31 December 2007

Dubai snaps...

I'm in Dubai for the last week of 2007 and the pace of growth is as astonishing as ever. Although I have been and remain to be a critic of the way it's been done I guess there are things to learn from it. In some ways one could draw parallels between this insane growth to that of Manhattan in the early 20th century.

Here are some photos I took while flying into Dubai from India
In the far distance growing upwards the Dubai Business Bay

This is the sort of gated city/exclusive villas development that is sprawling all around the new high density areas of the city

And this of the highly distasteful 'World' man made islands made to look like the continents.

Beyond the artificial lagoons is the neighbouring state of Sharjah

And one more of Dubai Business Bay

Here are some snaps of Burj Dubai - the center piece of the Business Bay - and already the tallest building in the world though not yet completed.
If I keep aside the unnecessity for this monstrosity over here I begin to appreciate it's simplicity in form, though it does look a bit to thin at the top (looks like very little area on each floor would be usable). Wonder how it would feel like inside?
And some snaps from Dubai Marina - an area which till 5 years back was considered to far from the center of Dubai (almost a Desert wasteland) and now is all set to be a thriving residential area with its own bay and marina.

Around 12 years ago I used to come around here quiet often to meet some friends (who at that time really lived in the middle of the desert) . And we used to walk around in the desert in front of there house picking up shells and looking for things - Now thats where they build this huge bay and the seawater flows through.
And the last image was shot at the beach (in Dubai it may be wise to specify that this is a natural beach) where a family of tourists was enjoying a game of cricket with the infamous Palm island development in the background.

12 December 2007

Coin street / Young Vic

Here's some photos of two very interesting small projects by London based architects - Haworth Tompkins (both of these are quiet close to Southwark tube station).

The first one is a community Centre that they designed for the Coin Street Community Builders. The centre known as 'The Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre' completes the urban block which is made up by the Iroko Housing Co-operative also designed by the same architects.
The Centre, largely a public building houses a nursery, crèche, community cafe, training and conferences space and the client’s HQ.The most striking element of the building – the main street façade was developed in collaboration with artist Antoni Malinowski (who has worked a lot with architects and has collaborated on other projects as well with the same architects check out his work on his website - www.antonimalinowski.co.uk/ )
Besides the simple and innovative use of ventilation systems and sustainable materials, the project was programmatically designed to accommodate a number of different uses thus making it a much more sustainable building in the long run.

The next project by the same architects is the much celebrated Young Vic Theatre. (the project won the RIBA Award,RIBA National Award,RIBA London Building of the Year 2007 but just missed out on the RIBA Stirling Prize)Though a large scale refurbishment job, the architects were highly successful retaining the spirit of a building that was made up as a mish-mash of whatever was available on site as a temporary theatre some four decades ago. Similar to Coin street, the innovative use of materials is key to this building. Through the use of a very interesting palette of materials the project retains its informal quality that people have come to love of this small theatre.
And at a Urban scale the project maintains a very playful street edge - depending on the time of the day either remaining anonymous or becoming a point of reference on an otherwise ordinary street.

03 December 2007

Jumeirah in London!!!

Jumeirah - is a part of Dubai that I grew up in. And strangely the further I go away from there the closer it gets to me : )Most people however know it now, as the name of an international brand of 5 star hotels. One of them is coming up just around the corner from my workplace.

The building is designed by Ian Simpson Architects - a well known firm from Manchester

12 November 2007

Went to see the Stirling Prize winning library by Will Alsop yesterday with Ninad and Melisa.

I don't really like the work of Will Alsop, I find it with too much of 'Creativity' which is just annoying rather than producing anything interesting.

So I just had to see this - probably his most celebrated work - for my self to know what the fuss was all about.

Contrary to what I had thought up in my head the building does have some rather interesting aspects -
For once his 'Pods' seem to make sense and in a nice way estranges your idea of what a library should look on the inside (sadly he happens to try the same trick for every type of building he designs),
the building responds quiet well to the square in front of it (although the cage like metal mesh hanging from its belly is plain ridiculous!!!).

One last thing about the building - just trivia - I heard from someone who has worked on this project that the idea of putting the word 'Library' on top of it was a practical joke by some people in the office, but one that the client loved and noticed was removed in the final set of drawings. Then later insisted that it be put back and was built in actuality.

10 November 2007

Happy Diwali !!!

Wish you all a great New Year !!!!!

Had a - Diwali/New in London/Got a Job/House Warming - Party at my place last night. It's great to have soo many familiar faces in town (both from Bombay and Rotterdam). Thanks for a great evening guys!!

22 October 2007

Had a very successful interview earlier today at Allies and Morrison Architects at Southwark, London (the glass building in the above snap is their main studios).

The office is just across the road from the 'Blue Fin Building' (which is just behind the Tate Modern). In fact the 'Blue Fin' happens to be one of their latest projects to be opened.

Here's a few more snaps of it

Though a bit too massive I have to admit that I quiet like the way the building is grounded and reacts to the different street conditions/edges around it. Check out their website to see more of their work- http://www.alliesandmorrison.co.uk/

18 October 2007

Went to see the Laban Dance Centre near Greenwich with Juan earlier today. This has be the best project by starchitects - Herzog & de Meuron that I have seen soo far {ofcourse as you might have guessed I have seen many : ) }. Though the Tate Modern is great to, it's not really a new building.
I loved the external skin of the building, it's colours, it's lightness.
The first building that I saw by them was the Forum in Barcelona and till date remains one of my biggest disappointments. I felt that they got too many things wrong in that building, the worst of which was the external texture of the building, which seemed almost like a rendering error in 3d max.
The Laban Dance Centre on the other hand is a much better design and the materials and finishes are well executed. Even a similar rough texture (as in the Forum) used in the Entrance Foyer is of a much better scale and provides a good contrast with the sleek outer skin.
And the finishing touch to the building is its detail of the building lands - almost hovering over the landscape.
Like at the Tate the landscape is done by Vogt Landscape designers, also from Switzerland. Check out their website - http://www.vogt-la.ch/en/
(I have to say their new book is a great way to understand their work, the website doesn't do them justice)

16 October 2007

Cheddar Gorge and Caves

While I wait to hear from the offices I have applied to I'm spending most of my time at my brother's place, here in Weston Super Mare some 3 hours from London. Since I'm not particularly up to anything here he felt bad and decided to take his family and me to see the Cheddar Gorge just around 15 minutes from here. I was happy to get out and didn't quiet bother to check about the place online as he had asked me to do. Anyways, in my head I had almost dismissed it as probably nothing that great.

As we were getting there he told me that the world famous Cheddar Cheese is from here, the Gorge near the town is the largest in UK, that its very popular tourist spot and also has some nice nature walks around. He got my attention. But I still had no idea what to expect.I was quiet excited as we passed through the gorge - it had lots of people climbing the cliffs, others walking along its ridges - cos it just appeared out of no where in an otherwise soft and hilly English country-side. Yet I would appreciate its true beauty only when we entered one of its caves.
Since we were close to closing time and we were with his kids we could go into only one cave. So we decided to pick the bigger one - Gough's cave.
What amazed me was the scale of the cave, it was huge with large spaces inside and it just went on and on.
Apparently what we see is only a small part of what has been discovered so far and to see more you have to sign up for an adventure caving trip where they give you all the equipment and stuff.

The cave also has early stage Stalagmite and Stalactite formations. I would have never imagined seeing these here. This was a great surprise!!

Have to come back for Adventure Caving - but probably I'll wait till Summer (it was really freezing in there!!)

11 October 2007

Bye bye Rotterdam!!!

Took this photo of the square behind my school - Blaak square - from the bus as it looped around Rotterdam on its way to London.
The grief of leaving what was home for the last two years made the hardships of this horrible bus journey - random census interview, many immigration checks, countless baggage checks and an uncomfortable bus - negligible.

Anyhow I am now in UK. Waiting to give some interviews and see what the future holds for me here.

28 September 2007

Three days in Paradise.

I needed to get a breathe of life beyond the control of Visa Interviewers and Human Resources People at Architectural firms, so I decided to take a small travelling break from my life in cold Rotterdam.

Besides this having seen lots of Documentaries and Books about the greatness of what the Moors had created during their 700 years rule in Andalusia, Southern Spain -"I wanted me some of that!".

Off I flew to Madrid and a bus journey later I was living it 'Moorish' style. I started off in Cordoba with the Great Mezquita (Mosque) with its almost endless rows of columns recreating in the minds of the Moors an oasis of Palm trees in the deserts of their homeland. Even on my last trip to Spain (Barcelona) I was keen to try and squeeze in the great Mosque, but it was way too far (or so I was told) , but this time I just had to walk thru it's 600 odd columns and feel it for myself -I truly have had a glimpse of Paradise.

Next, I moved from Cordoba the once capital of Al-Andalus (the Islamic kingdom of Spain) to Granada (the last Muslim strong hold in Europe) to see her equally (if not more) impressive La Alhambra Palace Complex.

Here is a panoramic photo of the Alhambra as seen from the old quarter of Albaicin (itself an amazing site to see) - Click on the above image to see it clearly.

Upon arrival at Granada I made my way straight to the Alhambra to try and see it and I was almost destroyed when they told me that the tickets for the day were sold out and so too were the reservations for the whole of next week. However, I found out that they do sell a limited amount of tickets everyday over the counter but I had to be willing to get up really early and camp in the lines for hours for it. So it would be!!!... I had not come so far to go back without seeing what most people think is the greatest Islamic Palace in the world.

Infact, I decided to skip on a few other sites in Granada and camp for the tickets of the late night visit of the Palace too. And after a little more than an hour of standing in line I got my first glimpses of this marvelous complex.

Heres a pic from the night trip of the Patio of the Myrtles

And again early next morning after about two hours of waiting I was in again.
This is the Patio of the Lions, a place that has featured in countless paintings by artists from around the world and many many stories. It surely is one of those places that dreams are made of. Sadly the Lions of the Patio (which usually hold up the fountain in this centre) were missing, removed to be resorted. Hopefully I will make another visit in 2009 to see them back : )
The Palace is covered with intricate geometric patterns on the walls, floor and roofs in line with Islamic iconographic tradition. Infact some of these patterns reminded me of the paintings of the great dutch painter M C Escher (later I found out that he was infact highly influenced by the tile patterns of Alhambra) I shall end with blog entry this image showing the two sides of the Patio of the Myrtles showing how the Moors conceived the idea of Paradise on Earth thru the use of Architecture, Landscape, Space and Water.


PS. If you are planning to make a trip to La Alhambra please book online well in advance.


Check out an whole album of Photos from this trip below ....

Photos from Cordoba and Granada

Here is one of those Documentaries

20 August 2007

Documenta 12 & Munster Sculpture Project 2007

With a few friends from the Berlage made a quick visit to two German cities - Kassel and Münster - to see what is considered two of the most important art exhibitions in the world.
The Documenta 12 in Kassel and the 7th Munster Sculpture Project in close by Münster.

First was Documenta (This exhibition is seen as the world‘s most important exhibition of modern and contemporary art which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany)

All the main halls of this city wide exhibition are well within walking distance of each other (all around a square pictured below);

the day we chose most of these halls were quite full of enthusiastic art lovers from all over the world, but sadly I felt the art was nothing great. A few works here and there caught ones eyes, most of the stuff seemed quite old - ofcourse some of it was intentional, though I doubt this was the case with all of it.

Among the artist was Atul Dodiya from India, with his works titled 'Antler’s Anthology', done in watercolor, charcoal and marble dust on paper. He reproduced the texts of well-known contemporary Gujarati poems in the body of his 12 paintings. I have to say that I didn't quiet get it and therefore didn't like it much.

However, from Kassel we made a quick stop at close by Münster where the city was full of people walking and biking in huge groups almost running from one spot to another, trying to find every piece of Sculpture of all shapes and sizes placed all over the tiny city.
Every ten years coniciding with every second Documenta at Kassel the city of Münster undertakes the Skulptur Projekte Münster, which is an exhibition of sculptures in public places in the town, the exhibition shows artworks for free in different places all over the town, thereby confronting art with public places.
Myself in Münster at the Prinzipalmarkt with St Lambert's church.
This event was a lot more satisfying than the one at Kassel, and with relatively a lot more interesting works of art. (Above a picture from the Botanical garden of the city - where there were some works exhibited)


And this one, which seems almost an archaeological site was my favorite of the two grand exhibitions.

A Google map tracing my travels across the globe


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