LowLine New York

After successful transformation of overhead infrastructures into leisure spaces, such as the New York HighLine park, new possibilities are being explored underground. The LowLine project uses crowd funding to turn the old Williamsburg Trolley Terminal, an underground complex, into a community park. The complex was built in 1903 and has remained unused since 1948.

The location in the Lower East Side, which lacks public green space and business opportunities, challenged a neighboring architecture firm to come up with this plan. The designers developed a system that captures sunlight and transmits it to the subterranean park, in sufficient quantities for photosynthesis, in other words to grow trees and other plants.


Grand projets – Bibliotèque François Mitterand

Current times of bottom-up planning, urban acupuncture, pocket parks and temporary uses make the Grand Projets of president Mitterand – merely a few decades ago – look like remnants of a distant past. One way or another, these projects create the context of our current interventions and will determine the face of the city for centuries. Parque de la Villette, Grand Arche (La Défense) and the Bibliotèque de France became landmarks and icons for Paris, despite heavy criticism about the high costs for the tax payers and elitist locations of the project, predominantly in the west near the river Seine.

The expansion of the national library – with its historic location at the Rue Richelieu – was to create a new hot spot at the margins of the river, stimulating the revitalization of the Rive Gauche area. It was the most costly of the Grand Projets, and suffered various operational problems, such as creating a good climate for conservation of the books inside the glass towers. The project by Dominique Perrault was the winning design of the 1989 competition. The honorary mention of the OMA project also became famous. The project was inaugurated in 1996, a year after Mitterands death.

The library occupies 60 thousand square meters, with a stunningly quitet forest patio in the middle.

The project is connected to the other side of the river by a new pedestrian bridge. The full perimeter of the library is accessible as a wooden staircase.

Sarkis at Submarine Wharf Rotterdam

Sarkis’ installation in the submarine wharf – feathered bicycles and colored window filters

Arriving at the RDM campus by ferry from the center of Rotterdam, the first thing that comes to mind is: What is this pirate ship doing here?
‘Los tres hombres’ is temporarily docked here. Several hobbyists climb on ladders to paint the old wooden vessel. It has nothing to do, however, with the exhibition in the Submarine Wharf, 20 meters away.

Los tres hombres

Each year museum Boijmans van Beuningen and Port of Rotterdam organize a large art installation. Summer 2011,  two nordic artists created a dark and creepy ghetto in the big shipyard, with broken cars, a teenage mother, creeps hanging around the lavatories, and a rundown apartment building. Very impressive.

Submarine Wharf in Google Maps

This year, Istanbul based artist Sarkis presents his ‘Ballads’, featuring feathered bicycles to tour around in the exhibition, a UFO-like mobile summer house by the Finnish architect Matti Suroonen, chimes and much more. The exhibition will close in a few days, on Sunday September 30.

Mobile summer house by Finnish designer xx

Interior of the mobile summer house

The post-Olympic city

What happens to a city after the Olympics are gone? This question is asked frequently these days, now mostly concerning the East London area. The exhibition on The Post-Olympic City, opened today in Storefront, New York, tries to answer this question.

“The Olympic City” is an ongoing project by Pack and Hustwit that looks at the legacy of the Olympic Games in former host cities around the world. Since 2008, Pack and Hustwit have sought out and photographed the successes and failures, the forgotten remnants and ghosts of the Olympic spectacle. Thus far they’ve documented Athens, Barcelona, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Montreal, Lake Placid, Rome, and Sarajevo, with plans to document Beijing, Moscow, Berlin, London, and other Olympic cities.

London olympics 2012 – inauguration

The games have begun!

After years of planning, building and preparations the Olympic Village has been inaugurated and is now fully functional. For the period after the games, a legacy plan has been drawn up. The utility of the venues, infrastructure and accommodations is to be guaranteed by downscaling of the stadiums, reuse of the hotels as apartments and further redevelopment of the East London area.

The first frustrations of the event have already floated to the surface as well:
Local residents complain about missiles and other military equipment installed on their roofs, for security purposes, while taxi drivers complain about the exclusive VIP traffic lanes, reserved for IOC personnel and sponsors. The Olympic cauldron had to be extinguished and lit again in order to move it out of the way on the opening night. And a great number of the temporary seats in the Aquatics Centre does not seem to have a clear view of the dives, due to the curved roof. Architect Zaha Hadid however is not to blame, they say, since it concerns the temporary seats and tickets should not have been sold for those seats during diving sessions. Anyway, all of these troubles will be over after the spectacle.

For the period after the games, many doubts were raised regarding the gentrification of the East London neighborhoods of the already rather hyped Hackney Wick, and the traditional working class neighborhoods Tower Hamlets and Newham. What will happen there, when the athletes are gone, remains to be seen. As yet, the Shard, now the highest tower in Europe, designed by Renzo Piano and located in Southwark, is still largely vacant. Smaller and more flexible projects are mushrooming in the Olympic area, such as the White Building, a refurbishment of an old industrial building by architect David Kohn.

The Shard building

The White Building

Does the Olympics bring sustainable developments to East London and will they bring long term jobs to this area plagued by unemployment? Will gentrification of the East lead to a less segregated London? We’ll take a look at the site again at the end of the games and see what happens.

In the mean time, have a look at ‘London’s Loss? Why Hosting the Olympics Is Bad Business’ – Time

Or take a look at the Olympic Village in Google maps:

London Games open larger map