Mecanoo Architects is designing the city hall and central train station for its home town of Delft, in the Netherlands. The top level will be glass-ceilinged, and even the underground levels will have a feel of transparency and light. Vaulted ceilings, archways and a strong use of white and blue will lighten the visual weight of the complex that will include a 30,000 square-meter public hall. The four-year construction will begin next year.
The Dutch-born and educated architect Francine Houben established Mecanoo Architects in the mid-80s. Mecanoo has since completed an incredible variety of public and private projects, including retail stores, theaters, hotels, libraries, museums, chapels, residential neighborhoods and parks. Houben’s focus on ”sensory beauty,“ color and light has produced many spectacular buildings in Europe and around the world. Most recently, Mecanoo won the competition to design the new master plan for a central business district in Shenzhen, China. The district will include 8,000 houses and 400,000 square-meters of commercial and cultural facilities. - Tuija Seipell
You must feel comfortable being surrounded by really bright colours if you plan on studying at Tokyo's famous Senzoku Kaguen College of Music's latest addition. It is called Black Hole on the school's site, but Black Hall on the site of Terada design & Architects, the Tokyo-based architecture firm that designed it. We want to believe the school, especially when we know that one of the large studios is called Big Mouth. The Black Hole has recording studios, multimedia studios, electronic organ classrooms, PC labs, and practice studios for jazz, jazz vocal, pop and rock. In the otherwise basic hallways, intense wall and ceiling colours have become the main design element, and the way finding ' large-scale painted signage on the walls ' is the main artwork. Terada is an architecture and design studio established by the Osaka-born, 42-year-old Naoki Terada in 2003. - Tuija Seipell
Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal is the newest addition to the Scandinave spa line-up.
Located in Old Montreal and close to the Old Port, the 12,000-square-foot spa is the first urban undertaking of the Scandinave team, spearheaded by Benoît Berthiaume, co-founder and executive VP of the Gestion Rivière du Diable group.
Occupying the ground floor of a restored former warehouse, Scandinave Les Bains Vieux-Montréal’s setting is less intimate than the rural settings of the first two Scandinave spas. The first corporate spa opened in 1999 in the log-and-stone cabin country of Mont Tremblant’s ski hills in Quebec, and the first franchise opened in 2006 in the Blue Mountain ski hills of Collingwood, Ontario.
The Old Montreal spa was designed by Montreal’s award-winning architectural powerhouse, Saucier + Perrotte, led by Gilles Saucier and André Perrotte.
The interior is somewhat sterile and cold with its open spaces and expansive surfaces of glass, marble, slate and limestone. In recreating the hot-and-cold “thermo therapy” of the “Scandinavian bath” experience, this spa is definitely closer to Reykjavik’s somewhat clinical Blue Lagoon than to the wood-paneled saunas of Finland.
Scandinave’s next corporately owned spa is scheduled to open late this year in the ski hills of Whistler, British Columbia, to be ready for the 2010 Winter Olympics. - Tuija Seipell
Bold use of colour has never frightened the 40-year-old, Lisbon-based architect Pedro Gadanho. The colour extravagance of the recently completed single-family residence in Oporto, Portugal, follows Gadanho’s established modus operandi of using white and bright colours as key elements of a space. The petrol-blue kitchen and sanguine stairway draw the attention while at the same time punching up the power of snowy white.
Colour played an important part also in the widely reviewed and admired Orange house he designed with Nuno Grande. The private residence was completed in 2005 in Carreço, Portugal.
Another example of Gadanho’s use of color is the high-profile Ellipse Foundation Art Centre in Estoril/Alcoitão, Portugal. He designed the 20,000 square-foot converted warehouse with Atelier de Santos. It was completed in 2006.
Gadanho’s thought-provoking architecture matches his overall attempt to provoke critical thinking about the relationship between architecture and current culture. He is known not only as an architect but also as a free-lance critic, curator and teacher. He’s taught architecture theory and history at Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto and curated the Portuguese presence at the 2004 Venice Biennale. And for those of us who like lovely names, his full name is Pedro César Clara do Carmo Gadanho. Tuija Seipell