Monday, August 31, 2009



Design graduate Delphine Frey produced this carbon-fibre lamp as part of her Mas Luxe diploma at ECAL (University of Art and Design Lausanne) in Switzerland.


The pleats give the long, thin lamp stability.


Frey’s website will soon be at:


Here’s some text from Frey:

This desk lamp or console table lamp was born from the association of two different universes; the softness and elegance of the haute couture pleat meet the rigidity of carbon.

It is a subtle mix of two worlds: this object represents the encounter of an ancestral know-how with the latest technology. It was made with the assistance of a Formula One parts supplier.

The pleats are not only esthetical, they also add some rigidity to the long and thin structure. In addition, they also hide the leds.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Masdar City Centre by LAVA


Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) have won a competition to design the urban centre of Masdar, a zero-carbon, zero-waste city to be built in the desert near Abu Dhabi.


The centre will feature giant moveable sunshades based on sunflowers (above) that shade a public piazza, plus hotels, retail and leisure facilities.


Masdar, which will cover 6 million square metres when complete, is based on the urban layout of ancient walled cities and aims to provide a blueprint for sustainable urban development.


See our story from March 2007 about the launch of Masdar, which is masterplanned by architects Foster & Partners.


Here’s a full explanation from LAVA:

LAVA wins international design competition for the heart of Masdar, world’s first sustainable city


Giant umbrellas, with a design based on the principles of sunflowers, will provide moveable shade in the day, store heat, then close and release the heat at night in the plaza of a new eco-city in the United Arab Emirates.


The ‘sunflower umbrellas’ are one aspect of the winning design by the international practice Laboratory for Visionary Architecture [LAVA] for the city centre for Masdar in the UAE - the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city powered entirely by renewable energy sources.


Masdar is a planned city located 17 kilometres from Abu Dhabi. A government initiative, the city is being constructed over seven phases and is due to be completed by 2016.


The city centre includes a plaza, five-star hotel, long stay hotel, a convention centre and entertainment complex and retail facilities.


LAVA won the design in an international competition against several hundred entries and strong competition from some of the world’s most high profile architects.


LAVA was founded in 2007 by Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck and has offices in Sydney, Stuttgart and Abu Dhabi.


Chris Bosse said: ‘Masdar City is the world’s most prestigious project focusing on sustainable energy design. It is the city of the future and a global benchmark for sustainable urban development. We believe in the Masdar slogan “One day all cities will be like this”’.


The solar powered ‘sunflower’ umbrellas capture the sun’s rays during the day, fold at night releasing the stored heat, and open again the next day. They follow the projection of the sun to provide continuous shade during the day.


Mr. Bosse said: ‘the sunflower principle is eco-friendly and can be adapted to anywhere in the world – it opens opportunities for outside living, even in the desert’.


Mr Rieck added: ‘The entire city is car-free with a magnetic public transport system includes individual pods that drive you to your destination using solar power’.


Some other key innovations of the winning plan include:

• Building façade angles that can be altered to offset or optimise solar glare.
• Materials on wall surfaces respond to changing temperatures and contain minimal embedded energy.
• Water features can be stored underground during the day and at night trickle or flow strongly, triggered by passersby.
• Interactive light poles, inspired by the oasis fire, transform the plaza into a 3-dimensional interactive media installation.
• Interactive, heat sensitive technology activates lighting in response to pedestrian traffic and mobile phone usage.
• Roof gardens integrate food production, energy generation, water efficiency and the reuse of organic food waste.


Mr Wallisser said ‘the idea behind our concept is the use, inspiration, and adaptation of nature and our plans combine innovative design and sustainability’.


East and west are fused in the plaza design inspired by both the oasis, as the epicenter of Arabic nomadic life, and the iconic piazza of historical European cities. The organic forms created by the forces of natural erosion in geographical landmarks such as great canyons and wadis are the design inspiration behind the key buildings in the city centre.


After winning stage 1 in January this year, LAVA teamed up with the Sydney/Dubai based Kann Finch group, engineering firm Arup (with whom Chris Bosse previously worked on the Watercube in Beijing), Transsolar (worlds leading energy consultancy), and a team of international experts.


For more information:



Thursday, August 27, 2009

Munetsugu Hall

Norihiko Dan
– born in 1956 in the Kanagawa Prefecture in Japan – is the designer of the beautiful Munetsugu Hall, completed in 2007 in Naka Ward, Nagoya, Japan. It is a privately-funded concert hall that continues the age-old but almost-dead tradition of wealthy arts patrons initiating and financing the creation of art spaces. Fluid, white wall shapes are the distinctive feature of Munetsugu Hall’s main performance space. The walls bring to mind artistic sweep marks left by a gigantic builder who in his boredom doodled in his mortar tray with a massive trowel and then let the shapes solidify.

Norihiko Dan has won several architecture awards in Japan and Taiwan including the Distinguished Architect Award of the Japanese Institute of Architecture and the ARCADIA Award Gold Medal in 2007. His work has been part of exhibitions in Japan, Taiwan, USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK. In addition to being a respected architect and educator, Norihiko Dan is also an architecture historian and writes novels and screenplays.

Munetsugu Hall’s generous benefactor is Tokuji Munetsugu who with his wife Naomi made a fortune in the restaurants business. Their company Ichibanya Co. Ltd. (based in Aichi, Japan) operates more than 1,000 curry and pasta restaurants under the names Curry House CoCo Ichibanya and Pasta de Coco. Munetsugu spent two billion yen to build the 310-seat concert hall. He has also set up a nonprofit organization to support welfare, sports and arts activities.

Les Bains des Docks

The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks (animation here), designed by the 2008 Prtizker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvelhas just opened in the historical Port of Le Havre. Inspired by the Roman thermal baths, the 5,000-square-metre complex offers an eerily beautiful atmosphere of tranquility with the fantastic play of natural light soothing the eyes, the masterful acoustics pleasing the ears, and the pools and treatment areas taking care of the rest of the body.

Although the main “colour” of the complex is white, each section’s distinct atmosphere and hue is created by flowing water curtains, colour walls, and various textures and surface treatments. Each pool — lap-pool, children’s pool, whirlpools — is designed, shaped and lit to create a unique “private space” for its specific users. These seemingly enclosed areas help minimize echoing and sound carriage — an annoying aspect of most aquatic centres - as do the varying-height floors and ceilings, and the acoustic false ceilings. Saunas, a hammam, cold and hot baths, and a spa area with hydro-massage and aquagym areas complete the atmosphere of pampering and care. An external lagoon makes the summer use of the complex even more appealing.

The Docks in the south end of the ancient port city of Le Havre are the oldest docks in France. The area is under massive revitalization with the goal of making this a leisure, culture and shopping neighborhood. When completed, the area will include residences, a large park, a tropical greenhouse, cinemas, bowling alleys and a shopping center, plus a Nouvel-designed Sea and Sustainable Development Centre to be completed in 2011. The Sea Centre will be a showcase of shipping and sailing — exploring their economic and industrial significance as well as their environmental impact on coasts and estuaries. It will be a 120-meter-high metallic structure dominating the port and it will include exhibit areas, an aquarium, a meteorological station and a restaurant with panoramic, 360-degree views of Port of Le Havre.

Nouvel’s well-known public buildings literally span the world from New York to Reykjavik, Dubai, Soul and Tangiers. Recent interesting buildings include the bright-red research center for the maker of brakes for luxury cars, Brembo, in Italy. NouveI'smasterpiece for La Philharmonie de Paris will open in 2012.

Dupli Casa Remembers its Past

Dupli Casa, a private residence by the Neckar river, near the old town of Marbach in South- Western Germany, is a wonderfull example of connection and fluidity. It connects the inside with the outside, up with down, air with ground and - most cleverly - past with present and even future.

From the outside, the three-storey concrete villa looks like a bit like some sort of a fiberglass motorboat job gone funny, yet it also manages to look immensely appealing and intriguing. From some angles, the structure appears to be standing upside down - the lower exterior rim spilling onto the lawn and forming a part of a roof structure, if the building were to stand the other way around. It could have been blown there by the wind; it could be a StarWarsian vehicle frozen in place; it could be just taking off to outer space.

The outdoor swimming pool and the white surface surrounding it seem like a perfect reflection of the house, almost as if the house had been face down on the ground, and when it was lifted off the ground, the process had left an imprint of a swimming pool on the ground and the large window opening in the house.

The views from the inside are amazing, especially from the vast ground-level openings that again, give the sensation of flying, being airborne, weightlessness. Everything is fluid, flowing and smooth.

All of this is very much in keeping with the main inspiration for the house. The new residence follows the footprint of the previous dwelling and its numerous extensions. The idea was to let the 'family archaeology' continue in the new building. It's a house that remembers its beginnings in 1984 yet projects boldly into the future.

Dupli Casa is the work of Jurgen Mayer H., founder and principal of his cross-disciplinary studio. J. Mayer H. Architekten in Berlin. Other team members include Georg Schmidthals, Thorsten Blatter and Simon Takasak, plus Uli Wiesler's architecture studio based in Stuttgart.

Tara Donovan - From Paper Cups To Genius

New York artist Tara Donovan is a master of seeing. Not just looking, but actually seeing. Her sculptural, one-of-a-kind art is based on her ability to see, imagine and create forms, shapes and textures from ordinary objects that most of us don't even notice. She creates art from rolls of tape, pieces of pencil, Styrofoam cups, paper plates, napkins. Her sculptural works evoke thoughts of nature. A perfect example is the 'Untitled' cloud formation she created in 2003 from Styrofoam cups and glue.

The 38-year-old Donovan has recently accomplished several things many artists never achieve. This September, the first monograph of her work was published by visual book press, Monacelli Press (now owned by Random House). A couple of weeks later, on October 10, a traveling retrospective of her work opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

But perhaps the biggest deal is the extra half-a-million dollars that she will have to work with in the next few years. In late September, she received a phone call from the John D. and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. She was informed that she had been made a Fellow of the Foundation and that she will receive a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation 'genius' grant. It is a no-strings-attached support of her work over five years. She was selected as one of 25 recipients in 2008. Others include a physician, an astrophysicist, a violinist, a computer scientist and representatives of many other endeavours who were selected for their creativity, originality and potential to make important contributions in the future.

Dolder Grand Hotel - Zurich (The Ultimate Suites)

“Someone has finally understood how the ultimate suite should look and feel,” was our chief globetrotter’s seldom-heard endorsement, when he encountered the recently opened four top suites and spa at Zürich’s Dolder Grand Hotel.

Designed in 1899 by Jacques Gros, the famed health spa/hotel has a perfect city location overlooking Lake Zürich and the Alps. The grand old hotel has been re-imagined as a modern luxury hotel by a star team of professionals - architecture by London’sFoster and Partners, interior design by United Designers, also of London, and the spa concept by spa-industry visionary, Arizona-based Sylvia Sepielli .

The star power continues in the four top-level suites inspired by four famed guests. The top-most, 4,300 square-foot (400 square-meter) Maestro Suite channels the style of Herbert von Karajan. The sweeping two-level suite with dashing classical undertones features red leather chairs, dark timbers, a circular tower dining room, pale-marble bathrooms with whirlpools and steam showers (and one with a sauna), massive windows and a lounge-style terrace.

The late Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti inspired the Carezza Suite on the top floor of the spa wing. Sculpturally inspired furnishings and organic shapes create a peaceful lounge feel, enhanced by the neutral colors and the modern fireplace. The two-bedroom suite has a separate living room, TV lounge and marble bathrooms.

Also on the top floor of the spa wing, the Masina Suite gets its dramatic inspiration from Giulietta Masina, actress and wife of Federico Fellini. Night-blue and soft white evoke a feel of elegance and smoky glamour. A large Fendi sofa and a flat-screen TV are perfect for film noir nights. Floor-to-ceiling windows add further drama. Orange sofas, dark wood panels and pink furniture adorn Suite 101 created to reflect the legacy of the Rolling Stones. The decor has a retro vibe and an edge with distinctive, casual luxury. The suite includes a bedroom, living room, dining room, an ensuite kitchen and meeting room for 10. - Tuija Seipell

Spotlight On Power And Money (Amsterdam)

When the investment group All Capital wanted a power space for their high-powered meetings in Amsterdam, they engaged two local creative firms that had the right vision. Interior design firm i29 and architectural office Eckhardt en Leeuwensteincreated meeting and lounge areas that are prestigious and opulent without being pretentious or stuffy.

Themed around the playful concept of being under a spotlight, the spaces feature gigantic, round, black lamp shades spray-painted gold inside. These power lights appear to cast spot lights and create shadows everywhere in the space. The fake ovals of light and shadow on the floor, walls and furnishings are created by altering the colors and textures of the finish.

The golden ovals also define specific areas and soften the angles of the black-stained ash wood desks and cabinets. In addition, the gold and silver ovals scattered about can be interpreted as coins - highlighting the business of the client. All existing ornamentation and detail of the building was painted white.

The All Capital boardrooms and lounge opened last month in the historic, 17th-century building, De Gouden Bocht located by one of the most famous canals of Amsterdam, the Herengracht (=Gentlemen`s Canal).

i29 was established in 2001 by Jaspar Jensen and Jeroen Dellensen. Their style is characterized by a dramatic absence of extras or gimmicks, and by frequent use of clear blocks of color and lots of white. Their projects, mainly in Amsterdam, include schools, retail shops, restaurants, hotels and private residences.

Architect duo Rob Eckhardt and Goos Leeuwenstein has a long history of distinctive projects from public spaces to restaurants, entertainment venues and residences. They've created offices for Publicis, DDB and Eigen Fabrikaat, film studios for Jurriaan Eindhoven, and interiors for Restaurant Bordewijk. Eckhardt became known early in his career as a furniture designer with the disco stool Dolores as his first success in the early 1980s. He even operated a retail store that sold his furniture, including the 1983 Groeten uit Holland chair and the 1982 Karel Doorman chaise lounge. - Tuija Seipell

Lac Superieur Residence, Mont-Tremblant, Canada

The boxy and containery appearance of residential buildings currently attracting accolades and attention is starting to get boring. However, simplicity, clarity and openness are qualities that continue to appeal.

While this is yet another house of stacked boxes, we cannot help but admire the vacation residence clinging dramatically to the sloping hill up in the trees of the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, Canada.

Locals, used to a more traditional ski chalet in this popular ski resort area, refer to the building as the cube, a name choice requiring no imagination. When the Montreal-based architectural firm Saucier + Perrotte won the Canadian Architect magazine’s Award of Excellence for this project in 2004, the magazine called the entry the Lac Superieur Residence in Lac Superieur, Mont-Tremblant.

Whatever the moniker, the house stuns with its elegant lines, stylish use of materials and lack of unnecessary distractions.

As it should be, the building’s real redeeming features reveal themselves inside. The views from the floor-to-ceiling windows provide all the visual stimulus you’ll need, and at the same time, demand a streamlined approach to everything else in the interior.

The boxy-cubey theme continues inside as do the color scheme and the lack of distracting materials. The residence is divided into three functional areas’ sleeping quarters on the top floor, middle and entry floor for living and the lowest level for play.

Although the building looks like a disorganized corner of a stylish container-port it exudes a solitary, silent grace that allows the distinctive, four seasons of the mountain to provide the main attraction.

The building meets the criteria for a log cabin as described in the area’s design guidelines for recreational development yet, fortunately, fails to resemble a Tyrolean mini castle. - Tuija Seipell

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