Cobbled streets lined with artists studios, shops, great bars and restaurants – LX Factory exemplifies local creative culture at its best
By Marianna Wahlsten and Sofia Andrews
Lisbon has become one of the new creative hubs in the EU. Already before the Brexit vote tech entrepreneurs had been lured by financial incentives and a liberal attitude. The economic situation has been tough (for example many architects have been forced to move abroad or take up alternative creative work), but there is a flourishing start-up scene underpinned by positive synergy. And the situation also shows how difficulties and economic scarcity can generate great individual creativity, something missing in the larger capital cities, such as London, where the state and big corporations have the power.
LX Factory is a great symbol of this vibrant cultural scene in Lisbon, where spontaneity and athenticity are allowed to exist. About ten years ago artists and designers took up studios around the industrial zone of the Alcântara district located by the 25 de Abril suspension bridge. The old textile turned printing factory complex built in the 1840’s was meant to be demolished in order to pave way for new development. In light of the economic crisis, plans were pushed back and an investment group proposed a temporary occupation of the complex, giving birth to LX Factory (an ode to Warhol’s Factory in 1960’s NYC). Ever since people in the arts, fashion, media, design, photography and small companies have occupied the abandoned, derelict buildings and their vast industrial spaces.
A triumph of high-tech engineering on East Sussex coastline, designed by Marks Barfield
by Harri Närhi
In many ways, going up the i360 in Brighton, or the world’s tallest moving observation tower, is akin to flying. The whole experience is heavily mediated by the idea of air travel, visitors are greeted onto their ‘flight’ by British Airways staff acting as if to take you on a faraway journey, and indeed the view itself is something achieved only by an impressively high vantage point. i360 architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, creators of the world-renowned London Eye, have managed to deliver an experience so awe-inspiring it leaves you craving for more than your afforded 20-minute slot. The i360 might have taken a total of 12 years to conceive, but there’s a sense that it’s here to stay, and will ascend to the front stage of successful 21st century British landmarks.
A new take on a favourite summer ritual – the most spectacular public sauna by Avanto Architects
During high summer, from mid-June to mid-July, sun hardly sets down in the Finnish capital. Many locals escape to their waterside cottages to enjoy the long days. But now there is one more reason for staying in the city. The latest architectural hotspot is Löyly, a public sauna with a bar and restaurant designed by Avanto Architects on the Southern waterfront – literally the hottest meeting place this summer.
The new extension of Tate Modern, designed by Herzog de Meuron, is now open to the public. In twenty years the museum became so popular more space was needed. The extension tower, which cost £260m, fits there beautifully .
“We did not set out to build an iconic building”, Tate director Nicholas Serota states before the opening of the new extension. But of course it will be. It is designed by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, the Swiss architects who had already transformed the derelict power station into Tate Modern. It has since become the world’s most visited museum for modern and contemporary art, making London a global cultural centre.
Not only one sculptural wonder by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, this summer Serpentine Gallery brings along four experimental designs to London’s Kensington Gardens. The show which opened to the public over the weekend is the last one by long-term director Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, encapsulating her drive and vision.
The Summer Pavilion concept is an opportunity for the chosen architect to experiment with forms in one of the most prestigious parks in central London. This year Bjarke Ingels – described by Serpentine director Hans Ulrich Obrist as ‘the first architect disconnected completely from angst’ – has made the most of the Pavilion commission, playing with scale and materials. Despite the short timeframe to complete such a project, you can see the clarity and enthusiasm in Ingels’ approach. With his firm BIG he spent exactly six months (to the minute by midnight of the launch) to complete the Pavilion. At the preview morning the last set of fibre glass blocks were still waiting to be lifted to the very top.
Powerful ideas showcased at 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, which launched last weekend, for rediscovering the desire for architecture.
Alejandro Aravena, the Chilean curator of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, says of the programme that it’s not “a caricature, or a biennale for the poor”. Although, on many levels, the Biennale resonates with values of the 1960s Arte Povera movement, challenging current economic systems, while also promoting the return to simpler materials and architectural concepts. Aravena urges architects to consider more carefully what they build, not making something “ just because you can”.
It’s the lesser known architects that propose the more engaging and ground-breaking ideas
The exhibits provide a wide range of responses to Aravena’s overarching theme Reporting from the Front.On the grounds of the Giardini there are thirty national pavilions and the exhibitions, which Aravena describes as “conversations” on the battles and challenges we face improving our urban environments, continue inside the Arsenale ship yards and across the city. The Central Pavilion hosts a group exhibition, including projects by Renzo Piano, Kéré Architects, Richard Rogers and Kazuo Sejima, although it’s the lesser known architects that propose the more engaging and ground-breaking ideas.
360º VIEW:Installation by Gabinete de Arquitectura