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London Gasholder to Apartment Reconstruction

London Gasholder to Apartment Reconstruction

Saturday, April 14, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

London Gasholder to Apartment Reconstruction

In London’s 67-acre King’s Cross regeneration area, the architects WilkinsonEyre have transformed a set of Victorian gasholders with exposed iron frames into 145 upscale apartments.  Modern silvery cylindrical buildings now fill the spaces within the frames of what was once occupied by huge telescoping cylindrical metal gas reservoir tanks (called “bells”) that floated on below ground cisterns of water, rising and falling on guide rails.  The new residences within the salvaged frames are designed, in their varying heights and aluminum cladding, to recall these vanished tanks.

The containers stored gas produced from coal, known in the UK as “town gas” and used for street lighting, industrial processes, cooking stoves, and furnaces.  Seldom encased within buildings, as was more common in the United States and Europe, they were once landmark features of most British towns and cities.  Relatively few survive, since manufactured town gas gave way to pressurized natural gas in the 1970s.

The town-gas plant here which was built and extended between 1860 and 1880, in the industrial zone behind the neighboring Victorian railroad terminus of Kings Cross and St. Pancras was dismantled in 2001 to make way for a new high-speed rail link to France.  But, by then, these interlinked post-and-beam iron frames, with their simplified Neoclassical details, had achieved official “listed” (landmarked) status.  WilkinsonEyre won the competition to reuse them in 2002, and the development consortium for the site carefully restored the iron frames, earmarking a new spot to re-erect them a few hundred yards to the north, on the banks of another industrial relic, the Regent’s Canal.

The frames then became the armature for a trio of freestanding apartment buildings in cylindrical drums of different heights.  Practice founder Chris Wilkinson explains that such aged cast-iron components originally carrying no weight, because the gas bells within them were self-supporting and could not be called upon to bear the loads of modern buildings.  Accordingly, the frames (now painted battleship gray) stand slightly proud of the three new drums, giving clearance for motorized perforated-aluminum shutters on the apartments to open.  In total, the conserved structure consists of an interlinked set of four gasholder frames, the fourth enclosing a small park designed by architects Bell Phillips.

Wilkinson, who has his own three-bedroom apartment in the complex, developed a scheme of intersecting circles that resembles the gears of a watch.  By removing a pie-slice-shaped piece from each of the three new cylindrical volumes, he avoided having them touch or block light and views in any of the apartments.  He designed circular atria for the center of the drums, enlivened by “scallops”—balconies that widen at different points to create the sense of spiraling, upward movement. And at the hub of the complex, where the three frames meet, is a circular courtyard, left open to the sky and landscaped with a shallow water feature at its base.  This new space is energized by the iron columns and latticework beams of the conserved—and now celebrated—original structure.

The walls encircling the central courtyard are clad in precast concrete panels, pale gray with fine vertical ribbing, relieved by walkways slung off the wall to connect the blocks on three levels.  These contrast with outward-facing elevations that are covered in silver-gray aluminum, with the perforated shutters continuing across openings for windows and balconies.  To complete the allusion to the old telescoping gas bells, the exterior skin is divided into horizontal bands by dark-painted steel ring beams.  Landscaped roof gardens occupy the top of each cylinder.

Within the buildings, the common areas have floors and stairs in smooth concrete, with delicate radial brass strips that were inspired by Wilkinson’s watchwork model and emphasize the circular geometry.  The apartment interiors, by Jonathan Tuckey Design, are highly crafted with much use of sliding room dividers in mid-brown stained wood.  Since each apartment is wedge-shaped, the emphasis is naturally on the views out, and the plan of the apartments incorporates the gentle curve.

Gasholders has the expected amenities for such developments, including a business center, a gym and spa, and rooms that residents can book for large-scale entertaining. Overall, however, the project is anything but conventional. And that derives largely from the geometry and expressive character of the preserved original structure, along with a thoroughly appreciative architectural response.

Here are some of the specifications of this innovative architectural marvel:

Structural System

Manufacturer of any structural components unique to this project:

Reinforced concrete frame throughout, original gasholder frames made of cast iron. Restored by Shepley Engineers

Radial pin connected steel bridge to courtyard with curved glass balustrading. Manufactured by Frener Reifer.

Exterior Cladding to courtyard

‘Ductal by LaFarge’ ultra-high strength precast concrete cladding to the courtyard. Manufactured by Thorp Precast

Exterior Cladding

Metal/glass curtain wall:

Unitised façade with a perforated aluminum rainscreen and motorised sliding folding shutter system externally fixed.  Manufactured by Frener Reifer.


Built-up roofing: American Hydrotech Inverted Roofing System by Alumasc


Metal frame: Schueco Triple Glazed Aluminium Windows Installed by Frener Reifer.


Skylights: Double glazed stick system laid onto steel beams to falls with ‘butterfly’ configured motorised glazed smoke vents. Manufactured by Frener Reifer.


Sliding doors: Schueco Triple Glazed Aluminium Doors installed and engineered by Frener Reifer


Other special hardware: Bespoke Brass Main Entrance door handles designed by Chris Wilkinson and manufactured by Franchi

Bespoke brass mailboxes, The Safety Letterbox Company

Interior Finishes

Ironmongery internals, including bespoke brass apartment door handles: Franchi

Floor and wall tile: Domus tiles to apartment toilets and bathrooms, installed by EE Smith, Natural Marble Stone tiles to Spa and large format panels to apartment bathrooms installed by EE Smith UK

Resilient flooring: Resin Flooring within apartments by Senso UK, Resin stone flooring to common parts by Avant Garde UK



Fondazione Prada’s Unfinished Tower Is Completed

Fondazione Prada’s Unfinished Tower Is Completed

Friday, March 16, 2018 | By | Add a Comment


Fondazione Prada’s Unfinished Tower Is Completed

The nine-story tower designed by Rem Koolhaas adds a dizzying variety of exhibition spaces and panoramic views of post-industrial Milan.

The final, towering touch to the Fondazione Prada in Milan is ready to be unveiled in April, three years after the billionaire fashion designer and collector Miuccia Prada opened the prestigious private museum in Milan.

When the Fondazione Prada launched in May 2015, the nine-story, 197-foot Torre was still under construction.  Now completed, the landmark building in the former gin distillery on the edge of Milan is set to officially open on April 20.

Koolhaas first came to public and critical attention with OMA (The Office for Metropolitan Architecture), the office he founded in 1975 together with architects Elia Zenghelis, Zoe Zenghelis and (Koolhaas’s wife) Madelon Vriesendorp in London.  They were later joined by one of Koolhaas’s students, Zaha Hadid – who would soon go on to achieve success in her own right.  Their works are known to have trademark differences from the dominant postmodern classicism designs of the late 1970s.

Its completion marks the long-awaited final stage of the more than 19,000 square metre complex designed by Rem Koolhaas with Chris van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli of OMA.  Rotterdam-based OMA is responsible for flagship Prada stores around the world.

Six of the floors in the wedge-shaped Torre are exhibition spaces.  The other levels contain visitor facilities and a restaurant, and the building is topped off with a bar on the roof that offers a panoramic view of Milan.  Some floors have a rectangular floor plan, while others have a trapezoidal one.

“By introducing so many spatial variables, the complexity of the architecture will promote an unstable, open programming,” Koolhaus said in a statement.  “The interaction between the spaces and specific events or works of art offer an endless variety of conditions,” he added.

The Prada Collection includes many important works by 20th and 21st century Italian and international artists. Since launching the space in Milan, the foundation has presented shows of work by the S artist H. C. Westermann, the Austrian collective Gelitin, and Pamela Rozenkranz, among others.  Last June it premiered Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation about Mexican migrants attempting to cross the US border, Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible).  The award-winning installation was co-produced and financed by Legendary Entertainment and Fondazione Prada.

The Shed at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards

The Shed at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards

Monday, March 12, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

The Shed at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards

Many people who stay on top of the world of the performing arts, especially performing artists living in Manhattan have likely heard of the Shed.  The Shed is an art and performance space that wants to become the latest spectacle along New York’s High Line and the next big thing in city attractions and architectural awe.  When first announced, the project was vaguely conceived.  Located where the High Line runs smack into the massive West Side development project called Hudson Yards, the Shed seemed hardly more than an architectural trophy, with no obvious reason for being, other than to appease a skeptical public with the promise of some “cultural” amenity on the site of one of the largest and most valuable real estate deals in New York.  People are still skeptical about it, as anyone should be about such an expensive venue on valuable property in an often highly criticized and uncertain industry such as the entertainment industry, and with unknown future prospects.  It is, however, an interesting and monumental idea which combines technology, architecture, and movement/transformation into a major city attraction which has the ability to draw in crowds not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of the entertainment venues it supports.

The Shed, an ambitious, flexible performing and visual arts facility, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR) in collaboration with the Rockwell Group was But aspects of the unusual design of the 200,000 square foot structure have already been visible, emerging as construction continues on a New York City-owned site next to the High Line, in the new Hudson Yards development on the west side of Manhattan. The project, with a planned opening in 2019, has just received a $75 million gift from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg toward a $500 million capital campaign, of which $435 million is construction costs. The donation brings the total raised so far to $421 million.

The 8-level building’s most striking feature will be its translucent shell, composed of a steel diagrid frame and clad in pillows of ETFE, that can be rolled out over the adjacent plaza to form an enormous space for showing almost any imaginable performance or art installation. The vast 17,000 square foot “room”—which would become 30,000 square feet when combined with a floor of the base building—will allow for climate, light and sound-control.

According to Elizabeth Diller, founding principal of DSR, the Shed was inspired by Cedric Price’s Fun Palace—an unbuilt design for a vastly versatile building-as- machine.  So, the idea is not an original one and it has also been attempted before without completion.  To whom credit should be given for the design and how this revision of the original idea will succeed is yet to be discovered.

The building’s shell, with a primary structure that weighs 2,400 tons, moves using gantry crane technology on 6-foot-in-diameter steel wheels, or bogies, on rails, with a motorized sled drive on the base building’s roof.  The base building will contain two immense column-free galleries, a flexible black box theater space, as well as rehearsal space, a multi-purpose event space, an art lab, café, and bookstore.  Offices and back-of-house operations will be on the lower floors of a new residential tower (also designed by DSR with Rockwell) to which the base building is linked.

While the idea sounds like an interestingly new and modern concept, it may yet still be early to discern if this design will be worthwhile in the end, or if more could be done with the area in terms of something more necessary and mutually beneficial to the public.

Studying Vermeer’s painting style with a Macro-X-ray Fluorescence Scanner

Studying Vermeer’s painting style with a Macro-X-ray Fluorescence Scanner

Thursday, March 1, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

Studying Vermeer’s painting style with a Macro-X-ray Fluorescence Scanner

Beginning on February 28th 2018 and over the next two weeks, a team of international experts will study Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring in a specially constructed studio in The Hague’s Mauritshuis museum.  The institution has conserved Girl with a Pearl Earring in public before, but never have the canvas, pigments, oil, and other materials that Vermeer used to create his most famous portrait been studied using a variety of scientific techniques and with minor physical contact.

The project, called “Girl in the Spotlight,” will be a kind of exhibition unto itself.  Visitors who would like to take selfies can still do so in front of a new 3-D-reproduction of the painting now hanging in the Golden Room where the “operation” is taking place.  The reproduction is the result of another research project at the gallery, this time in partnership with Océ-technologies and a researcher from Delft University of Technology.

Emilie Gordenker, the US-born director of the Mauritshuis, compares the project to “a really serious medical research team.”  Like a medical TV series, “Girl in the Spotlight” is being played out in episodes, broadcast via daily blogs written by the project’s team leader, Abbie Vandivere, the painting’s conservator at the Mauritshuis.

In Vandivere’s latest post, she explains that in 1994 conservators restored the painting, but this time all techniques will be non-invasive.  Testing began this week when a macro-X-ray fluorescence scanner was switched on. “It allows us to ‘peel away’ each layer of paint,” Gordenker says. “This is the first time we will be able to see how Vermeer built up his paint. We don’t know if he did much underpainting,” she adds.  Further tests will hopefully reveal where the artist got his pigments from.  “He could have got them from across the world or more locally,” she says.

In 1994, conservators discovered that a second highlight on her famous pearl earring was not by the artist’s hand but rather a flake of paint that had become detached, flipped over and reattached on the jewel.  “We are not expecting anything as dramatic,” Gordenker says.

A group portrait posted on the museum’s website shows the team ready to begin their intensive work in the Golden Room, an operation that will continue until March  11. The following Monday, the Girl with a Pearl Earringis due to be back on display in its usual location in Room 15 looking as if nothing had happened. But the research team’s work will have only just begun; after the painting is returned, they will need to analyze all the new data gathered.

The Mauritshuis’s partners in the “Girl in the Spotlight” project include the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science, the Rijksmuseum, TU Delft, and Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Other institutions involved include Shell Technology Centre Amsterdam, Maastricht University, the University of Antwerp, the National Gallery of Art Washington and Hirox Europe.

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Saturday, February 24, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Hey all!  So I’m back to talk about more of the many things that I have been up to lately.  One of these things was yet another enjoyable tutorial from the one and only Solidwork’s Mecca of learning…  Yes, once again I made my (what seems like weekly) pilgrimage to the great digital tomes of Solidworks knowledge to enlighten my inner Solidworks designer and to achieve a greater place of transcendental empowerment in Solidworks modeling design.  But the path to any kind of empowerment is not easy, and after many frantic nights of computer crashing, starting over from scratch, lots of mediation in the form of clicking on the power off icon on my computer and going to bed with a severely nasty headache, and yes…hair pulling; I finally arrived at a place of….well, maybe not great enlightenment, but I will say completion.  But, I did learn many wonderful, interesting things along the way.  Yes, Jan gave us yet another fulfilling tutorial in the form of designing one of those things we just cant live without these days (whether you like it or not)….the Apple iPhone.

This was definitely a fun little jaunt Solidworks modeling.  There was much to learn in customization of parts and appearances throughout the tutorials.  While designing iPhones was not too difficult of a project in itself; there were other minor areas such as creating the etching for the model stamping on the back of the iPhones, and more noticeably, creating the Apple logo for the iPhone 6 Plus model which was only provided with a sketch image of the logo.  Other areas of notability include changing the color of the etchings to display for rendering, adjusting the appearances and color of the screens, and adding and adjusting the screen decals to display properly and with enough luminosity to render properly.

The decals were probably the only real problem area of the tutorials.  I also found that the iPhone 3G model had several different appearances for the screen which included other appearances created before splitting the face of the front of the model to become the two seperate entities of the face and the touchscreen.  I had to do a bit of tweaking in order to get a good luminosity on the screen in order for it to render with enough ability to see the lightened touchscreen and its buttons.  The charger was relatively easy with a nice sweep involved in the creation of the cable.

This tutorial also came with some other useful information on rendering and the setup and arrangement of your assemblies for rendering processing.  These tutorials give us a little bit more information on rendering image size, lighting, gamma, camera creation and placement, and backgrounds and environments.  They are a great addition to have for any novice Solidworks designer just beginning to work with and understand the program.

Have fun and happy modeling!

Solidworks Aston Martin One-77 by Romain Genistou

Solidworks Aston Martin One-77 by Romain Genistou

Sunday, February 11, 2018 | By | Add a Comment


Solidworks Aston Martin One-77 by Romain Genistou

Hello again, and boy has it been a long and busy several months for me.  I have had many changes as well as obstacles to overcome along with the coming of the new year and I am hoping for a bit more smoother sailing in the months to come.  So with that said, I am looking forward to getting back on track with my posts.  I hope all of you are having a wonderful new year and I also want to thank all of my dedicated readers out there for returning again and again to see what new and interesting insights there are in the world of modern technological design and entertainment.

Lately, I have completed a variety of Solidworks tutorials and I would like to share them with you.  One tutorial in particular is the Aston Martin One-77 body modeling tutorial by Romain Genistou.

I found this tutorial to be full of surprises, and it leaned towards the more complicated and challenging of car body modeling tutorials I have worked on as of yet.  While most Solidworks tutorials I have come across seem to be a step-by-step, hand-in-hand walkthrough of the complete tutorial; this tutorial made you strap on your thinking cap from time to time.  I found this true when especially working with the PDF version of this tutorial.

The creator of this tutorial, Romain Genistou, has a website named Solidworks Insight at  This website has a few wonderful introductory tutorials for the Solidworks student.  Most of the tutorials on this site are free, however, there are a couple that require you to pay in order to complete the tutorial in its entirity.

And so it comes to happen that Romain and Jan from decided to meet and together they revised the tutorial in its entirity before  I had originally purchased the PDF version of this tutorial from Solidworks Insight before Romain and Jan collaborated on the edition, and I found that version to be incorrect in some areas of the design as well as missing important steps and information.  This was particularly noticeable in things like designing projected curves and connecting areas of the rear bumper area.  The tutorial is much more polished and goes into a bit more detail on certain questionable areas of the design.

There are certain areas of the newer version that need a bit more clarification, such as working with boundary and filled surfaces and the parameters which determine what is the best method to use between the two.  Also, there was not a great amount of detail on knitting surfaces in the model.  When modeling the Audi R8, there was quite an amount surface knitting involved, and the tutorial (although long), felt much more thorough and professionally complete.  I found myself referencing the R8 tutorial for a variety of areas including working with assemblies and making the construction lines for the vehicles axles and wheel placement.

The Aston Martin One-77 tutorial is now available on for a price of 347 euro, but for a novice designer who is interested in vehicle body modeling, the information and instruction you receive is invaluable.