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HIGHLIGHT: THOMAS HEATHERWICK

HIGHLIGHT: THOMAS HEATHERWICK

Thomas Alexander Heatherwick (17 February 1970) is an English architect, designer and the founder of London-based design practice Heatherwick Studio. Since the late 1990s Heatherwick has emerged as one of Britain’s most significant designers. Heatherwick Studio is a team of 250 problem solvers dedicated to making the physical world around us better for everyone.

Based out of combined workshop and design studio, they create buildings, spaces, master-plans, objects and infrastructure. Focusing on large scale projects in cities all over the world, the studio prioritises those with the greatest positive social impact. Working as practical inventors with no signature style, Heatherwick motivation is to design soulful and interesting places which embrace and celebrate the complexities of the real world. The approach driving everything is to lead from human experience rather than any fixed design dogma.

Nanyang Learning Hub, Singapore

The Learning Hub of the Nanyang Technological University has the concept of a new kind of learning environment for our digital age. Study institutions should now exist as social places that bring people together and encourage spontaneous dialogue and exchange. Ensuring this and giving the building a more human scale, the structure of the building is broken down into individual tutorial rooms. These are stacked on each other forming a series of small towers around a central atrium which provides the interconnectivity, as well as natural lighting and ventilation. Treated like handmade clay, also the concrete becomes a characteristic feature of the building.

Zeitz MOCAA Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

Thomas Heatherwick has created South Africa’s biggest art museum – by hollowing out the inside of a historic grain silo building on Cape Town’s waterfront in the 1920s, which was once the city’s tallest building. Heatherwick’s team have carved huge sections out of the building’s tubular interior to create a complex network of 80 gallery spaces.
Described by the British designer as “the world’s tubiest building”, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, or Zeitz MOCAA, is set to become the world’s most important exhibition space for African art.

Coal Drops Yard, London, United Kingdom

The studio has reinvented two heritage rail buildings from the 1850s as a new shopping district with close to 60 units, fully opening up the site to the public for the first time. The design extends the inner gabled roofs of the warehouses to link the two viaducts and define the yard, as well as creating fluid patterns of circulation. This forms an entirely new floating upper storey, a large covered outdoor space and a central focus for the entire site. The studio’s design celebrates the specific texture and history of the Victorian industrial buildings while creating 100,000 sq ft of new retail area, as well as significant public space.

Lantern House, New York, USA

In contrast to new glass apartment blocks Heatherwick studio intended to designanarchitecture that was reminiscent of the area’s existing historical buildings.To achieve this, the idea of the humble bay window was borrowed – a detail often found in late Victorian and Edwardian era buildings.The lantern-like windows, which are freed from corner columns, give residents spectacular views out of light-filled rooms, as well as a domestic sensibility.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Hampshire, United Kingdom

The gin-maker Bombay Sapphire commissioned the creation of the company’s first in-house production facility, which will also be open for members of the public to visit. Formerly a water-powered paper mill, the site contained more than forty derelict buildings, many of historical significance, which have been regenerated and restored as part of Heatherwick Studio’s master plan. Heatherwick Studio’s master plan proposed the creation of two new glasshouses to grow specimens of the
 10 exotic plant species used in the Bombay Sapphire distillation process.

Vessel Public Landmark, New York, USA

Vessel is a new type of public landmark – a 16-storey circular climbing frame, with 2,465 steps, 80 landings and views across the Hudson River and Manhattan. Heatherwick Studio was asked to design something that would welcome visitors into the heart of the district and create a new place to meet in Manhattan. Part of the challenge was to create something memorable that would not be overwhelmed by the surrounding cluster of towers, or the scale of the new public space above the train platform. Exploring different possibilities, the team started to narrow the parameters: it should be a memorable single object, not a series of objects dispersed throughout the space; rather than an inert, static sculpture, it should be a social encounter, which encourages activity and participation.

Source: heatherwick.com; archdaily.com

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