New photographs released by ceramics manufacturer AGROB-BUCHTAL show nature beginning to claim the Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore. WOHA Architects’ 30-story scheme was designed to be a “verdant tower of green” in the heart of the city’s financial district.
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Bridging the gap between the old and the new is never easy. Traditional building methods, where you often adjust to the unpredictability of a natural material, seem to contrast with the mechanical precision of modern construction. Sombra Verde - a bamboo gazebo developed by AIRLAB and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) as part of Singapore’s Urban Design Festival 2018 - bridges this gap. The traditional raw bamboo poles, used extensively throughout Southeast Asia, are combined with 3D printed connectors, utilizing a series of new technologies. The result is an iconic, lightweight structure in Singapore’s Duxton Plain Park that promotes the use of public space, sheltering the population from both the intense sun and heavy rain.
The downtown skyline of a city is perhaps its most symbolic feature. The iconic cityscapes that we know and love are typically formed by skyscrapers, but much of the surrounding context is made up of other high-rise buildings. Yes, there is a difference between a skyscraper and a high-rise. Research company Emporis defines a high-rise as a building at least 35 meters (115 feet) or 12 stories tall. These high-rise buildings play a major role in the more sprawled urban context of larger cities today.
Mercer released their annual list of the Most Livable Cities in the World last month. The list ranks 231 cities based on factors such as crime rates, sanitation, education and health standards, with Vienna at #1 and Baghdad at #231. There’s always some furor over the results, as there ought to be when a city we love does not make the top 20, or when we see a city rank highly but remember that one time we visited and couldn’t wait to leave.
Sand is the most-consumed natural resource in the world after water and air. Modern cities are built out of it. In the construction industry alone, it is estimated that 25 billion tons of sand and gravel are used every year. That may sound a lot, but it’s not a surprising figure when you consider how everything you’re surrounded with is probably made of the stuff.
Heatherwick Studio is believed to have won an international competition for the design of the new Terminal 5 at Changi Airport, Singapore. Although no formal announcement has been made, The Architects' Journal and BD Online are reporting that a collaboration between Heatherwick and KPF has prevailed against a shortlist containing Grimshaw and SOM. If confirmed, the successful team will be tasked with the design of one of the world’s largest airport terminals.
After finishing a building, the client is faced with an important question: How do they celebrate the new architecture? This moment offers an essential opportunity to inform the public about the existence and mission of the building. Therefore, the designs of opening ceremonies are often loaded with symbolic imagery to construct a new identity. Fireworks and light shows are an especially common part of the powerful repertoire used to magnify the aura of architecture. This luminous storytelling can underline the client’s uniqueness and superiority on both a local level and an international stage. I spoke with two leading designers to get their insights on how opening ceremonies have changed in recent years: Christophe Berthonneau, Creative Director at Groupe F, who introduced the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Fred Thompson, Creative Director at Laservision Mega Media, who worked on the opening of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
To speak of Paul Rudolph’s illustrious career is to trace a grand arc stretching from the 1940s to the 1990s. More often than not, the popular narrative begins with his student days at Harvard under the tutelage of Walter Gropius, touches upon his earliest, much-loved Florida beach houses, circles around his eventual break from the rigidity of both the Sarasota School and the International Style, and finally races towards the apex: his chairmanship of the Yale School of Architecture, and the concurrent shift to a Brutalist architectural style characterized by monumental forms, rugged concrete, and interwoven, multilevelled spaces awash with a remarkable interplay of light. Then comes the fall from grace: the beloved Yale Art and Architecture Building went up in flames just as the architecture profession began to question modernist ideals, and eventually Postmodernism was ushered in. Flickering, sputtering, Rudolph's grand narrative arc lurched towards Southeast Asia, bearing away the “martyred saint.” Save for several scattered commissions in the United States, Rudolph spent the last two decades of his life building abroad, mostly across Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore, until his death in 1997.
Dande-lier – a pavilion designed for the Marina Bay waterfront promenade in Singapore uses PVC pipes and translucent umbrellas to form a reciprocal dome – reimagining everyday items as architectural components. The result is an ethereal shelter, referential of the commonly seen umbrella in Singapore and resembling a dandelion from afar. At night the project becomes a chandelier, lit up in an array of colors.
Humans are adaptable animals; we have evolved to adjust to, and survive in, many difficult and extreme conditions. In some cases, these extremes are natural, while in other modern cities extreme living situations are created by us, and we are forced to accept and adjust. Here is a list of extreme settlement conditions: some challenging, some wonderful and all of them offering a fascinating insight into how we occupy the planet in 2017.
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