The London Design Festival 2018 is underway and with it comes a host of events and exhibitions to enjoy. Building on last year, this year's festival is awash with an array of colorful installations and exhibits. The Architect's Newspaper took a look at the best to give a lowdown of what to catch in London this week. Out of Character: A Project by Studio MUTT At: Sir John Soane's Museum Exhibiting at Sir John Soane's Museum must be both a dream and a nightmare. It is easily one of, if not the most, exquisite interiors in London and seldom do the exhibits manage to shout over the building they inhabit. Before Studio MUTT had a stab, Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture was on view and Out of Character seemingly follows from it, embodying the colorful virtues allied with the current PoMo revival. In 1812, Sir John Soane imagined that in the future, those discovering his former home would presume that it was once occupied by four characters: a Lawyer, a Monk, a Magician, and an Architect. More than 200 years later, Studio MUTT realizes these characters architecturally, with each being defined by ornamental color and form. The architectural compositions can be found at different locations around the museum. Not only do they demonstrate the communicative capabilities of color and ornamentation, they work with the museum—each has been designed for its specific location—to produce delightful moments of architecture in conversation. Mind Pilot by Loop.pH At: London Design Museum A mind-powered hot air balloon is floating around the London Design Museum. Via a virtual reality headset, visitors can control the helium-filled balloon, dubbed an "airship" by its designers Loop.pH, while suspended in a sling to amplify the sensation of flight. How does it work? With the aid of electrodes the headset is attached to the pilot's head, which is then hooked up to a computer. Brain signals and pulse are translated into directions which are sent to robotics within the balloon, moving it around the Design Museum's central lobby mezzanine. Visitors are prohibited from going too crazy thanks to a frame which the balloon is tethered to. Alphabet by Kellenberger-White At: Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate Broadgate by Liverpool Street hosted a dazzling display from artist Camille Walala in 2017. This year's installation, a series of alphabetic chairs from designers Kellenberger-White, is toned down a notch, but still provides transient bankers with a much-needed dose of play. The 26 chairs can (of course!) be sat on as well as be used to form words. Each chair is in a different color, selected from specialist paint producers used for projects involving industrial metalwork. Colors such as "International Orange," used for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and "Cornflower Blue," the color of Middlesbrough’s Transporter Bridge, have been used. The project comes from Kellenberger-White's investigations into folded metal and draws influence from the Bauhaus, notably László Moholy-Nagy, Marianne Brandt, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld. MultiPly by Waugh Thistleton Architects At: The Sackler Courtyard, Victoria & Albert Museum British architecture firm Waugh Thistleton Architects has collaborated with engineers Arup and the American Hardwood Export Council to create MultiPly, a series of stacked timber Minecraft-like modules. Using 60 cubic meters of American tulipwood as cross-laminated timber (CLT), MultiPly aims to exhibit the benefits of modular architecture and the possibilities it provides. Staircases and walkways knit together the series of CLT boxes, creating a 3-D maze-like experience. MultiPly is carbon neutral. Carbon emitted through creating MultiPly (timber extraction, processing, transportation, and manufacture) was offset by the carbon stored in the timber and the potential energy from its incineration. The best thing about the project, though, is the view you get of Amanda Levete's design for the V&A courtyard: a chance to see the project from a bird's eye view and almost in plan, which is a satisfying experience. Living Unit London by AKT II and OFIS Arhitekti At: Old Street Yard, Shoreditch Micro-living hopefully isn't the solution to London's housing crisis, but London engineers AKT II and Slovenian studio OFIS Arhitekti's study into temporary micro-sized dwellings fuels debate on the subject and the minimum space requirements for inhabitance as well as how to arrange such spaces efficiently. Composed as three stacked volumes, each measuring 14.7 by 8.2 by 8.8 feet, Living Unit provides a kitchen, bathroom, bed, and seating, supplying accommodation for two people. Like Waugh Thistleton Architects' MultiPly, the project is modular, meaning units for a kitchen or bed can be easily added and taken away. Modules can connect vertically and horizontally, able to create space for four-to-six people. On their own, units can serve as a retreat, easily used as tree-house, holiday cabin, or hideaway. Living Unit is currently being auctioned off on eBay with the proceeds going to The Architecture Foundation. The Institute of Patent Infringement by Los Carpinteros At: Victoria & Albert Museum Since 2010, Amazon has filed 5,860 patents. That's 732 every year. The Institute of Patent Infringement looks at these and hints a bleak digital future shaped by excessive patenting. The Institute exhibits the work of students, industrial designers, architects, urban planners, artists, programmers, and the wider public, which is invited to merge, reimagine, infringe, and hack existing Amazon patents. Traveling up from the Venice Architecture Biennale, the exhibition is housed within a timber latticed globe designed by artists collective, Los Carpinteros. Under the worrying overtone of Amazon's digital hegemonic ambitions, The Institute of Patent Infringement is laced with humorous proposals that delve into the absurd.
Posts tagged with "Victoria and Albert Museum":
In 1844 the Scottish city of Dundee eagerly anticipated its first royal visit in almost two centuries. Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert’s stay was a resounding success and to mark the occasion, the city erected the “Royal Arch” in 1853. It was an instant icon. A monumental structure, it towered over the nearby docks and could be seen all around the city, and indeed the world as Dundee capitalized on its marketing potential. In 1964, however, the Royal Arch was shamefully demolished so the Tay Road Bridge could be built as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. Fast forward 54 years and Victoria and Albert have returned, albeit in the form of a museum, and with it, Dundee once again has an icon worthy of global attraction. The V&A Museum of Design, colloquially known as the “V&A Dundee” has been designed by Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma. Bizarrely, yet also somewhat endearingly, train station departure and arrival boards display the architect and his nationality. The city is undeniably proud of its revived, post-Victorian internationalism. “I was inspired by Japanese temple archways,” Kuma told The Architect’s Newspaper. “The archways connect the mountain and nature to the city.” Composed as two inverted pyramids, the V&A Dundee forms an archway of sorts of its own, framing a view on the River Tay and the Tay Road Bridge that spans it. Kuma was also keen to keep the museum decidedly Scottish. It’s ragged, craggy facade is inspired by Scotland’s cliff-edged coastline and comprises 2,429 pre-cast concrete slabs. These lean over the River Tay, mimicking the prow of a ship. One segment of the museum does, in fact, edge out into the river, while porthole-like windows looking over the Tay create the impression of being on a ship when inside. On the Tay’s banks, even at the end of summer, the wind is ferocious. The shallow pools that circle the V&A’s base produce miniature waves, enhancing the sensation of being, as Kuma calls it, “in conversation with nature.” Externally the V&A Dundee is an impressive structure. Walking around the building, it’s staggered facade undulates and unwinds, revealing views onto the building and the River Tay beyond. As a result, the museum has become an instant photo opportunity, with the public (myself included) capturing its curvature to send straight to their Instagram feeds. (The hashtag #V&ADundee already has more than 2,000 posts). This is a digital building for the digital age. “Twenty years ago, we could not have built this building,” said Kuma. “It’s curves and structure are too complex.” Such a distinctive form has its pros and cons inside. The structure works in tension, with a steel truss spanning roof to link up with the outward leaning facades. As a result, the new museum has the largest column-free exhibition space in Scotland, allowing it to host exhibitions that were previously only available to Scots and Dundonians willing to either fly or take a six-hour train to London. Gallery spaces are located on the museum’s upper level. The fittingly nautical Ocean Liners exhibition, sailing up from the V&A in London, inaugurates the museum. The Scottish Design Galleries, meanwhile, host permanent exhibitions, showcasing Scotland’s design prowess. Of the 300 objects on display, one has American roots: a model and sketches of Frank Gehry’s Dundee Maggie’s Centre. The most notable exhibit is Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s “Oak Room” which was designed for the Ingram Street Tearooms in Glasgow. The beautifully crafted ensemble from one of Kuma’s “heroes” has been restored and rightfully put on display, marking its first outing in half a century. Alongside the two galleries on the upper level are studios and an auditorium. These are joined by an open gallery, free to the public and restaurant, both of which look down into a lobby below via a mezzanine with the latter also offering views along the River Tay. It’s here, though, that the museum’s shape causes problems. An outdoor terrace for the restaurant feels like an afterthought. Up here it’s even windier than at ground level and the tight space is encased by the concrete cladding system meaning there isn’t even a view worth braving the elements for. A similar story continues downstairs in the lobby, too. Oak veneered panels emulate the external facade and as a result are too steep to be sat on and truly useful. An auditorium may already be upstairs, but these panels could easily become bleachers, creating an informal auditorium in the process. This would even dovetail with Kuma’s notion of the museum’s lobby supposedly being a “living room for the city.” “This is not a space just for art lovers,” the architect said, but in reality, the lobby is just a cafe area and museum shop. The V&A Dundee has come at a price: $105 million, twice the initial budget. It’s also four years late. Dundonian’s, however, don’t seem to mind. “I’m just pleased that that kind of money is being spent of Dundee!” said one local, though on it’s opening day, a small protest by anti-poverty campaigners did take place. For all the efforts gone into making the museum happen, considerably less has gone into improving the surrounding area. An awful train station-hotel greets those visiting by rail and another, equally drab hotel is currently going up opposite the V&A. This is all part of a $1.3-billion waterfront masterplan which rehashes the work of planners 60 years ago. It’s just as well Kuma’s museum makes all that comes before instantly forgettable. The V&A Dundee is the icon Dundee has craved, turning the city into a genuine Scottish destination. https://vimeo.com/284710327
Sited in the former London Olympic park, Diller Scofidio + Renfro have won a competition to build a £25 million ($33.7 million) collection and research center for the Victoria and Albert Museum, part of a broader expansion of the museum into East London. The center will feature facilities for research and education and is to be built in the former Olympic Media Center, which is being redesigned and rebranded as Here East. The V&A’s new outpost is part of what is being called the Olympicopolis arts district, a burgeoning waterfront development at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Apart from the V&A, as well as expected office and retail space, the Olympicopolis will be home to new expansions from Sadler’s Wells Theatre, the London College of Fashion, and the University College of London. The project is in part being led by the London Legacy Development Corporation, a city organization focused on adapting the structures from the 2012 London Olympics for continued use. The V&A was forced to create an additional space for their V&A East outpost after height restrictions required that the museum downsize its plans for their central building. The new locations will allow the V&A to display even more of their collection to the public and facilitate more research. The plan for the collection center came on the heels of the 2015 announcement by the government that they would sell the Blythe House, which currently serves as storage and archive for some of the V&A’s immense collection. DS+R, which won the competition ahead of four other shortlisted teams, will be working with British firm Austin-Smith:Lord and Studio Adrien Gardère to realize the center. In a press release, DS+R says that the space will be designed “from the inside out” and will be like an “immersive cabinet of curiosities.” No designs have yet been released to the public. In addition to the V&A collections center, DS+R also has a major concert hall, The London Center for Music, underway in London.
Design Society, a new cultural hub in the bustling megacity of Shenzhen, China, will open on December 2 with the launch of the Sea World Culture and Arts Center (SWCAC), designed by Japanese architect and Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki. The hub is a collaboration between London's Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and China Merchants Shekhou, an urban developer that is part of the China Merchants Group, and represents the first partnership between a Chinese corporation and an international museum. Joining Coop Himmelblau's Shenzhen Contemporary Museum of Art and the cultural institutions and galleries in the OCT Loft, a creative arts district in a former industrial area of the city, the SWCAC represents another sign of the city's burgeoning design identity and a bid to bolster China's place in the global arts scene. For the The project is Maki's first project in China, and was commissioned by China Merchants Shekou in 2011. The arts complex, located on the Shekhou harbor, is distinguished by three white stone-and-glass volumes that cantilever out from a central podium building, with a glass opening at the end of each jutting mass that faces in three distinct directions, towards the water, the city, and the nearby park. The building also doubles as a landscape, with a rooftop park accessible to the public via two grand staircases at either end of the site, allowing visitors to take in views of the water and surrounding cityscape. Within the building, a central passageway connects the three main plazas and provides access to all the levels of the building. In total, the SWCAC offers 760,000 square feet of exhibition space over six floors, covering a footprint of 280,000 square feet. Maki envisioned the SWCAC as a "mini city," and so, along with six galleries, which includes a gallery dedicated to the V&A's own collection, the center also includes a theater, multi-purpose hall, restaurants and retail shops. For those curious about Maki or his design, one of the three opening exhibitions at SWCAC will present a retrospective of the architect's 60-year career and a close look at the design process behind creating the building itself, titled Nurturing Dreams in Recent Work: Fumihiko Maki + Maki and Associates. The December 2 kickoff for Design Society and the SWCAC will include an extensive public program of events and exhibitions. The other opening exhibitions include Values of Design at the V&A Gallery, which will examine the relationship between values and design through over 250 objects from the V&A permanent collection, and Minding the Digital, a speculative digital design exhibit held at the Main Gallery, curated by Design Society and designed by MVRDV.
Jumping into a heated debate over preservation, public housing and classism, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has acquired a full apartment and facade section from the demolished Robin Hood Gardens housing complex. V&A has offered to pay developer Swan Housing Association for part of the demolition in exchange for the salvaged portion. A much-lauded (and derided) brutalist experiment in public housing, Robin Hood Gardens’ snaking concrete blocks and elevated walkways wrapped around a core green space that was central to what designers Peter and Alison Smithson called “streets in the sky.” After campaigning by public activists, architects and preservationists, efforts to have the 1972 building listed as historically significant were repeatedly rebuked by estate officials. Neil Bingham, the V&A’s curator of contemporary architectural collections, emphasized the building’s legacy when describing why the museum had procured the pieces. He told the Guardian, “It is an important building by important architects. The Smithsons rather dominated the period, maybe not in number of buildings they did but in terms of the power of their thoughts on architecture." Measuring nearly 29 feet high, 18 feet wide and 26 feet deep, the salvaged piece is a full section that includes portions of the complex’s concrete stairs and “floating” walkways. A full street-level apartment with original cabinetry was also saved, meaning the museum can slot the interior portion within the facade and give visitors the experience of walking into Robin Hood Gardens firsthand. In the UK, the debate over public housing and the role of class in development has only intensified lately, with older public housing complexes either being torn down or “beautified” to improve the views of nearby market rate tenants. The Grenfell Tower fire in June brought questions of housing equity in London to the forefront, as over 70 lives were lost in what many have called a pointless recladding. Although the developer claims that the Robin Hood Gardens replacement will upgrade the number of units from 252 to 1,500, questions remain over how truly affordable these apartments will be. Christopher Turner, head of the V&A’s design, architecture and digital department, explained that Robin Hood Gardens’ importance lay not only in its architectural significance, but in its questioning of what public housing could be. “It is also an object that will stimulate debate around architecture and urbanism today. It raises important questions about the history and future of housing in Britain and what we want from our cities,” said Turner.
Despite having an established pedigree within the creative world, London has never had its own Biennal(e)—or even Triennale, for that matter. This year however, the city is opening the Inaugural 2016 London Design Biennale, showcasing work from 34 participating countries around the theme of Utopia by Design. Set to be hosted at Somerset House, a former royal palace on the Strand in central London, the Biennale will run from September 7 to 27 this year. On display will be installations curated by leading design institutions from around the world. Participating bodies include USA's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, DAMnation (Belgium), German Design Council, Moscow Design Museum (Russia), Triennale Design Museum (Italy), India Design Forum, Southern Guild (South Africa), The Japan Foundation, and Victoria and Albert Museum (UK). Other participating nations will be: Albania, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Turkey. Judging the contributions will be an an international advisory committee and jury comprised of established figures within the industry who will "award medals to the Biennale’s most significant national contributions." “We are delighted to announce the first ever London Design Biennale to be held at Somerset House," said Dr. Christopher Turner, Director of the Biennale. "500 years after the publication of Sir Thomas More’s classic, we are inviting countries to interrogate the contentious theme, Utopia by Design. These responses will demonstrate the power design has not only to strike up and inform debate, but also as a catalyst: provoking real change by suggesting inspiring or cautionary futures. Alongside the exhibition there will be an ambitious talks programme bringing together the very best international thinkers, and I hope that the Biennale will become a laboratory of ideas that might, in their way, contribute to making the world a better place.” London Mayor Boris Johnson also added: "Just as the London Olympic and Paralympic Games brought the world together through sport, they also inspired it through design, with Barber and Osgerby’s elegant torches and Heatherwick’s kinetic cauldron – a great unifying convergence of nations in fire and copper. In autumn 2016 the London Design Biennale will attract designers, as well as visitors, from all around the world for a vigorous exchange of ideas and ingenuity—the currency of London’s important and world-leading creative economy.”
London's Victoria & Albert Museum is preparing to construct an art installation by Zaha Hadid. Called Crest, the oval form takes its name from ocean waves and will appear in the museum’s John Madejski garden as part of the London Design Festival, which takes place later this month. The Crest, as Hadid’s team has named it, will hover over the pond within the V&A's Madejski garden, forming a swooping arc over the body of water. The futuristic pavilion will sport a metallic surface which will reflect the sky above and the water underneath it. The contrast between these two reflected images will play on the clear contrast of the ultramodern installation against the backdrop of the 19th century museum. Despite this contrast, Hadid designed the installation to create a sense that it had always been there. “We envisioned creating a piece that would emerge from the pool which is the centrepiece of the space, both visually and in terms of social interaction,” Hadid explained in a statement. “Crest is intended to offer an exciting new perspective with which visitors experience the courtyard. It will multiply the movements of the water and the historic backdrop within which it is sited. It will capture the attention of visitors as they enter the space and draw them towards exploring the new quality of space created within.” Hadid previously stated the installation would be comprised of a very thin aluminum material, making it light and easily transported. After the London Design Festival concludes, the Crest installation will be transported from the V&A Museum to Hadid's ultra-parametric ME Dubai hotel, where it will stand as a permanent sculpture. The hotel is expected to open in 2016.
When Libeskind’s radical spiral proposal for Victoria and Albert Museum (V+A) extension went under after eight years, the V+A has literally gone underground. The newest proposal for V+A by British architect Amanda Levete and her practice AL_A, won in 2011 after a design competition, calls for an extension project that includes a 16,200 square foot underground gallery space for temporary exhibitions. The addition will feature a public courtyard with an entrance into the museum from the adjacent Exhibition Road. Last week, the project was awarded planning permission allowing the project to move forward. In 2006, Libeskind’s proposal called the Spiral featured a building that resembled unevenly stacked boxes, but after being denied public funding several times, the project was never built. Compared to the Spiral’s $160 million estimated cost, Levete’s comparatively modest $64 million design appealed to many, including of course, the V+A. Despite the more affordable price tag, Levete's design does not lack aesthetics. The descent into the gallery is adorned with dramatic pools of natural light provided by geometric skylights cut into the plaza. The shape of the skylights will be visible above ground from the courtyard, allowing visitors to view the gallery beneath their feet. A folded-plate structural ceiling reveals a modern take on the neo-Gothic and neo-Classical tradition of ornate ceilings. The concept of descent and ascent with manipulation of light will allow the visitors to focus on the interplay between new and old. The courtyard will be bordered by architecturally significant facades, including the museum’s Victorian walls that have been restored but yet to be on public view. Levete hopes that opening the courtyard will create a new dialogue and fluid circulation between the street and the gallery. Now with a feasible building plan in hand and nearly $40 million in the bank, V+A hopes to begin construction on the new underground facility in 2013 with an expected completion in 2016.
In April, a seven foot tall presentation drawing of the AT&T building was purchased by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for $71,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a "modern architectural drawing," according to a release. The Philip Johnson drawing was sold through the Wright auction house in Chicago, which has become a specialist in selling architectural materials. The V&A will show the piece in an upcoming exhibition on postmodernism. It is one of only a handful of works by an American in the museum's 35,000 piece architecture collection. The building is famous for its "Chippendale" top, which, when it opened in 1984, signaled the ascendency of postmodernism and the return of historical styles and classical references to the architectural vocabulary. The drawing is part of a larger archive of Johnson's work, which includes thousands of drawings, plans, and photographs of AT&T, Pennzoil Place, PPG Place, and the Chrystal Cathedral. The owner of the archive wishes to remain anonymous, according to the release.