Category Archives: Architecture

Open house: how two architects let their imagination run wild

By moving walls, floors and stairs, the owners of this energy-efficient London home have turned the Victorian terrace upside down

Wrapped around the internal walls of this London house, like high-water marks, are painted grey lines indicating where the original floors, ceilings and skirting boards were. “We wanted visitors to understand the changes we’ve made,” explains owner Lizzie Webster. These changes are substantial. Instead of a long hallway, you are greeted head-on by a storage seat and a mustard yellow pegboard for coats and bags. To the right is a door to a large open-plan living space and kitchen, with a concrete floor. The stairs – made of Douglas fir – now sit diagonally in the centre of this space, twisting up the house. Dark corridors that led off the old staircase have been opened up into usable living spaces. An outline of the previous stairs is now picked out in yellow on floor-to-ceiling cupboard doors. Webster and her husband Joe Fraher, both architects, dropped the ground floor level by 60cm (2ft), which allowed them to increase the ceiling heights throughout the house, including in a converted loft.

The original two-up two-down layout now has four bedrooms (they live here with their daughters Claudia, five, and Orla, three). The first-floor landing is a study for Webster, and the second floor – the former loft – is a play area.

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Source: gad

Plyscraper city: Tokyo to build 350m tower made of wood

The $5.6bn cost of the 70-storey W350 Project is expected to be twice that of a conventional building

A skyscraper set to be built in Tokyo will become the world’s tallest to be made of wood.

The Japanese wood products company Sumitomo Forestry Co is proposing to build a 350 metre (1,148ft), 70-floor tower to commemorate its 350th anniversary in 2041.

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Source: gad

What would a truly disabled-accessible city look like?

Most cities are utterly unfriendly to people with disabilities – but with almost one billion estimated to be urban-dwellers by 2050, a few cities are undergoing a remarkable shift

To David Meere, a visually impaired man from Melbourne, among the various obstacles to life in cities is another that is less frequently discussed: fear.

“The fear of not being able to navigate busy, cluttered and visually oriented environments is a major barrier to participation in normal life,” says Meere, 52, “be that going to the shops, going for a walk in the park, going to work, looking for work, or simply socialising.”

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Source: gad

Roma Agrawal: ‘Structural engineers are unsung heroes’

The Shard engineer has long been fascinated by the technical ingenuity of design. Now she wants to help us see the built environment with similar wonder

Roma Agrawal likes to stroke concrete. Her snaps from a holiday in Italy are of arches and bricks (“so many different types of arches,” she enthuses, “so many different types of bricks”). A typical leisure activity – “a few weekends of good geeky fun” – is building a large Lego model of Big Ben. The man who is now her husband, whom she initially disparaged to her friends as “Flirtman”, wooed her by sending daily emails on a “Bridge of the Day”. (“An example of why you should do a proper damping analysis,” read the first, which was about the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse of 1940.) “When we realised the geeky fascination we both had,” she says, “we clicked.”

She loves buildings, construction, materials, the ways in which things stand up, how they’re built and the stories of how they got to be there, the interactions of humanity, matter and mathematics that give us skyscrapers and bridges. Also more modest structures. “I wake up in a warm home. Why is it not sinking or falling down? Every minute of the day its structure is working. Who are the people behind that?”

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Source: gad

The £3bn rebirth of King's Cross: dictator chic and pie-in-the-sky penthouses

Google HQ, boutique shops in old coal sheds, gasholders offering wedge-shaped flats at sky-high prices … as the vast project comes together after 18 years, our critic gives his verdict

The words “industrial luxury” are emblazoned on a window as you approach the cluster of majestic iron gasholders standing on the edge of the canal in King’s Cross. Built in the 1860s near St Pancras station, and dismantled in the 1990s when the station was expanded, the cast iron frames have now been reborn as the skeletal enclosures for three cylinders of luxury apartments – with prices beginning at £810,000 for a studio flat and rising, like the former gas tanks, into the many millions for a penthouse.

Industry and luxury are the two magic ingredients that have driven the £3bn redevelopment of King’s Cross in north London, tapping into the collective nostalgia for big brick sheds and the lure of a bit of bronze trim. Across 27 hectares of former railway lands, developer Argent has been piecing together a masterplan since 2000, employing 35 different architects to transform a gritty world of rails and warehouses into a polished vision of postindustrial regeneration. It is one of the biggest such projects in Europe and, despite the crass marketing slogans, it’s shaping up to be one of the best planned.

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Source: gad

Metropolis: Bauhaus-inspired urban photography – in pictures

In his series Metropolis, photographer Alan Schaller interprets the disconnection between people in the digital age. The series examines the way in which we are dwarfed by the world around us, and how that feels. Schaller was born in London, where Metropolis also began. The majority of the photographs were taken on the streets candidly, because Schaller wanted them to convey a true sense of urban life in its many facets. The work is being exhibited at Leica Story City, London EC3, until 10 February

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Source: gad

'Already iconic': David Adjaye's black history museum wins design of the year

The British architect and four practices triumph for their bold addition to the Washington DC Mall, inspired by African sculpture and chronicling slave history. Is it a worthy winner?

Standing proudly on the Mall in Washington DC, looking like a shimmering bronze pagoda, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been named design of the year 2017. It is only the second time in the award’s 10-year history that a building has taken the title, following on from Zaha Hadid’s 2014 win for the Heydar Aliev centre in Azerbaijan – a decision that sparked protest over allegations of forced evictions and human rights abuses.

This year’s winner – the work of four practices though often credited to Britain’s Sir David Adjaye, as he was the creative force behind its genesis – stands as a gleaming temple of abuses of a different kind. The museum’s emotionally charged basement charts the horrific treatment suffered by African Americans over the centuries, with leg irons, whipping posts and slave auction blocks graphically spotlit, as visitors are taken through the history of the struggle for racial equality, rising to the sunnier upper levels of funk, soul, hip-hop and contemporary art.

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Source: gad

The Golf Ball: the next addition to London’s skyline?

Designs for spherical concert venue commissioned by group behind Madison Square Garden

London’s suggestive skyline already boasts a Gherkin, a Walkie Talkie and a Cheesegrater. Soon they may be joined by the Golf Ball. According to plans seen by the Guardian, a giant glass sphere taller than St Paul’s Cathedral could be built next to the Olympic park in east London.

The design for the concert venue was commissioned by the Madison Square Garden Company, which also owns the New York Knicks basketball team. MSG’s executive chairman, James Dolan, was recently accused in a US court filing of knowing about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged predatory sexual conduct. Dolan is also a financial supporter of Donald Trump.

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Source: gad