Rory Stott

Garden Bridge Gains Final Approval From Mayor of London

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London Mayor Boris Johnson has approved plans for the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Garden Bridge. The approval from the mayor is the third and final green light for the bridge, having previously been accepted by both Lambeth and Westminster councils. The project is now likely to begin construction within a year – in line with a self-imposed deadline by the Garden Bridge Trust that will allow them to complete the project before works on the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel cause disruption on the site.

How Cutting Edge Technology Helped Recreate the Stella Tower’s Concrete Crown

Screenshot from video by JDS Development Group

In some projects, preservation isn’t just about retaining what’s there, but also about putting back an element that has been forgotten to history (not always, though). This was the case at the Stella Tower in Manhattan, where as part of the building’s recently completed condo conversion, JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, along with architects CetraRuddy have reinstated the dramatic Art Deco crown of Ralph Walker’s 1927 design.

The Restoration of Chartres Cathedral is a “Scandalous Desecration”

On the left, an as-yet unrestored section of the cathedral can be compared to a restored section, right. Image © Flickr CC User Lawrence OP

Throughout its eight-century-long history, Chartres Cathedral has been consistently cited as one of the world’s greatest religious spaces, charming countless architects thanks to its dramatic interior combining brooding stone vaults and delicate stained windows. But this legacy is severely threatened, argues Martin Filler for the New York Review of Books, by a “foolhardy” restoration in its zeal for recapturing the past “makes authentic artifacts look fake.”

OMA Wins Competition for Shanghai Exhibition Center

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OMA has won a competition to design the Lujiazui Exhibition Centre, a 1,500 square meter space in Shanghai  on the site of the former “Shanghai Shipyard.” The design aims to create a concentrated culture and event space within the surrounding financial district, on the edge of the Huangpu River, one of the most photographed waterfronts in the world.

More on the design after the break

Spotlight: Oscar Niemeyer

Courtesy of ON

Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, or simply Oscar Niemeyer, was one of the greatest architects in Brazil‘s history, and one of the greats of the global modernist movement. After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world more than five hundred works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa and Europe.

Niemeyer attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro in 1929, graduating in 1934. He began working with the influential Brazilian architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa also in 1932, a professional partnership that would last decades and result in some of the most important works in the history of modern architecture.

Project Meganom Wins Contest to Transform Moscow Riverfront

Fishing on Kremlin © Courtesy of Project Meganom

Russian practice Project Meganom has been announced as the winner in a competition to drastically transform the Moscow riverfront. Their masterplan proposal aims to create a series of linear green spaces, while also incorporating new cultural and education spaces along the waterfront and improving the surrounding public transport. Announced at the IV annual Moscow Urban Forum which opened earlier today, the goal of the competition was to return the river from a “barrier” into a “link” in the city, restoring its historical status as the city’s heart and most important transportation route.

Read on after the break for more details of Project Meganom’s masterplan

London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Takes Stand Against Super-Basements

Section of a proposed basement extension in Knightsbridge, . Image via The Daily Mail

The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is set to pass new legislation aimed at curbing the spate of large basement extensions in the area. The trend for these “mega-basements” is a result of the strict planning guidelines applied to the borough’s many historic buildings, forcing the area’s wealthy and space-hungry residents to extend downwards instead of upwards or outwards. However, with a ten-fold increase in the number of basement extension plans since 2001, work on these complex underground projects was becoming a nuisance, causing Kensington and Chelsea Council to freeze the planning applications of 220 basement proposals while it sought a resolution.

Roundup: 5 Recent Buildings Inspired by Wood

Maggie’s Oxford / Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Image © Wilkinson Eyre Architects

It may be the world’s second oldest construction material, but is still one of the most versatile and inspiring available to architects today, coveted as both a structural material and as a finish on walls, floors, ceilings and facades. In recent years it’s even seen a resurgence in popularity, thanks to its sustainability credentials and its increasingly popular “natural” feel. With all this in mind, ArchDaily Materials has rounded up five recent projects that prove innovation in wood is still alive and well in the architectural world: Wilkinson Eyre Architects’ Maggie’s Oxford; Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum; Pushed Slab by MVRDV; MARGEN-LAB’s Endesa World Fab Condenser; and finally a forthcoming building that is notable for its ambitious wooden design, the Sleuk Rith Institute by Zaha Hadid Architects.

CVDB Arquitectos Wins Contest for Student Housing in Lisbon

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CVDB Arquitectos has won a competition for a new student accommodation block at Lisbon University’s Pólo da Ajuda campus. The building consists of three interconnected but structurally separate units arranged around a central courtyard, with the internal layout being determined by the modular unit of the individual bedrooms. On the South side of the building, at street level, the building’s communal spaces and vital services provide a sense of transparency in the otherwise opaque building, connecting the central courtyard and the life of the students to the street outside.

RSH+P Breaks Ground on Scottish Whiskey Distillery

Entrance to the distillery. Image Courtesy of

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has begun construction on a new whiskey distillery and visitor centre in Speyside, Scotland. Designed for The Macallan, a core brand of the major Scottish spirits producer Edrington. The proposed building is buried into the surrounding landscape of The Macallan Estate, revealing itself as a series of grass covered mounds overlooking the river Spey.

Read on after the break for more about the design

The Work of SelgasCano, the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion Designers

Office in the Woods. Image © Iwan Baan

The latest designer of the prestigious Serpentine Gallery Pavilion has been named as SelgasCano, the Spanish practice known for their use of the latest synthetic materials and new technology. The Serpentine Pavilion, which has grown to become one of the most visited annual architecture attractions in the world, aims to provide architects who have never built in the UK their first chance to do so. In the past, this has led to pavilions by globally-recognized names such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Oscar Niemeyer, and Peter Zumthor, but in recent years the Serpentine Gallery seems to have changed course a little, instead bringing lesser-known, emergent stars to a much wider audience. This was true of Smiljan Radić and his 2014 pavilion, and will likely prove true for the duo of José Selgas and Lucía Cano.

Although designs for the 2015 pavilion will not be released until February, SelgasCano have promised ”to use only one material… the Transparency,” adding that “the most advanced technologies will be needed to be employed to accomplish that transparency.” This coy description perhaps calls to mind the design of their own office, a partially sunken tube of a building with one side made entirely of curved glass, which won them widespread recognition in 2009.

To give a better idea of the design style that SelgasCano will bring to the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, we’ve rounded up a number of their major projects for your viewing pleasure, after the break.

Legal Challenge Dropped After Maggie’s Agrees Changes to Holl’s St Bart’s Design

Courtesy of Architects

A legal challenge against Steven Holl‘s design for the new Maggie’s Centre at St Bart’s Hospital in London has been dropped, after Holl and Maggie’s agreed to change the design. The challenge was brought by the Friends of the Great Hall, a group that has been campaigning against Holl’s design and arguing that it would have a detrimental effect on the adjacent Great Hall designed by James Gibb in the 18th century.

Holl’s design narrowly won planning permission in July, however the Friends of the great hall launched the judicial review a month later as a final attempt to block the scheme.

UK Start-Up Hopes to Manufacture World’s First Intelligent All-Glass Living Suite

A proposal for the Photon House, a large scale variation of the Photon Space for permanent living. Image Courtesy of The Photon Project

UK start-up company The Photon Project has announced its plan to launch the Photon Space, the world’s first intelligent all- living unit. Motivated by the major positive benefits that natural light can have on our energy levels, sleep pattern and overall health, the goal of the Photon Space is to create a dwelling that allows its occupants a maximum connection to the outside world.

Posited as an ideal addition to hotels, spas, health retreats, medical centres, and other resorts, the skin of the Photon Space is made of smart glass supported by curving glass beams, switching from transparent to opaque in seconds with the help of an iPhone app.

London’s Olympicopolis Site to Receive Government Funding

’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park featuring, from left to right, Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, and the Olympic Stadium by Populous. The Olympicopolis site is on the far left. Image © Flickr CC user Martin Pettitt

The UK Government has announced £140 million in public funds will be granted to the planned “Olympicopolis“ cultural quarter in East London, in the former 2012 Olympic Park. The museum and educational district is planned to feature a new outpost for the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum and Sadler’s Wells theatre, and a new campus for the University of the Arts London.

The site, which is just North of Zaha Hadid‘s Aquatics Centre, is the focus of an ongoing design competition which reportedly attracted almost 1,000 expressions of interest in the contest’s pre-registration phase. The winner of the competition will be announced in March.

M Castedo Architects Unveils 30-Story Silver Pearl Hotel For Qatar 2022 World Cup

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New York-based firm M Castedo Architects have unveiled their designs for the “Silver Pearl Hotel”, a 1000-room luxury resort and conference facility for the Qatar 2022 World Cup located 1.5 kilometers off the Doha coastline. The $1.6 billion design consists of two 30-story semicircular towers connected by a full height, transparent climate controlled atrium, with unimpeded views of the sea beyond. Access to the hotel will be provided by a four lane elevated causeway over the sea – or alternatively by private yacht or helicopter, say the architects.

Vice President Joe Biden to Break Ground on Steven Holl’s Kennedy Center Expansion Today

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Almost 50 years to the day after President Lyndon B Johnson broke ground on Edward Durell Stone‘s design for the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, today Vice President Joe Biden will do the same for Steven Holl Architects‘ design of the Kennedy Center Expansion, a largely below-ground addition that will add an extra 60,000 square feet to the Center.

Infographic: The World’s Most Expensive Skyscrapers

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It may or may not be the tallest building in North America, but one thing’s for sure: when it comes to costs, no other skyscraper comes close to New York‘s One World Trade Center. This is the conclusion of Emporis, whose list of the world’s top ten most expensive buildings puts 1WTC way out in front at $3.9 billion. Originally estimated at just half that cost, this sets a trend in the top ten list, with many of the featured buildings suffering staggering overruns. The second-place Shard, for example, overshot it’s original £350 million ($550 million) budget nearly four times over (although this is to be expected in London).

Towering Folly: As Qatar’s Death Toll Rises, So Does This Monument

Courtesy of 1week1project

On one of Qatar‘s many World Cup construction sites, another Nepalese worker dies. The worker is not named; their death does not make the news, and work resumes on the site as soon as possible in order to make the 2022 construction deadline. But, in the desert outside Doha, a crane driver solemnly prepares to add one more module to what has rapidly, and tragically, become one of ’s tallest towers.

This is the vision presented by Axel de Stampa and Sylvain Macaux, of the Paris and Santiago-based practice 1week1project, with their “Qatar World Cup Memorial.” Designed as one of their week-long “spontaneous architecture” projects, the monument memorializes each deceased worker in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.