Architecture is slow. Toyo Ito won the competition to design the Taichung Metropolitan Opera Houseway back in 2005. Half a decade later, the project has broken ground! Ito and his office have spent the last five years not only resolving the design of the Opera, but proving the construction of the project’s aberrant geometry feasible.
But it’s hard to describe that geometry: the project is more organized than a sponge but more fluid than a beehive. Somewhere between these two biological models is novel architectural space; space where continuous surfaces envelop programmatic elements in a complex interplay between inside and out. And as exciting as the form of the project is, its success depends on its realization– the visceral flutter of cilia as visitors move through space.
It’s a realization that will take years to achieve. Currently set for opening in late 2013, we have three years to observe the construction of the steel matrix and concrete membranes, three years to kill before its curves echo the awe of visitors, and three years to prepare our stomachs.
In the midst of my usual chronic clicking syndrome I stumbled upon the Spring/Summer 2010-11 collection from Australian accessories designer Elke Kramer and immediately stopped in my tracks. Hello gorgeous colour, beautiful texture and quasi-ethnic style! With the evocative title The Shake of Ophelia, Kramer’s latest collection is “inspired by the story of a beautiful young girl born into a life of luxury and privilege at the turn of the 19th century, whose sense of adventure leads her to exotic lands.” The varied use of materials is amazing: tassels, resin beads and stones are integrated into the designs to produce unique statement pieces. Plus the styling of the lookbook is stunning, wonderfully summoning the narrative of nomadic life, exotic tribalism and high class behind the jewellery.
The thing really keeps me writing is finding innovative little projects like this one from Gareth Hughes called 2 Sugars. This is simply a concept that he created but I thought it was so clever I had to share. The idea is simple, a lot of people have to get coffee or tea or drinks for their co-workers but it’s often difficult to remember what everyone wants. Enter 2 Sugars which allows you to easily create users and then input what each one of them wants by simple clicking the options on the screen. There’s even the tiny detail of shaking the screen to clear your order, which could be really fun or frustrating. Either way I think Gareth needs to make this app a reality, don’t you?
My friends Liz Meyer and Gavin Potenza, who go by the artsy name of Script and Seal, have taken up temporary residence over on Friends of Type. They’ve only put up two pieces so far but I’m really enjoying what they’ve done nonetheless. My favorite is this image, Walk + Wander, which has sort of a Native American vibe going for it. It also feels a bit futuristic as well though, kind of jagged and distorted like a shitty, ancient printer. Be sure to stop by all week and see what else they come up with, I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.
What happens to temporary pavilions when the summer, fair, or exposition ends? Some are too pretty to tear down, like the Eiffel Tower, Sunsphere or the Palace of Fine Arts (designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco). Other pavilions just to rot in place like forgotten pumpkins. Some pavilions develop the wanderlust, like Daniel Libeskind’s 2001 Serpentine Pavilion that moved to Ireland. And rumor has it that Charles Jencks bought the 2008 Serpentine Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry.
Toyo Ito’s beautiful Serpentine Pavilion ended up in the parking lot of an abandoned power station in South London. I learned this while visiting London in October of 2007 and seeing the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Olafur Eliasson and Snøhetta. At the time, I was with my friend Claire and we started to talk about the previous pavilions when she told me that she had seen Toyo Ito’s 2002 pavilion from the top deck of a two-level bus on her way to work.
Claire and I thought there would be zero chance of us getting to see the older pavilion up close since it was dark by the time we arrived at the security gate in front of the relocated pavilion. Luckily, the pavilion’s new purpose was to raise interest and pounds to do something with the Battersea Power Station behind it. That particular October night, the pavilion was hosting a film festival. So happily, Claire and I paid a few pounds and sat through films I’ve entirely forgotten so we could be in the barely heated pavilion four years after its summer was supposed to end.
P.S. Here are more photos I took of the 2007 and 2002 pavilions.