Sunday, December 28, 2008


k:fem is Sweden's first pure fashion department store in a building that is specially designed solely for the fashion. It has been described as a luxurious lacquer box or as a beautiful woman dressed in white silk and veil. The interior is a heavenly light experience and in the evening the exterior is transformed into a giant lava lamp with red lacquer ceiling and large glass facade.
k:fem Department Store
Design Team: Wingårdh Arkitektkontor
Location: Vällingby City, Sweden
When to visit: Anytime.
Award: World Architecture Festival 2008 - Category Winner

Fifty years after the opening of Vällingby, Sweden’s world famous New Town from 1954, works began with its resurrection. After the glorious days when children and their mothers filled the community in the outskirts of Stockholm with life, other developments gradually drained the neighbourhood unit. Less people made life difficult for the little cinema, as well as for the shops. Vällingby was in need of new blood, and the pièce de résistance of the renewal would be a new department store.

Red as a lacquer box, the construction stands as a precious object by the new entrance of the centre. With layers on layers, a sense of depth is transmitted in the façade. The milky glass gets increasingly see-through as the white dots vanish towards top and exposes the red skin behind. A cool and thin cloth on a warm body.

The building is an image of the content. A home for the fashionistas, who shall be catched like flies by light. No random additions were to disturb the tailored design. Shiny white letters in the red sky is the only exposure of the companies inside. The house is dedicated to branded fashion and just as all these brands are brought together under the huge canopy, they are brought together in one common space inside. The only detached department is the black box in the east end. As the complex continues the urban pattern from the 1950’s, a pedestrian street cuts thru the site and divides one solo retailer from the large department store. The little black as a contrast to the grand evening dress.

The complex is erected on top of the subway tracks, a site that did not exist when the project started. The main entrance is thereby facing the main access road, and the cutting edge 14-meter canopy works as a logotype for the new suburban centre. Vällingby has always been a symbol. A huge rotating letter V once marked the victory for the welfare state. The sign is still there, now as a symbol of what the place used to be. Today do the logotypes shine brightest. Shopping is the new icon.

If the exterior is dressed in a red gown and white lace, the interior shows the fancy underwear. The semitransparent theme continues. A pendant ceiling transmits a diffuse light, and the white pattern on the balustrades evaporates like mist in the morning. The large opening in the core of the building opens up toward the light. To ascend the space shall be a travel to the light - as an aeroplane rising thru the clouds.

The scheme for Vällingby was simple and straightforward. Orthogonal blocks with shops on a large horizontal base, decorated with circular pattern in paving stones and fountains. These elements are all present in the plan and detailing of the new building as well. Sadly, few of the buildings got the attention originally intended. With the refurbishment of the entire area and the erection of the fashion department store K:fem, some of the original ideas have been developed further, and the new ideas adapted to the venue. Sensitive, but most of all sensual.

via Wingårdh Arkitektkontor | k:fem
Photo credits: Patrik Gunnar Helin

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

East Beach Cafe

The East Beach Cafe is no ordinary seaside kiosk, rising like a piece of weatherworn driftwood washed up on Littlehampton’s East Beach; it is at once familiar and alien to its coastal surroundings. The Cafe is a bold statement that has already made Littlehampton a destination for day tripping design and architecture junkies, while at the same time providing local residents with a local cafe to call their own.
East Beach Cafe
Design Team: Heatherwick Studio
Location: Littlehampton, UK
When to visit: Anytime. East Beach Cafe is open 7 days a week, all year round.

Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to design a café building to replace a seafront kiosk in Littlehampton, a traditional seaside town on England's south coast. Exposed to weather and vandalism, the narrow site sits between the sea and a parade of houses.

The studio saw its challenge as being to produce a long, thin building without flat, two-dimensional façades.

The building is sliced diagonally into ribbons which wrap up and over the building, forming a layered protective shell, open to the sea in front. The opening is filled with glass doors and windows, protected at night by roller shutters concealed within the building's geometry, the 30-centimetre width of the ribbons being the dimension of a shutter mechanism.

The shell of the building provides both its skin and structure. It comprises a steel outer layer, which is cut at a shallow angle into a series of vertical slices. Its rippling form conjures up a wide variety of visual metaphors.

The choice of materials has played a key part in developing the building concept. The exposed seaside location will subject the building to heavy weathering, with the high salt content of the air speeding the natural degradation of all materials. With this in mind, Thomas Heatherwick opted for naturally finished materials that respond well to the local environment. The mild steel shell that forms the outer skin will rust and gain character as it ages, while an oil based coating applied
after the surface has ‘weathered’ will help to prolong the life of the building.

Rather than use a traditional structural method in which one part rests on another, the primary structure of the building is a ‘monocoque’ steel shell in which all parts act together, similar to the hull of a ship.

In contrast to the conventional white-washed seaside aesthetic, the building is raw and weathered, its structural steel shell finished with an oil-based coating that permits a rust-like patination to develop without affecting structural performance.

A kiosk and cafeteria by day and a restaurant in the evening, the new café seats sixty.

Via East Beach Cafe | Heatherwick Studio

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Kastrup Sea Bath

A sculpture to walk on. And dive from. My idea was to achieve a sculptural, dynamic form that can be seen from the land, from the sea and from the air.
Kastrup Sea Bath
Design Team: Fredrik Pettersson of White Arkitekter
Location: Kastrup, Denmark
When to visit: Anytime
Award: AR Awards for Emerging Architecture 2006

What Denmark lacks in a Mediterranean climate, it makes up for in hardy, sportif enthusiasm, as borne out by this pier-cum-lido structure for sea swimming that forms part of a revitalised sea front at Kastrup, near Copenhagen. Swedish practice White Arkitekter’s Danish outpost were responsible for the design. A 100m long pier extends out from a newish beach into the Oresund, the narrow channel separating Denmark from Sweden. The pier docks with a sculptural, circular structure resembling a palisade. This encloses a generous area of water and is protected by the curved embrace of a windbreak. Rising from 1.5m to 8m at its highest point, the timber screen shelters bathers from the wind and also catches the afternoon sun.

Like an extended hand, the curved form opens up towards the landside, inviting and enticing bathers inside. Stairs and ramps lead down into the water, which varies in depth from 2-4 metres, and assorted tiers and benches provide convenient spots for sunbathing, diving and general convivial lounging. There are also changing rooms, with views out over the Oresund to the Swedish coast in the distance.

The entire structure is clad in thin strips of azobe timber, an especially hardy species resistant to the corrosive effects of sea water. The timber unifies the composition and is warm and soft underfoot.

The lighting has been added to emphasise the sculptural design. There are both LED spotlights along the bridge out to the ‘shell’, as well as upward-facing floodlights that illuminate the inside of the structure, producing a spectacular and beautiful effect at dusk and in the dark. Even at times when only winter bathers dare to enter the water.

Being free to the public, the architects hope that the pier will attract all kinds of people, from the young with more energetic sporty ambitions, to the elderly just wanting a quiet swim. Elegant and egalitarian, in that quintessentially Scandinavian way, the project shows how such an apparently simple structure can enhance the public realm.

via White Arkitekter | AR Award

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Long Table Bangkok

Long Table is claimed to be the longest dining table in the world. With an impressive 24 meters teak dining surface, long table seats around 70 peoples at one time.
Long Table Bangkok
Location: Column Tower, 48 Sukhumvit Soi 16, 25th floor, Bangkok, Thailand
When to visit: Open daily 11am-2am

Residing on the 25th floor of Column Tower, Long table is an avant-garde dining concept created by the Bed Supperclub team. This 717-square-metre, multi-million-baht restaurant-bar occupies half the 25th floor of the Column Residence, a brand new serviced apartment complex on Sukhumvit Soi 16, Bangkok.

A mesmerizing, mirrored glass case filled with spotlights greets you at the front and leads you down the hardwood pathway into a glossy black reception counter inscribed with the full name of Bangkok - Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

In the dining room, naturally, it's the very long table that takes centre stage. Guests at Long Table literally share their meal with others - friends and strangers - at a stretched table in the middle of the room. While sofa booths line both sides of the long table, and offer more privacy. Booths have screens above them as well as under the tables displaying visual art, adding a stylish touch.

Every detail of the restaurant, from its engineering system and lighting design to the miniature-scale decoration and brand image, was cleverly calculated and clearly expensive. For instance, above the main dining table there's a line of LCD tvs display presenting real images from space.

The interiors comprising twinkling LEDs, intricate lighting and the clever trickery of mirrors to create the illusion of more space. With floor-to-ceiling windows open onto a wide terrace with an unobstructed 180-degrees view of the city and its sunsets, Long Table is without a doubt Bangkok’s most exciting new venue. But it's not such an ideal place if you are seriously looking for the finest flavours.

via Long Table Bangkok
Photo credits: Gackt

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