The clock is ticking yet again for East London’s Robin Hood Gardens, the 1972 Brutalist public housing complex designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. In a call to arms, Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson, the son of the architects, have written a letter to over 300 members of the architecture and construction industries in support of the 20th Century Society’s campaign to protect the iconic “streets in the sky” buildings from being demolished. The future of the seminal social housing estate has been in limbo since former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham granted it a listing certificate of immunity six years ago, essentially foiling any landmark designations that would ensure the buildings’ survival and preservation. Now that the certificate has expired, 20th Century Society, a conservation organization for modern architecture, is urging the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage to add the buildings to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain,” wrote Lord Richard Rogers in the letter. Composed of two long concrete blocks, the 7-story buildings in Poplar, London feature balconies that face a rolling, man-made green. Curbed reported that the goal was to “create a modern, bustling city in the sky,” but it has fallen into disrepair, beset with problems including crime and graffiti. Architects, including Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Meier, and Rogers, stand behind the controversial postwar complex, lauding its architectural significance as an exemplar of the Smithsons’ New Brutalism—characterized by exposed materials, contextual design, and the marriage of regional styles and modernism. Below is the full letter from Lord Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson: Dear Friends, I am writing to ask you to support listing Robin Hood Gardens as a building of special architectural interest, in order to protect one of Britain’s most important post-war housing projects, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson, from demolition. Previous efforts in 2009 to have the building listed failed, but the case has now been re-opened and we understand that the new Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage will be reviewing the arguments at the end of this week. The buildings, which offer generously-sized flats that could be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value of modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the case for listing stronger than ever. The UK's 20th Century Society has submitted a paper setting out why they believe Robin Hood Gardens should be listed (i.e. added it to the statutory list of buildings of special architectural and historical interest). Two further assessments are set out below: “Alison and Peter Smithson were the inventors of the New Brutalism in the 1950s and as such they were the ‘bellwethers of the young' as Reyner Banham called them. In many ways [Robin Hood Gardens] epitomizes the Smithsons’ ideas of housing and city building. Two sculptural slabs of affordable housing create the calm and stress free place amidst the ongoing modernization of the London cityscape. The façades of precast concrete elements act as screens that negotiate between the private sphere of the individual flats and the collective space of the inner garden and beyond. The rhythmic composition of vertical fins and horizontal ’streets-in-the-air' articulates the Smithsons’ unique proposition of an architectural language that combines social values with modern technology and material expression. Despite the current state of neglect and abuse Robin Hood Gardens comprises a rare, majestic gesture, both radical and generous in its aspiration for an architecture of human association. As such it still sets an example for architects around the world.” Dr Dirk van den Heuvel, Delft University, Holland. “The Smithsons were clearly great architects: the Economist Building, completed in 1964 and Grade I-listed in 1988, is without a doubt the best modern building in the historic centre of London. Robin Hood Gardens, which pioneered ‘streets in the air’ to preserve the public life of the East End terraces that it replaced, was the next large-scale job that the Smithsons embarked upon. It was architecturally and intellectually innovative. In my opinion, it is the most important social housing development from the post-war era in Britain.” Lord Richard Rogers Last time listing was considered the views of the architectural community were ignored but we believe there is now a real chance of saving the building for posterity but only if the Minister hears, first hand, the views of the profession on the architectural merits of these exceptional buildings. Can we ask you to support the efforts of the 20th Century Society by writing right now to the Minster to support listing and saying why you believe Robin Hood Gardens should be saved? Click here to open an e-mail to the relevant Minister at the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Tracey Crouch MP: Ministeremail@example.com. For more information on the building click here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Hood_Gardens, and for details of the 20th Century Society case, please click here, http://www.c20society.org.uk/casework/robin-hood-gardens/ For Tweets: #SaveRobinHoodGardens Also, can we ask you to forward this e-mail to anyone else you know who might be willing to help save these important buildings? Yours sincerely, Richard Rogers and Simon Smithson
Posts tagged with "Zaha Hadid":
Count 'em: Zaha Hadid is planning to build a whopping five sinuous skyscrapers in Brisbane, Australia
Pritzker Prize laureate Zaha Hadid recently unveiled plans for twin towers fronting Mariner’s Cove along the Gold Coast of Brisbane, Australia. The two 44-story mixed-use towers will combine 370 highrise living units and a 69-suite boutique hotel with what developer Sunland Group bills as the region’s “first privately-owned cultural precinct.” An art gallery, museum, and outdoor sculptural gardens overlooking the broadwater are just a few of the arts-supporting facilities on the docket. For her second skyscraper in Australia, the Iraqi-British architect envisioned two tapered towers with sculptural curved glass recalling muscle sinew, which will be raised up pedestal-like by a curved podium to reduce the building’s footprint. “Each residential tower is designed as if it were an organic, living form, with sinuous lines interlacing upwards from a tapered base, creating a sense of flow and movement,” said Dr. Sahba Abedian, Managing Director of Sunland Group, which commissioned Hadid for the designs. “This vibrancy is further brought to life by the reflection and interaction of the glass facade with its stunning setting.” The podiums will house ground floor retail and dining as well as a waterfront promenade and underground aquarium. “At the ground plane, the towers merge seamlessly with the public spaces dedicated to culture and the arts via an art gallery and museum, outdoor sculptural art precinct, and conference center. The underground aquarium, organically integrated in the landscape and plaza layout, completes the master plan,” Abedian continued. Sunland Group has lodged a planning application with the Gold Coast City Council, which is also looking over proposals for another Hadid-designed and Sunland-backed mixed-use complex: a proposed three-tower $420 million Grace on Coronation in Toowong, Brisbane, occupying the former site of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The Mariner’s Cove towers, meanwhile, are adjacent to Marina Mirage on Sea World Drive, and form part of redevelopment plans for Mariner’s Cove, home of the Sea World Resort. “This proposal has the capacity to enable the Gold Cost to further define cultural identity not only through defining architecture but also through the cultural aspects it will provide to the city,” said Sunland Executive Chairman, Dr. Soheil Abedian.
In mid-May, AN wrote about Zaha Hadid's first project in Mexico—a sprawling, 981-unit housing complex in Monterrey. The Esfera City Center development appears as a series of interconnected, almost pixelated, mid-rise residential buildings that are centered around a communal green space. And now it has a slick video rendering that sheds new light on the project's design. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxReDJpqMMQ As with pretty much every Zaha Hadid project, the unveiling of Esfera City Center came with plenty of eye candy in the form of glossy renderings. But if those pictures left you wanting more, you're in luck! Hadid's team has also released a fly-through of the project that gives a closer look at the complex's apartments, gym, pool, and open space. Take a look at the video above for an in-depth look at Hadid's latest, inside and out. [h/t Dezeen]
Zaha Hadid, the starchitect behind this sand-dune inspired headquarters in the United Arab Emirates, a high-design billboard in London, a parametric casino in China, and these uncomfortable-looking high heels, has introduced a new line of lighting fixtures for the Italian lighting company SLAMP. It's being called "Aria Transparent" and the fixtures take the form of icicles, or as Hadid's people put it—a dematerialized volume "where illumination and lightness blend, defining natural design, becoming almost aquatic." Yes, it is very Hadidian. The chandeliers, which come in small, medium, and large, have 50 transparent, droopy surfaces positioned on an axis to each uniquely catch the LED glow. In the video below, which be forewarned has some funky sound issues, Patrik Schumacher, a partner and director at Zaha Hadid Architects, explains that the line is intended to have a "beautifully filigreed, lacy sensibility." So the pieces definitely take Hadid's signature swoopy shape, but they have a much, ahem, lighter materiality than most of her built work around the world. Take a look at the video to learn a bit more. https://vimeo.com/129005669
Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has unveiled the design for its first building in Mexico, a 981 unit, mid-rise housing project in Monterrey. The original brief called for 12 towers, but ZHA proposed the alternative plan that includes a large open green space surrounded by three buildings in a rectangle. The scheme is one of Hadid’s more nuanced, as individual units are expressed as such in a pixelated, morphing grid. Each unit is styled in the firm’s signature curved massing. Usually, their buildings main function is to look like a late '90s/early 2000s basketball sneaker, namely the Adidas Crazy 97, the Jordan XV, or the Reebok Preachers. However, the so-called Esfera City Center attempts to engage with its urban surroundings, namely the two adjacent neighborhoods that are very different in character. The project is designed with ample open space to create a safe environment where both residents and passers-by feel welcome. The interconnected public zones include a café, gym, reading room, and amphitheater. The project will be built in three phases and the first is scheduled for completion in 2018.
What happens when you enlist four architects and a designer to create a shoe? That's the task handed to Zaha Hadid, Ben van Berkel, and others. The result is an ethereal-looking sculpture wrought by selective laser sintering that vaguely recalls the giant dusters at a carwash. Given free reign to “reinvent” the high-heeled shoe for Milan Design Week 2015, household-name architects Zaha Hadid, Ben Van Berkel, Fernando Romero, Michael Young, and Ross Lovegrove teamed up with United Nude, an expert in technologically advanced women’s footwear. The resulting edgy shoe is rendered in hard nylon combined with a soft rubber material—a technique which United Nude, through a longtime collaboration with 3D Systems, discovered as a solution for combining diverse printed parts to create functional footwear. United Nude’s other footwear forays with 3D Systems include creating an interactive touchscreen console that enables users to 3D print their own shoe designs, and conceiving the 3D printed Coral Shoes, designed exclusively for Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience at Level Shoe District by Rem D. Koolhaas and his team at United Nude. Inspired by sea corals, the shoe consists of a 3D-printed wedge with holes through its sides, a small 3D-printed buckle and textile ribbons for strapping the shoe on. Re-inventing Shoes is on show at Teatro Arsenale via C. Correnti 11 within the 5Vie Art + Design Quarter during Milan Design Week 2015.
In December, we told you about Zaha Hadid's plan to build a sand-dune inspired, net-zero, headquarters in the United Arab Emirates for Bee’ah, a waste management company based in the Middle East. Now there's more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=11&v=FtuhC_Po7YY The firm's announcement came with plenty of eye candy in the form of glossy renderings, but now, thanks to a very stylized fly-through, we have an even better sense of what Hadid has planned for the desert. Take a look at the video below to literally see the 75,000-square-foot building light up before your eyes. [h/t Dezeen]
Fresh off settling a legal dispute with New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler, Zaha Hadid has unveiled plans for her latest project. And even for the Queen of Swoop, this one is big. Very Big. Record-breaking big. Working with ADP Ingeniérie, a French firm that specializes in airport design, Hadid has drawn up plans for the largest airport passenger terminal on earth. The superlative terminal will, of course, be in China. Specifically, at the new Daxing Airport near Beijing. Conceptual designs for the roughly 7.5-million-square-foot space have all the trademark design flourishes of Hadid's work—an undulating roof, swooping columns, and a grand, polished interior. Gizmag noted that from above the terminal appears as a "massive mutant starfish." Not wrong. "Initially accommodating 45 million passengers per year, the new terminal will be adaptable and sustainable, operating in many different configurations dependent on varying aircraft and passenger traffic throughout each day," said Zaha Hadid Architects in a statement. The firm added that the terminal will serve as a multi-modal transit hub with connections to local and national rail lines. "Under the leadership of the Beijing New Airport Headquarters (BNAH) and the Local Design Institute, the joint design team consists of ADPI and ZHA, along with competition consortium group members Buro Happold, Mott MacDonald and EC Harris," reported ArchDaily. The project is slated to be completed as soon as 2017.
One of the biggest architectural head-to-head matches of 2014 has come to an amicable end. As AN reported last fall, Zaha Hadid sued New York Review of Books critic Martin Filler for defamation for comments he made about her in a review of Rowan Moore’s Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture. In his piece, Filler knocked the starchitect's record on workers' rights, writing that an "estimated one thousand laborers” had died working on the Al Wakrah Stadium (above) she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. As it turned out, construction on that project hadn't even started yet. Filler acknowledged his error and apologized. Now, Hadid has withdrawn her lawsuit and the two parties have settled out of court. While we don’t know the amount of the settlement, we do know that Hadid and Filler are making a donation to “a charitable organization that protects and champions labor rights.”
It was announced in July of 2014 (very quietly evidently) that Zaha Hadid had been commissioned to design a new headquarters for real estate/oil and gas conglomerate The Richland Companies in Houston. Why had we not heard about this? Well, thanks to Vladimir Kagan, we are now in the know! The legendary furniture designer not only tipped AN off about the commission, he was also responsible for introducing Ms. Hadid to Suzanne Klein and Edna Meyer-Nelson, the Richland execs who promptly hired the Pritzker Prize winner to plan their mixed-use HQ. No design has been released yet, but we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what sort of swooping, eccentric forms Zaha cooks up for the project—that is, unless falling oil prices put a lid on this baby before it’s hatched!
When a huge piece of a starchitect-designed building comes crashing to the ground, the architectural world tends to notice. We are of course talking about the recent reaction to the 176-pound piece of concrete that fell off Zaha Hadid's Library and Learning Centre at Vienna University of Economics and Business. Making matters worse for Hadid, this is the second time the building has shed a piece of its skin. But Zaha is not alone; shed(-ding) happens. As we wait to hear what exactly happened in Vienna - an initial report suggests the issue stems from "defective installation" of the facade - we put together a list of some other starchitect buildings that have, let's say, lost a little bit of themselves. First, let’s go back in time—back to 1970s Boston when Henry Cobb's Hancock Tower is straight-up dropping 500-pound glass panes (at least 65 of them) onto the city below like in some sort of horror movie where buildings have rejected their human creators. Terrifying stuff. In a Pulitzer Prize–winning story, the Boston Globe reported on what exactly caused the building's window system to catastrophically fail:
Each panel was a sandwich: two layers of glass with an air space between, all held in a metal frame. To cut the glare and heat of the sun, a coat of reflective chromium was placed on the inside surface of the outside pane of glass. (This layer of chrome was what gave the building its mirror effect.) The window frame was bonded to the chrome with a lead solder. During the testing, it was noticed that when a window failed, the failure began when a tiny J-shaped crack appeared at the edge of an outside pane of glass. What was happening was this: The lead solder was bonding too well with the chrome—so well, so rigidly, that the joint couldn't absorb any movement. But window glass always moves. It expands and contracts with changes in temperature, and it vibrates with the wind. So the solder would fatigue and crack. The crack would telegraph through to the glass, and the cycle of failure would begin.Next we turn to Santiago Calatrava–the Spanish architect with a penchant for creating soaring buildings that are often accompanied by soaring budgets; for more on that, just Google Santiago Calatrava. Great. But right now let's focus on his Queen Sofía Palace of the Arts that opened in Valencia in 2005. The structure, which CityLab perfectly described as a mix between a bird's skull and a stormtrooper's helmet, had to be repaired because pieces of its tile mosaic facade were blowing off in high winds. And then just last year in London, two steel bolts the size of human arms dislodged from Richard Rogers' Leadenhall Building, which is better known as the "Cheesegrater." Thankfully, nobody was injured from the incident. But that's not the end of the Cheesegrater bolt story. As recently as last week, it was reported that a third bolt had fractured on the building. British Land, a developer of the building, said in a statement that the broken piece was "captured by precautionary tethering put in place last year." That's good. After some tests, it was concluded that "bolts had fractured due to a material failure mechanism called Hydrogen Embrittlement." Many bolts are now being replaced, but the developer insists there is, "no adverse effect on the structural integrity of the building." Now, let's head back stateside to Chicago. Do you remember that time the glass coating on the Willis Tower's observation deck cracked? If you were the tourists standing on the SOM-designed attraction 1,353 feet above the city you probably do. Sure, while everyone was fine and nothing was structurally wrong, just imagine being the people up there when that happened—just imagine that. Of course this list of high-profile architects would find its way to Frank Gehry. A while back the most famous architect of them all was sued by MIT for supposed flaws in his $300 million Stata Center. While pieces of the building didn't fall off, it was said to have leaks, cracks, and drainage problems. “These things are complicated,” Gehry told the New York Times after the suit was filed, “and they involved a lot of people, and you never quite know where they went wrong. A building goes together with seven billion pieces of connective tissue. The chances of it getting done ever without something colliding or some misstep are small.” And now let's end this list where we started it, with Zaha Hadid. Just a year after her dramatic Guangzhou Opera House opened in China, it began showing problems—lots of problems. In 2011, the Guardian reported that "large cracks have appeared in the walls and ceilings, glass panels have fallen from [Opera House] windows, and rain has seeped relentlessly into the building." In fairness to Zaha, the Wall Street Journal noted that when it comes to construction practices in China, architects have little say.
If you haven't been up on the High Line recently, or perhaps ever–looking at you Mayor de Blasio–then you've been missing out on some big new projects from architecture's biggest names–we're talking about your Hadid’s, your Foster’s, your Piano’s, and your Kohn Pedersen Fox’s. AN recently took a stroll along the 'ole rail line to see the progress on Renzo Piano’s nearly-completed Whitney Museum, the quickly-rising Hudson Yards, and all the fancy condos rising in between. Take a look at the gallery below to see all that's been happening on the park that every city wants to recreate.