His Opera House story on screen.

The story of the iconic Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s great architecture controversies and will now be the subject of a new feature-length film, thanks to a team of international movie producers. Utzon, The Man Behind the Opera House is based on the building’s designer, the late Jorn Utzon, who resigned from the project eight years into its construction and never saw the completed Sydney Opera House in the flesh.
The film will be produced by a team of Swedish, Australian and Danish producers and scripted by Australian writer Petter Skavlan, who said that the story had all the requirements for a successful movie.

Danish architect and furniture designer Jorn was relatively unknown when, at 38 years of age, he won an international competition to design an opera house for Sydney’s Bennelong Point in 1957. Construction of the Opera House began almost immediately, but what followed was a series of roadblocks that continued to disrupt and halt this process. Delays in construction, costly spending and design issues were all contributing factors. After eight years, Australia saw a change in government which was less impressed by, and supportive of, the way funds and resources were being used on the project.

Jorn resigned from the project in 1966 as a protest, went back to his home in Denmark and vowed never to return to Australia. The resignation evoked protests and marches in the city of Sydney, demanding that Jorn be reinstated to his position. The project was eventually handed over to Australian architect Peter Hall, a move that would later see him excluded from the rest of the architectural community. By 1973, the Sydney Opera House was completed and officially opened. In June 2007, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jorn died in 2008 aged 90.
Achal Narayanan


Lebanon gets another high-rise

The soon-to-be tallest building in Lebanon is rising above the
vibrant streets of Beirut, its largest city. The 50-storey Sama Beirut, developed by Antonios Projects SAL, houses several components on a 5,220-sq metre property. The 187-metre-tall tower’s footprint covers just over 1,000 sq metres of land, with most of the remaining site reserved for extensive landscaping and water features.

Six high-end retail boutiques will animate the ground level. The project’s office portion occupies floors two through 13, allowing the rest of the volume to host 80 residential units.  Topping it all is a sweeping penthouse nearly 1,500 sq metres in size. A number of unique elements have been envisioned for this suite, including private elevator access and an internal mezzanine for staff. It will also have a solarium, garden, pool, and a pond in the living area.

Residents will have access to  amenities such as a club spa with the latest workout equipment and a hydrotherapy pool. Seven levels of underground parking provide stalls for 700 vehicles. The design, courtesy Erga Architects, is defined by a glass facade that features both transparent and shaded variations, allowing adequate light to enter both the office and residential units.

With Sama Beirut topped out, the building’s angular roofing is now
receiving silver trim. The tower’s location in Beirut’s Sodeco area puts it within arm’s reach of numerous shops, theatres and restaurants.

Fady Antonios, chairman of Antonios Projects, said the tower would use solar energy for water heating, thus saving a substantial amount of electricity. The building also has other noteworthy features such as insulation, which will be of the highest standards. This means the building will need less heating and cooling.
Achal Narayanan


A green roof for Vancouver’s library

The license plates in British Columbia Canada read, ‘Beautiful British Columbia’. This is no exaggeration. Each and every area of BC in general, and the Greater Vancouver area, in particular, is beautiful.

Particularly delightful in each suburb of Vancouver are the beautiful and well-equipped free community libraries. These are veritable book lovers’ Mecca. The libraries now are home to physical books as well as digital and audio books besides housing a collection of CDs and DVDs. In 2012, the new City Centre Library in the city of Surrey, a satellite city of Vancouver, was opened and hailed as an iconic architectural structure to be proud of. It was selected for an award along with the rest of the City Hall complex.

Now, it is the turn of Vancouver’s Central Library to be in the news. It is expanding by 35,000 square feet starting in early 2017. Not only will it feature a greater variety of spaces, it will also boast of a green roof. Last year, the library introduced a digital
inspiration lab and now this announcement, which is budgeted at $15.5 million, will make it one of the best libraries in the world. The newly announced development involves the top three levels of the library, a plan which goes back 20 years.

The new floors are planned to have a two-storey public atrium, silent reading gallery, a rooftop public garden and terraces, theatre, exhibit space and new meeting spaces.
Essentially, the two floors are a community gathering space.

The director said that they were  looking to have exhibit space both for physical and digital. They will curate and work with community partners, groups to tie it in with storytelling, author readings, poetry and music because there is theatre in that space. The Vancouver archives, which are bursting at the seams in its present home, will also be housed here. Final designs for the renovations are yet to be approved and the building is set to be complete in 2018, when readers will be able to enjoy their favourite reading on a beautiful green roof.
Mala Ashok

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