De Rotterdam by Rem Koolhaas dominates the skyline of Rotterdam

Learning From Rotterdam – IABR 2016

Rotterdam is known as a city addicted to the idea of progress and thus an ideal place for a biennale dealing with the future of cities. The seventh edition of International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam kicked off in April and runs until July 10th.

IABR 2016, Fenixloods Warehouse, © Kim Bouvy
Fenixloods warehouse on Katendrecht waterfront, Rotterdam ©Kim Bouvy

This year the Biennale is held at the Fenixloods warehouse building on the Katendrecht quayside, behind OMA’s De Rotterdam skyscraper and opposite the New York Hotel. The area itself resonates with the biennale theme ‘The Next Economy’, the division between big corporations and citizens, the market forces and active individuals.

IABR-2016 chief curator Maarten Hajer
IABR-2016 chief curator Maarten Hajer

Led by Maarten Hajer as chief curator, who is a political scientist, the exhibitions explore and expand the political boundaries in urban culture. Hajer raises questions about economic concepts such as the “smart city” – what and for whom does it actually deliver? Over 50 international projects showcase ideas for better cities, ranging from topics covering recycling, health, manufacturing, self-build initiatives, and even dating. “Sometimes low tech may be better than high tech,” Hajer says, while looking at solutions for energy-efficient heating systems for example.

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Futuro House

Futuro House – ideas and principles in 1960s spatial design


9 June 2016 18.45- 20.00

Central Saint Martins

An evening talk with artist Craig Barnes and academic staff from Central Saint Martins Spatial Practices Programme. This will also be an opportunity to visit the The Futuro House, an icon of 1960s futuristic space-age architecture, restored and transported to London by Barnes and now housed on the CSM rooftop.

The discussion will be led by Marianna Wahlsten, editor and founder of Grand Tour Magazine, and will investigate innovation in 60s spatial design, the impact on social interaction and the relevance of 60s architectural forms today, when technology enables almost anything. In what ways do organic, playful and sculptural forms influence our social world?

Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. You can find more information on Craig Barnes’ project here.

The event is supported by the Finnish Institute. Tickets cost £8, including a complimentary drink after the talk, and can be purchased through the Platform Theatre Office website.

Salerno Terminal by Zaha Hadid ©Hélène Binet

Concrete wave – new Maritime Terminal by Zaha Hadid Architects in Salerno, south of Naples

Shortly after winning the competition to design the Maxxi Museum in 2000 in Rome, Zaha Hadid also won a commission to build a ferry terminal for the port of Salerno, south from Naples in Italy. The terminal has now been completed and shows how perfectly Hadid’s bold building types sit on waterfront locations.

Salerno terminal, Zaha Hadid ©Hélène Binet
Salerno terminal, Zaha Hadid ©Hélène Binet
Preliminary sketch ©Zaha Hadid

In fluid forms sculpted out of concrete, the terminal building exemplifies Hadid’s architectural vision: rejecting straight lines, it conjures an idea of easy transition and flow for passengers between land and sea. The abstract preliminary sketch resembles a seabird and the final form provides shelter from the strong Mediterranean sun under its cantilevered concrete wings.

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i360 British Airways, designed by Marks Barfield Architects

i360 – a high-tech viewing tower by Marks Barfield

A minimalist viewing tower and tourist attraction – i360 in Brighton by Marks Barfield Architects is set to change the city’s seafront culture

A 160 meters tall metal column is the main structural component of the i360 British Airways tower standing on the seafront opposite the skeleton of what’s left of Brighton’s West Pier. When completed in July the observation tower, designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield’s office, will offer spectacular views from the glass pod revolving around the column.

The observation tower will be in sharp contrast with the city’s shabby chic architecture, so handsome but also neglected in many places. David Marks says he was unaware of the history of the West Pier, before he discovered the site in 2005. Now the tower, sponsored by British Airways, is meant to generate income for the restoration of the Pier, which has been deteriorating for the past ten years. On the ground level the seafront promenade has already been given an injection of energy with new shops and cafes opening under the arches.

Marks Barfield, i360 British Airways
David Marks and Julia Barfield in Brighton

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©Hélène Binet, Aquatics Centre

FROM THE ARCHIVE: The first London building by Zaha Hadid

The Aquatics Centre was the only new venue included within London’s bid for hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Zaha Hadid had won the design competition in 2004, a year before London was chosen to be the host. In this interview she speaks about the East London site, the design process, materials and ideas behind the space.

What was more important as a starting point for the Aquatics Centre, designing a public building in East London or an architectural space for the Olympics?
It was important to develop a strong design that celebrated all the aquatic sports at the Olympics, but the building must also leave an outstanding legacy as a public facility for everyone in London for many generations after the games.  The wave-formed roof design is very appropriate for aquatic sports – combined with the large size and high quality of its construction – create an elegant and simple expression of celebration of water – which everyone seems to understand without much explanation.

Once London was awarded the Games, the organizers instructed that they would be the most sustainable Olympics in history. Therefore, the central idea across all the new London 2012 Olympic venues was to design and construct venues for the long-term legacy after the Games. These new venues are then temporarily adapted for use during the Olympics. This is key to the sustainability of all Olympic development – and very important for London, as the city cannot afford to be left with many expensive, oversized and under-used venues.
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Zaha Hadid 1950-2016 – A visionary and creative force

The sudden death of architect Dame Zaha Hadid last Thursday in Miami has been a shock. At the hight of her career, honoured with several awards, including the RIBA Gold Medal in the beginning of this year, she was a pioneering force in a male-dominated profession, occupying a global position as one of the most influential female figures in contemporary culture.

Miami had become Zaha Hadid’s second hometown, a stopover in her busy travel and work schedule. The tropical climate and beautiful light brought out the best in her flamboyant designs. Zaha was the favourite artist of local collector, property developer and Design Miami patron Craig Robins. She was often referred to by her first name, like royalty.
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