Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

Architects envision a lush, solar-powered oasis to cool Abu Dhabi

November 13, 2020 by  
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Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has named European architecture firm Mask Architects’ palm tree-inspired Oasys proposal one of the 10 winners in ‘Cool Abu Dhabi’ . This global design competition sought sustainable solutions for mitigating the urban heat island effect . The winning design calls for a solar-powered refuge with modular, palm tree-like structures that would provide protection from the elements and respite from the heat with solar-powered misters and lush landscaping. The multipurpose, pop-up spaces could also be used for a variety of functions, from cafes and and retail stands to exhibition spaces. Mask Architect’s Oasys proposal draws the eye with its massive palm tree-inspired structures that the architects said would be topped with solar panels and integrated with lights and nozzles that spray a cooling mist into the air. Dubbed the Artificial Breathing Palm modular structure system, the design includes a “foundation base” that conceals all of the technical equipment — including water and electric lines as well as solar batteries — as well as five triangular module types of varying sizes. The modules can connect together in different configurations to fit a variety of settings, while lush landscaping would be planted around the modules to give the space more of an oasis-like feel. Related: Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape “The ‘Oasis’ design concept has been influenced by the need to create a greener city as well as creating a real oasis in the middle of the city,” Mask Architects explained. “Besides the the flexible and replaceable design line, any outdoor functions are adapted easily into ‘Oasys’ conceptA mechanism that can be replicated easily to form a network of hubs and centre points in which they act as islands of rest places, socialising and sociable communal for the collective and community.” The ‘Cool Abu Dhabi ’ global design competition concluded earlier this year and received over 300 entries from nearly 70 countries. The 10 winning entries were announced online and each received $10,000 each in prize money.  + Mask Architects Images via Mask Architects

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French housing project I Park has a double-skinned green facade

November 12, 2020 by  
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Located in Montpellier, a historic city near the south of France on the Mediterranean Sea, “I Park” is a housing project with a plant-covered facade that catches the eye even from afar. Developed across the street from the city’s new town hall, the building was designed by NBJ Architectes and completed in 2019. I Park features eight levels of variable layers and 4,000 square meters of space, constituting an urban build front in a dividing line with the busy street. Right next to the project’s site sits a public park that offers unobstructed views of green spaces and a river to the inhabitants. To allow for a distance between the public and private spaces, a landscape band adjoins the project site as well. Related: Architects envision a green, solar-powered skyscraper While the base of the building is treated with stamped concrete, the body of the project is made up on a unified double-facade . This facade consists of two skins to help air flow and support ventilation of the intermediate cavity, while also allowing adaptability to each orientation in connection with the direct environment. The designers came up with a unique composition for the urban facade, a sequence of three structures that interconnect with each other to form a single entity. Strategically placed planter boxes line the front, appearing to climb up the face of the building and scatter throughout the remaining sides sporadically. Trees and green spaces are included on the roof as well, though not as prevalent as the facade. The reflective glass on the neighboring building adds a special aspect to the project by projecting light onto the plants; the green facade and mirrored cladding seem to play off each other to represent the discrepancy between nature and the city. According to the architects, the project will also serve as a base for research and experimentation on Mediterranean climate living conditions. + NBJ Architectes Photography by photoarchitecture via v2com

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Dramatic arches usher nature inside an alley home in Vietnam

November 2, 2020 by  
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When a young family asked Sanuki Daisuke Architects to design a light-filled house with access to nature in Ho Chi Minh City, the local architecture firm knew from the get-go that it would be crafting a townhouse that was far different from the city norm. Located in a high-density residential area, the long and narrow property wasn’t large enough to accommodate a spacious garden, so the architects decided to bring the outdoors into the home instead. Dubbed the VOM House, the three-story townhouse opens up to the outdoors on the first and second floors to let daylight, wind and even rain inside for an indoor-outdoor living experience like no other. Named for the Vietnamese word that means arch, the VOM House comprises three floors defined by large arched and column-free spaces. Because the clients, a couple with a daughter, made the somewhat unusual request for only two bedrooms — most Vietnamese clients ask for more, according to the architects — the bedrooms were placed on the top floor. As such, the two lower floors can be used as “outdoor rooms.” Related: Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space Despite the site’s small size, the architects managed to carve out a small front garden and back garden that bookend the home. The front garden flows seamlessly into a double-height “outdoor living space” on the ground floor that connects to the combined kitchen and dining space in the rear. The clients plan to turn the ground floor into a coffee shop in the future. A small study space that overlooks the downstairs living area is on the floor above. The bedrooms also connect to a roof terrace. To reinforce the connection with nature, trees and plants grow throughout the home. “Although the house is located in a tight residential area in Ho Chi Minh City, many ‘Outdoor Rooms’ create an open and rich living space ,” the architects explained. “We proposed a tropical living space where the family can always feel close to nature under these large arch spaces.” + Sanuki Daisuke Architects Photography by Hiroyuki Oki via Sanuki Daisuke Architects

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Dramatic arches usher nature inside an alley home in Vietnam

Architects propose a massive forest park to be the Green Lungs of Hanoi

October 30, 2020 by  
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Air pollution has become a major problem in Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, that was ranked the seventh capital city with the highest average annual PM 2.5 concentration by the 2019 World Air Report. In a bid to improve air quality while encouraging healthier lifestyles, local architecture firm ODDO Architects has embarked on an ambitious project to transform the tail end of the city’s Banana Island into a 26-hectare subtropical alluvial forest with recreational activities. Dubbed the Green Lungs of Hanoi, the proposed design is based on a 15-year plan for developing a lush canopy with mature trees measuring 8 to 15 meters tall. Located close to the city center, Banana Island is a 7-kilometer-long island that is largely undeveloped and unoccupied. According to the architects’ site study, the island suffers from inefficient land use, lack of management and illegal land usage that’s tied to poor living conditions for families who live there without access to clean water or electricity. With “Green Lungs of Hanoi,” the architects want to turn the island into a welcoming green space for the public with forest trails, pedestrian bridges and recreational activities that emphasize connections with nature. Related: Fruit trees grow on the roofs of this rammed earth home in Hanoi To realize their vision that they’ve developed over the past 1.5 years, the architects plan to work closely with the local government and community to recruit a team of volunteers of all ages to plant native trees and oversee long-term maintenance. The project also aims to raise awareness of the region’s endangered bird species, which have dwindled in recent years. In addition to providing an attractive green respite for Hanoi citizens, the architects hope to create a biodiverse habitat to increase local fauna populations. “The alluvial soil on the island also poses an issue regarding flooding and landslides due to its softness,” the architects noted of one of the project challenges. “However with semi-aquatic tree species like the one Green Lungs proposes, the land surrounding the river will be reinforced and become much stronger: preventing landslides from occurring. The location of Banana Island is extremely favorable for a green space. With its large area, and central location, it acts as Hanoi’s Lungs — purifying the air quality but also reviving an ecosystem, attracting new biodiversity and becoming a valuable and rich alluvial forest amidst the city.” + ODDO Architects Images via ODDO Architects

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University in Germany designs an alpine hut from reeds

October 28, 2020 by  
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A team of craftspeople and students from the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Building Material, Building Physics, Building Technology and Design have created an alpine hut designed from sustainable, renewable reed material. The project, SkinOver Reed, is meant to research the feasibility of the material as facade and roof cladding for use in high-altitude Alpine regions. Also known as thatch , reed is a carbon-neutral resource, known generationally for its rapid growth, short process chain, low-energy demand, low emissions and lack of pollutants. According to the designers, reed generates better water quality where it grows and helps to provide home to many different animals in the natural environment. It is harvested by cutting off the dead part of the plant, which is replaced by natural growth every year. Using the dead reed as cladding requires no need for any further treatment. At the end of its life, the construction material can be composted, closing the life cycle organically. Related: Prefab alpine shelter boasts phenomenal views and a small footprint The SkinOver Reed project was developed after two years of research, with reed chosen for the facade and roof to help generate a monolithic, three-dimensional design with a single material. The prototype thatched hut was built in Austria using local reed and wood with a foundation of stone from an existing building. The team researched examples of contemporary thatch architecture from France, Denmark and Sweden for inspiration and insight into building with reed. The first hut was completed in 2019, so the team spent summer 2020 monitoring, documenting and analyzing the effects of last winter’s cold weather on the reed. Long-term, they plan to implement both permanent and periodic measurements to monitor the hut’s aging process, hopefully inspiring other architects to see the favorability and quality of renewable materials like reed. The project has already garnered favorable attention, as it was shortlisted in the small building category for the Dezeen Awards 2020. + University of Stuttgart Via Dezeen Images via University of Stuttgart

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Green-roofed theater in Shenzhen raises the bar for civic architecture

October 15, 2020 by  
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When the Pingshan District government in Shenzhen, China tapped Beijing-based OPEN Architecture to design the district’s first theater, the architects knew immediately that they wanted to create something different from the high energy-consuming and monotonous theaters that have recently become the norm throughout China. After taking a critical look at the past development of theaters in the country, the architects worked closely with the client to propose a new program for the Pingshan Performing Arts Center that emphasized social inclusivity by serving as a new cultural hub with amenities for both theater-lovers and the general public. Integrated with a public promenade and series of publicly accessible gardens, the contemporary theater also boasts a restaurant, a cafe, social and educational programming and an expansive landscaped roof that helps mitigate the urban heat island effect. Completed over the course of four years, the Pingshan Performing Arts Center eschews the extravagant exteriors that have defined many modern theaters in China in favor of a climate-responsive facade wrapped in precision-engineered perforated aluminum V sections that protect the building from sub-tropical sun exposure while enhancing natural ventilation. Related: This museum is carved into the seaside sand dunes of China’s Gold Coast At the heart of the new performing arts center — nicknamed “drama box” — is a 1,200-seat grand theater wrapped in dark red-toned wood panels that are visible from both inside the building and atop the roof, where the fly gallery can be seen. The grand theater is flanked by a series of smaller functional spaces and a public promenade that links together a cafe, a black box theater, teaching spaces, rehearsal rooms, an informal outdoor theater and outdoor gardens on multiple levels. “In breaking away from the mono-function Cultural Landmark typology, the building not only becomes much more sustainable in daily operation, but also sets a new example of social inclusivity for civic buildings ,” the architects explained. “Serving as a new cultural hub, it also provides the non-theater-going public with an exceptional and unusual urban space.” + OPEN Architecture Photography by Zeng Tianpei and Jonathan Leijonhufvud via OPEN Architecture

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A small Swedish town becomes home to urban development experiments

September 18, 2020 by  
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Stockholm-based architecture firm Anders Berensson Architects has unveiled designs for the Tibro Train Tracks , an ongoing urban development project to transform an abandoned track area in the Swedish town of Tibro into an innovative hub for urban planning experiments. Commissioned by the municipality of Tibro with support from the ArkDes Swedish Center for Architecture and Design, the practice-based research project explores the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which calls for sustainable cities and communities. Under the direction of SDG 11, the Tibro research project aims to find new ways of sustainably revitalizing small, rural towns. Located in southern Sweden, the small town of Tibro is best known for its furniture industry and local manufacturing. As a result, the architects opted to highlight the town’s history by taking an inventory of the machines and industrial features that could be adapted into site-specific projects and interventions. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The project has created 60 fast photomontages, 16 inventories of local producers, 17 urban projects and proposals and one urban planning proposal for the abandoned train track in the heart of the town. The one-year project comprised three phases. Phase 1 consisted of community meetings that began with 60 fast photomontages to stimulate discussion among locals, who have created over 300 proposals. In Phase 2, the architects visited 16 local companies, schools and associations to figure out what elements in their site-specific projects could be locally produced. For Phase 3, the discussions and inventories were combined to create a “smorgasbord” of 17 proposals, prototypes and projects for the abandoned train track area. The 17 proposals span small and large interventions, from increasing tree coverage by the train tracks to the creation of the Tibro Market Hall. “The site itself as an abandoned yet central site with a small interest to invest and develop fast can be seen as a disadvantage but with a focused strategy over a long time it can be turned into the opposite,” the architects explained. “With more time experiments can be done, tested and evaluated. Small projects, tests and prototypes can be built and removed or kept. Things can grow organically in a focused plan with a resilient strategy.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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A green roof naturally cools a bioclimatic mosque in Indonesia

September 16, 2020 by  
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Jakarta-based architecture firm RAD+ar (Research Artistic Design + architecture) has recently completed the Bioclimatic Community Mosque of Pamulang, which is located about an hour south of the Indonesian capital. Designed to follow passive solar principles, the bioclimatic building departs from traditional mosque architecture in favor of optimizing indoor comfort, self-sufficiency and minimal maintenance. In addition to maximizing natural light and ventilation, the architects also topped the community mosque with an active green roof — instead of the iconic Islamic dome — in order to reduce the urban heat island effect. Spanning an area of 1,200 square meters to accommodate approximately 1,000 people, the Bioclimatic Community Mosque is more than just a place of worship. Like many mosques , the Pamulang building also functions as a community center, meeting space and recreational space for the surrounding neighborhood. RAD+ar’s strikingly contemporary design for the mosque reflects the building’s multifunctional services. Related: Henning Larsen Architects reveal plans for a new mosque in Copenhagen that marries Islamic and Nordic design Creating low-maintenance and cost-effective safeguards against the region’s extreme heat and humidity drove the design narrative and informed the architects’ decision to replace almost all of the brick partitions with over 30,000 pieces of locally produced accustomed roster block that provide privacy while allowing light and air through. “Basic geometric-volumetric approach as the sunken massing (to harness lower temperature) stacked on top of another, this allowed many level of wind speed variation crossing the building that provides total shade and extreme temperature and air pressure differences that ensure 24 hours cross ventilation & thermal chimney effect,” the architects explained in a press release. Natural lighting is also maximized throughout the building, while strategically placed openings optimize cross ventilating and the stack effect . Both indoor and outdoor spaces were crafted to provide thermal comfort; the inclusion of shaded outdoor spaces large enough to accommodate gatherings has been particularly helpful for accommodating activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. + RAD+ar Photography by William Sutanto via RAD+ar

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A green roof naturally cools a bioclimatic mosque in Indonesia

A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

September 11, 2020 by  
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Local practice Salem Architecture has recently renovated the Maison Ave Courcelette, a stately, midcentury home with an improved indoor/outdoor connection in the heart of Montreal. Originally constructed in 1947, the house was built with beautiful attention to detail and sculptural, rounded openings — elements that both the architect, Jad Salem, and the owner wanted to preserve and highlight. The resulting transformation achieves those goals while generously opening up the interior to the large exterior courtyard and bringing an abundance of natural light indoors. Located in the residential borough of Outremont, the Maison Ave Courcelette project connects to a large backyard and is surrounded by many mature trees around the perimeter of the site. To improve the relationship between the home and the outdoors, the architects opened up the rear, south-facing facade with large sliding glass doors. The stones of the facade that were replaced by the new glazing were kept for use in a possible house extension. The new cladding on a portion of the rear facade is made up of vertically oriented timber elements that complement the original stone of the house and serve as an openwork sidewall for privacy from the neighbors while allowing natural light to filter through. Related: Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability To protect the house from unwanted solar gain in the south, the architects created covered outdoor terraces as well as a retractable canopy for comfortable use of an entertaining space with a sunken seating area and a fire pit next to the pool. “The landscaping, in separate areas, offers owners the opportunity to enjoy the backyard while having a variety of experiences and atmospheres,” the architects noted. New windows have also been added to other parts of the home to bring in additional daylight. Inside, original midcentury building elements have been elegantly enhanced. The architects added new arched openings that follow the configurations of the existing arched windows to elevate the sculptural feel of the home. The railing of the central curved staircase — a major focal point — has been kept minimal so as not to detract attention from the staircase’s sculptural shape and the rounded openings in the ceilings. The original wood floor has also been maintained in some rooms while materials for the new floors were carefully selected to complement existing finishes. + Salem Architecture Photography by Phil Bernard via Salem Architecture

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