Paralympics adventure…

After weeks of checking for tickets, a Twitter feed gave the alert about the new release of tickets and I was on the computer 1 minute later! No athletics tickets but swimming was available + access into the Olympic Park area.

So, up at 4 in the morning, a quick (and dark) cycle down to the bus station to get the coach at 5:15! It’s one thing being woken up in the night by the kids, then going back to sleep, but another thing entirely getting up at 4 then staying up! : )

Mr McK and I arrived at 8:20 at Victoria Coach Station and we were stood outside the Aquatics Centre within the Olympic Park at 9:45 (only just after the morning session had started). A 5 hour and 45 mins trip just to get there, but all worth it as it turned out.

A great atmosphere inside the Aquatics Centre and some incredible athletes competing. I found the whole thing a very humbling experience, particularly when the more seriously disabled swimmers were out there. I was taken aback by the efforts of the athletes and their obvious determination in the face of considerable adversity. That said a lot about the human spirit.

One thing I noticed was the different techniques used by the different swimmers, I would guess depending on their particular disability. The atmosphere was great and a lot of support shown by the crowd. Our seats were in the first tier and right in the middle of the pool’s 50m length, so a really good view. The roof of the building was the highlight in architectural terms, with its undulating form and cut out lighting sections. Very successful in many ways and certainly produced a great atmosphere.

One noticeable thing about the day was the scale of the place and and area of the park. No wonder it’s ended up costing so much – the area is vast! We got out of the Aquatics centre just before lunch then wondered up the park towards the Velodrome end.

A first look at the Olympic Village (athletes village) was less than impressive, with average success in the overall form and detailing. It was clear some effort had been made but there was not enough variation across the whole scheme to lift the quite blocky appearance. The accent colours used were also fairly drab, but obviously there had been serious budget restrictions.

But, and somewhat surprisingly, the Coke corporate stand was very good. An artistic combination of visuals and interactive sound. Touching the coloured large pads produced different sounds, with a dancing and music show inside the building once we had walked up the ramps then down inside.

After checking out the Velodrome and basketball venues, we made our way over to the BP corporate stand. While queuing, I found out about Liverpool loosing 2-0 to Arsenal at Anfield. With the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill in mind, we sat through 20 minutes of frankly corporate b*llshit. How BP is leading the way in responsible extraction, safety, environmental issues etc, after $20 Billion worth of environmental and business related damages! At the start the host had said if anyone is feeling sick during the show (there was a moving seating area), they should raise their hands and someone would get them out – I nearly put my hand up.

After recovering from that double set back, we made our way over to the fish & chips for some well-earned dinner and pint : )

Overall, the standard of the competition was excellent which we witnessed in the aquatics centre and I have huge respect for the athletes, maybe more so than the more able-bodied ones. All the transport for the whole day worked out really well. A very well organised event and a good atmosphere.

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Small house – Unemori Architects…

Achingly good design – love the contrast of the ultra-modern architecture and the seemingly haphazard power-telephone lines which surround the block.

http://www.contemporist.com/2012/02/06/small-house-by-unemori-architects/sh_060212_01/

http://www.unemori-archi.com/wk2.html

Sometimes you see a creation and want to just pull up a chair and sit in the street staring at it. This is a bridge to public art.

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Gloucester regeneration progress…

Some significant progress made with two of the city centre’s major developments. The scaffolding and tarpaulin coverings have come down around the language immersion centre and Merchant’s Quay apartments.

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Obviously both are a work in progress but much of the work has been done now. Also some retro-fitting of the shared space around Kimbrose Triangle has taken place, with narrowing of the highway around the main crossing area between town and the Docks. This is to make it easier for people to cross over as cars had been basically not stopping for people, meaning a long wait to get over.

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Rem Koolhaus / Jean Nouvel interview…

Rem Koolhaus: One of the more prominent architects around at the moment – a discussion about the changing face of architecture

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2011/oct/07/rem-koolhaas-oma-barbican-video

Jean Nouvel: His Serpentine Pavilion in London is an amazing structure with amazing contrasts to the surrounding area.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2010/jul/06/serpentine-pavilion-jean-nouvel?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3486

The foundation of life on Earth – oxygenated red blood cells and green chlorophyl in plants.

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National Grid ‘Pylon for the Future’ competition shortlist…

What might seem like one of the most boring and insignificant architectural and engineering design competitions, could actually be affecting people’s lives for the next 100 years.

There has been huge debate about the impact of wind farms on the landscape but rarely do you hear the uproar over what is terrible and permanent blight to our landscape – the National Grid electricity pylons.

So, a competition was launched and 250 entries were received, resulting is 6 shortlisted designs, 3 of which are shown below.

Ian Ritchie Architects: Producing a dynamic silhouette, the pylon exaggerates its reach to the sky, sometimes appearing as a full black lance and other times as a thin sliver, like a single brushstroke on a canvas. The pylon becomes an animated character in the landscape… part of a series or pattern… while the convex exterior skin reflects its surroundings. The landscape exists within the pylon as the pylon exists within the landscape.

Gustafson Porter: Flower Tower expresses the transmission of energy through forms associated with nature. In elevation, the Flower Tower reads like a bouquet of flowers or leaves. The bunching together of several ‘stems’ creates structural stiffness at the base. These stems are tied together by connecting plates and horizontal bridges which allow access to maintain the cables. Arcs defined by the cable clearance swings generate curving ‘leaves’, which splay out from the stem. The earth wire is held by a spike or ‘flower’ at the top of the tower.

AL_A Arup: Plexus creates a poetic dialogue between structure and landscape. Its shape responds to changes in topography, striding across the horizon in sequence with a lightness and grace. Although seemingly filigree in nature, these pylons have been designed for resilience, adapting to different site conditions by expansion and contraction of the arced form. The pylons fluctuate in size and profile, visibly mapping the terrain.

I would certainly not be disappointed with either Arup’s or Ian Ritchie’s offering repeated thousands of times across our countryside. The ‘burying cables’ option will almost certainly be too expensive and also actually damaging to green structures. The disruption and damage caused to the landscape would be huge.

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The Cool Hunter…

Some great images from one of my favourity design websites…

Amazing use of collour as always from the Hunters.

http://www.thecoolhunter.co.uk/design

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Fame and architecture…

Another architecture-related post… Just catching up with a BIG (see what i’ve done there to exaggerate the effect??) pile of Architects Journal magazines which have been steadily accumulating on the desk for the last 2 months. The ‘Leader’ article caught my eye – an honest architect!

‘It may be hard to admit but the truth is that the architectural profession is ego-driven and fame-obsessed and has been since it came into being.’

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Poem – ‘Art without architecture?…

Exploration of extremes

Range of contrasts

Voice of reason

And of apprehension

After the break

Stutter and shake

Form and reason

Curves and appreciation

Art without architecture?

Style and no substance

Into the dark

And that’s it.

Inspired by an article in the Guardian about visual art and its relationship to the architecture which it is displayed in or on.

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Building design…

I come across so many amazing examples of architecture from around the world that i’m going to start putting them on here, within the existing category ‘work/urban design/architecture’.

This latest pair are both stunning examples of modern design, the first (10 Hills Place), an example of pure art-driven design just off Oxford Street, while the Ipswich example makes good references to the maritime/docks context.

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design

Awesome site with some really nice colour examples within architecture…

http://www.thecoolhunter.co.uk/design

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