Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall, Astana, Kazakhstan

3500 seats auditorium inaugurated in Astana new capital of Kazakhstan

One of the largest auditoriums in the world, designed by Manfredi Nicoletti as the result of an International restricted competition, has been inaugurated in Astana, the new capital of Kazakhstan.
Founded in the heart of the steppes only four years after the Independence of the Country, Astana is now a decade old new capital of Kazakhstan. A concert commemorating the 18th anniversary of independence of Kazakhstan took place in the new Kazakhstan Central Concert Hall on December 15.

Astana's central nucleus occupies a rectangular area whose organizational axis is based upon a system of three piazzas. In the largest of these, dominated by the Presidential Palace, the State Auditorium faces the Senate House.
"The vastness of the location conjures up an impression of the immensity of the territory," said a spokesperson for Manfredi Nicoletti. "Flying over the arid vastness of the steppes, we felt that what is really missing were flowers. We decided to build the 'Flower of the Steppe'.
"Amidst this monumental void, the structures of the Auditorium rise like the petals of a flower animated through music. They create an envelope which encloses an internal piazza..."
Within this piazza are housed shops, balconies, restaurants, exhibition halls, two cinemas and the 3500 seats Auditorium entirely clad in wood inside and outside, inspired by the traditional 'Dombra' instrument.

"Such internal multi-levelled piazza integrates with Astana's system of public squares, while providing a space protected from the harsh local climate: a temperature range from -40 to +40 and salty winds," added the spokesperson.
The auditorium was designed by both Manfredi Nicoletti and Luca Nicoletti (Partners / Founders of Studio Nicoletti Associati). 

Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School, Hong Kong

Primary cum Secondary School breaks through the conventional learning cluster in Hong Kong
 Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School is a through-train school which provides primary and secondary education over a campus area of 10,509 square meters. The architect used its location on the gentle slope as a feature and created a cantilever platform with its form derived from the spontaneous fan-shape of Caldecott Hill. Earthy tones and textures are used throughout campus to resonate the theme of school – Encounter with Nature.

 The grand staircase at the entrance leads to the three interlocking buildings named after their functions. There are the Administration Block, Amenity Block and Teaching Block – a seven-storey building housing 60 classrooms under one roof to promote interactions between senior and junior students. Double-height open terraces are randomly inserted between classrooms on each floor to demonstrate how traditional indoor learning cluster can be extended to the outdoors. This distinctive component also serves as a wind tunnel connecting corridors and atrium to improve circulation and reinforce notions of environmental sustainability.
 As the school has an excellent reputation in sports and music, facilities that are encouraging to the school's tradition are implemented in the Amenity Block. A designated public entrance at the upper side of the campus provides direct access to the 25m indoor heated swimming pool and the grand theatre hall with upper balcony of more than 1000 seats without interfering with the teaching activies.

Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France

Centre of attention

In the historic French city of Metz, the extravagant, gently arcing complex structure that is the Centre Pompidou-Metz is awaiting its opening date in May 2010. Since an announcement in 2003 confirming that the Centre Pompidou’s first decentralised cultural centre was to be built in the city, the world has been awaiting the Pompidou-Metz’s completion. Shigeru Ban Architects Europe and Jean de Gastines, Paris, worked in collaboration on this project. Architect Philip Gumuchdjian also assisted during the completion phase.
 The basic shape of the vast structure is hexagonal, although the abstract roof belies its true form. At 8,000 sq m, the roof itself is said to be inspired by a Chinese hat that Shigeru Ban, one of the architects on this project, found in Paris. Using a white fibreglass membrane coated with a layer of Teflon, (Poly-Tetra-Fluoro-Ethylene) the Pompidou-Metz’s curving roof is supported by a complex hexagonal mesh, constructed from glue laminated timber with wooden beams spaced 2.90m apart. This supportive mesh is highly resilient, hence it is able to hold up the extensive roof area. The outer coating is not only completely waterproof, but controls the naturally temperate environment, ensuring the ultimate conservation of the art within its walls. At the centre of the building is a 77m spire, said to be symbolic of the opening year of the original Centre Pompidou in Paris, 1977.
 Inside the expansive inner space lie three permanently unfixed areas which can be moderated to fit and accurately display the current original exhibitions. These three exhibition spaces are constructed of rectangular (parallelepipedic) tubes which jut out through the roof, sporting large scale picture windows angled directly towards the surrounding landmarks. The main nave of the building is set to house the most important and exquisite works of art, with an impressive ceiling rising from 5.70m to 18m in height.
 Alongside the artistic exhibition spaces in the Centre Pompidou-Metz, will be an auditorium with seating for 144 people, a creative studio – a circular building multipurpose building which can seat up to 200 people – and a 70 sq m rooftop cafe. In order to ensure the comfort and safety of its visitors, the Centre was rigorously tested throughout its construction. To test the structure’s resilience to intense wind and snow, the future Centre Pompidou-Metz was buffeted by large ventilators and snow cannons in the Jules Verne wind tunnel. The safety of pedestrians was of the utmost importance to the architects on this project and the comfort of pedestrians in the Centre’s surrounding areas was found to be satisfactory. It is hoped that when the surrounding structures are built, these results will improve still further. The completed Centre Pompidou-Metz is set to open its doors in May 2010.

Dubai Pearl, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

International funds sought for €2.6billion Dubai project

Developers of the 20 million sq ft Dubai Pearl have announced their collaboration with Singapore Sotheby's International Realty to encourage international funding for the €2.6billion luxury project. Pearl Dubai FZ LLC is to commence a road show across key Asian hubs and seek high net-worth investors through Sotheby's International Realty network that spans 35 countries.

Santhosh Joseph, CEO and President of Pearl Dubai, said: “This strategic alliance will significantly benefit both partners. While Sotheby’s International Realty is renowned as an exclusive entity with access to high-profile clientele in various markets, Dubai Pearl promises to be an attractive destination that will appeal to this exclusive set of potential customers. Our offerings align perfectly with the lifestyle expectations of Sotheby’s International Realty and we believe the road-show will effectively showcase our project to the right audience.”

 Construction of the megalithic development which overlooks the now iconic Palm Jumeirah began in early 2008. Built entirely on urban infill the development will provide luxury apartments and sky penthouses for 9,000 residents and a bustling business centre for 12,000 people upon completion set for 2013. Based around the idea of a 24-hour lifestyle, the super-cosmopolitan, LEED Gold development is planned around a pedestrianised system and will include cultural space such as a 2,000 seater performing arts theatre. Six 5-star hotels including a Bellagio, a Baccarat and and MGM Grand will also provide 1,400 rooms for guests. A fully comprehensive urban plan will turn the project into a city within a city.

New World Symphony, Miami Beach, Florida, United States

The love-him or hate-him architect’s New World Symphony nears completion in Miami Beach

WAN readers have not been kind to Frank O. Gehry of late. The architect’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which recently opened in Las Vegas was one of the biggest draws for readers’ comments and generally speaking most were not flattering. For whatever reasons, Gehry is a polarizing figure whose work is either loved or hated. But last week in New York at an intimate and packed setting at MoMA’s restaurant, The Modern, where the architect was on hand to brief the media on the New World Symphony project in Miami Beach it was all love for Gehry.

In a sunlit dining room overlooking the museum’s sculpture garden, the upbeat 81-year-old Gehry held court with members of the press. After noshing on lunch of salmon, the architect joined New World Symphony founder Michael Tilson Thomas at the front of the room where the two men sat side by side and spoke for roughly five minutes about their longstanding relationship and the new building, which is scheduled to open in January. Gehry was once Tilson Thomas’s babysitter and the two men have shared a lifelong interest in music. So when Tilson Thomas wanted to build a facility that would be ‘an experimental generator for new ideas in music education and performance’, he enlisted the help of his old friend Frank Gehry.
 Whilst many buildings portend to be ground breaking, this one truly packs an innovative wallop, thanks to the use of emerging technologies that will make it possible to engage audiences and present performances in ways never before possible. The $154-million symphony hall is architecturally restrained as far as Gehry buildings go, ‘inside it will be a beehive of activity’, Gehry said. Some of the building’s notable features are a flexible and technologically advanced performance hall that includes large acoustically reflective ‘sails’ that will surround the audience with sound and also serve as projection surfaces for visual presentations; a giant, 7,000-square-foot screen on the building’s façade that will project performances from inside the building to people sitting in the adjacent park, and practice and rehearsal spaces that are wired with 17 miles of fiber optic cable to allow musicians on site to connect to musicians around the world via the internet. With all this technology, Tilson Thomas said, “the new building will make it possible for a musician to break out from the orchestra allowing the audience to focus in on their favourite performer”.
 Dubbed a “multi-storey music village” by Tilson Thomas, the new building will sit adjacent to a 2.5-acre public park designed by the Dutch landscape architecture firm West 8. Gehry withdrew from the park project last year after a dispute with Miami Beach over the city’s budget decision and objections to his fee.
Since turning 80, Gehry has weathered storms familiar to many other architects and firms – laying off employees at Frank Gehry Partners LLC in Los Angeles to dropping out of projects such as King Alfred in Hove, UK or Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. Still with projects underway or nearing completion, such as New Symphony Hall and his recent win to design the new Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C., Gehry continues to reinvent himself well into his ninth decade.

Bin Hai International Convention & Exhibition Center, Tianjin, China

Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects design prominent new convention center in China

Inspired by a traditional Chinese fan in its structure and form, the Bin Hai International Convention & Exhibition Center in Tianjin, China, was designed as a world class, state-of-the-art conference and exposition center serving the general public as well as trade shows, political conventions and other significant gatherings. The fan, an internationally recognised symbol of Chinese culture and tradition, carries many meanings. It is a fitting symbol and metaphor for the fast-growing seaport city of Tianjin and TEDA where waterways, trade routes, airways, and railways converge. The project was intended to boost convention activity in China’s third largest center of finance and international trade.

The gently rounded shape of the Center, with its glass walls and skylights, becomes a ‘boulevard’ where visitors can stroll and enjoy random encounters. It also allows for multiple building entrances to accommodate simultaneous conferences, each with its own identity. In addition, interior spaces can be easily reconfigured for trade shows, political conventions and other significant gatherings.

Supporting the roof are steel trusses suspended by cables attached to masts rising nearly 115 feet. This allows clear spans under a dynamic form to provide flexible exhibition space. Skylights on the roof fill the interior with natural light. Constructed in two phases, the 900,000 sq ft (1.2 million sq m) Center was completed in time to host the Davos World Economic Forum’s in September, 2008. LHPA has also completed design for a 56-storey luxury hotel and condominium tower situated in the centre of a lake, adjacent to the Convention Center. The hotel project’s unique vision consists of three intertwined cylindrical components clad in green glass overlaid with a diagrid structure of stainless steel. The three cylinders were inspired by the twisting forms of ancient cypress trees.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands opens long-awaited SkyPark in flamboyant two-day ceremony

This Thursday saw part of Singapore’s newest mixed use development opened to the public in an extravagant ceremony across one of the world’s largest observation decks. Whilst the world must wait until later in the year for the completed building, the SkyPark, Event Plaza, shops, dining options and many nightlife offerings on the complex are now fully functional. Marina Bay Sands is a magnificent construction – a S$8bn development including a 2,560-room hotel, 120,000 sq m convention centre, The Shoppes mall, six restaurants, an Art and Science museum, two Sands Theatres, two floating pavilions and an 'atrium style' casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex will be opened in 3-4 stages, with full completion on course for late 2010. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the project’s developer Las Vegas Sands Corp, Mr. Sheldon G. Adelson, said: “The opening of the Sands SkyPark signifies an important milestone for Marina Bay Sands. This has been the single, most challenging engineering component of our unique integrated resort and to see it materialise is an incredibly proud moment for us. Marina Bay Sands along with its signature Sands SkyPark will be a truly impressive icon and we are excited to present this bold architecture to not only Singapore but to the rest of the world.”

Situated on Bayfront Avenue, across the water from Singapore's Central Business District, no expense has been spared in this luxurious design, where world-class dining will be supplied by Singaporean celebrity chef Justin Quek’s newest restaurant, Sky 57, and customers can gamble to their heart's content in the world's most expensive stand-alone casino, featuring four levels of gaming and entertainment under the light of a 7 tonne Swarovski chandelier.
The real gem of this exotic construction however is located in its crown. The three vertical 200m towers are topped with an extensive 9,941 sq m SkyPark, which totes a public observatory, jogging paths, gardens, restaurants and lounges. Basking in the limelight is a stunning 1,396 sq m infinity pool, from which guests at the hotel can enjoy the breathtaking views over the Singapore skyline. One of the world’s largest cantilevers (at 65m), the park can hold an impressive 3,900 people and is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. The park will be open to the public daily from 10am to 10pm.

 Things haven’t always been so rosy onsite however, as the project failed to avoid the global economic crisis of recent months. Las Vegas Sands reportedly faced delays caused by labour shortages and escalating material costs, and had to delay projects elsewhere in the world in order to keep to strict deadlines. The issues didn’t stop once the first stages of the project were completed, as the first use of the conference centre – by The Inter-Pacific Bar Association – was marred by complaints of uncompleted facilities and a power cut during a speech. These mishaps found Marina Bay Sands suing the IPBA, after the firm refused to pay the S$300,000 previously agreed for use of facilities. In June, the IPBA counter-sued, complaining that its earlier payments had been imposed by ‘duress, fear and force’. Not off to a good start.

Regardless, things seem to be on the up for the delectable mixed-use development, as the June opening was deemed a full success. In line with its extreme architecture, the two-day event was topped off with a ‘World Championship Climb’, where 7 teams of 21 rock climbers scaled the shimmering glass façade of the building and 4,000 invited guests and customers were entertained with an evening concert. The SkyPark was officially opened at 2pm the following day.

Whilst one may consider this superb construction to have taken years of meticulous design, architect Moshe Safdie came on board the project with only four months left to the official Government-set deadline. Astonishingly, the architect managed to complete the 1,000,000 sq m design on time and to specification, commenting: “Singapore has invested a lot in this project, which is based in the most prominent site in Singapore. It’s right across downtown, and they set this up as a national project, they wrote very exacting terms of reference for the project. The idea was for it to have gardens on the ground, in the mid-level and in the sky, each serving another purpose and another function. All this together forms a project that is very integrated with nature and with green open spaces.”

Convention Centre Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

Ireland's newest conference centre creates a stunning contemporary landmark for Spencer Dock
The Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) is Ireland's new world-class, purpose-built international conference and event venue located in Spencer Dock. Its stunning design includes a unique glass-fronted atrium running the full height of the building which gives visitors panoramic views of the River Liffey, Dublin’s city centre, and the Wicklow mountains
The CCD offers 22 multi-functional, flexible rooms suitable for meetings, conferences and exhibitions of all shapes and sizes - from small corporate meetings to international congresses. There are 4,500 sq m of exhibition space, a 2,000 seat auditorium, and banquet facilities seating up to 2,000 guests. The entire venue is finished to the highest specifications and incorporates the latest technology throughout.
The site is a portion of the Spencer Dock Development’s regeneration of the National Railway’s abandoned brown field rail yard bounded by the Royal Canal, North Wall Quay, and Mayor Street. The brief and site required a vertical stacking arrangement. The lobby and circulation foyers are enclosed by a dramatic glass atrium. Stairs, escalators, and lifts create an exciting processional moving up through the atrium. The foyers support a variety of activities beyond circulation; event registration areas, breakout / discussion spaces and food/bar service. The public will be encouraged to enter the ground level lobby to experience the atrium, view temporary exhibitions and art exhibits, or review an electronic display of upcoming events.

Recognised as the first carbon neutral convention centre, this contemporary design meets the highest standards of environmental sustainability. Materials, systems, construction techniques, and maintenance procedures were selected to provide the most sustainable building possible. Convenient to several modes of transportation, the CCD is located beside the new ‘LUAS’ tram line with its own station, is minutes from Dublin Port Ferry Terminal, and is only 20 minutes from Dublin Airport.

Local Traffic Hub Europaplatz, Graz, Austria

Going underground

New design for repositioned underground tram station opens up space for public plaza
In order to cope with the increasing numbers of passengers at Graz Central Station and to reorganise the surrounding traffic, the existing tram connection at the front of the station is to be moved underground. This will increase usage and make the surface and pedestrian network more attractive. The large number of connections with public transport from the urban city and surrounding regions has presented the opportunity to develop a multifunctional inner-city centre with the central station as its focus, communicating urbanity and making stopping here a pleasure.

The client's goals of reorganising the tram lines are to improve the connection between tram, bus and train lines, relieving the traffic on nearby intersections, plus the creation of an attractive plaza and approach to the station. The new design provides improved pedestrian connections and offers good cycle path access with sufficient bicycle parking, as well as developing inviting green areas to spend time in and recuperate and the creation of attractive sheltered waiting areas in the open air were all successfully implemented.

 The new underground tram station is open above the track area and in this way a naturally illuminated and ventilated space with a comfortable atmosphere is created. With their curved and structured surfaces, the station spaces seem as though 'cut' from the earth, the cuts in turn continuing on the surfaces.

The new station provides the opportunity to adapt the heterogeneous image of the station forecourt and the unsatisfactory route layout. The roofing of the forecourt is the most significant element – an oval, ring-shaped disk, which forms a sheltered ring between the station concourse and the bus stops. The station's striped pattern continues at the forecourt level and gradually changes in different zones into differently designed green areas. This project will result in improved cycle route access and new bike parking shelters in front of the station. The redesign of the forecourt is not simply based on the actual needs of the pedestrians – namely short routes to their destinations – but also the safety and attractiveness of their stop has been increased.

Casa Son Vida - Mallorca, Spain

This may not be your idea of a home but it is bold and fun, and it has certainly attracted wide media attention. The 8,500 square-foot Casa Son Vida is a cooperation between three powerhouses: Luxury residential developer Cosmopolitan Estates, eclectic Dutch designer and founder of Mooi, Marcel Wanders,, and award-winning Los Angeles, Switzerland and Hong Kong-based tecARCHITECTURE

Casa Son Vida is located in the Balearic Islands off Spain, on the Island of Mallorca, where humans have lived since 6000–4000 BC and where more recently, tourists have over-crowded every beach. But Casa Son Vida avoids the touristy kitsch and aims much higher. It is in the exclusive Son Vida community, just 15 minutes from the capital of Palma.

Casa Son Vida is in fact a reno of a 1960s Mediterranean villa, but it has been turned into an fantastic, sprawling luxury residence, designed to attract the young, discerning and bold, who are confident and design-savvy enough to know what they are looking at.

The handiwork of Marcel Wanders is evident everywhere in the Casa that looks a bit like an unruly movie set with its dino-bone exterior staircase, and various bits and pieces that remind you of Tomorrowland, Mickey Mouse, Finding Nemo and, of course, Alice in Wonderland.

With its retro synthetic vibe, the house clashes happily with its lush surroundings, but the interior, in its white-dominant serenity is much less startling, although fun and unexpected detail is found in every space. There is absolutely nothing ordinary in this house. Everything is customized, every aspect considered a million times. It is a great example or considered chaos.

This is the first of six villas planned for the Platinum Estates development by the just less than a year-old Cosmopolitan Estates. The eclectic plans for the remaining villas reveal a series of large residences, radically different from each other. Casa Son Vida is currently not for sale but the other five are. Dream on. Tuija Seipell

Solar Energy Design The Fab Lab House By IAAC

The Fab Lab house by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) was designed as an entry into the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe competition. This house, as well as all houses designed in the competition, aim to disseminate among the general public the benefits of using renewable energies, especially solar energy. The Solar FabLab house rounded shape is positioned for suitable solar tracking and for maximum internal volume with minimal exterior surface. In order to create a space under the house for the development of certain outdoor activities, this solar energy showcase house is elevated off the ground upon three ‘legs’. The IAAC stated that the Solar House  is a new generation Fab Lab home whose goal is to not industrialize but allow any person to manufacture anywhere in the world, from the platform of Fab Labs, or fabrication laboratories.