Growing The Future


January/February 2014

as a new year dawns, super/collider will be exploring crystal cities and biological fashion in a series of workshops at Selfridges as part of their upcoming Festival of Imagination – giving you the chance to get hands-on with two forward-thinking approaches to fashion and architecture

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a temporary installation in a derelict space in Dalston, Urban Fog is a site specific response to a hidden pocket of empty space. transformed into a minimalist teahouse by art/architecture practice Atelier ChanChan, it’ll be serving up tea and cakes amid  ghostly transparent walls – with all proceeds going towards Japanese disaster relief efforts



all across the former USSR, a series of strange concrete monoliths stand in silent testimony to the final few decades of the Soviet Union – and the diverse architecture it produced. over the past seven years, Citizen K editor-in-chief Frédéric Chaubin has set about capturing these relics for his book Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, which includes facilities like the Polytechnic Institute of Minsk, the Ukrainian Institute of Scientific and Technological Research and Development and even a  lunar base-inspired youth summer camp

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following on from his Light After Dark series, which captured softly-glowing coal stations running through the night, photographer Toby Smith has turned his lens on renewable energy infrastructure – starting with hydroelectric facilities like the 305MW Foyers plant shown here. now on show at The Print Space in London, Toby hopes to continue and expand The Renewables Project to cover other forms of cleaner power and the strange places and machines that make it possible


_Foyers Turbine Shaft by Toby Smith


a tale of two clever cubes this week, both designed to educate people about carbon in various ways. the first is Eurban’s Carbon Cube, lower photo, created in 2006 from offcuts produced by the architecture firm’s various eco-friendly timber structures. measuring precisely 360mm x 360mm x 360mm, each cube is designed to act as a piece of furniture containing 10kg of carbon. design consultancy Ramboll’s new project, also called The Carbon Cube, is similar in showing how much timber is required to absorb the average UK citizen’s annual CO2 output represented by a 2.4m cubic volume, with members of the public invited to make a pledge to reduce emissions and decorate a small cube of spruce

you can see Ramboll’s cube on Store Street as part of the Pocket Park, and sit on one of Eurban’s cubes at our GREEN/SPACE event tomorrow, where they’ll also be on sale at 30% off RRP

_Ramboll’s Carbon Cube

_Eurban’s Carbon Cube


like NASA’s spindly Lunar Excursion Module, the ultra-mobile creations of Milan based Lab Zero can be deployed on a variety of surfaces, from rocky seashores to mountain meadows. inspired by the highly functional and flexible opportunities presented by standard sized international shipping containers, their projects present an ideal for low-impact living anywhere on the planet – and perhaps beyond

Lab Zero’s Flavio Galvagni will be among the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_Lab Zero’s Drop-Off Unit


mobile, modular and designed to survive the extremes of the Antarctic, Hugh Broughton Architects’ new Halley VI research station consists of a series of pods which will house researchers from the British Antarctic Survey. built to withstand high winds and winter temperatures of -50°C, the raised habitats will also reduce the station’s impact on the continent’s pristine environment. now in place on the Brunt Ice Shelf, the futuristic structures take on an otherwordly appearance when seen in-situ against the blowing snowdrifts and icy blue sky of the frozen continent

Hugh Broughton Architects will be among the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_BAS project manager Karl Tuplin stands besides a completed Halley VI module


in the not-so-distant future, London-based architect Magnus Larsson dreams of a vast greenbelt stretching across the Sahara, providing eco-friendly housing while halting the drifting sands. sound impossible? it might be, if it wasn’t for Bacillus Pasteurii, a microorganism which can turn sand into solid sandstone. in Larsson’s mind, this simple biological reaction could create a vast network of hollowed out habitats across the Sahara, sculpted by the wind to provide cool shade and shelter

Magnus will be one of the speakers at our next live event, GREEN/SPACE

_Bacillus Pasteurii, in the lab



later today, Prince Charles and Sir David Attenborough will officially open the Natural History Museum’s new Darwin Centre, a 78 million pound state-of-the-art cathedral of nature housing over 20 millions specimens of plants and insects inside a giant concrete ‘cocoon’ designed by Danish architects CF Møller. inside, you’ll be able to watch scientists doing scientist stuff, learn about climate change’s effect on the natural world and marvel at what’s at stake


__Erythrina folkersii / coral tree © 2009 Natural History Museum, London


we couldn’t decide between the Barbican’s Radical Nature event and all the different Apollo-related stuff happening this month, so this picture of Richard Buckminster Fuller’s US Pavillion for Expo ’67 is perfect. part of the Barbican’s amazing architecture-meets-nature summer spectacular, it also happens to show the parachutes and capsule from the Apollo program – at that point, still untested and waiting to make history in the years ahead


_image courtesy of the Barbican / the estate of R Buckminster Fuller


if you’re into green architecture, low-impact homes and solar power, Ecobuild is basically like Disneyland, except it’s free and there’s no queue. with everything from staw-bale insulation and bat-boxes to ZEDfactory‘s new landARK on display, the exhibitors’ map looks a little overwhelming. we’re going tomorrow to sit-in on a conference about Passivhaus – a German-pioneered technique that uses insulation, south-facing windows and ultra-efficient heat exchangers to create homes that require little or no additional energy and in some cases even feed power back to the grid. if you can’t make it, we’ll be sending updates throughout the day


_solar architect Rolf Disch’s Heliotrop house / image: Rolf Disch

_image: Rolf Disch

_image: Rolf Disch


rising from the bombed out WWII wasteland north of St Paul’s, the barbican is possibly the world’s ultimate venue for a Le Corbusier retrospective. this is far more than that, though, with everything from talks and music to a film programme and, best of all, a guided tour of the barbican’s secret spaces


_Unité d’Habitation / Frank Bauer / www.frankbauer.com

_Unité d’Habitation / Frank Bauer / www.frankbauer.com

_image: Unité d’Habitation / Jonathan Bailey

_Palais de l’Assemblée, Chandigargh / FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009

_image: Unité d’Habitation / FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009


cold war

if you live in London and you haven’t checked out the Cold War Modern exhibition at the V&A yet, you’ve got until Sunday before it moves on to Italy in March. worth tracking down for an impressive dose design and culture from 1945-1970, it includes a real Soviet model of Sputnik, experimental spacesuits, clips from films like 2001, fashion from Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabane plus all manner of futuristic architectural utopias, from Superstudio and Archigram to lesser-known Soviet and Japanese plans for dome cities, modular living and high rise towers. if super/collider was an exhibition, this would be it


_still from 2001: A Space Odyssey courtesy of the V&A

chemistry 4/4

the Biochemistry Department at Oxford University is internationally renowned for its research on understanding of DNA, cell growth and immunity. working 24h a day, researchers will use the shiny new labs to learn more about how cells work, which has already lead them to breakthroughs in malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, avian flu, cancer, strokes and other illnesses


_photo: Keith Collie

chemistry 3/4

throughout the building, specially commissioned art pieces bring the space to life, encouraging creative thinking and interdisciplinary working. visible here (L to R) are Annie Cattrell’s ‘chandelier’ of birds, Nicky Hirst’s Portal façade and Peter Fraser’s photographs of the building under construction


_photo: Keith Collie

chemistry 2/4

designed by HawkinsBrown, the brand new building features high-tech labs arranged around a tall central atrium. timber-clad and naturally ventilated, its glass ceiling is lined with small solar panels, visible here


_photo: Keith Collie


we don’t cover life sciences half as much as we should, so super/collider jumped at the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Biochemistry building at Oxford last week. an amazing fusion of art, architecture and leading-edge science, it’s a glimpse into new ways of encouraging creativity


_photo: Keith Collie


kicking off today, the all-new London Festival of Architecture replaces last year’s Architecture Week event with a larger and longer celebration of all things architect-y. their excellent website lets you save the events you’re interested and even organises them by date – handy as there’s about two billion things to do. as for us? we’re definitely checking out What if:projects’ urban gardens, and a full English breakfast with Jon Snow sounds too delightful to miss


_photo: What if:projects


ok, so the blogs have all done it to death, but we couldn’t just skip over Foster + Partners winning design for The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building – aka the world’s first private spaceport. say it aloud: space. port.


_inside, visitors will be able to watch launch preparations, takeoffs and landings thorough tall glass windows with views over the slipway and runway ? where Virgin’s White Knight motherships (on the right and bottom) will carry the smaller SpaceShipTwo vehicles (far left) to 50,000ft before the final ascent into space. with construction due to begin next year, the future may finally have arrived

_designed as a launchpad for Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceflights ? currently scheduled to start in 2009 2010 ? the facility is futuristic in more ways than one. its low profile blends into the landscape for maximum energy efficiency, with visitors approaching down a long channel. the use of natural ventilation and lighting should ensure the spaceport earns top level LEED eco-building status

_image: Foster + Partners


the do-it-yourself space race took another leap forward this week with the launch of Bigelow Aerospace‘s Genesis II space module. adapted from an abandoned NASA project, the inflatable habitat is now orbiting the earth with a crew of insects to test basic life support functions. the successful project could pave the way for future space hotels


_photo: Bigelow Aerospace