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Friday, May 30, 2008

Gatica House by Felipe Assadi and Francisca Pulido

This is a contemporary modern house in Chilean countryside called Gatica House designed by Felipe Assadi+Francisca Pulido. Thehouse is raised from the coexistence of two domestic programs: a stable family made up of a marriage and a family visitor comprising 3 children and their families.

The scheme is in two parts: first, which takes place in a line composed of the access, dining halls and common master bedroom is understood as the “main house”. The second-which should not be divided from the past but whether to retain their individuality-is understood as the elastic programme, a portion that is inserted literally within the volume whose main use is preferably weekend.

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nice beach house

” Only an architectural enthusiast would endeavor to build a home on this extremely steep site at Separation Creek, above Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. With a forty-five degree incline, the property challenged both the owners and architects, Jackson Clements Burrows (JCB) Architects. ‘Most of the one hectare site was too steep to build on. Only a few hundred square metres offered space for a building,’ says architect Graham Burrows, one of three directors of the practice.
With a base footprint of approximately seven by nine metres, the new house appears to grow out of the dirt landscape like a tree. Rooms extend like branches from the central core, or ‘trunk’, reaching for the light and views over Bass Strait. ‘We wanted to create a dynamic sculptural object. But we also wanted to take advantage of the views,’ says Burrows.
Designed for a couple with two young children, the brief was for a simple beach house, something relaxed and unpretentious. The rooms on the first floor extend beyond the trunk, cantilevered from three to six metres above the site. The rooms at ground level, with separate access, include two bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry and storage. And on the first floor, via a staircase made from broad timber sleepers, are the kitchen and living areas. Between the two levels are the main bedroom and ensuite. ‘Each room focuses on different parts of the site. I suppose the heroic shot is from the terrace off the living area,’ says Burrows, pointing out the Wye River Peninsula in the distance.

There are few divisions in the open plan living areas. One partially enclosed area is the study, adjacent to the entrance. However even this room is relatively transparent, featuring green louvres, adding colour as well as channelling the sea breezes. At night the study sheds a greenish glow throughout the living areas. Louvred glass windows also appear in the ‘pop-out’ above the kitchen. ‘We wanted to draw hot air from the house in the warmer months and also wanted to attract the northern light, as well as the views up the hillside,’ says Burrows.

Cantilevered rooms also provide protected nooks for the children to play outside. One of the most used parts of the property is the sandpit, directly below the sunroom. Concealed by a timber deck when not being used, the area also includes built-in benches for relaxed parental supervision. ‘This area reminds me of the outdoor spaces that were popular in the 1950s. Then children were encouraged to play outdoors,’ says Burrows.

This beach house is relatively modest in scale at approximately 190 sq m. It doesn’t scream out to the many motorists who wind their way along this stretch of the Great Ocean Road. In fact, from one direction, the discreet design means it’s unlikely to be detected at all. For this family, it’s all about the spectacular location, where the rugged bush meets the sea. And the architecture, although quiet in appearance, is just as exhilarating.”
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Phoenix Art Museum Expansion, Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Tod Willams Billie Tsien Further Expand the Phoenix Art Museum
It is indeed unusual when an architect gets the opportunity to revisit an earlier commission. But that is exactly when happened to New York architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien when the Phoenix Art Museum hired them for a second time around to expand its museum. The growth of Phoenix and the museum’s popularity led to the need to expand the Museum to include new gallery space, a glass enclosed lobby, a canopied entry plaza, and a one-acre sculpture garden The new $50 million addition provides a 10,000 square foot indoor/outdoor entrance oriented towards a new entry court and more than 30,000 square feet of galleries disposed in a new four-level wing. The addition is connected to the earlier buildings through the use of locally produced precast concrete but this time the green glacier quartz, here in a smaller aggregate size, was used in a dark grey concrete mix to declare its new identity. In addition to the new space, the museum’s courtyard has been fully enclosed and transformed into a sculpture garden. A palo verde tree-shaded entry court and two fountains provide a welcoming entrance to the building.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Welsh House, Private Address, Wales, United Kingdom

Sarah Featherstone’s Welsh House
The Welsh House, designed by the award-winning London-based Featherstone Associates, is located on a sloping site at the confluence of two rivers. Taking advantage of its riverside location, Featherstone has cantilevered the main living spaces of the house towards the river. The 2400 sq ft house accommodates five bedrooms, 3 ensuites and 1 bathroom. The living and dining areas open onto an elevated courtyard that overlooks the garden, the river and countryside to the rear of the property. The garden, which surrounds the house, steps down to the riverbank via a series of landscaped terraces. The house is constructed of a hybrid timber and steel frame structure clad with traditional Welsh slate and locally sourced stone. Many sustainable and energy-conserving features have been incorporated including grass roofs, solar panels, a wood chip boiler and a recycled grey water system. Estimated to cost £500,000 the house is to be completed in March 2009
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Grafenegg Castle Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria

Grafenegg Castle Concert Hall opens near Vienna
Austria has seen the opening of a major cultural facility this month. The Concert Hall at Grafenegg Castle near Vienna has opened with an expected 50 000 – 65 000 visitors per year.

Designed by schröder schulte-ladbeck the building is an integration of classical architecture with contemporary copper-cladded auditorium sandwiched between the original buildings. The copper merges sensitively with the red-brick of the central courtyard and offers the building a continually evolving face rapidly depending on the time of day and slowly with age.

The project began in 2005 with an EU-wide competition, then out of the vast number of applicants the jury selected five internationally acclaimed architect offices. The brief given was to integrate a Concert Hall for 1,300 visitors into the protected "Old Riding School" of Grafenegg Castle. The solitary building which is connected to the "Old Riding School" by a glass corridor, was rewarded with the 1st price for its historically sensitive and visionary planning.

From concept to completion the project took less than 3 years; construction works started in spring 2007. The meeting of time-honored Grafenegg Castle and the German architects schröder schulte-ladbeck should become a "liaison créative", a creative connection being synergetic and innovative. The architect duo is famous for planning Concert Halls.Dortmund Concert Hall / Philharmonic for Westphalia, also planned by schröder schulte-ladbeck, belongs to the ten best concert halls worldwide. With the Auditorium they created an unforgettable cultural building which will be part of the famous Grafenegg Music Festival.
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Aarhus Harbour Development, Aarhus, Denmark

JDS + CEBRA Iceberg design wins place in Aarhus Harbour Development
JDS/Julien De Smedt Architects and Aarhus-based CEBRA, in collaboration with the Dutch firm SeArch and French architect Louis Paillard have won the competition to build a 25,000 sq m housing complex in the new Aarhus Docklands development.

The project will be developed by the Tækker Group and Brabrand Boligforening with an expected completion date of spring 2010.

The Aarhus Harbour development provides a huge opportunity for Denmark’s second largest city to develop in a socially sustainable way by renovating its old, out-of-use container terminal. The area will become a living city quarter, comprised of a multitude of cultural and social activities, a generous amount of workplaces, and of course, a highly mixed and diverse array of housing types.

The Iceberg Project seeks to locate itself within the goals of the overall city development. A third of the project’s 200 apartments will be set aside as affordable rental housing, aimed at integrating a diverse social profile into the new neighborhood development.

The project’s main obstacle was the density set up for the development, the desired sq ms are in conflict with the specified site height restrictions and the overall intentions of providing ocean views along with good daylight conditions. The Iceberg negotiates this problem, by remaining far below the maximum heights at points and emerging above the dotted line at other moments. “Peaks” and “canyons” form eliciting the project’s iconic strength while ensuring that all flats will be supplied with a generous amount of natural lighting and waterfront views.

“With the Iceberg we get unique housing qualities as well as a city architectural expression of the highest quality”, says Kent Martinussen, adm. dir. of DAC (Danish Architecture Centre).
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Lightbox, Woking, United Kingdom

Lightbox gallery and museum wins £100,000 arts prize
Marks Barfield’s The Lightbox has won the UK’s most prestigious arts award, The Art Fund Prize 2008. The £100,000 prize was awarded to The Lightbox gallery and museum during an awards ceremony at the headquarters of The Royal institute of British Architects in London on Thursday 22 May. The prize is awarded to the museum or gallery whose project has demonstrated the most originality, imagination and excellence in the last year.

The project was initiated in 1993 by 70 local people who were determined to create a gallery and museum in the town. It has since grown in size and ambition, raising almost £7 million to complete the project. When the stunning new building opened in September 2007, their vision became a reality.

“We are over the moon,” said Marilyn Scott, Director of The Lightbox. “To have won such a prestigious award as The Art Fund Prize so soon after opening is beyond our wildest dreams. We would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard for The Lightbox over the last 15 years, from volunteers and staff to the architects, and the project team, our trustees, our sponsors and supporters.”

Members of the public had been invited to explain on The Art Fund Prize website why they think The Lightbox should win. Their comments have praised the inspirational nature of the project, the friendliness of staff and volunteers, the design of the building and the quality of the exhibitions and workshops. Many felt that since opening The Lightbox has already helped transform the cultural landscape of the Woking area, as well as people’s impressions of the town.

The Art Fund Prize judges were impressed by a visit to The Lightbox in February. Chairperson of the panel, the broadcaster Sue MacGregor said that she particularly enjoyed‘Woking’s Story,’ the museum of the town’s history. She highlighted displays on the Shah Jehan Mosque, the first to be built in the UK, and Brookwood Cemetery, used as a London overflow in the 19th century. “This award is a testament to the vision of a group of Woking residents who were determined to create a cultural centre for the arts and heritage in their town,” added Marilyn Scott. “Part of our mission has been to change the perceptions that Woking has nothing to offer and that it has no history. We believe that with the creation of The Lightbox both of these myths have been dispelled.”

A short list of four finalists was announced in April, after a judging panel whittled down competition from a long list of ten. The other short listed contestants were the Wellcome Collection in London, the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick, Scotland and The British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol, for the slavery exhibition ‘Breaking the Chains.’
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Cybertecture Egg, Mumbai, India Wednesday 28 May 2008

‘Cybertecture’ design offers provocative intelligence systems in India with the Cybertecture Egg office
“In the 21st Century, buildings will be different from 20th Century”, say James Law Cybertecture International, “They are no longer about concrete, steel and glass, but also the new intangible materials of technology, multimedia, intelligence and interactivity. Only recognizing this will bring a new form of architecture to light, namely a Cybertecture.”

James Law have been commissioned by Vijay Associate (Wadhwa Developers) to create an office unlike any other in Mumbai, India. The 32,000 sq m egg-shaped build will accommodate 13 floors of offices bringing together iconic architecture, environmental design, intelligent systems, and new engineering to create an awe-inspiring landmark in the city.

The concept was inspired, according to the designers, by considering the world as an ecosystem allowing life to evolve. Elements of the design and intelligence systems will work together to give the building’s inhabitants the ‘best space to work in’. And this includes monitoring their health. Within the building, there will be a series of innovative systems such as ‘cybertecture health’ in the washroom which is designed to keep track of the inhabitant’s health including blood pressure and weight. The data collected may be retrieved and sent to a doctor if deemed necessary.

Technology and the working environment are united in the use of ‘cybertecture reality’ which allows you to customize your favorite view and have real time scenery all around the world instead of the view the user currently has.

The egg itself is orientated and skewed at an angle to create both a strong visual language and to alleviate the solar gain of the building, also there is a sky garden on the top of building which performs thermolysis (the dissipation of heat from the surface). PV panels will be installed on top of the building and a wind turbine on the sky gardens will generate electricity. A water filtration system will also be incorporated into the building to recycle grey water for flushing and irrigation purpose.

By using this “Egg” shape, compared to a conventional building, the structure has approximately 10-20% less surface area. Within the building, an innovative structure derived from the skin of the egg creates up to 30m spans of columnless floors. The architecture is sleek and computer designed, with engineering that creates a building of high quality and geometric sophistication. It is hoped this building will act like a “jewel” for the new Central Business District of Mumbai, and will be a worthy neighbour to other esteemed buildings in the district. The building is due for completion by the end of 2010.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

sculp(IT) office, Antwerp, Belgium

sculp(IT) headquarters make a cheeky salute the past in their slimline design.
Red Light Districts are commonly littered with many a nook and cranny, dark corners where anything and anybody can lurk, or hide. It would not necessarily be the place to start if you wanted to develop a homestead. But Belgian architects Silvia Mertens and Pieter Peerlings saw an opportunity in Antwerp's former Red Light District, in a space just 2.4m wide, to develop their idea of a home and the headquarters for their business, sculp(IT).

The dimensions offered no choice but to build upwards. Four stories, sandwiched tightly between two buildings, would represent four different living or working spaces. On the ground floor, the office; the second floor, the dining room; the third floor, the living room and the fourth floor, the bedroom.

Deciding on the floorplan became a matter of modesty rather than convention as the entire frontage of the building is glazed and open to the outside world. In fact, it stands as a light art installation for passers by and an exercise in exhibitionism which salutes to the less than salubrious past of the area. The bathtub, situated on the rooftop, seals this notion, out of the way of most prying eyes but still deliciously extroverted.

It is clear this is not a place for convention. The bedroom is more jailhouse-chic than anything else with a cold silver floor featuring a splash design and a seat-less toilet taking pride of place beside the bed. The metal spiral staircase, which was inserted in one piece, links every floor for a practical yet equally open effect. There are no doors to prevent the channelling of sound between the floors of the container-esque build.

Lack of space and a need for integration of design require an ultra-minimal way of living for the occupants. Personal effects are left with little space to occupy, a single rail playing host to the pair's clothes. Yet this remains a very personal space, almost exclusive despite it's transparency. In designing a space which is so open, it acts in itself as a public display of affection, a unifying space saying 'us against the world', and as an architects office offers a bold display of their honesty showing their dedication to work and displaying their self-expression in architecture and a sympathy to their surrounds. Not a small achievement for a 2.4m space in the dark alleys of Antwerp's former Red Light District.

Niki May Young
News Editor
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i360 & Kew Tree Tops Walkway, Brighton, United Kingdom

Marks Barfield design heads to the sea-side for a new landscape to admire
Marks Barfield, the husband and wife duo who designed and conceived the idea for the London Eye have released a proposal for a new viewing dock in Brighton, England - the i360.

i360's mast design will be able to carry 100 visitors at a time in a pod which will rise up the outside of the shaft to a height of 150m above sea level and will be situated at the West Pier in the sea-city. This action of rising from the ground will offer visitors a gradually changing landscape out over Brighton, along the coast of the seven sisters and out to sea.

The Brighton West Pier Trust who own the land where the observation mast will stand are convinced by the idea. Chairman Glynn Jones said: "The question for the Trust has not been an easy one: how should we use our site to uphold the heritage of the Pier and promote regeneration of the city seafront?

"We believe the answer is Brighton i360 - it is elegant, slender and unobtrusive. It is brilliant because it will achieve maximum effect with minimum intervention. We believe it is entirely in the spirit of the Pier's history, and Eugenius Birch would have been delighted. The Trust is thrilled to have found in Marks Barfield and i360 the private sector partner and project which meet the aims of the Trust."

The mast's top point will stand 183m above sea level which is taller than the UK's other main observation towers, the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and the Spinnaker. The design will also feature the sustainability measure of wind turbines at the top end of the mast creating an estimated 20% of energy required to power the movement. The pod itself will be made of glass and steel and weigh around 60-tonns.

Marks Barfield are becoming the name in observation decks in the UK. They have also recently designed the Kew Tree Top Walkway & Rhizotron in Kew Gardens, London. The walkway takes visitors 18 metres into the trees allowing them to experience the rich bio-diversity of the tree canopy.

The walkway is a 200m long string of twelve modular walkway trusses at eighteen metres high, connected by ten circular ‘node’ platforms that provide opportunities for contemplation and interpretation in the form of one metre long cast bronze plaques. A larger, classroom-sized platform at the mid-point of the walkway provides space for school groups of up to 35, and a bench to enable visitors to rest and enjoy longer views towards the Palm House. Access to the walkway is gained by a main stair tower after exiting the Rhizotron; the tower also incorporates a single stage hydraulic lift with a glazed panoramic lift car.

David Marks, joint CEO of Marks Barfield explained the company's passion for viewing platforms: "Everyone loves a great view - it seems to be a universal desire to see the earth and its cities from exceedingly high places.

"Brighton i360 will gently raise people to a great height, safely, comfortably and conveniently, before gently bringing them down again, but with changed perceptions and a new perspective.

"In the past it was said that the West Pier allowed people to 'walk on water'. We hope that i360 will allow people to walk on air. This is a rare opportunity to create a landmark in the true sense of the word. We believe it will give people a new experience of Brighton enabling them to see the whole of the City for the first time and be a catalyst for regeneration in the immediate area."

There will be a consultation period before planning is sought but if granted it is thought the design and build of the i360 will take two years including 1 year on site.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

Saturday, May 24, 2008

450 West 14th Street, New York, New York, United States

Morris Adjmi’s 450 West 14th Street office tower unveiled
Architect Morris Adjmi has designed a stunning, ten-storey glass office tower to sit above the Highline atop a three storey industrial building on West 14th Street in the Meatpacking District of New York City. Developed by Charles Blaichman, who also developed the Meier-designed Towers on the West Side, the building is described as a “boutique” office building.

In addition to housing 100,000 sq ft of offices, the building will accommodate 8,000 sq ft of upscale retail space on the ground floor levels. The Highline, a disused elevated rail line which is being redeveloped as an urban park, will run through the building and be connected to it by an elevator and staircase, which will provide tenants direct access to the park.

The building, which will seek a United States Green Building Council LEED rating for core and shell, is expected to be completed in 14 months.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
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Ara Pacis Museum

Ara Pacis Museum controversy quiet for now
In early May, the Italian publication La Repubblica and Reuters, reported that the Ara Pacis Museum, completed in 2006 by noted American architect Richard Meier, was in danger of being demolished or relocated to a suburban site.

Rome’s newly elected Mayor, Gianni Alemmano announced at a news conference in which he outlined his plans for Rome that “Meiers building is a construction to be scrapped.” Alemanno, later told TV audiences on the popular Italian show “Porta a Porta” that he would be holding a citywide referendum to allow Roman citizens to decide the fate of the Museum, the only modern structure built in the historical city center since Mussolini’s time and reportedly the third most visited site in Rome. According to the Mayor “It is an issue of compatibility: the [building] is in a baroque part of the city, and that style suits the area. It is not a priority, but I think that some interventions were excessively invasive”.

Mary Lou Bunn, a communications spokesperson for Richard Meier’s office said, “things have been quiet” (since the announcement was made). She added that Meier “is willing to talk to the Mayor” about the matter and that “people at the firm are very attached to the project.” Ms. Bunn said that the Italian daily, the Corriere della Sera, had polled its readers about the matter with the results being that somewhere near 70% of respondents want the building to stay.

The Ara Pacis Museum was created as “fitting and secure housing for the Ara Pacis”, a sacrificial altar dating back to 9BC.

Sharon McHugh

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Hudson Rail Yards, New York, United States

NY MTA selects new developer for Hudson Rail Yards
Not more than two weeks since the deal between the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Tishman Speyer Properties to develop the Hudson Railyards fell apart, the city has a new developer for 26-acre site.

Yesterday, the MTA reached a $1 Billion agreement with Related Companies to transform the site in Midtown Manhattan, which sits between 30th and 33rd Streets on both sides of 11th Avenue. Related, which was one of the four original bidders negotiating for the site, essentially agreed to the same terms as Tishman, after its chief executive, Stephen M. Ross, expressed remorse at losing out to Tishman the first time around.

Related plans to use the same general layout as was published earlier when the four architect developer teams competed for the site although the design of the 13 towers is expected to change. The plans call for approximately 5.5 million square feet of commercial space, including a hotel, 5,500 apartments, 7 acres of parks and open space and cultural facilities. The architects for the project are Kohn Pederson Fox, Arquitectonica and Robert A. M. Stern. The first order of business will be to construct the project’s base, more than $2 billion of platforms, columns and foundations over the yards.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Four Seasons Hotel , Baltimore, Balitimore, United States

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will soon be home to the landmark Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at Harbor East.
The hotel is the focal point of the redevelopment of a 6-block area that connects the Inner Harbor with the surrounding residential neighborhoods. HKS Hill Glazier Studio is the design architect, with Beatty Harvey & Associates providing architect-of-record services.

The mixed-use facility contains residential, hotel, commercial, entertainment, and retail spaces. The facility includes a 256-key hotel, upscale condominiums, pool, world-class spa, fitness facilities, meeting and banquet spaces, chic retail, and a signature restaurant as well as a bar and lounge.

Distinctive building massing will clearly reflect The Four Seasons Hotel’s superb waterside location. The pool and meeting areas will showcase these waterfront views. Many hotel rooms and suites will also feature balconies with direct views of the Inner Harbor.

While drawing upon nearby buildings, the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore lends a contemporary feel to the neighborhood. “Sleek glass towers will be the focal point of the development complex which includes high-end retail, a five-star hotel, Four Seasons-branded condominiums, and the most desirable office space in Baltimore and possibly the entire east coast,” states Christopher Janian, Assistant Development Manager, H&S Properties Development Corporation. “Designed to be a self-sufficient neighborhood, Harbor East includes amenities catering to a diverse mix of people,” he continued. “The Four Seasons Baltimore at Harbor East will be the area’s crown jewel, adding to the 24-hour environment where people can truly live, work, and play.”

The floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall will allow natural light to permeate throughout the hotel, creating an inviting and unparalleled ambience. The Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at Harbor East is scheduled to open first quarter 2010.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

China earthquake, Chengdu, China

Trevor Colman talks exclusively to WAN about the way forward in China
It has been a very dark week for China. An earthquake which reached 7.9 on the richter scale caused huge devastation as the whole world was watching. Where many were busy condemning Chinese oppression in Tibet or preparing for the Olympics, their focus swiftly changed as, suddenly, China is in need of aid. Thousands have died. And an estimated 5 million people have been made homeless. Questions are now arising about the recent spurt in construction in the lead up to the Olympics and how this relates to safety standards and the utter devastation.

Architect Trevor Colman has a vested interest in this Chinese tragedy. Just two months ago he opened his first international office in Chengdu in the Sichuan province, just a few miles from the epicentre. He spoke exclusively to WAN about his move and where Colman Architects and the Chinese government will go from here.

Colman decided to open an office in China just a year ago when an enthusiastic employee told him that she wanted to make the move. Encouraged by her enthusiasm and the local contacts she had, they set about opening the office in Chengdu, the employee's home town.

“Having contacts,” he said, “is very important in business so Chengdu was a good place to start”. Coleman Architects have a strong ambition to grow in China. They already have developers in Beijing and have begun their first instruction to develop a strategic masterplan for the development of a new neighbourhood in Jintang, an area 30 miles outside of Chengdu, on behalf of the local authorities.

The recent events, however, mean things will run a bit differently. While Colman's office in a shared block in Chengdu still stands, there has been serious damage to the interior walls and they are now conducting work from a residential address.

There have been many allegations that the Chinese are picking and choosing which buildings to make safe, and making the wrong choices. While government buildings stayed largely intact after the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, (which are still being felt), school buildings collapsed like dominoes. On Channel 4 News on Friday, Jon Snow asked Construction Lawyer Ashley Howlett in Beijing if he thought that the speed at which buildings are being constructed has led to lax building practice. He responded:

“Inevitably standards will suffer. I think that that is a conclusion that people have drawn and it may well prove to be the case in some cases. Certainly in China the country is developing at a tremendous pace and when that happens obviously there are down sides. The environment is one that has been well publicised, I think quality, safety – compromises are often made because of the pace of development. The government are very concerned, very serious about remedying that.

“The ministry of construction takes great efforts to try to enforce the regulations but in a country that is as geographically diverse and as populous as China it's not an easy task.”

Jon Snow then asked, but what of the schools which fell when the government buildings never?

“There have been reports of that. I think the internet, blogs and various things are talking about it. Concern from Chinese citizens that construction standards have not been enforced. Again, I can't comment on whether that is true or not but there is certainly talk on that.”

Colman is similarly reticent about the potential for the Chinese government and safety officials to have failed in their capacity to protect the Chinese public from this suffering. He said of the accusation that buildings regulations have not been followed:

“That is not a reasonable assumption to make at all. There are a lot of restrictions and they are pretty stringent. There are a lot of earthquakes in China and in general terms buildings are designed to withstand earthquakes. The ones that didn’t were in the main the older buildings. Earthquake protection, when over the epicentre is still very tough,” adding, “The Chinese are very proud of what they do and want to do a good job.” Speaking of the damage in Chengdu, he said: “Chengdu, if you go through it today you wouldn’t necessarily think there had been an earthquake. A few buildings are down, yes, but it is largely fine.”

While the official death toll raised to 34,000 it is feared as many as 50,000 have died and President Hu Jintao has acknowledged the concerns and beliefs of many Chinese and told reporters that if the regulations had been ignored there would be extreme punishment.

So we are left to think about where to move forward from the quake. Colman hasn't let the earthquake deter him from expanding in China. When asked what the implications for his business in China would be he responded:

“It’s a difficult one to assess,” he continues, “We are doing building work in the outskirts of Chengdu and around China so we have to keep doing work from the office – it seems almost sinister to say but there will be a huge amount of regeneration so one would imagine we will be working on that.”

Colman believes that the Chinese now have an opportunity to create a sustainable way of living and the best way to do this is to build communities: “Building communities means that people can use bicycles or walk to the shops...Our masterplan in Jintang accommodates exactly that principle – we have the opportunity to build health facilities so people don’t have to travel for miles to see a doctor and nurseries so that parents can walk their children there and not use their cars.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity and the scale is difficult to comprehend in the west. Sustainability is a huge issue and an exciting issue to be working on.”

Colman’s plans for China are partly to do with his distaste for much of the current architecture: “In my opinion they are using rather too much of American-style buildings which are not too hot on sustainability...Some buildings just now are horrendous – they are literally car-palaces.”

While the Chinese are presented with an opportunity to turn things around, WAN asked Colman if they were likely to take heed of the damage done and encourage enforcement of regulations more fiercely:

“They will redouble their efforts for safety, I have absolutely no question of a doubt on that. They will almost certainly start to regenerate the areas. They are keen to clear buildings that are not of standard.”

If President Hu Jintao’s statement to the press is to be believed, Colman could be right.

Niki May Young
News Editor
source :
architecture NOW

St Paul's Cathedral face-lift

St Paul's gets a face-lift to appease London's new Mayor
Recently the UK's resident 'clown' politician Boris Johnson was appointed as Mayor of London. His manifesto stated that he would protect historical views and in particular, "Reinstate planning rules that protect the views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster and reinforce protection around new viewing corridors". In other words he would prevent any tall building in the centre of London that threatens this view.

In the spirit of protecting views of St Paul's, architects Feix&Merlin have come up with a novel idea of how to ensure the historic building can be seen from afar. The company have revealed renders of a 50-storey tower to raise the roof of St Paul's cathedral, so that its trademark dome could be seen above any other tall building.

Merlin explained to WAN why they decided to do the redesign: "It's a response to St Paul's cathedral having a strangle-hold on the London skyline...It's a tongue-in-cheek response to Boris' plans and to say we shouldn't be restricting the upward ascent of London...We want people to think about what they want from London. Do they want a historic relic or do you want it to move forward?"

Although it was designed as a statement, Merlin added that he would be happy to assist anyone who wished to take the plans forward. I wonder if Boris would consider it?..
Niki May Young
News Editor
source :
architecture NOW