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Mona Caron is a Swiss-born, San Francisco-based artist, using muralism, illustration and photography in both her art and artivism. Her focus is on community-informed and site-specific murals in public space. She has created large-scale murals in the US, Europe, South America and Asia.

Murals in public space are Mona’s primary focus. Her goal is to activate public space by simultaneously creating artwork and interactive street happenings, using the painting’s narratives to spark conversations and critical awareness of the space we share.

Narrative murals – Mona’s first decade in muralism was defined by extremely site-specific, detailed, and community-immersive narrative murals, reflecting the past, present, and future imaginaries of their neighbourhoods through a uniquely permeable participatory process, considered part of the artwork. This process has been featured in an Emmy-winning documentary film, “A Brush with the Tenderloin”, and has been the underlying praxis for most of Mona’s work in her home town of San Francisco.

In recent years, Mona’s stop-motion animation and botanical mural series titled ”WEEDS”, a metaphor about resilience and resistance, has been growing in numbers and geographic reach, as well as in the scale of the pieces.

This series communicates on a poetic level, through the contrast of scale of each painted weed seedling with its environment, and has found reception across cultures and languages.

Read full article in Plan Magazine March/April issue now available on subscription, email accounts@mcdmedia.ie 



The Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten project was introduced to Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 as an educational environment that captivates and stimulates meaningful cross interactions amongst the children and the adult. Installed within the school is an openness with a spark of curiosity that allows people of all ages to venture and explore the space in a relaxing and calming atmosphere.

As we have engaged in numerous educational projects, we recognize that these experiences are equally as important as the responsibility of nurturing the kids. It invokes a sense of pride, and interests within the teacher and the staffs. It inspires and embraces them, for they have chosen to dedicate their lives to the education and the well-being of the children on a daily basis.

Like a giant Lego building, the kindergarten is constructed entirely in bare brick forming patterns and openings that is playful to the eyes, conveying a unique aesthetic value and promoting natural ventilation. Classrooms and utility rooms are organized around a playful core. Each floor is arranged in an alternating pattern to enhance vertical interaction, encourage children to be more receptive to their surroundings, and stimulate their inner creativity.

Juxtapose to the calming atmosphere of the classrooms, the core is ample and full of movement. From the garden on the ground floor, the spaces form an aperture that frames a continuous perspective that is visible from outside in and inside out. Continually upward, the interior spaces connect to an open rooftop garden, waiting to be discovered with a rewarding experience of the infinite vista of the Saigon river.

The journey of discovery in the kindergarten is a very liberating one because of the continuous changes, and the endless experiences that are tailored personally to each space. Conclusively, Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten is a place of surprises that will never cease to tickle the curious souls, children and adult alike.





Portland studio Skylab Architecture designed the triangular floor plan of this Colorado retreat to allow optimum views of the region’s mountainous landscape.

Owl Creek Residence is located near the town of Snowmass, a popular destination for winter sports. The 4,200-square-foot (390-square-metre) home was built as a place for the client’s family and friends to gather.

“The Owl Creek Residence was built on the idea that a physical place can deepen the connections between friends, families and the natural world,” said Skylab Architecture.

An entry court leads through a foyer to the lounge – an area with stepped seating that follows the natural slope of the site. “Terracing theatre seating maximises space within the stairwell working with the topography,” Skylab said.

The lower level contains the home’s five bedrooms, which are laid out along a corridor that follows the V-shaped outline of the plan. This storey also includes amenities such as a steam room and hot tub.

“Compact and efficient private sleeping wings open up to expansive outdoor views at the lower level,” said the studio.

“Exterior spaces open interior activity to the outdoors, including a triangular spa with an elevated deck and an expansive outdoor terrace right off of the kitchen.”

A short flight of stairs provides access to the home’s communal spaces, which are enclosed by two floor-to-ceiling glass walls that form the tip of the triangular plan.

The structure frames powerful views through two principal façades, maximising the visual connection to the landscape at every angle,” Skylab said.

The spaces on the upper level are meant for entertaining, and include an open-concept living and dining room, a den, and kitchen.

An expansive faceted roof extends out to the south of the home, next to the kitchen, and forms a sheltered outdoor seating area. Here, residents and their guests can grill food or gather around the exterior fireplace.

The home’s intricate steel structure was left exposed, and the architects complemented its material palette with wood, stone, and weathering steel. “Finishes and interior relationships were carefully crafted to draw the scenic landscape inward and extending the outdoor deck living experience,” said. Skylab.

The mountainous state of Colorado has recently seen several projects completed for winter sports enthusiasts. Others include a pair of rustic-looking cabins designed by Renée del Gaudio and a low-slung retreat by CCY Architects built of wood and glass.




American studio Feldman Architecture has overhauled parts of a hillside home in the town of Sausalito for a retired couple with an extensive collection of albums, books and soda bottles.

The project, Sausalito Outlook, takes its name from the Bay Area town where it is located. The project entailed renovating part of a 1970s home so that it suited the “eclectic tastes” of a couple relocating to the US from Asia.

“It was on a quick stopover going from Hong Kong to South America that this newly retired couple decided on a whim to lay roots in Sausalito, California, after a decades-long residence in Taiwan,” said Feldman Architecture, a studio based in nearby San Francisco.

While the four-storey home offered panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, it “lacked the unique charm and character” that the clients desired. The architects were charged with creating a space that could accommodate a collection of vinyl records, design books and vintage Coca-Cola bottles, while also capitalising on the picturesque scenery just outside the window.

The home is embedded in a hillside, with the entrance located on the top floor. The major modifications were made on the second storey.

A spare bedroom was removed and replaced with an open-plan library and sitting room. The refurbished space is defined by floor-to-ceiling shelving, with asymmetrical compartments that house objects of different sizes. Sliding white panels can conceal elements as needed.

Tucked in one corner of the room is a nook dedicated to music storage, along with a small bar with a fridge. The room features wooden flooring, tan rugs and bean-bag style chairs.

Vast expanses of glass provide sweeping views of the bay, while sliding doors open onto a wooden terrace with glass railings and a fireplace. On the same level, the team also converted a second bedroom into a gym.

Up on the top storey, a living room was kept intact. Bordered on both sides by patios, the living room features contemporary decor that is oriented around a picture window offering expansive views of the water. A large floor lamp with a woven shade arches over the room.





Atmos Studio has completed a flowing staircase made from laminated oak that is the centrepiece of a recently opened restaurant in Mayfair, London.

StairStalk is the centrepiece of the Oliver Dabbous’s recently opened HIDE restaurant, where it ascends from a basement bar to the dining areas on the ground floor and upper mezzanine.

The multidisciplinary practice is known for its organically inspired designs and was chosen to create a statement staircase that appears to grow out of the shadows of the basement level towards the daylight above.

The overall concept for the restaurant’s interior was already developed by interior designer Rose Murray, director of These White Walls, before Atmos Studio was brought on board to create the showpiece staircase. The restaurant was realised by architectural consultancy Lusted Green.

Murray’s scheme focused on a theme of “dwelling” and a re-imagining of familiar elements. This was the starting point for the design of the staircase, which was developed to grow from and interact with the existing spaces.

The base of the stair features tendril-like lines that appear to flow out from niches in the wall, junctions between the wall and floor, bar footrails and even the surface of the basement bar.

The various lines converge at the lowest point of the staircase, forming a handrail and a stringer that extends upwards gradually before flattening out into a half landing. The stair then continues smoothly to the upper mezzanine.

“The entire stair curls and cantilevers out from a sculptural helical inner stringer – a carefully carved and highly articulated bundle of nature-like fibres which continuously curve and wind upwards through the void, their strands individually unfurling into each upper branch and inner tread,” claimed Atmos Studio.

The staircase is built around a concealed steel and plywood core that was required to enable it to float freely away from the walls. Additional support for the cantilevered treads is provided by steel plates embedded in the wood.

Polish fabricator Trabczynski and GD Staircases were tasked with managing the complex construction. It was created using a specialised method of bentwood construction, which involves laminating hundreds of layers of veneer to make contoured forms that retain the illusion of solid wood.

The staircase’s timber treads feature scalloped profiles that flow out from the stringer and balustrade like leaves from a stalk.

“It twists upwards, spiralling energetically like a corkscrew, steps unfurling seamlessly from the structural stem like leaves, while further branches similarly delaminate to form a delicate wavy balustrade guiding the guests carefully upwards,” the studio added.
The lowest step has a slightly concave form that gradually inverts and forms an increasingly protruding curve. This lip is intended to denote a speedier central ridge that offers a quicker route than the narrower edges.

As the structure ascends from basement to the mezzanine, each tread lightens slightly to reflect the different tonal properties applied to the interiors of the three interior spaces.





A new style of socially orientated community design brings an open plaza to the people of Hefei by the team at ASPECT Studios Shanghai.

Wantou & Vanke Paradise Art Wonderland is located in the core area of the Xin Zhan District’s southwestern zone, with Shao Quan Lake and the civic green belt nearby. The vibrant and developing district is popular with millennials that have an appreciation for design and a unique pursuit for a high end modern living environment.

The landscape design vision was forged on the principle of providing residents with the diverse and dynamic experience of modern urban living within a singular location, offering a reflection of different urban environments such as urban plazas and civic parks, pocket parks, play and sports recreation all spaces are programmed to provide a range of experiences and offer a diverse range of facilities and activities for all ages, all structured to encourage social and community connectivity, as places to come together.

The overarching design reflects elements of the local community and culture, with the flower of the city – the Pomegranate – providing a strong source of inspiration to the design of the community social space, guiding the form, color and composition to create an energetic colorful, and bold experience. Combined with a dynamic socially orientated landscape program to meet the needs of the community and its people while encouraging interaction, connection and communication.

The initial phase consists of three main programmatic zones, urban pocket park, children’s play and community park, within each area creating different experiences as places where children, adults and the elderly can come together to enjoy the fun of play, the diversity of lifestyle, and the vibrancy and energy of the urban environment.

Standing as the centerpiece of the urban pocket park is the Pomegranate Flower, a light sculpture inspired by the stamens of the pomegranate flower, reaching high to create both a landmark and identity within the surrounding urban context. On the surface, rhythmic paving represents the wind and the shape of bespoke planters represent the petals blowing in the breeze with the active seating edges providing calm and comfortable clusters for people to rest, stay and connect. The compacted and layered arrangement of the pomegranate fruits provide reference for the shade shelters, creating an interesting shadow play on the ground whilst providing a backdrop to the entire space; allowing visitors and residents to rest in comfort during the hot summer months.

The children’s play space offers a diverse play and learning experience. Mountain-shaped play mounds with layered tonal change imitate the gradual changes and layers of the rock strata, while raising from a blue and green carpet represents the river and forest. Integrated within the spaces are the opportunities for children to come together and build essential social and physical skills: areas of free play and fixed play are all designed to encourage social interaction, sports, activity, challenges and development.

Community gatherings and public events all take place in the grand community park. The open public park is complimented by a collection of spaces for people to come together in smaller social groups. Within the spatial compositions there are large open multi-functional lawn, pergolas and feature seating to create a semi-enclosed space while small plazas, with tree clusters, form a multi-functional shaded space for group gathering.




New photographs and a movie reveal Zaha Hadid’s only completed private residence – a house in the Barvikha Forest near Moscow, for a man she called the “Russian James Bond”.

The late Iraqi-British architect designed Capital Hill Residence for businessman and philanthropist Vladislav Doronin, who runs property companies Capital Group and OKO Group, and is also the owner of luxury hotel and resort brand Aman.

The house’s defining feature is a master suite set atop a slender concrete stalk that raises it high above the tree canopy.

Set 22 metres above the ground, this element of the design offers Doronin complete seclusion. Glazed walls, tucked back from the edge of the floor to create two balconies, afford views out over the tree tops.

A stripe of gridded glazing runs the length of the suite’s supporting column, which houses a glass lift and staircase that allows Doronin to enjoy the view on his ascent and descent.

“I told her: ‘I want to wake up in the morning and I want to just see blue sky. I don’t want to see any neighbors and I want to feel free,” recalls Doronin in a new video discussing the project.

“She told me: ‘Do you realise you have to be above the trees?’ and she just took a napkin and drew the sketch. I looked and I said I liked [it] and this is how we started [the] Capital Hill project.”

Three generous floors partially embedded in the sloping terrain below feature angled glass facades facing into the forest. Broad roofs with irregularly stepped edges overhang the glass walls of each floor.

The lowest level contains leisure facilities, while a lounge, living room and kitchen are set alongside entertaining spaces and a swimming pool on the ground floor. The entrance, guest and children’s bedrooms, and a library are set across the first floor.

The concept for the project was first conceived over a decade ago, when the pair met in London and Hadid sketched a design out on a napkin.

Visuals of the project were first unveiled in 2008 and initial photographs of the project emerged in 2011, well ahead of Hadid’s death. But these images mark the full completion of the residence.

“For me she is an architect of a different league,” says Doronin.

“It was very interesting to talk to her, she didn’t talk too much but she was very sharp. She was always to the point, she was very sarcastic, she was very intellectual, smart and sharp woman,” he continues. “It was very tragic what happened, we lost one of the greatest architects of this century.”

Hadid’s former business partner Patrik Schumacher, who took over the helm of the company following her death in 2016, describes the project as a dream commission.

“It’s a dream house. No architect would refuse such a commission,” he says in the video. “Zaha knew Vladislav – a very stylish man – she always compared him to the Russian James Bond who had taste, wealth to create something extraordinary.”

“This project is an absolute testament to Zaha’s genius – Vladislav’s genius if you like – of somebody who develops new levels of enjoying life on this planet,” he continues.

“This is a masterpiece. It has Zaha’s signature features of organic intricacy, complexity of spatial arrangement, a lot of surprises, and a lot of craftiness and beauty.”

British architect Norman Foster praised the “extraordinary” project in a Dezeen movie paying tribute to Hadid.

Foster recalls Doronin proudly showing photographs of his completed home at a dinner party, and feeling “tremendous disappointment” that he would never be able to share the compliment with Hadid.




The brief for the works at The Sekforde centred around two elements 1)The historic pub building which required a detailed restoration 2)The creation of a new build which would occupy the disused, street facing, service yard. It was clear from the outset that the client, from a law background, had a passion for sensitively restoring the historic building where he would become the final live in landlord to the restored pub.

The initial Consent allowed for minimal works to the façade of the Historic Building. During a visit to site, while repair work was underway, CDA discovered that the original bricks beneath a layer of cement based render appeared of decent quality. An archive photograph lead to a second application and the restoration of the original façade with exposed brickwork and wood grain shopfront at street level.

Internally the timber panelling, fireplace and bar at ground floor level have been carefully restored. The former cellar at basement level now contains a restaurant with fully restored brickwork walls. The first floor contains a ballroom, in which Georgian timber panelling, mouldings and covings have been carefully detailed, with the colour scheme taking influence from the Yellow Room at the John Soane Museum.

A map dating from 1872 showed the derelict pub yard was once occupied and was utilised in our application to establish a new 3 storey mixed use building. Constructed of reclaimed London stock bricks, this new build uses traditional decorative brick features such as tuck pointed gauged brick arches and recesses, along with a contemporary interpretation of Georgian proportions. Situated between the historic and new build we created a glazed link, forming a clear separation between old and new.

The integration of a complex heat recovery system and ground source heat pump and the use of reclaimed materials gives the project a further environmental sensitivity. The development is an example of successful collaboration across many disciplines, including the project manager on site, lighting specialists, M&E and the local council’s conservation department.




The Lanzhou Planning Exhibition Hall is located in the cross of East Bei Bin He Road and People Road. Develop along the mother river of Chinese – Yellow River,Lanzhou is a key city of western China. The building site is on the north bank of Yellow River and developed along east-west direction.

The building is considered as a stone washed by river water for months and years. By means of cutting and peeling, it looks like an unprocessed jade within stone surface that indicate the cultural accumulation of the historical city.

Embracing the astonishing view of Yellow River, the building allows the riverside landscape extends to its site as well as its outdoor stepped terraces naturally insert into the pebbles and reeds on the unexploited bank. To merge itself with the environment, the building creates a waterfront urban space for citizens.

To enhance the cutting effects, the south façade is broken by several horizontal glass strips. They are also the viewing windows to catch the riverscape from interior. The exhibition route is placed around the huge city planning model in the center of first floor.

All of the boundary walls are cast on site to produce an impressive texture and echo the natural form of the building. The horizontal grooves arrayed with different spacing give the facades more richness, while some pebbles embedded in the walls present a local identity. The exposed concrete surface also extendes into the public area of inner space.



The contemporary work environment is evolving. This new office building from Cloud Architects captures the essence of this evolution through multiple green terraces, a large atrium, and elegant materiality. The U219 Business Center in Vilnius, Lithuania, provides 15,000 square meters of rentable area into two horizontal volumes.

The main facade is dominated by a horizontal oval that acts as an “eye letting those inside look out and feel the activity and movement occurring in the street.” Through the same glass “eye”, the interior atrium presents itself to passers-by on the street invoking intrigue into the overall environment of the building. Open-access workspaces are also available on each floor where people can choose enclosed offices, open-plan workstations or even a workspace located within the open atrium.

The aim of the building to create “a more productive, healthy and comfortable working environment” is evident in the incorporation of greenery both on the interior and exterior. Common spaces in the building provide a connection with nature through the arrangement of greenery and seating made of various stone forms. “Green leisure areas” feature a wide variety of aromas and colors providing a “refreshing space” to everyone: employees, visitors, and guests.

The Business Center will be built along one of the “fastest-growing areas of Vilnius”, Ukmergės Street, close to the city center. There is already a breadth of commercial development near the planned site for the office building, and transportation routes to and from the city center.




The impressive temporary structures built during the annual Burning Man festival are the subject of an exhibition in the US capital.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man opened 30 March 2018 at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington DC.

Taking over the entire building and expanding beyond its walls into the surrounding neighbourhood, the exhibition will highlight the creativity and craft of the community that travels to the Nevada desert for the event each year.

“The scale, the communal effort and the technical challenges inherent in creating works for the desert are part of what sets Burning Man apart from other art experiences,” said Smithsonian American Art Museum director Stephanie Stebich.

“It is an amazingly creative laboratory where innovators go to play and to push the boundaries of their craft.”

Annually, Burning Man attendees construct projects ranging from small-scale artworks to colossal pavilions – some of which are ceremonially burned down at the end of the festival.

Several designs first built in the desert have been recreated inside the museum, including a giant female figure assuming a ballet-style stance.

In one room is a set of huge mushroom-like forms, created from pleated surfaces and illuminated in a rainbow of colours, while polygonal spheres comprising perforated panels cast geometric shadows across another space.

No Spectators also features original commissions that demonstrate other aspects of the event. Artist and frequent Burning Man participant David Best has installed his version of the Temple, built each year at the festival to a different design.

Complete with ornately carved walls, ceiling fixtures and an altar, the hall is atmospherically lit.

Also on show are some of the elaborate costumes and jewellery worn by Burners, along with videos and photography captured over the years.

“Through this ambitious exhibition, more people will have a chance to engage with Burning Man’s ethos, which has given rise to a thriving year-round culture spurred by a growing global community of participants,” said Burning Man Project CEO, Marian Goodell.

Burning Man was founded by Larry Harvey on a San Francisco beach in 1986, but now takes place in the Black Rock desert for a week during late summer each year, when 75,000 revellers set up camp and create what is known as Black Rock City.

In a 2015 interview with Dezeen, Harvey spoke about the need for urban planning for an event of this scale. Photographers that have returned each year to document the festival and its artworks include NK Guy, and participants often share images of the best structures via Instagram.

Installations are the 2017 edition included an artificial tree that illuminated with “light flocks” in response to visitors’ movements, heart beats and brain activity; and the temple – designed to highlight the problem of America’s dying forests.

No Spectators is organised by Renwick Gallery curator of craft Nora Atkinson and the nonprofit Burning Man Project. The exhibition will close in two phases: the first-floor portion on 16 September 2018, then the second floor on 21 January 2019.

Accompanying artworks scattered across the surrounding neighbourhood in downtown DC will remain on show through December 2018. This year’s Burning Man will take place 26 August to 3 September 2018.