University of Toronto Scarborough learning hub to welcome nature indoors

September 17, 2020 by  
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Canadian firm ZAS Architects and Denmark-based CEBRA Architecture have unveiled the design for the Instructional Centre Phase 2 (IC-2), a new companion building at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Deigned as a “dynamic learning landscape,” the building eschews the traditional boxy arrangement of rooms for a more fluid layout that prioritizes flexibility and stacks learning spaces on top of each other. In addition to a large green roof that will top the fourth floor, the new five-story building will also feature sloped garden beds and an indoor landscaped courtyard. Proposed for a site currently used as a surface parking lot, the new institutional building will offer a variety of technology-enabled spaces, including 21 classrooms of varying sizes and configurations, from a 500-seat auditorium to smaller, 24-seat learning spaces. The project will also contain 124 faculty and staff offices, study spaces, lab rooms, meeting areas and multiple co-working spaces designed to encourage peer collaboration. The ground floor will be used as a social hub with a cafe and informal gathering spaces complete with soaring ceiling heights and an open floor plan. Related: UK University unveils efficient, BREEAM-certified learning center “We envisioned a truly flexible environment that broke down traditional pedagogies and instead, encouraged a fluid learning experience unconfined by the walls of the classroom,” said Paul Stevens, founder and senior principal at ZAS Architects. “Peer-to-peer learning is emulated in all aspects of the design.” Fitted with a mix of translucent and fritted glazing, the contemporary building will be awash in natural light to promote student health and wellness while reducing the facility’s energy footprint. To further provide both mental and physical support to students, the design dedicates a state-of-the-art central floor to student health that will include counseling and mental health resources, a meditation room, a breastfeeding room, a physician and nurse office and academic advising and accessibility services. + ZAS Architects Images via ZAS Architects

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University of Toronto Scarborough learning hub to welcome nature indoors

Hollandse Nieuwe crafts a vibrant, eco-friendly workspace with VR

September 10, 2020 by  
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Amsterdam-based architectural practice Hollandse Nieuwe has enlisted the help of virtual reality to create a dynamic and colorful workspace for civil servants. Commissioned by the local government as part of the city’s current policy to provide homes and semi-public workplaces for civil servants, the architects designed a flexible office space conducive to collaboration, health and creativity. The 1,650-square-meter office development was completed in 2019. To meet the government’s brief for a semi-public workspace open to all civil servants, the architects took cues from a grand cafe for the design of the ground floor. To promote social activity, the building features a plaza-like area that hosts diverse meeting places as well as a catering facility and kitchen that provides high-quality coffee. Related: Old coffee roastery to be reborn as a net-zero carbon office in London In the extended part of the plaza is the ‘superflexzone,’ an area comprising workspaces as well as flex-spaces that can be used as overflow for rentable units and civil servants interested in “hot desking,” or staying in the building for just a short period of time. The office also has a conference center for formal meetings. Although the office space follows an open-floor plan , the architects have clearly delineated the busier zones from the quieter areas while bright color schemes aid in way-finding. Proper insulation provides pleasant acoustics and indoor comfort as well. VR technology was also used to communicate the vision to the client for optimal results. The project follows the architecture firm’s goals of sustainability and recycling. Elements from the original interior, for instance, have been repurposed for the design of the new interior. The materials and finishes are all environmentally friendly. Well Standard principles have also been followed, and the existing pillars were covered with a new layer of foil to make them look fresh. Plant motifs are woven throughout the design to create a connection with nature. + Hollandse Nieuwe Images via Hollandse Nieuwe

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262 wicker baskets come together in a stunning arched pavilion

September 8, 2020 by  
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For the third annual Annecy Paysages landscape architecture festival, Riga-based Didzis Jaunzems Architecture (DJA) has crafted the Wicker Pavilion, a beautiful and innovative pavilion covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets. Located in the heart of Jardins de l’Europe in the alpine town of Annecy, France, the pavilion provided park visitors respite from the hot summer sun while framing select views of the landscape. DJA also participated in the festival last year with the UGUNS pavilion. With the Wicker Pavilion, Didzis Jaunzems Architecture has combined contemporary architecture with traditional Latvian craftsmanship. The arched pavilion was built with a timber grid shell structure technique. “The triangular mesh of the timber grid is assembled on the ground, then the middle part is lifted to a necessary height and then the three corners are fixed to create the final arched shape,” the architects explained. “The load bearing structure is made of pine tree planks 21 x 45 mm in 6 structural layers connected with bolts at crossing points.” Related: Glowing Wishing Pavilion is made with 5,000 recycled plastic bricks The timber-framed shell was then covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets that were woven into cone shapes by Latvian artisans. The lattice structure of the wicker baskets allows for filtered daylight through the pavilion, creating a dynamic play of light and shadow on the grass. In addition to providing a shaded space for park visitors, the arched pavilion also invites a sense of play. The gridded triangular sections of the frame are large enough for passersby to poke their heads inside and look through to views framed by the conical wicker baskets. To improve the flexibility of the timber structure during the construction process, the architects wet the structure with water to increase the pliability of the materials. Over time, the timber and wicker materials will develop a natural patina and turn a silvery gray to better blend in with the surrounding landscape. + DJA Photography by Eriks Bozis via DJA

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262 wicker baskets come together in a stunning arched pavilion

Office towers to boast first AI-driven facade powered by renewable energy

September 1, 2020 by  
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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Australia-based architecture firm Fender Katsalidis Architects have placed first in an international competition to design Central Place Sydney, a new landmark development at Sydney’s Central Station in the Central Business District. The $2.5 billion commercial development is expected to revitalize the city’s busiest transport interchange on the western edge of Central Station. The project will feature a vibrant public realm along with two tech-focused office towers equipped with the very first AI-driven facade system powered entirely by renewable energy.  Developed in partnership with developers Dexus and Frasers Property Australia, Central Place Sydney will feature a 37-story tower and a 39-story tower set on a low-rise plinth that will engage the streetscape with ground-level retail, collaborative community spaces and extensive landscaping. Designed as a core element of the district’s burgeoning Tech Central area, the mixed-use development will offer approximately 150,000 square meters of office and retail space. The ground floor is highly permeable, and all public spaces were designed with a focus on easy and efficient pedestrian flow. Related: SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon The architects expect Central Place Sydney to be one of the most sustainable commercial developments in Australia. Not only will the project include highly flexible workspaces that integrate nature via winter gardens and outdoor terraces, but indoor spaces will also have ample access to natural light and ventilation via operable windows and an automated facade system. The site-specific design approach informed the shape of the buildings, which are engineered to mitigate wind forces and maximize natural light. The computer-controlled, renewable energy-powered facade will shield the interiors from unwanted solar gain.  “Central Place Sydney’s focal point is a major new civic space wrapped with activated retail edges, enriched by two commercial towers and a landmark central building,” said Mark Curzon, design director for Fender Katsalidis Architects. “It will redefine the precinct, completing Sydney’s vision for a ‘third square.’” + Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Images via Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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The Lookout House celebrates site’s volcanic history

August 12, 2020 by  
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When  Faulkner Architects  was asked to design a house on a spectacular site in Truckee, California, the Placer County-based design practice allowed the beautiful landscape to dictate the design. The contemporary home, aptly named Lookout House for its views, emphasizes indoor/outdoor living with its full-height glazing and natural material palette. The home design also focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency, as seen in its mass-heavy concrete walls, radiant heated stone floors, R80 insulated roof and high-efficiency mechanical and lighting equipment.  Located at the base of a 3-million-year-old  volcano , the Lookout House is set on a north-facing 20-degree slope perched 6,300 feet above sea level, on a clearing surrounded by second-growth Jeffrey Pine and White Fir trees. In addition to contributing to the forest’s growth, the region’s volcanic history further defines the land with volcanic sediment and boulders as large as 15 feet in diameter.  To center views of the landscape, the architects partially inserted the building into the slope — a narrow slot in the home’s massing mirrors a cleared ski access near the site — and wrapped the home with insulated 20-inch  concrete  walls made from local sand and aggregate. Full-height openings and glazed sliding doors that open up the house to prevailing southwesterly winds punctuate the thick fire-resistant and low-maintenance steel-and-concrete facade. The minimalist palette continues inside, with parts of the entry and central staircase bathed in warm light from red-orange glass symbolic of cooling magma. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home “Produced by layer upon layer of sketches and study that first seek to discover the existing attributes and characteristics of the place, this architecture does not reflect a singular concept or idea,” the architects explained. “The built place, including its appearance, is the product of the making of a series of experiences that together set the stage for life to unfold. The process is about an approach to problem-solving on a difficult but epic  alpine  site. The completed place envelopes the continuous space of the slope up to the south sun and mountain top that has existed for millions of years.” + Faulkner Architects Images via Joe Fletcher

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The Lookout House celebrates site’s volcanic history

Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

August 10, 2020 by  
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Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world Joel Makower Mon, 08/10/2020 – 02:11 And now for some serious fun. Last week, I had the opportunity to facilitate an  online conversation with  Terreform ONE , a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit architecture and urban design research group whose humble mission is “to combat the extinction of planetary species through pioneering acts of design.” It was a refreshing jolt of inspiration and hopefulness during this otherwise dreary moment. The conversation was hosted by the San Francisco-based Museum of Craft and Design , which recently housed an exhibition titled  “Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience,” in which visionary architects and artists were asked to create artistically interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter in a warming world. (My wife, Randy Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit  Art Works for Change , created the exhibition, which has traveled North America the past few years.) As part of the exhibition, Art Works for Change commissioned Terreform ONE (for Open Network Ecology) to create  Cricket Shelter Farm , an innovative living space that addresses both sustainable food systems and modular compact architecture. Essentially, it is housing that also serves as a cricket farm and, hence, a source of food for its human residents. Each of the hundreds of off-the-shelf plastic containers that form the main structure house a self-contained colony of crickets, which can be turned into high-protein flour. A typical shelter might have 300 such units, each producing a bag of “chirp chips,” or the ingredients for making such things as bagels or pasta, every few weeks. “They live happy lives and they reproduce,” explained Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE’s co-founder, of the tiny, six-legged critters. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. That may sound fanciful — and, for some, less than appetizing — but insect consumption is hardly a novel concept, according to a 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report . “From ants to beetle larvae — eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets — to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide,” FAO said. Some 80 percent of the world’s nations eat insects in some form. And because you can produce a gram of cricket protein using a tiny fraction of the land, water and other resources it takes to produce a gram of animal protein, it represents a vast ecological improvement compared to eating meat from cows, chickens, lambs and pigs. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Bikes, buildings and butterflies Cricket Shelter Farm is just one of Terreform ONE’s  innovative solutions . There’s  Gen2Seat , ”the first full-scale synthetic biological chair,” created by fusing mycelium — the vegetative part of a fungus, and the foundation for mushrooms — with bacteria to create a  biobased polymer. “It’s designed for kindergartens, and she’s supposed to go home and tell mommy and daddy that she can eat her chair and that it’s okay,” said Joachim, a Harvard- and MIT-educated architect, Fulbright Scholar and TED Fellow, whose daughter is pictured here, modeling the chair. Another is the  Plug-In Ecology: Urban Farm Pod , a habitat “for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs.” As Joachim explained: “Instead of a green wall, it’s a green ball for your home or your rooftop or your urban balcony or an urban park. You make food on the outside and the inside. It’s on wheels, so it can rotate to get the most amount of solar income.” An app tells you when the veggies are ready to pick. And then there’s the  Monarch Sanctuary , a prototype building façade that serves as a habitat for the butterfly of that name, an iconic pollinator species that is considered endangered. It’s a regular building on the inside but the skin of the building doubles as a “vertical butterfly meadow.” Terreform ONE teamed with BASF to launch a Monarch Sanctuary  installation at the Morris Museum. A  planned eight-story building in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood will be the first full-scale version. In addition to BASF, Terreform has also worked with Intel and GE. “These big partners are very much interested in sharing these concepts so they can move on their side of things to make some of them happen,” said Terreform Executive Director Vivian Kuan, an architect with an interdisciplinary background in art, entrepreneurial marketing and startups. Quotidian, everyday folks One of the things I truly appreciate about Terreform’s approach is its attention to the social aspect of these innovative designs. “I think a lot of the future depends on creating access and implementing these programs and making them rely on the collaboration of many different stakeholders — public-private partnerships, where cities and corporations really jump in and help the funding; and where inventors and entrepreneurs develop the technology and pilot,” Kuan said. Joachim pointed to a shared-bicycle concept being incubated at Terreform —”a super accessible bike-sharing program along with a biodiversity program,” as he described it. “This is essentially meant for people who can’t even afford something like Citi Bike” — the privately-owned public bicycle sharing system serving New York City. “It gives them access and they can use it to solve what we call the last-mile problem, which is a very difficult thing in cities. You can get buses and subways to a certain area, but then you can’t get that bag of groceries from that last stop on the subway to your home.” The low-cost cargo bikes are designed to carry up to 400 pounds. “We are working deeply to think about mobility justice in every possible form,” Joachim added. “So, none of this is imagined for the 1 percent or the super-elite. It’s imagined for the quotidian folks and the everyday people in cities, especially dense, intense urban environments.” In this topsy-turvy time, even the most fanciful ideas suddenly seem possible as we rethink cities, suburbs, buildings, work, home, shopping and practically everything else. Joachim and Kuan believe the pandemic could cause a massive shift in how people think about living in dense urban environments — or, instead, move to the ‘burbs. Either way, the times will require new designs for buildings, infrastructure and ways of moving about. Indeed, Joachim said, this may be Terreform’s moment. “We were waiting for a crisis, because we thought that was the only way we’re going to get any kind of change happening.” I invite you to  follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter,  GreenBuzz , and listen to  GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Topics Cities Buildings Eco-Design Innovation Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Terreform ONE’s fanciful vision of 42nd Street in New York city, with riparian corridors teeming with aqueous life, lighting systems with vertical-axis wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, and lots of green walls. All images courtesy of Terreform ONE. 

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Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

Self-sufficient garden-city skyscraper proposed for NYC

August 7, 2020 by  
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International design practice Lissoni & Partners’ architecture, landscape architecture and masterplanning department Lissoni Casal Ribeiro has unveiled Skylines, a proposal for a futuristic, self-sufficient skyscraper. Developed for the Skyhive 2020 Skyscraper Challenge, the conceptual design is, in essence, a vertical city housed within a super-tall tower with mixed programming that includes residences, office spaces, a university, secondary schools, hydroponic farming, sports facilities, a hospital, cultural centers and more. The idealistic Skylines concept is meant to generate all of its own energy, food, and water onsite. Proposed for an urban lot measuring 80 meters by 130 meters, the Skylines skyscraper would consist of over 40 floors surrounded by large hanging gardens that grow within an external curtain of steel cables. The vertical city would place recycling centers, parking lots and access to a subway system underground. Retail would be located on the ground floor, followed by cultural centers, a hydroponic vegetable farming system, recreational facilities, offices, a university and other schools on the floors above. Related: Conceptual eco-village empowers women in Beirut The top floors, which look to comprise at least half the building height, would be dedicated to residential areas. Greenery would surround the building on all sides to create an image of an “vertical urban forest” and help mitigate solar heat gain and the urban heat island effect while contributing to improved air quality. “The year 2020 and the arrival of a global pandemic have indeed highlighted our weaknesses and shortcomings at a structural level, causing us to devise new ways of thinking the city and the infrastructures,” the architects said. “A system that produces, optimizes and recycles energy, a perfect microclimate that filters the air, absorbs carbon dioxide, produces humidity, reuses rainwater to irrigate the greenery, in addition to providing protection from the sun’s rays and the noise of the city. Skylines is therefore not simply an ecosystem but a cultural vision that involves social and economic processes aimed at improving the quality of life, not just a sustainable architecture but a modus vivendi.” + Lissoni & Partners Images via Lissoni Casal Ribeiro

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Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

July 29, 2020 by  
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Robotic construction has taken another step forward with the Future Tree, a recently completed timber canopy built with robots in a project by Gramazio Kohler Research and ETH Zurich . Completed in October 2019, following 2 years of planning and approximately 4 months of construction, the Future Tree is a study of complex timber structures and digital concrete. The tree-like canopy was installed over the courtyard of the office building extension of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen, Switzerland. An industrial robot was used to fabricate and assemble the Future Tree’s 380 timber elements made from acetylated pine wood and fitted with full-threaded screws and tension cables to form a reciprocal frame. The structure’s canopy-like crown is supported by a single, trunk-like concrete column and anchored to the office building on two sides while cantilevering on the opposite corner. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “The frame’s geometry is informed by its structural behaviour, differentiating its flexural rigidity by playing with the opening of the reciprocal knots to achieve a higher stiffness in the cantilevering part,” Gramazio Kohler Research’s explained. “To integrate geometric, structural and fabrication concerns we developed a custom computational model of the design.” Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the project is Future Tree’s reinforced concrete column, which was made with a novel fabrication process called “Eggshell” that combines an ultra-thin, robotically 3D-printed formwork with fast-hardening concrete. As the first built example using this fabrication process, Future Tree “shows [how] non-standard concrete structures can be fabricated efficiently, economically and sustainably,” according to Gramazio Kohler Research. Because the formwork — which is 3D-printed to a thickness of 1.5 millimeters using a robotic arm — is filled with fast-hardening concrete in a layer-by-layer casting process to minimize hydrostatic pressure, it can be recycled and reused after the concrete has hydrated. + Gramazio Kohler Research Images by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and Basler & Hofmann AG

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Could a private car ban make NYC more livable?

July 29, 2020 by  
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When COVID-19 brought New York City’s traffic to a shadow of itself, Vishaan Chakrabarti, former New York City urban-planning official and founder of Manhattan-based design firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) , drafted an ambitious plan for a car-free future. Dubbed N.Y.C. (“Not Your Car”) , the proposal calls for banning private cars to create a more livable city via cleaner air, fewer car deaths and greater space allocated to the pedestrian realm. PAU’s reimagined roadways would also bolster infrastructure for cycling, ride-sharing and public transportation.  According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign , over half of New York CIty’s households do not own a car, and the majority of people who do own cars not use them for commuting. However, the amount of space that Manhattan devotes to cars adds up to nearly four times the size of Central Park, as seen in a diagram shared in The New York Times . PAU’s proposal asserts that banning private cars would not only reduce traffic but would also improve life for almost everyone who lives and works in dense American cities by freeing up space for new housing, parks and pedestrian promenades. Related: London creates massive car-free zones as the city reopens “In the case of New York City, the air in the Bronx and Queens, which are largely populated by immigrants and people of color, is more polluted than the other boroughs due to traffic sitting idle on the roads leading to Manhattan,” PAU explained. “Among other ailments, long-term exposure to polluted air is thought to increase the deadliness of COVID-19 , which is a direct result of structural racism in the city. By improving air quality, and thus reducing the health risks that invariably come along with it, the city can begin to tackle the environmental racism that plagues our communities.” The plan also offers suggestions for reengineering car-free roads with two-way bike lanes with protective barriers, dedicated bus lanes, larger dedicated trash areas to replace parking spaces, and additional crosswalks. Bridges would also be rethought; the seven-lane Manhattan Bridge, for instance, could replace four car lanes with bus lanes, paths for cyclists and a pedestrian promenade, while the remaining lanes would be used for taxis and ride-share vehicles. Local communities would also be encouraged to take part in deciding how to reclaim their car-free roads. + Practice for Architecture and Urbanism Images via Practice for Architecture and Urbanism

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Flow of plastic waste in the ocean could triple by 2040

July 24, 2020 by  
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New research by The Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ has found that the plastic flow into the oceans could triple by 2040 without immediate action. But the study, “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Towards Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution,” also outlines solutions that could cut this plastic waste by more than 80%. According to the researchers, the methods currently used to deal with plastic pollution are less effective unless they are consolidated and accompanied by new technology and more research. The report shows that if governments continue addressing plastic waste as they are currently, the amount of plastic waste flowing into oceans could only be reduced by 7% in the next 20 years. With no intervention, the plastic waste entering the ocean could grow from 11 million to 29 million metric tons by 2040. Because plastic lasts for hundreds of years, the cumulative amount pf ocean plastic could reach 600 million tons (the equivalent weight of 3 million blue whales) by that point. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors “Breaking the Plastic Wave” identifies eight measures that could reduce plastic waste by 80%. The proposed measures include reducing plastic production and consumption, substituting plastics with biodegradable alternatives, designing product packaging for recycling , increasing recycling, increasing waste collection rates and reducing plastic waste exports. More technological advancements, business models and research and development are needed to completely eliminate plastic waste in the oceans, according to the study. Although many of these methods are already being applied by some governments, the report proposes a more consolidated approach. The researchers estimate that governments could save up to $70 billion and reduce plastic-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2040 by adopting these measures together. According to Martin Stuchtey, SYSTEMIQ’s founder, the plastic pollution problem is solvable if action is taken now. “Our results indicate that the plastic crisis is solvable,” Stuchtey said. “It took a generation to create this challenge; this report shows we can solve it in one generation.” + Breaking the Plastic Wave Image via Sergei Tokmakov

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