All posts by Kim Howard

east architecture studio renovates niemeyer guest house in tripoli

award-winning renovation of niemeyer guest house in tripoli 


Located in Tripoli, Lebanon, this renovated guest house stands just inside an entrance to the Rachid Karami International Fair, designed by Oscar Niemeyer between 1964 and 1975. Although incomplete and derelict since the Lebanese civil war halted construction, the 10-hectare site is one of the Middle East’s finest examples of Modernist architecture. After previous grandiose schemes envisioning its revival fell flat, the recent rehabilitation of one of its structures carried out by local practice East Architecture Studio offers a model of how a building-by-building approach could bring the fair back to life.


The renovation came about when a branch of the French Development Agency was seeking a home for Minjara, an initiative that aims to reinvigorate Tripoli’s famed but latterly declining wood industry. To do so, it provides a platform where its carpenters can meet up, share and learn skills, access state-of-the-art tools and a materials library, and meet designers from Beirut.

east architecture studio gives new life to niemeyer guest house in tripoli, lebanonentrance walkway | image © East Architecture Studio



More importantly, the project received the 2022 Agha Khan Award for Architecture, along with five other international ones. ‘The renovation of the Niemeyer Guest House is an inspiring tale of architecture’s capacity for repair at a time of dizzying, entangled crisis around the world, and in Lebanon in particular, as the country faces unprecedented political, socio-economic and environmental collapse. […] The project has been carried out with great precision, its high quality revealing the exhaustive research the architects undertook. A sensitive understanding of the fair’s specific architectural language is carefully deployed to revive this important architectural and urban heritage,’ writes the Agha Khan Award jury.


‘In this carefully crafted space, reverence for the ‘hand’ is perpetuated through the proposed program: an active wood workshop sustaining small-scale carpentry and reviving the city’s history of craft. The project regenerates much-needed micro-economies and advocates inclusiveness, inviting the surrounding community into its heart. It reveals how paramount it is today to consider architectural rehabilitation and socio-economic revival as an indivisible whole.’

east architecture studio gives new life to niemeyer guest house in tripoli, lebanonglass partition | image © East Architecture Studio



carrying out light and reversible interventions 


An introverted, windowless structure from the outside, the single-story Niemeyer Guest House is flooded with light within via a central atrium and two courtyards. Its structural system comprises load-bearing walls and a concrete diagrid of deep beams covering the atrium to create changing shade throughout the day.


Given the lack of archival material, the team at East Architecture Studio extensively studied Niemeyer’s completed work elsewhere to build up a sense of what he intended. Their interventions tread lightly and are almost entirely reversible, notably including operable glazed partitions, a durable grey paint finish on all but the floor surfaces, and a waterproof, lightweight concrete slab roof, the original roof being no longer watertight. In addition, an electrical system was integrated into a new concrete floor and passed, concealed, along the main columns into ceiling tracks.





The main ground-floor area now hosts a reception, materials library, exhibition and meeting spaces, administrative zone, toilets, carpentry workshop, assembly/think-tank space, machinery storage area, and service room for dust-extracting machinery that transforms wood dust into compact bricks. No new walls were added aside from the glass partitions, and all furniture is free-standing. The architects have thus preserved the building’s structural, material and spatial qualities while successfully meeting users’ needs.


It is our hope that this award can celebrate the collaborative work behind this project and become the first step towards exemplary, careful rehabilitation and adaptive reuse for the rest of the fair site,‘ concludes the jury. 

east architecture studio gives new life to niemeyer guest house in tripoli, lebanonlateral space | image © East Architecture Studio

east architecture studio gives new life to niemeyer guest house in tripoli, lebanon

central courtyard | image © Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Cemal Emden 


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kanji hama, a proud representative of indigo dyeing

kanji hama, one of the last japanese to practice indigo dyeing


Kanji Hama, born in 1950, is one of the last Japanese people to practice indigo dyeing by hand using the ‘katazome’ technique, which was popular during the Edo period. It takes him several weeks, whereas a similar task can now be done in just an hour using a machine.


While millions of pairs of jeans are indigo dyed using machines every year, Kanji Hama takes care of just a handful of items in the same time frame, notably kimono, which he colors from start to finish. He designs his own motifs and makes a paste that he applies to the fabric using a made-to-measure stencil. At the end of this long process, the fabric is soaked in vats of indigo dye, and then reveals white patterns.kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing

all images © Kanji Hama 



An endangered craft


In an interview with the New York Times Style Magazine, Hama explains that it takes more than a dozen steps and multiple weeks to complete each project. This long process is, however, far from a thankless task. On the contrary, it represents the very essence and beauty of his work: ‘Craftsmanship is the act of making something using your hands. When a product is manufactured, it is no longer artisanal’, he tells the newspaper.


Kanji Hama refuses to write down his process to pass it on to others. He believes that his art goes beyond words and gestures. It is an exercise, he explains, that only those who practise the discipline daily, with love and rigour, are able to truly master. This expertise was transmitted to Kanji Hama by his father and grandfather. His own son might not follow in his footsteps, but one thing seems for sure: the artisan believes that his practice requires too much work for the younger generations, and is virtually convinced that it will be lost with him. Nevertheless, young people are returning to ancient disciplines such as this, like those in the Buaisou collective, made up of farmers and artisans.


More information on Kanji Hama’s work is available on his website and his Facebook page (in Japanese).

kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing

indigo dyeing by hand using the katazome technique

kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing

close up shot of the artisan’s unique motifs

kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing

the dyeing process 



the project was originally published by pen magazine 

kanji hama, proud representative of indigo dyeing

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ODA’s 2505 broadway tower echoes pre-war architecture of NYC

learning from the upper west side


Rising nineteen stories along the corner of 93rd Street, the ODA-designed 2505 Broadway tower reaches completion. Developed by Adam America Real Estate, this luxury residential project on Manhattan‘s Upper West Side showcases living spaces by ODA Interiors. While the team has designed all of the interiors of the firm’s residential projects across the United States, it is now expanding its visions toward private homes and luxury hotels. The forty-one residences inside 2505 Broadway are now listed for sale, with over 50% already sold.

ODA 2505 broadway
images © Aaron Thompson | @aaronthompsonphoto



contemporary spaces behind a classic facade


With 2505 Broadway, the design team at ODA celebrates the pre-war architecture found throughout the neighborhood, translating the traditional style through a contemporary lens. Much of the Upper West Side’s classic buildings take shape with exclusively brick masonry — keeping in mind this context, ODA crafts a facade of brickwork to weave the new building into the fabric of the area. This materiality is elevated with ‘custom long-format Petersen bricks, whose hand-molded fabrication in Denmark by eighth generation brick-makers creates a richness in texture and character.’


While the brick facade — along with private terraces, entrance foyers, and ornamental details — recalls the tower’s historic neighbors, the spaces are carefully planned to suit the needs of the modern resident with diverse floor plans, elevated amenities and expanded outdoor spaces.

ODA 2505 broadway



inside the luxury tower by oda


Of the forty-one residences within ODA’s tower at 2505 Broadway, each is flooded with natural light through walls of oversized windows. These windows show historically-inspired mullions that contrast the rich brickwork with their crisp, sophisticated lines. Inside, finishes of marble, oak, and brass serve to enhance the references to classical architecture. The team notes: ‘2505 Broadway was designed from the outside in. Every residence has access to the vast amenity rooftop terrace while select residences can also enjoy private balconies or their own private ‘backyards.’


2505 Broadway is available for immediate occupancy. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is the exclusive sales and marketing agent for the project, with on-site sales led by Ariel Tirosh. 

ODA 2505 broadway



Eran Chen, Founding Principal, ODA comments:Manhattan’s Upper West Side is one of New York’s longest standing, iconic neighborhoods and 2505 Broadway seeks to complement this heritage in its neighborhood-scale, timeless materiality and elegant proportions.


A custom, curved brick façade of rounded, vertical piers rises from the street level and tapers into terraced setbacks at the top of the building. Anchored between these piers are deep, over-sized windows adding crisp, sophisticated lines to the building’s façade.


A sweeping entry marquee ties together both the large and small-scale details, embracing the pre-war aesthetics of the neighborhood, while adding ODA’s unique layer of nuanced expression to create an exterior that is at once contemporary yet timeless.’

ODA 2505 broadwayinteriors are flooded with sunlight through oversized windows

ODA 2505 broadway
finishes of marble, oak, and brass enhance the references to classical architecture

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OMA and jacobs unveil new DPI headquarters in ‘the 78,’ chicago

a new innovation hub for dpi


With architecture by OMA and Jacobs, a new DPI headquarters in ‘The 78’ will soon become home to a vibrant new innovation district along the Chicago River. The project will occupy a one-acre site southwest of the Loop, and will introduce over 200,000 square feet of workspaces, classrooms, labs, and event space for the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and its partners. The project marks a focus on expanding Illinois’ innovation economy by the state’s governor J.B. Pritzker and the DPI at University of Illinois.


This project will be funded with $500 million in capital funding by the State of Illinois. It will include the launch of DPI and the establishment of its Innovation Network at regional universities throughout the state.

OMA DPI chicago
DPI Headquarters, aerial view © OMA and Lucian R



chicago’s growing innovation district


The DPI headquarters, a world-class innovation hub by OMA (see here) and Jacobs (see here), will be sited within a disused railroad yard in the heart of Chicago. The project is expected to break ground in 2024, at which point it will become the first building to begin construction in The 78 Innovation District. It will mark the beginning of a transformation that will connect the South Loop and Chinatown, filling a 62-acre void that has long separated them.


With its multi-directional form, the building will not face any one specific direction. Thus, it will engage communities on all sides — toward the nearby riverfront, and toward the future phases of the larger Innovation District at The 78.

OMA DPI chicago
DPI Headquarters, 15th and S. Wells Street | © OMA and bloomimages



inside the project by oma and jacobs


The base of the eight-story building will be populated with space that will be shared with the public — a café, auditorium, and multipurpose exhibition space/classrooms. The building’s main entry will be located at 15th Street and Wells-Wentworth. A Richard Hunt sculpture will anchor the site landscape.

OMA Partner Shohei Shigematsu comments:DPI cultivates opportunities for research, learning, and innovation to diverse communities, requiring an architecture that adapts to continued growth of its programs. We wanted to provide a building that fosters interdisciplinary interaction and experimentation.


Programs are organized to maximize efficiency and potential to converge, and variegated layouts are configured around a central zone of collisions. A soft, transparent form and public ground floor offer an open invitation for the community to the building and its network.’

OMA DPI chicago
DPI Headquarters, Chicago riverfront view | © OMA and bloomimages OMA DPI chicago
DPI Headquarters, Chicago riverfront view | © OMA and bloomimages OMA DPI chicago
DPI Headquarters, central atrium © OMA and Lucian R

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BOW.atelier ‘RY’s house’ in vietnam intertwines living space and greenery

light and plantation features in a house for young gardeners


BOW.Atelier has completed ‘RY’s house’, a residential project in Cam Le district, Vietnam. With the supervision of DICOL construction team, the designers were able to finish the project, located in a new planning area, with rapid construction speed in one year’s time. The main limitations of this concept were the typical narrow 5×20 plot, and the clients’ desire to bring plantation inside the building. Having a background in gardening, the young residents were interested in a space that would create an inside-outside correlation and an infusion of natural elements in the interior, such as light and greenery. Evidently, the building’s facade is segmented between concrete walls and a peak of green trees’ leaves from the inside, sustaining an introversion as well as a connection with the outdoor environment.

introverted 'RY's house' in vietnam intertwines living space and greenery
the facade is segmented between walls and a peak of green trees | all images by BOW.atelier



open and closed spaces coexist within ry’s house


The interior’s layout creates a dialogue between the feelings of openness and closeness, in a space intersected and interspersed with many small partitions and gaps. This unpredictable spatial arrangement evokes an impression of surprise while moving inside the building. The effects of light and shadow moving along the interior elements keep the scene exciting. The bedroom areas, also take a full view of the greenery behind the elevated flexible levels, a landscape of plantation that can change according to the user’s liking.

introverted 'RY's house' in vietnam intertwines living space and greenery
plantation through the interior and exterior



a gentle natural atmosphere throughout the year


The project was completed right before lockdown period, due to the strike of Covid-19’s epidemic, but the value of a garden in a living area was even more evident. The users are able to appreciate a sunny day or a stormy weather equally. The architectural structure allows plenty or limited light to the inside forming different environments and moods. The gentle atmosphere of the garden contributes to an overall pleasurable experience.

introverted 'RY's house' in vietnam intertwines living space and greenery
the light sets different environments and moods

introverted 'RY's house' in vietnam intertwines living space and greenery
the effects of light and shadow moving along the interior elements keep the scene exciting

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tokujin yoshioka sculpts 10-meter ‘star’ from 2,000+ octagonal & mirrored steel rods

Star by Tokujin Yoshioka


Tokujin Yoshioka has unveiled his 10-meter sculpture titled ‘Star’, a permanent installation at the entrance of Tokyo Midtown Yaesu, which is slated to open across Tokyo Station. The public artwork is made of more than 2,000 octagonal and mirrored rods that are stainless steel, their attributes contributing to the crystallizing and glistening effects of the sculpture as pedestrians pass by the installation. When sunlight hits the massive sculpture, the beam bounces off, creating a luminous sculpture of light that Yoshioka intends to gift the piece.

Star by Tokujin Yoshioka
images courtesy of Tokujin Yoshioka



The star represents wishing for world peace


The shining Star by Tokujin Yoshioka mirrors the philosophy of wishing for peace, ‘that the world may be united as one.’ The giant sculpture stands tall first as an artistic commodity to please the viewers’ eyes, then as a representation of hope which has long been tied in with the symbolism of stars.


‘Light for Peace’ serves as the guiding ethos of the artist and designer, and the evidence of its essence reflects in the pointed shards at the end of the rods which help make the star glow even from afar. The design of the sculpture is also reminiscent of the light after the dark or at the end of the tunnel as its inside start from having shadowed imagery, slowly reaching the peak of the light as the rods extend outside.

Star by Tokujin Yoshioka
close-up view of Star by Tokujin Yoshioka | photo by Kaku Ohtaki



Reflecting light through the octagonal, mirrored rods


The more than 2,000 octagonal rods of mirrored stainless steel randomly reflect the sunlight and become one with the surrounding environment, reflecting sunlight during the day, turning a beautiful amber color at sunset, and even reflecting the light of the night sky, creating a sculpture whose radiance changes in many ways. Tokujin Yoshioka’s Star is a testament to the artist and designer’s pursuit to animate figures that arouse the human sense by drawing his sources from immaterealistic elements such as light.

Star by Tokujin Yoshioka
Star by Tokujin Yoshioka is a permanent installation at the entrance of tokyo midtown yaesu

Star by Tokujin Yoshioka
the sculpture is conceived from 2,000+ octagonal & mirrored steel rods

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the fluid facade of los angeles’ lucas museum is now being installed

lucas museum achieves new milestone


The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announces latest construction updates of its sculptural new home in Los Angeles with architecture by MAD Architects. The first of its kind, the space will be dedicated to the ‘meaning and impact of narrative art.’ Taking shape in the California city’s Exposition Park, the five-story, 300,000-square-foot building has achieved major milestones. The park and gardens are integrating into the eleven-acre campus, while the museum‘s collection is expanding — all in preparation for the project’s expected opening in 2025.

lucas museum los angeles
image by Hunter Kerhart, all rights reserved, © 2022 Lucas Museum of Narrative Art



the complex facade takes shape in los angeles


At the center of the Lucas Museum’s eleven-acre campus is the fluid new building designed by Ma Yansong of MAD Architects (see here) with Michael Siegel of Stantec as executive architect. The architecture takes influence from the large trees across Los Angeles’ Exposition Park, which ‘provide places of shelter and gathering.’ The building will take shape as an extension of that canopy of trees, creating a place of gathering in its central plaza.


The building’s organic surface is realized with an assemblage of over 1,500 curved fiberglass-reinforced polymer (FRP) panels, each uniquely shaped and placed to create the whole. Installation of these panels onto the southern façade has now begun, marking a major milestone in the project’s construction.

lucas museum los angeles
image © the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, all rights reserved



Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Director and Chief Executive Officer, comments:It’s humbling and energizing to see how all aspects of this new public resource are taking shape. We believe that narrative art can connect us and help shape a more just society. As a result, every element of this institution contributes to that idea — the site is one physical manifestation of that.


The campus with its iconic building and arched belly that creates a canopy, coupled with the 200-plus trees taking root in the park, together create another community gathering place with much needed shade for our neighbors and others who will use the site. Another manifestation of that idea is the museum’s wonderfully evolving collection of narrative art that features multifaceted perspectives through the stories humans have told throughout history.


Through these works, we hope to ignite complex and nuanced conversation that may impact the ways folks understand the world, but perhaps even what they decide to do in the world. We’re thrilled to share this significant progress, and I look forward to keeping the public informed as we forge ahead.’

lucas museum los angeles
image by Hunter Kerhart, all rights reserved, © 2022 Lucas Museum of Narrative Art



inside the lucas museum of narrative art


The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will introduce a diverse new collection of artworks to Los Angeles. Works will range from ancient Roman mosaics to Renaissance painting to contemporary photography, and representing diverse cultures and artistic media, the museum’s collection demonstrates the breadth of themes and viewpoints with which narrative art can engage dynamic and diverse publics.


Pilar Tompkins Rivas, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial and Collections, continues: ‘Through narrative art, people from every age and background can find connections between their lives and the lives of others across eras, cultures, and regions of the globe.’

lucas museum los angeles
image by Roberto Gomez, all rights reserved, © 2022 JAKS Productions



planting the bucolic landscape


The park and gardens of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be designed by Mia Lehrer of Studio-MLA. Here, an expansive and multilayered landscape will integrated with the building and replace the asphalt parking which once occupied the site. Another milestone for the Lucas Museum, the first of over two hundred trees has been put into the ground.


As a parking lot, water runoff was directed into the city sewer system. Once the landscape is completed, a rain-harvesting system will capture water for irrigation. Other features of the park and gardens will including the amphitheater, a hanging garden, and a pedestrian bridge — all of which are now taking shape.

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es devlin draws 243 endangered species for her illuminated dome ‘come home again’

Come Home Again by Es Devlin


Es Devlin is asking visitors to come home again. Not in the architecture designed by humans, but back in nature where the Earth bonds with the living beings. Devlin first creates an illuminated sculpture that takes its shape and influence from the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. She collaborates with Cartier to materialize the large-scale public artwork and places it in Tate Modern Community Garden in London, adjacent to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Once the monumental architecture becomes installed, she steps inside and draws 243 endangered species listed on London’s priority conservation list which includes moths, birds, beetles, wildflowers, fish, and fungi. Her pencil marks the white backdrop of the dome with intricate details and complex linings that underline her species under the soft glow. She steps outside, and the lights go on. Right there in the illuminated dome of Come Home Again, in place until October 1st this year, several drawn species soar, glide, and crawl with glee to invoke Devlin’s advocacy to protect biodiversity.


Devlin ties in a dome to one’s home, a sanctuary that safeguards inhabitants from the external environment. It becomes a refuge one seeks to linger in when there is nowhere else to go to quiet themselves. The artist sees her work, which took her four months to complete, as a call to see, hear, and feel one’s shelter in a city that brims with interconnected culture and species. She wants visitors to remember how essential nature and species are to people who seem to forget that they also form part of the living beings and play their own crucial roles in the biosphere. To reiterate their characters in the real-world stage, Devlin has drawn the endangered species to inform their visitors of their names and stories, and their current state of being under threat due to manmade decisions and actions. 

Come Home Again by Es Devlin
photos by Matt Alexander



Informing visitors about the endangered species


Es Devlin’s Come Hoem Again echoes the thoughts of the climate activist Joanna Macy, who she quotes: ‘Now it can dawn on us: we are the world knowing itself. As we relinquish our isolation, we come home again…we come home to our mutual belonging.’ The sliced and open-scale model of the dome found St. Paul’s Cathedral stands tall during the day to welcome visitors and interact with the drawn species. They can slowly climb up through choral tiers and witness the drawings zoom in as they become closer to their details.


The immersive experience comes into a full circle with the surrounding soundscape of the endangered species along with their names pronounced via voiceovers. The printed QR codes on the walls guide the visitors to information and stories about each of the species and let them in on why it is necessary to reconsider human actions that harm biodiversity. When the day ends and the night dawns, the magic of the illuminated dome begins as an interpretation of Choral Even song is sung by London-based choral groups at sunset combined with the voices of the birds, bats, and insects that also consider London their home.

Come Home Again by Es Devlin
Come Home Again, Es Devlin, 2022



Steps to reverse the decline of biodiversity


London’s 243 priority species have been identified by the London Biodiversity Action Plan as declining in numbers within the city and as priorities for active conservation and protection. Visitors of Come Home Again by Es Devlin are can engage with London Wildlife Trust to contribute and learn more about the endangered species. As Mathew Frith comments, the Director of Policy and Research at London Wildlife Trust, the survival of the city’s wildlife is now at a tipping point after decades of decline in many species, and reversing the decline depends not only on changing everyday practice, but also on managing the city’s green spaces and climate-adaptive technologies, and making sure the city’s wildlife is supported. ‘Come Home Again is an important exploration of the role of art in the protection of London’s species and nature’s recovery across and beyond the city,’ he adds.

Come Home Again by Es Devlin
243 endangered species are drawn inside the illuminated dome

Come Home Again by Es Devlin
a projection is also installed to display the species on the backdrop

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snøhetta revives iconic croisette in cannes with urban red carpet

Snøhetta’s urban red carpet for the mythical Croisette in Cannes


Snøhetta has been announced the competition winner for the design of the legendary Croisette in Cannes, one of the most recognized bay walks in the world. Named ‘Spotlight’, the proposal will be materialized as an urban red carpet and will bring new life to the 2,5km-long boulevard that runs from the Palais des Festivals all along the Bay of Cannes towards the Cap de la Croisette. Designed in collaboration with local French partner Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro and engineering firm WSP, the project seeks to modernize and bring back prestige and elegance to this world-famous destination.


The bustling boulevard is known for the International Film Festival it hosts every May annually. Dated back to the 1800s, the Croisette has turned from the picturesque coastal route to the bustling boulevard it is today. Palaces, luxury shops, and listed buildings, as well as a series of private and public beaches, surround the Promenade.‘The Croisette is the social backbone of Cannes. Its circular shape embraces the bay and creates a series of connections between the public, the city and the sea. Our design is a tribute to the inherent qualities of this iconic waterfront,’ says Snøhetta’s co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.snøhetta's winning proposal revives world-famous croisette with urban red carpet in cannes

all images © A’U Roland Castro & Snøhetta / MIRA’U Roland Castro & Snøhetta / MIR



celebrating the inherent qualities of the iconic destination


In collaboration with Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro (see more here) and WSP (more here), Snøhetta (more here) has won the competition for revamping and updating the Boulevard de La Croisette. Inspired by Art Deco that is reflected in the palaces of Cannes, the team seeks to pay tribute to the original character of the emblematic boulevard, all the while introducing a more permeable and greener design. Embracing the pleasant shape of the Croisette, the project aims to revive the prestige of the legendary waterfront promenade. The proposal unfolds as a regular repetition of stairs that usher to the Mediterranean Sea and introduces new paving that serves as an urban red carpet that reflects the old Suquet neighborhood and the vivid red color from the nearby Massif de l’Estérel. 


Meanwhile, a sequence of ‘Spotlights’ draws passers-by’s attention to the main attraction points, including the Palaces, the beach accesses, and the Palais des Festivals. These describe small squares infused with exquisite gold details and subtle shades of red granite, emphasizing the precious value of the Croisette.snøhetta's winning proposal revives world-famous croisette with urban red carpet in cannes

echoing the distant shapes of the Estérel, soft benches emerge from the ground



green mobility & biodiversity 


To add to its sustainable character, the design team opted for locally sourced materials to complete the project. 

A collection of urban furniture, including benches, lighting, and shading, is custom-made by Snøhetta exclusively for this project. Soft benches emerge from the ground, mimicking the shape of the neighboring mountain range of Estérel. Throughout the promenade, one can find various shaded spots to stop and unwind and lighting that illuminates the area during the night.


The project contributes to an environmental strategy that aims to bring generous pops of green to the promenade. To strengthen the biodiversity of the Croisette, they carefully selected local vegetation distinct for its climate resiliency and richness, while water elements adorn the project adding an overall fresh and welcoming atmosphere. The final design also spotlights sustainable mobility for pedestrians and cyclists, incorporating traffic lanes to create a safe social hub for interaction, rest, and recreation. 

snøhetta revives world-famous croisette boulevard in cannes with urban red carpet introducing new paving that serves as an urban red carpetsnøhetta revives world-famous croisette boulevard in cannes with urban red carpeta tribute to the original character of the emblematic boulevard



project info:


name: Un nouvel écrin pour la Croisette

designer: Snøhetta 
​client: City of Cannes
​partner architect: L’Atelier d’urbanité Roland Castro
​engineering firm: WSP
size: 2,5km
​timeline: Phase 01: 2025 / Phase 02: 2027 / Phase 03 & 04: 2028

christina petridou I designboom

sep 23, 2022

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The New Apple Watch Ultra Is Big by Design

A watch has never really existed solely as a time keeping accessory. Wristwatches have featured calculators, micro televisions, operated as mobile gaming devices, guided adventurers with tacked on compasses and other way-finding markers, and have been combined with a multitude of other features miniaturized for the wrist. Even sans these accoutrements, the watch in itself has always operated as a statement of lifestyle, conveying as much about the wearer’s aspirations as its actual daily functions.

Smartwatches have always needed to deliver a more convincing reason for its anachronistic existence than their pre-digital counterparts. In the age of the smartphone, the watch became a dumb redundancy. Then in 2015, the Apple Watch arrived to stake claim to a still nascent wearable landscape.

Apple envisions adventurers and competitive endurance athletes will most benefit from this new expression of the Apple Watch.

It was a time when the wearables category was a raging sea of promises touting innovation, but whose shores were littered with “coming soon” disappointment. This was partially due to the limitations of manufacturing and available technologies. But it was also that nobody – Apple included – had yet made a convincing case the smartwatch could match the functionalities already on our phones, let alone deliver a wholly unique experience deserving of our wrists.

The Apple Watch has improved considerably since its launch. Now in its eighth generation, its ability to complement and extend the functions of the iPhone are bolstered increasingly by its own functional independence. It can even operate as a cellular device all on its own, like the eighth grader it is. Except for the absence of a TV viewing option, the promise of a Dick Tracy watch has come to fruition.

Equally important is Apple has fine tuned the original design every step of its way, diligently shaving millimeters here and grams there to make the Watch ever more comfortable while still adding features with every new model. Rather than perpetually reinvent their products, the company is not averse to sharpen the proverbial edge, keeping what works and abandoning what doesn’t. The iterative approach explains why the latest iPhone in any given year can seem initially underwhelming compared to the competition’s first to market innovations, but in actual daily use can prove to be hard to abandon because of the satisfying holistic experience.

Which makes the new $799 Apple Watch Ultra a bit of a chimera, being the culmination of fine tuning shaped by feedback from generations of Apple Watch users, but also detouring onto some untrodden ground where bigger is pronounced as better. The following is focused upon the fit and feel of the design, as the Ultra’s functionality requires testing beyond a few passing days of hiking, yard work, and trips to the local supermarket to ascertain.

If the Apple Watch Ultra was a car, it would be either a Jeep Wrangler or Subaru Outback, every bit the fantasy of adventure as capable of delivering it.

I hate encumbering myself with adornments, watches or otherwise. But today I wear an Apple Watch daily to track my workouts, nudge me toward healthier habits, and keep me aware of appointments and directions. The 7th generation Apple Watch is almost comfortable to completely forget, whether while hammering behind a keyboard or taking an early morning hike or run. I don’t doubt the eighth iteration delivers an ever so improved experience.

On the other hand the Ultra presents itself in almost audacious fashion. It’s big and different, and at first looks unwieldy on the arm. The lower rounded section of its aerospace grade titanium case resembles a standard Apple Watch, with a micro-abrasive blasted finish resulting in a finely textured surface measured by microns reputedly for durability. Viewed from the side, the case’s curved base tapers inward and upward into a perfectly flat display, forming a flattened soup bowl silhouette that becomes even more evident while worn.

When asked about this tapering, Apple would explain those few millimeters around the screen are there to reduce the chances of marring the 1185-square-millimeter display from the side. It seems a rational explanation, although it’s hard to shake off the desire to see the case continue along a more flattened path when remembering the flat slab design language dictating the iPhone.

The sum of these case sections project a shape somewhere between brawny and a bit plump (the dad bod of watches). Apple claims the Ultra’s battery life now can stretch into 36 hours with normal use with the promise of a 60 hour battery life in power saving mode by dialing down the GPS and heart-rate readings that arrives TBD via software update.

The Ultra looks large at first, but like buying a 65″ television, acclimation to its size is quick because of its lightweight titanium casing.

Surprisingly, the Ultra’s dimensions do not equal a heavy feeling watch, resulting in a disconnect between what the eyes see and the wrist feels. In fact, the Ultra is a very wearable, all-day affair because of the lightness of titanium compared to steel or even aluminum. Not once over the span of several days wearing it have I ever thought the Ultra hindered movement or comfort, except for the deflected side-eyed glances it earned while navigating a local crowded HMart.

The Ultra now sports a 410 x 502 pixel screen versus the Series’ 396 by 484 pixel density. The luminous screen can hold its own against bright sunlight, twice as bright as its Series counterpart, blasting 2000 nits of peak brightness (very evident in flashlight mode). No more shaded palm viewing required, even in Los Angeles’ late summer daylight. We’ll be curious to see how visibility fares in daylight brightened by snow when winter arrives.

The three new bands designed for the Ultra are deserving of a design spotlight in themselves. We’ve worn two of the three – the latch secured Alpine Loop and totally tubular Ocean Band – but its the velcro secured Trail loop that will likely offer the most comfortable band to wear throughout the day, attributed to it being the thinnest and softest band Apple has ever designed.

A closer inspection reveals a lighter band wrapping just below the Ultra’s display edge. That’s actually antennas molded directly into the surface of the case. Alongside adding a subtle design detail, the prominent location boosts the Ultra’s GPS performance, a feature emphasized in relation to the watchOS 9 redesigned Compass app with way-finding integration and a new backtrack navigation option aimed at outdoor enthusiasts.

Continuing the Ultra’s large and in charge design, the crown and side button are much more prominent. The crown is almost 30% larger in diameter than the Series 8, and is shaped with prominent knurling to boost the Ultra’s tactile responsiveness while wearing gloves in inclement conditions. The number of knurls have been reduced down to 19 on Ultra’s crown compared to 45 on the Series crown; the feel across a bare thumb is almost sharp, catching the skin and much easier to engage than an already simple to use Series crown (we might need to moisturize our hands more too).

Similarly for the purposes of serving dutifully during extreme weather activities, the adjacent side button doesn’t sit flush with the right side protrusion. Instead it sticks out by just over 0.5mm ensuring a confident press instead of a fumbled attempt, allowing for engagement by touch and memory alone.

A third orange hued Action button sits on its left side to engage various options, include an emergency tone that shrieks with the volume and tone of an agitated bird. But for non-emergency use, the button can be programmed for less hazardous situations, like engaging the start of a workout or activating the screen as a flashlight. Beyond the button’s color, in some ways the action button’s shape and texture is the most evocative of traditional outdoors gear designed for lightweight durability. My fingers are perpetually drawn to trace its elongated center with a PEZ-like indentation.

Subtle gratification through materiality, curated functionality, and carefully executed UI experiences have always been the strongest argument for Apple’s ecosystem of devices. The Ultra sets out to bring those same combination of features and attention to design for the outdoor and extreme sports set. Like the aforementioned outdoor vehicles, it’s undeniably an aspirational device in spirit and execution. But something tells me for every optimally conditioned peak chaser or defiant daring diver, they’ll be legions of normal weekend trail runners, avid hikers, or even the daily dog walking wanderers who will be drawn to the allure of the Ultra’s brawny functionalities and the adventurous lifestyle it projects vividly in its design.

For more info on the Apple Watch Ultra, visit

Gregory Han is Tech Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at

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