We were speeding through Delhi in darkness on our way to the airport. After a busy and successful trip to see our Jaypee Sports clients, we were enjoying some relaxation before a long flight home. Suddenly we looked up and saw not one huge banner high across the road advertising the launch of a new Jaypee residential development, the Lake District, but two or three in close succession. These were advertising phase one of the new Jaypee Greens Sports City, a city that we had just finished master planning. Already our client had engaged architects, designed residential apartment blocks and was marketing it ready to sell it off plan.
This is surely one of the fastest moving projects our master planning team in London have been involved in. But wow, it’s exciting! So often projects take years to come to fruition but not this one. India is certainly one of the most dynamic countries on the planet with a rapidly growing population and, therefore, an insatiable demand for new towns and residential areas. Roll on the next project in India...
Pablo Salomon and Jaypee Sports City
On my way back from our London office recently, I stopped in Denmark for the first time to visit some friends. It was an amazing experience and another example of how much we can learn when we travel to other cultures. After a few days relaxing in the countryside, I went into Copenhagen to check out the city.
First, I was struck by how clean everything was, despite being a large metropolitan city. I saw the thousands of bicycles parked along the sidewalks and was impressed that, even with excellent public transport, people chose to get fresh air and exercise instead. Then came the surprising part…none of the bikes were locked!!! Thousands of unlocked bicycles on the streets of Copenhagen and they were not getting stolen. Amazing!!!
Walking though the city, I started noticing the stores and cafes. They are ALL designery, even the small hole in the walls. Even the most conservative of institutions such as the large banks, had Louis Poulsen artichoke pendants. Design seemed to be incorporated into everything from large buildings and products you would expect like lighting and furniture to everyday objects like nut crackers and coat hangers. I had never seen such thoughtful design everywhere I looked before. I was truly stunned.
Finally, as I was walking along the Stroget (series of pedestrianized streets) I came across the most amazing store…the Illums Bolighus (don’t ask me how to pronounce it). A sign indicated they are the Purveyor to the Royal Danish Court. This is a four story store entirely dedicated to modern design with the history and prestige of royalty attached. They had everything from lighting and furniture to utensils and wine glasses. EVERYTHING was design-focused. And almost everything was designed by a Dane or at least Scandinavian. Wow!!! Check it out here.
After talking to some people in Denmark about my observations, I learned that they consider the interior environment to be truly critical to their well-being. With the harsh weather for much of the year, they spend so much time indoors, that they put a huge amount of effort into making sure that their interior space is both pleasing and functions perfectly.
I am now thinking -- what must it be like to work as a designer in a place that appreciates design in this way? Where it is part of the overall culture and instilled in every aspect of life?
John Goldwyn and I went to Bahrain for a master planning workshop last week. This photo was taken at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, where from this perspective the natural salt water lake is already colonized by native species and flamingos. We are also envisioning a large, extensive wetland body to provide habitat for wildlife, scrub grey water and to also increase the value of the real estate adjacent for our coastal front development in West Bahrain.
A new habitat for native species, including flamingos.
In early November, Tom Williams, Jason Van Bruaene and I traveled to Vietnam for an official "signing ceremony" for a sport and recreation complex. Held in a Hanoi hotel in front of approximately 150 guests, the festive occasion was highlighted by a WATG presentation by Tom and myself, a string quartet, Vietnamese opera singers and confetti falling from the ceiling! Giaphat Finance and Investment had selected the Seattle office of WATG to master plan a 35-hectare complex at Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park. The Hi-Tech Park is a 1586-hectare "Science City" development located west of Hanoi and will eventually become part of Hanoi City. It is expected to have a population of approximately 200,000. The program for the sport and recreation complex also calls for a five-star hotel and botanical garden.
Tom Williams (left) and Cynthia Jacobs (seated) on stage at the Giaphat Signing Ceremony.
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