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
The London Czech House brims over with gold, silver, bronze – and now crystal
So far the Czech Republic’s Olympic athletes have won a smattering of medals at the Summer games, but this year all the country’s athletes, medal winners or not, will be rewarded for their efforts with a crystal trophy courtesy of Lasvit, the official crystal partner of the Czech Olympic team and the country’s leading manufacturer of custom light and glass installations. The crystal trophies will also be doled out to VIPs visiting the Czech House, which is playing host to a series of events meant to promote Czech culture during the games. Inside, Lasvit is presenting the finer side of Czech culture with their Hydrogene Crystal Bar, an illuminated bar in the VIP section, as well as Infinity, a sculptural glass lighting installation suspended in the public mezzanine.
Like most of Lasvit’s high-end custom jobs, Infinity was designed by Jitka Kamencova Skuhrava, whose long list of projects for the company include several hotels and event spaces in Abu Dhabi, dozens more in China as well as two teal-colored cascades for Tiffany & Co. Her preference for natural forms shows up again and again, in the swirling glass shapes that weave through the air like frenzied schools of fish or the leaf-like forms that twist into a loose interpretation of the figure eight symbol. Read More
Coca-Cola has big plans for an Olympic Park pavilion for London’s 2012 sporting extravaganza. London-based architects Pernilla & Asif have created the “Coca-Cola Beatbox,” a spiraling structure clad in red and white panels that appear to be suspended in frozen animation. It’s not only an intriguing structure but an interactive musical instrument. The experimental architecture works with cutting edge sound technology, encouraging people to interact and “play the pavilion.”
Inspired by sounds of the Olympic games—the plunge of an archer’s arrow into a target, athlete’s quickened heartbeats, squeaking sneakers—the Beatbox will be imbedded with sound-bites created by Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Ronson that allow visitors to remix their own mashed-up productions.
Farming Right Side Up. Spiegel Online reported on vertical farming research in South Korea as an innovative means of remedying food shortages on an increasingly urban planet. For the time being, agricultural scientist Choi Kyu Hong conducts his own version of Dickson Despommier’s Manhattan urban gardening project in an unexceptional 3-story industrial building, but Hong and his team have outfitted the farm with solar panels, LED lighting, and recycled water infrastructure hoping to attract enough attention to bring vertical farming to the global market and city skyscrapers.
Hadid Stands Still. After touring New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid claims its permanent home in the front plaza of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, France. A Daily Dose of Architecture noted that the pavilion now features the Zaha Hadid Une Architecture exhibition, creating a thematically coherent viewing experience inside and out.
Stirling Search. Bustler posted the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) shortlist for this year’s £20,000 ($32.5K) RIBA Stirling Prize. The list includes previous prize winners Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield, as well as O’Donnell + Tuomey, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Bennetts Associates Architects and Hopkins Architects Partnership for the 2012 London Olympic Park.
Bored to Death. After tunneling through the subterranean rock of Midtown Manhattan for the new Grand Central Terminal train station, the 200-ton serpentine drill will be left to decompose 14 stories underneath Park Avenue. The New York Times revealed that the Spanish contractor in charge of the 4-year excavation ensured the MTA that this internment is both practically and economically preferable to dismantling the drill.
Going to the Chapel. Curbed posted the two winners of a pop-up chapel competition celebrating gay marriage in New York. ICRAVE’s entry calls for a pavilion of colorful ribbons while Z-A Studios design forms recycled cardboard into a curving tulip. Both designs will built in Central Park this weekend where they will host 24 weddings.
If you haven’t heard by now, Pyeongchang, the mountainous South Korean town located in Gangwon Province, 112 miles outside of Seoul, has won the bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Helping secure the win was the $1.4 billion dollar, 1,240-acre Alpensia Resort, which was completed in 2009. It will become home to the Olympic Village, several competitions and the opening and closing ceremonies. Nicknamed “Alps in Asia”, the alpine-style village was designed as an all-season, year-round destination with the help of Cuningham Group Architecture, whose LA office oversaw the design and master planning.
Safer at night. Two design students at Carnegie Mellon University created a functional and graceful lighting system for bikers that enhances side visibility at night. The LED lights that line the wheel rims, are powered by pedaling and change colors depending on speed. Bloggers at Greater Greater Washington have posted a video of the lights in action.
Convenient Cities. What makes a city “convenient”? According to a study published by The Street, factors include walkability, public transportation, and amenity proximity. Their city ranking, using data from Walk Score, Zillow and APTA, put Boston, New York, Denver, Portland, and Chicago at the top.
Olympic Pollution. A documentary by filmmaker Faisal Abdu’Allah, Double Pendulum, examines the harmful effects of pollution on East London residents and athletes, The Guardian says. Abdu’Allah cautions that poor air quality in East London may threaten athletes’ performances in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Designer Chocolates. PSFK reports that researchers in a joint program between the University of Exeter, the University of Brunel, and Delam, a software developer, have created a printer that turns 3D CAD designs into ready-made chocolates. An upcoming retail site will allow the public to upload original designs.
Shifting Skyline. London’s famed skyline may be getting an addition, and it’s not a new building. The Architect’s Journal tells us that Mayor Boris Johnson recently approved a plan by architects Wilkinson Eyre and Expedition Engineering for a proposed cable car system designed to link two key 2012 Olympic venues, the O2 Stadium and the Excel Exhibition Hall.
NYC’s Youngest Landmark. The New York Times City Room blog reports that NYC has four new landmarks: the Engineer’s Club, the Neighborhood Playhouse, Greyston Gatehouse and the Japan Society, which having been completed in 1971, makes it the youngest of the city’s historic landmarked structures.
Red Hook North. Meanwhile NYT Magazine reports that Red Hook developer Greg O’Connell hopes to do for tiny Mt. Morris, NY what he did for a slice of once-decrepit Brooklyn waterfront. Will the former NYPD detective’s progressive form of gentrification and downtown revitalization work in an ailing upstate town?
Onion domes in Paris. Inhabitat shares the news that the Russians are coming to Paris, in the form of a new domed church and cultural center. Situated near the Eiffel Tower, this new structure is the result of bi-national collaboration from the architects at Arch-Group and Sade Sa.
We’ve been following Chicago’s Olympic bid rather closely of late, and not only because we’re on the way to inaugurating a Midwest edition of the paper. First, there was SOM’s intriguing proposal to create “sustainable,” “low-impact” Olympics that would have few legacy costs by using temporary facilities, an approach the IOC apparently favored. Then there was the impact of that plan, which still called for the demolition of some buildings—as well as hundreds of trees in Washington Park—most notably at the Walter Gropius-designed Michael Reese hospital campus. Outcry from preservationists led the city to delay demolition, which made time for the preservationists to develop alternative plans. Olympic opponents may be catching another break now, as, ironically enough, the very things the IOC purportedly liked about Chicago’s bid-lite may also be its undoing. Read More
The demolition of the Michael Reese hospital campus in Chicago, partially designed by Walter Gropius, has been put on hold until after October 2, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce the host city for the 2016 Games. Preservation groups are pushing for adaptive reuse of some of the buildings, but the city is determined to clear the site for either an Olympic Village or for private development. The delay, then, probably does not signal a victory for preservationists. It is more likely a calculated move on the part of the city and Chicago 2016 to quiet opposition until after the IOC makes its decision.