Monthly Archives: November 2009

The Iron Mosque

By | Architecture, Religious & Sacred Architecture, Temple Design | No Comments
Malasias new landmark - Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque.

Malasias new landmark - Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque.

Putrajayas new landmark Mosque was built using six thousand tonnes of steel, which accounts for a staggering 70% of all construction materials used. The recently completed Tuanku Mizan Zainal Adidin Mosque opened its door to muslims and non-muslims throughout the world on 4th September 2009. Known as ‘The Iron Mosque’, it will be the second principle mosque in Putrajaya, sitting a neighbourly two kilometers away from the Putra Mosque. Designated as a tourist attraction, the management have been urged not to restrict access to Muslims alone.

The mosque has been designed around three concepts of wind, simplicity and transparency. It caters for 20,000 worshipers. The main prayer hall houses the Mihrab wall that directs the worshipers towards the “kiblat” (direction of Mecca). The Khat is inscribed into the back of the anti-reflective glass, giving a sense of verses floating down from the sky. The Mihrab is inscribed with the Quaranic versus in the Alasakh calligraphic-style. The ‘Sahn’ is the overflow prayer area outside the main prayer hall and the entrance to this is via a gateway called the ‘Internal Iwan’.

The architecture of the mosque features stainless steel grilles, based on Islamic motifs, mirroring traditional Islamic architecture in a contemporary style. The whole building is open and  cool even without any air-con because the space allows the wind and air to pass through the wall-less corridors.

Muslims working and living in Putrajaya can now perform their prayers at another awe-inspiring landmark.

Inside the 'Iron Mosque' - designed around three conepts of wind, simplicity and transparency.

Inside the 'Iron Mosque' - designed around three concepts of wind, simplicity and transparency.

Student adventures. Jenni heads North

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The imposing presence of the Imperial War Museum

After my usual weekly meeting with my tutor regarding my dissertation on memorial spaces we decided that The Imperial War Museum in Manchester might be a possible building for some primary research.  As I had never visited the building before (there was a trip in my first year of university but being the lazy fresher I was I decided to give it a miss) I thought a quick trip might be of use to see if the building would be appropriate to use in my dissertation.  So on Friday morning I hopped on the train to Manchester.

The museum was established in 1920 but the current building was designed by Daniel Leibskind and construction was completed in July 2002.  Its purpose is to tell the story of war in modern times on a worldwide scale down to personal memories .  The concept for the design comes from this idea with the building representing a broken world comprising of three pieces, each with its own distinct shape.

The amount of information and personal items is incredible, from weapons to individual accounts.  The building is divided into three main spaces: the main exhibiton space, a space for temporary exhibitions and a twenty nine metre high viewing tower.  There is also a learning area, shop and cafe overlooking the river.  The main exhibition space takes you through the years of war from WW1 to the current day with shard like pods intersecting the space to house exhibitions about different aspects of the war.  The layout of the space works brilliantly with the ‘Big Picture’ shows that are projected onto the outside walls of the pods every hour.  These picture shows use photographs, films and soundbites to completely surround the visitor in war and its effects on individuals and the entire human race, creating a powerful impact on the visitor.  The use of the timeline through different wars, the picture show and personal artifacts is surprisingly striking and at one point I actually found myself in tears whilst reading a letter from a father to a daughter.

Whilst I was visiting there was a temporary exhibition about prisoners of war which was interesting (but very sad) to learn about as I knew little about this previously.

The raw industrial style of the building is extremely fitting and as you walk through the main space there are subtle changes in heights and openness, almost reflecting the rise and fall of society.  This works brilliantly against the exhibition, with changing words from freedom to dictatorship running along the walls, creating a sensationally interesting and poignant experience.  A definite case study for the dissertation as the space works beautifully in the sense of architecture and memory.

Heterarchy to design interiors of new Hindu Temple

By | Architectural / Interior Design, Religious & Sacred Architecture, Temple Design | No Comments
Rosemarie and Jenni ponder the potential of this huge space

Rosemarie and Jenni ponder the potential of this huge space

Heterarchy have been appointed to design the interiors for the new Hindu BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha temple in Leicester, UK. The brief involves creating a series of contemporary interpretations of the traditional Swaminarayan temple interior.  The site is an existing factory complex, covering some 30,000 square feet.  In terms of a conversion of an existing industrial building it is about as radical a transormation as it gets. As far as we can tell we are possibly the first western interior design consultancy to be asked to design an interior of a Hindu Temple, and in particular be the mandir designers for the project.

This is an ideal project for our creative director Rosemarie Fitton as she has always held a keen interest in Sacred and Spiritual architecture, completing her BA thesis and major project on the subject – “This is a great opportunity for us, in fact we feel privileged to be involved in such an amazing project.  Hopefully as our knowledge and experience within this field grows we might also develop a new aspect to our business.”

The project is due for completion by August 2009

Turning it around. BT revolving restaurant will open its doors again after 30 years.

By | Architecture, Restaurant Design | No Comments

Back on top. The BT tower is recognised throughout the UK, a truly iconic building gracing the London skyline. Built in 1964, it cost 2 million pounds to build 13,000 tonnes of concrete, steel and glass, remaining the tallest building in London until 1981.

But they’re turning it around. The tower has been revamped and interest is growing. The BIG BT bosses are to re-open the revolving restaurant on the 34th floor to the public, previously used for BT corporate events. Heston Blumenthal, Jamie Oliver and Gary Rhodes are among the names being touted to oversee the eatery.

The rotating floor takes 20 minutes for the diners to see a full 360 degree view of London, roughly ten minutes less than the London Eye. The restaurant is likely to seat between 60-70 people. Alongside the celebrity chef hunt, the BT Tower is now the host of the new 500ft-high Olympics countdown screen – Saturday marked the celebration of the 1000-day countdown until the London Olympic Games, with a fantastic explosion of fireworks. (Pictured below)

BT Tower celebrates the 1000-day countdown to the London Olypic games with a bang.

BT Tower celebrates the 1000-day countdown to the London Olympic games with a bang.

Once revived and revitalised for the 21st Century, the Top of the Tower restaurant is set to open its doors in Christmas 2011, so it can be fully functioning and ready for the London Olympic Games the following year.

The 620ft skyscraper, formerly known as the Post Office Tower, closed to the public in 1980 after an IRA bomb exploded in the lavatories amid security fears. Although one of the most recognised buildings in Britain, until recently was classed by law as an ‘official secret’, taking photos or being in possession of images of the BT/Post Office Tower was an offense under the ‘Official Secrets Act’. It was even omitted from all Ordnance Survey Maps until the mid 1990’s, but can now been found on all modern maps and Google. The London landmark is a grade two listed building, representing the strides in the telecommunications industry in the 1950s and 1960’s.

The question now is do you go to the London Eye and and pay to stand up for 30 minutes or choose to to have a meal in a restaurant, with a similar if not better view rotating every 20 minutes? Will the Top of the Tower restaurant return the BT Towers crown and glory once again?