Defying the standards of conventional landscaping, living walls take vegetated ground cover to the vertical extreme. For the past 30 years, French botanist and green enthusiast Patrick Blanc has made a quantum leap forward in the art of gardening by designing and building these living walls all over the globe. Blanc’s latest project—One Central Park Tower—is in Sydney, Australia, where nature’s tranquil features join forces with dynamic city life. The project is a collaborative effort between Blanc and Jean Nouvel. When completed, the major mixed-use urban renewal housing plan will boast the world’s tallest vertical garden.
French Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel‘s design for Louvre Abu Dhabi has begun construction after a series of delays. The building’s most prominent feature is a 180-meter-diameter dome. The design of the dome is culturally relevant as well as utilitarian. The shape is prominent in traditional Arabian architecture. As the Louvre Abu Dhabi website describes, it is “an emblematic feature…evoking the mosque, the mausoleum, and the madrasa.” The dome’s expanse also protects the building and its visitors from the sun. Carefully formulated geometric apertures in the all-white structure allow diffused and dappled daylight inside the museum, while mitigating heat gain. Nouvel designed the dappled pattern to emulate interlaced palm fronds, which are traditionally used in Arabic countries for thatch roofs.
Frank Gehry has unveiled renderings of its shortlisted entry for the competition to design the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), the predestined showstopper of Beijing’s new cultural district. Gehry was shortlisted alongside fellow Pritzker Prize winners Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid for the high-profile project. Gehry’s submission incorporates transparent cladding, an interior comprised of lofty, geometric courtyards evocative of pagodas and temples, and a layout that would accommodate nearly 12 million annual visitors.
Even after it was lopped off in 2009, Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre, aka the MoMA Tower, still remains one of New York City’s tallest planned residential towers, sited adjacent to MoMA’s headquarters on West 53rd Street. After fights with the neighbors, Nouvel’s tower has been keeping a low profile, but Curbed (via NY YIMBY) has spotted a few new renderings of the tower at Adamson Associates Architects, the architects of record for the project. While the exterior changes are minor, fans of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s now empty American Folk Art Museum can breathe a sigh of relief, for now, as the small, bronze-clad structure remains standing in the rendered views. Also of interest are a couple new renderings of the building’s interior spaces.
The hanging gardens inside the atrium of Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue sound idyllic: “From planting boxes built into the structure, trees soar upward and plants cascade down the walls, lending their scent to the atmosphere,” states the building’s website. But the smell may not be so sweet. A source familiar with the project told AN that the huge suspended planters lack proper drainage, leading to standing water and the early onset of rust. Maybe Nouvel can argue that he’s taking a cue from the Cor-ten laden High Line next door?
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.
It is unclear whether the newest Jean Nouvel project in Charleroi, Belgium is the first of the hybrid Police Headquarters/Dance Studio typology, but we would guess that it is. The collaboration between Paris-based Atelier Jean Nouvel and the Belgian firm MDW Architecture was selected in a competition and resulted in a scheme for a 246-foot tower and renovation of 19th century brick barracks.
City of Scientists. Russian Prime Minister Putin has recently reviewed plans for a potential $6.4 billion project that could build a 5,000-person—scientists and researchers, specifically—domed village in the Arctic called Umka, about 1,000 miles from the North Pole. Plans call for an isolated artificial climate inspired by “an imaginary Moon city or a completely isolated space station.” More on the Daily Mail and Foreign Policy Blogs.
Abu Dhabi Adjourned. The new 450,000-square-foot Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum planned in Abu Dhabi has been put on hold pending contract review. A similar fate awaits Jean Nouvel’s Louvre satellite previously scheduled to open near Gehry’s site next year. More at Mediabistro.
Sergey’s Secret. Due to his prolific work ethic, the insider joke at Google is that co-founder Sergey Brin is really Batman. More believable, the latest Google rumor is that one of Brin’s secret pet-projects may very well be architectural, with blueprints and all. Business Insider has details.
No bin, no trash. The NY Times reports on the MTA’s seemingly counter-intuitive enviro-social experiment to remove trash cans from subway platforms. The idea: no garbage bin might be the way to achieve no litter. A trial run in Queens and Greenwich Village left some people very unhappy.
Over the weekend, we headed out to Brooklyn Bridge Park to check out the light show of Jane’s Carousel. We had been told that silhouettes of horses were to be projected onto a ceiling scrim until 1AM. We even held ambitions of traipsing across the Brooklyn Bridge to get a better view. But after watching a spectacular sunset reflect off of Jean Nouvel’s acrylic cube, the show was over. We were told that the lights for the magic lantern were much too hot for the recently restored horses. No matter, it’s hard to surpass the carousel’s bulbs reflected in the acrylic, with a glittering Manhattan serving as backdrop.
It’s been a couple of week’s since Jane’s Carousel opened to the public on the Brooklyn Waterfront, allowing us time to reflect on the rainy opening day and see just how the new attraction is being received. It’s seems Jean Nouvel’s pavilion is a study in contrasts, particularly on cold gloom of the opening ceremony when we first stopped by. We made a short impressionistic collage of our observations including the carnivalesque merriment going on inside the pavilion set against the sober geometry outside. (You might also spot Nouvel himself taking a ride or an overly-excited Marty Markowitz astride one of the wooden horses.)
Granted the acrylic-paneled doors of Nouvel’s pavilion can be thrown open to the surrounding park, but the celebratory atmosphere seems contained, anchored even. Viewed from across the park, the riverside building takes on the feel of a ferry terminal. Inside, however, the playful carousel offers distorted views through the giant door panels that give downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge a fun-house-mirror effect.
Have you been to the carousel yet? What are your thoughts of Nouvel’s contrasting design?