Posts tagged with "London":

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Spanish architects unveil a colorful, tangled web for the 15th Serpentine Pavilion in London

The Serpentine Galleries has unveiled renderings for its 15th summer pavilion which it described as an "amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure." The interactive and certainly bright installation is designed by the Madrid-based SelgasCano and comprises translucent, rainbow-colored panels woven into a webbing system. Visitors are encouraged to enter the pavilion and explore its "secret corridor" and "stained glass-effect interior." "We sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials," SelgasCano said in a statement. "We have therefore designed a Pavilion which incorporates all of these elements. The spatial qualities of the Pavilion only unfold when accessing the structure and being immersed within it. Each entrance allows for a specific journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes. This is accomplished by creating a double-layered shell, made of opaque and translucent fluorine-based plastic (ETFE) in a variety of colours." After people have explored the colorful space, they will find an open space cafe sited at its center. Over the summer months, SelgasCano's pavilion will become the stage and centerpiece of Serpentine’s Park Nights—a cultural event held every Friday evening. Previous pavilion designers include Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Oscar Niemeyer, Peter Zumthor, SANAA, and Toyo Ito with Cecil Balmond. Architectural Digest recently reported that last year's pavilion by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic has been moved to the gardens of Hauser & Wirth Somerset a few hours outside of London.
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English group spearheads effort to save the early Brutalist Robin Hood Gardens

What do the English have against works produced by members of the Independent Group? The loose post–World War II group of artists, architects, writers, and critics produced public art, gallery installations, and even architecture. On this side of the Atlantic we always think the Brits save their landmarks—unlike the American tendency to tear them down before they can be landmarked. But early this year Transport for London destroyed Eduardo Paolozzi’s playful and colorful mosaics that stood over the entrance to the Tottenham Court Road tube station. Now it seems that local authorities will destroy one of the countries best-known housing developments-Alison and Peter Smithson’s 1972 Robin Hood Gardens in Tower Hamlets near the Docklands development in London’s East End. Housing authorities in the English capital have been trying to demolish the 213 unit affordable housing project for many years and despite lack of maintenance in the project since 2000 and several high profile attempts to save and preserve the project it still seems doomed. But now another last minute push is being made to save Robin Hood by the lobbying group the Twentieth Century Society. They have challenged the listing—or landmarking—process as “flawed” and thus the building should be saved. According to British magazine The Architect’s Journal, Richard Rogers has thrown his support behind the effort to save the complex saying, “Robin Hood Gardens is one of a handful of great low-cost housing estates. It was a world-shaking building but it’s been looked after appallingly. Whatever anyone says, I don’t know of better modern architects than the Smithson’s: they were certainly outstanding.” Lets hope this significant housing project can be saved.
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South London’s shipping container coworking venue champions low-cost Live-Work-Play spaces

Conceptualized as a “cross-functional village” built entirely from shipping containers, the POP Brixton project by Carl Turner Architects offers fertile ground for entrepreneurial endeavors. Aesthetic appeal or lack thereof aside, the interconnected containers will collectively serve as “a community campus for startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs.” Think coworking spaces where creatives commingle and cross-fertilize—only with cultural and educational activities such as workshops, live events, film screenings, and performance arts. Meanwhile, public spaces such as retail outlets, cafés, kiosks, and a speculative hotel are also included in the plan to attract traffic and revenue streams to the South London district of Brixton. The low-cost, low-energy containers are available in 20 foot and 40 foot dimensions, each one tricked out with high-speed internet access, power points, insulated walls and double-glazed windows. As a self-touted coworking space, POP Brixton will, above all, be a platform for training, business, and employment more than a retail haven, but the containers will be configured around a public square and various planted walkways, and the hosting of events open to all promises to foster community spirit. pop-brixton-carl-turner-architects-shipping-container-city-london-layout-psfk Integral to the transfer-of-knowledge-and-skills concept is the requirement that tenants partake in a one-hour training program per week for startups, managed by Lambeth College and Brixton Pound. POP Brixton will serve as a pilot project of sorts for its upcoming larger-scale Future Brixton Project. Though not involving shipping containers, it is a community revitalization and job creation initiative that extends to the surrounding Somerleyton Road, Brixton Central, Town Center, and the building of a new Town Hall. Construction of the POP Brixton commenced in January 2015 and is scheduled to open this year.
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London to invest $140 million to boost cycling in the ‘burbs

As we've been reporting, there are some pretty big urbanism proposals being pushed in London right now. Next month, the city is expected to break ground on a massive cycle superhighway that will give cyclists about 20 miles of new protected bike lanes. Mayor Johnson is also supporting a plan to bury parts of major thoroughfares to boost walkability and development. But now, something even bigger is brewing in the London suburbs. People for Bikes reported that the city's regional government is investing $140 million into cycling, which could be "the biggest municipal bicycling investment in the history of Europe." This amount, which represents 10 percent of Transport for London's (TfL) ten-year bicycle infrastructure budget, will be used to turn three suburbs into what the agency calls "mini-Hollands." The goal in each of these three 'burbs (Kingston, Enfield, Waltham Forest) is to get people out of their cars and onto bikes—especially for short trips. To bring Holland to outer London, TfL is proposing to redesign town centers, build new suburban Cycle Superhighways, and create "Dutch-style roundabouts and rail superhubs." The TfL sees huge potential for bike transit growth in these areas where mass transit tends to be less convenient than what is offered in denser urban environments. "More than half of potential cycle journeys in London are in the suburbs," said the agency on its website. "This programme will aim to target these journeys, moving significant numbers of short car trips to bike." The agency said the boroughs are currently working on detailed designs and timelines for their plans.
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Iowa City picks Cecil Balmond for downtown art project

Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.
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London’s mayor wants to move major streets underground to make a pedestrian-friendly city

[beforeafter]Current image of A408 Southgate  in London (Courtesy TfL)TfL-FlyUnders - A406 Southgate[/beforeafter] In recent years, the proliferation of parks, pedestrian plazas, greenways, and bike share programs in cities around the world have signaled an important change in the culture of city-dwellers, one that values walkability, integrated and congestion-free neighborhoods, open space, and environmental health. The major thoroughfares, however, that slice through metropolises are not always conducive with this desired urban experience, and take up space that could otherwise be used for housing, office and commercial uses, and parkland. That's why London Mayor Boris Johnson is proposing to relocate portions of key road networks underground. And where better to make this announcement than in and around Boston's infamous "Big Dig" project? "Rebuilding some of our complex and aging road network underneath our city would not only provide additional capacity for traffic, but it would also unlock surface space and reduce the impact of noise and pollution. I am inspired by what the ambitious people of Boston have achieved here at the Big Dig, both in terms of reducing congestion and how they have dramatically improved the quality of life on the surface. In London we face similar challenges on our roads, but this could also be a fantastic opportunity to better shape our city and support economic growth,” said Johnson in a statement. [beforeafter]TfL-FlyUnders A13 BarkingCurrent image of A13 Barking (Courtesy TfL)[/beforeafter]   After taking a look at more than 70 locations around the city, the mayor identified five areas where "the introduction of tunnels, fly-unders and decking could deliver benefits that are in line with the Mayor’s 2050 Infrastructure Plan." These areas include a mini tunnel at the A13 in Barking Riverside, decking of the A3 in Tolworth, a fly-under at the A316 at Chalkers Corner, a fly-under at the A4 in Hammersmith, and decking or a mini-tunnel at the A406 in New Southgate. In addition, the mayor says that London's Inner Ring Road is "facing increasing pressure for change" and is ready to be replaced by a new inner orbital tunnel or two cross city tunnels to ease traffic. [beforeafter]TfL Fly-under - A3 Tolworth (Courtesy TfL)Current image of A3 Tolworth (Courtesy TfL)[/beforeafter]   Beyond seeking a more livable city for Londoners, the plan is also designed to address and provide a solution for the city's significant population growth, which is anticipated to reach 10 million by the early 2030s. The "Big Dig" is a tenuous paradigm as the megaproject took 20 years to complete and was plagued with mounting costs, structural problems, criminal arrests, and a fatal accident. Even still, many have deemed it a success in terms of mitigating congestion, decreasing travel time and thus overall fuel costs, and freeing up land for a new greenway.
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London expected to break ground on massive “cycle superhighway”

London is ready to one-up its bike-friendly European neighbors by building the longest, continuous protected cycleway on the continent. Mayor Boris Johnson has been emphatically endorsing the plan that would create two "superhighways" of bi-directional, curb protected bike lanes. The longer of the two paths would run 18 miles, past some of London's most iconic sites. This truly ambitious plan has been in the works for some time, but is expected to pass its final hurdle this week when it goes before the Transit for London (TfL) board for approval. If it is approved, which is expected, construction is slated to start this March with completion in 2016, according to Dezeen. The creation of the cycleway would not just be a major win for cyclists, it would significantly improve pedestrian safety as well. According to the mayor's office, the superhighway includes “22 new crossings and 35 shortened crossings and 41 crossings fitted with pedestrian countdown.” Given the scale of this plan, there of course have been some detractors—mostly drivers who don’t want to see their roads handed over to cyclists. Mayor Johnson said that the final plan takes concerns about increased car traffic into account while maintaining a continuous, curb-segregated cycleway. “We have done one of the biggest consultation exercises in TfL’s history. We have listened, and now we will act,” said the mayor in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, Londoners wanted these routes, and wanted them delivered to the high standard we promised. I intend to keep that promise.”
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Are London’s Paolozzi underground mosaics to be destroyed?

In October on a visit to London, friends mentioned that Eduardo Paolozzi's early 1980 tile mosaics in the Tottenham Court tube station were going to be demolished. I diverted a Northern Line trip from Bank Street to the Charing Cross branch of the line and and walked through the Tottenham Station taking poorly lit iPhone images of the threatened mosaics. Paolozzi was a founding member of the English Independent Group and as an important early pop artist. His tube station artworks are a colorful and bright addition to a public space that is usually generic and often downright lifeless and boring. In fact, the Paolozzi art work makes this one of the most unique and recognizable train stations in the world and the thought that it would be destroyed seems mad. But now English news sources are reporting that while major parts of the mosaics will be destroyed other parts of it will be saved. The station is being reconfigured and enlarged as part of Cross Rail, the new English national train system, being integrated into the London underground. But the English Twentieth Century Society, which is devoted to preserving modern design from 1914 to the present, pointed out that two of the stations most recognizable Paolozzi additions—a double set of tiled arches over the escalators in the main concourse and a large decorative panel at the entrance to the south side of Oxford Street—will be destroyed. They argue the mosaics could easily be retrofitted into the new station. Hawkins/Brown, the architects for the new station, pointed out that they are preserving as much of Paolozzi’s work as possible, claiming 95 percent of the mosaics will be saved using a mix of original and replica tiles. Lets hope an accommodation can be worked out for these major parts of this important Paolozzi work.
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Less Resistance, More Teamwork: UK cities embrace resiliency with hard-working landscapes

Major cities in the United Kingdom such as London and Newcastle have adopted a gentler approach to flood resilience—harnessing features of the existing landscape instead of erecting fortifications. This ethos is embodied on King’s Road, an artery of Newcastle University in the Northeast of England, where permeable paving absorbs, filters and stores rainwater, while rainwater planters re-emit this moisture into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. Green roofs throughout the campus pull double duty, moonlighting as absorbent surfaces that reduce rainwater runoff and the carbon footprint while insulating the building against heat loss. Also a feature of the Herne Hill Highline Project in south London, where 22 green roofs run parallel to the River Effra, they have prevented flash floods that used to inundate the sewers and snarl local drainage systems. The New Derbyshire Pocket Park in Bethnal Green, London, is flood-proofed by virtue of a sustainable urban drainage system that slows surface water run-off through retention and storage, while bespoke planters dotted throughout the park also capture rainwater. In some cases, leaving nature to its own devices—with a few corrective prods from a landscape architect—is best. Built on the floodplain of the River Thames, the Barking Riverside development, which consists of 10,000 new homes, office spaces, schools and more, has relinquished part of the land to the river—better to be safe than sorry. Meanwhile, the flood-conscious landscaping provides areas for recreation, picnic zones, community gardens, and walking trails. All surface water run-off in the area is channeled towards the parkland to prevent river overflow, and is incrementally discharged into the creeks at low tide. Also in London, formerly flood-prone Church Street and Paddington Green have been primed to fend off rainfall greater than the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a 500 percent increase in trees and the installation of a rain garden, in which select plant species are configured for optimal soil infiltration to reduce run-off.
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Eavesdrop> Prince Charles’ Royal Rules

  Charles, Prince of Wales, is at it again, giving his two cents regarding the current dismal state of architecture. In a new essay, “Facing up to the Future,” in Architectural Review, the British royal has come up with “10 important geometric principles” to guide future master plans, based on the sacred order of “Nature.”   The Prince said he is not touting an old-fashioned approach. Yes, he is aware that the built-environment must meet the demands of a growing population, and that we must do so by embracing density and using sustainable techniques and modern technology. But why must we build all those tall generic skyscrapers made of concrete and glass? “I believe there are far more communal benefits from terraces and the mansion block. You only have to consider the charm and beauty of a place like Kensington and Chelsea in London to see what I mean,” wrote the Prince. If only!
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December’s Top Five: Here’s what you read most on the AN Blog

With 2014 quickly receding into history, here's a look at what blog posts AN's readers clicked on most last month. Big international stories, many with starchitects attached, abounded in New York, London, Los Angeles, Helsinki, and Rio de Janeiro. All of December's top stories point toward the future, with many under-construction projects that will be sure to dominate additional headlines this year. Here's a glimpse at what was in the news. 1. Here’s how Santiago Calatrava’s New York City transit hub got its enormous $4 billion price tag. With the final rafter installed on Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transit Hub the New York Times has done a deep-dive on how, exactly, the long-delayed structure ended up costing close to $4 billion. Read more. 2. Bjarke Ingels joins Foster and Gehry for Battersea Power Station redevelopment. Bjarke Ingels is slated to join elder architectural statesmen Norman Foster and Frank Gehry at the Battersea Power Station in London. The multi-billion dollar, mixed-use redevelopment was originally master planned by, yes, another starchitect, Rafael Viñoly. Read more. renzo-piano-darth-vader-award 3. LA’s Westside Urban Forum hands Renzo Piano, Peter Zumthor Darth Vader Awards. It’s good to see some good old-fashioned roasting, and that’s what the Westside Urban Forum’s WUFFIES awards are all about. Read more. 4. One of these six firms will design the new Guggenheim Helsinki. Over 1,700 proposals were submitted in the Guggenheim Foundation’s open-call competition to design a new museum in Helsinki—and now, just six teams remain. Read more. Zaha_4 5. Zaha Hadid’s first Brazilian project ups the level of luxury on Rio’s beachfront. Zaha Hadid will lend her futuristic style to the strip along the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, with an 11-story luxury condo building, dubbed Casa Atlântica—the first project in Brazil for the London-based architect. Read more.
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Bjarke Ingels joins Foster and Gehry for Battersea Power Station redevelopment

Bjarke Ingels is slated to join elder architectural statesmen Norman Foster and Frank Gehry at the Battersea Power Station in London. The multi-billion dollar, mixed-use redevelopment was originally master planned by, yes, another starchitect, Rafael Viñoly. Ingels' firm, BIG, joins the bunch after winning a competition to design a public space for the project called Malaysia Square. Why is it called Malaysia Square? Because, lest the Brits forget, the project is backed by a Malaysian development consortium. BIG's plan for Malaysia Square goes beyond the name; it takes its form and design from the caves of the country's Gunung Mulu National Park. The Battersea developers describe the space as a “two-level urban canyon.” To that end, Malaysia Square is clad in limestone, granite, marble, sandstone, gravel, and has dolomite striation. The square's natural materials are sculpted into a dramatic design, but don't necessarily make for the most comfortable place to stretch out. Before unveiling Malaysia Square, London Mayor Boris Johnson addressed criticism that the Battersea Power Station development has too few affordable units and will just be another investment opportunity for wealthy foreigners. (15 percent of the plan is currently "affordable.) “I think 600 affordable homes are better than no affordable homes," Johnson told the Guardian. "If you didn’t do a deal of this kind you couldn’t get either the transport or the affordable homes so that’s the reality." The mayor also said that the development comes with two new Tube stations and the first extension of the system in a quarter century [h/t Dezeen]