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Lloyd Winters
Lloyd Winters

The 'Hidden' Theater in London's Alexandra Palace Is Reopening After 80 Years

Lloyd Winters
Lloyd Winters

For the first time in 80 years, Londoners will have a chance to go inside the Alexandra Palace Theater, a masterpiece of Victorian construction that has remained hidden inside the palace for eight decades, according to The Guardian.

Designed to be North London’s answer to the Crystal Palace, the Alexandra Palace was built as a public recreation space and entertainment venue in the 1870s. The current building dates back to 1875—the original, built in 1873, burned down in a fire—and over the course of its history has served as a World War I refugee camp, an internment camp for Germans and Austrians later on in World War I, and the main transmission center for the BBC.

The theater itself was a technological marvel when it opened in the 19th century, and it played host to operas, pantomimes, ballets, and musical performances. The stage machinery allowed actors to disappear and reappear through the floor and fly across the stage. The theater later served as a chapel, a movie theater, a camp hospital during World War I, and prop storage for the BBC’s broadcasting operation during the 1930s. It hasn’t been used for regular performances in more than 80 years.

A dilapidated historic theater
Pre-restoration
Getty Images

The restoration, which began in 2016, is designed to be a careful update of the space that makes it safe to use but retains its historic allure. The original floorboards have been taken out and numbered so that they can be put back in exactly the same configuration, and the walls have been painted with a clear coating that preserves their original, now-faded colors. But there will also be several architectural updates to the structure, including a modern seating system and a redesign of the balcony for better views.

The first concert performance in the newly reopened theater, featuring what has only been described as a “major music act,” will be held on December 1, 2018. The theater restoration was paid for in part by a grant from the UK’s national lottery fund of more than $25.9 million, one of the largest grants of its kind ever given to a UK heritage project. It’s just one piece of a larger restoration project for the Palace’s East Wing, much of which has been off-limits to the public for years.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
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Step Inside This Stunning, Nature-Inspired Art Gallery in Tulum, Mexico
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

Upon closer inspection, this building in Tulum, Mexico, doesn’t seem like a suitable place to house an art exhibit. Everything that makes it so visually striking—its curved walls, uneven floors, and lack of drab, white backgrounds—also makes it a challenge for curators.

But none of these factors deterred Santiago Rumney Guggenheim—the great-grandson of the late famed art collector and heiress Peggy Guggenheim—from christening the space an art gallery. And thus, IK LAB was born.

“We want to trigger the creative minds of artists to create for a completely different environment,” Rumney Guggenheim, the gallery’s director, tells Artsy. “We are challenging the artists to make work for a space that doesn’t have straight walls or floors—we don’t even have walls really, it’s more like shapes coming out of the floor. And the floor is hardly a floor.”

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

A view inside IK LAB
Courtesy of Fernando Artigas

IK LAB was brought to life by Rumney Guggenheim and Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel, the founder of luxury resort Azulik. The two properties, which have a similar style of architecture, share a site near the Caribbean coast. IK LAB may be unconventional, but it certainly makes a statement. Its ceiling is composed of diagonal slats resembling the veins of a leaf, and a wavy wooden texture breaks up the monotony of concrete floors. Entry to the gallery is gained through a 13-foot-high glass door that’s shaped a little like a hobbit hole.

The gallery was also designed to be eco-conscious. The building is propped up on stilts, which not only lets wildlife pass underneath, but also gives guests a view overlooking the forest canopy. Many of the materials have been sourced from local jungles. Gallery organizers say the building is designed to induce a “meditative state,” and visitors are asked to go barefoot to foster a more sensory experience. (Be careful, though—you wouldn't want to trip on the uneven floor.)

The gallery's first exhibition, "Alignments," features the suspended sculptures of Artur Lescher, the perception-challenging works of Margo Trushina, and the geometrical pendulums of Tatiana Trouvé. One piece by Trouvé features 250 pendulums suspended from the gallery's domed ceiling. If you want to see this exhibit, be sure to get there before it ends in September.

[h/t Dezeen]

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Engineers Have Figured Out How the Leaning Tower of Pisa Withstands Earthquakes
iStock
iStock

Builders had barely finished the second floor of the Tower of Pisa when the structure started to tilt. Despite foundational issues, the project was completed, and eight centuries and at least four major earthquakes later, the precarious landmark remains standing. Now, a team of engineers from the University of Bristol and other institutions claims to have finally solved the mystery behind its endurance.

Pisa is located between the Arno and Serchio rivers, and the city's iconic tower was built on soft ground consisting largely of clay, shells, and fine sand. The unstable foundation meant the tower had been sinking little by little until 2008, when construction workers removed 70 metric tons of soil to stabilize the site. Today it leans at a 4-degree angle—about 13 feet past perfectly vertical.

Now researchers say that the dirt responsible for the tower's lean also played a vital role in its survival. Their study, which will be presented at this year's European Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Greece, shows that the combination of the tall, stiff tower with the soft soil produced an effect known as dynamic soil-structure interaction, or DSSI. During an earthquake, the tower doesn't move and shake with the earth the same way it would with a firmer, more stable foundation. According to the engineers, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is the world's best example of the effects of DSSI.

"Ironically, the very same soil that caused the leaning instability and brought the tower to the verge of collapse can be credited for helping it survive these seismic events," study co-author George Mylonakis said in a statement.

The tower's earthquake-proof foundation was an accident, but engineers are interested in intentionally incorporating the principles of DSSI into their structures—as long as they can keep them upright at the same time.

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