Arts and Entertainment

The tech giants are getting architectural – but their plans are big, not clever

Architecture: The RAF took out a Berlin museum. They've asked a Brit to put it back

The Neues museum, first bombed and then neglected, will be restored by a young British architect, David Chipperfield. Who did he beat to the contract? None other than the man behind Bilbao's Guggenheim museum. Why did he win? Nonie Niesewand explains

Arts: Glorious gallery threatens to eclipse its contents

The world swooned over the Guggenheim Museum's architecture, with its curved titanium plates burnished by the sun. A question remains whether the museum, which opens on Sunday, will work as a gallery.

Items and Icons Titanium

Heavy metal was an Eighties sound but today anything metal has to be light. And strong, like titanium. Titanium's family in the periodic table includes zirconium and hafnium - not the sort you often invite over for dinner because they're so pricey. Isolate it, and you have a metal that aerospace engineers love because it weighs half as much as stainless steel, with the same strength. Its biggest use is in aircraft frames and jet engines because it can stand temperatures up to 600 Centigrade (it doesn't melt till 1600 C). Frank Gehry liked it so much he wrapped up his newest building, the beautiful Bilbao Guggenheim, in shimmering titanium (right). You can wear titanium as a wrist watch or as eye glasses called "Air" and "Ice". You can ski on it, bike it up mountains and hit a ball so pure it jumps off the club face with speed and force to land dead centre in the fairway. Or photograph the action with the world's lightest digital cam-corder by JVC. It won't corrode, which is why medical instruments are always made of it. Or collapse which is why pilots' ejector seats are made of it. Ron Arad found one in a Camden market from a jump-jet that didn't make it. But he isn't thinking about making his own furniture in titanium yet - the material is too expensive to tool up for anything but big production numbers. But it's plentiful, making up about 1.4 per cent of the Earth's crust. So as we use more of it the price will come down.

BASQUING IN THE GLORY

Cities the world over are vying to put themselves on the cultural map. But none has done so with such dramatic results as Bilbao, home of the extraordinary new Guggenheim Museum. Andrew Tuck looked up in wonder

All a tram has to do is travel faster than 6mph - London's rush- hour traffic speed - and the tortoise is ahead of the hare

Sleek, snub-nosed, silvery and silent, the handsome wide-bellied tram looks as comforting as a Hovis ad but it's as 21st-century as you can get. When 40 tons of steel shudder to a stop every five minutes, the way that trams do, and then start again, this tram does not eat electricity. At every stop, it feeds back power into the grid through overhead cables. State-of-the-art exhaust-free travel it is.

Civil War Picassos to join `Guernica'

Madrid's modern-art museum, the Reina Sofia Art Centre, has bought seven important works by Picasso from the artist's family at a price reckoned to be nearly half their market value, filling an important gap in the museum's collection.

Money: What's up for auction

New at Bonhams: a complete run of Nova, the style magazine for "a new kind of woman", published 1965-75. The estimate is pounds 500-pounds 800. Novawrote about the kind of thing you find these days only in Cosmopolitan. Politics, too.

Obituary: Franklin Israel

Franklin Israel was a quintessential Los Angeles architect. He designed a series of residences, remodels and office buildings, mainly for entertainment industry clients, that exemplify the contemporary West Coast style. This freewheeling design approach, inspired by the acclaimed LA architect Frank Gehry, is characterised by an eclectic borrowing of local materials and sources, spatial and formal experimentation, a painterly use of colour and material, and a taste for structural disequilibrium that has been read as an expression of a city, literally and metaphorically, on shaky ground.

Any, any, any old irony

Scrap metal, old car tyres, even vacuum-cleaner fluff, are seen as the stuff of fine art on the Continent and in the States. But the British are still resistant. John Windsor reports

Home work

Happy is the architect who can build his own house. But are the results very different from when there is a client to please? Jane Withers opens a few doors POSTMODERN IRONY Clapboard gone crazy Blue cubes

A N N E X E

Glaswegian decay

DANCE / Doing the locomotion: Lucinda Childs - QEH, London

Although London's Dance Umbrella festival has been showcasing the work of American companies and soloists since 1978, its pick and mix approach to programming has resulted in an incomplete jigsaw of the New York dance scene. Of this year's imports, the Lucinda Childs Dance Company ranks as the most significant, for not only is Childs an icon in the brief history of post-modern dance - her ensemble is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary - but, until its performances at the recent Edinburgh Festival, the company had never visited Britain.

Landmarks: Tepotzlan, Mexico

Working as an architectural photographer I am in the privileged position of seeing many old and new buildings around the world. Recently I photographed the new Frank Gehry building in Basle and Arquitectonica's new Banque de Luxembourg. But this house in Tepotzlan, Mexico is very different. It's a little gem. A summerhouse made from local materials, as a dwelling for themselves, by local architect Sergio Puente and the German- born Ada Dewes. It's completely unlike anything else I've ever come across. It relates to its surroundings so much so that when we were photographing it we had to cut away some of the foliage with a machete.

Architecture: From Cartier, a diamond: The jeweller's latest creation is a stunning glass gem that houses its art foundation, reports Marie Kalt

The new Paris headquarters of Cartier, the jeweller, on the Boulevard Raspail, Montparnasse, is an abstract glass and metal construction that seems to defy the laws of gravity.

Architecture Update: A wacky American Center in Paris

THE NEW American Center in Paris, designed by Frank Gehry, opens next week. Gehry's last building in France was at EuroDisney. Like his other buildings, the wacky American Center gives the appearance of having been hit by an earthquake, with walls and roofs set at bizarre angles. When this was put to him, Gehry replied that he felt pleased especially as a Californian, since it suggested his work was close to nature. Gehry gives a lecture this Saturday at the annual Academy Forum event - tickets sold out months ago.
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