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small WAN logo 10 September 2013
Issue 451
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Tokyo: Doubts raised about diversion of focus and resources following Olympic bid win
On Sunday 8 September, Japan rejoiced as Tokyo was announced as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. As we saw in London last year, hosting an international sporting event such
as the Olympic Games is not only an honour but an opportunity for economic development and can be the push that cities need to invest in their existing infrastructure.
Tokyo's vision is hung under the banner of 'Discover Tomorrow' which begs the question - what about yesterday? The nation is still ravaged by the effects of a disastrous earthquake and tsunami in 2011 which hit a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, crippling its heating and cooling systems which led to the release of radioactive materials into the public realm. Two years down the line and a matter of weeks before the decision of which city would host the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Japanese government stepped in to pledge 47bn Yen to the clean-up operation, part of which will be used to fund a 2-mile underground wall of ice to stem toxic leaks into the Pacific Ocean. Estimates suggest that it could be up to 40 years before the decommissioning of Fukushima is complete and while there is no current threat to the capital from the radioactive material some fear that the injection of money and resources into the Olympic bid is taking focus away from the more serious problem of radioactive leakage... Read more
Top stories this week
1 Fenchurch Street, London, United Kingdom
Rafael Vinoly's 20 Fenchurch Street in London, affectionately dubbed the Walkie Talkie for its curved silhouette, has been the focus of much heated debate for its unusual form. Today the project has hit the headlines for a more concerning reason - sunlight reflected off the tower's façade appears to be causing damage to personal property... Read more
2 The House of Disabled People's Organisations, Høje Tåstrup, Denmark
The unique thing about the disabled people's associations in Denmark is the fact that they are gathered under one umbrella. Despite considerable differences between the individual organisations, the general consensus is that the scope for generally promoting the issues of disabled people is greater... Read more
3 Dawang Mountain Resort, Changsha, China
A disused quarry near Changsha is to be reinvigorated by an entertainment development with associated hotel tower following a design competition won by Vienna-based Coop Himmelb(l)au. At a depth of 60m at its lowest point, the Chinese quarry was once a thriving pit but will soon be transformed into a glittering leisure... Read more
4 Holiday Home, Limburg, Netherlands
On the slippery banks of the River Geul in South Limburg is an unassuming little property recently completed by Upfrnt architects with WHD Interieurbouw and Zwarthout. Using a traditional Japanese technique for burning cedar wood panels known as Shou-Sugi-Ban, the team has devised a homely wooden structure whose black exterior has... Read more
5 Baghdad Library, Baghdad, Iraq
Scheduled to tender later this year, the Baghdad Library is a symbol of hope for Iraq's young people. The design was secured by AMBS Architects with library specialists ACA Consultants in 2011 and recently-released renderings show a bold design curving upwards like a stingray in flight. Founder of AMBS Architects Ali Mousawi is tied... Read more
WAN AWARDS Winners Revealed
Facade of the Year Product of the Year
Disappearing act: Cutting edge 'invisible' tower granted construction permit
The eruption of supertall towers across the world has also seen a rise in 'landmark' architecture, with the majority of these glistening tall towers contorted into unusual shapes or incorporating 'vanity height' in an effort to stand out on the architecture map. For GDS Architects, A&U and Samoo Architects, this is not the case.

Tower Infinity is the result of an international design competition won by the team in 2008 and the project has just been granted a construction permit. The 450m-high structure is destined for a prime site just outside Seoul in South Korea, an area well known for its ambitious architectural design (search WAN for Yongsan International Business District for some breathtaking plans).

From the description provided by GDS Architects, one may be compelled to view Tower Infinity as 'just another glass spire' however where the team separates from the pack is with the incorporation of a cutting edge LED façade system with optical cameras. GDS Principal Charles Wee, AIA, explains: "Instead of symbolising prominence as another of the world's tallest and best towers, our solution aims to provide the World's first invisible tower, showcasing innovative Korean technology while encouraging a more Global narrative in the process.

"We are elated that the many years of design, testing and coordination have led us to that all important step of beginning the building process. We look forward to providing Korea and the World with a completely new model for what it means to be an observation tower."

The 450m-high tower is entirely devoted to entertainment. Its crystalline form contains observation decks, wedding venues, a theatre, rollercoaster, numerous eateries and a water park, all surrounded by gently landscaped gardens. Tower Infinity will be sited near Incheon International Airport so that visitors making their way to Seoul will be able to enjoy its leisure facilities. In total the project covers more than 110,000 sq m and will boast one of the highest observation decks in the world, 392m high in the sky.

Read more
Former intern to partner with Piano
on Botin Centre for the arts in Santander
From Austria to Palestine:
This year's Aga Khan Award winners
Mick Eekhout, General Director of Octatube, was an intern for Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) several decades ago and has now come full circle to meet Piano on an equal footing, partnering with the world-renowned architect on the Botin Centre scheme in Santander, Spain.
Five exemplary projects have split a prize fund of $1m presented by His Royal Highness the Aga Khan at a ceremony in Lisbon. Hailing from five different countries, the projects have each been recognised for their ability meet the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant
RPBW released designs for the arts and cultural centre in association with Luis Vidal + Architects in 2011 and it has now been announced that the team is working with Octatube who will be responsible for the technical design, engineering, production and installation of the glass facades, roof lights, floors and exterior stairways throughout the project. The complex is expected to open in summer 2014. The Botin Centre is the brainchild of Emilio Botin, CEO of Banco Santander... Read more presence. One of the most highly sought after international prizes in the industry, the winners of this year's Aga Khan Award for Architecture are: Bernardo Bader Architects; Marc Mimram Architecture; ICHTO East Azerbaijan Office; Riwaq - Centre for Architectural Conservation; and Studio Tamassociati. The Islamic Cemetery scheme in Altach fills a void that has affected the Islamic community in the region for many years. Up until this award-winning project, Muslims in Altach were unable... Read more
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