architecture / bookmark

Bookmark #8

1. Charles Correa

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Figure 1: The architect of Modern India

Dubbed the most influential architect and urban designer of India, Charles Correa has recently passed away, his legacy represents “the physical manifestation of the idea of Indian nationhood, modernity and progress”, admired David Adjaye. He has received many of the world’s most important architecture awards including the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (1984), Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1988) and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale (1994). Born in 1930 in Secunderabad, India, he studied architecture in Mumbai before attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology. To Charles, architecture is a three-legged stool: climate, technology and culture. This mantra is clearly visible from his earliest work, the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, featuring open pavilions and clever uses of materials such as concrete channels for structure and rainfall conduits, tiled roofs, brick walls, wooden louvres. He was 28 at the time. His design sensitivity is carried through to his later works, most notably Kanchanjunga Apartments where he applied traditional bungalow design principles to luxury high-rise building, whose apartments interlocking to form double height terrace gardens with protected verandah around the main living areas. Another ahead-of-its-time project is the Tube house in Amedabad, a prototype for climate adapted mass housing. Its rectangular footprints and blank side walls allows the model to be replicated and customised by its occupants, coupling with internal double height apex over a mezzanine level, sheltered internal courtyard, deep louvres and screens; all of which helps the project win first prize in an all-India competition for low-cost housing adapting to economical construction and regional climate of extreme heat and monsoon rains. Although only one was ever built, the design principes were implemented in his later project, The Incremental Housing in Belapur.

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Figure 2 (left): Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (1958-63); Figure 3 (right): section of Kanchanjunga Apartments (1983)

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Figure 4 (left): Incremental Housing, Belapur (1970s); Figure 5 (right): the planning of New Bombay (1964)

On an urban scale, Charles is the main figure behind a post-modern India urban scene. In 1964, along with his colleagues, Pravina Mehta and Shirish Patel, Charles submitted a memorandum to the Bombay Municipality, planning out the East-West redevelopment around the Harbour and preventing further urban sprawl. A new city called New Bombay was planned to decentralise the old city which eventually become the largest planned city of the 20th century. Appointed as Chief Architect to City and Industrial Developement Corporation of Maharashtra from 1970 to 1974, Charles focused on public transport, low-income housing, rainwater harvesting, and responsive urban form typologies. The forth-thinking of Charles in New Bombay’s planning inspires post-independence urban planning in India as well as in the global South at large.

2. Serpentine Pavilion 2015 by SelgasCano

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Figure 6 (left): Serpentine Pavilion 2015 ; Figure 7 (right): the architects Lucia Cano & Jose Selgas

The much anticipated annual Serpentine Pavilion is open to the public this week. The architects of this year pavilion is the Spanish firm SelgasCano (José Selgas and Lucía Cano), whose projects include their famous own office – a tube-like building with 1 fully glazed curved wall looking out to beautiful landscape; Merida Factory Youth Movement – a colourful community park; and an office in UK for SecondHome – a new type of workspace and creative hub where companies can move in and, if they wish and at short notice, move out.

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Figure 8 (left): SelgasCano famous office building ; Figure 9 (right): Merida Factory Youth Movement – SelgasCano

The architectural language that the firm brings to the design of the Pavilion, as they skilfully incorporated in their earlier work, is the relationship between materiality, colour and transparency. The pavilion is steel framed, quite organic in form, and loosely resemble a cross in plan. The frame is wrapped in multi-colored ETFE sheets and webbing. Since its opening, many people have given it many names, from “inflatable funscape”, “one of the most cheap and cheerful for many years,”an instagrammer’s paradise” to “among Serpentine’s least successful pavilions”. I kind of agree with all of them.

3. World Architecture Festival announces this year shortlist:

… And Australia has dominated with 37 projects out of 388 projects (~10%). The program has 31 categories, including some of the “big names” like Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners, OMA, BIG… Australia features mainly in Higher and Education and Research category as well as Health and House categories, with notable projects like Stonehenge Exhibition and Visitor Centre, UK by Denton Corker Marshall, Tower House by Andrew Maynard Architects, Nan Tien Institute and Cultural Centre by Woods Bagot, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar Middle Girls School by Mcbride Charles Ryan. See the full list here.

4. More than just a flag

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Figure 10 (left): rainbow flag ; Figure 11 (center): confederate flag; Figure 12 (right): the flag of Rhodesia & the apartheid-era South Africa on Dylann’s jacket

What do recent events of America’s legalisation of  same-sex marriage and the tragic massacre at Charleston, South Carolina share in common? The answer: Symbolic flag design is heavily involved. If the rainbow flag represents pride, democracy and justice when the Supreme Court on June 26 ruled in favour of same-sex marriages; the shooting of Dylann Roof in a historic black church killing 9 people involved 3 flags: the flag of Rhodesia the apartheid-era South Africa patched on Dylann’s jacket, and the Confederate battle flag, all of which stand for violent white supremacy. Although the 2 events bear no further similarity, ones realise that flag design can be extremely powerful, symbolic, and representative of ideas or identities, for good or bad. And just as an ideology may become unfitted to certain societies at certain times, ones should stand up against flags which are unsuitable and replace with new ones that represent progressive ideas.

5. Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki winner announced

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Figure 13 : The winning scheme of Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki – Moreau Kusunoki

The largest architecture design competition has announced its winner. Edging over more than 1700 entries, Parisian firm Moreau Kusunoki’s proposal “Art in the City” for the new Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki has won over a 11-judges panel, who state that the design is “deeply respectful of the site and setting, creating a fragmented, non-hierarchical, horizontal campus of linked pavilions where art and society could meet and inter-mingle”.

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Figure 14 : The winning scheme of Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki – Moreau Kusunoki

The complex consists of a series of charred timber pavilions linked together by plazas and interior streets, encouraging visitors to engage with museum artworks and programs. Speaking of their design ethos, the young 4-year-old firm despises architecture that sloganises, while advocating for design that “bring poetry to society, to make people gather“. The competition however raises other political and financial concerns where only 6 out of 69 councillors told The Helsinki Times that they would approve, and public support has been modest, worrying that the main tower and its dark color will disrespect the local historical context of the city, whose slogan reads “The White City of the North”. The project bear the price tag of €156m, of which only 18% is private money, and the rest is from the state’s own pocket. Architect and urbanist Michael Sorkin has spoken against the project, and even organised the “Next Helsinki” to counter-propose for anything but another Guggenheim. Supporters see the new museum as an opportunity for economic boost and rebranding of Helsinki.

Other traces include Jeremy Mcleod (Breathe Architecture)’s TED talk on Eco Architecture for inner city living; Melbourne sexy new train map; not so sexy Melbourne housing crisis in charts; opening of “Marina Abramovic: In Residence” art project in Sydney; Monocle’s Annual Round Up of world transportations


Project of The Week

Cosmo water purifier – Andres Jaque

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The machine-looking installation is this year’s winner of MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program – a initiative for emerging architects & designers to construct temporary outdoor water-focused installation. The designer – Spanish architect Andrés Jaque is the director of Office for Political Innovation and also the winner of the Silver Lion for best research project at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale.

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The project is very technical in its appearance and mechanics, aiming to visualise the process of water purification, making it enjoyable to watch. The components consist of circular pipes wrapped together with plastic tubes, plants and multiple water barrels being placed on wheeled platforms. The project aims to purify 3000 gallons of water over 4 days, eliminating suspended particles and nitrates, balancing the pH, and increasing the level of dissolved oxygen. When a purification cycle is done, the plastic tubes will glows automatically, an effect Andres describes as “the party litting up every time the environment is being protected”. Now that is a cool pavilion.

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