Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Tokyo scraps “bicycle helmet” Olympic stadium – thank goodness

July 17, 2015

I have not been all that impressed by the much vaunted Zaha Hadid‘s architectural designs. I think her Jockey Club Innovation Tower for Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University is a particularly self-indulgent, 15-storey monstrosity. I find most of her buildings are terribly pompous and bordering on the presumptuous.

I haven’t found any of her designs that I truly like. Some are less grandiose or less offensive than others. But I don’t have to pay for her presumptions.

Hadid Jockey Club

Hadid Jockey Club

She had designed the Olympic Stadium for Tokyo 2020 which looked remarkably like a bicycle helmet and quite ugly. Fortunately it has proven to be too expensive (over 300 billion Yen – c. $2 billion), or perhaps it is an estimate of cost which is being used as the cover story for cancelling a structure which should never have been selected. Whatever the real reason, it has been scrapped.

Thank Goodness.

hadid Tokyo Olympic stadium  - image Kyodo

hadid Tokyo Olympic stadium – image Kyodo

US Embassy to adopt Medieval fortress design features

September 20, 2010


By Mike Olson

Courtesy Kierantimberlake

New US Embassy for London

A US embassy is expected to extend the welcoming hand of democracy—while maintaining a 30-meter zone of blast protection. Such was the challenge facing KieranTimberlake when the architectural firm entered a State Department competition to design a new embassy on the banks of the Thames in London. Its winning plan, to be built by 2017, is part ultramodern masterpiece—sleek solar panels, a facade made of energy-conserving fluoropolymer “pillows,” spiraling green spaces—and part 11th-century castle. West Point professor Clifford J. Rogers, an expert in medieval military history, walks us through some features that the Normans would find quite normal.

Raglan Castle started 1435

1// Keep
If the central edifice (or keep) looks familiar, it’s because the Tower of London was built in the same style. “Square keeps were common in England after the Norman Conquest,” Rogers says. Rounded structures, which are better at deflecting arrows, were adopted in the 12th century. But with archery attacks on the decline, the floor-space-maximizing cube is again ideal.

2// Motte
“Castle builders needed to prevent enemies from attacking the base with a battering ram, which would have an effect similar to a small shaped charge today,” Rogers says. A sloped approach called a motte would slow the advance of any invading army or angry mob. In this case, it also covers additional underground facilities.

3// Bailey
The low wall at street level and the larger circular landscaped perimeter is reminiscent of a bailey, an enclosed courtyard that doubles as a first line of defense. “It’s not necessarily meant to stop the enemy dead,” Rogers says, “but to give you time to react and man the inner defense.” As in the Middle Ages, this wall can be patrolled by guards.

4// Moat
The reflecting pool evokes a castle moat. “To keep a medieval fortress secure, you needed to prevent people from taking pickaxes to the base or undermining it,” Rogers says. “A moat was one of the best ways to do that.” In olden days, they were also used to raise eels and fish for food. We imagine the US embassy will forgo that tradition.

Human pylons across Iceland

September 1, 2010

Human Engineering !

From The Beautiful Brain

“Like the statues of Easter Island, it is envisioned that these one hundred and fifty foot tall, modern caryatids will take on a quiet authority, belonging to their landscape yet serving the people, silently transporting electricity across all terrain, day and night, sunshine or snow.”


An architecture and design firm called Choi+Shine has submitted a design for the Icelandic High-Voltage Electrical Pylon International Design Competitionwhich proposes giant human-shaped pylons carrying electricity cables across the country’s landscape.

The enormous figures would only require slight alterations to existing pylon designs, says the firm, which was awarded an honourable mention for its design by the competition’s judging board. It also won an award from the Boston Society of Architects Unbuilt Architecture competition.×281/o_r/pylons.png

Human pylons carry electricity across Iceland×425/o_r/pylons2.png


Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures’ cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction.

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