Space & Innovation

Floating Offices Envisioned for London

Design for a new commuter system is kind of a joke, and kind of not. Continue reading →

And now for something completely different: The architect of Google's headquarters has proposed an ambitious new plan to add a second story to the city of London.

The initiative is not entirely serious, but it's not entirely a joke either. Architect Clive Wilkinson, who designed the Googleplex, came up with the semi-serious design as a new way to think about London's worsening commuter problems.

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Titled "The Endless Workplace," the urban design plan calls for a single-level, open-plan office park that would hover over the city, with workers being shuttled vertically from their homes - via pneumatic tube - to their offices on the second level. Lest you think the plan entirely impractical, bear in mind that openings would be provided above parks, monuments and other designated places.

"The Endless Workplace" was created for Flaunt magazine, which asked designers to imagine what might happen if the cultures of California and the United Kingdom collided. Wilkinson's design is meant to address, in a daydreamy kind of way, worsening traffic problems in London, where the average work commute is more than two hours a day.

A citywide second-story office would not only dramatically reduce CO2 emissions, Wilkinson argues, it would create a new kind of collaborative workplace in the sky. Ideas could cross-pollinate freely in what would essentially be a massive co-working space for the entire city.

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Wilkinson's proposal may be hypothetical, and even a little satirical, but bear in mind that industry has a rich history of joke-y proposals eventually becoming real. Consider Volkswagen's self-driving baby stroller, or the infamous iLoo.

Joking with designers is risky business.

via Inhabitat and Fast Company

If you build it, the awards will come. The shortlist for the

2014 Structural Awards

has been announced, celebrating the best in structural design and engineering from around the globe. Handed out annually by the Institution of Structural Engineers, the awards cover a wide range -- buildings, bridges, residential homes, arenas and public sculptures. What follows is just a sampling of the dozens of finalists in the 13 award categories.

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London's Kensington Gardens was built to incorporate the existing Magazine Building -- a historically significant 19th-century munitions store.

One of five shortlisted projects in the Highway or Railway Bridge category, the Elbebridge spans, yes, the Elbe River near the Schönebeck, Germany. It's the largest cable-stayed bridge in the region.

Next time you're passing through Heathrow airport, look for the new Slipstream sculpture, designed to express the movement of a stunt plane flying through the terminal entrance. Made from more than 32,000 wood and metal parts, it's the longest permanent sculpture in Europe.

In the Community or Residential Structures category, the Kew House in London, England, is a four-bedroom family home designed to fit in a tight space. Looks like you could get some good reading done here, and if privacy seems to be an issue, note that there's a brick perimeter wall around the entire home.

The intricate steel roof of this marketplace structure in Barcelona, Spain, was assembled at ground floor level before being raised into place.

Built in an ancient forest in East Sussex, England, the Red Bridge House is designed to minimize visual impact while providing clear views of the landscape. The reinforced concrete core structure is partially embedded in the hillside. Oh, and there's a swimming pool on the basement level.

At 255 meters (837 feet), the Shenzhen Stock Exchange building in China was designed to achieve strict requirements at different levels of seismic events. Specifically, it's built to sustain no structural damage during the most powerful kind of earthquake likely in the region. The building also earned the highest rating of Green Code sustainability criteria.

Built in the 1930s, the Manchester Library in England is beloved for its circular Reading Room, which sits atop four stories of book stacks. Renovating the space while preserving history involved complicated structural alterations and temporary supports -- and moving a lot of books. The project is shortlisted in the Structural Heritage category.

This Apple retail display space in Istanbul, Turkey, was praised by judges for its simplicity. It's made of exactly five elements -- four sheets of glass and a reinforced plastic roof, held together with structural silicone.

The image above shows just a portion of the 265-meter long Lower Hatea River Crossing in New Zealand, a sort of next-generation drawbridge inspired by various cultural designs of the Maori people. In fact, the opening section is inspired by a Maori fish hook design.