Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tonight: Zaha Hadid on BBC One's imagine...

Zaha Hadid is the subject of Alan Yentob's interest tonight as part of  BBC One's imagine... series. The programme 'Zaha Hadid: Who Dares Wins' will profile the work of one of the most internationally famous contemporary architects working today, and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Award (the highest possible accolade in the architecture profession) in 2004.

Born in 1950 in Baghdad and based in London, Zaha Hadid's dynamic and often unexpected architectural forms exist at the interface between the natural landscape and human-made systems. Hadid experiments with the latest technologies to produce unexpected architectural forms which are simultaneously fluid and complex in style. She is founder and director of Zaha Hadid Architects which for the past 30 years has revolutionised architectural design through a number of successful global projects. The firm's success secures Hadid's status as the most successful female architect to have lived.

In tonight's programme, the ever-affable Alan Yentob attempts to understand the woman behind such architectural vision: how has Hadid managed to actualise her highly experimental style, bringing her visionary ideas - at one time considered impossible - to exist as some of the world's most exactingly-designed and seminal buildings. The programme profiles many of Hadid's famous designs. We are hoping for an insight into the Galaxy Soho in Beijing, the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and possibly the design of Glasgow's Riverside Museum.

Watch on BBC One tonight at 10.35pm or replay on the iplayer over the coming few days.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Eiffel Tower on the Google Cultural Institute

The latest offering from the wonderful innovators at the Google Cultural Institute has a certain "je ne sais quoi." Paris' most visited monument, The Eiffel Tower has been given the digitial treatment in an exciting new project which, (attention all architects!) educates on the monument's masterful construction.

Three online exhibits blend the Towers's history with an excellent collection of items including rare archival images, photographs from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and even reproductions of the original architect's plans by Gustave Eiffel.

The first exhibit explores the birth of the Eiffel Tower while the second provides step-by-step details of the construction of the monument through a showcase of itemised photographs and sketches. A look at the Tower's inauguration and first few visitors lies in the third exhibit. Its social impact was immediately manifest by the visitors' willingness to climb 1710 steps to reach the top! The Google Street View Team have filmed 360-degree views of the monument's architecture and provide the panoramic views seen over Paris on making the ascent.

Constructed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was built as a tribute on the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. In the same year, Paris held its Exposition Universelle, an exhibition for participating nations to showcase the advancements made in a heavily industrial age. The Tower's construction in two years, two months and five days is still hailed as an architectural achievement and an astonishing feat of French engineering. It remained the highest structure of its kind in the world for 40 years (a tile held today by the Burj Kalifa in Dubai) and continues to attract over 7 million visitors a year. As well as being France's most iconic symbol, this also makes it one of the world's most visited monuments!

We blogged about the marvellous Google Cultural Institute on the GSA Library Art & Design blog when it launched back in October last year. The virtual museum is amassing worldwide acclaim as it gathers momentum with the collections of some prestigious galleries and museums freely accessible to all. This latest project is tremendously exciting for bringing to life the architectural vision of Gustave Eiffel in the late nineteenth century and for the resources capabilities as a valuable educational resource! Vive la Google!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Simon Velez: mastering bamboo

Colombian architect Simon Velez is currently the subject of a book and a delightful exhibition in and around the tiny Swiss village of Rossiniere, in canton Vaud. Velez has come to international attention through his buildings of guadua bamboo, and in particular the massive bamboo pavilion constructed for Expo 2000 in Hannover. The 'Learning from Vernacular' website has further details, including a rather slow-to-load image gallery, and we will be buying the book for GSA library in due course.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Frances McCourt: Carbeth Re-exhibited

Carbeth, the small township of huts is recapturing the public imagination after 90 years of sustainable living in the woods north of Milngavie. This is amply demonstrated by this week's BBC News story and the revival of Frances McCourt's exhibition of photographs, inspired by the character of the place.

Ayrshire-born McCourt first exhibited photographs of the huts at Street Level Photoworks in Autumn 2010. This time round, her work goes on show at the Lillie Art Gallery, near Milngavie railway station. See directions here. As well as serving as a beautifully serene collection, works like the examples pictured here should interest anyone following the 'Thousand Huts' campaign: a move to up the ante on sustainable rural development in Scotland. Since the Carbeth hutters' success in raising the funds to buy the land, 'hutting' appears to be gathering momentum with much to be said for the power of community to bring about green initiatives.

Frances McCourt's photograph series can be seen until 16 August at the Lillie Art Gallery. For more detail on the history of Carbeth and for links to the community's groups, read our previous blog post.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Website Follows Glasgow's 'Future City' Project

You may remember us blogging about Glasgow's selection as a 'smart city' in an earlier post this year. 

We were celebrating Glasgow's competition win to pilot how technology can make life in the city, smarter, safer and more sustainable. The competition had been organised by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) - the Government's innovation agency. Glasgow's £24 million funding bid met with approval by the Board who have set up a number of specialist teams working on various technological projects around the city. A smartphone app for cyclists, intelligent street lighting and 'citizen science' mapping are some of the trail-blazing technologies in the pipeline which the public, academics and businesses will be encouraged to use and improve in a pilot focused on the 'smart' future of our cities.

We're revisiting the Future City /Glasgow project after discovering that a dedicated website has been launched making its work easier to follow online. The site brings visitors the latest news on the 'Demonstrator programme' as  it's been dubbed, with details relayed via press releases.

Check the website for details of the projects and to keep up-to-date with news. It's also worth navigating from the main page to read the blog discussing the nature of 'smart' and 'future' cities and to check the event-footage that's being streamed of events including science-related news from the ongoing UK Space Conference (Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th July). We found this video of the new City Operations Centre which will house the teams monitoring Glasgow's new CCTV network, the city's traffic lights and traffic cameras. You'd be smart to follow!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

'Uneasy Balance' - New Book Edited by Christopher Platt

Chris Platt, Head and Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture is the editor of a new book 'Uneasy Balance,' a memento to the design and construction of the new building by Steven Holl Architects.

Published at the time of topping out, this slim, pocket-sized volume is a fitting tribute to the germination, growth and realisation of Holl's intelligent architectural design. The book is illustrated with specially commissioned photographs as well as drawings and sketches. Some of these drawings are the loose, inky architectural sketches from the office of Steven Holl Architects and some of the Mackintosh Building have been provided by the GSA's Archives and Collections Centre. The book contains four essays and an illuminating interview with Steven Holl in which he imparts the concept behind his "thin skin/thick bones" design, reveals some of his working practices and discusses architecture as art form.

Books are priced at £15 and can be purchased from the GSA shop. We'll also be cataloging a couple of copies to place on the shelves when the books reappear in September.