It's been a good year for breathtaking views of cities around the world so far. Today the observation deck at the top of Renzo Piano's Shard Tower in London opened to the public after London Mayor Boris Johnson cut the ribbon on the 800-foot-high platform. To celebrate, The Guardian has launched an interactive panorama of London taken from the top of the Shard, some 1,150 feet above the city streets, complete with the wooshing sound you very well might hear if you were actually perched atop the tower. The panorama also features stories and statistics about buildings and places throughout the city as you pan and zoom for the rest of the evening.
Posts tagged with "London":
Making a strong, modular and architecturally significant pavilion on pocket changeFor the Designers in Residence exhibition, Design Museum London asked four teams to respond to a brief entitled "Thrift." The four resulting projects address the notion that "the limitations of economy require more resourceful, inspired and intelligent use of materials and process" and that the constraints of thrift ultimately lead to "a more creative and fully resolved outcome" than a project with limitless resources. One of the four chosen proposals came from Lawrence Lek, an architect and sculptor who worked with Ken Yeang in Malaysia and Foster + Partners in London before founding his eponymous studio in 2011. For his project, "Unlimited Edition," he reflected on how he has approached fabricating prototypes since completing his studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in 2008. "I remember a lot of students' work, and mine especially, could be very extravagant with materials because being in school you have the luxury of many resources… One thing I found difficult just after leaving the academic world was actually fabricating prototypes." Without the ability to move freely between digital modeling and CNC milling, not to mention the wealth of other equipment available to him at AA, Lek decided to simplify his entire approach. "I use materials in an economical way out of necessity rather than an aesthetic idea," Lek said. "I try to make the most effective shape from limited materials." Instead of seeing this as a burden, Lek commented, "Thrift is the opportunity to create something completely unexpected from a very simple material technique, making the most of whatever opportunities or materials you immediately have." Lek decided to make a pavilion because, among other reasons, "it's like an extra small, deluxe version of an architect's work." He also wanted to see whether he could apply his experiments with bending plywood to create strong, modular, free standing, three dimensional forms that could be transported and assembled with ease, and then disassembled and used for something else. He began by experimenting with symmetrical shapes found in nature and cut small, Rorschach-like patterns out of paper, combining them in a variety of formations. He then made models from thin pieces of plywood, which he soaked and shaped into place. After the wood dries and the ties binding it into place are removed, the wood retains its shape without compromising the integrity of the materials. "I'm using plywood, which is lightweight but just thick enough that when it forms a shell it can be quite strong. Also I want it to be light so you can transport it just by carrying it in pieces. That's more like a tent, whereas most pavilions are made with really thick and heavy components that need a crane to be put into place." Once Lek developed a stable shape he tested it out with larger pieces cut from full size 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets by a CNC miller. He used the larger shapes to make furniture as well as modular units that he used to create the "Unlimited Edition" pavilion. He built a water tank slightly larger than the 4-by-8-foot sheets so he could soak them in his studio. Wrangling them into shape by himself was markedly more difficult than shaping his original palm-size models, but Lek was able to make the six pieces he needed to build the pavilion, which he secured with zip ties. Though Lek's acceptance into the Designers in Residence program afforded him the means to develop this fabrication process, he's still experimenting with all the possible applications. Potentially, Lek can patent his design and either sell the basic plans or manufacture and flat pack the pre-soaked plywood forms themselves. More importantly, his experiments show how large, sophisticated structures can be made from the most basic materials and processes. Wasteful fabrication methods and costly materials are not only unnecessary, they act as a barrier between a person interacting with the raw functionality of the space. "Most design products are designed to be stand alone objects," said Lek, "but it's when I join them together that they form another structure as well. That brings me back to my initial interest with design, playing with forms that by themselves don't really do anything, but it's when you join them together they suggest a function." Designers in Residence runs through January 13, 2013.
A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in LondonIf you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL's Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics. Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city's history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. Andrasek and Sanchez began the game by building the first structure themselves, which completely disappeared by the end of the Olympics as people took turns adding onto it and taking pieces away. "Some people really like building whilst others enjoy the act of destroying what someone else did. For us this is mainly the collection and release of energy," the designers wrote in an email. Though BLOOM doesn't have any hard and fast rules, the basic guidelines for building were posted on large banners and two BLOOM team members were on hand to answer questions and teach people how to create larger formations. "As much as we provided help, most of the interesting stuff that people built came out of a group of people taking some time to learn how the system behaves just by playing." Andrasek and Sanchez also had fun playing with BLOOM and testing out different kinds of structures. "We have built maybe five different versions of structures between Victoria Park and UCL, and each time it's different as we keep developing skills of how to do it better,” they wrote. “We reached 3.5 meters in height, but it could go higher as long as we keep on reinforcing the structure. On the other hand, there's a risk with taller structures that can collapse at any time. This did occur several times but the cells are only 200 grams so it’s quite harmless and such an event becomes a motivation to start the game again." The BLOOM team brought out 2,000 new pieces each day to facilitate the game and encourage people to build bigger and higher. "The energy for BLOOM is sourced from people's interactions. None of the pieces can do anything on their own. Only by putting together thousands of them is when the game and the BLOOM garden emerge. The final piece is a collective act of imagination, search and play." The games are on hold for now, but will begin again soon for the Paralympics, which runs from August 28 - October 9, 2012. After that the pieces can either be collected and used to start another game elsewhere or they can be sent back to Atomplast to be recycled into something new.
The State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) released new renderings by KieranTimberlake of the United States Embassy to be located near London's Vauxhall neighborhood. The project has acted as something of a petri dish for the development of OBO's Design Excellence program, which was modeled on a similar program at the much-beleaguered GSA. The London project has been watch closely by federally commissioned architects who must comply with design requirements that combine energy efficiency, sustainably, intense security, and high design. "They continue to use this project as a test case for sorting that stuff out and to continue to achieve really high levels of refinement and design excellence," concurred James Timberlake. In a forerunner of efficient practices espoused by the policy, OBO sold their Saarinen-designed building in swanky Grosvenor Square, which in turn paid for the new building on the up-and-coming south side of the Thames. An OLIN-designed landscape incorporates anti-ram deterrents that the OBO guidelines officiously dub "Embassy Perimeter Improvement Concepts" or EPIC. "I wouldn’t call them barriers," said Timberlake, who noted that despite offset and security setback requirements, 40 percent of the compound remains accessible to pedestrian traffic. If anything, he said, many of the major refinements are through the building's engagement with landscape, including water management in ponds that collect runoff for irrigational reuse, as well as for security. Certain technological advancements have insured that the highly efficient envelope incorporating photovoltaic technology will indeed go forward largely as planned. The rooftops of three entrance pavilions will also hold photovoltaic panels. But it is the envelope that has gone through the most rigorous analysis. An open outer structure acts as an ETFE shading element with a fritted layer that includes photovoltaic patches measuring 6 by 12 inches. Cast struts holds the cable stayed system apart from the glass box, bowing slightly at the midsection, giving the building a slight protrusion, like a proud, swollen chest.
The twelfth Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London is nothing without the first eleven. The collaborators responsible for the wonderfully intricate Beijing National Stadium (aka the Bird's Nest) in 2008—Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei—have designed a temporary pavilion inspired by the archaeology of previous structures by Peter Zumthor, Jean Nouvel, and Zaha Hadid, among others. The team peels back the Serpentine Gallery's lawn, excavating five feet to reach the water table, revealing the footprints, foundations, and topography of its predecessors. A new ground plane tracing from the tangled intersections of previous pavilions creates differentiated seating areas and eleven columns extruded from fragments of old foundations along with a final new column to prop up a bowl of collected rainwater/reflection pool hovering above. "A distinctive landscape emerges out of the reconstructed foundations which is unlike anything we could have invented," the team said in a statement. "The three-dimensional reality of this landscape is astonishing and it is also the perfect place to sit, stand, lie down or just look and be amazed." From the Serpentine lawn, the pavilion appears as a contrast of reflected sky and exposed earth. The entire subterranean seating area is covered in cork—chosen for its texture and smell. For special events, the rooftop reflecting pool can be drained into the seating space below where it soaks back into the ground allowing the space above to be used as a dance floor or elevated platform. "As we dig down into the earth we encounter a diversity of constructed realities such as telephone cables and former foundations," the group said in a statement. "Like a team of archaeologists, we identify these physical fragments as remains of the eleven Pavilions built between 2000 and 2011. Their shape varies: circular, long and narrow, dots and also large, constructed hollows that have been filled in...These remains testify to the existence of the former Pavilions and their greater or lesser intervention in the natural environment of the park." The pavilion represents Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s first jointly-designed structure in the UK. The installation will run from July 1st through October 14th this year, presented as part of the London 2012 Festival at the end of the London Cultural Olympiad, a celebration concurrent with the London 2012 Olympics.
Coca-Cola has big plans for an Olympic Park pavilion for London's 2012 sporting extravaganza. London-based architects Pernilla & Asif have created the "Coca-Cola Beatbox," a spiraling structure clad in red and white panels that appear to be suspended in frozen animation. It's not only an intriguing structure but an interactive musical instrument. The experimental architecture works with cutting edge sound technology, encouraging people to interact and "play the pavilion." Inspired by sounds of the Olympic games—the plunge of an archer's arrow into a target, athlete's quickened heartbeats, squeaking sneakers—the Beatbox will be imbedded with sound-bites created by Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Ronson that allow visitors to remix their own mashed-up productions. Parnilla & Asif have designed a floating, divergent panel system that encapsulates a spiral ramp, leading visitors to the roof for a panoramic view of the Olympic Park. Sound and light reflect off of the panels, creating a sensory and aural experience that may be difficult to discern from renderings, but Coca-Cola is sure that its impact will be felt: “With the eyes of over four billion people on London next year, we want to use our long-standing association with the Olympic Movement to shine a spotlight on Britain’s brightest stars and inspire young people to pursue their passions."
"NY-LON" is an annual series of discussions at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) about the transfer of ideas along the New York-London axis. In this particular conversation, Brett Steele, director of London's Architectural Association (AA), and Mark Wigley, dean of New York's GSAPP, talked about the threads that connect the two cities, what that means for architectural discourse, and how the connection has evolved over time. Steele began with an amusing comparison of the stereotypes of both cities, starting with Woody Allens famous take, "Don’t you see? The rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here." As for London, Oscar Wilde said it best: “The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.” But these assumptions, Steele posited, are now mostly synthetic and based on narratives driven by marketing. So how does architectural discourse flow from London to New York and vice-versa? Imperialism loosely defined the trans-atlantic exchange of ideas before globalization. Columbia was originally founded to promote the proliferation of European-style education in America. In the 1950s, Reyner Banham and the New Brutalists in London influenced Gerhard Kallman, the young German architect who studied in London at the AA. Kallman made his way to New York and Columbia, where he and another British architect, Michael McKinnell, would build the infamous Boston City Hall, a Brutalist icon. In a similar exchange, Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, built New York's Lever House, one of the first Modernist skyscrapers for UniLever, a London-based company. Educators, such as Bernard Tschumi and Alvin Boyarsky, moved from the AA to Columbia, also helping bring experimental architectural ideas and discourse to New York. Today's NY-LON exchange is more complex, evidenced by the United States' influence on England's foreign policy in the Bush/Blair years. The "Occupy" movement has similarly crossed between New York and London in both directions. Today, Steele said, the AA serves "as a mechanism for the converging and moving of bodies. Not in a traditional sense of directional transmission, but of allowing different people to converse." It is these wierd and accidental interactions which both Wigley and Steele are interested in. Moving Forward, the panel asserted that the continued influence of New York and London is questionable. Wigley made an interesting remark that New York and London will play no role in the future of cities. In the experiment of rapid urbanization in places like China and India, Wigley feels that America and Europe are like parents, quaint and out-dated. In an era of globalization, these formerly imperial locations have become "provincial." But Steele made "a plea for continued exceptionalism," pushing for the continued relevance of New York and London's unique ideology. As the west continues to be the center of markets, both financial and intellectual, NY-LON's influence will be in the delivery of known models, but also in facilitating the accidental transmission of ideas and the interesting exchanges that take place in auxillary locations, such as Columbia's Studio-X or the AA's Visiting School, both of which serve as places, dispersed around the world, for the exchange of ideas, and possibly the future of education. Are New York and London "provincial" locations which serve only to facilitate accidental exchange of ideas around the globe? What is the world coming to?
Prairie Hotel. After a 2-year, $18 million renovation, Frank Lloyd Wright's last standing hotel has reopened in Mason City, Iowa. The Historic Park Inn Hotel is a premier example of the Wright's Prairie style, and features deep hanging eaves and a terra-cotta façade. A massive art-glass skylight drenches the lobby in multi-colored light. More at ArtInfo. Library of Glass. Although Philip Johnson's Glass House library is transparent, Birch Books Conservation will soon offer the public a view the architect’s library without a trip to New Canaan. The non-profit publisher hopes “to preserve the professional libraries of artists, architects, authors, and important public figures through publishing photographic and written research,” with an inside look at Johnson’s personal collection, reported Unbeige. Mapping Poverty and Rebellion. The Guardian opened up the recent London riots for debate. Journalist Matt Stiles mapped the newspaper’s accumulated data of riot hot spots on a plan of London’s neighborhoods. Deep red stands for the British capital’s poorest regions, while blue represents the wealthiest communities. Metro In-The-Middle. The long-awaited Culver City Expo Line station was delayed by a disagreement between Culver City and construction authorities. Now, the two parties have agreed to the $7 million budget increase, which will fund a pedestrian plaza, bike lanes, parking facilities and pavement improvements. More at Curbed LA.
Store in Print. Aesop director Dennis Paphitis and Brooklyn architect Jeremy Barbour of Tacklebox stacked 1,800 copies of the New York Times for the new Aesop skin care kiosk in Grand Central Station. While perhaps not our preferred choice for newsprint here at the paper, the gray pages create a rich texture on which to displayed beauty products. More at Co.Design. Shipping Shop. London hopes to claim the world's first pop-up shopping center made of shipping containers, to be designed by British firm Waugh Thistleton. Renderings of BoxPark revealed on Treehugger show the site-manufactured boxes stacked and outfitted with reusable materials. Bagging a House. At the Studi Aperti Arts Festival in Ameno, Italy, design studios Ghigos Ideas and LOGh presented their architectural response to the seemingly endless supply of plastic bags. With help from students at Milan Polytechnic, the architects transformed an unfinished building with a wing made entirely of grocery bags. More at We Heart. Green Talk. DesignIntelligence released their 2011 "Green & Sustainable Design Survey," claiming that despite innovation in sustainable building, green construction is not yet mainstream practice. DI editor James Camor said sustainability and LEED is on the table, but maintained architects have not recognized the initiative’s urgency. More at The Dirt.
Day becomes night. Alexander Brodsky: It still amazes me that I became an architect will be open at the Architekturzentrum Wien in Vienna, Austria through October 3. Described by the gallery as a "total installation," Archidose also notes that during the exhibition "the day becomes night, the dimensions of space and time appear to slowly dissolve as one paces an archaeological chamber of wonders. Having returned to daylight, a selection of Brodsky's completed projects provides insights into his architectural oeuvre." (More images after the jump.) Steel becomes ribbon. Streetsblog reports that San Francisco metaphorically cut the ribbon, unveiling a new public space on the two-block Powell Street Promenade. The Union Square shopping district is greatly improved by the eight six-foot wide Walter Hood-designed benches, constructed to resemble delicate ribbons. Above the fray. The Westerholt E-66 Observation Wind Turbine stands out among the 40 turbines in the Holtriem Wind Park: it’s unique observation deck provides visitors with panoramic views of one Europe’s largest wind farms—for a price. Visitors must climb a 297-step spiral staircase to reach the viewing deck, according to Atlas Obscura. Under the city. Produced by Silent UK, the documentary film Beneath the Surface trails urban explorers as they descend below the cities of London and Paris, says PSFK. The explorers climb through sewers, old subway lines, reminiscent of the NY Times five-day adventure last December under New York.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action. Convenient Cities. What makes a city "convenient"? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top. Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu'Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu'Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes' performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
YAP to the Max. MoMA PS 1 and the MAXXI open exhibits of the now-transatlantic Young Architects Program, featuring the winners (whose concepts are now installed in New York and in Rome, above) and the finalists. Made of Glass. Designer Piero Lissoni utilized Glas Italia's prime material to expand the high-end manufacturing company's headquarters in Macherio, Italy. Azure reports that the new minimalist building is completely constructed out of glass, and looks best at night when the translucent structure becomes an illuminated box. Blight on the London Skyline. The phallic silhouette of the skyscraper, which won the 2004 Sterling prize, continues to generate controversy. The Telegraph records Ken Shuttleworth, a former associate at Norman Foster & Partners and the designer widely credited for 30 St Mary Axe, a.k.a. “the Gherkin,” expressing regret for his design of the tower. French Flat Iron. Architectures completes the Ministère de la Culture’s coveted Biscornet commission: a modern residential building amid Paris’ Haussmannian stock. Architecture Lab notes that the trapezoidal-structure perfectly fits the slightly set back site on the Place de la Bastille, facing both the Gare de Lyon and the Bassin de l’Arsenal. The facade’s pleated metal panels shift to reflect the light and the time-of-day, emanating a golden shadow on the historic location.