Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio unveil designs for Sidewalk Toronto

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs has tapped Thomas Heatherwick‘s studio and architecture firm Snøhetta to develop proposals for the smart, mass-timber city that the company is developing on Toronto’s waterfront.


Renderings by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio were used to illustrate a document outlining the updated concepts and proposals for Sidewalk Toronto, a project under development by Sidewalk Labs – a subsidiary of Google’s parent company – and partner Waterfront Toronto.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
The Sidewalk Toronto update features a visual by Snøhetta that depicts two high-rises linked by a curved structure

Released 14 February 2019, the Project Update focuses on the development of the 12-acre (9.5-hectare) Quayside neighbourhood at Parliament Slip – east of the city’s Downtown area on the edge of Lake Ontario. The site makes up a small portion of the Sidewalk Toronto’s scheme, which was first unveiled last year and billed as a “future city”, and is intended as a test bed for later expansion.

Advancing on Sidewalk’s August 2018 update of the parcel, which revealed plans to construct buildings from local and renewable Canadian timber, Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio’s designs are all wooden.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
Snøhetta has also designed an interior courtyard detailed with a gridded wooden construction

Visuals by Snøhetta include an exterior image of a pair of high-rises linked by a curved structure. While their uses are not explicit, it is likely the buildings could form part of the housing that Sidewalk Labs plans to include in the new town.

These include models of co-living for singles and purpose-built family dwellings, as well as affordable housing totalling 80 per cent of the accommodation – much more than the average 26 per cent provided in Toronto developments. The amount would also be four times that typically offered in a waterfront development.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
Heatherwick’s proposals include a design for Google’s Canadian HQ

Snøhetta’s interior view reveals an exposed gridded wooden construction that outlines a courtyard, showcasing one of the many public arenas intended for the site. A large tree grows up the centre, while translucent screens offer glimpses inside the buildings.

Meanwhile, Heatherwick Studio has produced designs for the Google Canadian headquarters at the site, following the firm’s work with BIG on the tech company’s new California campus and London HQ.

The Sidewalk Toronto HQ, which is intended to bring more Google jobs in the eastern waterfront, features a sunken circular courtyard topped with a bubbly roof, and curvilinear wooden balconies and a bubbly roof.

Similar organic forms can be found in Heatherwick’s proposal for another courtyard and a waterfront complex, where buildings are fronted with rounded, slatted balconies. Depicted in snowy conditions, the waterside site also features the “building coats” that would be drawn over to protect the woodwork from harsh weather conditions.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
Curvaceous balconies front the proposal by the British studio, which spills onto the waterfront

Heatherwick Studio has also developed the Innovation Centre, which Sidewalk Labs intends as a hub for startups and tech companies.

Sidewalk Toronto, which was first unveiled in October 2017, aims to address many urban issues – like affordable housing, traffic congestion and safety, and environmental problems – with smart designs. Sidewalk Labs urban planner Rohit Aggarwala said it could provide a model for cities to use the latest technologies in urban design, in an interview with Dezeen last year.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
Heatherwick Studio has also developed a scheme for the Innovation Centre, intended as an incubator for startups

Following this ethos, the company chose mass timber construction for the neighbourhood to provide an example of an affordable and sustainable built environment. The cradle-to-cradle construction forms part of a wider environmental strategy, along with comprehensive recycling and composting systems, and underground, robotic trash disposal.

The wooden construction would also support the Canada’s timber industry.

The first visuals for the Quayside project were completed by Michael Green Architecture – the firm behind the largest mass-timber building in United States. These explored two types of engineered wood: cross-laminated timber (CLT) and glue-laminated timber, also known as Glulam, which are both significantly stronger than standard wood.

The proposal includes public spaces that are built “modular kit of parts” so that they could easily be rearranged for different uses. Other forward-thinking details in the proposed neighbourhood are the integration of autonomous vehicles and the introduction of larger curbs.

Quayside at Sidewalk Toronto by Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio
The duo’s designs focus on the development of the 12-acre (9.5-hectare) Quayside neighbourhood at Parliament Slip

In the latest update, the team developed plans for sourcing data from residents living in the neighbourhood. This had formed a point of contention for many, particularly after the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which saw data allegedly used to influence voters in political campaigns.

However, the revised scheme suggests the establishment of an independent Civic Data Trust, which will de-identify all personal markers before using the data.

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Karl Lagerfeld’s most impressive fashion shows for Chanel

Karl Lagerfeld was known for creating spectacular runway shows. Following the news of his death, here’s a look at 12 of the best, including a recreation of the Eiffel Tower and a Chanel-branded supermarket.


A daring and often-controversial visionary, Lagerfeld is best known for his roles as creative director at Chanel and Fendi.

The German fashion designer began working at Fendi in 1965, then also took over the reins at Chanel in 1983. It was here that he cemented his reputation – each season saw him reinterpret the fashion house’s famous tweed in a new way, while catwalk presentations became increasingly lavish every year.

Here’s a look at 12 shows where the set design was particularly memorable:


Métiers d’Art 2018/19

For the Chanel 2018/19 Métiers d’art collection, Lagerfeld sent models around The Met‘s Temple of Dendur – an Ancient Egyptian monument completed in 10BC.


Spring Summer 2012

Bleached white sea-beds with oversized shells and seaweed featured in the Spring Summer 2012 collection, which saw models walk down the catwalk in cream garments to a soundtrack of Florence and the Machine, performed live on a seashell-like stage.


Spring Summer 2017

A data centre provided the backdrop for this futuristic show at the Grand Palais in Paris, which included models dressed as glossy, white robots and bags with flashing LED displays.


Spring Summer 2019

For his most recent (and final) couture show, Lagerfeld recreated the Villa Chanel country house, again at the Grand Palais in Paris, complete with lavish ponds, palm trees and formal grass and topiary.


Autumn Winter 2018/19

For its Autumn Winter 2018/19 collection, Chanel transformed the Grand Palais into an enchanted forest. Models emerged from a mirrored cabin onto an autumnal runway of fallen leaves and bare trees.


Spring Summer 2017

A mirrored room provided the backdrop to this Chanel couture show, which included tall glass vases of elegant calla lilies.


Autumn Winter 2014/15

Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais into a Chanel Shopping Centre where models walked down aisles stocked with Chanel-branded goods.


Autumn Winter 2017/18

In this incredulous feat of set design, Lagerfeld recreated Paris’ most iconic architectural landmark in the halls of Paris’ Grand Palais, which he dotted with outdoor chairs for the assembled audience.


Métiers d’Art 2015/16

This funny play on words and locations saw Lagerfeld recreate the area surrounding Paris’ Rome metro station in Teatro 5, at Cinecittà Studios in the Italian capital.


Spring Summer 2015

This metaphysical runway show saw models walk down a recreation of a Parisian street within the Grand Palais, and closed with the models engaging in a feminist-inspired protest.


Autumn Winter 2010/11

Long before Olafur Eliasson was installing glaciers halfway across the globe, Lagerfeld transported 240 tons of ice from Scandinavia into the Grand Palais for this arctic-inspired runway show.


Autumn Winter 2017/18

Lagerfeld literally launched a rocket into the sky in this explosive, space-themed runway show – to a backdrop of Elton John’s seminal track, Rocket Man.

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Quebec pool house draws on Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion

Canadian studio MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects used concrete, glass and wood to form an austere pool house in southern Quebec that references Mies van der Rohe’s seminal Barcelona Pavilion.


Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The Pool House is located in Sainte-Marthe, a village just west of Montreal. The building is situated at the base of a wooded slope, at the point where the hillside meets the Saint Lawrence River Valley.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The project was designed by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, which has offices in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Denver, Colorado.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The team took cues from a groundbreaking project by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe – the 1929 Barcelona Pavilion, which gained acclaim for its simple form and rich materials, such as marble and red onyx.

Similarly, the pool house is intended to be a minimalist and intricately crafted building.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The building consists of a glass-walled box, a shaded terrace with a fireplace, and a long, linear swimming pool that stretches toward the agrarian floodplain.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

All elements are framed by an L-shaped wall made of board-formed concrete. Leading to the building is a pathway that cuts through a grassy field.

“The public facade of this project opens to the southwest to take full advantage of natural light, essential to this pool house’s programme,” said MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.

The glazed box contains a gym and areas for changing and bathing. Interior walls and ceilings are clad in honey-toned wood, adding warmth to the austere space. Glass walls can be fully opened up, eliminating the boundary between inside and out.

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

The small building is shaded by an overhanging roof supported by slender columns.

“A monolithic roof floats above the glass box, with a cedar-board soffit that extends above an outdoor fireplace and the pool, offering protection from the elements,” the studio said. “This is an all-weather building, designed for use in all four seasons.”

Pool House by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple

MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple is known for its distinctive, modern projects in rugged settings. The firm has completed numerous buildings in Nova Scotia, including a shingled house that sits atop concrete plinths and a timber-clad spa building added to a residential property. In 2015, firm partner Brian MacKay Lyons was awarded the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Gold Medal.

Photography is by James Brittain.

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Fashion designer and Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld has died

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies
Photo is by Stephane Feugere

Breaking news: Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic fashion designer and creative director of Chanel, has died aged 85. More information to follow.