Whimsical Green Promenade Aims to Revive London’s Disconnected Vauxhall Neighborhood

(COURTESY OF ERECT ARCHITECTURE)

(COURTESY OF ERECT ARCHITECTURE)

From the mid-17th to the mid-19th century, crowds of Londoners sought entertainment at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, located on the south bank of the River Thames. The acres of greenery that made up the garden were once the site of numerous whimsical attractions, including tight-rope walkers, concerts, fireworks, and narrow winding walkways perfect for amorous adventures. Today the neighborhood of Vauxhall, located in the heart of Nine Elms, is mostly known for the railway arches that slice across the neighborhood, disconnecting it from the riverside and labeling it as the “missing link” between the New US Embassy Quarter and London’s South Bank.

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Proposed Garden Bridge Over the Thames Invites Commuters to Slow Down

thomas-heatherwick-garden-bridge-over-thames-designboom-01

Rendering of Hearthwick Studio’s design of the new Garden Bridge. (Courtesy Heatherwick Studio)

Heatherwick Studio has envisioned a refreshing way for Londoners to safely commute from the North to the South side of the city that doesn’t involve the hassle of waiting for a bus, squeezing onto the overcrowded “Tube,” or sitting in mind-numbing traffic. The firm, which has been working closely with actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley to develop the design, proposed a pedestrian garden bridge that will extend across the River Thames, providing Londoners with a safe, green river crossing.

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London’s Olympic Village To Become Urban Housing Project

International
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
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East Village London (Courtesy East Village)

East Village London (Courtesy East Village)

The London 2012 Games may have ended over 10 months ago, but even without the 17,000 athletes that lived on the premises, the Olympic Village is still brimming with commotion. Construction has begun onsite to refurbish the still-nearly-new structures into a residential housing system, Get Living London, in a new neighborhood called East Village. The site’s new owners, the sovereign wealth fund Qatari Diar and British property developer Delancey paid $870 million for the Village and development land close by, according to The National.

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Terry Farrell & Partners Comissioned for Master Plan of London’s Royal Albert Docks

International
Friday, May 31, 2013
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(Terry Farrell & Partners)

(Terry Farrell & Partners)

In the early 1900’s the Royal Albert Docks, located to the east of the city of London, served as London’s most prominent source of international trade and commerce. Now the 130-year-old docks, which over the years have been closed to commercial traffic and only used for watersports, will be transformed into London’s third booming financial district. Terry Farrell & Partners have been commissioned to carry out the complex master plan of the 35-acre site.

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Landscape Architect Proposes a Cycling Superhighway Over a London Canal

Courtesy of Design International

(Courtesy Design International)

500-cyclists and pedestrians an hour simultaneously traveling along the same route bordering the Regent’s Canal in north London certainly makes for one congested—and with cyclists and pedestrians jockeying for limited space, a treacherous—commute. According to BD Online, landscape architect Anthony Nelson, director at Design International, has proposed a dramatic solution that could resolve the long-standing battle between fast-moving cyclists and slower pedestrians.

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Has London’s Pickle Plan Gone Sour?

International
Monday, April 1, 2013
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Rendering of the Swiss Re tower as a Gherkin. (Courtesy JackpotJoy)

Rendering of the Swiss Re tower as a Gherkin. (Courtesy JackpotJoy)

The London headquarters of insurance giant Swiss Re at 30 St Mary Axe, known locally as “the Gherkin,” was scheduled to take its true form, today—a giant green pickle—thanks to Jackpot Joy, a British online gambling site, which promised last month to light up Sir Norman Foster’s iconic skyscraper with a digital projection. The foodie facelift called for wrapping the 41-story tower in a special non-reflective film requiring a crew of ten and around 900 man-hours. With no news that the tower is actually glowing, the stunt appears to have been too large a gamble. The jokesters, however, last year successfully sent a 60-foot rubber duck down the Thames. It appears this is strike two for recladding the tower after a campaign to transform it into a penguin went nowhere as well.

Pulsate: Architects Design a Dizzying Tile Showroom in London

International, Newsletter
Monday, March 25, 2013
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(Courtesy Capitol Designer Studio)

(Courtesy Capitol Designer Studio)

The Capitol Designer Studio in London’s Primrose Hill was recently outfitted with an electrified-looking array of porcelain tiles by architects Lily Jencks and Nathanael Dorent. The installation, called Pulsate, draws from images of Op Art and Gestalt psychology creating an almost dizzying effect, zigzagging from dark gray tiles to light gray tiles and back again. The result is a space where perspective is distorted and where benches are lost along walls.

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Vlad Tenu Gets Down to the Bare Minimum

Fabrikator
Friday, March 1, 2013
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MC/2* is the latest of Vlad Tenu’s research projects to create minimal surface geometries from modular components. (Courtesy Vlad Tenu)

MC/2* is composed of .04-thick laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets. Each component is flexible, but when assembled the surface becomes rigid.

The triangular MC/2* is the latest iteration of London-based Romanian architect Vlad Tenu’s Minimal Complexities Series. With this prototype, he continues to explore the idea of creating minimal surface geometries from modular components—a thread that has been present throughout much of his work. This time, he has pushed the boundaries even further by whittling down the components.

The undulating structure, made of translucent laser-cut polypropylene and aluminum rivets, was first unveiled hanging from the ceiling of the Open House event for Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012. It was then exhibited months later, at the International Architecture and Design Showcase at the London Architecture Festival 2012. This prototype follows a natural progression in this ongoing series, which gained recognition when Tenu was named the winner of the second annual Tex-Fab Repeat Digital Fabrication Competition for his Minimal Complexity structure in 2011.

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A Panoramic View of London From the Top of The Shard

International
Friday, February 1, 2013
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London viewed from the top of the Shard. (Courtesy The Guardian)

London viewed from the top of the Shard. (Courtesy The Guardian)

It’s been a good year for breathtaking views of cities around the world so far. Today the observation deck at the top of Renzo Piano’s Shard Tower in London opened to the public after London Mayor Boris Johnson cut the ribbon on the 800-foot-high platform. To celebrate, The Guardian has launched an interactive panorama of London taken from the top of the Shard, some 1,150 feet above the city streets, complete with the wooshing sound you very well might hear if you were actually perched atop the tower. The panorama also features stories and statistics about buildings and places throughout the city as you pan and zoom for the rest of the evening.

Design Museum London Calls For Thrifty Fabrication With “Unlimited Edition”

Fabrikator
Friday, November 9, 2012
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“Unlimited Edition,” by Lawrence Lek

Making a strong, modular and architecturally significant pavilion on pocket change

For the Designers in Residence exhibition, Design Museum London asked four teams to respond to a brief entitled “Thrift.”  The four resulting projects address the notion that “the limitations of economy require more resourceful, inspired and intelligent use of materials and process” and that the constraints of thrift ultimately lead to “a more creative and fully resolved outcome” than a project with limitless resources.

One of the four chosen proposals came from Lawrence Lek, an architect and sculptor who worked with Ken Yeang in Malaysia and Foster + Partners in London before founding his eponymous studio in 2011. For his project, “Unlimited Edition,” he reflected on how he has approached fabricating prototypes since completing his studies at the Architectural Association (AA) in 2008. “I remember a lot of students’ work, and mine especially, could be very extravagant with materials because being in school you have the luxury of many resources… One thing I found difficult just after leaving the academic world was actually fabricating prototypes.”

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BLOOM, The Olympic Design-Build Game

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Friday, August 24, 2012
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BLOOM

A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in London

If you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL’s Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics.

Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city’s history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. Read More

KieranTimberlake Refines London’s US Embassy Designs

East
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
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Clear views of the U.S. Embassy from Nine Elms Lane belie subtle security barriers (Courtesy KieranTimberlake)

Clear views of the U.S. Embassy from Nine Elms Lane belie subtle security barriers (Courtesy KieranTimberlake)

The State Department’s Overseas Building Operations (OBO) released new renderings by KieranTimberlake of the United States Embassy to be located near London’s Vauxhall neighborhood.  The project has acted as something of a petri dish for the development of OBO’s Design Excellence program, which was modeled on a similar program at the much-beleaguered GSA. The London project has been watch closely by federally commissioned architects who must comply with design requirements that combine energy efficiency, sustainably, intense security, and high design. “They continue to use this project as a test case for sorting that stuff out and to continue to achieve really high levels of refinement and design excellence,” concurred James Timberlake.

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