“You don’t hire SANAA to make a form-based landmark” says commenter

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“You don’t hire SANAA to make a form-based landmark” says commenter

In this week’s comment update, readers discuss SANAA’s Sydney Museum of Modern Art in Australia.

Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning studio SANAA has expanded the Art Gallery of New South Wales with a series of pavilions that step down to Sydney Harbour. The building, called Sydney Modern, is powered entirely by renewable energy.

The £191 million project has been described by government officials as the city’s “most important cultural development” since Jørn Utzon’s Opera House opened nearly 50 years ago.

The tank will be used for large installations. Photo is by Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

“It is impossible to understand architecture by observing a few images”

Apsco Radiales was one of a handful of commenters who were not impressed. “There are shapes, there are planes, there are masses, there are things flying all over the place. Where is the harmony?” they asked.

Looking at the criticism in a more historical context, Puzzello said: “The same negative reactions were fired at the initial opening at the Sydney Opera House. This building is more about circulation and experience. You don’t hire SANAA to make a mold . based landmark.”

Local resident Chris said “living very close and seeing it first hand, the connection to its context is very well thought out. Overall a very welcome addition to Sydney’s cultural scene”.

Some commentators were most excited about the Tank space – a World War II naval fuel bunker converted into a 2,200 square meter exhibition space.

Franc Lea reflected that “it is a gloriously historic, evocative and totally non-White Cube space that acts as a counterpoint to the new above – and with the intervention of the dramatic staircase, an exciting space for installation and performance offer.”

“It works amazingly as a transition space to slow your pace,” dddvvvnnn noted.

Luther Blissett argued that “SANAA’s production is always controversial – not fully provocative, not fully innovative. But one fact must always be remembered: it is absolutely impossible to truly understand architecture through just a few images to observe”.

Do you think visiting Sydney Modern will change your perception of it? Join the discussion ›

Large pavilions designed by Zaha Hadid Architects
Zaha Hadid Architects unveils modular pavilions for Odesa Expo 2030 bid

“ZHA’s work is always disconnected from reality”

Zaha Hadid Architects’ has revealed its master plan for Ukraine’s World Expo 2030 bid. The design, created for the city of Odesa, is focused on four large central pavilions that will provide 80,000 square meters of exhibition space for the event.

“Hopefully Putin will be gone soon enough so they can start building on this,” said Apsco Radiales.

But Jack Woodburn was less hopeful, saying “Ukraine will still be rebuilding from when the war ends. How could it possibly host an event like this in seven years?”

Ralph Kent was cynical about this kind of event being relevant in the first place. “When is anyone going to be bold enough to call time on the banal and sustainability-dying junkets that are ‘World’s Fairs’? It’s 2022, not 1851.”

Regardless of the viability of the World Expo, Valentin thought that ZHA’s design “felt disconnected from reality”.

Odesa4Peace didn’t think this was a bad thing and commented: “ZHA’s work is always disconnected from reality. It evokes a stunning world of visual elegance. I hope we can all, one day, my ancestral home of Visit Odesa in peace and wonder.”

What do you think of plans for the World Expo in Odesa in 2030? Join the discussion ›

Wooden house with glass windows in forest
Looking Glass Lodge features glass facades that reflect the surrounding woodland

“It could be perfect”

Michael Kendrick Architects has completed a woodland retreat and vacation rental in East Sussex, England, with log-hewn facades and large windows that offer views right through the building.

JZ thought the architects “definitely spared no expense and they managed not to be obnoxious about it”. GW agreed that “the design is very good”.

Marius appreciated how it was “well planned, well built” and Steve Hassler applauded the project saying “Bravo. It could be perfect”.

Jb sounded a rare note of dissent, saying “it’s decades out of date.”

Do you agree with the comments so far? Join the discussion ›

Man sits at table in front of window overlooking the airport
The new King Salman International Airport will be powered by renewable energy

“Saudi Arabia isn’t spending billions of dollars on renewables just to impress you”

British architecture studio Foster + Partners is designing an airport with six runways in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which will become one of the world’s largest airports.

The practice plans to power the airport using renewable energy and incorporates “cutting edge green initiatives” into its design.

B wanted to know, “Does the future projection of flights to and from Saudi Arabia justify a massive airport like this?”

Zea Newland was critical of how the project will be built: “When investigation and accountability kicks in 10 years later, it will be too late. Solar-powered air conditioning in the terminal will not make a difference then”.

Bsl thought it was obvious that “Saudi Arabia isn’t spending billions of dollars on renewables just to impress you, they actually want to make it work.”

“Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in becoming the largest producer of green hydrogen to capitalize on the shift to zero-emission transportation worldwide. Saudi Arabia is also investing in solar and wind electricity infrastructure and charging stations for electric cars, all in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on on fossil fuels”, they added.

Meanwhile, Ken Steffes thinks “Nothing good for architecture can ever come from someone doing business with Saudi Arabia.”

What do you make of Foster building an airport in Saudi Arabia? Join the discussion ›

Comment update

Dezeen is the world’s most commented architecture and design magazine, receiving thousands of comments from readers every month. Keep up with the latest discussions on our comments page and subscribe to our weekly Debate newsletter, where we feature the best reader comments from stories from the past seven days.

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