November 21, 2012

Movember 2012

by architectbaron

Into the final third of November 2012. What can actually be called a moustache has surprised me tenfold! If you haven’t already (or if you are still feeling charitable) it’s not too late to support Movember and help raise awareness for men’s health. http://mobro.co/jamesbaron

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January 25, 2011

OMA’s Icy Masterplan

by architectbaron

OMA’s masterplan for Skolkovo offers a new prototype for a sustainable city, efficiently integrating urban planning, state of the art energy-saving techniques and renewable energy provision, even (and especially) in a cold climate.
The masterplan covers six square kilometers, and is composed of two compact quarters embedded in an extensive natural landscape. One quarter provides for the Research, Industry and University programs to ensure maximum exchange within, while the other houses the expected 30,000 residents, along with commericial facilities. The division into these two distinct parts allows the city to foster innovation while simultaneously responding to market forces. The shared cultural programs are located in the anchor point – the city’s vibrant centre – which is a hinge between the two quarters, serving serve the city’s residents, visitors and tourists alike.

To execute this project, OMA combines its expertise in masterplanning with AMO’s body of work in sustainable design and large-scale renewable energy planning. In order to ensure maximum innovation also at an urban level, in OMA’s masterplan Skolkovo will also serve as a test bed for technologies developed within. OMA’s proposal seeks the participation of resident companies in the development of innovative solutions for energy saving, recycling, transport and communications systems. These solutions, having been successfully implemented in Skolkovo, can subsequently be exported to other parts of Russia and the world.

The design, led by Partner Reinier de Graaf and Associate Laura Baird, was presented to a jury of Pritzker Prize winning architects, international curators and established academics on 20 December, 2010, and selected as one of the two final proposals. The finalists presented their projects in a public gathering on Thursday, 20 January at The Garage in Moscow.

Reinier de Graaf, said: ”OMA’s urban proposal for Skolkovo Innovation Centre is a flexible framework within which other architects are given the opportunity to design and execute individual buildings, plots, and spaces. But it is precisely the integration of these ideas that will add value to our plan. As such, we are looking forward to all forms of collaboration, both with international as well as Russian colleagues.”

The proposal was planned in collaboration with WSP Engineering and RWDI Energy/Sustainability Consultants.

January 24, 2011

Flexibility, invention and artistic freedom: Wyly Theater by OMA

by architectbaron

Dutch Architect, theorist and urbanist, Rem Koolhaas of OMA has to be my most viewed architects of all time.  I don’t know what it is about his proposals, but something within his work captures my imagination.  A certain nostalgic feeling.  The first explanation that pops into my head is the simplicity of his designs whilst dealing with complex challenges.  That with every project you see similar devices and principles applied, to overcome or to enhance a client’s brief.  A clear, concise and consistent approach that inspires me to develop my own architectural style.

The subject of today’s post is OMA’s Wyly Theatre, built to provide a new space for the Dallas Theater Centre (DTC.)  DTC was reknown for being a production company that pushed innovative and artistic theatre to its limits.  In fact it was known across the USA as THE most creative.  Unfortunately due to the cost of theatre adaptation on such a regular basis the DTC slowly ran out of funds to keep up its ever changing environment.  That was until a propsoal for the Wyly Theatre, Dallas, USA by Koolhaas came along.  A theatre immediately recognizable by the main event space open for all to see from the space and street outside, something unattainable in orthodox theatre design.

A theatres main event space is most commonly designed surrounded by “front of house”, a grandiose entrance and ammenities for guests, and “back of house”, spaces for staff and actors.  The outcome in this particular layout is a low lying but sprawling structure and also means the stage can only be seen from inside the main auditorium.  HOWEVER!  In OMA’s design the front of house is actually below the auditorium and back of house above it, ingeniously allowing the performances to be seen from all around.  It also means that the production can take advantage of the city of Dallas as a backdrop.  Certainly something I don’t associate with any theatre I’ve ever been to before.

Completed in 2009, its another building by Koolhaas and OMA that has spurned my creative thinking and long may it continue.

“The creation of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts is an investment in the cultural life of our city… Together with the Performance Park, the Center will become an exciting, seven-day-a-week destination that will animate Dallas and the region. This new Center ensures that future generations in Dallas and the region will have access to the best music, theatre, opera and dance from throughout the world.” –Bill Lively, President and CEO of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts.

January 24, 2011

Boris loves London’s new Park on the River Thames proposal

by architectbaron

“A floating park scheme designed by Gensler could be taken up by Boris Johnson in time for the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

The London River Park will stretch from St. Paul’s cathedral to the Tower of London on the north bank of the river Thames. It will consist of a river-surface walkway, punctuated with five spherical biodome pavilions which will provide exhibition space.

It will aim to replicate the success and increase of tourism the eastern side of the South Bank has had following the Millenium Bridge and Tate Modern developments. The £20m ‘floating City annexe’, will be temporary if developed. However, it will leave behind an ‘enhanced river frontage’, new ferry terminals, a swimming pool and mooring facilities.

The idea has been shortlisted in the Best Conceptual Project category at the London Planning Awards, which take place tomorrow night (20 January).”  Architects Journal,  19 January, 2011

January 20, 2011

Peter Eisenman‘s The City of Culture of Galicia

by architectbaron

I watched a video by the man himself, Peter Eisenman, introducing this vast project as I scanned through its images for the first time.  150,000 square metres of building.  Quite a lot.

Although the video was of only Eisenman standing in an almost completed part of the project, I was engaged through the whole 10 minutes of his explanation.  Either thats me being a geeky architect or he’s a really good speaker.  He’s been practicing architecture for 40 years now, almost twice my age, and his experience and knowledge certainly shines through.  I was very interested in the comparison to the Biblao building by Frank Gehry, not because they’re both great projects, but because he mentioned architecture as “architourism.”  I had never heard the phrase before but it makes absolute sense.  Eisenman stated how the city of Bilbao has been reinvigorated by the implementation of Gehry’s Museum, and said that Galicia deserved just as much.  On first glance it certainly seems worth a visit!

However, all the while I was listening to the infamous man speak, I hadn’t realized how a building of this scale and financial weight would be affecting its countries economy and how it would sit in the minds of its citizens.  Not very well by the looks of it.  The project has gone 4 times over its original budget and was commissioned 12 years ago, when Spain’s economy was in a much better state of affairs.

“For a country whose economy is collapsing with no end in sight (The Guardian reports a 20% unemployment and a 9% budget deficit), the project is a stinging reminder of a different time, and many in Spain are unhappy about what one critic calls the “cemetery for money.””  Quoted from Architizer Website.

It seems like projects of this magnitude will be few and far between whilst the world’s economy (for the most part) sorts itself out.  I can only hope it does.  Meanwhile, we’ve all got a building to go and see that could literally blow our minds.  The spaces throughout this buliding wouldn’t look to far fetched in a Star Wars movie.

January 19, 2011

Portfolio calls…

by architectbaron

Unfortunately due to the amount of work I have yet to do on the old A3 portfolio, I will not be writing the usual one a day, today.  I have several very interesting projects to blab about and WILL catch up with a double post in the near future.  It will more than make up for a missed day.  Damn you 19th January.

Love and Hugs!

January 18, 2011

London’s residential market to recover in 2011?

by architectbaron

I hope so!  Ian Simpson of Ian Simpson Architects seems to think so even though the practice has had a rocky last few years.  (You can read the BDonline article here)  With a couple of high-profile schemes put on hold and Lumiere Towers (pictured above) in Leeds even being cancelled altogether.

Since my graduation in the summer of 2010, my optimism towards a new chapter in my life suddenly changed to a realistic outlook on the state UK architecture finds itself in.  I had a subscription to the Architects Journal for a quarter of the year post graduation and almost every weekly magazine, no – EVERY weekly had doom and gloom about one thing or another.  If it wasn’t the degradation of the architectural profession it was how some big international company had just laid off 100+ previous employees.  This sort of news a recent graduate in architecture does not want to hear.

However!  Times are a changing.  I’m not naive, I don’t think we’ll be back in the economy peak of 2007 and they’ll start handing out £30K salaries to recent Part II Architectural assistant graduates again, no.  But I am much more optimistic about the future.  With these sort of headlines slowly cropping up the beginning of this new year, not only my confidence, but the entire construction industry peaks with excitement.  Maybe potential weary clients won’t loosen their purse strings just yet, but for me, looking for a job, prospects are looking up.

None the less I am working away to improve myself as a future architect.  I almost feel as if the time since graduation hasn’t released me from academics or education at all.  I’m reading and working the sorts of hours you would expect a student to, days before a final review deadline.  What for you might ask?  Simply, to compete in the competitive architectural work market.

So while I learn new CAD software and re-read Kevin Lynch’s ‘The Image of the City’ for the fourth time this year, I’m ecstatic to see optimistic headlines in the media.  Fingers crossed for the future!  Hope is man’s greatest attribute right?

January 17, 2011

A Scottish Pavilion in Venice

by architectbaron

A Gathering Space

Scotland in Venice 2008

“In May 2008, Gareth Hoskins Architects won an anonymous competition to design ‘A Gathering Space’, Scotland’s first ever stand-alone pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008. The practice saw off competition from over 50 Scottish practices to win the project which was backed by the Scottish Government and the Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City.

The 7m high structure consists of a partially cantilevered set of steps that is constructed entirely from locally sourced Scottish larch. The form of the structure creates an enclosed area underneath that can hold up to 100 people, and the steps become a gathering space for up to 200 people. During the Biennale ‘A Gathering Space’ was situated in a major piazza outside the train station overlooking the Grand Canal, and was used for seminars, organised events and informal gatherings. Gathering Space was acclaimed as a real focal point and inspiration for those exploring the art of architecture at the Biennale – giving Scotland a successful premiere at Europe’s most respected architecture festival.”  Gareth Hoskins Architects

January 16, 2011

Querosene House, Sao Paulo!

by architectbaron

Straight away I will confess to not know a great deal about Brazillian Residential Architecture and so with the Querosene House in Sao Paulo, I delve across and into unknown waters with you.  I’m sure you’ve already been stunned by the extensive library present in this home.  An archive of 7500 books stand displayed across the 3 floors of mezzanine floors, spanned daringly by stainless steel stairs and suspended walkways.

Architects, grupo SP,  meant this design to be simple.  Effectively the house is a long rectangle, solid walls on both longer sides and glazing on both short ends.  The difference in level between the road at the front of the house and the garden at the rear allows the lower floor livingroom privacy.  In plan the house is seperated into an open glazed area locating the library, kitchen, playroom and livingrooms and a more concealed area inhabited by all the services, equipment and bedrooms.

The materials used are anything but cozy and homely; hard, clinical elements such as monolithic concrete flooring and white Portuguese Stone dominate the expansive house.  This coupled with the white painted steel walkways present almost an industrial feel.  The only factors that bring the scale back in tow with a residential building are the books.  Fortunately this family has a massive collection!  I say this as I look at the furniture that struggles to find presence in the three storey main room.

I realize the Brazillians are known for throwing wild parties, yes very stereotypical of me, but I can’t help but feel this house has been designed for a constant fiesta!!  Easily cleanable surfaces, a floor area that could pack in hundreds and a seperate ‘chill out’ area for those who can’t party as hard as the rest.

The Portugese word ‘querosene’ translates to ‘kerosene’ in English, which could refers to a brazillian hardcore drum and bass group unknown to me.  Or purely exemplifies the families use of the common residential energy gas.

January 16, 2011

Warm up with this piece of wall art!

by architectbaron

Is it a white picket fence, is it a down-hill ski?  No!  Its a FOLD radiator!

Designer Mikolaj Adamus has redesigned a seasoned technology in a straight forward yet sleek way.  The wall-hung radiator is a dying breed (in my honest opinion) as cost effective and easily concealed under floor heating becomes more commonplace.  However!  Save for the piping and thermostat this wouldn’t be too far out of place in a contemporary museum, let alone a blank wall in a contemporary family bathroom.  A certain piece of wall art.

Winter has well and truly set in and what’s worse than a cold damp towel on a dark British morning?  In the UK, not much.

Does more than a few jobs effectively and looks pretty.  Not bad.