Design

Design

September 29 2008



Great surroundings will not camouflage poor programming in movie theatres. No matter how swanky the theatre, if it shows poor movies, we just won’t go. Which isn’t to say that we have given up on movie-theatre design. We still wish that one day, somewhere, someone is going to design a decidedly different, interesting and exciting movie theatre.


 
Glimpses of brilliance are visible in the new Light House Cinema at Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland designed by Dublin’s award-winning DTA Architects Of course, you really need to design – and judge – a movie theatre so that it looks and functions best when people are using it. So, having not paid personal visits to the new Light House, we cannot say for sure, but the images we have received of the empty space indicate that the play of light, colour and height works exceptionally well here.
 


Light House cinema has been a bit of an institution in Dublin. It started showing Irish, independent, foreign-language, art house and classic cinema 20 years ago, closed in 1966, and re-opened this summer in its new, customized space. The four-screen, intimate art-house cinema includes a wonderful, inviting and open cafe that looks like something you’d see at an art museum, not a movie theatre. The leader of the Light House project at DTA was Derek Tynan and the project architect was Colin Mackay.


 
The new cinema benefited from the financial assistance of The Arts Council, the Irish Film Board, and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. For Dublin’s city planners, this was to be a cultural magnet and a focal point for the largest mixed-use development ever in Dublin’s inner city, the massive rejuvenation plan for the historical Smithfield Market area.


 
And if you’d like to make our wishes come true, please let us know of any supreme movie-theatre design concepts you’ve seen, designed or commissioned. We are all eyes and ears. - Tuija Seipell

See also Home Theatre and AMC Pacific Place Cinema in Hong Kong.

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Design

September 24 2008



In most cities, strategic downtown street corners are flanked by enormous, old banks, the ornate cathedrals of capital designed to impress and intimidate. With the massive changes in real estate values and consumer banking habits, such monuments to Mammon are no longer smart or necessary. But what amazing opportunities such massive commissions must have been for the architects of the day! And what depressing alternatives we’ve experienced since! Luckily, online banking has made a bank visit almost obsolete, but when you must visit, most of the time you’ll find a boring, convenience-store-type standardized box – retail banking in the worst meaning of both words.


 
But we are starting to see a change. Several new bank design concepts are in the works, and some have been launched recently, including CheBanca! in Milan by Crea International. The concept for CheBanca! (translation: What a bank!) reflects the brand’s simplicity, transparency and innovation. When Crea International co-founder Massimo Fabbro will speak at POPAI Italia in November on the power of physical brand design to bring to life a brand's language, spirit and values, he will no doubt mention CheBanca!


 
And now that we have seen a few examples of fabulous bank design, we want more! If you’ve seen, designed or commissioned one, let us know. — Tuija Seipell



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Design

August 4 2008




Let's face it, most conventional medical interiors aren't exactly attractive. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to discover that most people are allergic to the blandness and sterility of clinic interiors. Well the new Allied Health clinic in Melbourne, proves that it IS possible for health and design (and a bit of fun) to go hand in hand.

Accommodating the rather unusual combination of podiatry, physiotherapy, pathology, dietetics and psychology, the clinic feels like '2001 Space Odyssey meets late nineteenth century Victorian'. Designed by the Melbourne-based studio Chameleon Architecture, the interior juxtaposes elements of heritage, science and future. Ornate period details like crystal chandeliers, cornices, skirting boards and ceiling roses provide a classical backdrop. Exploring the idea of the medical as molecular, large glossy white molecules or futuristic pods are planted throughout the clinic, serving as consultation suites. Once inside the suite/pod, the mood changes again. The interior of the pod, from the walls, ceiling, floors to joinery, is clad entirely in plywood stained with a clear lacquer which enriches and emphasises the grain of the wood. So instead of looking pale under the normally cold and harsh light of clinical spaces, visitors here are instantly bathed in a warm, healthy glow without any treatment having even begun. - Jeanne Tan

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Design

July 30 2008



The aquatic complex Les Bains des Docks  (animation here), designed by the 2008 Prtizker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel has just opened in the historical Port of Le Havre. Inspired by the Roman thermal baths, the 5,000-square-metre complex offers an eerily beautiful atmosphere of tranquility with the fantastic play of natural light soothing the eyes, the masterful acoustics pleasing the ears, and the pools and treatment areas taking care of the rest of the body.



Although the main “colour” of the complex is white, each section’s distinct atmosphere and hue is created by flowing water curtains, colour walls, and various textures and surface treatments. Each pool — lap-pool, children’s pool, whirlpools — is designed, shaped and lit to create a unique “private space” for its specific users. These seemingly enclosed areas help minimize echoing and sound carriage — an annoying aspect of most aquatic centres - as do the varying-height floors and ceilings, and the acoustic false ceilings. Saunas, a hammam, cold and hot baths, and a spa area with hydro-massage and aquagym areas complete the atmosphere of pampering and care. An external lagoon makes the summer use of the complex even more appealing.



The Docks in the south end of the ancient port city of Le Havre are the oldest docks in France. The area is under massive revitalization with the goal of making this a leisure, culture and shopping neighborhood. When completed, the area will include residences, a large park, a tropical greenhouse, cinemas, bowling alleys and a shopping center, plus a Nouvel-designed Sea and Sustainable Development Centre to be completed in 2011. The Sea Centre will be a showcase of shipping and sailing — exploring their economic and industrial significance as well as their environmental impact on coasts and estuaries. It will be a 120-meter-high metallic structure dominating the port and it will include exhibit areas, an aquarium, a meteorological station and a restaurant with panoramic, 360-degree views of Port of Le Havre.



Nouvel’s well-known public buildings literally span the world from New York to Reykjavik, Dubai, Soul and Tangiers. Recent interesting buildings include the bright-red research center for the maker of brakes for luxury cars, Brembo, in Italy. NouveI's masterpiece for La Philharmonie de Paris will open in 2012. - Tuija Seipell



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Design

June 3 2008


Movin’ on up, now more than ever encapsulates stunning design, impeccable service, effortless living from the time the sun rises to well after the sun sets. We’ve been noticing a rising trend in the sheer number of luxury residences - we recently told you about an exclusive collection of seaside properties in Abu Dhabi. And now from New York to Buenos Aires, and from Moscow to Beijing, we’ll reveal a few more of the coolest luxury abodes.

Many of us have been accustomed to the stylistic cues offered by W Hotels across the world — but how many of us will actually have a chance to pick up the phone from our own kitchens and receive assistance from the ‘Whatever, Whenever’ hotline? Soon, for those who jumped at the chance to purchase a W-styled apartment in one of their newest locations south of the World Trade Centre in New York City, the possibilities will be limitless.



W Residents may share the building with distinguished hotel guests in the lower portion of Manhattan, but luxury amenities such as a rooftop terrace, a fitness centre and spa in the sky, a media screening room and digital lounge, as well as a separate entrance, will be solely for those permanently living in the upper floors of the luxury tower. 



While the W Hotel New York Downtown will take up the first twenty-two floors, the upper levels have been split into furnished residences (Floors 23-30) and customised residences (Floors 33-56). Interior design exceeds expectations, even by W standards, with sleek and functional kitchen built-ins to a translucent wall from the bedroom to a ‘peek-a-boo loo.’



A bit further in the heart of Tribeca, Five Franklin Place is destined be the epitome of luxury residences. The 20-storey building will contain 55 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units that will be set up as duplex lofts on the lower floors; single-level city residents above; plus three triplex penthouses each with a rooftop terrace and serviced by private internal lifts. 

The building itself, designed by Dutch architect Ben van Berkell of UNStudio, will be wrapped in a series of horizontal black metallic bands — each of which ungulates as it curves around and hugs the frame of the structure. The façade is apparently a direct tribute to the original 19th-century built form of cast iron that shaped lower Manhattan — and the metallic surface will reflect light while highlighting the magnificence of the neighbouring buildings. 



The building’s façade is not merely about aesthetics, as the bands will also create shading from the daylight, deflect heat, and guarantee every residence will have the highest degree of privacy, and simultaneously frame unparalleled views out across Manhattan. 

The Loft Residences on the levels have a double-height living area that maximises the light entering the space. The height of the great room continues on through a gallery where a white lacquered library wall ascends up into the second level. 



The upper-tier City Residences feature integrated terraces off the main living areas, and all units are custom-fitted with B&B Italia kitchens and built-ins throughout. The master bathrooms feature a circular sliding wall that allows the bathroom to become part of the bedroom and share its spectacular city views. 

And for those at the top, the five ultra-luxurious Sky Penthouses are unmatched in practically every aspect. Again, B&B Italia has masterfully crafted the space, including the kitchen.  Sweeping views from every room, even the master bathroom, automatically heighten the occupants’ awareness of their place in the cityscape and the surrounding environment. 



The skylines of our cities are rapidly changing — ingeniously designed buildings are competing for our attention. But architectural beauty alone is not going to provide the type of service we’re growing accustomed to expecting after spending millions on luxury lifestyle. We feel that the rise of luxury residences has only just begun — and we want to know all about it. If you are aware of luxury residences we should investigate, please let us know. By Andrew J Wiener.


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Design

May 13 2008



The work of Belgium’s Rotor Group is popping up in more and more visible places. Rotor covers a wide range of projects, from basic design, branding and packaging, to events, lighting planning, interiors, showrooms, products, trade shows and art. We especially like the work they have done with Belgian lighting firm Modular Lighting Instruments creating events, showrooms and surroundings that defy definition. A great example is Rotor Designer Toon Stockman’s retro-futuristic showroom for Modular that pays homage to Modular’s Beam Squad and consists of six enormous cages supported by a skeleton of fluorescent tubing. The wild narrative for this installation – a typical Rotor tale – tells of life-destroying peril but luckily, all will be well and in about 2069, lighting will be manufactured in peace again. By Tuija Seipell






Design

May 2 2008



The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology merges the concepts of lighting and art with this spectacular 3D LED piece, dubbed NOVA. Created for the institute's 150th anniversary, the display is made up of 25000 lightballs.

Incredibly it can display 16 million colours per second. The behemoth, which weighs 3.3 tonnes, is currently displayed at the Zurich train stations main hall, where it will live until September 2009. By Lisa Evans




Design

February 15 2008



Cool Spas are popping up everywhere as if they had just been invented, but in the Bavaria region of Germany – as in many parts of the world with healing, thermal or mineral springs – baths are part of ancient history.



Bad Aibling, located some 35 miles southeast of Munich, has held the official title of a Bad (German for bath, spa, springs) since 1895 but the thermal spas have bubbled up there much, much longer. It is particularly refreshing to see one of the older facilities, Thermal Bad Aibling, receive a complete overhaul and emerge as a viable competitor in the world of spoiled and pampered spa goers.



The most striking new feature at Bad Aibling are the large white domes, placed seemingly randomly in the hilly landscape, letting the alpine scenery dictate their placement. Each dome is dedicated to its own treatment, temperature, ambiance and experience.



In addition to the fairly standard fare, such as a wide selection of massages, beauty treatments, saunas and different-temperature baths and pools, Thermal Bad Aibling offers a beautifully lit Turkish haman plus something no other spa has – so far. It is an immersive film experience by LivingGlobe where the guests can enjoy a special 360-degree film projection and light show produced specifically for Thermal Bad Aibling. The main outdoor swimming pool areas will open in May 2008, but hot pools are functional, creating the atmosphere of time-tested pleasure of soaking in hot water in cold air and enjoying the view. By Tuija Seipell



 
Design

February 15 2008



For eons, walls of greenery have surrounded people and creatures living in jungles, rainforests and other lush places.



Ancient Asians and Europeans since Roman times have paid gardeners to create green art and sculpture for their gardens, from elaborate topiary sculptures and mazes to vine-covered walls.



And, of course, we’ve seen inventive uses of built outdoor space – including rooftops, patios and balconies – as places to bring more green into our overly concrete-covered lives. Smudging the line between indoors and outdoors, and playing with the illusion of greenery where it doesn’t really belong, are also the basis of some recent installations that we like.



Mass Studies, founded in 2003 by Minsuk Cho in Seoul, Korea, has produced some great examples of this. Among them is Ann Demelmeester’s store (pictured above) in Soul. It is one of only four concept stores showcasing the fashions of the Flemish designer.



Green walls are not just visually interesting and environmentally beneficial, they add a sense of calm and peace that is difficult to achieve by other means. The inclusion of real, living plants on a large scale in places where you don’t expect to see them, also adds other sensory elements – the scent of the greenery, the sound of water, perhaps the feeling of humidity around the installation. The organic texture invites touch and inspires conversation – how was this installed, how is it cared for, who did it?



We’ve found some interesting green installations, such as this school in the UK and a hair salon in Japan, but we’d love to see many, many more. We think there’s room for much more creativity and daring in this arena, so let us know if you spot remarkable and unusual examples. - Tuija Seipell. Send to bill@thecoolhunter.net

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Design

February 8 2008



For many of us, taking our cars to the garage can be a daunting experience. Feeling anxious and uncertain over the price and duration over jobs, use of technical jargon and the like. This may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the launch of the major rebranding programme for car care network HiQ, starting with their new concept centre opening in Nottingham, UK.



The aim was to revolutionise the way fast fit car care is delivered and to develop a fresh retail concept that would set new standards in this sector. And it looks like they have come up with the goods.



Designed by the London team at Fitch, the brand has been repositioned by using simple language, illustrations, and the centre itself has clever features like glass walls that allow customers to see onto the garage floor for themselves.



We have seen this uncomplicated, tell it like it is mentality popping up all over the place, especially as banks try to re-align themselves with their customers. It is now nice and refreshing to see this evolving into other touch points of consumers' lives. I wonder if this approach would make going to the dentist any better? By Brendan McKnight




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