to accommodate food stalls and toilet facilities around the perimeter of the building. “Its purity and geometrical clarity inspire a sense of monumentality and gracefulness,” said Herzog & De Meuron. “One might be tempted to draw a comparison with a classical temple, but unlike the elevated plinth of a temple, the grand stairs of the stadium blur the boundaries between the inside and the outside.” The Swiss firm won a competition in 2011 to design the facility, with work commencing in 2013. Set to be the home stadium of French football team FC Girondins de Bordeaux and host to five matches during the 2016 European Football Championships, the stadium was recently inaugurated ahead of its first football match.
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Electricity-generating Wind Trees will power Paris' Place de la Concorde

The power grid of the future may consist entirely of trees—and we don’t mean biofuel. French R&D company New Wind recently pioneered the “wind tree,” a wind turbine that is both silent and soothing to behold. While wind turbines are ordinarily thought to be noisy and unsightly, the “Arbre à vent” developed by French entrepreneur Jerôme Michaud-Larivière resembles modern art’s sculptural interpretation of a tree. The biomorphically-inspired contraption features 72 electricity-generating leaves oriented vertically along a white steel frame approximating tree branches.   Made of lightweight plastic treated with element-resistant resin, the leaves can harness winds as light as 4.4 miles per hour, enabling the turbine to continue generating power for 280 days per year, factoring in climate vacillations. Despite this keen sensitivity, the turbine is designed to withstand Category 3 gusts (wind speeds of up to 129 miles per hour). At 26-by-36 feet the “wind tree” is no taller than the average tree, and camouflages with the landscape instead of being a looming presence. Each rotating leaf contains a generator with a capacity of 3.1 kilowatts of electricity—a modest amount, but a streetscape lined with wind trees could rack up enough juice to power all nearby street lights or a small apartment, according to EarthTechling. The circuitry is wired in parallel and each generator is sealed in protective casing so that the breakdown of one leaf does not gum the system. Meanwhile, the company is replicating the plant-inspired design template in a scaled-down "wind bush" currently in the works and "foliage" as a  wind power catch-all on rooftops and balconies and along roadsides to power variable-message signs. From May through the following March, a demonstrator tree will be installed at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, a major public square, to introduce it to the general public, after which 40 more wind trees will be installed around the country. While prototypes have been installed on select private properties, the item will not be mass produced until summer 2016, and even then will be available only in France and nearby European countries. Each wind tree is slated to retail for approximately $36,500 apiece—slightly more expensive than the traditional 10-kilowatt turbine, which costs an average of $30,000 including installation.