Liverpool was a really revelation for me, a city which I had closely associated with my favourite band, the Beatles!  And it is obviously  the city’s pride and product of promotion: The Beatles statues are right in the front of the city’s Pier Head(pic.1). Searching around I found some interesting facts about the city such as : During 19th century the wealth of Liverpool exceeded that of London because of the cotton and slavery trade. The status of the city was enhanced by having its  own Whitehall.  It was the registry port of the ship ‘Titanic’. This fact is connected with Adelphi Hotel’s lounge in the city centre which was an imitation of the Titanic lounge (pic.2). The city as a major port and access to the Atlantic trade  has well established communities such as Nordic, Jewish, Greek, German and the oldest Chinese community. In the recent years there is a considerable redevelopment of the city. One of the new buildings, which I found that is fabulously blended with the rest  of historical buildings of the city,  is the Open Eye Gallery constructed by the RCA architects (pic.3). It was a real eye-catching from every corner someone was looking at it (pic.3,4,5).


Beatles statues at the Pier Head (pic. 1)img_2602

Adelphi Hotel (pic.2)img_2546

Open Eye Gallery (pic.3)





Hanover Street : This small architectural detail (the extended small box room) gives an interesting and entertaining view of the street.


Mathew street  is one of many tourist attractions related to The Beatles, and the location of Europe’s largest annual free musical festivals.img_2640

The Royal Liver Buildingimg_2651

The China Town.

img_2613Liverpool’s Tate Gallery

At the moment there is the  Liverpool Biennial 2016  which actually finishes today 16 October. The theme of this Biennial explores fictions, stories and histories, taking viewers on a series of voyages through time and space : Ancient Greece, Chinatown, Children’s Children’s Episode, Software, Monuments from the Future and Flashback.


Pyramid of Peace and reconciliation

If in Abu Dhabi the architects have fun then in Astana they have purpose. The latter is a capital of a country with a great deal of past and history and great future, something that the architects must take into consideration when they construct new buildings.
Sir Norman Foster has undertaken major architectural projects in the aforementioned cities and has proved already that he pays a great deal of attention to those elements (New Souk in Abu Dhabi and something total new as the UAE country: the Masdar city )
One of his new construction in Astana, the Pyramid which is called the Palace of peace and reconciliation, was constructed to host the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. Foster has described the pyramid : “Dedicated to the renunciation of violence and the promotion of faith and human equality. It was one of those things that captures the imagination. We felt that if someone wants to bring together the world’s religions, that is something that is well worth doing at the moment”

The black colour of the underground floor sympolizes the underworld.

The theatre inside the pyramid where the conferences are taking place.

The white colour of the first floor sympolizes the real life.

Right in the center of the “white” floor you have the opportunity to stand and make any wish you like about financial, love, health and other miscellaneous worries… I didn’t miss the opportunity.

The Pyramid’s roof- where you look at when you make all your wishes – the picture of the Kazakhstan’s map.

Top floor : the circular desk for all the leader’s meeting.The exterior of the windows is decorated with white pigeons.

Sir Norman Foster +partners.
At the entrance in the underground floor, there is an exhibition of the pyramid’s designs as well as photos of president of kazakhstan, Kemal Ataturk and all the partners that took part in the construction.
You also have to be aware of the Ottoman, Silk Road, aspect of all this. Foster and Partners have collaborated with their Turkish colleagues Tabanlioglu Architecture. Their clients are the Turkish development and construction company Sembol. It is said that Turkish interests were instrumental in encouraging the president Nazarbayev to build the new capital.

Τhe architects’s doodles :It is interesting to mention that the Foster practice had done all kinds of buildings around the world, but nothing like this, in a climate that ranges from minus 40 degrees in winter to plus 40 in summer.Nelson one of the partner said “in a way, it’s a connoisseur’s building. Could we do something like that, very fast, in a more extreme situation than usual? There’s no point in just repeating things.”

Pyramid by night changes colours from white to


They say that Foster chose the pyramid shape because it is has no negative religious connotations but the pyramid (I’m contemplating) as concept is not irreverent to the country’s Soviet past.

Futureland: Astana

Penelope’s next stop is Astana, the capital of  Kazakhstan. The latter  sounds a bit Eurovision but both statements are real facts.  For those who don’t have heard anything about  Steppes  or   Gulag(sh) Archipelagos or even better about Borat, I’m sure, they have heard about the  medalists of London Olympics – eleven Kazakh Olympic medalists! Not so bad for a new independent country.

At the moment, I’m still in the “honeymoon phase” of my secondment to this new place and  I’m behaving like a formidable tourist without any shame. I am  strolling around the city, taking snapshots of almost everything and absorbing as much  information  as I can.  So, I will transfer to you whatever I managed to yield from this place during these few days that I’m here.

Kazakhstan became independent in 1991 and the new President choose Astana(means Capital)as the new capital – in the north of Kazakhstan by replacing Almaty which is in the south. This means that the temperature drops dramatically below zero. It’s official  that is the world’s coldest capital  -52o C followed by Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Somehow, it looks like I’m having  a kind of turkish bath.  From one extreme to another, from Abu Dhabi +52oC, to Astana -52oC .

Kazakhstan has 131 ethnicities Kazakhs, Russians, Uzbeks, Tatars, Germans, Ukrainian… And around 14.000 Greeks (Pontic Greeks) who deported from Russia by Stalin. The higher percentage of population are Muslims and secondly Russian Orthodox . The country has long tradition in tolerance and secularism.

It is obvious that Kazakhstan has invested billions for the city’s plan and has invited some of the world’s leading architects to showcase their work on the Left Bank of the Ishim River, which separates the administrative “new city from the older, mostly Soviet built district on the Right Bank. The mastermind of the city’s plan  is Kisho Kurokawa a Japanese architect. He chose the concepts of symbiosis, metabolism and abstract symbolism to be the basis for Astana’s development.

The architecture  of the city centre is visually arresting.  It has really a science fiction look. I don’t think that is everyone’s taste but love or hate it, I think, Astana is here to stay. Its population increases rapidly from  300.00 to 700.000 almost in a decade. And in the future, perhaps, it will play the role of the gate from Asia to Europe. Kazakhstan, in general, has a serious wealth of resources from oil , gas, all sorts of minerals, uranium, wheat…

The presidential Palace in the centre of the city: An invisible straight line connects  a series  of  buildings (science fiction look) & gardens starting from the Pyramid, in the Right bank of the river Ishim, the Presidential Palace, the Bayterek and finish with “a super tent” Khan Shatyr.

Bayterek : The symbol of Astana :The monument is meant to embody a folktale about a mythical tree of life and a magic bird of happiness:

Khan Shatyr, or the “king’s tent : A mall and entertainment centre designed by Norman Foster : The last structure in the straight line which leads to Presidential Palace

Ishim river : separates the city on the Left and Right bank

The pyramid  : the Palace of Peace and Harmony by Norman Foster: in the Right bank opposite exactly, in the other side is the Presidential Palace.

The main force behind of all these constructions, the builders doing their warm up before starting their hard task  😉

Architecture and Fashion

‘The site that inspires me is the Royal Crescent in Bath. And the Place Vendome in Paris’. Two different spaces, and different architecture, but they fit in their places. The important thing is that they look good where they are-they are perfectly proportioned. It’s like a dress; the prettiest dress loses its appeal if it doesn’t work on the person.  And the Parthenon really is the most impressive place in the world.’ Carolina Herrera

I’m so lucky,  two out of three sites are in  my hometowns !

Royal Crescent

Place Vendome


Carolina Herrera at work

Spring/Summer 2011

And a book about Fashion and Architecture

p.s : To πορτοκαλί και το μώβ παίζει αυτή τη σαιζόν. Γρήγορα στο ράφτη 😉

Update : Eγώ το έραψα to πορτοκαλί φόρεμα και   με φόντο το άσπρο Τζαμί. Ετσι μου προέκυψε 😉

Building on the moon

“In the centre of Abu Dhabi, you see glass walls, with the sun reflecting off them, coming back off black asphalt, so that you can’t wait to get out of there and into a chilled building.” Norman Foster. Undoubtedly, Abu Dhabi follows Dubai’s path. Tall skyscrapers are springing everywhere like mushrooms. Among them, there are some constructions which really make  difference as The Central Market in Abu Dhabi and the scale models of the museums on Saadiyat  island. In the latter,  another scale model was added,  the Zayed National Museum  by the architect Norman Foster, who gave an inspirational lecture at one of the main universities in Abu Dhabi.   Foster advises an ethic of returning to traditional methods of construction to get “more with less”, marrying state-of-the-art technology with the skills and building crafts honed over centuries. His beliefs are obvious in his three constructions: the Souk , the Masdar-0% carbon city and the museum.

Zayed National Museum

He said about architects:

“An architect must grasp all aspects of a city’s life, from sculpting its sleekest towers to channelling its gutters and drains. Architects need to go beyond simply designing buildings, to extrapolate a world view that can revilatise whole neighbourhoods and offer its inhabitants a better life.They must be schooled in social theory while demonstrating business verve, understanding the implications of climate change while exuding mathematical expertise. They must combine a flair for physics with an artist’s imagination, while assimilating traditional building methods, learned over centuries, with the cutting-edge advances of contemporary science”

“If, as an architect, you believe there is a future beyond cheap energy and gas, then it’s very interesting. We’re trying to anticipate a future where we make spaces comfortable without using cheap energy. This is generating an architecture that is unique.’

Αbout Abu Dhabi :

“You’re doing the equivalent of putting a man on the moon running laboratories with air-conditioning 24 hours a day in the middle of the desert, with no access to cheap oil, generating solar energy, and processing waste on site. You need to be very clever.”

The basic power needs are heightened, of course, in a region where the economy is driven by oil, and in an age now hyper-aware that one day, fossil fuels will run dry.

“We build structures higher in the air, not to say, ‘here I am’ – though they do say that – but to seek to pull the breeze to a higher altitude. This was happening before anyone invented the generation of electricity.

“We must use the intellect and experience to build cool places in the desert, and through using these techniques, we can anticipate a world without cheap energy. If humanity aspires to those standards, we can learn from those traditions, to create desirable places to live.”

“It is evident that things are happening in a different way here(Abu Dhabi).It is no accident that this pioneering work is happening here and not anywhere else in the world. With Masdar, and with the museum, we’re seeking to work with the elements, to do more with less. We’ll be working the way people worked centuries ago – to make a desirable oasis in the desert.”

The Gulf region  is big business for Foster + Partners, the company he founded, has at least five large-scale projects underway in the UAE.

The Architects Re-Invent Tradition:Abu Dhabi’s New Souk

This time the architects reclaim tradition by designing the new Souk in the central market of Abu Dhabi. The  new building is part of a large development  with unashamedly high skyscrapers next to the traditional building of the Souk.  The view of the building  by itself as well as the further development around it leaves one   breathless, if not every visitor then at least me with the architects’ audacity to blend the new with the old. The internal decoration of the Souk  is made of wood  and combines successfully high tech bits of the 21st century,  lifts, staircases and of course  the indispensable air conditioning.

The new souk is visually beautiful, designed to evoke a fantasy of Arabian nights but most  of the shops, so far, are chains.

A souk must also offer the promise of a hard-fought bargain. After three years training, I’m looking forward to engage in the bargaining game 😉

There are few shops open like the Shakespeare’s co. cafe which is already busy!

What is missing at the moment  is the bustle and noise of a real  Arabian souk!

P.S. The New Souk is designed by the Norman Foster & Partner

Fine photos of the white Mosque

Επειδή μου άρεσαν πολύ οι φωτογραφίες του φίλου μου  Αγγελου Μωρέτη, αρχιτέκτονα κατ’επάγγελμα και φωτογράφο κατά χόμπυ, αποφάσισα να αναρτήσω μερικές από αυτές, έτσι για να ομορφύνει το μπλόγκ μου!

Because I loved the photos of my friend Angelos Moreti, architect by profession and photographer by hobby, I decided to post some of them in order to add beauty to my blog!

The photos are from  Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque in Abu Dhabi