Posts tagged with "London":

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John Pawson Crafts New Show, Museum for London

British architect John Pawson was in town recently, conferring with a client about their new apartment in one of Richard Meier’s Perry Street towers and supporting another whose film was premiering at the Museum of Modern Art. He took time out for a coffee to talk about the upcoming show of his work at the London Design Museum opening on September 22, as well as his new home for the museum—announced last month—within the repurposed Commonwealth Institute, aka the Parabola Building, a swoopy 1962 white elephant designed by RMJM in West London. (Also going on the site is a controversial Rem Koolhaas-designed apartment building.) Pawson beat out a list that included British familiars David Chipperfield, Haworth Tompkins, Caruso St. John Architects, Stanton Williams, Tony Fretton, and the Dutch firm Claus En Kaan Architecten. Director Deyan Sudjic, the author of several books on Pawson and a close friend (the architecture circle in the UK is pretty small and tight) said that in choosing Pawson he was sure to have an architect “who will bring out the best of this remarkable building.” From Pawson’s description, the show Plain Space promises to be an architect’s architecture show that’s not academic, focusing on materials—no surprise considering the man favors four-inch-thick marble slabs for his kitchen counter and 45-foot single-plank floorboards in the parlor—and process. Plain Space will avoid show and tell through models and pre-occupancy photography in favor of a more immersive experience. “At my age, I had to ask myself, Why an exhibition now?” said Pawson. “Ten years ago, the reasons would have been more obvious, now it’s more like, What’s the point? For me, the answer was to make it something people will learn from, to make it something about space, to make it feel like you are walking into architecture, and to make it get across how architecture gets done.” So there’s going to be a 1:1 scale installation. Pawson has done this before at an ill-fated Marks & Spencer department store in Gateshead, where he installed a two-story house imaginatively occupied by a celebrity footballer and avid M&S consumer. This time, he said, would be quite different, a room instead of a structure. He contemplated creating a chapel in the spirit of the monastery he has designed at Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic but rejected that as too prescriptive. “It will not necessarily be residential but it will be of that scale, almost like a ballet set. It’s not meant to be heavy or permanent,” he said, noting that he would reject any client request to duplicate the space. He also toyed with the idea of making it entirely of chalk—one of a collection of materials along with pumice and cast aluminum that he keeps on his desk for inspiration—that he admires for its depth and consistency, but in compressed blocks, as it’s used in places like Kent and Dover, it would be too heavy for the museum floors. The search continues. The “room” will sit at the center of the exhibition where people can stop and take a break before proceeding to a section of gigantic commissioned portraits of four completed projects—a cricket pavilion in Oxford; creative director Fabien Baron’s house in rural Sweden, the Sackler crossing bridge in Kew Gardens, and Pawson’s own Notting Hill townhouse. Each photo-mural will measure ten feet by six feet and comprise 24 smaller images with the purpose of providing context, in some cases miles of it, and showcasing the building as part and parcel of its landscape. This minimalist architect is a complete lush when it comes to sumptuous materials, and so an important part of the show will feature large chunks of them arrayed on five-foot square palettes. Recalling the famous materials show that Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron did for the Prada Foundation, there will be no mock-ups, however, because Pawson’s are so exacting that they are usually incorporated into the buildings themselves. Thirty process models and drawings (none made just for the show) will be on display along with correspondence from clients, among them Karl Lagerfeld and Bruce Chatwin, but the most fascinating will no doubt be the letters from the monks headed for the Czech monastery describing their design needs and desires. A super-sustainable 5,000 square foot house in Treviso, Italy, gets the most complete treatment with a series of commissioned photographs—no grab shots here, just the highest-rez joints and details—documenting the house built of Marmorino plaster walls and white concrete roof panels from the first day of construction through the most current. The clients are an old established family accustomed to quality: Their forefathers commissioned not only Carlo Scarpa, but Palladio. “It’s not an everyday house,” admitted Pawson. Nor does it sound like it will be  an ordinary show. Plain Space runs through January 30, 2011;  John Pawson: Plain Space by Allison Morris will be published by Phaidon in September.
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Routemaster 2.0

The City of London unveiled a new version of its iconic red doubledecker bus today, replacing the Routemasters everyone knows and loves. Which was a little surprising, as we thought Transit London had already selected the ever-so-British team of Norman Foster and Aston Martin 17 months ago. But apparently that was just an ideas competition while this, as the video above shows, is the real deal. Set to hit the road by 2012—just in time for the Olympics, no less—the new buses are the work of Thomas Heatherwick and Wrightbus. In addition to being super sleek, the new buses are super sustainable hybrids. Get on board after the jump.
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To the Ramparts

With all the notice being paid to the new U.S. embassy this week, an even bigger (physically if not psychically) project just next door was overshadowed as it won a key approval yesterday. Rafael Viñoly's massive Battersea development, which will turn the iconic Battersea Power Station and 40 surrounding acres (once on the cover of a Pink Floyd album) into a huge mixed-use community, won approval from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. According to our colleagues at BD, the CABE found the 5.5 billion pound project to be "intelligent and well-resolved." It includes more than 3,700 apartment units, 1.5 million feet of office space, 500,000 of retail, and community facilities, though an ecodome and other expensive features have been ditched on account of the bad economy. It wasn't all good news for Viñoly this week, though, as his similarly post-industrial New Domino project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, took a lashing from the local community board. We'll have a full report on that when there's a final vote next month.
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Take a Whiff of This!

But please, only in moderation. Inhaling too deeply at a new London bar may leave you, well….drunk. 2 Ganton Street, once an unused storefront, has reopened as a self-contained, walk-in gin and tonic. Imbibers at Alcoholic Architecture simply slip into provided plastic jumpsuits, breathe, and enjoy the buzz. The creators of the bar, Bompas and Parr, have effectively revolutionized the bar experience by removing the traditional, and oh so painstakingly boring, order and sip protocol.

Self-proclaimed as operating “in the space between food and architecture,” Bompas and Parr are allowing lucky ticket holders, the event is now sold out, up to 40 booze breathing minutes in the space. Alcoholic Architecture is continuously filled with a steady mist of both gin and tonic by industrial strength humidifiers engineered by JS Humidifiers.  And of course the drink is served with a twist: The crucial hint of lime comes in the form of a small green light. All safety concerns have been taken into account and there is an ambulance on standby, just in case. Don’t worry about work the next day either; so far the only reported hangover has been overly greasy hair and ringing ears from the booming music. Bompas & Par have previously gained notoriety for their artistic endeavors into the world of jelly. As they see it, “jelly is the perfect site for an examination of food and architecture due to its uniquely plastic form and the historic role it has played in exploring notions of taste.” You can check out more of their work here.
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He Sure Knew How To Say Goodbye

When Jan Kaplicky passed away last week, we couldn't help but think that there was some odd symmetry to what it seemed would be his final work, an Oscar Mayer-inspired London Routemaster. After all, it was to England that Kaplicky fled when he left Communist Czechoslavakia, and he practice there all his life. But AJ reports today that Kaplicky's real, final, realized work, will be in his nation of origin. For the Czech town of České Budějovice, Kaplicky has designed one last work of swooping, languid genius. And best of all, as AJ points out, "Unlike his controversial library in Prague, which looks set to remain on the drawing board, the two-theatre 'stingray-shaped' building for the South Society of Friends of Music is due to start construction in 2010 and could open in 2013." Here's hoping it becomes a reality. (h/t Archinect)
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Bus Stopped

Architects don’t have a great track record designing vehicles that make it to the marketplace. LeCorbusier, Gropius, Zaha, and, of course, Buckminster Fuller have all tried "streamlining" their buildings and putting wheels on them but their efforts never made it past the prototype stage. Now you can add Future Systems to the list of those who have tried and failed.

Last month, we featured the winning entry from Lord Norman Foster and Capoco Design, as well as some of the runners up. Given that there were over 700 entries, some never caught the attention of the wider public, even if they should have. Case in point: Future Systems' out-of-this-world proposal. More UFO than bus, it turned up today on BD. And while Transport for London might not have liked FS's design, it certainly is exemplary of their other blobtacular work. Maybe London's loss can be New York's gain: Start petitioning City Sights immediately.

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London Sees Red

Two blue chippers Aston Martin and Foster + Partners raked in a not-much-needed  $38,000 (£25,000) and a first-prize award along with Capoco Design for re-jiggering London’s famous double decker bus, the Routemaster. Sharing the award with Capoco Design, who specializes in bus and truck designs, Foster went the bulbous route without going too retro-Airstream as did many of the other 700 entries into the competition put on by Transport for London.  Runners-up (but no more cash prizes) included Héctor Serrano Studio from the UK, Miñarro García, Javier Esteban from Spain, and Jamie Martin, from London.  Of the Aston Martin/Foster design, Judges said they “particularly liked the overall styling package, especially the rear end” and such throwback detailing as wood flooring; LED ads and solar panels on the roof add a little more latter-day relevancy. A prototype is due by 2011.
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California to New York to London and Back

In a rare east/west AN meet-up, our California editor, Sam Lubell, was in New York last night for a launch for his new book London 2000+. The book, from the Monacelli Press, surveys recent architecture in the British capital, from well-known works like Foster + Partner’s “Gherkin” to the Gazzano House by Amin Taha Architects. Sam gave a quick overview of the projects, which together show a city where historic buildings and contemporary design sit side by side quite comfortably. On Monday, November 17 at 6:00 pm, he will be reading from the book at the Harvard COOP Bookstore, 1400 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. Cheerio, Sam!