Posts tagged with "SelgasCano":

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Los Angeles is at a crossroads—don’t let it become New York

Makin’ my way downtown, I zip along on my Lime® scooter through the ersatz Japanese village of Little Tokyo, past taxis, buses, and Prii, to a bustling, small-scale warehouse district on the fringe of Los Angeles’s central core. The whirlwind of scales, land uses, languages, and people is dizzying, but I finally land at my destination: Sonoratown, a lively taco spot famous for its soft tortillas, which are made with flour driven up from Sonora, Mexico, in small batches by the owner’s mom. This delirious, quasi-urban experience is one that could only happen in the messy, diverse urban fabric of Los Angeles. You are free to grab whatever pieces of the kaleidoscopic surroundings you can, and the faster you are moving, the more there is to take. Somehow, this frantic energy and free movement seem unaffected or held back by the past. The cultural critic Sean Monahan called LA the capital of the 2010s, describing it as:
...a city whose attributes anticipate collapse: flat and amorphous, rather than vertical and defined; kitsch and pop, rather than avant-garde and tech; individualistic and mass, rather than institutional and elite. You can suggest San Francisco, HQ of disruption, or New York, backdrop for protest movements (#OWS, #BLM). But both places fail to capture the spirit of the age, because they are fighting so hard to change it. They are relics of empire, unsure of themselves after a decade in which success was indistinguishable from failure… Built on celebrity, media, and lifestyle, L.A. doesn’t presume to be building the future, merely inhabiting it. It’s a pick your poison kind of place. [Go wild] at Chateau Marmont. Spend half your paycheck on inscrutable health food at Erewhon. Commute four hours so you can live in a Riverside McMansion. Drive Uber every day, write screenplays every night. Sell out, drop out, suck up, fuck up. There is no right or wrong way to do L.A.
Monahan accurately describes why Los Angeles encapsulates the present, and why it’s the most exciting place in the US right now. However, it is also important to note where the city is moving in the 2020s. With the 2028 Olympics as a finish line, Los Angeles is at a crossroads, on a path to become a different place in the next decade. But with the city already at the forefront of global media culture (The Kardashians, Moon Juice, Goop, etc.), it doesn’t need global architecture to maintain its position as a worldwide force. How it defines itself as a physical place is still up for grabs, and it should learn lessons from other hyper-globalized cities, namely New York. Tomorrow’s Los Angeles is one of layers. Moving on from its days as a bastion of mythological American modernism centered around mobility (cars), individuality (single-family homes), and triumph over nature (lawns), it will add new collectivities on to itself. These layers will arise from the constant flux of the new: Technologies and emerging social patterns meld nicely into the loose, still-codifying culture and its corresponding urban forms. It is the flickering of new, communal, car-free, publicly subsidized lifestyles against the old, car-centric, low-density, low-regulation, “libertarian” bones of the urban landscape that make it such an interesting place for urbanism today. The oft-bandied-about claim that the city is libertarian is also not entirely accurate, as California is a sea of regulation and red tape, continually votes to raise its already high taxes, and both California and Los Angeles are leading on climate action. The city is quietly building public infrastructure at a pace that vastly outpaces New York. New York’s Second Avenue Subway took somewhere between 10 and 100 years to complete three stations, and the next phase will be three stops and will be completed by 2029 at the earliest. Meanwhile Los Angeles is (optimistically) on course to build 28 new lines by 2028. This includes an airport-connection line that will allow a direct link from LAX to the city. Meanwhile, New York’s MTA is in a worsening crisis with crumbling stations and delays only getting worse, and New Jersey’s NJ Transit recently gave up on accounting for the traffic expected to reach the American Dream Mall, instead calling on private industry to complete the line, citing none other than Los Angeles’s electric rail airport connector as an example. That’s right—L.A. is leading the way in public transit. Meanwhile, Uber, a municipal car share and micro-mobility options such as scooters have already altered how people get around (many young people don’t have cars at all) and where they live, partly due to an explosion in transit-oriented development around the new metro lines. It is unclear exactly how successful, affordable, and sustainable this will be, but change is certainly underway. New transit networks both public and private, along with lower parking requirements for new construction will profoundly impact development and housing typologies in the future. But it is no secret that Los Angeles is careening toward a New York–like affordability crisis (if it isn’t there already) that goes hand-in-hand with the urban whitewash of global capital. Homelessness is at record levels and only getting worse. In response, architects are working to develop new housing typologies, from affordable prototypes and accessory dwelling units, to larger, multi-family schemes that continue to evolve with new regulations and design challenges. The L.A. River and the L.A River Greenway in the San Fernando Valley are also emerging sites of urban experimentation and reclamation/rehabilitation of greenspace. Los Angeles has a unique architectural culture and urban fabric, but red flags are emerging. First, Bjarke Ingels Group and Herzog & de Meuron, international firms that are both very popular with the New York development community, have projects downtown. Related Group (of Hudson Yards fame) has moved in and is developing a large Frank Gehry project across from Gehry’s own Disney Concert Hall. It perfectly illustrates the lower design quality of developer-led construction and echoes Related Companies’ other project, Hudson Yards: “The project is anchored by a central plaza wrapped with shopping areas and public art.” The biggest red flag might be the shortlist for the La Brea Tar Pits project. In Miracle Mile’s Museum Row, a neighborhood that already has been marred by architectural globalists—once by KPF and twice by Renzo Piano—the shortlist for the La Brea master plan is New York establishment firms WEISS/MANFREDI and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, along with Danish firm Dorte Mandrup. It is a truly odd and troubling list. All three are talented firms, but their selection signals the wind turning toward a placeless architecture where, in California terms, “there is no there there,” reflecting classic donor-class aesthetics. Don’t even get me started on what director Michael Govan and the LACMA board are doing to push through their new building. Joseph Giovannini said it best:
In a sleight of hand that still has serious consequences for LACMA and Los Angeles, Govan introduced [Peter] Zumthor, the architect who presumably could achieve this world-class building, to his Board of Trustees. There was no competition, no public review or discussion, no transparency, just a shoo-in of the architect who had arrived in Los Angeles in Govan’s back pocket. “It won’t be the seventh Renzo Piano building in the country,” Govan explained to me in an interview. “We’ll have the only Zumthor.” …Had he even made it into a normal architect selection process, the jury might have concluded that he was mismatched and dangerously underequipped for the commission.
Some Angelenos say that local architects should get their due. L.A. has been defined in many ways by outsiders such as Neutra and Schindler, but also by local legends like Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry, as well as a younger generation like Barbara Bestor, Michael Maltzan, and a host of others who can deliver top-notch design. Los Angeles doesn't need the continental, polite, same-as-everywhere architecture that plagues institutions around the world. The architecture scene has always valued experimentation and allowed younger, more avant-garde approaches and diverse practices to gain ground, outside of the institutional weight that plagues places like the East Coast. It is not “provincial”—as some claim—to want to preserve this well-established local flavor while moving forward. In fact, what would be provincial is thinking that it is necessary to look outward for world-class architecture, or that a mythical global culture needs to be imported for the city to become a world-class place. Nothing defines the periphery like the center, and nothing makes one more provincial than defining oneself against New York. Of course, outside architects can come in and add to the culture; it just takes a bit of judgment. For instance, Spanish firm SelgasCano’s bright, breezy, kit-of-parts style seems to fit with L.A.’s pop modernist aesthetic, and Arata Isozaki’s MOCA has also become an iconic part of L.A. architecture. So let L.A. be regional and different. Don’t let it succumb to the pressures of global capital and “global architecture.” Don’t let Boyle Heights—a strong Latino neighborhood under development pressure, with several buildings already being renovated—become Hudson Yards. New York City has been ruined by capital, which was weaponized to take away the grittiness of places like Times Square, a project of Ed Koch and eventually of Rudy Guiliani. Later, technocrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg finished the sanitization of the city with sloppy rezonings of Williamsburg, West Chelsea, and Long Island City most notably, which ushered in the era of bland office towers and mega mall-like sterility. Developers like President Donald Trump and Related Companies, along with their elected enablers like Bloomberg and Guiliani have shared class interests that threaten the small-scale, local and regional urban landscapes where artists, immigrants, and the working class foment culture. How can Los Angeles be a laboratory for resisting the entropic, hegemonic cancer that is global capital, the global donor class, and the donor-class aesthetic? One tactic, and to be fair, something that the Bloomberg administration got right in places like Brooklyn and Staten Island, is downzoning to preserve the character of neighborhoods. This is also tricky and can lead to NIMBYism, which L.A. has certainly had its share of recently. In a similar vein, Thom Mayne provocatively suggested clustering development on the Wilshire corridor in order to protect other areas. The Wilshire area has seen some development, but not at the scale Mayne has suggested. Additionally, serious and innovative criticism is needed. Critics must not fall into 20th-century modes of operating; they have to get out in front of these debacles rather than react to them. There are a host of critics operating in Los Angeles, and no one is better positioned to have an impact than former L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, who is now in a unique role as the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles, a position where he is literally helping craft RFPs (request for proposals). As long as Hawthorne is able to be heard in the government and in the public and can surround himself with good people who will help guide L.A. through this crucial time, there is a real opportunity to have more and more expert opinions in the process that will avoid the disasters that haunt New York. This, along with more equitable and compensated juried design competitions, can help the people who make financial decisions make "better" aesthetic and cultural decisions. Regionalism, when connected to local ecology, provokes more interesting and nuanced design than a totalizing, global aesthetic. In terms of what resistance might look like outside of design review, Los Angeles is already taking on challenges in a unique way. In Boyle Heights, gentrifying art galleries have been pushed out by strong neighborhood coalitions demanding affordable housing and neighborhood services. Los Angeles could also adopt anti-gentrification policies such as rent control or downzoning to prevent the displacement of both residential and retail spaces. Many cities have adopted such plans, while Berlin and other cities have enacted rent freezes and other regulations on the housing market to ensure affordability. Los Angeles in many ways is the logical conclusion of the myth of the American West. Several time zones and thousands of miles in distance from New York and other global cities, it has historically been connected to global culture through mass media, not physical space. This isolation has left it to its own devices as an urban place. This doesn’t need to change as it grows into more of a global force. New forms and ways of living can be cultivated without abandoning what makes it a special place: its resistance to the forces of the outside. In the 2020s, defining a new localism would be quite an amazing achievement.
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AN tours the SelgasCano-designed Second Home coworking space in Hollywood

The 21st century’s profusion of freelancers, start-ups, and frequent travelers has ushered in the era of the co-working space. With more than 19,000 such spaces now operating around the world, co-working has become an attractive alternative to renting expensive traditional office spaces and the isolation of working from home. Companies like WeWork, Phase Two, and The Wing have tried to anticipate the needs of a growing nomadic workforce, yet co-working remains a developing phenomenon, and there is still much to learn about the kinds of environments that best support the practice. One company that seems ahead of the curve is Second Home, whose recently opened campus in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, proves that its competitors have some catching up to do. Every seat within the 90,000-square-foot complex feels like the best place to open a laptop and get to work, while a wide range of public services makes the company’s fourth outpost feel especially welcoming. In 2017, Second Home purchased a four-acre property on the corner of North St. Andrews Place and De Longpre Avenue and hired SelgasCano, the Madrid-based architecture firm that has designed its other locations, to develop its first campus outside of Europe in an impressively short amount of time. One of the creative challenges the site presented was an existing courtyard building by legendary “architect to the celebrities” Paul Williams. Completed in 1964, the colonial revival building, which once housed offices and events for the Assistance League of Southern California, is notable for its glamorous exterior, circular staircase, and central courtyard. SelgasCano gutted the building while incorporating these three elements into its design. From the street, visitors pass through the formal facade to enter what feels like a different world: a low-slung, columnless lobby with a dizzying array of tropical plants, extruded tubular furniture pieces, and a mobile coffee cart. Beyond this space is the courtyard, which has been charmingly reimagined as a casual workspace, restaurant, and public event space shaded by a canopy of trees. The space will soon host all events currently held at the SelgasCano-designed Serpentine Pavilion, which Second Home purchased and transported from London to the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits. In an effort to distance itself from other co-working companies, Second Home has made the lobby and courtyard spaces accessible to the public without membership. But the real showstopper is beyond the perimeter of the Williams-designed building: Sixty office spaces with acrylic walls and lemon-yellow rooftops carpet the rest of the site, connected to each other by pathways that meander through a forest of over 6,000 trees and shrubs. Each office space is lined with outward-facing desks underneath a yellow, steel-braced ceiling festooned with the ductwork of a central air conditioner (it comes as a mild disappointment that the windows are inoperable, ruling out the option of passive heating and cooling). When walking the yard’s labyrinthine paths, one is somehow able to forget just how closely the site abuts a Home Depot and a massive Target currently under construction. Accessed via the original grand staircase, which contrasts with a translucent egg-like chandelier designed by SelgasCano hanging at its center, the second floor of the Assistance League building is divided between an outdoor lounge and 37 additional office spaces. While the rooms here are finely detailed, with orange carpeting that climbs up walls to reach waist height and entirely transparent top halves, they lack the lower-level offices’ immediate connection to the outdoors. From the lounge, one is afforded the most idyllic vantage point on the site: The lush courtyard is visible from one side, while on the other is the sea of office pods in front of the Santa Monica Mountains. Given its commitment to inclusivity and creative adaptation to its site, Second Home Hollywood sets a new standard for the co-working building type; its creators should not be surprised if they feel other companies looking over their shoulders as the industry continues to discover its potential.
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SelgasCano designs coworking jungle for Los Angeles

Second Home, the London-based workspace company, is designing a Los Angeles offshoot with longtime architectural partner SelgasCano. The new-ish startup is poised to open in September and compete with other big names like Soho House and WeWork by nature of its cultural programming and wellness focuses. All cultural events will be open to the public, and the space will even allow local charities and neighborhood groups to use conference rooms free of charge. These inclusivity measures have the potential to breathe fresh air into the elitist luxury workspace arena—the website has a tab labeled “social impact”—not only culturally, but also physically. The spaces will be surrounded with thousands of plants and trees. Entrepreneurial duo Sam Aldenton and Rohan Silva opened their first space in East London in 2014. Their unconventional ideas about design—from hanging hats from the ceiling for muffling sound to large swaths of colored glass fittings—attract eccentric creative types from all sorts of industries. Second Home Hollywood will be more than just a workspace of colorful couches and succulents, as SelgasCano plans to integrate an outpost of the acclaimed Libreria bookstore within it, as well as an auditorium, cafe, and restaurant. All these amenities will be open to the public, giving more and more individuals and companies access to “sneak peaks” of the new 90,000-square-foot urban campus. SelgasCano has designed all but one of the Second Home campuses, but this one is specific to the Los Angeles architectural vernacular in ways that depart strictly from the more high-rise, corporate-leaning designs that can be seen at Second Home Clerkenwell, for example. The L.A. campus is inspired by the city’s iconic 20th-century bungalow court residences, with the 60 one-story oval buildings of the campus, called studios, fitting in with the horizontality of the surrounding environment off Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood. All of the structures are connected by a continuous yellow roof plane, and the gardens surrounding the campus are lush and colorful, taking advantage of the Southern California climate, and open to views with wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows. Second Home is also bringing a new architectural trophy to its new city—SelgasCano’s 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, which will be used as an events space. The Madrid-based practice also has many other accolades under its belt, including a residency at MIT and exhibitions at the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York, the Venice Biennale, and the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin. Its work is acclaimed for embracing environmentally conscious materials and technologies, abundant color, and social impact priorities—all facets that can be seen in its work alongside Second Home. As workspaces continue to skyrocket in popularity (and price—a resident membership at Second Home starts at £450, or around $572) smart wellness decisions and cultural collaboration are rising to the forefront of design decisions. How the next generation of creatives and entrepreneurs will work, socialize, and network is being tinkered and reconfigured as the workspace industry continues to grow around the world.
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SelgasCano’s 2015 Serpentine Pavilion will land in L.A. this summer

The ethereal, colored fabric tunnels of 2015’s Serpentine Pavilion will arrive at Los Angeles’s La Brea Tar Pits this summer. From June 28 to November 24, the public can wander through the repurposed pavilion courtesy of a collaboration between the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) and London company Second Home. The installation, designed by the Spanish studio SelgasCano, will be transformed into a multi-purpose space that will host events at the intersection of art and science. Public talks and film screenings, including a series from streaming service MUBI, as well as other free events curated by Second Home and NHMLAC will be held regularly at the pavilion. Bringing the double-skinned, 866-square-foot playscape to the park adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits will precede the opening of the Second Home Hollywood office space later this year. This will be the first time that a Serpentine Pavilion will be displayed in the United States, and the installation won’t leave L.A. The pavilion will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily and will be free to enter. Second Home Hollywood, also designed by SelgasCano, will introduce a sprawling 90,000-square-foot urban campus to L.A. once complete, and the company expects to host up to 250 organizations in the new workspaces. A restaurant, book store, auditorium, and other event spaces across the development will be open to the public. Once Serpentine pavilions finish their tenure at the Serpentine Gallery in London, they tend to be sold off and often travel the world. BIG’s 2016 installation, Unzipped, toured Canada courtesy of developer Westbank last year, and more recently, Frida Escobedo’s 2018 pavilion was sold to a green spa company.
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Pictorial> Step inside Selgascano's psychedelic Serpentine Pavilion

The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion has opened to the public in London's Kensington Gardens. The psychedelic, worm-like structure was designed by SelgasCano, a husband-and-wife team based in Madrid, and features translucent ETFE panels that are wrapped and woven like webbing. The architects said the pavilion's design is partially inspired by the chaos of passing through the London Underground. "We sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, color, and materials," said the firm 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, characterized by color, light, and irregular shapes with surprising volumes. " If you're not going to make it to see the pavilion before it closes on October 18, be sure to check out the gallery below.  
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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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Spanish firm SelgasCano to design 15th Serpentine Pavilion in London

The Serpentine Galleries has announced that Spanish architecture firm SelgasCano has been selected to design its 15th Serpentine Pavilion in London's Kensington Gardens. While the pavilion plan won't be unveiled until February, here's what we know about the firm that won the coveted commission. "SelgasCano’s work is characterised by a use of synthetic materials and new technologies, often rarely applied to architecture," the Serpentine said in a statement. "Taking inspiration from Luis Barragan and Richard Rogers, the architects use distinctive colours and references to nature throughout their designs." SelgasCano was founded in Madrid in 1998 by José Selgas and Lucía Cano and has worked primarily in its home country. The firm teaches a class called "Nature and Climatology" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and participated in the 2010 Venice Biennale. "This is an amazing and unique opportunity to work in a Royal Garden in the centre of London," SelgasCano said in a statement. "Both aspects, ‘Garden’ and ‘London’, are very important for us in the development of this project. We are in the middle of a garden, a ‘Royal’ garden indeed, once divided in two and separated by a Serpentine. That garden clings in the middle of London. Garden and London (which best defines London?) will be the elements to show and develop in the Pavilion. For that we are going to use only one material as a canvas for both: the Transparency. That ‘material’ has to be explored in all its structural possibilities, avoiding any other secondary material that supports it, and the most advanced technologies will be needed to be employed to accomplish that transparency. A good definition for the pavilion can be taken from J. M. Barrie: it aims to be as a ‘Betwixt-and-Between’." Previous pavilion designers include Frank GehryHerzog & de Meuron and Ai WeiweiRem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, Daniel Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid. Check out some of SelgasCano's work  in the gallery below.