Thursday, January 31, 2013

None of the surprises we encountered last summer in London was bigger than this:

London Hatwalk

From the Duke of Wellington near Hyde Park to the Duke of Wellington outside the Bank of England in the Square Mile a "hatwalk" was created by two very famous milliners (the ones who do all the hats for the royal weddings).  Creating a total of 21 new looks for some of the most venerable in English history, we spotted a few:

 The same company who designed Lord Nelson's original hat 200 years ago was hired to create the hat for his statue in Trafalgar Square.

The hats were commissioned by the Mayor of London and are the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, part of London Festival 2012.  Shakespeare in Leicester Square had a designer baseball cap, which was stolen and has yet to be recovered. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Red Apple Redux

Meanwhile, back in Newport Hills:  eff-stoplocal posted these shots from a momentous occasion.  They capture the most auspicious moment in the five year life of this blog so far.  I was actually able to step inside and experience the Red Apple Grocery Store, the namesake of Red Apple Elegy, for the first time since it closed five years ago.

In all its spooky Chainsaw Massacre glory I toured curious neighbors through the back loading docks and secret passageways, hidden closets and exposed wiring that was more Halloween than Christmas.  This was, after all, the venue for our annual Holiday Crafts Bazaar.  And we had our work cut out for us!

I especially like how eff-stop captured the red in Red Apple in a decidedly un-festive light.  It's been abandoned for five years now--what do you expect?  Hopefully, the tide is turning.  Stay tuned.

A Whole Lot of Intervention Going On

When we walked to the Victoria and Albert Museum we thought we'd see this.

Instead we saw this:

and this:

Inhabitat has the story here.   208 recycled traffic safety cones were painted white with a reflective band wrapped around each one to catch the elusive London sun.  Placed in a webbing of stainless steel they shelter visitors from showers in a way that almost makes you feel as though you're standing under a giant chandelier.


Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of this canopy/marquee for the Victoria and Albert Museum is famous for the Olympic cauldron featured in the Opening Ceremonies last summer

204 separate torches of burnished copper joined together to represent the participating nations in a giant moving sculpture which looked especially spectacular at night:

Mr. Heatherwick also designed this London bus:

Dezeen has an interview with Mr. Heatherwick here.  Far and away the best design idea of 2012 the bus is also 40% more fuel efficient because it features three doors with easier access for wheelchairs and baby strollers as well as two staircases to make getting on and off much quicker, thereby shortening idling times.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Pig in London

In London last summer we expected to see something like this:

or maybe this:

but what we also saw was this,

and this.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Botanical Architecture

Looking like a koi pond, this is actually one of the upper windows in...

the Atheneum Hotel vertical wall as glimpsed from the Number 19 London bus.  Designed by Patrick Blanc, and finished in 2009, he is the inventor of the mur vegetal, or garden wall.

A true traffic-stopper, the garden is a bit of jungle in what otherwise seems a sea of concrete on a hot summer's day.

Blanc is the botanist and designer behind over 140 such walls throughout the world.  Since 1994 he has  become the world expert in adapting plants appropriate to the native climate and enabling them to flourish in a base of wooden slats and felt.

Monday, January 21, 2013

This gorgeous house by Paul Kirk sits, abandoned for years, above the ravine across from my house.

When we moved here to Lake Heights from next-door Newport Hills, it looked like this.
Purchased by its present owner, it made its debut as an open house five years ago. 

According to his bio on the DOCOMOMO WEWA website, "During this time, his designs for single family residences displayed characteristics of the International Style with flat roofs, bands of windows, and simple cubic shapes.  Eventually, Kirk dismissed the International Style 'as an architecture which has been imposed on the land by man.'"

 The owner moved to Arizona after failing to sell the house during the housing crash in 2007-08.  She was asking $725,000 for it. 
She has since deceased.