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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

To signal its recovery, Dubai is planning to build a real estate bubble, literally. It's a 600 meter tall building shaped like a soap-bubble, that is largely empty except for a roof top space for bars and restaurants. The large lobby also has some retail space. The building is designed by renowned firm Hawks International, and will be developed by Dubai real developers Khayal Holdings. Works are expected to start in 2014. The building will be known as The Dubai Real Estate Bubble.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tour First (formerly Tour Axa) is nearing completion. I designed the tower's external envelope while at KPF 5 years ago.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Jean Nouvel has been chosen to design this year's Serpentine Pavillion. The bright-red structure, to be made from  steel, glass, plastic and fabric,  will feature table tennis tables and an auditorium. It stands out from the schemes of the last few years which tended to be under-stated. The bright-red colour in particular is a nice touch, we've had enough modest white pavilions.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The recently completed Le Gray Hotel in Beirut is the last project I worked on with Kevin Dash. It is operated by Gordon Campbell Gray, who's behind the One Aldwych and several other high-end hotels. The hotel is in a conservation area with very strict guidelines governing the exterior appearance of the building down to materials, details and massing. The hotel takes its cues from UFA building next door, matching the facade lines and providing a modern interpretation of the older building allowing the building from outside to fit within the urban context.

The story is different on the inside, a large conical atrium creates a large internal space topped by a 'lantern', a suspended timber and glass cylinder housing a bar on the last floor. The atrium lines are defined by closely-stacked timber shelves giving it an abstract quality. The top floor provides generous roof terraces covered by a radial timber structure and provides the special spaces within the hotel. There is a restaurant, two bars, a gym, and a delicately-detailed swimming pool with an infinity edge looking towards the sea. The glass detailing allows for continuity between the internal and external spaces which the over-hanging roof emphasizes.

Towards the back, the hotel faces the 'Garden of Forgiveness', which is yet to materialise, revealing more of the 'lantern' and the roof structure. On the east side, the hotel overlooks Martyrs' Square and on the west it can be seen through the denser arrangement of French mandate-era buildings around Place d'Étoile. Together with the other buildings that I worked on with Kevin Dash in the SOLIDERE, Banque Audi Plaza and the Gold Souks, it's one of the more successful attempts at integrating the building within the urban context while animating the interior with bold spatial moves.

I took those pictures back in November when the hotel was almost complete, the landscaping around is still missing and somebody has stuck an extra mechanical room on top of the east facade because these things just happen in Beirut.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Read my argument for why London needs more skyscrapers in Culture Wars 

Friday, 26 February 2010

A great tool has been launched by  Hayes Davidson one of the leading visualisation firms in the UK, it lets you design your own London skyline. It does have some limitations because you can only use existing designs, but still great fun. So what did I decide to do with it? Of course, put the Burj Dubai in London. That immediately shows you how modest the buidlings that are considered tall in London are by comparison. I tried lpacing it within the City of London (above) and Canary Wharf (Below) and I think it looks great in both cases. I guess we need about 3 in London. What don't you try doing your own?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

My first reaction was that the building looks more like a dumpling than a beacon of democracy, but on further reflection, it looks like it's been designed by Apple. Welcome to the new iEmbassy!

The proposals for the new American Embassy building in London were unveiled yesterday. The new building intended for a site close to the River Thames in Wandsworth will replace the Eero Saarinen embassy in Grosvenor Square which has been bought by the Qatari government. The scheme was designed by the Philadelphia-based practice Kieran Timberlak, with security being one of the main drivers of the design. The building, a 12-storey glass cube sits within a 30m blast zones and is enclosed by a moat on one side. I hope they have provided some sheltered space outside for those long hours I will spend in the rain waiting to be interviewed for a visa...
The first Obambassy to be commissioned, apparently it is intended to project a different image of America. As far as I can tell, it is an apt monument to the age of risk assessments. Although I hear that Richard Rogers didn't like it, so I might reconsider. More to follow..