Brooklyn-based design studio— ‘The Urban Conga’ showcasing the value of play in New York

Brooklyn-based design studio— 'The Urban Conga' showcasing the value of play in New York

Brooklyn-based design studio— ‘The Urban Conga’ showcasing the value of play in New York

The impact of play is often disregarded and undervalued in the discussions around architecture, urban development, and city change. The Urban Conga’s work is highlighting the impact play can have on the health, identity, social, and economic values within the future development of our cities and communities. Play is universal and should be utilized as a vital part of the movement forward in reactivating our communal public spaces to become more inclusive, safe, and healthier places.

The Urban Conga’s work showcases a variety of ways this can start to be explored within our urban development. The studio was recently selected as the winner of the 2021 Architizer A+ Firm of the Year Award for Small Projects as well as the 2020 ArchDaily Best Young Practice. Through receiving these accolades, their work promotes an acceleration in the appreciation and understanding of the value of implementing more play within our changing cities and communities moving forward.

This work is paving the way for city stakeholders, urban designers, architects, and more to start exploring the idea of becoming a “Playable City,” an ecosystem of playable opportunities intertwined within the existing urban infrastructure that doesn’t just disrupt our daily lives but adds to it. Looking at opportunities that explore how play can start to exist in everyday spaces, and begin to encourage people to think about these spaces that could become PLAYcs: like a crosswalk, laundromat, public park bench, street light, or just the everyday spaces in-between.

Investigating how these once often boring or underutilized situations can turn into inclusive, stimulating, creative outlets bringing people together within the built environment.

Photo credit: Savannah Lauren



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Dubai participates in Reinventing Cities Challenge for renovating urban projects

Dubai participates in Reinventing Cities Challenge for renovating urban projects

Dubai participates in Reinventing Cities Challenge for renovating urban projects

As reported by WAM, Dubai participates in the Reinventing Cities Challenge for Renovating Urban Projects, organised by the C40 Network of Leading Cities for Climate Change, to renovate and transform several existing sites in cities into sustainable areas and projects.

The location chosen by the Emirate of Dubai for this competition is the Umm Suqeim office of Dubai Municipality in Jumeirah. It will allow residents the possibility to enjoy the views and facilities in line with global sustainability standards.

Abdullah Al Basti, Secretary-General of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Dubai and Vice Chairman of the Steering Committee of the C40 Cities Network for South and West Asia, stressed Dubai’s commitment to intensify efforts to address the phenomenon of climate change. Furthermore, to support strategies such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions, adapting to climate change, and improving air quality.

Dawoud Al Hajri, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, said, “Dubai Municipality always seeks to enhance the emirate’s position by applying the highest standards of competitiveness in various fields, especially in the field of sustainability. It is based on the government’s rational vision in terms of anticipating the future for the next decade of innovative competitiveness, and we build on what we have accomplished in the past years. We are participating in the international C40 Cities competition aimed at stimulating cities to adopt sustainable buildings.”

Sustainable buildings are among the solutions that contribute to reducing the negative impact of the most prominent climate challenges, such as climate change and global warming. These challenges require a unified global response at all levels to overcome them and reduce emissions that harm the environment and monitor opportunities that would enhance the quality of community life and search for ways to reduce the carbon footprint to reach a more efficient infrastructure. This requires cities, entities, and various establishments to prepare new models for development, construction, and services following environmental and sustainable foundations.

By participating in the competition, Dubai Municipality is looking forward to strengthening the emirate’s role in supporting global efforts to limit the impact of climate change, organise the process of rebuilding cities, and achieve the competition’s goals of stimulating sustainable development and monitoring innovative solutions to environmental and urban challenges.

Zayed Centre for Research in London by Stanton Williams is a new urban beacon of science and design

Zayed Centre for Research in London by Stanton Williams is a new urban beacon of science and design

Zayed Centre for Research in London by Stanton Williams is a new urban beacon of science and design

Dedicated to delivering world class research together with new treatments and therapies, the Zayed Centre for Research by award-winning architectural practice Stanton Williams into Rare Disease in Children for Great Ormond Street Hospital Foundation Trust, University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is the world’s first purpose-built centre dedicated to paediatric research into rare diseases.

The public-facing research facility in the heart of London’s Knowledge Quarter is conceived as a holistic space where science, city and human lives come together. Inside, the Zayed Centre for Research is organised around two connected ‘hearts’, an outpatient zone and a research zone, each planned as layered volumes around a daylit atrium. Across eight storeys the building provides academic research workspace, seminar and meeting spaces, specialist laboratories, and outpatient clinics for children and young people.

With its prominent presence next to Coram’s Fields – the former site of the Foundling Hospital and a living symbol of children’s welfare for over 250 years – the Zayed Centre for Research is a new urban beacon of science and healthcare.

Gavin Henderson, principal director at Stanton Williams, said: “The opportunity to work with Great Ormond Street Hospital, UCL and GOSH Charity to make a building that was about science and medical care in the heart of the city on such a public and symbolic site opposite Coram’s Fields seemed very powerful. We felt very strongly that we wanted to give public visibility to science and allow people in the public realm to understand what the building was about and give a sense of the life-changing activities taking place inside.”

At the base of the building is a 600sqm double-height principal laboratory, visible from all sides within the Zayed Centre for Research as well as from the street outside. A shared single entrance bridge, which passes above these laboratories, welcomes both research staff and patients, drawing them into a central atrium, flooded with light. A transparent ground floor gives visibility and prominence to the activities inside the laboratories, while carefully articulated terracotta fins and glazing address Coram’s Fields and reflect the changing sky – expressing the civic significance of this ground-breaking institution.

A sense of openness and generosity dissolves the ‘clinical experience’ within. Encounters with ‘non-clinical’ surfaces, such as exposed concrete and European oak, create a calm and dignified environment for young patients and their families as they address their health issues: an environment shared with clinicians and researchers in the endeavour to understand and overcome the impact of life-changing diseases.

Designed to high energy efficiency standards, the Zayed Centre for Research has achieved BREEAM Excellent certification and is intended to produce 35% less carbon emissions than required under the Building Regulations.

Images: Stanton Williams

Chapman Taylor is creating an urban new district in Jeddah

Chapman Taylor is creating an urban new district in Jeddah

Chapman Taylor is creating an urban new district in Jeddah

Chapman Taylor is creating the masterplan for an innovative new urban district adjacent to King Abdulaziz International Airport in the Saudi city of Jeddah.

Airport City will be a world-class, mixed-use development which will become a leading destination for visitors from across Saudi Arabia and the GCC region. The 1.91 million m² GBA masterplan for Airport City introduces an innovative mixed-use community concept to the region, creating diverse tourism and business opportunities while also providing a dynamic lifestyle and family entertainment venue.

A vibrant transport orientated development creates a new hub gateway to Jeddah and beyond at the strategically important meeting point of the airport, high-speed railway station and the motorway junction between central Jeddah and the Northern Expansion Zone.

The scheme will deliver a dynamic and sustainable mix of provisions around a central avenue, which links the airport’s railway station to the airport’s dedicated mosque. Included within the masterplan are shops, leisure and entertainment functions, healthcare clinics, private residences, a financial district, an artisans’ district, a green food yard and a central artists’ district. A “Saudi Dreams” centre will provide an ideal showcase for the Kingdom’s culture and ambitions.

The Airport City masterplan vision creates a sustainable new-generation city district, unique for its human scale and fully pedestrianised urban community, with a perfect synergy between landscape and architecture.

The masterplan design emphasises plug & play flexibility and high connectivity, with designs inspired by nature, history and traditional local architecture and art, in addition to careful planning, well-curated community spaces and an in-depth understanding of user requirements.

Green spaces and water features are provided throughout the development, along with public squares, a village street, botanic gardens, a family promenade and other beautifully landscaped areas.



Urban Inspired – Design Middle East

Urban Inspired - Design Middle East

Urban Inspired – Design Middle East

Exploring the journey and designs of Beirut-based Borgi | Bastormagi

Beirut-based design studio Borgi | Bastormagi is headed by Nada Borgi and Etienne Bastormagi as they share many interests and a matching professional journey. Trained as architects and urban planners, they both worked in large practices before establishing their own individual architecture studios. Borgi | Bastormagi was founded in 2017, when Nada and Etienne were invited to participate in Milan’s Fuori Salone with their [me]rror project, an installation designed to reflect fragmented body parts. Both Nada and Etienne live and work in Beirut, drawing inspiration from their surroundings and daily lives. Fusing tradition with modernity, their designs are influenced by everyone’s attempt to find moments of balance and harmony amidst the chaos of the city. In their free time, they used to spend long hours in cafes drawing in their sketchbooks. Drawing nights eventually became more focussed on product design. Etienne’s artistic background and Nada’s interest in designing through narratives drafted the vision of Borgi | Bastormagi.

Their creations hold an urban dimension, while putting the user at the centre of the design – they aim to question the relationship between body and space, suggesting different behavioural patterns and offering playful experiences that defeat gravity and equilibrium. The choice of materials is based on Borgi | Bastormagi’s inclination for minimalistic forms and techniques. Recent projects include a three-piece furniture collection named Hyphens which was showcased at Maison & Objet in Paris in September 2019, and a range of objects designed for the Sursock Museum Store in Beirut. At IMM Cologne 2019, Nada and Etienne presented Beirutitude: Design & Architecture in Revolutionary Times, a talk exploring design processes in Beirut’s current political landscape. Nada and Etienne’s new collection called ‘Shaping 90’ reflects their interest in challenging gravity and redefining balance. With Shaping 90 the design duo re-thinks the corner by proposing three multi-functional pieces for daily use – the Fillet shelving unit, the Pivot series of mirrors and the Bevel light.

The urban landscape is a key source of inspiration for the studio. With their latest designs, Borgi|Bastormagi explore corner conditions and guidelines in the urban realm applying similar processes to their pieces.


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