Thursday, December 9, 2010

Colours of the Web

Work starts on CBD Howard Smith Wharf redevelopment

Work has started on the redevelopment of one of Brisbane's last remaining pieces of untouched riverfront land.

Most of the 3.5 hectare site is expected to be made into public space at the end of the $17 million project that will transform the disused wharf into a park. It had been a concrete wasteland since it was last used in the 1980s.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said $4.1 million would be spent on a "super park", including planting 220 mature trees, 4200 square metres of turf and 2200 square metres of garden beds. Barbeques, picnic tables, and a children's playground will be installed and visitors will be able to access a grassy hill with views of the river and a rock climbing platform.

An air-conditioned glass elevator is to be built to provide easy access from the top of the cliffs.
Councillor Newman said $8.5 million would be used to restore and maintain the heritage wharf and buildings, which were last used in the 1980s by the water police.

“We are returning the Howard Smith Wharves back to the people of Brisbane as part of my vision to create a city of attractive parks, with at least 80 per cent of the site to remain open public space.”

He said timber would be used where possible during the remaining restoration works to match the heritage values of the site.

About 10 per cent of the site has been allocated for retail development, which could include a boutique hotel.

Council backed down from its original development plans when residents, led by Labor Councillor David Hinchliffe, threatened action in the Planning and Environment Court.

But in August the council rezoned the area to allow construction to go ahead, albeit with amended plans that include more open space and limiting the height of the hotel to the level of the clifftop.

BCC has approved another West End high-rise

Brisbane City Council is expected to continue its defiance of a state order to lower density in Brisbane's West End, by approving another 12-storey development in the area.
It will be the second such development to gain approval from council since Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe scaled back building heights in the area, known as Precinct Seven of the South Brisbane Riverside Neighbourhood Plan, from 12 storeys to seven in August.

The first development is the subject of a court appeal by the West End Community Association. The second, the Water's Edge development in Duncan Street, West End, could attract the same attention.

Mr Hinchliffe rejected higher density in some areas of West End after he found there was not enough community infrastructure to support the extra people.

Local councillor Helen Abrahams has slammed council for continuing with plans to increase density after the minister's ruling, mirroring his concerns about the lack of social infrastructure.
Development Assessment chairman Amanda Cooper said the Water's Edge included 514 residential units and 2002 sq m of retail space and is the second stage of an earlier project of eight storeys.

Its eight-storey component was supported by Premier Anna Bligh at the time.
Cr Cooper said the development had been scaled back from 14 storeys to 12 and council considered it appropriate for the area.

"The site's proximity to the City, public transport, schools and other social infrastructure make it ideal for redevelopment.

"It's disused industrial sites like these that hold the key to accommodating growth in Brisbane while protecting the valuable tin and timber areas."

Cr Cooper said council was obligated to find 156,000 new dwellings under the State Government's South East Queensland Regional Plan.

"We understand that we have a responsibility to provide for growth, and we believe the best way to do that is to put higher density living into old industrial areas close to the City," Cr Cooper said.

"That way we can protect the leafy tin and timber suburbs and lifestyle Brisbane residents have come to love.

MVVA wins Gateway Arch Competition

The multi-disciplinary team lead by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates have been selected to proceed to the planning stage of the Gateway Arch Competition in St. Louis, Missouri. The jury chose the MVVA Team over four others competing to enliven the area around the Gateway Arch and connect it to downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi River and the Illinois bank.

The MVVA Team’s design concept narrative describes their vision for the redesigned park: “Responding to the Memorial’s monumental scale is the central challenge of this assignment. Given the site’s sheer immensity, sectional complexity, and competing scales—all in a parcel surrounded by a crushing maze of infrastructure—we believe that expanding the site’s scalar and experiential range is crucial to engaging the wide-ranging competition goals. The creation of a new range of more intimate experiences, based primarily in landscape, will be the main engine for the transformation of the Memorial and its relationship with both the city and the river. We imagine a powerfully connective landscape that operates simultaneously in several ways—a landscape that will not only draw visitors from around the world but also serve as a new locus of civic energy in the daily lives of the citizens of St. Louis. The redesigned Memorial will be a centerpiece of civic culture, an engine of regional economic growth, a showcase for sustainable ecological restoration, and a celebration of the national significance of this historic place".
The project will be constructed by Oct. 28, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the completion of the Arch.

LA Warehouse Office is a Shipping Container City

Pallotta TeamWorks is a charity event production company that runs bike races and other events. In 2002, they had grown out of their existing offices and needed more space, which they found in a large warehouse in the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles. The event company contracted Clive Wilkinson Architects to come up with a solution for creating an inspiring new headquarters inside the warehouse on a tight budget. The result is a shipping container city.

Pallotta TeamWorks found a good deal on the warehouse, but after running the numbers realized they wouldn’t be able to afford keeping the entire space air-conditioned — plus, they were working on a budget to build out the office. Clive Wilkinson Architects, who had come up with other creative solutions for warehouse spaces, conceived the idea to use shipping containers and large tents to create “breathing islands” inside the warehouse. These self-contained air-conditioned islands of activity provide space for each department within the company and gives them each an identity, and it also takes visual cues from the charity events and races the company produces.

Narrow “streets” connect each department together in a mini-city, while a larger container tower (three tall), serves as the “executive tower”. Clive Wilkinson’s design for the Pallotta TeamWorks headquarters received a design award from the AIA in 2002 for creating a lively work environment in a warehouse with reduced energy usage despite a low construction budget.

Artist Builds Incredible Coral Reef from Sunken Statues

Located off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, artist Jason deCaires Taylor has created an incredible artificial reef of statues he calls the Silent Evolution. A compelling installation that took several months to complete, Silent Evolution embodies a spirit that shifts between sadness and awe, all while reminding us of the intricate relationship between man and nature.

Retro-Futurism: 13 Failed Urban Design Ideas

Many an architect has dreamed up visionary plans for city centers, but few have actually seen their designs come to fruition in a real live urban setting. And while many such unbuilt concepts are technically viable, others are wacky, fanciful or downright bizarre. These retro urban design ideas for the future, from perfectly symmetrical egalitarian communities to the egotistical demands of a deranged dictator, will probably never become reality – and in many cases, we’re better off that way.
Gillette’s Metropolis

Gillette had a utopian vision for the future which revolved around a waterfall-powered tiered city he dubbed ‘Metropolis’. All residents of this imagined city would have access to the same amenities including rooftop gardens in the perfectly round, precisely divided multi-functional buildings in which they would live, work, play and eat. The design never went anywhere, but it’s notably similar to many very modern 21st-century concepts for sustainable urban centers.

This concept, published in a 1947 issue of Life magazine, detailed how to atomic bomb-proof America by spreading the population across the land in a geometric grid and relocating all industry into underground structures so that any single bomb would do a minimum of damage. The whole plan would have cost a measly 5 trillion dollars in today’s currency, and the authors – atomic scientists from Chicago – thought it could be pulled off within a decade.
Hotel Attraction

Antoni Gaudi’s architecture defines Barcelona, Spain even today with its fluid curves, reflective surfaces and organic shapes – but it would stick out like a sore thumb in the comparatively staid cityscape of Manhattan. Perhaps that’s what he had in mind for ‘Hotel Attraction’, commissioned in 1908 and also known as the Grand Hotel. The rounded, spaceship-like form would have risen in the exact spot where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were later built, but the idea was ultimately abandoned. Gaudi’s unrealized design was actually considered as a possibility for the Ground Zero memorial after the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Ville Contemporaine

The architect known as Le Corbusier was an essential figure in the development of what we now know as modern architecture, and his many theoretical urban design projects aimed to make life better for residents of cramped cities. Displeased with the chaos of big cities, Le Corbusier designed ‘Ville Contemporaine’ as an orderly home to three million people where housing, industry and recreation all occupied distinct areas connected by roads that emphasized the use of personal vehicles for transportation.

Triton City
If not for a certain tell-tale 1960s aesthetic, Buckminster Fuller’s ‘Triton City’ could easily fit among today’s designs for floating eco-friendly cities. The futurist, architect and inventor was ahead of his time as usual when he imagined this tetrahedronal metropolis for Tokyo Bay, a seastead for up to 6,000 residents. Fuller wrote about the possibility of desalinating and recirculating seawater “in many useful and non-polluting ways” and using materials from obsolete buildings on land, which were hardly popular ideas at the time.
Future New York, “The City of Skyscrapers”

By 1925, many of New York City’s skyscrapers were already present, but futurists of the time envisioned not only a great deal more but a sort of aerial civilization complete with elevated train platforms and perhaps a rather unsafe number of aircraft flying around all at once.

New York City’s Dream Airport

This concept for “New York City’s Dream Airport” featured an astonishingly large – and some say ugly – runway platform. But for all of the prime real estate that this monstrosity would have devoured, it seems as if it could only handle a handful of planes at a time with absolutely zero margin of error, sending errant planes straight into Central Park or the East River.

Slumless, Smokeless Cities

How do you build a city so egalitarian that slums are eliminated entirely, and nobody ever has to breathe in pollution? Sir Ebenezer Howard, the father of the garden city movement, believed that a careful layout with six satellite garden cities connected via canals to a densely populated central city would do the trick. Thoughtfully, the design included specially designated spaces for “Eplileptic Farms”, “Homes for Waifs”, “Homes for Inebriates” and an insane asylum.


“Just imagine a resort entirely centered on the culture of alcohol. A boozer’s paradise built expressly to facilitate drinking and the good times that naturally follow. Where the bars, clubs and liquor stores never close.” Mel Johnson’s ‘Boozetown’ was an entirely sincere proposal with street names like “Gin Lane” and “Bourbon Boulevard” that would have begun as a resort town in Middle America and eventually expanded into a full-sized adults-only city with permanent housing and its own suburbs. After many obsessed years of struggling for financing, Johnson gave up on his dream in 1960 and died in a mental hospital in 1962.

Micro House in Tokyo Built On a Single Car Space

There have been alot of impossibly tiny houses designed and built recently, but this house has literally been built on a plot intended for a single car. Side Architects is a firm that specializes is micro homes, and when a client approached them for the design of a structure on a mini pie-shaped lot next to a busy Tokyo street, they knew exactly what to do. Capitalizing on all available space, every corner of the three-story home is utilized, with south facing floor-to-ceiling windows and a transparent interior moderating the packed dimensions.

The home is the result of the owners’ desire to have custom home in the city of Tokyo. However, given the lofted housing prices permeating throughout the metropolis, they took their limited budget and joined the kyosho jutaku, or micro home trend, that is driving innovative design on the island nation.

Situated on a lot of only 30 square meters shaped like a slice of pizza, the home features a number of smart design initiatives that manage to make the most of the compacted space. The entrance to the home contains a spiral stair case that is able to save room by cutting the corners, thus becoming a triangle; tucked away storage is everywhere, behind walls, curtains and inside corners; and built-in furniture and mini appliances and fixture reduce the overall clutter. The exterior windows are shaded by louvers not only to reduce heat gain and noise, but to provide light and a views throughout the home.
The total cost of the design and construction rang in at half a million US dollars – or what you’d consider in Tokyo to be a 'bargain'.

COP16: Posters Depicting Designers’ Messages of Climate Change

If a picture is worth a thousand words, there’s a whole lot of talking going on right now at the Eleventh Annual Poster Biennial of Mexico. “Disenyadores por la tierra,” (Designers for the Earth) is an exhibition of poster design down at the COP16 Climate Change Village exploring the theme of the relationship between man and his environment.