“The works of our artists, architects, and preservationists provide us with another language of diplomacy. A transcendent language that allows us to convey values that are at once uniquely American yet speak to all of humanity. Increasingly in this world, art and architecture help us maintain our sense of openness and liberation.” — Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, April 12, 2010
An embassy is much more than a building or a work of architecture; it functions as a symbolic representation of countries’ relationships to one another. It represents the universal language of diplomacy – “communicating values and ideals, extending well beyond any moment in time”. An embassy has the difficult task of representing two diametrically opposed concepts: security and openness. The former typically overpowers the latter in importance, which is most probably why when we think of foreign embassies, it conjures up images of stately monolithic buildings surrounded by tall fences and menacing guards or “bunkers, bland cubes, lifeless compounds”, according to Tanya Ballard Brown of NPR’s All Things Considered.
More on the design excellence of embassies after the break…
The Architecture Foundation has recently launched a month-long initiative named The Open Office. The scheme, which is described as “part ‘Citizens Urban Advice Bureau’, and part functioning practice” is the brainchild of London-based practice We Made That and will take place in the offices of The Architecture Foundation in Southwark, London until 22nd March. Operating on a walk-in basis, and displaying all work openly, The Open Office aims to engage and educate local communities on issues of architecture, urbanism and planning.
Read more about The Open Office scheme after the break.
As pressure mounts to solve the UK’s aviation crisis, the Mayor of London has appointed Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) alongside a world-class team of aviation experts to develop plans for a new major airport in southeast England. The team is expected to resolve the debate on how and where the capital’s next multi-runway airport hub should be constructed, a decision that will play a critical role in the future of the British economy.
Zaha Hadid said: “This work is essential to deliver the most integrated transport solutions for London and the UK. It will enable London to maintain its position as one of the world’s most important economic, commercial and cultural centers; outlining the city’s future growth and development which has always been founded on global connectivity.”
See who made the list after the break…
mæ architects recently announced that they were selected to design a ‘split-site’ elderly housing and healthcare hub project in Lisson Grove, Central London. Intended for City West Homes, on behalf of Westminster City Council, the housing scheme, which will be designed to HAPPI recommendations (Housing for an Aging Population Panel for Innovation), will bring contemporary, socially-orientated architecture to a deprived community which is desperately in need of re-invigoration. Construction is due to start at the end of 2013 and will be completed in two phases. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Today, six months after the laser light extravaganza that marked the completion of The Shard in London, the controversial glass tower celebrated its official opening to the public. Architecture enthusiasts and residents were welcomed to join the mayor of London 244 meters above the capital on the 72 floor observation deck for the official ribbon cutting.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the 310 meter needle-point structure is currently the tallest in Western Europe. The two million square meter mixed-use development offers ample office space, restaurants, a five-star shangri-la hotel and residences.
Karakusevic Carson and David Chipperfield have been announced as the “preferred bidder” for a pair of residential towers the East London district of Shoreditch. As reported on BDOnline, the £25 million project at Colville Estate will rise up to 14 and 20 stories high to replace the existing 1950‘s low-rise buildings. This will be the second and last phase of the largest council-backed housing development in London and the first UK mass housing project for Chipperfield.
Grimshaw Architects are the latest practice to add their voice to the debate surrounding the capacity problem of London’s airports. Their innovative proposal, entitled ‘London: Hub City’, bucks the trend of recent ‘superhub’ proposals, which are frequently suggested as a solution to the problem.
Instead of creating a large ‘airport hub’ on a single site separated from the city, Grimshaw’s design prioritizes construction of new express lines by creating a ‘City Hub’ that allows passengers to transfer between London’s existing airports via the city center. The benefit being that expansion could be spread amongst its four existing airports incrementally, as needed, instead of being concentrated on the construction of one ‘super-hub’.
More on Grimshaw’s aviation proposal for London after the break.
Two leading London creatives meet for a chat and a chop in an East End hair salon.
Designed by Orproject, their Or2 project, which is a single surface roof structure that reacts to sunlight, won the 2012 Good Design Award. This award, which is known as the world’s most prestigious, recognized, and oldest Design Awards program, is organized annually by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. Special software components have been developed in order to create the shapes and to generate the cutting schedules so that the beauty of Or2 is its constant interaction with the elements, where its appearance is unique at each moment of the day. More images and architects’ description after the break.
An impressive team has been pieced together by Canary Wharf Group to design portions of the first phase for the Wood Wharf development in London’s major business district of Tower Hamlets. Already home to some of the UK’s tallest buildings, Canary Wharf has announced its plan to add a Herzog & de Meuron-designed residential high-rise to its glowing skyline on a redeveloped eight-hectare site.
Ascan Mergenthaler, senior partner at Herzog & de Meuron stated, “The new high-rise building will mediate between the city and the individual, the public and private, and will inject a new component of daily residential life into the evolving mixed-use Canary Wharf district. It will be both a symbol and the heart of the new Wood Wharf urban quarter, an extension of a dynamic global community and the start of a new vibrant neighborhood.”
See who else has been commissioned to partake in the first phase of the Canary Wharf development after the break.
Following the conclusion of David Chipperfield’s 2012 Venice Biennale, the British Pavilion has brought its investigations back to the UK to expand upon ten exceptional research projects that illustrate how architecture has shaped the culture and economy of countries around the world.
Should Amsterdam-style floating homes be built in London’s Docklands? Could the UK learn from Brazil’s successful identikit school-building program? Could Belfast be redeveloped by following a Berlin model? These are just some of the fascinating questions that will be addressed in a series of lectures, debates and events hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in collaboration with the British Council and the Architectural Association.
Mark your calendars for the following special events, which will run from February 26 through April 27, 2013.