Category Archives: Architecture

Nakheel Tower – mind-blowingly gargantuan

Whether you realise it or not, you have heard of Nakheel Properties. The property development company is probably the most ambitious in the world, and its flagship projects are world famous. They include the Palm Islands (pictured below), the planned Dubai Waterfront (expected to become the world’s largest man-made archipelago) and The World.

Although it was reported in 2009 that the company was experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, this doesn’t seem to have stopped them thinking big. The Nakheel Tower project is currently on hold, but if it goes ahead, it will be the world’s tallest skyscraper – standing at a full kilometre above the ground.

The tower will be the centrepiece to the Nakheel Tower and Harbour complex on the artificial Jumeirah Island. The masterplan is based on Islamic principles of design, taking some of the ‘best bits’ from other famous Arab cities such as the Alhambra, Alexandria and Tangier. If Nakheel Tower becomes a reality, it will thumb the nose at Nakheel’s largest competitor, Emaar Properties who are currently constructing the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest structure (for now).

  • There would be more than 200 floors and 150 lifts
  • A workforce of approximately 30,000 would be involved in construction
  • There would be  10,000 parking spaces
  • The development would include an additional 40 towers ranging in height from 20 floors to 90 floors (250m-350m)
  • There would be over 19,000 residential apartments in the complex
  • 3,500 hotel rooms are planned with a super luxury 100-room hotel to be located at the top of Nakheel Tower

In brief, the complex would be a veritable city in its own right.

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The man who designed the Great British telephone box and photographs of what he did next…

You will all be familiar with the symbolic red telephone box, shown above in street artist Banksy’s vandalised parody. Kiosk No. 2 (K2) was the second of a series of designs of public telephone booths produced in the early 20th century, and is the design which went on to become symbolic of Great Britain.

The man behind the design was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for a number of incredibly striking constructions. His mixture of Gothic with modernism turned many of his works from what would otherwise have been rather functionally designed buildings into popular landmarks.

His ‘brick cathedrals’ are not necessarily to everyone’s taste, they certainly look more than a little gloomy. I think they’re kind of wondrous.

Cambridge University Library

His Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is absolutely stunning, especially since its elevated position works very well with the whole ‘God is great(er than you)’ effect.

I don’t know about you, but if that was my local church, I’d probably go more often.

Bankside Power Station, which was built in 1952 and generated power until 1985, when it was shut and refurbished. It is now more commonly known as the Tate Modern.

And last but not least – one of the great symbols of mid-20th century industrial Britain: Battersea Power Station.

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Marchand & Meffre whisk us off to the magical world of abandoned theatres

A couple of months ago, I wrote this post about a photographic project capturing the decline and fall of Detroit. The partnership responsible for this was Marchand & Meffre – a pair of French photographers who have worked together since 2006 and who have a shared passion for the beauty of ruins.

“The state of ruin is essentially a temporary situation that happens at some point, the volatile result of change of era and the fall of empires. This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time : being dismayed, or admire, making us wondering about the permanence of things.”

Here, the duo have captured the depressing beauty of buildings which were built in their thousands at the beginning of the 20th century to cater to a growing audience and a booming industry, before becoming obsolete at the hands of the television set and urban crisis from the 1960s onwards.

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Detroit’s beautiful, horrible decline

The city of Detroit, Michigan is one of America’s largest cities and is the undisputed centre of its automotive industry, being home to the “Big Three” auto companies: Chrysler, General Motors and Ford.

Since the lat 1980s, the automotive industry in Detroit and, by proxy, the local economy of Detroit have taken several serious beatings. These include the 1980s oil glut, the summary action closure of several auto plants in the region to outsource to Mexico and, most recently, the Great Recession – where the government had to spend $13.4 billion bailing out GM and Chrysler.

As a consequence of this economic turmoil, Detroit is emptying. The 2009 residential lot vacancy in Detroit was 27.8% – up from 10.3% in 2000.  Urban decay is the result, not just in terms of individual homes but entire neighbourhoods, shops, theatres, malls etc. have been shut up and abandoned.

The French photography duo Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have made Detroit the subject of a five year project. The gorgeous results of which can be seen below. In their own words: “they have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire.

NB: Pass your mouse over the photos to find out what you’re looking at.

*UPDATE*

My friend Caelainn pointed out the similarities between the photos above and the (at least, locally) famous abandoned factory on George Street, Aberdeen where she and I went exploring many a time last year:

Photos by Caelainn Hogan

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Beautiful Buildings – Extraordinary churches

Both my parents have degrees coming out of their ears. Naturally, as a result, they’re able to answer a lot of my more random questions and I have tended to absorb knowledge from them throughout my life. Like most people, I’m sure, a huge amount of what I know and am familiar with comes from my parents. When my mother did an M.Phil in Art History a few years ago, her main area of research was in ecclesiastical art. During this time, I was surrounded by pictures of beautiful churches and the art inside them.

I have always thought there was something particular special about ecclesiastical architecture – churches built by believers completely in awe of the God they were building for, often funded by men of unimaginable power and influence. This list, which I found whilst searching for material on my thesis, contains photos of fifty unusual and incredible churches and cathedrals situated all around the world. Here are a few samples:

The last photo should definitely be entitled ‘Oil is God’.

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Serpentine Gallery with Hubie and Charlotte

I’ve been in London for the last couple of days and yesterday met up with friends of mine from prep school, Hubie and Charlotte:

 

We went to the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens, where they were showing work by the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. The gallery is absolutely tiny, but since we were barely there ten minutes, I didn’t really mind.

That big one on the left of the folded piece of metal was my favourite. It’s very simple but I imagine having it hanging  in my sitting room would make my life so much better.

Fun facts: every year, the Serpentine Gallery commissions an architect to design a pavilion which they have open for the entire summer. There have been a few famous names including Zaha Hadid (who designed the Berginsel ski jump at Innsbruck) and Oscar Niemeyer (who did many of the main buildings in Brasilia, Brazil).

This year, they commissioned the French architect Jean Nouvel, who designed the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis:

Nouvel’s Serpentine pavilion is completely red and a really awesome place to chill with friends you haven’t seen in a while:

 

And here’s how they built it:

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