Great, aesthetically pleasing design needn't be limited to traditional architectural forms such as houses and public buildings.
Utilitarian spaces, such as car parks, present architects and designers with a unique opportunity to bring beauty and harmony to the everyday functional spaces that are normally ignored by great design minds.
We're excited to report that the tide is changing, evidenced by these good-looking car parks.
Modern design is all about "experience" and these car parks pictured acknowledge that one's experience of a private or public place begins the minute they pull up in their car. Innovative developers and designers are recognising just how crucial this is - it's almost too late by the time the consumer arrives at the front door. The "experience" of good design starts well before that.
Our agency ACCESS is currently working with a few developers/city councils globally in creating the ultimate public car park and we're on the hunt for architects/designers who already have created in this space. In the know? Get in touch. Seen any other interesting car parks we should know about - send us tips - Bill Tikos
Loft Hamburg, located in a restored building in Winterhude district of Hamburg, is a private 118 square-meter residence designed by Graft. The focal point of the high-ceilinged and otherwise white space is a large pod paneled with walnut. The pod contains the residence’s kitchen and bathroom, hides its central heating, cooling and plumbing, and even provides some cupboards and bookshelves. The owner was looking to use a wide variety of materials, and the walnut pod contrasts beautifully with the soft fabrics, leather and natural stone used elsewhere in the loft.
Graft is an architecture, urban planning and design company established in 1998 in Los Angeles by German architects (,) Lars Krückeberg, Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit and Gregor Hoheisel, all now in their early forties.
Their Berlin office opened in 2001, and Beijing office in 2004. Alejandra Lillo joined Graft as the fifth partner in Los Angeles in 2007. - Tuija Seipell.
Nothing turns heads faster than a cool retro print on an über hot car, and our Space Invader and Pac Man inspired Mini Coopers had half of New York & L.A in a neckbrace from all the attention. Average Joes on the street became home-schooled paparazzi as they snapped away at the Mini on their mobile phones and forwarded them on to friends.
If you think your design has what it takes to get wrapped around a Mini then send it in to us this month and you could see your work blazoned across our exciting new global launch.
See also our Space Invaders pop up skate ramp
In a world where people appreciate good design everywhere, cool mini hotel rooms are the latest ‘it’ trend. In Tokyo, the Capsule Inn exemplifies the bare-essentials hotel rooms for brief use, and similar concepts are popping up at airports, train stations and downtowns around the world, replacing and mimicking the “day rooms” already existing at many airports.
Unlike Tokyo’s bed-only cabins where customers climb into a human equivalent of a honeycomb for a night’s rest, Yotel pods at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in London and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam come in larger and more comfortable formats. These self-contained mini hotel rooms are equipped with a bed, table, HD TV and Wi-Fi.
The fourth Yotel is set to arrive in New York in 2011 with a location opening on 42nd and 10th street boasting 669 luxury rooms and the largest outside terrace in any hotel in New York
Also in Amsterdam, Citizen M has a hotel with 230 mini rooms at Schiphol Airport and a 215-room hotel in Amsterdam City. Citizen M plans to open similar hotels across Europe.
Qbic Hotels has opened two “cheap chic” hotels with mini rooms in the Netherlands: Qbic World Trade Centre Amsterdam and Qbic Maastricht, plus one in Antwerp, Belgium.
Taking the next step in rest and space efficiency, Russia’s Arch Group designed the SleepBox.
Along with an airport version of the rest pod, equipped with the usual, high-tech necessities offered by other companies, Arch Group has also designed an easy-to-relocate version fit for hostels. A small, mobile compartment, 2m (l) x 1.4m (w) x 2.3m (h), SleepBox is made of wood and MDF. SleepBox is meant to “allow very efficient use of available space and, if necessary, a quick change of layout”, making it perfect for hostels where demand and space available often come in conflict with each other. The hostel-specific SleepBox features bunk beds, flip-out tables and sockets for computers or phone chargers and not much else. Yuri Pushkin, Tuija Seipell.
City of Utrecht in the Netherlands has developed a large complex, Cultuurcampus Vleuterweide, where half of the floor plan is taken up by a school and a sports facility, and the other half includes 55 residences, a church, cultural center, theater, and a library.
It is the internet “café” of the info centre/library that sparked our imagination with its bulky, woody mass and colorful, folkloric embellishments. Wouldn’t it be amazing if more internet cafes paid this much attention to design?
The architect of the complex is Vera Yanovshtchinsky Architecten based in The Hague. Interior design and furnishings are by Assen-based AEQUO BV Architects that is known for impressive school and library work.
Throughout the entire Vleuterweide facility, AEQUO has sprinkled fun embellishments, including lime-green, lemon-yellow and azure-blue walls, and pink carpets. Furnishings and lighting fixtures also draw attention: A prim, baroque chair covered in hot-pink fabric in one corner, a group of lumpy recliners upholstered in brown flour-sack material in another. - Tuija Seipell
Today’s demanding consumers expect even their beloved, favorite brands to step up their game. Many run-away online successes of offline brand “stunts” attest that consumers expect, and get really excited about, experiences that are unusual, fun, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging. With the power and immediacy of social media, surprising offline events and stunts have now turned into truly powerful promotional tools.
In 2010, TCH will launch Access Agency. It is a dedicated entity that will continue our work of creating highly original, transformational, yet eminently practical and results-oriented strategies for companies to stage the kinds of offline brand experiences that will increase the economic value of their offering.
Access specializes in helping brands and businesses see the world differently. We add substantial value by creating customized experiences that change the consumers’ thinking in some way. The surprise element changes the thinking patterns, and the change makes the experience memorable. People want to talk about it, tell everybody about it. And that, in turn, translates into added brand awareness and ultimately sales.
Access is hard at work creating ideas and concepts for some high profile brands. For McDonald’s, we envision a cool, surprising and fun mix of concepts. First is McFancy, an upmarket temporary McDonald’s store that launches at Fashion Weeks around the globe — London, New York, Paris, Milan, Sydney, Hong Kong. McFancy is part art installation, gathering spot and, of course, a restaurant that offers a traditional McDonald’s menu but packaged in a way that makes a playful yet stylish nod to the lifestyle of the highly desirable, influential consumers that attend Fashion Weeks.
Waiters in tuxedos, silver service, private dining areas, and packaging co-created with the fashion brands that present at Fashion Week — Burberry burgers, Chanel fries on black packaging, Paul Smith Sundaes…A bit of fun among the serious business of fashion. A bite of comfort food among all the elaborate cocktail fare, Private dining rooms, a raised catwalk that winds around the perimeter of the space, and with a central bar area providing a dramatic focal point. The ceiling is constructed from stretched fabric, ribbed to provide articulation and define zones. The form of the ceiling is accentuated through the use of LED lighting
We believe that McDonald’s can have major presence at events like NY Fashion Week, movie premiers and other high-profile events by creating a space to fit that environment.
This is just one of many concepts that Access Agency will be launching in 2010. Brands wanting to create something innovative and extraordinary should contact [email protected]
See also McMobile McDonald's (below)
Opened this spring in Poland’s second-largest city of Lodz, the Andels Hotel has one of the most stunning entrance foyers we have seen in a while. The restored, stoic, red-brick facade hides the entrance so well that the initial impression is very strong.If you need to host a large event and impress your guests in this city, this is the place to do it. Andels has a large conference space plus the city’s largest ballroom at 1,300 square meters, and it shares its expansive red-brick domain with the best in the city’s cultural and shopping offerings.
The hotel structure is Manufaktura, Polish textile magnate Izrael Poznans’s former textile mill, now meticulously restored under strict official guidelines for building preservation. We love the interplay of old and new, square and rounded, natural and artificial, intimacy and open space.
The design concept of Andels comes from Jestico + Whiles, an award-winning design and architecture firm with offices in London and Prague, and a long relationship with the Andels hotels. This month, Andels Hotel Lodz won the Best Conversion of an Existing Building in the 12th European Hotel Design Awards.
Andels Hotel Lodz is the first four-star hotel in Lodz and the latest addition to the Andels Hotels group, which in turn is part of the Vienna International Hotels & Resorts that has more than 40 hotels in Eastern European countries. - Tuija Seipell
It seems that quite a few things will benefit from a Scandinavian touch. Munchausen, a duo formed by Parisian designers Simon Pillard and Philippe Rosetti, took a bold approach with their own kitchen by venturing to IKEA for the basic kitchen island and then spending the next week covering it with more than 20,000 pieces by another Scandinavian brand, Lego
The result is a one-of-a-kind creation that serves as an artistic centerpiece for the space, in addition to functioning as a kitchen counter. Pillard, who works with fashion house JC de Castelbajac, and Rosetti who works with Hugo Boss France Identity, formed Munchhausen in 2004.
The two have recently contributed a collection of T-shirts, cushions, wallpaper and accessories for the new French label Commune de Paris, 1871. Munchhausen was one of three initial contributors for Commune de Paris, 187. The other two were Julien Langendorff and David Herman Dune. - Tuija Seipell.
See also the Lego office table
Paleoanthropologist Erik Trinkaus purports that man started wearing shoes between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago. The average American woman today is said to own 27 pairs of shoes. This is all interesting stuff if shoes are your passion — as they are for Maecenas Dirk Vanderschueren, owner of Cortina, one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers.
To share his passion Vanderschueren created a “shoe experience” SONS – Shoes Or No Shoes in Kruishoutem (Cruyshautem), in East Flanders, Belgium, about 70 kilometers (40 miles) from Antwerp and Brussels, and close to Cortina’s hometown of Oudenaarde.
SONS consists of three collections. The Ethnographic Collection, amassed by former shoe distributor William (Boy) Habraken, includes 2,700 pairs from 155 countries and is acknowledged by the Guinness World Records as the largest collection of tribal and ethnological shoes.
Antwerp-based shoemaker couple Veerle Swenters and Pierre Bogaerts contributed the Modern Collection -- some 1,200 pairs acquired from artists, many of whom customized the shoes, evoking the question: Are they art or shoes? Shoes or no shoes?
The Designer Collection, also accumulated by Habraken, showcases unique footwear form 20th-century and contemporary designers including Salvatore Ferragamo, Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik.
SONS is housed in a building designed and built by gallery owner Emile Veranneman and architect Christiaan Vander Plaetse in 1973. Architects Lode Uytterschaut and Johan Ketele revamped the structure for the constantly growing shoe collections. Outside, they covered the building with lead and inside, they created an unpretentious warehouse look using industrial shelving systems and almost no color. - Tuija Seipell
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that toys and childhood play were the guiding inspirations for the recently completed children’s sports and recreation center in Saint-Cloud, a wealthy community located in the metropolitan area of Paris, about six miles from the city center.
Designed by Paris-based KOZ Architects, and coexisting with several older educational buildings and a residential development, the 1,600 square-meter facility is unexpected and bold in its riotous use of colors both inside and out. A more typical an approach for this type of neighborhood would have been a structure that vanishes into its surroundings.
The funhouse by KOZ has turned into a favorite of kids, parents and teachers, as the facility was planned and its wild colors used in specific ways that fosters the intended functions -- play and sports – and not just to shock or delight.
Joining cube-shaped, basic concrete structures with an overlay and creating a sports court on top of the building have not only increased the building’s usability and maximized the use of the site, but also accommodated the complex’s surprisingly easy fit into the site. A monolithic, monotonic approach would have created a mass much more imposing and seemingly unfriendly than the varying-height structure with its pixelated glass facade that now draws children in through color and an abundance of natural light.
KOZ was established in 1999 Christophe Ouhayoun and Nicholas Ziesel, graduates of the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture who both spent part of their childhoods in the USA. With three other architectural firms, KOZ established a collaborative collective, Plan01 in 2001. - Tuija Seipell