The twelfth Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London is nothing without the first eleven. The collaborators responsible for the wonderfully intricate Beijing National Stadium (aka the Bird’s Nest) in 2008—Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei—have designed a temporary pavilion inspired by the archaeology of previous structures by Peter Zumthor, Jean Nouvel, and Zaha Hadid, among others.
As architects like Herzog & de Meuron and Jean Nouvel tap into the potential of vertical gardens, they’ll often seek the expertise of Patrick Blanc. For the past thirty years Blanc developed vertical gardens while researching adaptive strategies of plants at the National Center for Sceintific Research in France. His research of plant growth in nature’s more hostile environs, such as hanging off of stone cliffs or springing from rocks next to waterfalls, has yielded a uniquely urbanistic solution for gardening. For the next ten days there’s a small window of opportunity left to see the work of Blanc at its most luxurious. The botanist designed the New York Botanical Garden‘s annual Orchid Show which ends on April 22. As a bonus, this also happens to be the moment that the Gardens’ 250 acres are at the height of their springtime burst.
Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Wei Wei are getting the band back together for a brief collaboration for the famed Serpentine Gallery 2012 Pavilion. Now in its twelfth iteration, the Serpentine has commissioned temporary structures by some of the world’s leading architects, including Toyo Ito, Peter Zumthor, and Zaha Hadid. The Swiss architects and the Chinese artist/designer have previously collaborated on the so-called Bird’s Nest Olympic staduim in Beijing. While that project emphasized both strength and fagility with a soaring tangle of intersecting structure, their proposal for the Serpentine will explore the subterranean history and ecology of the site. Read More
Bordeaux Dynamo. Herzog & de Meuron designed a new stadium, the Stade Bordeaux Atlantique for the UEFA Euro 2016 in France. According the the architects, the “diaphanous volume looks out onto the grand landscape, its transparency revealing all the energy and activities which will fill this new symbol of the city of Bordeaux’s dynamism.” Via Dezeen.
Big Bunker Castle. According to Curbed, Steven Huff, chairman of TF Concrete Forming Systems, is building a 72,000-square-foot personal concrete manse called Pensmore. Located on 500 acres in Missouri, the reinforced concrete chateau is built to resist the regions rough weather. “The whole house is in essence a storm shelter,” said the Pensmore web site.
Humble Abode. If 72,000 square feet is a little too big for your tastes, Treehugger found a slightly smaller abode proposed by TATA, the same company that launched the $2500 car in India. For 32,000 rupees, or about $720, you can have your own house, clocking in at just over 200 square feet. The company hopes the new dwellings, along with an ultra-affordable $7,800 apartment, will help ameliorate India’s growing housing problems in poor communities.
Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads
Pulitzer Fountain, Grand Army Plaza
60th Street & 5th Avenue
Through July 15
Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza has been overrun with a menagerie of sorts: the installation of Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. This is the first major public exhibition in America for the Chinese artist. This site specific installation is a modern reinterpretation of the 18th century Yuanming Yuan fountain-clock that featured 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac spouting water. With this project, Ai explores the “fake” in relation to the original sculptures (which were ultimately pillaged by French and British troops in 1860; five of the original heads are still missing). In this version, 12 oversized bronze animal heads ring the Pulitzer Fountain, each weighing approximately 800 pounds. While this project explores some rather esoteric themes, it is accessible and “a work that everyone can understand, including children and people who are not in the art world,” said Ai, who collaborated with Herzog & de Meuron on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics.
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Carchitecture. What happens when you hire Herzog & de Meuron to design your parking garage? People suddenly begin to push out the cars. That seems to be the case in Miami Beach according to a NY Times article on the upscale soirees and and tourists that have become common place in the uncommon structure.
According to both the New York Times and the LA Times, Eli Broad appears to have settled once and for all on a Downtown LA site for his new museum, and has gone so far as to hold a new competition for its architect. Further background has it that Thom Mayne, who had been favored to design Broad’s museum, is now out, and the new finalists are Rem Koolhaas, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Herzog & De Meuron, Christian de Portzamparc, Foreign Office Architects, and recent Pritzker Prize winners SANAA. According to the New York Times, the jury appeared to favor Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Koolhaas. A choice, according to their story, could be made within the week. Read More
The outspoken Chinese architect and artist Ai Weiwei has been selected by the Tate Modern as the 11th person to create a work for its massive Turbine Hall in London. A known figure in China and the west, Ai lived in New York for many years and attended the Parsons School of Design before going on to collaborate on projects such as the Beijing National Stadium (with Herzog & de Meuron) at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and was included in the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, where he collaborated (also with H&deM) on a sprawling installation of bamboo poles and chairs set akimbo. Read More