The Palm Island project by Hassell in Chongqing, China

Urban Splash

This newsletter is devoted entirely to the element of water. Various urban projects are currently making use of its diverse aesthetic and psychological effects. Water surfaces sometimes serve as a mirror, in which the reflected buildings seem to float; at other times, they act as a link between nature and the built environment, or as a public attraction, but whatever use is made of water, it is always eye­­catching.

Contents in brief:

  • Creating an Urban Splash: Innovative Water Features in Cities
  • Heading into Virtual Worlds: Audio-visual Technologies
  • Inspiring Search Results N° 31: Bath taps for mounting onto bathtubs
  • Inspiring Spaces N° 23: Landscape design
  • Architecture and Design Projects on Architonic

Get inspired!

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Creating an Urban Splash: Innovative Water Features in Cities

Architects of urban projects are increasingly in thrall to water, believing it benefits them in a number of ways — from the aesthetic to the psychological. In one sense, when reflected in water, buildings look larger and more imposing. Yet water’s evanescent, organic qualities can also soften and appear to dematerialise their severe lines, even making them look ethereal.

Chongqing is one of China’s hottest, most humid cities in summer, but at Palm Island breezes blowing over the water and its buildings’ reflective facades help to reduce temperatures

The hulking volume of London’s concrete, brutalist Barbican Centre is leavened by its lushly planted lakes, while Louis Khan’s monolithic National Parliament House in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose construction began in 1961, looks almost dreamlike when viewed across the artificial lake beside it. This autumn sees the opening of Frank Gehry’s new Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, an art gallery with a sail-like, glass structure that will seem to float above a water garden.

According to its project leader Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, OMA’s unusual intervention ‘questions the relationship between outdoors and indoors: water invades the space, changing its proportions and reflecting unexpected points of view’

Water in cities is often equated with nature. Like vegetation, it offers urbanites a soothing antidote to stressful city living. Water is also used to complement architecture with an organic aesthetic — take Santiago Calatrava’s 1998 City of Arts and Sciences building complex in Valencia, Spain. One of Japanese starchitect Tadao Ando’s key concerns is to fuse architecture and nature, indoors and out, and his glass-fronted design for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, creates the impression of forming a seamless whole with the 1.5-acre pond it emerges from. Here, Andao has exploited glass’s visual similarity to water.

Surrounding trees in Mayfair, London, this water feature by Tadao Ando and Blair Associates creates an urban oasis. It also periodically sprays clouds of misty water to arrestingly atmospheric effect

One particularly extensive use of water can be found at Australian architect Hassell’s, Palm Island project, in China. On the banks of the Qingnian Reservoir in Chongqing and Palm Spring Geological Park Lake, Palm Island comprises five curvilinear restaurant buildings that appear to float on the water like islands in an archipelago. Customers can enjoy views of the lagoons and a circular ‘water courtyard’ with an infinity pool-style border. By day, the buildings — fronted by glass and white ceramic rods — catch the sunlight as it dances on the water; by night, their glamorous reflections can be seen in it, thanks to lights incorporated into their facades.

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Heading into Virtual Worlds: Audio-visual Technologies

Without realising it, we’re on autopilot almost all of the time, filtering information aurally, physically and visually at an amazing rate. Our nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 250 miles per hour, faster than a Formula 1 car!

Oculus Rift, a headset that combines stereoscopic 3-D and 360° visuals

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Inspiring Search Results N° 31

Bath taps for mounting onto bathtubs

Inspiring Spaces N° 23

Landscape design

Architecture and Design Projects on Architonic

DEIDI VON SCHAEWEN

Chandigarh, India
Photographer: Deidi von Schaewen