Sustainability in Development

The imposing heights and traditional industrial aesthetic of King’s Cross’ reborn Gasholders grant me with a heart-warming sense of nostalgia as I work through this month’s issue of FC&A. I distinctly recall passing these once obsolete grand edifices on frequent occasions as a young child – their shells intimidating and ungracious in my architecturally-fresh eyes. Today, however, I can appreciate the city’s intrinsic connection to its industrial heritage and the golden age of craft – and interpret these ‘eyesores’ in a modified, more graceful light. The restoration of our historical architecture is vitally important, and re-purposing old period structures for new employment has never been more vital – particularly in the wake of the UK’s largely-documented housing shortage. WilkinsonEyre’s salvation and transformation of King’s Cross’ industrial landmark has done just that; sensitively amalgamated the historical architecture I recall from back in the ‘90s whilst coinciding with Britain’s housing crisis.

Sited in southwestern France, near the Pyrenees, the city of Toulouse is steeped in history with 16th- and 19th-century structures, Gothic churches and Medieval villages. Known as France’s fourth-largest city after Paris, Lyon and Marseille, the ‘pink city’ – as Toulouse is informally known, due to its abundance of terracotta-bricked buildings – has it all; the pleasant, picturesque towns and villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a university dating back to 1229. One thing that remained missing, however, is a modern-day, sky-reaching tower that rises above the historical streets of the city looking out across the charming panorama of the Pyrenees. Thanks to American-Polish Architect, Daniel Libeskind, this is set to change with the addition of a curvaceous design enshrouded in flora, known as the Occitanie Tower.

With population growth on the rise across the globe and gross floor area (GFA) in decline, architects have been looking to the sky in search of alternatives to meet the world’s housing demand for many years. However, with the development of high-rise alternatives for residential applications, many towns and cities have become densely urbanised and often neglect biodiversity, connecting us back to our natural habitats. One architect practice, however, is changing the face of high-rise structures in the populous city of Lagos.

Travelling back into the not so distant past, many may recall Daniel Libeskind’s vertical state-of-the-art PwC Tower for Milan’s CityLife masterplan that adorned the news pages of FC&A’s third edition of 2018. Adjacent to Libeskind’s impressive structure, informally known as ‘The Curved One’, proudly soars Zaha Hadid’s helical, striking Generali Tower. Collectively, the houses of Libeskind, Hadid as well as Arata Isozaki and Andrea Maffei, who designed the third tower in Milan’s CityLife high-rise tripartite – CityLife Tower – have all delivered a majestic addition to Milan’s skyline.

MAD Architects, led by Ma Yansong, has completed ‘Chaoyang Park Plaza’, which includes the Armani apartment complex. Positioned on the southern edge of Beijing’s Chaoyang Park – the largest remaining park in Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD) area – the 220,000m² complex includes 10 buildings which unfold as a classic Shan Shui painting on an urban scale.

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