The Tulip Tower May Move Ahead in London, and Other News

Our daily look at the world through the lens of design.

The Tulip Tower. Rendering courtesy Foster + Partners

The Design Dispatch offers expertly written and essential news from the design world crafted by our dedicated team. Think of it as your cheat sheet for the day in design delivered to your inbox before you’ve had your coffee. Subscribe now

Have a news story our readers need to see? Submit it here.

A Tulip Tower Grows in London

Last year, one of Norman Foster’s most controversial buildings was nipped in the bud. London mayor Sadiq Khan axed plans to build the Tulip Tower, slated to rise nearly 1,000 feet in the heart of London, on the grounds that it would provide “limited public benefit” and that it wasn’t the “world-class architecture required to justify its prominence.” Despite city planning reports deeming the tower a potential design icon, the mayor’s office found multiple issues—one being that the structure would do “significant harm” to the nearby Tower of London World Heritage Site. Khan also remarked that the design was of “insufficient quality” and would “result in an unwelcoming, poorly designed space at street level.”

Kahn penned a letter reiterating these points to London’s then-housing secretary Robert Jenrick, who was expected to axe plans for the tower in September. An unexpected cabinet shakeup by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, saw Michael Gove take over Jenrick’s role. He feels much differently about the structure: According to The Telegraph, he’s likely to rule in favor of granting planning permission in November. It remains unclear when the project may break ground, but construction is estimated to take at least five years.

Casa Silencio

Mezcal Hoteliers Plant a Flag in Oaxaca

Almost two years after artisanal mezcal brand Gem&Bolt debuted the meditative Hotel Sin Nombre, Mezcal El Silencio has conceived a special boutique hospitality experience. Located on the grounds of the brand’s distillery, 45 minutes outside of Oaxaca in the Valley of Xaaga, Casa Silencio is a six-room eco-retreat with a made-by-hand spirit. Credit co-founders Vicente Cisneros and Fausto Zapata, who tapped Mexican architect Alejandro D’Acosta, known for his “closed-door” principles and mastery of raw and sustainable materials. 

To that end, walls are made of soil using an ancient rammed earth technique; ceilings are lined in recycled wood. Other zero-waste features include solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems that service the mezcal production plant, hotel, and restaurant, where chef Daniel Robles Sumano turns out contemporary renditions of Mexican staples.  

Mexico City–based designer Martina D’Acosta kitted out the interiors with pieces from local craftspeople: Mitla-sourced pedal-loomed curtains, handwoven rugs produced in Teotitlán del Valle, and brutish tables stone-carved in San Salvador El Seco. There’s a modern tactility that permeates Casa Silencio at every turn—a reflection of a mezcal-making process centered around a 1,000-pound tahona that grinds agave using a solar-powered motorized system. Guests can chop a few piñas of agave and toss them into the roasting oven before booking a private tasting, where specialty spirits are supplemented with small tastes of indigenous Oaxacan cuisine like Cacao Ganache with Cacao Nibs and Orange Gummy with Worm Chile.

Photography by Lance Asper

Volta postpones this year’s fair in Miami due to ongoing pandemic travel restrictions.

Volta is forgoing its Miami Art Week debut in light of a contract fallout with cultural center Mana Contemporary. The art fair’s director, Kamiar Maleki, cited venue uncertainties and pandemic travel restrictions fueled the call to cancel, especially since Asian, Latin American, and European galleries comprise most of its roster. Now, the show is eyeing another potential third location beyond Basel and New York, though it remains unknown. 

Facebook’s holding company plans a name change under a company-wide rebrand.

Facebook has gained notoriety for its profit-over-people policies following its 2018 Cambridge Analytica fiasco and recent Haugen reports that made its name synonymous with scandal. To remedy public perception, Mark Zuckerberg has announced that Facebook’s holding company will undergo a name change. The move recalls Google’s 2015 rebrand to Alphabet and suggests plans to diversify its interests beyond acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.

The first section of Harbor Way at the Boston Seaport. Rendering courtesy WS Development

The Boston Seaport is receiving a green facelift thanks to a scenic pedestrian park.

In only 15 years, the Boston Seaport has undergone a rapid transformation from empty warehouses and parking lots to a lively district teeming with office workers, tourists, and condo dwellers. Further ushering in a new era is Harbor Way, a linear park and pedestrian promenade that leads to the harbor waterfront. Designed by James Corner Field Operations and developed by WS Development, the much-needed green space fuses New England flora with touches of Boston’s maritime history to create a unifying park that recalls the ambiance of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas.

Global supply chain disruptions are leaving paintmakers scrambling for blues.

Though the world is gradually returning to normalcy, pandemic-induced inflation on supply chains caused price increases that reduced the purchases of basic home staples like paint. Ingredient shortages have caused Dutch paint maker Akzo Nobel NV to financially spiral when sourcing blue tones; the brand also noted that tin plates required for metal canisters, in addition to additives for waterproof paints, have sparked a shipping fiasco. 

Las Vegas is adopting digital twin technology to tackle urban carbon emissions.

Downtown Las Vegas will start using advanced 5G networking and IoT along with digital twin technology to improve air quality, water management, and carbon emissions produced by major buildings. Tech for the project will be provided by Cityzenith as part of its Clean Cities – Clean Future Initiative. Equipped to aggregate lofty amounts of data, digital twins are virtual environments that can provide smart building analytics while increasing the operational efficiency of buildings by 35 percent and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent.

The Maze by Bottega Veneta

Today’s attractive distractions:

The world’s oldest ghost drawing was found on a Babylonian exorcism tablet.

Lose yourself in a parakeet-green maze that Bottega Veneta built in Seoul.

Japan’s gashapon vending machines sell tickets to random destinations.

This new timepiece by Roger Dubuis is essentially a wearable Lamborghini.

All Stories