House of the Witches’ Hats

House of the Witches’ Hats

I’ve been coming to Barcelona regularly now for about eight years. Our balcony looks out over Gaudi’s Pedrera (‘the ant hill’, we call it), the Sagrada Familia in the distance and in between a gingerbread castle-like building with six pointy towers that we dubbed ‘The House of the Witches’ Hats’. But only now have I seen it from the inside.

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Kaan Architecten transforms government building into workspace

Kaan Architecten transforms government building into workspace

Built in 1917 by the chief government architect Daniel E.C. Knuttel for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Trade in The Hague, the brick and stone building at Bezuidenhoutseweg 30 has been transformed by the Rotterdam-based Kaan Architecten into a home for five government-related planning and advisory agencies. I wrote an article for Architectural Record about how the once dark and heavy interiors of this national landmark are now light and transparent, and, in keeping with the changing times, B30, named after its address, is ready to facilitate an exchange of knowledge rather than the exercise of power.

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New V&A museum voor Scottish design in Dundee

New V&A museum voor Scottish design in Dundee

The V&A Museum in London is opening a new museum next year specially for Scottish design, in the coastal city Dundee, the fourth largest city of Scotland. The huge building on the river Tay is the outcome of an international competition won by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who is also designing Tokyo’s Olympic stadium for 2020. The V&A is also one of the founding institutions of a new design museum, Design Society, which is to open this October in the Chinese city of Shenzen.

At a cost of £81 million pounds the new V&A Dundee is already 80 per cent over budget, and will open four years later than anticipated. No wonder the museum is not yet giving a date for the opening next year. Nevertheless, it is the linchpin of Dundee’s regeneration through culture and the arts, together with its lively scene for the creators of video games. Dundee is now a serious contender for the European Cultural Capital of 2023. ‘The ugly-duckling city comes of age’, was the headline of a piece in The Times in July.

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