Thursday, October 26, 2006

The new IRs

Gehry gone garish?

If this scheme (and Kerzner) does make the cut, I'm trying to fathom how it'd be possible to furnish the entire thing out of glass - while it looks pretty okay in the renders / models, the quality of workmanship in Singapore is certainly going to screw it up! (Down the same road journeyed by the Supreme Court, Vivocity, Alsop's hair-salon implements along Sg River...)

The thought of robotic fish ('Robotanica'?!) does not seem to be a long-term sustainable idea... In ten, twenty years, it'll go down the way of Volcanoland and Asian Village, or even the current Underwater World. In 2020, by the time everyone has Aibos and their marine counterparts within their homes, Gehry's vision of Sentosa would be relegated to a whim and a fancy. And what if the architecture does go out of 'fashion', the same way Saarinen's or Archigram's work went? What we would be left with is a giant greenhouse straight out of a glassblower's trashcan (if workmanship's poor), fungused and ill-maintained.

This will not be the Bilbao equivalent of Singapore. Bilbao was the result of a pursuit of a completely new language, of the implementation of a technology previously unseen in the building construction realm. This seems to me a parody of that cause celebre, and I can't help but be reminded, when looking at the renders again, of this:

I have this suspicion (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) that Gehry is in fact critiquing himself with every new project, but ends up rehashing the same thing (in a different material in this case), perhaps because he's comfortable with specific CATIA operations, or perhaps he has become the 'provident' of a brand-name architecture to derive the oohs and the aahs out of mass consumerists. In ending up with what is more or less the same thing, he ends up parodying his previous works, rather than critiquing them. (Side note: Gehry wholeheartedly endorses his personification in the Simpsons, even though the joke really was on him. What a star he is.)

So, yeah, I'm not looking forward to the Kerzner scheme. It's good to have a Gehry in Singapore, yes, but to have it go down the road of the Fosters, Alsops, Itos and even the elegant-but-underwhelming Ban pavilion would be quite a letdown. (It really seems that starchitects just can't get it right in Singapore, but that's another story for another day.)

Oddly, I find myself (heaven forbid!) more skewed to the Michael Graves / Genting International scheme... brings out the layman in me!

What a Grave(s) thing to do, to steal the giant Allesi juicer from Starck!

Could've been much worse, I guess:

Footnote: All images (except the last one) courtesy of their respective owners.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Architecture + Ecology exhibition

Exhibition at URA
"Made in Germany - Architecture + Ecology"
5 to 28 Oct, URA Centre

Germany aspires to develop sustainable architecture - one that goes beyond pure aesthetics to deal also with the impact of architectural projects on all aspects of daily life. This includes the practice of architecture in sensitive response to ecology and the environment.

The exhibition is the first in the series of exhibitions produced by the Goethe-Institut on contemporary German architecture, showcasing German architecture in response to various cultural and socio-political environments. This premiere exhibition in the series deals with ecology, and illustrates the aspirations and innovative achievements in developing sustainable architecture by an emerging generation of German architects.

Nine projects, ranging from a daycare center, and administration tower, a train station to a zero-emissions factory, will be presented at the exhibition. The projects provide an insight to integrating ecological principles into innovative building designs, some of which could be applied to the Singapore context.The exhibition is part of URA’s continuing effort to promote architecture and urban design excellence in Singapore. It is hoped that the architectural approaches presented in this exhibition could spark the interest of local architects and the public, in search of architectural solutions that are responsive to ecological needs.
The public can view the exhibition at the atrium of The URA Centre, from 5 Oct to 28 October 2006. Opening hours are Mon - Fri, 9:00am to 7:00pm; Sat, 9:00am to 5:00pm; closed on Sundays and public holidays. Admission is free.
(excerpted from URA website)

I had a look at this exhibition while in Delft two years ago. It's not terribly snazzy - don't expect to get blown away by wild forms and extreme technologies. Yet, in a true 'German' sense, the architecture on display is highly clinical, almost unpretentious in its pursuit of ecological sustainability. I'd say it's worth a visit.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kevin Low's lecture webcast

Hi guys, for those amongst us, including myself, who might've missed the very charming Kevin Low guest lecture at NUS, and who might've got bored of Youtube (if that can even happen at all), here's the recorded webcast:

And a listing of webcast lectures over the past two years is as follows: