As children love to imagine, what if we actually built our cities out of Legos? A bridge in Wuppertal, Germany, a city of 350,000 to the northeast of Cologne, offers one vision of what that city might look like. Street artist Martin Heuwold, or as he tags, MEGX, created the grand illusion last fall when he painted a dingy concrete span in the bright hues of every architect’s favorite toys.
The city appears to be banking on the High Line Effect. Faced with the prospect of a declining population, Wuppertal has been looking for ideas to reinvigorate the city and increase residents’ quality of life. The Lego Bridge is part of a 10-mile pedestrian and cycle path called Wuppertal Bewegung e.V. being built through the city on what was once the Wuppertal Northern Railway. Plans are also on the boards for a heritage trolley to run atop the viaduct. [H/T Colossal.]
Bjarke Ingels, architect of mountains, now has set his eyes on Everest. The New York and Copenhagen-based architect’s firm BIG has been tapped by the Rockefellers to design one of the world’s tallest buildings at 1,929 feet for a new commercial development in Tianjin, China, a city of nearly 13 million people. Ingels revealed a cryptic, fog-shrouded rendering of the tower on his web site—indicative of the scarcity of detail yet released on the tower—but this being the information age, AN found more information and views of the tower on a clear day.
You’d better hurry if you want to snag some artwork from your favorite starchitects like Bjarke Ingels, Richard Meier, or Daniel Libeskind, there’s only a few hours left to bid on items in Architecture for Humanity’s fundraising acution, “I Love Architecture,” which ends tonight at 7:00 p.m. The organization, which coordinates sustainable development projects, is dedicated to design that “creates lasting change in communities.” Architecture for Humanity acknowledges that many are not able to afford the expertise of an architect yet the help of an architect could contribute greatly to their community. The organization aims to raise $150,000 auctioning sketches donated by notable architects. Among the 60 contributors who have provided original sketches to be auctioned are Renzo Piano, BIG, Michael Graves, SHoP, Paolo Soleri, and Fumihiko Maki. To learn more about the contest visit the organization’s website or view the sketches.
In the cafe of the wonderfully elegant Palazzo Cà Giustinian on Venice‘s Grand Canal I had a chance to catch up with former AN associate editor Jaffer Kolb. Kolb has gone on to bigger and better projects and is currently the man on the ground in Venice for David Chipperfield as they prepare for the 13th Biennale of Architecture.
As East Asian cities continue to modernize and densify, monotonous and dehumanizing blocks tend to replace the finely-grained, small-scale architecture and urbanism such as Beijing’s Hutong, Tokyo’s small wooden houses, and Singapore’s traditional villages. These “urban ecologies that have evolved over the course of centuries,” as Dutch firm MVRDV explains, foster a social interconnectivity in these communities, forming the basis for a new exhibition currently on view in Seoul, South Korea.
New Yorkers like to believe that they’ve perfected stoop sitting culture, but half a world away in Auckland, New Zealand, experimental design collaborative Oh.No.Sumo has taken stoop sitting a step higher. As part of St. Paul Street Gallery‘s 2012 exhibition program of curatorial practice, Oh.No.Sumo created a small-scale tactical intervention forming an unexpected theater on a small stoop where the steps are the seats. Responding to the intersection’s lack of social life and the public’s retreat into smart-phone isolation, the Stairway Cinema creates a communal node and conversation piece.
The film My Architect, the story of Louis Kahn’s son on a mission to discover and understand his father, won over the hearts and praise of even the lay-est of architectural laypersons. The effects of which—a fresh spotlight on the work and life of a brilliant designer—did not fall on blind eyes. Tomas Koolhaas is making a film about his father, Rem Koolhaas—see the Facebook page!—called REM set to debut in 2013. It also appears from rough clips that the CCTV building in China will play a central role in the story. Awesome! We can’t wait to see this quaint little film about a humble and modest architect and his role in designing the media headquarters for political oppression and censorship in China. We’ll get the popcorn!
The U.S. Department of State has announced that Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Davis Body Bond will team up to design a new Embassy Compound in Mexico City. The husband and wife team has been riding an enormous wave of praise for their recently opened Barnes Foundation Museum in Philadelphia, but just when you thought the last of the praise was proffered, in comes Martin Filler’s rave in this week’s New York Review of Books (“wholly unexpected,” “ravishing,” “dazzling”).
That should give critics a breather till the duo’s University of Chicago Logan Center opens this fall. In the mean time, the next twenty months will be focused on working with Davis Body Bond designing the new embassy, with a construction contract to be awarded in 2015. The selection is the first under the State Department’s new Design Excellence program.
Bjarke Ingels has again thrown us for a loop, this time in Bordeaux, France. Ingels’ firm BIG has revealed its latest competition-winner called the Maison de l’Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, or, for the rest of us, MÉCA. As AN noted in April, BIG won the commission working with Paris-based FREAKS freearchitects, beating out the likes of SANAA and Toulouse-based W-Architectures, but the renderings have been kept under wraps until now. Ingels’ explained the design using his signature diagram-based narrative as an array of three visual and performing arts agencies arranged around a 120-foot-tall arch-shaped building.