If you think that when you’ve seen one Starbucks cafe, you’ve seen them all, you need to visit the Starbucks Roastery and Reserve Tasting Room in Shanghai. The Starbucks signature mermaid and green brand elements are underplayed to the point of not being noticeable. Elegant wood and gleaming copper finishes adorn the 30,000-square-foot establishment, staffed by 400 employees. The place feels like “Disneyland” for caffeine lovers.
The sights are awesome and entertaining! A towering copper cask, adorned with more than 1,000 traditional Chinese chops (stamps) hand-engraved to narrate the story of Starbucks and coffee. A ceiling made out of 10,000 handmade hexagonal wooden tiles, inspired by the locking of an espresso shot on an espresso machine. A Roastery featuring three wood-carved bars, one of which is 88 feet long, where customers can watch beans being roasted and baristas brewing coffee using six different methods and beans from 30 countries. If that isn’t enough, an integrated AR system, built with an Alibaba web app, lets customers immerse themselves in the space through their smartphones. There is also specially crafted nitrogen-infused teas at the tea bar, and an on-site bakery offering scrumptious artisanal baked goods by famed Italian baker, Rocco Princi acclaimed from Milan to London.
With a population of 24 million people just in the city of Shanghai, even a gigantic Starbucks store can’t serve all the locals. Shanghai already has 600 other Starbucks cafes in the city, and 3,000 locations in 136 Chinese cities, with one new Starbucks location opening in China every 15 hours.
Ten Fold Engineering in the UK is bringing a 21st century twist to the concept of portable housing. The Ten Fold building unfolds and is walk-in ready in just ten minutes. No foundations, builders or cranes are required. Delivered to the site on a flatbed truck, the structure self-deploys using a hand-held battery-powered drill. Better yet, the process is fully reversible, so if you want to move, you can fold up your house as fast as it takes to dismantle a pup tent.
Move over Paris, you are no longer the “city of lights.” In the 21st century that title goes to Sydney, Australia. Its annual Vivid Sydney festival transforms the city into a magical wonderland of light art sculptures, cutting-edge light installations, and gargantuan projection mapping extravaganzas. Vivid Sydney engages lighting artists, designers and manufacturers from around Australia and the world to illuminate, interpret and transform Sydney’s urban spaces through their creative vision. A contemporary music program matches the mood of the surreal display. No need to paint buildings in psychedelic colors or shoot fireworks into the night sky. Light is a malleable art form that treats Sydney Harbor as an inviting canvas morphing, evolving and bursting into a kaleidoscope of hues that vanish with the dawn. The 2017 Vivid Sydney festival is slated for May 26 to June 17, and is the largest show of its kind in the world. Read More »
Commissioned to redesign the façade of the Louis Vuitton’s flagship store in Tokyo’s Matsuya Ginza, architect Aoki Jun & Associates transformed what previously was a concrete block tower into a luminous pearl shimmering in the urban landscape. Inspired by the luxury retailer’s monogram and the city’s art deco architectural history, Jun turned Vuitton’s monogram into a repetitive geometric motif. The pattern was then pressed and perforated onto sheets of aluminum and coated with an exceptionally durable pearlized fluropolymer paint. The opal hue and three-dimensional pattern give the façade a plush quilted appearance that subtly changes with the light throughout the day. At night, LED lights placed behind the perforated reliefs of the façade make Vuitton’s monogram visible in the dark. Very classy, very cool.
In some ways, these fanciful bus stop shelters in Krumbach, a tiny village in Austria’s Bregenzerwald (hunchbacked world) region, look like an architect’s idea of three-dimensional doodling, but they have managed to make the town a tourist attraction by boasting the world’s most unusual bus stops. Krumbach, which has a population of about 1,000 people spread across acres of scenic farmland, recently formed an association to promote itself as a cultural destination. To foster an international exchange of ideas, it unabashedly invited seven world-renowned architects from Japan, China, Norway, Spain, Belgium, Chile and Russia to each design one bus stop in the village.
“The aim of this project is to link design achievements of international architecture with the know-how and skills of local handcraft-based businesses in Bregenzerwald,” one organizer explained. “This is made possible by involving regional architects as a kind of mediator between foreign creative work and the abilities of our craftspeople.” Although the selected architects were used to being commissioned to design mega-million dollar buildings with doors and windows, they accepted the humble assignment. In lieu of money, the architects were offered a free holiday in Krumbach’s 11th century castle-turned-hotel. The bus shelters were unveiled to the public last May. Without doubt, they put Krumbach on the cultural map. Finding Krumbach’s newest art installations is easy; just hop a bus and get off at the stop.
Argentine architect Andrea Stinga and Colombian graphic designer Federico Gonzalez put together this animated video of globally renowned architects and their most notable work. The minute-and-a-half long video manages to squeeze in a lot of information, including architects and landmarks from around the world. Still, art director Gonzalez apologizes that some legends had to be left out because they only needed one architect per letter of the alphabet. Stinga is a principal in Ombu Architecture, based in Barcelona, Spain. The music soundtrack is “The Butterfly” by Eugene C. Rose and George Ruble.
If this bridge in Oberhausen, Germany, reminds you of a slinky toy, that’s exactly what inspired it. German artist Tobias Rehberger spiraled 496 coils around a rainbow colored walkway that crosses over a canal to connect two existing parks. Rehberger collaborated with structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann and Partner to realize his design. The structure consists of pre-cast concrete plates, spiral bars and railing made of steel and net cable, all attached to high-strength steel stress ribbons connected to the inclined supports on both sides of the canal. The 1,332 foot walkway has a synthetic finish that kind of bounces when you walk. It is presented in 16 different colors, matched in color on the underside of the bridge which is made out of a different material. The Slinky Bridge is luminous with color and definitely puts a spring in your walk.
In a town renowned for its spectacular architecture, the new Aqua Tower has become the latest attraction in Chicago’s skyline. Designed by Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang Architects, the 82-story mixed-use building is much more than the standard straight rectangular glass tower. The contoured façade appears to undulate, rippling between waves of concrete balcony overhangs and organically shaped areas of glass that mirror back the sky.
Although this undulation seems random as if formed by nature, it was designed to serve an environmental purpose. The balcony overhangs shade the interior from the scorching summer sun keeping interior temperatures fairly even, and they protect the building from Chicago’s heavy winds — so much so that the building doesn’t require a tuned mass damper to stabilize it against wind vibrations and sway. Built to LEED certification, Aqua Tower incorporated many other green and energy-efficient features, including an 80,000 square foot rooftop garden and six different types of window glazing to cut solar load on the exposed glass.
Typically, the observation platforms of landmark buildings are designed to offer breathtaking views of the city, not vice versa. At the ARoS Museum of Modern Art in Aarhus, Denmark, the recently completed viewing tower on the roof is its own work of art. Designed by renowned Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the circular glass walkway is a multi-colored halo crowning the brick cubic structure built in 2003 by Aarhus-based Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.
Known locally as “Your Rainbow Panorama,” the museum’s walkway invites visitors to see the city through curved colored glass arranged in the color spectrum. Explaining his intent, Eliasson says, “I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving.”
Famed rapper Ice Cube (aka O’Shea Jackson), who once studied architectural drafting, riffs on Los Angeles’s quirky landmarks such as the Cockatoo Inn and Five Torches, freeways and the Eames House for a video series produced by Pacific Standard Time, a collaborative effort among Southern California cultural Institutions to spotlight L.A.’s art scene between 1945 and 1980. Ice Cube avoids the lofty language of architectural experts and gives his take in terms that the street can understand. Talking about The Eames house, Ice Cube reflects that with Charles and Ray Eames “it’s not about the pieces, it’s about how the pieces work together,” and notes that they did “mashups before mashups even existed.” Way ahead of their time, he adds, “The Eames made structure and nature one. This is going green 1949 style, bitch. Believe that.”
The wicker basket façade of the Spanish Pavilion, designed by Barcelona-based architects MiralleTagliabue EMBT, for the 2010 Shanghai Expo has appropriately garnered awards and accolades—to the point where the cardboard signage system inside has not attracted much media attention, which it also deserves.
A spectacular façade isn’t all that the Kuggen, an office building in Gothenburg, Sweden, is all about. It is totally sustainable too. Designed by Winngardh Arkitektkontor, the Kuggen was inspired by a cog wheel (hence its name in Swedish) and the saw-toothed edges of a leaf.
Those who really want to get into religion may want to check out the Son of Heaven Hotel, better known in China as the Tianzi Garden Hotel. Located in the little town of Langfang, Hebei Province, near Beijing, the hotel is constructed in the likeness of three traditional Chinese gods — (left to right) Shou, the god of longevity; Fu, the god of fortune, and Lu, the god of prosperity.
The ten-story hotel was recognized in 2001 by Guinness World Record for being the “world’s biggest image hotel.” The rooms are said to be “adequate,” but the Son of Heaven Hotel does have two suites — one in the “peach” held in Shou’s hand and a presidential suite on the ninth floor. The windows are camouflaged by the brocade-like pattern. The inconspicuous hotel entrance is on the left, at the bottom of Shou’s long sleeve. It is unclear whether any guestrooms are available in Shou, Fu and Lu’s heads. Although this hotel has not received a prestigious Michelin star rating, if you get to sleep in the hand or belly of a god, it’s bound to be a heavenly experience.
You’ve heard the barroom ditty “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer. Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall”? Well, try this one: “33,000 beer crates forming a wall, 33,000 beer crates …”
Asked by their client, Atomium, to construct a temporary pavilion in Brussels to mark the 50th anniversary of the Universal World Exhibition, SHSH, an architectural firm with offices in Brussels, London and Sendai, constructed a “package” exhibition space out of 33,000 recycled plastic beer crates.
On the hard-packed sands of California’s Mojave Desert stands a surreal sight. Hundreds of decommissioned commercial jets are lined up row after row, in the middle of nowhere. Their engines are taped shut with Mylar to keep out drifting sands. This is a graveyard for retired jets, many of which originally cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. Now they only serve as awnings for rattle snakes and reptiles that take shelter from the unrelenting sun. Some planes may be stripped of useful parts that can be reconditioned. Others may be bought by a third-world country or short-hop commuter startup. And still others will simply languish there for years – a kind of “Stonehenge” of the 21st century.
Recently a number of Pantone-color inspired products have been introduced into the marketplace. There’s the Pantone chip mug by W2, the Pantone cufflinks by Sonia Spencer, the Pantone stationery and bags by Alpha, and now there is the new Pantone Hotel in Brussels, created in a licensing partnership with a British developer.
Designed by Belgian interior designer Michel Penneman and Belgian architect Olivier Hannaert, the seven-story boutique hotel is alive with chic, contemporary colors, all matched to Pantone’ color swatches. Guestrooms are appointed with white walls and bedding to create a neutral backdrop for Belgian photographer Victor Levy’s photographic installations featuring a spectrum of vibrant Pantone colors. The public spaces equally reflect Pantone’s skill at applying color psychology and design trends to create an environment that is at once convivial, happy, and relaxing.