Tag Archives: architecture

Foster+Partners’ projects in China, Russia and Middle East


Living Wall in Jordan, the high-rise buildings will rise out this quarry-looking space.


Russia Tower in Moscow will be Europe’s tallest tower and another ‘sustainable’ architecture project. 


Pushkin Museum extension in Moscow


Central Market in Abu Dhabi (left) & Abu Dhabi Plaza in Astana, Kazakhstan (right) reinterpret the traditional market places with cutting-edge technology.


Khanty Mansiysk in Siberia, another futuristic looking sustainable project.

I have to make a correction- I’ve been referring to Lord Norman Foster as ‘Sir’, when he’s actually a title bigger- that is ‘Lord’. From the number of projects that Lord Foster is doing, it would seem like he would hardly have the time to bother about titles anyway, or would he? Here’re a few more projects by Foster+Partners in three of the biggest boomtowns in the world- the Middle East, China and Russia.

With the word sustainable being used (rather abused) by all and sundry, I would like to know what it really means or doesn’t mean! Futuristic is another over-used term. Perhaps sustainable means futuristic or is it the biggest spiel of 21st century?


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Norman Foster’s Crystal Island in Moscow


Top: Entertainment Centre, Kazakhstan

Below: Crystal Island, Moscow

Is Moscow trying to overtake Dubai as the capital of superlative architecture? I’m not sure where this Russian money has suddenly come from (you’re always hearing stories of Russian billionaires and tycoons flashing their stash of cash) and now they have enlisted none other than Sir Norman Foster to design- get this-the world’s biggest building in Moscow called Crystal Island. Sir Foster has given us a Gherkin, an Armadillo and now critics say he’s designing a ‘dahlia in a string bag’. Other have likened it to a giant Christmas tree, Volcano and space-ship. Crystal Island, meant to be, surprise surprise, a city with in a city and an energy-efficient building (do they build any ‘non-energy efficient’ buildings these days?), covered in a smart-skin to regulate the extremes in temperature. Sir Foster does seem to be pre-occupied with volcanoes these days. Check out his design for a new Entertainment Center in another contestant in the league of flash cities- Kazakhstan. Now beat that Dubai!

Critics in Russia aren’t too pleased with the design. Here’s a story in the Guardian with a few quite hilarious comments. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/news/story/0,,2235256,00.html

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New RTA HQ in Dubai by Zwarts & Jansma Architects


Dutch architect firm Zwarts & Jansma Architects have won the competition to design the new headquarters of the Road & Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai. RTA HQ will be built on an artificial lake on Marrakech Road in the Al Garhoud area, adjacent to the Business Bay Bridge and neighbouring the new interchange of Rabat Road.

RTA HQ will stand as a watchtower overlooking a landscape of infrastructure embedded by the natural beauty of the Dubai Creek and the green zone of Festival City. The crossing of waterways, highways and subways has been a key-factor in the development of both the architectural concept and the landscaping. The building is designed as a huge canvas of glass crystal embellished with Venetian blinds. The angular surfaces of the building further accentuate the sharp structure. The reflection of sunlight changes the appearance of the facades during the day. The façade facing the Business Bay Bridge will be covered with a grid of LED-lights: a ‘billboard’ showing images, animations or information to the flow of traffic crossing the creek.

During office hours, different features will make the water swirl and turn, in the evening the surface will become quiet. The light-effects then take over, reflecting the building and the city’s traffic. The level of the lake is slightly above that of the surrounding area. Underneath it are a publicly accessible exposition space and a congress facility.

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The Omnia redesigned by Ali Tayar


New York-based architect Ali Tayar has redesigned The Omnia hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland. Tayar conceived the 30-room boutique hotel as an avant-garde contemporary American mountain lodge in the Swiss Alps, furnished with some of the greatest 20th century design classics by Mies Van der Rohe and Eero Saarinen amongst others.

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Fashion and architecture


Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture is back with a new installation, venue and different designers. The exhibition that will open in April 2008 will feature Vivienne Westwood, Alexander Mcqueen and Hussein Chalayan among other designers and will focus on the visual and conceptual similarities between fashion and architecture since the 80s. The architecture fraternity will be represented by Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, David Adjaye and Thomas Heatherwick. The installation has been designed by some of the most edgy designers such as Boudicca, Comme des Garcon, Martin Margiela, Victor & Rolf, Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe.

It’s intersting to note that some of the most famous fashion designers originally trained as architects such as the late Gianfranco Ferre and former Gucci creative head Tom Ford. Last year the exhibition ran at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

The exhibition will run from April 24 to August 10 2008 at Somerset House, Strand, London. For more information visit www.somersethouse.org

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New Year greetings from Atelier Hapsitus


Beirut-based internationally-known architect Nadim Karam and his studio have sent this beautiful greeting, which I must share with everyone. When I interviewed Karam who is also an acclaimed artist, earlier this year at International Design Forum, I asked him why a well-known architect and artist like him wouldn’t want to practice in Europe or other more well-established places.  He said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but Beirut because it’s one of the most creatively provocative cities in the world. I suppose he is right.

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Zaha Hadid’s Innovation Tower in Hong Kong


Zaha Hadid has come a long way from The Peak competition in Hong Kong at the beginning of her career. Even though she won the competition, the design was deemed too radical an never got built. But here she is once again. Pritzker Prize winner Hadid is now designing the Innovation Tower at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The 130,000square foot complex will house research labs, exhibition spaces, classrooms and lecture halls.

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