BILLBOARD APARTMENTS, PADDINGTON: DOUBLE-FUNCTION URBAN ITEMS
Creating an urban horizontal advertising unit with the aim of developing a global product;
Capitalising on the profitability of the unit's double-function as pavement slab and billboard;
Stating that architectural design is increasingly becoming linked with cash-flow figures and feasibility charts;
Declaring that buildings can be designed to meet the financial needs of the city without being forced to do so;
Designing an advertising billboard that could also become a set of apartments;
Capitalising on double-function once again, this time that of billboard structure and housing superblock;
Exploring the design opportunities of structural modules to create the aesthetic environment of a hybrid building type;
Applying the principle of double-function to the structure, making the beam unit also operate as a viewing platform;
Finding and testing the technologies to execute ideas;
Working with prototypes and material samples;
Specifying materials as a creative process;
Presenting visions of space that will appeal to a distinct tribe of city-zens;
Simulating the possibilities of lighting patterns and volumetric relationships;
Exploring the implications of the advertising slab and billboard apartments for the modern cityscape;
Demonstrating the interaction of design ideas from simple object to city scale.
BILLBOARD APARTMENTS, PADDINGTON
The scheme devised by Mimis Koumantanos offers a realistic but visionary response to the notion of high-density urban life. He began with a fascination for images of Japanese cities, especially the way in which every available surface seems to be used for advertising or signage. As Mimis studied the photographs of Tokyo, he came to the conclusion that the only surface which was left to claim was the horizontal: the pavement.
So he started by designing a pavement billboard module. The idea is that local authorities subsidise their street repairs by leasing space on the pavements to private individuals. These citizens can then use the units to present images of themselves, memorials to loved ones, lonely-heart appeals, or whatever. Just imagine a vivid night-time street full of intense private images; Mimis explored this notion by designing and making actual pavement units, then manipulating photographs of these using computer simulations.
Mimis then went on to take the idea to a larger scale. In a 1960s, Archigram-kind-of-way he imagined a whole apartment block which functions as a giant advertising sign. What the inhabitants do is to effectively sell off their exterior wall spaces, and what they get in return is free power and lighting, plus subsidised rents, along with an ever-modulating sequence of light effects in their homes. But the idea is not just for big corporations; at times the projection wall is to be used by artists or community groups to set out their own messages.
Mimis designed such a block on the tough Paddington Basin site next to the A40(M) Westway flyover. The apartment block is configured to take advantage of the thousands of passing motorists, soaking up their attention and their headlight beams at night. The design is for a dramatic high-rise building that is fully adapted to urban conditions, and yet is counterposed by also containing two high-level swimming pools which project out over the motorway. From the pools, the residents can survey the brilliant night lights of London. Inside their flats they also experience a stylish, vibrantly illuminated glimpse of city life.
Then, in a final twist, Mimis proposed that such super blocks should be returned to already dense and highly-illuminated cities such as Tokyo. In a series of stunning CAD simulations, he created visions of sublime and memorable urban forms which stretch across the modern cityscape.
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• Entry Date: 08 January 1999
• Last Update: 10 May 2001