Last year, we covered Macquarie Group's massive Sydney headquarters designed by West Hollywood-based Clive Wilkinson Architects. Earlier this year, the same two players completed another spectacular office project, this time in London.
Macquarie, a global provider of banking and investment services, gathered up its various divisions from several buildings under one roof in the brand-new Ropemaker Place. Macquarie occupies 217,500 square feet (20,207 square meters) on six floors in the 20-storey, LEED Platinum building designed by Arup Associates.
Wilkinson's team took its cues from the new trend of transparency in financial services and balanced that with the more traditional and practical needs of prestige and privacy.
The beautiful, open space is a triumph of simplicity. A skillful and meaningful use of bright colour, combined with the all-white inner structure gives the open plan a sense of delight and order.
The centerpiece is the open atrium where the bright red steel staircase and upper-level steel catwalks link the various floors in a visually stunning way. The sculpture-like staircase, with its underside also painted red, is the focal point of the entire space and symbolizes not just openness but connectedness as well.
Privacy and prestige are evident in the more secluded client areas, where the traditional pinstripe lines appear in several iterations in ceilings, partitions, environmental graphics and other visual cues.
Exquisite furnishings, such as the purple Tom Dixon seating in the upper-level guest relations and reception area, exude prestige with modern sensibilities.
The traditional boardroom is furnished by existing furniture from previous offices, including Eames chairs and walnut-veneer table.
Environmental graphics, by Los Angeles-based Egg Office, continue on the theme of transparency and privacy with vertical pinstripes the key visual element. - Tuija Seipell.
Korean architect Eun Young Yi’s proposal was selected in 1999 from 235 competition entries as the plan for the new central library of the City of Stuttgart.
The building of the 80-million Euro (about $108 mil. US) Stadtbibliothek am Mailänder Platz began three years ago and the opening ceremonies took place last month.
Yi has created a monolithic cube with two floors underground and nine above. Essentially all of the building, both inside and out is white. The main library floors circle an open-plan with the levels connected by open staircases. Books line the outer walls of each floor.
As a cool nod to the fact that the building is a storehouse of words, the word “library” is installed in four languages on the outside walls. On the North wall in German (the local language), West in English (lingua franca), South in Arabic (the language of ancient knowledge and of Stuttgart’s sister city, Cairo) and East in Korean (Yi’s native language).
Yi’s company, Yi Architects is based in Cologne and Seoul. Its work includes public projects ranging from museums and universities to offices and city plans. - Tuija Seipell
Here at TCH, we started ACCESS agency for the sole reason of giving brands the opportunity to be BOLD, to do something more than what is safe, more than what is easy, more than what is comfortable, accepted, standard, just good enough.
We are excited to work with brands around the globe who seek us out for that reason. They ask us to shake them up a bit, create something unboring, something truly DIFFERENT
Those in the creative and even in the marketing fields will recognize the syndrome we are fighting against: Everyone wants a great idea. A great idea is found. Everyone is ecstatic. The idea goes through the system, though the layers of approvals, discussions and hesitations, and comes out unrecognizable, ordinary, safe and boring. We see this happen over and over.
Companies that do not have a Steve Jobs-like creative visionary at or near the top, have extreme trouble getting innovation of any kind approved or produced. Bold ideas just do not survive the system.
Recently, we were approached by Sephora’s great team because they had seen our work with MINI car wraps.
Sephora wanted to launch a same-day delivery service for online cosmetics sales in New York. We designed a series of six different head-turning MINI Cooper wraps for their fleet of six vehicles. We were going for bold designs that will really stand out in the busy New York street scene, among the taxis and delivery vehicles. We were gunning for big impact and quick recognition, immediate attention, a bold and cool vibe, something that would generate on-street buzz, even with only six vehicles.
They loved the ideas but in the end asked us to design a black-and-white style that was on-brand. We were sad to see the boldness gone. The black-and-white MINIs have been on the streets since July. - Bill Tikos
Bridle Road Residence in Cape Town, South Africa, is a beautiful example of a sizeable structure that does not impose itself onto the landscape at the base of Table Mountain.
The single-family residence does not look massive or overly grand, but instead exudes a classic elegance with Scandinavian/Japanese lightness, precision and scale. The proportions and division of the walls and windows — including the “picture windows” overlooking the Cape Town harbor — create an openness without the feel of exposure.
Interior and exterior spaces are integrated seamlessly, which adds to the sense of site appropriateness — that this building belongs to this site.
The architecture is by Cape Town’s Antonio Zaninovic, known for his ability to let the landscape lead the architectural solutions. The Santiago, Chile-born, Zaninovic graduated from the University of Chile’s School of Architecture in 2000 and spent five years at Steven Harris Architects in New York before establishing his own practice in 2005 with Madrid, Spain-born architect, Ana Corrochano.
The interiors of the residence are by Lucien Rees of New York City-based Rees Roberts + Partners and the landscape by David Kelly of Rees Roberts + Partners.
The building and site feature several sustainable solutions including the self-cleaning outdoor pool, natural cross-ventilation, use of earth temperature as climactic moderator, use of heat-repelling glass, and maximal use of local materials such as poured finish concrete and balau wood.
The house and its landscape won an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2010 Honor Award in the Residential Design category, - Tuija Seipell
Horizon Media, founded in 1989, is the largest U.S. independent media services company. It is growing fast and needed a new space to accommodate its New York City staff that was scattered within ten blocks in three buildings and on nine floors.
Its new digs, designed by New York’s a+i Architecture are a cool mix of industrial-scale open space – 115,000 square feet in total on three floors – and warm, inviting working environments.
Horizon’s new offices occupy the 14th, 15th and 16th floors at 1 Hudson Square on 75 Varick Street between Grand and Canal Streets. It is part of the Hudson Square Business Improvement District established in 2009 by Mayor Bloomberg and envisioned to attract media and creative organizations as tenants and to become a major creative hub.
The building was originally a printing factory with an impressive concrete structure, 360-degree views and high ceilings. Wth such good bones to start from, a+i further amplified the grandeur by cutting a wide staircase through all three floors.
This not only opened the light-filled space up even more, it also met another requirement: it helps the staff see the “hive” at work and connect and interact with each other.
This cohesiveness and interaction was an important goal for Horizon, especially because this is the first time its large headquarter staff was under one roof. The goal of taking fuller advantage of the proximity of the talent of all teams is also reflected in the number of huddle rooms, screening rooms and flexible spaces that have the latest technology to enable cooperation, interaction, brainstorming, presentations, video conferencing and client meetings.
The color palette of the space is neutral with accessories, furnishings and millwork providing splashes of color. The coldness of polished concrete and steel is softened by curving wood features made of maple veneer.
Horizon Media employs 500 people in total with additional offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Amsterdam. a+i Architecture is a full-service architectural firm with projects ranging from workspace consulting, planning and design to retail and hospitality design. - Tuija Seipell
Villa Veth is a modern, customized villa, a private residence for a family of four. It is situated on a large parcel of land by a forest near the idyllic town of Hattem in the eastern part of the Netherlands.
Although the structure from some angles resembles today’s favorite and by now highly overused form – long, narrow boxes situated at odd angles – the design of this villa manages to avoid that cliché by locating only one floor above ground. The result is a classic, modern residence that functions well for the family inhabiting it, yet looks like it could have existed since the 1950s.
The ground floor and principal living area of the two-storey residence is divided into two. On one side are the master bedroom and two kids’ bedrooms -- all with separate bathrooms -- plus two small studios.
The other half –the south-facing side -- of the floor plan is taken up by an open-concept living area that includes the kitchen, dining and living spaces. One wall of the living area is constructed of frameless curved glass, enabling a seamless connection with the outdoors.
In addition, this space opens up to a vast, unadorned terrace or platform, part of which is covered and equipped with floor heating. The first floor also includes a small separate play and TV-room, a laundry and a tiny powder room.
The total floor surface area of the residence is 475 square meters (about 5,113 square feet). 123DV is an architectural firm that specializes in modern villas and supervises the entire construction process. Tuija Seipell
We’ve recently stumbled upon ‘We Don’t Eat, a single by Irish singer and songwriter James Vincent McMorrow. Now we cannot stop listening to it and we keep debating whether our attraction is about his high, halting, smoky voice, or the eerie aura of something very old, something we’ve heard a long time ago, something written by old men.
Whatever the main attraction, this piece evokes the damp darkness of the Irish landscape itself, and makes us think of Irish immigrants entering New York in the 1800s. It is cool. Literally and figuratively. We Don’t Eat is available for US readers here for free:
James Vincent Morrow released his debut album in 2010 and he’s just finished his first North American tour.
We continue our curiosity with bicycle art. Here is the latest installation by the activist Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. This piece is one of 21 works by Ai from 1983 to present that form the “Ai Weiwei Absent” exhibition, opened at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum at the end of October.
“Forever Bicycles” is made of 1,000 bicycles installed in a 10-meter high space in a moving, abstract shape to symbolize the way in which the social environment in China is changing.
Ai Weiwei is known for example for his cooperation with Swiss architects Herzog & Meuron as the consultant for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Birds Nest building.
Ai is prohibited from leaving Beijing and cannot attend the exhibition. In a Reuters article, Ai was quoted as saying: “This is the first time I’m having an exhibition of my art works in the wider Chinese world. I’m really happy that it can be exhibited in Taiwan, because recently it has not possible to have an exhibition in my own place of residence. I have been notified that I won’t be allowed to go -- that was the outcome of my application -- so right now I cannot attend. But my family members will attend.” - Bill Tikos
Predisposed as we are to loving all things that involve curving wood, natural light and minimalism, it is not surprising we fell head over heels in love with this exquisite chapel. It is made with 20 tons of unadorned wood and not a single nail or metal fitting.
It is called Capela Árvore da Vida- Seminário Conciliar de Braga — The Tree of Life Chapel at St. James Seminary in Braga, Portugal.
Built inside the existing seminary, the chapel was designed by architects António Jorge Cerejeira Fontes and André Cerejeira Fontes, with sculptural work by sculptor Asbjörn Andresen.
All three are with the Braga-based Imago, also known as Cerejeira Fontes Architects - Imago Atelier de Arquitectura e Engenharia. Andersen is a Norwegian sculptor, who lectures and works in Sweden, Norway and Portugal. The Cerejera Fontes brothers are both engineers and architects currently pursuing PhDs in Urban Planning.
Other participants in the beautiful chapel project include sculptor Manuel Rosa, painter Ilda David, the organ builder Pedro Guimarães, Italian photographer Eduardo di Micceli and civil engineer Joaquim Carvalho.
The chapel functions as an intimate prayer room, a place of quiet contemplation for those living in the seminary. Every detail of the structure and its adornments draws its origins from the Bible. Even the overall floor plan and structural solutions echo the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.
There is an intimate and gentle connection between the outside world and the chapel itself, with an inviting, fluid pathway leading into the space, instead of a categorical doorway with a heavy, excluding door.
The structure resembles a hut, a boat, a honeycomb or a forest. The wooden slats — that also provide shelving for books — and the open ceiling allow light to play its magic at all times of the day. This is a time-lapse video of the building process here. - Tuija Seipell
All images sent to TCH exclusively by photographer Nelson Garrido.