As a father to a daughter, it has become increasingly apparent to me that there is still some way to go for true gender equality in our society despite much progress being made over the past 100 years.
The UK has fallen from 9th in 2006 to 26th in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) gender equality index. This decline was largely due to a decrease in economic participation, a measure which includes estimated earned income, labour participation and the number of women in senior positions.
“In the economic participation subsets the UK appears to remain some way off, with the country ranking 48th in terms of both labour force participation and wage equality and 66th for estimated earned income." - World Economic Forum.
In the built environment just 34% of officially qualified UK architects are women, that's 4,000 of the 27,000 registered and closer to home, preliminary findings from a recent CGArchitect survey show that just 6% of survey participants employed in architectural visualisation are women. However, there has been some progress, for the first time, women are taking leading roles in shaping our built environment, two-time Stirling prize winner Zaha Hadid is the most obvious example but there are many other rising stars such as Teresa Borsuk, Annabelle Seldorf, Liz Diller, Odile Decq and Fashid Moussavi. Still, more needs to be done to recognise their progress. Our cities continue to be dominated by architecture designed, engineered and built predominately by men for men, and it's not just buildings, the vast majority of statues in our capital are male and often war leaders. We need only think of Nelson’s Column, and Winston Churchill, amongst many others. Of the 640 listed statues in the UK only 15% are women.
In support of international women’s day (8th March 2015), we have created a series of images imagining how London could be transformed by giant statues of positive female role models whose achievements have often been forgotten.
The Giant Ada Lovelace of Silicon Roundabout The English mathematician and writer was the world's first computer programmer and her algorithm was used by Charles Babbage who invented the concept of the computer. This giant rotating colossus is designed to tower over Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout. Her outstretched spinning arms drop glittering ‘1’s and ‘0’s to give the impression of being in a Matrix shower to the people going around the roundabout below. Within her impressive Victorian dress there is space dedicated to the incubation of tech start-ups.
Amelia Earhart Control Tower A new control tower built at Heathrow Airport in the shape of Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, she was also the first women to be awarded the U.S. distinguished Flying Cross, set many other records and was an author and campaigner for equal rights, in 1937 she disappeared whilst flying solo over the Pacific ocean but her legacy lives on as an inspiration to female aviators everywhere.
The Mary Wollstonecraft Rock In honour of the writer, philosopher and advocate of women's rights Mary Wollstonecraft, a space mission is sent to retrieve the famous asteroid named after her. After a long and dangerous expedition, the space-rock crash-lands into Parliament Square, where it becomes a serendipitous tourist attraction.
The Dagenham Sewing Machine Bridge A much-needed bridge is built across the Thames, between Dagenham and Thamesmead in the shape of a giant sewing machine reminding us of the Ford Sewing Machinist’s Strike of 1968, dramatized in the film ‘Made in Dagenham’.
Our favourite ways to support International Women’s Day
Follow the @womensday #Makingithappen campaign on twitter which celebrates the achievements of women and calls for greater gender equality.
Squint/Opera creative director Nick Taylor and 3d artist Steven Tierney discuss how they create images filled with incident and atmosphere.
Your architectural stills and films are far removed from simply depicting buildings, what sort of creative goals do you set at the start of a job?
Nick Taylor (NT) - All of our projects start with a process to define a brief. This is a collaboration with the client and sometimes with other teams, but led by us at Squint. From this brief we develop a creative approach that will attract attention, make people curious, and draw them in to find out more. The notion of ‘depicting buildings’ sounds like pure architectural visualisation.
Steven Tierney (ST) - Having started out as a production company making documentary films, and often dealing with large-scale masterplan projects, Squint has always been more about communicating ideas, concepts, atmosphere, infrastructure and human activity than just portraying good looking buildings. We want to build up the scenarios so that people get a sense of exploring a place, being there.
BankMed headquarters, Beirut, Lebanon; John Robertson Architects
How early in a project do you discuss with clients things like mood, weather, featured characters and other details?
ST - It is generally a good idea to get early buy in from the client on all aspects of the image being created. Just how early you can do this depends on the client, and some are better at understanding drafts than others.
NT - It is important that the proposed approach and style should be as clear as possible so that clients will understand and like it. You want to avoid taking something too far, only to find out you’ve gone in the wrong direction. It can be a bit of a ‘Catch 22’, but generally not an issue when working with clients where there is an established and trusting relationship.
Your work often includes intriguing types of weather… is this something that fascinates you?
NT - There was a time, perhaps five years ago, when clients always wanted blue skies and happy families in their images. However, that now seems to have changed, or at least modified to embrace different types of mood. The business of architectural visualisation is generally optimistic, we are trying to sell an idea or a development and we want people to feel good about it. However, we know from experience that depicting different atmospheres and weathers - even rain - can help build up the levels of intrigue.
ST - Improvements in software, client sophistication and the growing talent and experience of artists have all contributed towards the creation of more varied and subtle approaches to depicting lighting and weather in images.
People talk about projects looking their best in the golden hour, do you agree?
NT - There are very good reasons why the so-called ‘golden’ hour has been so loved by artists and photographers. It is that moment in time when day moves to night or vice versa, when light is changing at its fastest and effects are at their most transient. The light takes on beautiful oranges and reds, clouds have much more colour variation and contrast, and cloud layers are affected by different qualities of light. Often convective clouds start clearing, shadows get longer and the balance of ambient light to sunlight becomes less harsh and more favourable to photography. Of course, other times of day are beautiful too, but you are more likely to get magic in the golden hours.
Stonehenge Visitor Centre
How do you create the balance between mood and detail?
ST - I don’t think these two things work against each other. Where there is generous time and budget and the image is going to be displayed in the right way, it is lovely to create an image that is both compositionally alluring for the first impression, but also rewardingly rich in detail for the viewer that journeys into the scene.
Five steps to the art of being there
A great composition
Interesting lighting and atmosphere
Design and detail in the environment
People to bring the place to life.
The Mary Wollstonecraft Rock, part of a Squint/Opera break-out project.
Wall-to-wall renovations of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store at 730 N. Michigan Ave. are indicative of the retailer’s effort to introduce a new aesthetic. Our renderings of the new interior design and façade are featured in the Chicago Tribune, showing how the renovations will make the space more open and modern for customers. With renovations already underway, 730 N. Michigan Ave. is the first Tiffany & Co. flagship store to receive the major upgrade.
280 Park Avenue
During January, Commercial Observer reported that the 43-story Class A office tower at 280 Park Avenue will be home to Fiduciary Trust International and parent company Franklin Templeton. The companies signed a 15-year lease for 126,000 square feet of the office space, which will serve as the new headquarters for Fiduciary Trust. Our rendering in Commercial Observer offers a glimpse of the Class A tower.
“Re-massing” on Madison Avenue
A unique undertaking is underway at 380 Madison Ave., where L&L Holding Co. is transforming the current building into 390 Madison Ave – a tower which will incorporate most of the original structure’s “hidden bones” into a new building with the same total square feet. Our rendering in the New York Post reveals how the structure will grow 32 stories in its reshaping, maximizing light, fresh air and collaborative spaces. The East Midtown project also allows for new outdoor terraces and interior spaces fit for new amenities and 15,000 square feet of retail.
Meatpacking District sets records at 837 Washington St.
The newly constructed boutique office and retail building at 837 Washington St. set records in January when it was sold for $200 million to TIAA-CREF, according to the New York Post. Our film for 837 Washington is a look inside the 63,131-square-foot building, developed with open architecture and modern communication in mind. See the mixed-use project come to life in our film.
Development of 6.7 million square feet in Downtown Brooklyn is underway, and it will include office space, residential development and retail. The mixed-use development between Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue is known as City Point and is slated to be completed by 2020. This month, Commercial Observer caught up with Paul Travis and Christopher Conlon who are spearheading the development to learn more about the project, which was also featured in the New York Post and Curbed New York. Our renderings have been featured in the marketing of this massive mixed-use project.
Empire Outlets, Staten Island
Our film of Empire Outlets made headlines this month as Commercial Observer reported that BFC Partners broke ground on the 1.1 million-square-foot project. Watch the film to get a glimpse of what to expect when visiting the 350,000 square-foot, 100-store outlet shopping center and adjacent boutique hotel. The film illustrates the destination’s appeal for both shoppers and retailers, including stunning views of Manhattan. Bisnow and Curbed New York also featured our film, which includes shots of the development’s giant Ferris wheel and boutique lodging.
Former New York Times Building
Formerly home to the New York Times, 229 West 43rd Street will soon be occupied by Snapchat. Crain’s New York Business features our rendering of the building as they reveal that Snapchat signed a lease for the top two floors of the building. The Real Deal notes that Snapchat joins other tech and media companies that now inhabit the Times’ former space as the company opens its East coast office.
225 Park Ave. South
Another new media company made headlines in December when Crain’s New York Business announced that BuzzFeed will move into 225 Park Ave. South, taking 200,000 square feet of the 19-story, 500,000-square-foot tower. The deal closes out 2014 as one of the largest by a media or tech firm in this NYC neighborhood. Check out the building’s rooftop deck in our rendering below.
Tenants of the $39 million, four-bedroom condo at 33 East 74th Street will enjoy the view from a block-long terrace. Take a look at our rendering of the building in the Wall Street Journal, which also features our rendering of the luxurious interior space. Located next to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the building combines seven row homes and two single-family mansions. The Real Deal has additional details on the condo.
Centre 425 is one of three new downtown projects underway in the building boom of downtown Bellevue, Washington. MyNorthwest.com features our rendering of the 360,000 square foot Class A office tower that will also include street-level retail.
The 6th Annual Pixie Awards just announced winners for outstanding work in video production. The awards honor and promote work in motion graphics, visual effects and animation. With 92 percent of video productions now using motions graphics, effects or animation, the awards bring attention to the innovative people behind the scenes, creating what they call “pixel magic.”
We’re excited to announce that Neoscape has been recognized for excellence in both motion graphics and animation. Check out our four award-winning films: