Architect Zaha Hadid is finally putting her stamp on the city she has called home for over 30 years with one of her signature curvaceous designs. The London-based architect has designed the new Serpentine Sackler Gallery in Kensington Gardens consisting of both a $14.5 million curvilinear extension and the renovation of the The Magazine, a brick building originally built as a Gunpowder Store in the early 19th century. The new tensile addition rolls up and over the historic structure and houses a new 120-seat restaurant and social space. The building is composed of tailored glass-fiber fabric, steel columns, and glass. This project is not only Hadid's first permanent building in London, but it is also her first permanent completed tensile structure to date. "The extension has been designed to complement the calm and solid classical building with a light, transparent, dynamic, and distinctly contemporary space of the 21st century," said Hadid in a statement. The Guardian reported that the firm designed the Serpentine's firm temporary installation in 2000, and then were commissioned to do another one, dubbed Lilas, in 2007 for "The Summer Party" fundraiser. "But what we have here now is absolutely Zaha's concept from day one. And it isn't just about galleries, it was about creating social space, and supporting the parkland setting," said Julia Peyton-Jones, director of the Serpentine, in a story featured in The Independent.
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After reviewing over 60 entries from around the world, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has selected this year’s winners of its annual Best Tall Buildings. Regional winners from Canada, China, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates have been announced, while an overall winner will be revealed at the CTBUH 12th Annual Ceremony in November. Projects are recognized for their impacts on the development of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for sustainability. For the Americas, the winner is The Bow (Calgary, Canada) by Foster + Partners, a 780-foot-tall curved commercial tower, which curves toward the sun to capture daylight and heat. The bow-shaped design maximizes views of the Rocky Mountains. According to Juror Antony Wood, the building functions well from an environmental urbanistic perspective. Category finalists include Devon Energy Center (Oklahoma City, USA) and Tree House Residence Hall (Boston, USA). The top tower in the Asia & Australasia region was OMA's whimsical CCTV (Beijing, China). The distorted form of the building, which operates as Beijing’s state television headquarters, is the result of complex programmatic, planning and seismic requirements. Category finalists include C&D International Tower (Xiamen, China), Park Royal on Pickering (Singapore), Pearl River Tower (Guangzhou, China), and Sliced Porosity Block (Chengdu, China). Europe's mixed-use The Shard (London, UK) by Renzo Piano Building Workshop is another winner. The “vertical city” involves 25 floors of office space, three floors of restaurants, a 17-story hotel, 13 floors of apartments, and four observation levels. The structure rests at the core of a revitalized commercial district. Category finalists include ADAC Headquarters (Munich, Germany), New Babylon (The Hague, Netherlands), and Tour Total (Berlin, Germany). In the Middle East & Africa, Sowwah Square (Abu Dhabi, UAE) captures a win. The complex, which encloses the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange with four office towers and a two-story retail podium, utlizes a sustainable design method. Category finalists include 6 Remez Tower (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Gate Towers (Abu Dhabi, UAE). This year the CTBUH Board of Trustees awarded the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award to Henry Cobb, founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and the Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal to Clyde Baker, senior principal engineer at AECOM.
International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) has several projects underway, such as One Hudson Yards and a new master plan for New York City's Port Authority. Most recently, in a reinvention of spaces, KPF has submitted plans to build 11 floors on top of Richard Seifert’s 1972 30-story King’s Reach Tower, which has been renamed South Bank Tower. Located on London’s South Bank, the tower will be transformed into a mixed-use building consisting of 191 high-rise luxury apartments. KPF and collaborating engineering firm Adams Kara Taylor (AKT II) have applied to Southwark Council to raise the tower an additional 144 feet. The offices no longer meet modern day requirements and have remained vacant for about six years. An extensive overhaul proposal to transform the building into a mixed-use space – including creation of retail space, pool and gym on the ground floor, and various extensions – was approved in October 2011, so the firm already has authorization to add six floors. In seeking approval for five additional floors, KPF wants to take the 364-foot structure to 508 feet, which will extend the tower by more than a third of its original height and will offer space for 36 additional residential units. The extended tower would become part of a new group of tall buildings on the southern bank of the River Thames, which includes the recently completed Shard by Renzo Piano and the impending One Blackfriars by Ian Simpson Architects. Extending South Bank Tower by a third is a world first, according to an AKT II project engineer. KPF has become a frontrunner in skyscraper development, but despite the fact that the tower is a different approach than the firm’s customary sky-high towers, sustainability remains a focal point of the plans.
The designers at New York-based Atopia Innovation, must have been stewing over the past year. Although the gag order imposed on all participating architects and designers by London’s Olympic Organizing Committee (a.k.a. LOCOG) was lifted in January, Atopia only stepped forward in late June to say that the Olympic Cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick and used in the 2012 opening ceremonies seems to have been directly inspired by studies Atopia delivered to LOCOG between 2006 and 2008. Check out the sketchbook that seems to prove the point at atopiainnovation.com. (Photo: Courtesy Thomas Heatherwick)
London-based Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) has applied for planning permission to build a 67-acre headquarters for Google in London’s King’s Cross, a swiftly evolving district. The firm’s designs incorporate a steel-framed structure with cross-laminated timber panels complemented by bold primary colored exposed steel elements. The plan integrates a rooftop garden along with shops, cafes, and restaurants on the ground level. Construction is set to begin early next year. The new £650 million command center will unite Google’s London operations by replacing its existing offices in Covent Garden and Victoria. The one million square foot structure will stretch 330 meters from Regent’s Canal towards King’s Cross Station. The building varies in height from seven stories at the south and 11 stories to the north. The new headquarters will consist of 725,000 square feet of office space and approximately 50,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Taking inspiration from the area’s distinctive industrial heritage, the building will feature innovative technologies that will provide a sophisticated setting for Google’s staff, according to Simon Allford, Director of AHMM, in a statement. Google’s planned London headquarters has been designed to satisfy high environmental sustainability standards. Ensuring minimal energy consumption and integrating high-tech materials, the goal is to attain BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum ratings and an overall carbon savings of 40%. The building is expected to be complete in 2017. [Via Dezeen.]
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.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
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.