Youth Olympics master plan scores in design contest

Populous, the well-known architecture firm, has announced that its master plan for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, has taken first place in a competition to design the development.

The master plan  for the international multi-sport event, held every four years, will see about 190 hectares (three million square metres) of new floor space built into the port city in south-east China, including several public buildings that will be illuminated like lanterns for the 2nd Youth Olympics. Besides the public buildings such as schools and exhibition centres, the master plan also includes Olympic venues and the athletes’ accommodation.

Ashley Munday, principal of the master plan team at Populous, said: “Our primary brief was to create a lasting legacy for the city of Nanjing following the Youth Olympics in  2014. The master plan was designed with the long-term development of the city in mind, and the Olympic Games have been carefully positioned to inhabit the new city rather than retrofit a legacy. Nanjing will literally light up for the Games, highlighting the city as the host.”

Paul Henry, senior principal, said Populous had been working in China for over ten years. “This is a significant win for the firm, and will leave a lasting legacy for the city of  Nanjing,” he added.

Populous, which has helped to plan, manage and design more than 400 major events, has drawn upon its experience in delivering master plans for other Olympic sites, including the London 2012 Olympic Park and the Olympic Park for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia’s Black Sea resort city The firm is also designing the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand, due for completion this year.

Geetha Balachandran

Of fire-resistant glass

The world’s toughest and most versatile fire-resistant glass is now being produced in Britain following the decision by Vetrotech Saint-Gobain (a member of the Saint-Gobain Group, Europe’s largest producer and processor of glass) to manufacture the full range of its Contraflam products from a facility based in Coventry, English Midlands.

Contraflam is a market-leading product consisting of two or more sheets of toughened safety glass filled with a transparent intumescent (expanding) gel which reacts when exposed to fire. By manufacturing it in the UK, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain is able to provide customers with shorter lead times. 

Andrew Lake, general manager of the company, said, “There is a continued growth in demand for non-wired fire-resistant glass with high-impact safety characteristics within the U.K. market…By manufacturing in the UK and centralising our operations we are ideally situated to achieve those objectives and serve the whole country. Additionally, the multi-functionality and breakage resistance characteristics of the product mean installers and specifiers can be confident that by using Contraflam they will benefit from versatile solutions that will not put their margins at risk.”

When exposed to fire, the intumescent interlayers within Contraflam turn opaque and expand to form an insulating heat shield.  This effectively reduces the transmission of radiated and conducted heat to achieve fire resistance  classifications ranging from 30 minutes integrity (30/30) to up to 120 minutes integrity and insulation (120/120).

The Contraflam range can also be combined with complementary Saint-Gobain products to provide solutions for safety and security, enhanced thermal insulation, acoustic and solar control, and glass flooring.

Achal Narayanan 
RIBA scholarship for Indian student

The 2011 RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Sahil Bipin Deshpande – the second student from Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai, to win the award in the history of the scholarship.

Desphande’s proposal, ‘Sanitation: a case study across eight metropolises,’ will take him to Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing, Oslo, Paris, Belfast, Kumasi (Ghana) and Johannesburg, where he plans to develop a sustainable manifesto for sanitation with applications for Mumbai.

A total of 39 RIBA-accredited schools of architecture put forward candidates – a record number of applications to the scholarship scheme since its inception in 2006.  The jury was led by the renowned British architect Lord Foster and included the President of RIBA, Ruth Reed. 

The jury also highly commended a proposal by Stuart Taylor of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, on “Post-earthquake reconstruction in the Pacific Rim”.

Lord Foster said: “To achieve a sustainable urban environment, the approach must be integrated, embracing buildings and transport as well as infrastructure. Sanitation is part of the metabolism of a city – it is as vital to plan waste removal as is energy or water supply. The proposal (of Deshpande) aims to tackle a reluctance to deal with the issue of sanitation through what I am sure will be a fascinating and informative study.” 

RIBA President Ruth Reed said: “The RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for students to engage with architecture in a global context. I congratulate Sahil Bipin Deshpande who produced this year’s winning project. This year’s prize has been awarded to a very deserving proposal that engages with a fundamentally important issue for all cities. I look forward to hearing about his travels and progress on this inspiring project which will have considerable benefits to his home city of  Mumbai.”

Initially set up in 2006 as a biennial programme, the GBP (pounds sterling) 6,000 Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship is awarded to one student to fund international research on a topic and in a location of  his choice. In January 2009, Foster & Partners  donated an additional  GBP 100,000 to the endowment of the scholarship to enable the scheme to run annually. The first Indian student to win the scholarship, in 2008, was Faizan Jawed Siddiqi, also from Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai, whose project proposal related to the role of public transport in shaping sustainable human habitats.


Chasing the sun for 60-odd years

We live in age where newer and newer buildings are built each vying with the other in features that are awe inspiring. The most common of these is a case of rotation or rotation-like effect.

When we talk of rotation, perhaps we need to give pride of place to Verona’s Villa Girasole, which can well and truly be hailed as an ahead of its time Architectural Marvel.

Il Girasole (The Sunflower) is a rotating modernist villa, which is in the Po valley hillside in Northern Italy. What is noteworthy about this villa is that this two-storey house is powered by an electric motor which rotates a full 360 degrees on its circular base!

When one learns that this architectural marvel was built between 1939 and 1945 by then renowned architects Angelo Invernizzi and Ettore Fagiuoli, one is stunned; and it still works! Unlike the skyscrapers of today the rotation of this structure is highly radical in that every component of the house including its courtyard is part of its rotational sphere.

The building consists of a circular base, resembling a clock face. The base or “face” of the clock is 44 metres in diameter. The “hands” are L-shaped and are connected by a pivoting turret that is 40 metres in height.

The building rotates around three diesel- powered circular rails whose dimensions allow a complete rotation in nine hours and twenty minutes. This ensures that it follows the movement of the sun.

Thus every day the two-storey villa rotates to enable its important windows to face the sun. The interior of the building is like any grand modern day villa, with the ground floor featuring drawing, dining, and entertaining spaces. A spectacular spiral staircase leads to an upper floor containing the bedrooms and bathrooms. 

The villa’s rotation is activated by a panel consisting of three buttons.  Its ingenuity permits stopping the rotation at any time too. Thus when it is not occupied, it stops its chase of the sun. 

Mala Ashok