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Astragal: Eating with the fishes – Snøhetta’s underwater restaurant

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Norwegian based architect Snøhetta hasn’t had the best of luck building next to the sea.

Readers may remember how a team led by the practice agreed to pay a £6 million out-of-court settlement to Kent County Council over a proposed but never realised Turner Contemporary art centre off the sea wall in Margate.

The project’s cost spiralled from £7.3 million in 2001 to £25 million by the time the plug was pulled in 2006. The council subsequently issued legal proceedings to recover ‘wasted’ design costs.

But the firm has overcome any resulting aquaphobia to pull off a design coup in the remote village of Båly, Norway, where it has created the world’s largest underwater restaurant (pictured above) – the first of its kind in Europe.

Diners sit five metres below the water’s surface in the base of a tilted 34m-long concrete tube. The main eating area has an 11 x 3m window looking out on to the seabed.

Should there be an emergency – such as a burgundy being served with salmon in olive oil – diners are reminded not to break the glass.

Wanted: a new name for Heatherwick’s Vessel 

Heatherwick vessel

Heatherwick vessel

Now it’s open, Thomas Heatherwick’s 46m-high ‘Vessel’ (below) in New York needs a new name.

The current moniker for the £150 million viewing structure, which includes 154 staircases, is only a temporary one. A public competition is planned to determine its permanent name.

To get the ball rolling, artist and writer Will Jennings – organiser of the satirical Garden Bridge competition A Folly For London – last week ran a Twitter ‘World Cup’ of crowdsourced new names for the Vessel.

More than 200 replied, yet it remains doubtful that 

their efforts will be officially recognised given that their best ideas included ‘The Climb-it Crisis’, ‘The Heatherdick’, ‘The Empty Vessel’, ‘Selfie Toilet’, ‘Stairsy McStairsface’ and ‘The Shit Grater’.

But the clear winner, following quarter and semi-final rounds of voting, was ‘Ableism: The Building’ by @trefryesque AKA Kansas-based architect and author John Trefry.

Trefry commented: ‘There are already enough buildings on the earth. We don’t need new ones, especially those in a playground for the wealthy that are predicated on separate experiences for different types of people.’

Special mention should also go to the quite brilliant Pineopticone by @MichaelBiros.

PLP addresses wind problem

PLP’s Bishopsgate bruiser is climbing higher every day. The 62-storey newcomer is hard to ignore, but plans are also afoot for a new street-level addition.

A City of London committee which advises planners on public art has been notified of an impending proposal for a ‘permanent wind mitigation device’ at the south-west corner of the building, presumably being installed to avoid a repeat of the Walkie Talkie-style gusts.

According to the City Arts Initiative, the device is inspired by the ‘natural wind mitigating properties of trees’.

PLP would not let Astragal peek at the full designs but with gold-painted angled canopies and a spindly maroon trunk, the PLP tree is sure to breeze through planning.

Leeds unclamped

Inc in leeds

Inc in leeds

It seems plans for a 33-storey mixed-use residential, hotel and co-working tower, shaped like a giant clamp, at the western gateway to Leeds city centre have come unstuck. 

Last year jaws dropped when Parklane Group, the developer behind the £160 million project opposite the former Yorkshire Post site in Wellington Street, revealed its BDP-designed proposals. It claimed the ‘stand-out’ and ‘iconic’ building would compete with ’schemes with a national and international profile’.

However rumours emerged from this year’s MIPIM that the clamp is no more and that something more modest – though still ‘landmark’ – is being drawn up instead.

All hail the mighty ‘paperclip’?

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