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The host will speak to the managing director of Safdie Architect, in this episode. Chris provides the podcast with an inner insight into Raffles City Chongqing design, how Moshie Safdie works side by side and the unique architectural approach as a worldwide design company.
Architects has developed the most unique Habitat 67 and Jewel architecture, recently opened in Singapore and now with Raffles City Chongqing. Higher Lighting Quote & Timetable Architects Could you take this cycle of developing our audience?
it’s a very interesting development for us. Many individuals and the press point to Marina Bay Sands as one of the first parks throughout the air. It was the first to have that kind of title or phraseology because Habitat 67 also had the first sky park for us. It was at an individual basis of trying to put backyards and parks to the sky and give everybody that as an amenity but there were also the walking streets that brings people from one apartment to the next… I think this notion of trying to find ways to put human living conditions in density areas is something that Moshe and the I have always been involved in. The genesis of the Marina Bay Sands sky park and the conservatory, which is a sort of glass enclosed variation in Chongqing, were two very important answers to the site. In Singapore the customer had a tremendous amount of software to fit in a small location. The hotel could not fit above the casino and the congress center or the theaters which were not structurally or scheduled. There was very little site area during all of the program area on the site so that you would not normally put the pool and parks at the bottom of the hotel or on the podium.
Let’s put it where it needs to go and where it can go, That’s what created the sky parks across the tops of the buildings. I think it was very different to Chongqing. They’re both similar in terms of having multiple towers that we’ve been able to deal with once. It is not a typology of a building it is an architectural kind. What does that mean when you’ve more than one house and what can you do? It had been very different in Chongqing. We wanted to take this compact town to the outskirts of the site and move the buildings to the site’s edge. We figured we’d give everybody on the top of a podium a park by moving this to the perimeter. So in the sky we decided to do some of the software we tried to create. We would raise it, so it’s kind of a busy street in the sky. It’s the hotel in Singapore, but the public observatory in Chongqing, the private residential club, the hotel lobby, two restaurants, the coffee shop and the river overlooking. The programming of this is much more complex. For us, it is from a programmatic point of view not only technically and conceptually, but the next generation. It is also interesting to see how much you can use typology to drive it…
Today, Raffles City is the tallest sky bridge in the world. How many Safdie Architect designs simply push modern typologies for the sake of making something that was never done before?
We’re trying to grow and for fifty years we has been doing so. He tried to develop ways to reduce the size of buildings and break them down. That was Habitat. That was Habitat. The apartment building was fractionalized to establish individuality and a sense of ownership in a broader context. As we face it in increasingly expensive places, particularly in Asia where in the last ten or twelve years we’ve been working a lot, it is a significantly more serious problem. This may be one of architects and urban planners ‘ most important problems today. How is the scale done by you?
One approach is to get people from the field and the public to observe themselves on these levels and split the scale both programmatically and visually. There are of course some parallels between projects, but they are different in terms of planning and creation. They also have a lot to do with their location. We are lucky that we have projects on platforms with ambitious consumers so that we can discuss these concepts. We are relevant in certain areas and they are not relevant in certain places. Between Marina Bay Sands and Chongqing, there is a lot of time for at least ten years where we could not study these styles
We are looking at other ways of addressing these same problems. Whether it is in suburban or other areas, as in Jewel. We’re trying to look at the same issues but that doesn’t allow the nature of that project, and the nature of the site and the program. We encourage creativity in another field but this is not inherently so. I think what we’re trying to do is move the conversation forward by building certain kinds of spaces that are iconic places for people in the city and really looking at the intersection of urbanism and architecture…’
From the Crystal Bridges in Arkansas to Singapore and China, you have invested in a variety of projects around the world. Why did your reaction to this affect the way you or the company approach design? Last but not least:
That is what the office has always done, with Habitat in Montreal but then moved the office to Somerville when he came to the GSD to teach at Harvard. We had a Jerusalem office because of his childhood and the research that we did there. We ended up in Boston just because that’s where he was born and decided to build the practice but most of our research isn’t in Boston. Most of our research is foreign in nature. We also respect and really admire the general approach taken by Moshe and what we strive to do as architects is to position ourselves in the role of the people who will use the building.
So it’s not only a matter for programming, what does a library person do or want to do? To them, what is this experience? It can be a fantastic place to share information, but it also comes from a particular field. A Salt Lake library is very different from a Vancouver library. The office was always rooted in diversity and this is one of the great aspects of the office that we are always trying to maintain balance. We also work on different geographies at different levels, with different system types for various customers. This flexibility allows us to take a look at the different conditions and requirements of each location from one to the next.
You are the managers and operators of the company. Over the business aspect of architecture, I believe some young architects admire design. How does Safdie Architects help with a clear understanding of the company?
There is a risk that those who grow up in the industry may not see the business side as a’ concept’ so to speak or not a creative effort. So it continues to get relegated or dismissed. If you can not be viable in terms of your finances, otherwise you won’t have the chance to come back and do good design. We assume that if you do a good job you will get a good job, but what I really came to realize is that the business side of the profession is clearly vital to our ability to apply our business. This goes all the way over. This means that we have sufficient and reasonable payments to be able to explore the designs as far as we are concerned to and to develop the documents to a certain level that it can be built in a certain area
It changes the documentation required in Singapore, where things are done as a design approach. It differs greatly from India and is very different from the United States. You must then find a creative and designed response if you understand the context. I met with the company’s former CEO and saw that business is not only jobs. A turning point was for me. It’s measurement, accounting and bookkeeping as viewed as activities. This is not how the company is concerned. It’s about how we approach things creatively. As it will give them a new career path … Most of this is being accomplished as a group. Being willing to have more company side conversations with the other designers, administrators and project managers consciously helps us to see things a bit differently