jeudi 20 septembre 2012

Thomas HEATHERWICK ça vous dit quelque chose?

Le seed cathedral de Shanghai, l'olympic cauldron, le london bus ....... ça y est, vous y êtes?
Ce sont toutes des oeuvres de Thomas Heatherwick le génial architecte/designer anglais  - admirez les photos et si vous êtes courageux lisez les textes, en anglais c'est vrai, mais armez-vous de patience car ils sont fascinants et instructifs ....... enjoy!


 
 
The Uk Pavilion - aka the Seed Cathedral
Following a tradition that began with the Great Exhibition of 1851, World Expo is a vast international fair in which countries participate by creating themed pavilions, representing their nation’s technology, culture and achievements. In 2010, the event was held in Shanghai, China. With more than 200 countries taking part, it was the largest ever Expo.

The competition to design the United Kingdom’s pavilion was won by a team led by Heatherwick Studio. Like the other western countries, the UK’s site was the size of a football pitch but, unlike those countries, the budget given to the project was much smaller. In addition, our brief was that the UK’s pavilion must be one of the expo’s “top five” most popular attractions.

If it was to meet this target, the UK Pavilion would have to stand out from the other 200 pavilions. Instead of trying to shout above the noise, we aimed to do one powerful thing with simplicity and clarity, insisting on surprising visitors by the absence of screens and technological devices. And, because many of the Expo’s seventy million visitors would only see the pavilion from the outside and many more would only experience it on internet or television, we also realised that the outside of the pavilion needed to tell you what was going on inside. The way to achieve this was to make the building be a manifestation of its content.

But we still needed to decide what to say about the UK. Instead of perpetuating outdated stereotypes like London fog, bowler hats and red telephone boxes, we wanted to represent the inventiveness and creativity to be found in contemporary British life. Taking our cue from the Expo theme, which was the future of cities (“better city, better life”), we started to explore the relationships between cities and nature and the significance of plants to human health, economic success and social change.

Developing the masterplan of the site, the restricted budget forced us to be strategic and pragmatic. Because the budget would not go far if we tried to make a building that filled the entire site, we chose to concentrate our resources on creating a memorable focal object, occupying one-fifth of the site, and then devised a quiet, cost-effective architectural treatment to house the functional spaces. Our strategy was to create a public space that filled the site, place our focal object on top of this landscape and tuck the functional facilities underneath it. This space would provide a breathing space, where visitors might recuperate from expo-exhaustion, and frame the focal object by separating it from its chaotic surroundings.

Predicting that many of the Expo’s pavilions might follow architectural trends in form-making, we chose instead to concentrate on exploring texture. We were thinking of the opening sequence of the 1985 film Witness, in which the camera pans across a field of grass swirled into patterns by the wind. On this windy riverside site, we wanted to make the building’s façade behave like this grass. We had once developed a proposal for treating a building like the Play-Doh figure that grows hair when you squeeze coloured paste through the holes in his head, conceiving the tips of these hairs as forming the outward projection of his original shape. It also seemed that if you magnified the texture of a building enough, the texture would actually become its form. We were excited by the idea of making the outside of the building so indefinite that you cannot draw a line between building and sky because they merge into each other. This notion of texture gave us a way to relate to the theme of nature and cities; our pavilion could be a cathedral to seeds, which are immensely significant for the ecology of the planet and fundamental to human nutrition and medicine. For the future-gazing expo, seeds seemed an ultimate symbol of potential and promise.

The Seed Cathedral is a box, 15 metres high and 10 metres tall. From every surface protrude silvery hairs, consisting of 60,000 identical rods of clear acrylic, 7.5 metres long, which extend through the walls of the box and lift it into the air. Inside the pavilion, the geometry of the rods forms a space described by a curvaceous undulating surface. There are 250,000 seeds cast into the glassy tips of all the hairs. By day, the pavilion’s interior is lit by the sunlight that comes in along the length of each rod and lights up the seed ends. You can track the daily movement of the sun and pick out the shadows of passing clouds and birds and, when you move around, the light moves with you, glowing most strongly from the hairs that point directly towards you. By night, light sources inside each rod illuminate not only the seed ends inside the structure, but the tips of the hairs outside it, covering the pavilion in tiny points of light that dance and tingle in the breeze.

The pavilion is sitting on a landscape that is crumpled and folded like a sheet of paper, which suggests that the pavilion is a gift from the UK to China, still partly enclosed in wrapping paper. With inclined surfaces and lifted edges forming a gentle amphitheatre, the landscape is entirely carpeted in silvery-grey Astroturf, which translates the softness of the Seed Cathedral into a more tactile softness underfoot and invites you to sit anywhere, lie down or even play, rolling down the slopes. Its atmosphere of intimacy and ambiguity of purpose allows people to treat the space like a village green, invoking the UK’s record as a pioneer of the modern public park.

Also incorporated within the landscape’s sloping surfaces are the ramps into the pavilion, along which are a series of artistic installations, designed by Troika, exploring the theme of nature and cities. Underneath the landscape 1500 square metres of required accommodation that includes a VIP suite, hospitality facilities and offices can be found.

Working with structural engineer Adams Kara Taylor, we spent many weeks setting out the geometry of the pavilion’s hairs. We designed a specific quirk into the outside, which meant that, from every angle, the image of the Union Jack appeared within the hairs of the pavilion.

In the duration of the six-month Expo, more than eight million people went inside the Seed Cathedral, making it the UK’s most visited tourist attraction. At a state ceremony, it was announced that the UK Pavilion had won the event’s top prize, the gold medal for pavilion design.

The Olympic Cauldron
On arriving in London, each of the 204 national teams competing in the 2012 Olympic Games received a special object, inscribed with the name of its country. Each slightly different from the other, these objects have sculpturally beautiful forms, made in polished copper.

During the opening ceremony, teams entered the Olympic stadium, a chosen team member bearing their country’s precious object. One by one, in a clearing at the centre of the growing crowd of athletes, these artefacts were laid out as offerings, forming a large-scale pattern on the ground that radiates like the petals of a flower.

When the last of these petals had been illuminated by the London 2012 Olympic Torch, the first one began rising silently from the ground, carried upwards on a long fine stem, followed in circular waves by all the others. Over the next minute or so, the 204 separate flames converged to form one great flame of unity surging into the sky, making this a giant kinetic sculpture in the centre of the stadium that symbolises the coming together in peace of 204 nations for two weeks of sporting competition.

At the close of the Games, the Olympic cauldron will open out and divide once more into its constituent objects. When each country has taken home its own object, as a souvenir of this most important sporting event, the 2012 cauldron will cease to exist. Like a flower that only blooms for the duration of the competition, it is a temporary representation of the extraordinary transitory togetherness that is an Olympic Games

The London Bus
In January 2010, Heatherwick Studio joined the team commissioned by London’s mayor to develop the design of a new bus for London. Once production of the Routemaster ceased in 1968, London’s buses were ordered from catalogues of existing designs. Apart from being red, the design of these vehicles became increasingly compromised and uncoordinated.

This would be the first bus to be designed specifically for the capital in more than fifty years, but the brief was not to replicate the Routemaster, which was inaccessible to wheelchair-users and difficult for people with prams. As well as being three metres longer than a Routemaster, this bus would have two staircases and three doors. It would have a conductor to look after passengers and an open platform, which would give Londoners their freedom once more to get on and off the bus at will, but this would be enclosed outside peak hours. Having set the environmental target of using 40% less fossil fuel than existing buses, the team developed a hybrid vehicle, powered by both electricity and diesel, seeking to make it as lightweight as possible.

The geometry of the vehicle developed from a series of pragmatic decisions. It was in order to minimise the perceived size of the vehicle that its corners and edges were rounded. It was to allow the driver to see small children standing next to the bus that its front window was angled down towards the pavement. And, with its three doors on one side and two staircases on the other, it was the functional asymmetry of the bus’s internal circulation that led to its asymmetrical geometry. The windows form two ribbons of glass that wrap around the bus, corresponding to the two staircases, which transform the stairs from a dark constricted tunnel to a different kind of space.

In recent years, bus interiors had grown increasingly chaotic, with their peculiar seating arrangements, flourescent yellow handrails, over-bright strip lighting and protruding lumps of machinery encased in mysterious fibre-glass housings. The aim was to recalibrate the countless compromises that had accumulated over the years to create an interior that felt as calm and coordinated as possible. Using a simple palette of colours and materials, a family of details was developed that included new stairs, lighting, hand poles and stop buttons. We argued for a return to bench-type seats that two people could share and designed a new pattern of moquette, the tough woollen fabric that is used in transport upholstery.

After the design was unveiled in May 2010, a prototype was developed and manufactured by Wrightbus and launched in December 2011 by the Mayor of London. The first three buses came into service in early 2012, with five more due to join them later this year.


www.heatherwick.com


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