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Stirling effort

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Moving on – and returning to the eternal debate about: What makes a Good Building? In the UK, every year for the last decade or two they have a prize for the best building completed by a British Architect. It is hosted by the RIBA – and while in the past it has been accompanied by a hefty financial reward as well, this year the sponsor has pulled out and so it will be a prize in name only: The Stirling Prize.

It will be announced soon, and as Rowan Moore of the Observer newspaper says, it is a difficult choice:
“shortlist sets out to compare what can’t be compared – as if one had to decide what is better between, say, a shirt, a piece of cheese, an app, some nice music or a chair. It’s in the nature of such awards. The underlying absurdity is part of the fascination.”

The winner has typically been, in the past, one of the buildings of a Big Name Architect – the Zaha Hadid or Norman Fosters of the world, although the prize does not go to the architect, but to the building. Moore notes that in the past: “the Stirling has a record of recognising architects a year or two late, as with Will Alsop, Hadid and David Chipperfield in the past. In any case, the LSE building is this year’s most resonant piece of architecture, for which reason it should win.” In case you don’t know about it, this is “The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the London School of Economics” pictured below.

The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the London School of Economics
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Bucharest flyover impacts on town

By Basin Reserve issues, Comment

*Guest Post by Bill Toomath, one of our well-respected architect members of the Architectural Centre
Bucharest
To gain a virtually realistic experience of what it would feel like to be alongside and under the proposed NZTA flyover at the Basin Reserve one can easily beam down on Google to a similar project at Bucharest in Romania. There a major overbridge was completed in 2011 with a concrete and steel overpass across the end of a main boulevard and extending alongside several streets, all closely resembling the present nature of the NZTA’s proposals.

By going on Google Earth to long/lat 44 26′ 57″N, 26 04′ 09″E one will land at a part of the Basarab Overpass system in the north of Bucharest. One can then move about on Street View to experience from many angles the impact of the structure on the city environment. Discounting its pylon suspension bridge over railway yards and an increase of lanes on the overpass, the structure is directly comparable with the Wellington proposal and conditions. Its bulk and height are similar, as well as the proportions of supporting piers.
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Undercroft

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Debates about the Flyover proposed for Wellington still ringing in our ears (the Basin Bridge Board of Enquiry is ongoing as we speak), it seemed like an appropriate time to examine what the underside of a Flyover actually looks like.

The answer seems to be: often Not Very Pretty. Keeping in mind that this is Hong Kong, where graffiti appears to be almost unheard of, and I’m sure that Boards of Enquiry are not held into the building of flyovers, then most of their flyovers are simply grey and uninteresting.
UndercroftConduitsm
This one (above) is typical, in that conduit for wiring ineviably gets fixed on it for something.
UndercroftHomelessm
People living under this one. More pictures after the break Read More

Acoustic barriers

By Basin Reserve issues, Comment, Transport

On a recent trip to Europe, I traveled to some interesting places, mostly by train, but sometimes by plane or bus. Sometimes there were great views out the window. At other times, there were acoustic barriers. On another trip to Hong Kong, I traveled by metro, by bus, and by car – and in all cases, there were acoustic barriers.

austria-acoustic-barrier-700small
Yes, I know, this one is solid concrete, and looks like a prison camp with the barbed wire. Unfortunate image for Austria.

Acoustic barriers are an accepted fact of life in many countries, installed as an attempt to mitigate loud noise conditions especially where transport and human life come into close contact. Acoustic barriers work – and presumably work very well, otherwise they wouldn’t be installed! Anywhere that a new roading or rail project cuts through a residential area, then acoustic barriers are provided almost as a matter of course, to help contain the noise at source. Noise, once out in the open, can travel long distances. In some cases the barrier is needed only at the side of the train line – in other cases it is more appropriate to have a full containment of the traffic corridor.

Because I’m an exciting type of guy, I took lots of photos of these barriers, and here are a selection of them, just for you!
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