Skyscrapers have developed a typical form language over the past century—many of them are large, rectangular, and sheathed in glass, but Studio CACHOUA TORRES CAMILLETTI is changing that. Working with the notion that even superstructures should be as varied as the cities they’re built in, the Mexican design firm has created a spectacular vision for a skyscraper in Hong Kong. With two curvilinear towers that support rice paddies on their terraces, the proposal includes cultural context in the very structure of the building.
Following the recent announcement of Aedas’ demerger into two separate companies - one retaining the Aedas name and the other now known as AHR - we spoke to Keith Griffiths, Chairman of Aedas’ global board and a practicing architect for close to three decades. The company, which was recently ranked by the Architects’ Journal as the 5th largest and most influential practice in the world, have now moved their head office to London’s Chandos Place and are championing a new approach to urban regeneration in the UK’s capital. Alongside discussing how an international practice of Aedas’ scale successfully operates, Griffiths offered his insight into how the future looks for European cities based on a tried and tested Asian model of densification.
To find out how Aedas approach sustainability in flourishing Asian markets, as well as the significance of the ‘urban hub’ typology for London’s metropolitan future, read the interview in full after the break.
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French photographer who captures the dizzying heights and uncommon densities of Hong Kong. Inspired by “the geometry of the urban environment and the vivid lives it shelters,” Jacquet-Lagrèze has not only captured the verticality of Hong Kong’s built environment, but also compiled a new book, Vertical Horizon, “a photographic journey between the buildings of a relentlessly growing city.” See more of Jacquet-Lagrèze‘s images, and read an excerpt from Vertical Horizon, after the break.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates‘ International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong as the winner of its first ever Performance Award. The new award recognizes the project with the lowest measured environmental impact on the urban realm, as measured using actual data from the completed construction.
The CTBUH explains the need for the prize, saying: “Most awards programs focus on design intent, as opposed to actual performance – often well-intentioned projects are not revisited, and thus not held accountable.” KPF‘s 484-metre tall office tower won the prize based largely on its policy of collecting and sharing performance data.
Read on after the break for more on the award
As of this week Aedas, which was recently ranked as the 5th largest and influential practice in the UK by the Architects’ Journal, has demerged into two separate practices. The thirteen offices in China, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the US, will continue to operate under the Aedas brand whilst the eight UK offices and the offices in Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan will operate under a new name: AHR. According to the outgoing board, the demerger “will allow both companies to focus on their respective strengths and will enable them to grow the businesses in different directions.” The intention is that both groups will continue to work together on projects in the future.
Modeled after its dense urban surroundings, Chu Hai College of Higher Education’s new campus in Hong Kong meets a complex program while giving students a fantastic view of the ocean. Designed by Rocco Design Architects Limited, the building’s geometry stacks different programmatic uses on top of each other and connects them with a vertical boulevard. The result is a sculptural entity, partially inspired by Chinese calligraphy, that seeks a balance between solid and void.
In 1994, a routine construction technique that has been practiced in Hong Kong for over 100 years caught the attention of photographer Peter Steinhauer - and led him to put almost a decade of work into capturing this unique urban phenomenon. The bamboo scaffolding and fabric wrappings he photographs serve the simple purpose of catching construction debris, but at a glance they look more like works by Christo and Jeanne Claude, the artists that have made their name wrapping buildings like the Reichstag in Berlin.
The resulting photos showcase the colossal towers of Hong Kong wrapped in brightly-colored fabric; their usually varied facades are made monolithic, like a plastic massing model rendered full-size. Steinhauer named his photo series “Cocoons” due to the effect they create over time: the buildings metamorphose under cover and emerge transformed.
Read on for more photos of these urban cocoons
The following are excerpts from one of 41 interviews that student researchers at the Strelka Institute are publishing as part of the Future Urbanism Project. In this interview, James Schrader speaks with Adam Snow Frampton, the co-author of Cities Without Ground and the Principal of Only If, a New York City-based practice for architecture and urbanism. They discuss his work with OMA, the difference between Western and Asian cities, his experiences opening a new firm in New York, and the future of design on an urban scale.
James Schrader: Before we get to future urbanism, I thought it would be interesting to look a bit into your past. Could you tell me about where your interest in cities came from? Were there any formative moments that led to your fascination with cities?
Adam Snow Frampton: I was always interested in cities, but not necessarily exposed to much planning at school. When I went to work at OMA Rotterdam, I was engaged in a lot of large-scale projects, mostly in the Middle East and increasingly in Asia, where there was an opportunity to plan cities at a bigger scale. In the Netherlands, there’s not necessarily more construction than in the US, but there is a tradition of thinking big and a tendency to plan. For instance, many Dutch design offices like OMA, West 8, and MVRDV have done master plans for the whole country.
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
Location: Hong Kong, Hung Hom, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Jockey Club Innovation Tower 賽馬會創新樓
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
Project Director : Woody K.T. Yao
Project Leader : Simon K.M. Yu
Area: 15000.0 sqm
Photographs: Virgile Simon Bertrand, Doublespace, Iwan Baan
Twenty years ago, one of the world’s most unusual and unexpected pieces of architecture was razed to the ground: Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, the most densely populated area on earth. Squalid, dark, and labyrinthine, the informal city was not only a hotbed for organized crime, but also a vibrant community of commerce and hope. Now, the Wall Street Journal has released this short documentary, bringing the city back to life and revealing why it holds a special place in world culture today.