Come and grow – the spoga+gafa blog » Articles by: Arnd Ziemer

3 questions to: Rick Mulligan

In Germany interior architect Rick Mulligan is well known from his TV appearances giving advice and suggestions for home improvements. He sees his role as being the interface between high-quality craftsmen, and his clients’ individual wishes. As an architect, he facilitates the design and installation of a high quality home interior, and advises the client from the initial design of the house, through to the garden layout.

Mr. Mulligan: increasingly, outside areas are coming to resemble the living room with comfortable sofas, armchairs and carpets. But the fact is that in our part of the world, the outdoor temperatures are not often warm enough to sit outside. What do you think?
People are simply happy to be outside as much as they can and be close to nature; it combines the feeling of freedom with relaxation. Now we can use the warmth from infrared light to extend the duration of outdoor comfort; in the past our time outside in the fresh air was usually limited to summer. Added to that, in the past few years we have had wonderful spring and autumn weather; we should take maximum advantage of this bonus.

What are the main considerations when planning outdoor areas?
It is important that outdoor and indoor areas should harmonise with each other; if possible, the architectural interior concept should extend to the outdoor area. In addition, the general design should blend with its surroundings. Cast iron grills or miniature Japanese Zen-style gardens don’t go very well with an urban environment. Of course, the materials used must be able to withstand all kinds of weather. For example, there is now a new kind of material consisting of pressed wood grains that is ideal for outdoor use. Modern outdoor fabrics are absolutely brilliant and no longer hard as nails, as used to be the case. I even use these fabrics indoors, because they undergo no solar degradation.

Which colours and what kind of products are currently in demand?
Mulligan: I
n my opinion outdoor colours should not be too bold. When all is said and done, the aim is to relax and enjoy the green of nature about us. I think subdued, natural colours in the Hampton style are best; a good deck chair symbolises all that is best in outdoor furniture, and is comfortable even without any upholstery. By contrast, expansive sofas are ideal where you want to be seated for an extended period, for example in a food service environment.

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Resort Le Meridien Koh Samui: Water The Key Design Feature

Anyone entering these portals immediately abandons all thoughts of stress; for the Le Méridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa is next to the beautiful fine powdery sands of Lamai Beach at Koh Samui — Thailand’s third-largest island. The guest is now on an inspired journey of unmitigated relaxation.

The establishment combines traditional Asian elements with simple modernity, maximum comfort and convenience, creating an inspired atmosphere of relaxation, which draws all-comers in its wake. Many typical Thai elements are employed in the architecture and interior design of the 63 suites and 14 elegant villas, together with many hints of a culture rooted in Chinese history. The interior architecture is by designer Khun Jakarin from the well-known Begray Bangkok partnership. The resort has been laid out on the pattern of an Asian village with luxuriant vegetation, trees and flowers, based on the principles of Feng Shui. This places great emphasis on the use of natural materials such as wood, stone and water, together symbolising activity, happiness and wealth. A large, square decorative pool dominates the quadrangular open-air lobby while inside the villas and suites, water is a key feature of the generously-dimensioned bathing and shower facilities, small plunge- and paddling-pools. Pool villas have direct access to a generously-dimensioned pool area, while guests residing in the striking Ocean Front Pool Villas have a breathtaking view of the Gulf of Thailand.

By contrast, walls around the extensive health and spa areas are finished in natural stone, marble or granite, down which the refreshing water softly trickles. Just one glance is enough to bring on a severe case of deep relaxation. Given the warm climate, guests will wish to spend most of their time in the open air, so there is no barrier between Pool Villa inner and outer areas. The covered sleeping areas are located behind large open terraces, furnished with upholstered outdoor sofas and comfortable lounge couches. One of the resort highlights is the 224-metre swimming dock, extending from the beach into the open sea. This is a favourite place for guests to hold a cocktail party or, if desired, to celebrate a private candlelit dinner.

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The Selman Marrakech: A Dream from 1001 Nights

This establishment is a magical symbiosis of Moroccan tradition and modern Zeitgeist: the new five-star Selman Marrakech boutique resort uses authentic heavy local woven fabrics with bold colours and clear lines.

French architect Jacques Garcia has created a work of art within a Moorish Palace at the foot of the Atlas Mountains: elegant and sumptuous, yet without appearing in any way clumsy, either inside or out. The interior areas create a sense of intimacy, while providing views of the magnificent Andalusia-style courtyards and gardens. The public areas have secluded patios and fire-hearth niche zones.

At the heart of Jacques Garcia’s oasis design is an 80-metre swimming pool — surrounded by a rainbow of flowers, olive and palm trees. As part of the overall design, the hotel has two restaurants and three bars; furniture includes stylish basket and steel furniture. Whether relaxing under the open sky or shade of Le Pavillion, the guest not only has a view of the carefully manicured ornamental pool, but also a unique view of the hotel’s own stud farm.

In addition to the 56 bedrooms decorated in the Moorish style, guests can reserve one of five luxury Riad apartments, for whose living rooms Garcia selected rare works of art and antiques. The opulent bedroom curtains are reminiscent of Bedouin tents. Each Riad apartment surrounds its own private 400 square metre private garden with heated pool and lounge area. And true to Moroccan tradition, a private patio and fountain lead to the guest’s own private and personal rooms.

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Riverside Museum of Transport in Glasgow: Colour coded Inside and Out

The summer of 2011 saw the opening of Glasgow’s Riverside Museum of Transport, and in May 2012 it received the ‘European Museum Academy Micheletti Award’ in recognition of its status as ‘the most innovative museum for technology, work and social history.’ This development was the first major public building contract won by Zaha Hadid in Great Britain, where she now resides. The building is clearly in her personal style — a combination of powerful zigzag and sweeping contours — and now stands as an important landmark in Glasgow Harbour, once the vital location for shipyards and busy port traffic. The hope is that the new museum will form a link to Glasgow’s maritime history and engender new life in the old quayside areas, much of which is in disuse. The historic three-mast steel-hulled barque Glenlee sailing ship is anchored in the River Clyde in front

The Riverside Museum skyline is rather like the letter Z turned on its side, with the edge right on the outer margin of the site. The museum has a 36-metre glass façade to the river, with the zigzag roofline not unlike waves on the water. The windows are darkened to protect the exhibits from solar glare, yet reflect the local environment, the shimmering silver roof seeming almost to blend with the sky. The roof construction follows a gentle, wavy, partly angular line. The height and width of the individual roof sections vary along the entire length of the structure. A cut-edge ridge crowns the pointed roof. Zaha Hadid: “The most important thing is the overall flow – the flow of things, the non-Euclidian geometry – in which nothing is repeated; in brief, a reordering of the space.”

The museum also houses a cafeteria. ‘Twin’ chairs were selected for the outside areas – a robust item suitable for contract applications. This plastic-coated steel chair is from Brunner: fresh, lightweight and in youthful design and cast in a single unique style, it harmonises ideally with the technical ambience embodied in the museum. The Twin is finished in apple green, following the colour scheme systematically used inside the museum – from the lime-green hall to the luminescent green stairs, through to the many details presented in a wide variety of green tones. The multi-functional and weather-resistant all-round Twin chair was designed by Archirivolto, and in April was chosen for inclusion in Die Neue Sammlung (‘new collection’) – one of the biggest museums of industrial and product design.

Building Industry: Euroconstruct anticipates no growth – German Architects Optimistic

The international credit crunch has taken an increasing toll of the building industry, for which reason the European Building Industry’s trade association Euroconstruct has downsized its forecast for the coming months. For 2012 the association has reduced the growth forecast by –0.3 to –2.1 percent. The German building industry has likewise reduced its growth forecast from +1.8 percent to +0.4 percent. Industry activity is not set to grow again until 2014, but then by 1.7 percent. Even so, it will take several years for growth to exceed the level of 2008.

The Euroconstruct figures indicate that the only two countries whose building industry output has increased by more than two percent are Denmark and Norway, while Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK are all below two percent. But there is good news for German architects, who are generally in a positive mood. The regular survey of independent architects undertaken by the Ifo-Institut for the first quarter of this year indicates that their business is clearly improving. The last time the mood was this good was in the mid-1990s – in the final phase of Germany’s reunification boom.

The responding architects indicated that their current level of business was now considerably better than in the previous quarters. In particular, the number of architects who described their current position as ‘good’ had increased from 26 percent in the last quarter of 2011 to 45 percent in the first quarter of 2012. The Ifo Institut says this is a uniquely high quotient. At the same time, only one fifth of respondents described their current business levels as ‘bad’ (previous quarter 23 percent).

Even so, respondents said the anticipated level of business had hardly changed from one quarter to the next. The number of architects with an optimistic view declined by three percent from 17 to 14 percent – but at the same time the number of sceptical architects declined by two percent to 13 percent.