New cities in the sand: inside Egypts dream to conquer the desert

Four decades ago Egypt embarked on the most ambitious new cities building programme in the world. Their boom shows no sign of stopping Seen from space, Africa. This week Guardian Cities meets the 90-year-olds who built the Bulgarian city of Dimitrovgrad after the second world war (many still live there) and visits the bizarre Bahria Town development promising Karachi residents protection from terror attacks and violent crime. We look at Hong Kongs plan to build artificial islands for 1.1 million people and examine Egypts dream to conquer the Sahara. We remember past visions of future cities and ask, is there ever a good reason to start a city from scratch? Nick Van Mead Was this helpful? Thank you for your …

Which is the world’s most vertical city?

You might think of Hong Kong, given its famous skyscraper skyline, but by different measures of verticality other cities come out on top Looking out from sky100, Hong Kongs highest observation deck on the 100th floor of the citys tallest building, the 494-metre-high International Commerce Centre, you get a 360-degree view of one of the worlds most famous skylines an urban jungle framed by mountains and the gleaming Victoria harbour, with endless clusters of high-rise buildings packed so closely together they resemble a game of Tetris. Its little wonder a city of such visible density has more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Hong Kong has 355 buildings …

David Chipperfield’s Berlin temple: ‘Like ascending to the realm of the gods’

Twenty years in the making, this dazzling synthesis of the classical and modern takes Museum Island to new heights Friedrich Wilhelm IV described his vision for James Simon Gallery stands as a 134m (120m) Parthenon-on-Spree, forming a handsome new entrance to one of the worlds most important repositories of cultural treasures. We were quite nervous, says Chipperfield, standing in the lofty new ticketing lobby, where stripes of sunlight flood in between the row of slender white columns outside. The challenge was how to create something that was of its context and also of our time, in this incredibly sensitive location. He had good reason to be anxious. His first design, unveiled in 2006, was slammed by German critics as grossly …

Lets Build a Global Skyscraper Network to Save the Planet

When New York City passed an aggressive set of greenhouse-gas-limiting laws in April, the buzz was, rightly, about the ambition of America’s biggest city putting a lid on its climate-changing ways. New York state has picked up the banner, too, putting into law this week a downslope to zero carbon emissions by 2050—the only other state to have a goal like that on the books is (you can guess) California. The Oregon legislature is dancing with the idea, too, assuming the governor can coax back to the capitol all the Republican legislators who are literally hiding so they don’t have to vote. Arguably the most interesting part of the New York City package isn’t the cap. It’s the trade—or, rather, …

Take me to the Boom Boom Room! Inside the risqu hotel for 24-hour party people

Americas raciest hotel chain has turned a boring British office block into an Austin Powers-style crash pad complete with retro reception, leftie library and rooftop baths. Groovy baby! When the clerks of Camdens highways department were issuing parking fines from their gloomy office in the 1970s, little can they have imagined that jet-setting hipsters would one day be supping cocktails in the public library below them before taking an al fresco dip up on the roof. Maligned for years as the concrete egg box of Euston Road, the Shawn Hausman, the Los Angeles-based designer behind the Standards flamboyant interiors, who started out creating film sets for live models in a vitrine behind the reception desk, part of an art installation …

The skyscraper infinity pool sorry, but where’s the diving board?

It is meant to be a boundary-busting punch for the sky. But this design for a rooftop London pool is just another high-rise ego gimmick In 1924, swimming pool designerno apparent means of escape, as if the digital people are in some kind of sublime prison cell for the super rich. We are assured there is in fact a way in and out, courtesy of a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor, and that this is an entirely buildable proposition that includes an inbuilt anemometer to vary the water level and access to the pool. Underwater swimming … how the pool could look Photograph: Compass Pools The designer, Alex Kemsley, said, the building started life as a …

Unbuilt Tokyo: ‘depthscrapers’ and a million-person pyramid

Had the creators of the underground skyscraper had their way, the Japanese capital might have looked very different indeed Protected by cylindrical walls of reinforced concrete, the steel and glass depthscrapers extend hundreds of metres underground. Only a single floor of each inverted 35-storey skyscraper is visible at ground level. Giant mirrors mounted directly above the central wells reflect sunlight to the apartments below. Prismatic glass ensures even light throughout the day, while fresh, conditioned air is pumped down from the surface. The whole structure, in case of an earthquake, will vibrate together, resisting any crushing strain, declared a 1931 edition of Everyday Science and Mechanics that called the design the product of the best engineering brains of Japan. The …

San Diegos eSub raises $12 million for its construction management software

The San Diego-based software developer eSub Construction Software has raised $12 million in a new round of financing for its project management platform for contractors. The company’s funding was led by Catalyst Investors with participation from previous investor Revolution Ventures. Software for the construction industry is becoming a big business and attracting more capital from investors. Construction management software vendor Procore is now worth $3 billion, thanks to a $75 million investment late last year from Tiger Global. Indeed, unicorns are galloping across the construction industry these days.

Italy’s new ruins: heritage sites being lost to neglect and looting

Overgrown and weathered, many historical monuments are disappearing as public funds for culture fail to match modern Italys inheritance Legend has it that the grotto hidden among the craggy cliffs on San Marco hill in Sutera in the heart of Sicily holds a treasure chest full of gold coins. In order to find it, three men must dream simultaneously about the precise place to dig. Treasure or no treasure, the grotto itself is an archaeological gem, its walls adorned with a multi-coloured Byzantine-esque 16th-century fresco depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Saints Paulinus, Luke, Mark and Matthew. One of the first mountain oratories in the world, it was built by Basilian monks in the 9th century. But time has weathered …

The art deco pub, the library and Poldark manor: Britains architectural gems at risk

As Save Britains Heritage campaign highlights historic buildings that could be lost to the nation, Cornish estate owners vow to take action For viewers of a certain age it is instantly recognisable. Botallack Manor, on the Penwith peninsula in western Cornwall, doubled as Nampara, the home of Ross Poldark and his family, in the original 1970s Poldark television series. Today, the Grade II-listed house, built in the 17th century and boasting spectacular views of the has enjoyed a new lease of life, the same cannot be said for the house. For the past five years it has lain empty and in an increasing state of neglect, so much so that it has been included in the latest (30th) edition of …

Now kids, help us to kill Bin Laden! The dark side of Washington’s spy museum

The bugged shoes and poison brollies are fun and fascinating. But why are the sections about state-sponsored torture and assassination so uncritical? Sitting in a glass case, standing out against a backdrop of deep red, theres axe that still bears a rust mark, the consequence of a bloody fingerprint left on it decades ago. One day in 1940, this axe was hidden inside Ramn Mercaders suit jacket, suspended by a string, as he walked into the office of Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary living in exile in Mexico, having been sentenced to death as an enemy of the people in his home country. Mercader slipped behind Trotskys desk and brought the axe down with tremendous force, penetrating two-and-three-quarter inches into …

IM Pei: an audacious daredevil who built the impossible

From his provocative Louvre pyramid to his inverted wedge for Dallas, the Chinese-American architect was too modern for his time but his angular marvels look perfect now So bold were IM Peis designs, they were often regarded as wilfully controversial, designed to shock. But Pei himself never saw it like that. He was possibly the last living link to such founders of modernism as Bauhaus stalwarts Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, all of whom he met. He carried their torch, abiding by their principles and adding flourishes of his own usually too many for the general public. To those modernist foundations of proportion, simplicity, geometry, Pei added audacious angles and structural daring. The result is a body of work that …

Sterile or stirring? Britain’s love-hate relationship with new towns

Paternalistic social engineering or make-Britain-great-again utopianism? A new archive film compilation takes a look at the UKs controversial postwar towns People sometimes say to me, You must get a terrific kick out of having been responsible for a huge thing like a new town, said Sir Frederick Gibberd in an interview in 1982, 35 years after he created the new town of Harlow. Well, I get a lot of misery out of it, in fact. I go around and think, My god, thats unbelievably bad, and it could have been so good. If that was what the designer thought, imagine how everyone else who moved to Harlow felt. The interview comes in a short film at the end of Stevenage, …

Rooftop pool? Notre Dame proposals defy traditionalists

Designs from architects around world also suggest glass, crystal and metal spires An architecture firm has proposed replacing the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral with a swimming pool, as France prepares to were damaged in a firein April, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said he was open to a contemporary gesture in rebuilding it more beautiful than before, and the prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, called for a new spire adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era. The said the architect Alexandre Chassang, who has designed a proposal for a glass spire. PierreTrollment (@PierreTrollment) Pour la transissions cologique. pic.twitter.com/hmHLfCrZ9U Florian Renucci, a master mason at the experimental medieval building site at Original Article : HERE ; The Ultimate …

‘I see any dinosaur, I buy it’: at home with the embattled owner of the Flintstone house

Florence Fangs colorful home is a landmark for many in Californias Bay Area. But the town of Hillsborough is suing her, declaring the property a public nuisance When Florence Fang purchased a new house in Hillsborough, Details around the yard of the Flintstone house property in Hillsborough. Photographs by Cayce Clifford, The Guardian Fred and Dino are indeed here now, as are Wilma, Barney and Betty Rubble, giant letters reading Yabba dabba do, a backyard posse of 15-ft tall metal dinosaurs, and a second, larger Fred. Theres also an astronaut, a moon rover, a spaceship and the Great Gazoo (thats the name of the alien who crashed to earth during the final season of the classic 1960s cartoon). I wanted …