UNStudio win Beijing Creative Zone competition

UNStudio has been awarded 1st prize in the recent competition for the masterplan of the Beijing River Creative Zone, located in Yanqing, 200km from Beijing. From the nine projects presented (Foster+Partners (UK), Zaha Hadid (UK), Atelier d’Architecture Christian de Portzamparc (FR), AS. Architecture-Studio (FR), Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning &Design Institute (CN), Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (CN), NPS (US) and KCAP (NL)), UNStudio’s design was selected as the winning entry.

The Beijing Creative Zone represents the urban typology needed for a new open learning environment in ‘Urbanity in Nature’. The design for the Creative Zone encompasses compression on a dual scale; the greenbelt and the urban fabric. The urban fabric of the edge is formed by the interweaving of two distinct yet highly interconnected strips. In the creation of an Architectural Park, ateliers and pavilions are organised on the basis of the Chinese garden’s emphasis of “一步一景” (“One View Per Step”).. The parkland becomes an international showcase of experimental projects and emerging design practices. By implementing the four clusters of a products life cycle ‘Think, Develop, Produce and Sell’ as a continuous loop of activity, one creates a platform for all steps of the process towards product sales.

[SOURCE: UNStudio]

[IMAGES SOURCE: UNStudio]

SKM to acquire Enviros

Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) has posted their intent to acquire Enviros, a multi-disciplinary sustainability, environmental and health and safety consultancy in the UK. The deal is expected to complete within the coming weeks.

Enviros has leading capabilities in climate change and renewables, compliance management, health and safety, sustainable development, and waste and resource management. The firm works across many industries in both the public and private sectors.

Since 1996 SKM has completed 56 mergers and acquisitions which have been central to the firm’s strategy to grow with its clients and deliver the world’s leading skills locally.

SOURCE: SKM

High Speed Rail gathering speed – Op-ed

News in the USA and UK over the last few days has been humming about High Speed Rail initiatives in both countries.

In the USA news is reaching fever pitch over High Speed Rail as the details of submissions for the US Government’s $8 billion high speed rail initiative start to appear.

Routes currently being reported are the $830 million route between Chicago and Detroit a new 110 M.P.H. train that will cut the travel time from Detroit to Chicago from 6 hours to 4 hour.
California  applied for
$1.1 bullion for including San Jose to San Francisco line (Bizjournals),
New York State applied for $565 million of stimulus funds for 38 passenger rail projects (NYDOT),
Pennsylvania submitted applications to the federal government for $28.2 million(PR-USA)
NJ seeks $38.5M in high-speed rail funding (NJBiz)

Virginia wants $75M for high-speed rail (Washington Business Journal)
Maryland seeks $360 million for rail upgrades (The Baltimore Sun)
Texas Requests $1.8 Billion For High Speed Rail Project (KWTX)

Florida asks feds for $270 million for commuter rail (Orlando Sentinel)

These are just some of the submissions for the stimulus. I find it an amazing about of money to spend on commuters across such a vast country. One has to hope that this is not all just spent on high-speed trains between cities but also improving of city suburban rail systems. I look forward to the next round of submissions for more rail stimulus funds in October.

Today in the UK, a report was released by Network Rail for plans of a £34 billion, 200m.p.h. high speed rail line running along the west coast on the UK from London to Scotland. The interesting thing is that the train is not only being seen as a commuter train but also as the low carbon option to cutting emissions from domestic flights, cars, trucks. The train will run from central London to Manchester with a diverging line to Birmingham. The line will then continue to Preston with lines diverging to Warrington and Liverpool after which the main line will continue to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The plans in the USA and the UK are very impressive, however I have wonder how much is achievable with so many projects being submitted at the same time with large monetary figures for high speed rail weighted against the demand over the next 5-10 years for expertise, skilled technicians and engineers. Will there be a shortage or will this put more people back to work?

I think these projects will take a long time to implement as there are a limited number of train companies Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, etc who only have so much capacity within their factories. This factor is critical as currently there is a large demand from China, India, and Brazil for high speed trains and expertise.

I hope that governments will achieve these ambitions not just because it will stimulate the economy of the cities and companies building the networks, but will also have some impact on reducing emissions. Lets’ hope these projects are fulfilled and they don’t get lost inside the bureaucracy of governments.

SOURCES:
Freep.com, BizjournalsNYDOT,, PR-USA NJBiz, Washington Business Journal, The Baltimore Sun, KWTX , Orlando Sentinel, Network Rail (UK)

By Damian Holmes – 26 August 2009

Mott MacDonald win contract to develop Crossrail

Mott MacDonald, the global management, engineering and development consultancy has recently been awarded several new design contracts worth a total of around £10 million to help develop Crossrail, one of the biggest and most complex rail projects in the world.

David Gutteridge, Mott MacDonald’s director for Crossrail commented: “We’re delighted to continue our long relationship with Crossrail in delivering this iconic project which will benefit both London and the UK’s economy.”

SOURCE: Mott MacDonald

New Chair of CABE appointed

Paul Finch has been appointed as the new chair of CABE and will take over from Sir John Sorrell this December.

Paul is Programme director of the World Architecture Festival, and editor emeritus of Architectural Review and Architects’ Journal.

He has chaired CABE’s London 2012 design review panel since 2006. A former commissioner and deputy chair of CABE, Paul spent five years as chair of CABE’s design review panel, and also chaired its regional committee.

Sir John Sorrell said he was delighted by Paul Finch’s appointment as his successor: ‘He will be a powerful advocate for good design. He brings an encyclopaedic knowledge of architecture and urban design, and he knows the work of every leading designer, internationally as well as nationally. Most importantly he knows how to get the best out of them, which is exactly what we need in difficult economic times.’

SOURCE: CABE

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