Posts Tagged 'Architecture'

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

Seven architectural practices from six countries and four continents. 23,000 square feet. 72 days. One monumental exhibition

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a private breakfast viewing of Sensing Spaces at the Royal Academy of Arts this week.  Invited by Pulsar it allowed a small group of us to experience the Architecture Reimagined exhibition in an uncrowded atmosphere, something unfamiliar for a popular exhibition at RA.

It was an exhibition I had been meaning to go to, but this opportunity was just the nudge I needed.  Offering a multi sensory experience of textures, smells, sights, sounds and lighting all combining in different ways to make each of the gallery spaces a unique and immersive experience.

Pezo von Ellrichshausen –
This space has been the ‘poster boy’ for the exhibition promo work so I wasn’t surprised that it was the first item we saw, standing above us all in the large gallery space.  Consisting of four spiral staircases hidden within wooden columns it allows you to make your way to the giddy heights of the gallery ceiling.




This offers you the usually unseen view of the gallery, the beautifully ornate golden ceiling and puts you at eye level with the angels detailed into the cornices.  You can then exit the platform down a ramp which, although unlit, gives you snippets of light through the floorboards before re-entering the bright gallery.



Kengo Kuma –
The first thing I noticed about this room was an unmistakeable air of calm as soon as we walked in.  Very low light levels and the scent of hinoki (Japanese cypress) and tatami (straw mat flooring) in the air combined to give a relaxed and welcoming feeling.  Once your eyes adjust to the relative darkness you notice the whittled sticks of bamboo softly  uplit from their base.  The concept was to “minimise materials but to maximise senses” and he certainly achieved that.



Eduardo Souto de Moura –
You almost pass through these pieces without realising they are actually part of the exhibition space.  The consideration has been placed on classic architecture and styling constructed with modern materials and techniques, in this case concrete.  What I really enjoyed was the attention to detail on each of the arches, they looked as if they could have easily been cast from the original.



Álvaro Siza –
I might have missed this piece if it wasn’t pointed out to us as it is actually outside the building as you approach.  Coloured concrete columns dot the courtyard, though looking closely only one is complete.  Taking inspiration to imitate the architecture of the nearby Burlington House.



Li Xiaodong –
This was the one area I genuinely got lost in.  A maze of hazel branches eerily backlit by an illuminated flooring system allow you to wander into various narrow pockets and viewpoints.  The pathway eventually opens up into a pit of pebbles, a welcome contrast of crunching underfoot that most of us smiled at, like we were doing something naughty in breaking the few minutes of near silence we had exploring the maze.  A large mirror reflects the pebbled space making it seem much larger and adding a tranquil sensation as you take it all in.





Diébédo Francis Kéré –
One of the most enjoyable rooms was a white corrugated plastic structure that is accompanied by a box of giant coloured straws which allow each guest to contribute to the structure, making it evolutionary and growing with every person that passes through.  This combination of interaction and coloured straws put a smile on everyone’s face, giggling in an almost childlike manner in seeing who put a straw in the highest or most obscure place.




Grafton Architects –
This was actually my favourite space, probably partly because of my lighting design bias.  Once your eyes adjust to the adjoining rooms you realise that the light is shifting.  Not just in colour, but also in intensity, mimicking daylight and moonlight over the course of 24 hours (courtesy of Pulsar).  You only need a few minutes here sitting or standing to appreciate the subtly changing conditions, but I found myself in here for much longer.





What I really liked about the whole private viewing was the relaxed atmosphere, first walking through each of the spaces with a representative from the Royal Academy giving a brief explanation on each one, and then after I wandered back through them at my own pace.  Noticing things I didn’t quite catch the first time around, or seeing something from another angle.

Wandering through in any order that you like “you are as much a part of this exhibition as the work itself“, and this encourages you to “reimagine the world around you“.

The complete exhibition is brilliant, whether you’ve been meaning to or not I would really recommend going to see it.  If you want any more information there is a short video from Kate Goodwin, the exhibition curator, here and a who’s who of the participating architects here.


Nightvision – Incredible Architecture

First things first – I’m back!  It has been exactly one month since my last post as I’ve been all sorts of busy (getting married and being away on our minimoon!).  It was also a good excuse to disconnect for a bit and come back refreshed with lots of ideas and enthusiasm for the new posts I have lined up.

To get the ball rolling again we have an absolutely spectacular video from Luke Shepard, Nightvision.

It’s hard to believe that each of these is a still image and not a continuous video clip, the whole thing is stunningly captured as thousands of images all stabilised and edited together.

Nightvision is a celebration of the “brilliance and diversity of architecture found across Europe” and took Luke a full three months to capture all the images.  Spread over 36 cities in 21 countries the video is a nod to “some of the greatest European structures”, showing them off in a “new and unique way”.

The video struck very close to me in particular.  My job as a lighting designer requires spending time researching and sourcing inspiration, particularly looking at architecture and how we can enhance and complement buildings and such through the medium of light once the sun has gone down.  Accentuating different features, illuminating different aspects, and using different colours and colour temperatures of light across each of these elements.

For the full building list and location map check out

Lego Architecture

Lego are particularly good at reproducing (with startling accuracy) classic architectural works.  The Empire State BuildingFallingwater, and, amongst others, the one I’ve been eyeing up for a while – the 4,287 piece Tower Bridge model.

So when I discovered that Icon Magazine had invited a group of British architects to ‘remake’ some of these models the opportunity to check out the results was just too good to miss.

Atmos Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect behind Falling Water, once said that “stone is the mass residue of intense heat”.  Atmos Studio have drawn on this quote as inspiration with their entry in creating “Meltingwater”, baking the model in the oven for 20 minutes until it started to melt, reminiscent of the water in the original.


It is said that the slabs of rough rock throughout the flooring in Fallingwater were intended to be cut flush with the floor, but as a client request they were left to remember the origin of the rock from its surroundings.  AOC have used the same idea in synthesis in combining available materials and memories from what they had to hand in the studio – Lego’s 6080 King’s Castle from 1984, remodeled with new integrity.


DSDHA took the approach of a “conservation-meets-contemporary-architecture solution”, raising the already recognisable Rockefeller Centre a further 20 storeys up into the Manhattan skyline.  As the new ‘tallest tower in town’ it allows for commercial space, and increased residential skyscrapers offering one of the more practical entries to this Lego challenge!

Adjaye Associates

A slight modification to the original saw Adjaye Associates turn the world famous White House into, well, the Silver House.  Allowing the familiar architectural facade to remain, they propose taking the remaining structure and building it below into a simple cube, “a pure impenetrable form”!  Very futuristic.


FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste) have transformed the iconic Fallingwater into an entirely unrecognisable “Falling Acre City”.  Laid out in a rigid grid it offers organisation and structure.  Each piece, or ‘element’ of the city, represents anything from a large ‘megastructure’ (their word, not mine) to the much smaller single room units.  The order to the city comes as you may notice, as the buildings become progressively less dense as you move from north to south, which in an ordered world could help give you a sense of relative positioning should you lose your bearings.


“Fallingwater was designed to be fully integrated with nature, so that the house and the human experience of it change and evolve with each season; it is almost a living, breathing entity.”  That’s exactly what Make have achieved with this model, emphasising their philosophy of architecture being allowed to move with changing times.

Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners have thought typically outside the box, bringing together the two Lego models of Fallingwater and the Empire State Building in the fusion of a “mixed-use development”.  If you can’t see the Empire State Building within the model, it’s because it has been inverted to provide shade to lower spaces whilst increasing floor space up above.  Rather proudly they have used all pieces from both models to provide a building that offers you somewhere to live and work, even down to the signage forming a rotating sail to power the building.  Yes that’s right, even Lego can be sustainable.

All photos by Peter Guenzel.

The Cloud

When you think of impressive city skylines you may think of New York’s Manhattan, with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, or perhaps a bit closer to home and London, with the uniquely shaped 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin) and the London eye, but Dubai’s skyline is one that is constantly on the up.  Breaking records for tallest and most extravagant buildings, and now even the (unofficial) craziest building ever!

Yes that’s it there in the distance, the Cloud.

Unveiled a couple of months ago at the International Design Forum, Lebanese architect Nadim Karam of Atelier Hapsitus presented the Cloud concept as a design to sit some 300m up in the air over Dubai, supported by slanted, and somewhat spindly looking, legs.

Dubai is one place that, despite recent times, has continued almost unprecedented growth and expansion, both upwards and outwards.  “Dubai is the ultimate city of mutation” and this architectural masterpiece looks like it could well have fallen straight out the sky, indeed, it is a cloud.

The Cloud is just one from a series of projects in the region (The ‘Desert’ and ‘Arabian Breeze’ to follow), inspired by the nomads who defined their lives in relation to sun, water and sand, following the borderless movements of clouds.  But it represents more than that, it offers a dreamy view, an inspiring view.   With an almost ‘anything is possible’ kind of approach, “the Cloud is a dream, suspended between artificiality and reality” offering so much more than a playful adventure.  Dubai as a city has a dream, and this is it.

The ‘raining’ structure offers the epitome of contrast for Dubai’s skyline, no more tall, hard-lined skyscrapers, this sits abreast the rigidity, floating as an organic, edge-less form.

I don’t know why you’d want to play cricket just there, but hey, why not?

It doesn’t just look good either, get up close and it may surprise you that the Cloud comprises a multitude of sustainable features.  From gardens and lakes, to spiral walkways intertwined with rotating bridges and terraces to sports platforms and even an auditorium!  Tubular lift shafts double as both structural integrity and access points which (in my mind) will offer a Charlie-and-the-great-glass-elevator-esque experience.  Who hasn’t dreamed of that since reading the book? The 20,000sq m landscape sits over a pool (presumably symbolic of a rain puddle from the ‘drizzling’ legs) which beautifully and euphorically reflects a series of columns up to the floating cloud.

The AGU (Advanced Geometry Unit) at ARUP (the incredible company behind such projects as the Water Cube Aquatics Centre for the Beijing Olympics and the Chanel Travelling Pavillion ) is working in collaboration with Atelier Hapsitus to make this a reality.

Plan and section sketch views.

Hands up who wants to go to Dubai in a few years!

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