Löyly Sauna by Avanto Architects, photo ©Ḳuvio

Helsinki waterfront hotspot – Löyly Sauna

A new take on a favourite summer ritual – the most spectacular public sauna by Avanto Architects

Löyly sauna by Avanto Architects
Wooden terrace constructed over the water, photo ©Kuvio

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.

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Magic in brick – new Tate Modern extension

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.

Switch House extension, Tate Modern
Close-up of façade, built with sheets of brick panels

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Serpentine Summer Pavilion 2016 by Bjarke Ingels, Kensington Gardens

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 – collaboration in work, play and experiment

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.

Serpentine 'Summer Houses'
Serpentine ‘Summer Houses’ by architects Kunlé Adeyemi and Barkow Leibinger

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.

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Venice Biennale 2016 © Luke Hayes

New Materialities – Reporting from Venice

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”.

Pavilion at Giardini by Chilean architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen, photo ©Luke Hayes
Pavilion at Giardini by Chilean architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen, photo ©Luke Hayes

  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.

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 360º VIEW: Installation by Gabinete de Arquitectura

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Futuro House

Futuro House – ideas and principles in 1960s spatial design

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LONDON FESTIVAL OF ARCHITECTURE – 9 June 2016, 18.45 – 20.00

At Central Saint Martins, King’s Cross, London N1

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 Futuro House, an icon of 1960s futuristic space-age architecture, restored and transported to London by Barnes and now housed on the CSM rooftop.
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De Rotterdam by OMA

Learning from Rotterdam – IABR 2016

Rotterdam is known for being addicted to the idea of progress, and thus is an ideal place for a biennale on the future of cities. The seventh edition of International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam runs until July 10th, aiming to energize citizens and provide ideas for vibrant urban economies.

This year the Biennale is held at the Fenixloods warehouse on the Katendrecht quayside, behind OMA’s De Rotterdam skyscraper and opposite the New York Hotel. The Katendrecht district resonates with the biennale theme ‘The Next Economy’, the divisions between big corporations and citizens, market forces and active individuals. The warehouse, also a hugely popular local foodie destination, has recently been targeted by plans for high-end housing to be built above it.

Fenixloods warehouse, Rotterdam
Fenixloods warehouse on the Katendrecht waterfront, Rotterdam ©Kim Bouvy

Led by Maarten Hajer as chief curator, the exhibitions explore and expand the political boundaries in urban culture. Hajer, who is not an architect but a political scientist, raises questions about the urban tech revolution and concepts such as the ‘smart city’, of which the driverless car has become the ultimate symbol. Yet the purpose of the ‘smart city’ remains unclear — what does it actually deliver and for whom?

Maarten Hajer, IABR 2016
IABR 2016 chief curator Maarten Hajer

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