Is Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge “Nothing But A Wasteful Blight”?

Courtesy of Arup

After a fortnight of highs and lows for Thomas Heatherwick and British celebrity Joanna Lumley’s campaign for a garden bridge stretching across ’s River Thames, Rowan Moore of The Observer has meticulously described the project as “nothing but a wasteful blight.” Although he acknowledges that support for the bridge “has been overwhelming,” he argues that Heatherwick – though an “inventive and talented product designer” – has a past record in large scale design which “raises reasonable doubts about whether his bridge will be everything now promised.”

CEMEX Announces International Finalists for XXIII Building Awards

CEMEX has unveiled the international finalists for the XXIII Building Awards, which aim to recognize the best architecture and construction internationally. Spanning across three categories, the awards recognize , institutional/industrial and large-scale infrastructure projects that were built during 2013 and stand out for their constructive solutions, aesthetics and innovative techniques.

Both the international and national winners will be announced on November 5. Read on after the break for the international finalists and check out our coverage on the Mexican finalists for the XXIII Building Awards here

Can You Imagine a City Without Air Conditioners?

is pioneering an underground cooling system that could cut 80% of carbon emissions compared to conventional air conditioning. Image © Flickr CC User Justin Swan

Despite Finland’s relatively cool temperatures, climate changes have made heat waves more common in Northern Europe, and the demand for cooling buildings in summer is increasing. Instead of installing air conditioners for individual buildings, Helsinki is pioneering a vast network of underground infrastructure that pumps cold water from lakes and seas into local buildings. Beneath an unassuming park in downtown Helsinki sits a reservoir containing nearly 9 million gallons of water that is recycled and cooled by waste energy after it is used for cooling, replacing the need for air conditioning in the city and cutting carbon pollution by 80%. Read more about this undertaking in this article from Fast Co. Exist.

HOK Proposes East London Thames Crossing

© HOK/

Nearly half of London’s population lives east of Tower Bridge yet they are served by only two fixed road river crossings,” says Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). This is the infrastructural predicament which has sparked the LCCI’s “Bridge East London” campaign, a proposal for bridge linking Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach, which is aided by a design by HOK.

The proposal was unveiled on Monday, the 120th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge. Designed to allow clear passage for both ships underneath and aircraft taking off or landing at City Airport above, the bridge also features a segregated cycle path, adding a much needed - and entirely safe – river crossing for London’s growing number of cyclists.

More on the bridge after the break

Moscow Launches Competition to Design 2 New Metro Stations

Slavyanskij Bulvar Metro Station. Image © Flickr CC User Sergey Yeliseev

The Moscow Metropolitan is the second busiest metro line in the world, transporting 2.4 billion passengers a year. However despite this, it is a long way short of being the most extensive, with Beijing, Shanghai, London, New York, Tokyo, and Madrid all surpassing it in terms of total track length.

In order to rectify this, in 2012 launched an ambitious expansion plan, aiming to add over 150km of tracks and 70 new stations by 2020. For the first time, they have launched a competition to design two of these new stations in the South-West of the city, in the Solntsevo and Novo-Peredelkino Districts.

Read on for more about the Moscow Metro and the competition

Construction Begins on the Vast Platform for New York’s Hudson Yards

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The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the history of the United States and currently the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center, is gaining momentum. The vast infrastructural project in the heart of the city is set to enclose an active rail yard with an expansive platform, paving the way for 28 acres (and 17 million square feet) of commercial and residential space. Housing over 100 commercial units, 5000 residences, 14 acres of open public space, an enormous school and luxury hotel all on top of a working train depot, the project will directly connect to a new subway station and meet with the High Line.

First-Place Winner of Santiago Landmark Competition: Smiljan Radic + Gabriela Medrano + Ricardo Serpell

Courtesy of Winning Team

Smiljan Radic, Gabriela Medrano, and  have won a competition to design a new landmark for Santiago, Chile: an antenna tower to be placed on the summit of San Cristobal Hill, in the heart of the city. The “Santiago Antenna Tower,” a unique telecommunications tower with panoramic views, should be completed in 2017, in time for the centenary of the Metropolitan Park of Santiago.

Further detail and the architect’s description of the project, after the break.

A Proposal to Turn Paris’ Unused Metro Stations Into Parks, Pools, and More

’ Arsenal Station as an underground park. Image Courtesy of Manal Rachdi, OXO Architects & Nicolas Laisné, via IBT

We architects know full well the power of renderings to capture the imagination. Apparently – so too do politicians. Capitalizing on the popularity of adaptive reuse projects around the world (a trend instigated by the success of ’s High Line), French politician Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has made converting Paris’ unused “ghost stations” a major part of her platform, promising that these projects will come to pass should she be elected mayor.

The renderings, by Manal Rachdi OXO Architects and Nicolas Laisné Associés, show the Arsenal station (unused since 1939) alternately as a swimming pool, a green park, restaurant, disco, or theater. As there are in fact 16 disused metro stations in Paris, the idea behind these renderings is to instigate debate among practitioners as to how these spaces could best serve the city. See all the renderings, after the break.

Why The Skycycle Would Never Work

Is this the answer to London’s cycle safety woes?. Image © Foster + Partners

Writing for Future Cape Town, this article by Julia Thayne – originally titled The Skycycle: A Plan for the People? - explores the proposal by Foster + Partners to build an elevated cycle highway above London’s, explaining why it is little more than an optimistic pipe-dream.

Headlines in London this November were grim. Six cyclist deaths in less than a fortnight. All but one cyclist killed in accidents involving trucks, buses, or coaches. People were understandably concerned. From 3,000 miles away, my mother sent me a fluorescent coat and another set of bike lights, and as a cyclist commuter, I avoided roundabouts that I had previously sailed through, noting that cars seemed to be driving more slowly and other cyclists thinking twice before flouting traffic laws.

In response to the deaths, the public and public sector alike launched a “cycling state of emergency.” Officers patrolled the streets to ticket both vehicles driving unsafely and cyclists disobeying road rules. A thousand citizens gathered for a candlelight vigil at the roundabout where three cyclists’ lives had been claimed. Another thousand staged a “die-in” outside of Transport for London’s headquarters, in which protesters lay down in the streets, using their bicycles to block traffic. Newspaper columns, magazine articles, and blog spots examined and re-examined the safety of cycling routes around London. Mayor Boris Johnson’s Cycle Superhighways (four blue-painted, supposedly safety-enhanced cycling routes around London) became a particularly contentious topic of discussion, as three of the six cyclist deaths during those two weeks (and of the 14 deaths thus far in 2013) had occurred on or near one of these routes.

From the conversation about cycling and safety, the Skycycle has emerged.

Read on for the problems with the Skycycle project

Washington DC Metro Awarded AIA 25 Year Award

© Flickr CC User Sergio Feria

The AIA has given the 25 year award - for architectural projects which have stood the test of time – to the Washington DC Metro System. Designed by Harry Weese and opened in 1976, the metro system has been praised for its application of a sense of civic dignity to the function of transportation, as well as the consistency of the design across its 86 stations. You can read an accompanying article about the design of the Metro System here.

Calatrava’s “Sharq Crossing” Planned for Doha Skyline

Courtesy of Santiago Calatrava

Located in , Sharq Crossing is a set of three interconnected bridges spanning almost ten kilometres in the Bay. Designed by the famed architect Santiago Calatrava, the will connect the city’s cultural district in the north to Hamad International Airport and the central business district in West Bay. The bridges, which are designed to accomodate as many as 2,000 vehicles an hour per lane, are also flanked by a series of subsea tunnels to manage and direct the flow of traffic across the bay.

OMA Wins Its First Bridge: Pont Jean-Jacques Bosc

Image © OMA, Artefactory, Frans Parthesius. Image Courtesy of OMA

OMA has won an international competition to design Pont Jean-Jacques Bosc, a across the river Garonne in Bordeaux, , that will link the municipalities of Bègles and Floriac. The 44m by 545m , which will act as “a generous new public space” and “an urban planning intervention” for the city, giving priority to pedestrian traffic, is the first to be realized by OMA. It is scheduled for completion in 2018.

According to Clément Blanchet, director of OMA France, the bridge ”is not the ‘event’ in the city, but a platform that can accommodate events of the city [...it] may be the least technical, least lyrical, but [it is] the most concise and effective structural solution.”

The architect’s description of the project, after the break…

Detroit Considering Converting Freeway to Pedestrian Street

’s I-375. Via Flickr CC User. Image © Bob Julius

According to John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit may soon be removing one of its downtown freeways, the I-375, and converting the trench-like road into a more pedestrian friendly surface level street. The change could be a boon to residents of nearby areas such as Lafayette Park and Eastern Market, which were cut off when the road was built in 1964, and follows a wider trend of cities removing freeways in order to regenerate downtown areas. The city government is currently working with major stakeholders to investigate the potential effects of the change, with a proposal due for summer 2014. You can read the full article here.

Tunnels Under London: the Largest Infrastructure Project in Europe

western tunnels, December 2012. Image Courtesy of

Crossrail, “the largest infrastructure project in Europe, costing more, for example, than the London Olympics“, has been slowly winding it’s way beneath London for years. Getting access to the labyrinthine collection of underground tunnels and volumes, Rowan Moore of The Observer says that – despite the superficial furore surrounding it – this £5 billion undertaking will eventually be worth it: alongside the tunnels and tracks will be three million square feet (“or about six Gherkins“) of commercial development, and one million square feet of ‘public realm’.

Elliptical Bridge Proposal / Penda

Courtesy of Chris Precht and Alex Daxböck

Architecture firm, penda design house, led by Chris Precht and in collaboration with Alex Daxböck, submitted designs of a pedestrian bridge for the RIBA-sponsored Salford Meadows Bridge Competition in England.

The “O” is an elegantly simple concept, manifesting itself as a striking reinterpretation of a traditional pedestrian bridge. The multifaceted bridge offers unique and evolving perspectives to approaching pedestrians, culminating in a mesmerizing ellipse that engulfs those crossing the Irwell River. “Creating an inviting gesture for the Salford meadows was a main goal,” says Precht, we envisioned “a transition space, where the structure almost hugs you.”

Working in Brazil: The Pros & Cons

View of Rio De Janeiro. Image © SCIENTIFANTASTIC

In this article, which originally appeared on AIArchitectSara Fernández Cendón discusses the opportunities and challenges for US architects who are taking advantage of ’s infrastructure development boom, particularly in the wake of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Until Brazil was selected to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016, only three countries had hosted both events back-to-back. Successful bids for either event are usually equal parts proof that the country already has what it takes and a promise that it will do whatever else necessary to make things run smoothly.

In Brazil’s case, the “promise” part has generated a handful of projects for architectural firms around the world; Populous is responsible for conceptual design a stadium in the city of Natal, for example. And some observers believe that World Cup building delays could generate a rush of last-minute opportunities for foreign construction professionals. But even if these two headline-grabbing events haven’t been fully planned and designed by foreigners new to Brazil, the country is evolving into an emerging market for American architects, built on its intense thirst for upgraded commercial and transit infrastructure.

Eight Years Later, A Post-Katrina Report Card

A landscaped pedestrian path that was part of the construction efforts post-Katrina. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of , design charettes involving the community led to many proposals, ranging from the large-scale (establishing Gulfport as a major harbor city) to the more personal (bike paths). Eight years after the fact, many of these projects are still in progress, or have yet to begin – but the outlook remains bright. The Sun-Herald‘s Michael Newsom explores the background behind these efforts, and explains the hurdles they’ve faced along the way. Read the full piece here.

AD Classics: The Plug-In City / Peter Cook, Archigram

by via Archigram Archives

AD Classics presents you with great buildings of the past, providing inspiration and motivation for architects to design for the future. But why must inspiration only come from poured concrete and erected walls? For this edition of AD Classics, we share a work, the Plug-In City, by the avant-garde group Archigram. Though never built, their projects and ideas provoked fascinating debates, combining architecture, technology and society; when Plug-In City was proposed in 1964, it offered a fascinating new approach to urbanism, reversing traditional perceptions of ’s role in the city.  

More on this radical project after the break…