Which city has mastered the concept of quality of life?
It would have to be a mixture of London, Venice and Luang Prabang.
If you could move to any city, where would you go and why?
I’d go to London. I feel happy there.
Are there design/planning elements that all cities should embrace? Not at all. Fun lies in the surprise.
Are there “soft” elements that you feel cities are missing? Cities are becoming less fun. They lack humour, but above all they lack magic. I think cities should combine the scenarios of Play Time, by Jacques Tati, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T, by Dr Seuss/Roy Rowland, and One From the Heart, by Francis Ford Coppola. Then, everything would be better. —
Santiago-based architect Emilio Marin’s “Paseo Altamirano” has turned a stretch of coastal highway into a geometric lookout point. The roadside pitstop, lodged on a cliff above the port city of Valparaiso, combines galvanized steel and cement, with each bench allowing for relaxing views of the spectacular Pacific sunsets. The roof casts hexagonal shadows, providing a modern contrast to the city’s old-world charm.
After 75 years, Finland’s state-owned Alko drinks chain was in need of a makeover. Designers Aleksi Hautamäki from Finland and Swedish Anders Nord, were appointed to overhaul the brand’s stores in autumn 2006. They have worked on several projects together while running their separate design firms C.O.N. Helsinki Oy and Anders Nord Design. The duo say they saw early on that “it was impossible to compete with the organic curves of the bottle” and opted for a clean design. They chose to replace the old, dark wood with light Douglas fir to show off “unobtrusively but in Scandinavian fashion” the 3,000 labels stocked in the 800 sq m flagship store. With all 338 stores to be refitted by 2009, other state-owned monopolies might want to follow Finland’s lead.
Finnish architect Vesa Honkonen has transformed a dull-looking plaza in the waterfront Nacka Strand district of Stockholm. Ugly bollards and light poles make way for LED lights embedded into the pavement and there are around 50 different-sized walls fitted with built-in LED lights too. Full marks as well for the nine new lime-green acrylic benches, also backlit. Finnish lighting design company Saas Instruments provided the 10,000 LED lights. vesahonkonenarchitects.com