Man About Kew House!

Tell me... Who else is going around snooping into private homes this month in the name of London Festival of Architecture?! *waves hands in the air* US! ARCHiTRACKER has been on a snoop! 

Passing by what seems to be an ordinary, quiet, residential street in Richmond, set within the Kew Green Conservation area, you cannot miss this eccentric weathered perforated steel facade shouting out at you... and there it is - Kew House, one of the featured projects by Piercy&Co

At first glance, you can see the house is split into two to avoid being a large bulky volume, with pre-fabricated perforated weathered steel cladding units, connected by circulation encased in glazing. One unit is set partially behind the remnants of a Victorian stable, giving this elegant house a brilliant fuse of glass, steel and history.

Walking closer to the building, you begin to notice the perforated steel imitates the dappled light through the branches of trees. As we enter through the gates, on the left, is a sunken courtyard with a blooming tree, and downstairs... the floor to ceiling glazing reveals a basement of the family's playground. 

Kew House is a home for a family of four, with a simple informal layout of multiple level-changes, incidental spaces and accidental lights. The house is like a playground for the children! In actual fact, to access the basement, you can go via the steel staircase OR the slideeee! The space has swings AND a trampoline! Guess where my favourite space is! It also houses a workshop too! This floor is intended for flexibility and the potential to modify the space to suit the client's needs. Ie. temporary performance space for us!

This was also no ordinary visit or just the plain ole tour inside the building, there was entertainment involved! By Tim Ross and Kit Warhurst! They are a fantastic duo namely, 'Man about the house' from Australia, who performs in iconic, extraordinary and breathtaking architecturally designed houses or buildings and turn them into an intimate temporary performance space. What else is more engaging than learning about the building than with Stand-up comedy and music!?

With a short break, we are allowed to freely roam around the house, being cautious not to touch or break anything, however, we are given permission to chill on the sofas, walk around and talk to each other. (and grab yourself a bottle of beer!)

Beside the glass-encased staircase is the family's private courtyard, accessible from both wings of the house via the kitchen/dining room's double doors and half sunken living room on either ends, allowing a seamless transition from inside to out. 

And finally, the owner's bedrooms on the top floors on both wings of the house, each occupying a cosy corner, with natural daylight from the skylights, and light from the perforated steel cladding.

The two shells housing each wing are formed of 4mm thick weathering steel – a hardworking combination of structure and façade. The weathering steel is maintenance free, essential for the enclosed site, and softened by a patchwork of expressed welds and perforated panels. The deep orange tones and perforations within the skin echo the dappled light and autumnal palette of nearby Kew Gardens. Inside, oak veneer paneling and Dinesen flooring are the basis of a warm and natural material palette.

Piercy & Company are a renowned London-based practice founded in 2001. Part of a new generation of forward-thinking British architects, the studio prides itself on the practice of ‘designing through making’, utilising a digital fabrication centre and workshops to test new ideas. Collaborations with artists and makers continually invigorate the studio. The recently completed Clerkenwell office development, Turnmill, has just been awarded an RIBA National Award 2016.

The London Festival of Architecture is Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival, and returns to the capital from 1-30 June 2017 with hundreds of events exploring ‘memory’. We celebrate London as a global architectural hub, provoke questions about the life of the city, and promote positive change to its public realm. 

Let us know if you have visited any of the venues at LFA this year by emailing hello@architracker.co! We'd love to hear your stories and which buildings you have visited! And you never know, we might bump into each other at an event! ;)

You don't need to go to Japan to visit Moriyama House!

This month we visited the exhibition 'The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945' at none other than at the Barbican Centre, in the middle of London's prominent post-war development of brutalism. London and Japan's approach to post-war architecture are definitely on opposite ends, we have agreed that it is much 'lighter' in Japan. What do you think? 

Don't expect this exhibition to be a conventional art gallery with only just 2D drawings, sketches and photographs, intricate yet minimalist models are indeed involved... and full scaled too!  

Japan is a country with distinct architecture of unique architectural styles, due to the culture and natural conditions of the country, the buildings are usually only built to last for one generation. You will find that there are never any massive public housing, but individual pre-fabricated homes as an experiment to adapt to change. However, they tend to share the common theme of being in touch with nature, and a sense of simplicity and lightness.

Here are our favourites at the exhibition: 

Moriyama House

A full-scaled reproduction of Moriyama House by the Pritzker winner Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA). You will also find a rather interesting and entertaining film filmed by Beka & Lemoine, (with comfy cushions on the floor!), interviewing Yasuo Moriyama, the 79-year-old owner and a hermit, whom has never left Japan, only living in his private universe at the Moriyama House. 

As we weaved in and out of the narrow courtyards between the houses, we can really feel the sense of orderly in intimate spaces. The windows of the house are large-scaled giving no sense of boundary or privacy (yes, we examined every nook and cranny as we imagined how the owner lives here, well the real house), the integration of the indoors to the outdoors are specifically designed for Moriyama to laze around doing his favourite activity - reading, and absorbing the nature. He even has sliding bookshelves so it saves space and are completely accessible. The Japanese really utilizes every square meter! (Even the space under the stairs were occupied with a table!)

Immersing you fully into the Japanese culture, "Please take your shoes off and place them inside the shoe rack" inside this beautifully crafted Tea House elevated on stilts above a surreal garden designed by Terunobu Fujimori. With an unusual whimsical outlook, the exterior is alternate bands of hand-charred timber and white plaster, the result is a counterpoint to the contemporary minimalism of the Moriyama House, emphasizing the importance of hand-made, the material, and the fantastical in Japanese design. 

Further into the exhibition, we explore key themes and movements in Japanese architecture through drawings, photographs, short films and smaller models. 

Lightness and lightweight materials have always been a key feature to Japanese architecture, a fine example is the NA house, with no internal walls, it maximizes the natural light. 

The exhibition is the first major UK exhibit that purely focuses on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of Second World War to now. Featuring over 40 Japanese architects from internationally renowned contemporary architects to figures that are less known to the outside of Japan.

Architectural exhibitions are always fascinating and an eye-opener, and the Japanese House did a great job presenting itself to the public with interactive spaces and story-telling!

The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 at Barbican Art Gallery until 25 June. Tickets are £14.50 for adults, concessions available.

Architects featured: 

Takefumi Aida, Tadao Ando, Atelier Bow-Wow, Takamitsu Azuma, dot architects, Hiromi Fujii, Terunobu Fujimori, Sou Fujimoto, Itsuko Hasegawa, Go Hasegawa, Kiyoshi Ikebe, Ikimono Architects, Kumiko Inui, Junya Ishigami, Osamu Ishiyama, Toyo Ito, Yuusuke Karasawa, Kiyonori Kikutake, Chie Konno, Kisho Kurokawa, Kunio Maekawa, Makoto Masuzawa, Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Kiko Mozuna, Kazuhiko Namba, Hideyuki Nakayama, Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), Katsuhiko Ohno, Keisuke Oka, onishimaki + hyakudayuki, Antonin Raymond, Junzo Sakakura, Kazunari Sakamoto, Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Kiyoshi Seike, Kazuo Shinohara, Seiichi Shirai, Kenzo Tange, Tezuka Architects, Riken Yamamoto, Kazumasa Yamashita, Junzo Yoshimura, Takamasa Yoshizaka.

How to optimize the use of ARCHiTRACKER app

ARCHiTRACKER is officially available on the app store(sorry android users, we are still working the android version, but we couldn't hold it in any longer so iOS gets the priority!) 

The app is designed to be simple and easy to understand to use, but we want to be sure that you are REALLY utilizing all the features that we have developed for you. 

So you have ARCHiTRACKER downloaded and are ready to go out to explore London... but where are you now? (Or if you have not downloaded the app yet, please click here)

Step 1: Turn your GPS on to locate your exact location.

Step 2: Under 'Map view', you can see if there are any interesting architectures immediately around you. If you have found one, go to Step 3. If not, go and walk around until you find something! 

Step 3: Click on the pins and you will be directed to the page of that building's information and photographs! It will even show you the directions to get there if you are not close enough!

and that's it! Just three simple steps while you are on the go! 

 

But of course, the fun doesn't end here, you can plan your day before you even leave the house! Find out which buildings you wish to visit by going into the 'List View' tab, you can view the full exhaustive list of buildings in London! 

When you have found one, click on the image, and it will direct you to the building's information and photographs page. If you are an architect or in the field or just curious, we have conveniently provided links to the Architect's official website, photographer's website, and other consultants that are involved with the project, so then you can view more details about their other projects. 

 

We hope that you will find ARCHiTRACKER app useful for whatever reason you use it for, be it curious about your city, travelling, architectural inspiration etc etc. We welcome all kinds of feedback and opinions, so please feel free to email us at any time to hello@architracker.co, and we will try to respond to all! You can also track our development on the app on our ARCHiTRACKER Roadmap.

Thank you for all your supportive words and love ARCHiTRACKERs! Our team really appreciates your patience, and will continually work hard to develop and tailor the app to your best concerns! 

...and the 2017 Pritzker's Prize goes to... RCR Arquitectes!

Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta

Congratulations to Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta of Spanish studio RCR Arquitectes whom are the laureates of the 2017 Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious award for Architects! 

As the 39th recipients of the Pritzker Prize, the Catalan trio will receive the award at the ceremony held at the State Guest House in Tokyo on 20th May 2017. 

Announcement made on Wednesday, March 1st at 10am EST.

Landscape and architecture are united to create buildings that are intimately connected to place and time.

Mr. Pritzker remarks: “The jury has selected three architects who have been working collaboratively for nearly three decades. Mr. Aranda, Ms. Pigem and Mr. Vilalta have had an impact on the discipline far beyond their immediate area. Their works range from public and private spaces to cultural venues and educational institutions, and their ability to intensely relate the environment specific to each site is a testament to their process and deep integrity.”

Here is a selection of their notable projects: 

2017 Pritzker Prize Jury

· Glenn Murcutt (Chair): Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2002. Sydney, Australia.

· Stephen Breyer: U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Washington, DC.

· Yung Ho Chang: Architect and Educator. Beijing, The People’s Republic of China.

· Kristin Feireiss: Architecture Curator, Writer, and Editor. Berlin, Germany.

· The Lord Palumbo: Architectural patron, Chairman Emeritus of the Trustees, Serpentine Galleries; Former Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain. London, England.

· Richard Rogers: Architect and Pritzker Laureate 2007. London, England.

· Benedetta Tagliabue: Architect and Educator. Barcelona, Spain.

· Ratan N. Tata: Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group. Mumbai, India.

· Martha Thorne (Executive Director): Dean, IE School of Architecture & Design. Madrid, Spain.

 

You can see the list of the Past winners of the Pritzker Prize.

The launch is happening! Calling out for iOS test users!

28th February 2017. Mark this date as our anniversary! 

We are officially released on iOS on TestFlight, but we want to show our appreciation for your support by asking you to become our exclusive test users, you will receive the invitation after signing up here.

Android users do not threat! ARCHiTRACKER will soon come to you too! In the meantime you can follow us on our Roadmap, and on instagram for the latest updates.

Now you can ARCHiTRACK us too!

ARCHiTRACKER has been stalking architecture in London for some time now, and we're giving you the opportunity to stalk our actions too! 

Creepy as it sounds, we just mean to follow our ARCHiTRACKER Roadmap board!

Have your voice heard by us!

Your feedback and opinions matters to us, and we will love to have you join us on our journey. We wanted you to know exactly what we are doing and what we are planning for the future.

ARCHiTRACKER app is designed for you and so we wish to have the app how you will find the most beneficial and practical to use. 

Our founder PONK has been nominated for an award on Archdaily!

First things first, HAPPY NEW YEAR ARCHiTRACKERs!! The start of every year takes you a step closer to the attainment of your dreams. We hope that this year is the breakthrough one and your dreams finally turn into reality! 

Now let us congratulate our Founder Ponk! She has been working very hard on developing the ARCHiTRACKER app for you all whilst also managing her architectural works on the other. So here she is now, nominated for a well-deserved Building of the Year 2017 award on Archdaily! 

Choui Fong Tea Cafe

Choui Fong Tea Cafe

Choui Fong Tea Cafe is located in Chiang Rai, Thailand, one of the projects that Ponk has worked on with IDIN Architects in 2015. 

With views over the tea plantations, who wouldn't love to come visit this Cafe for some tea and relaxation? 

You can read more about the project here.

  • The nomination process starts on January 23rd and ends January 30th, 2017 at 9:00AM EST.
  • The voting round starts on January 31st and ends February 6th, 2017 at 9:00AM EST.
  • The winners will be announced on February 7th, 2017.

I want to become a tiny Gingerbread man and live in a Gingerbread City...

Christmas is now over but who can blame us for still reminiscing over the sweet sweet aroma of gingerbread from the Museum of Architecture where they held The Gingerbread City designed and built by renowned London architects. 

It all happened when we first walked past the shop front... captured by many tiny but beautifully decorated structures of sweets and everything tasty, the alluring scent of gingerbread sent us off our feet, floating our way into the Gingerbread heaven...

It really is a challenge to tour around this Gingerbread City without your mouth watering and slapping your hands from trying to touch (or pick) the sweets off the houses! Guiltyyy! Kudos to the children that were dragged here by their evil parents who actually craved some gingerbread themselves though!! 

As the exhibition has now ended (7th-22nd December), the winners have been announced... 

Congratulations for the following Architecture firms for winning the following awards...

The MoA winner of The Gingerbread City 2016 and most voted by visitors is NBBJ! 

The MoA winner of The Gingerbread City 2016 and most voted by visitors is NBBJ

The Tibbalds Prize goes to Platform 5 Architects!

The Tibbalds Prize goes to Platform 5 Architects!

The Ecoled Prize goes to Foster and Partners!

The Ecoled Prize goes to Foster and Partners!

London's first Design Biennale has descended upon us

We have waited, and waited long enough! The Design Biennale has finally arrived in central London in a mere three week period during September 2016, in the Neoclassical Somerset House by the River Thames.

London Design Biennale held at Somerset House this year

London Design Biennale held at Somerset House this year

To mark this commemorative moment, 37 countries have responded in various engaging exhibitions and installations to the theme ‘Utopia by Design’ chosen by the director Dr. Christopher Turner, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the inspirational publication of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia.

So what is so significant about More’s Utopia you ask? It is a neologism meaning both ‘good place’ and ‘no place’, it is a fictitious island with 54 near identical cities that are described as a triumph of design. A perfect world that does not exist, but provokes the mind to envision a dream.

India's colourful 'Chakraview'

India's colourful 'Chakraview'

There were several impressive installations that caught our attention, to name a few that transported you into another part of the world were India’s ‘Chakraview’, which envelops you in a range of colourful contemporary textiles using traditional weaving methods in circular disks.

Stepping outside by the River Thames, you are as close to Lebanon’s bustling street life in Bierut as you can get in London, with a small lounge cinema, to a wet shave at the barber shop, smoke a Shisha to authentic falafel wraps and fresh juices. Definitely an atmospheric place to take a break from all the walking around!

Turkey creates an eternal space of mirrors where ‘The Wish Machine’ will transport your hopes, wishes, visions of utopia and aspirations of the future vacuumed around the building and into the unknown.

Just as Austria realizes that Utopia is an impossible ideal, installing an interactive 'LeveL' kinetic light sculpture that will dim at the slightest movement created by the visitor passing through.

With new advanced virtual-reality technology, Spain had us dive into the future 100 years from now using the ‘VR Polis’, exploring a smart-city of a sustainable urban-living, allowing us to interact and discover the possible strategies for the future.

On a more concerning issue, Mexico proposes a ‘Border City’ as it proposes an ambitious solution to emigration, production and population growth. By building an adaptable system for this bi-national city, expressed in the form of a large-scale model, enhanced with video mapping and audio-visual effects.

In the child’s utopia (or the inner child in us), South Africa has designed several hanging ferocious animal mobiles that is ludicrously inviting as you want to snuggle into the cosy, soft fur in the mouths of these animals. They are handcrafted by locals; expressing traditions, craft and heritage.

For some others, ‘Eatopia’ might have won some hearts over, food, is always something that brings people together, Taiwan brings a unique culinary experience that explores its contemporary culture through beautifully curated dishes to amuse your taste-buds.

Somerset House actually homes a permanent exhibition in the ‘Utopia Treasury’, which includes a library of Utopian themed literature. Talks were also held in this area where each of the countries had a presentation on their outtake of Utopia. So if you’ve missed the ‘Utopia by Design’, make sure you visit here instead!

The 'design your Utopia' corner by visitors in the Utopian Treasury

The 'design your Utopia' corner by visitors in the Utopian Treasury

By the end of the day, you are most likely to have enjoyed being overwhelmed by all these intriguing and inspiring exhibits, it leads you hoping that some of these ideas can really put us a step closer to Utopia, and possibly solve the current problems in migration, pollution, sustainability, cities and social equality. Now, we shall just patiently wait for the next Biennale in two years’ time and let it continue to inspire us as designers.

Participating countries include: Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Shenzhen, Croatia, Cuba, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States of America.

Sunday Walk: Newport Street Gallery

Newport Street Gallery, located in Vauxhall, south London, is the perfect place to spend your Sunday. It's just 30 mins far from Oxford street, taking Victoria line and getting off at Vauxhall station, then enjoy the walk through Vauxhall Pleasure Garden. Exhibitions vary between solo and group shows from Damien Hirst's art collection. And admission to the gallery is FREE!

Designed by architects Caruso St John, the gallery spans 37,000 square feet and includes six exhibition spaces

Designed by architects Caruso St John, the gallery spans 37,000 square feet and includes six exhibition spaces

The construction of the Gallery involved the conversion of three listed buildings, which were purpose-built in 1913 to serve as scenery painting studios for the booming Victorian theatre industry in London's West End. With the addition of two new buildings, the gallery now spans half the length of the street. 

The current exhibition 'Now' is the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist since ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’, at the Serpentine Gallery in 2009. Jeff Koons is widely considered to be one of the most significant artists to have emerged in the postwar era. 

One of his first experiments with readymades, Inflatable Flower (Short White, Tall Purple) (1979) is displayed in Gallery 1. Alongside, there is a number of his iconic Hoover sculptures, part of The New series (1980–1983). The inflatable then became one of Koons's most persistent themes.

Balloon Monkey (Blue) (2006-2013) is displayed in Gallery 2. Its exterior is highly reflective as Koons has since evolved his fabrication process having spent years of research developing cutting-edge technology for his monumental stainless sculptures.

Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013, Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating.

Balloon Monkey (Blue) 2006-2013, Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating.

The 'Made in Heaven' series, created from 1989 to 1991, are displayed in Gallery 3 (No Photo allowed in this section). The series includes life-size sculptures and large-scale images of Koons and Ilona Staller, his then wife, in a variety of erotic scenes. 

Three Ball 50/50 Tank (Spalding Dr. JK Silver Series) (1985) is featured in Gallery 4. The glass tank with basketballs either floating or suspended in water in perfect equilibrium. There are also Jim Beam - J.B. Turner Train (1986) from 'Luxury and Degradation' series, an Italian Woman (1986) from 'Statuary' series, and the statue of a pedlar, Kiepenkerl (1987), which are displayed in this section.

Gallery 5 features three sculptures from the 'Popeye' series. The inflatable pool toys that interact with readymade objects in Acrobat (2003-2009), Seal Walrus (Chairs) (2003-2009), and Sling Hook (2007-2009) are  designed to fool the eye. They look like vinyl but made of aluminium and painted to appear exactly like the real thing. So better don't trust everything you see :P

Play-Doh (1994-2014), from Koons's on-going 'Celebration' series, is displayed in Gallery 6. It faithfully reproduces - at mountainous size - a small lump of modelling clay fashioned by Koons's young son. The twenty-seven individual pieces are cast in aluminium - YES ALUMINIUM! - and held together simply by their own weight. It encompasses some of the most technically challenging works in his career. Alongside, equally evocative of childhood, the illusory Elephant (2003) and Titi (2004-2009) appear to be fragile, air-filled inflatables, but actually made of stainless steel that mirrors the viewers. As Duchamp believed, and Koons paraphrases. "The viewers always finish the work of art, so they always have the boat word." 

After taking a walk, if you're hungry, stop by at Pharmacy 2 which is Damien Hirst’s new restaurant in collaboration with Mark Hix. Not only serves the quality food made from fresh ingredients, it also gives visitors the opportunity to view some of Hirst’s own art. It features work from some of the artist's most iconic series including the Medicine Cabinets and butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings.

Newport Street Gallery is worth checking out, don't you think?

The Serpentine Pavilion 2016 / Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

This year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion designed by the Danish architect firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), featuring a tall pointed structure made of interlocking fibreglass bricks. A series of box-like fibreglass frames stacked on top of each other in a pattern based on a common brick wall.

"We have attempted to design a structure that embodies multiple aspects that are often perceived as opposites: a structure that is free-form yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob," said Ingels.

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2016 will stay open throughout the summer until 9 October 2016. 

Bring you packed lunch, a bottle of wine, hang out there on the sunny days --- Good summer plan, isn't it?