3XN unveils LEED Platinum-seeking Forskaren innovation center in Stockholm

May 12, 2020 by  
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Danish architecture firm 3XN has won a design competition for Forskaren, a new mixed-use innovation center for health and life science companies in Stockholm. Designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the rounded 24,000-square-meter building will draw power from renewable sources. Forskaren will also promote sustainable principles among its tenants with the inclusion of light-filled collaborative spaces and restaurants with eco-friendly fare. Forskaren was designed as part of Hagastaden, a 96-hectare district that is one of the city’s largest and most important urban development projects. The new building will be located between the Karolinska University Hospital and the old Stockholm city hospital to cement the district’s reputation as a world-class destination for research in health, life science and treatment. Hagastaden, which is slated for completion in 2025, also encompasses new housing, a subway station and green spaces. Related: Sculptural, energy-saving office boasts the “smartest building advances in Germany” Forskaren reflects the ambitions of the new district with an open and inviting design built largely of natural materials both inside and out. The building will comprise office space for both established companies and startups as well as restaurants, cafes and an exhibition area showcasing cutting-edge life science research. The light-filled building will be centered on an airy atrium with a distinctive spiral staircase. Along with its surrounding square, Forskaren’s amenities will be publicly accessible as part of a plan to make the building a natural gathering point in Hagastaden. To meet LEED Platinum standards, Forskaren will be equipped with rooftop solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. Graywater collected from rainwater harvesting systems will be used for irrigation and watering plants. Expansive glazing, timber solar shades and a series of other energy-efficient building systems will help keep energy use to a minimum. Forskaren is slated for completion in 2024. + 3XN Images via 3XN

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3XN unveils LEED Platinum-seeking Forskaren innovation center in Stockholm

ZHA unveils LEED Gold-targeted OPPO headquarters in Shenzhen

February 3, 2020 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won an international competition to design Chinese tech giant OPPO’s new headquarters in Shenzhen, China. Defined by the firm’s signature curvilinear features, the new office complex will comprise four interconnected towers with rounded shapes evocative of giant missiles. Wrapped in glass and filled with natural light, the tapered towers will target LEED Gold certification and are expected to break ground later this year, with completion planned in early 2025. Since launching its first phone in 2008, OPPO has grown to become China’s leading smartphone manufacturer and the fifth largest worldwide with over 40,000 employees in more than 40 countries. The new headquarters in Shenzhen reflects this meteoric growth and the company’s investment in innovative research with its futuristic design. The architects have developed the architectural design with 3D Building Information Modeling (BIM) and energy management systems to optimize efficiencies. Related: ZHA completes LEED Gold-targeted building with world’s largest atrium in Beijing Spanning an area of 185,000 square meters, the new OPPO headquarters will reach a height of 200 meters and 42 floors in its tallest tower. Two towers connected by a 20-story vertical lobby will comprise flexible, open-plan office spaces and will be flanked by two external service towers housing vertical circulation. The towers are oriented for optimal views over Shenzhen Bay — a 10th-floor Sky Plaza and rooftop Sky Lab will provide publicly accessible viewing areas — and are tapered inward at the bottom to make room for large civic spaces at street level that will include a landscaped plaza, art gallery, shops, restaurants and a direct link to a nearby subway station. “Locating the towers’ service cores externally frees the center of each floor from obstructions, providing uninterrupted views throughout the building that will enhance interaction between employees,” the firm explained in a statement. “Large atrium spaces unite all occupants through visual connectivity, helping to foster collaboration between different departments of the company. The abundance of natural light, varied working environments and diversity of routes for staff and visitors to move through the building are all conducive to creative engagement and spontaneity.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Portugal-based nonprofit refurbishes old buildings with natural insulation

February 3, 2020 by  
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With a background in social initiatives, nonprofit Critical Concrete aims to refurbish socially relevant spaces that are shared by low-income communities in Portugal. In addition to refurbishing homes for those in need, Critical Concrete is also focused on educating the local community on sustainable actions and earth-friendly practices by running several different educational programs and activities. The organization promotes green architecture and social action through a summer school program that refurbishes a home for a family in need every year. In August, 32 students from 20 countries were brought together for three intense weeks, with a plan to establish a model to refurbish housing through sustainable methods. With the help of 15 experienced mentors and support from the team at Critical Concrete, the group worked on a home in the Bairro dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Neighborhood) of Matosinhos in northern Porto. The old quarter was originally built for fishermen and their families around the turn of the 20th century. Related: Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal To ensure that the theories behind the actions were being absorbed as well, students spent Tuesdays and Thursdays attending lectures by the program mentors, who were experts in architecture , new ways of building and urban perspective. Critical Concrete has made these lectures available on its Youtube channel , so anyone can learn more about these topics. Along with cooperation from the Municipality of Matosinhos, Critical Concrete also worked alongside public organization MatosinhosHabit, who contributed the cost of materials. The original building was constructed in the 1930s and is a representation of typical homes found around the Bairro dos Pescadores neighborhood, as in it is built without insulation . Previously, the nonprofit had used materials such as mycelium and wool to create an insulation solution for these types of structures, but in 2019, Critical Concrete started working with a new mixture of cardboard and lime. While this blend proved to be the most durable solution, it was also quite arduous. First, the cardboard is wetted and shredded, then mixed with sand, hydraulic and hydrated lime and plaster. Finally, the mix is applied to the formwork molds of the structure and dried. Though the transformation of even one house per year is impressive enough, Critical Concrete hopes to convert even more homes through additional projects in the future and have a more positive influence on similar communities throughout Portugal . + Critical Concrete Images via Critical Concrete

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ZHA completes LEED Gold-targeted building with worlds largest atrium in Beijing

November 22, 2019 by  
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In China’s capital city, Zaha Hadid Architects has completed the Leeza SOHO tower, a 45-story skyscraper that boasts the world’s largest atrium at 194.15 meters in height. Designed to anchor the new Fengtai business district in southwest Beijing, the futuristic tower is wrapped in a double-insulated unitized glass curtain wall system that curves around its twisting, sculptural form. In addition to double glazing, the Leeza SOHO incorporates water collection, low-flow fixtures, a green roof , photovoltaic panels and other sustainable measures to meet LEED Gold standards. Set atop an underground subway service tunnel, Leeza SOHO was strategically sited next to the business district’s rail station at the intersection of five new lines that are currently under construction. The tunnel that bisects the tower splits the building into two halves; the resulting void in between has been turned into an atrium that acts as a new public square. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects designs BREEAM-targeted terminal for electrified Rail Baltic In addition to providing panoramic views of the city, the rotated atrium also brings daylight deep into the building and doubles as a thermal chimney with an integrated ventilation system to bring clean air to the interiors. Indoor comfort is further achieved with the low-E, double-insulated glazing that ensures stable temperatures. To meet LEED Gold standards, Leeza SOHO features an advanced 3D BIM energy management system to monitor real-time environmental control and energy efficiency. Energy-saving measures include heat recovery from exhaust air; high-efficiency equipment such as pumps, fans and lighting; low-flow water fixtures and gray water flushing. Low-VOC materials were selected to minimize interior pollutants. Occupants and visitors can also enjoy plenty of bicycle parking, with 2,680 spaces available, as well as lockers and shower facilities. Underground, there are also dedicated charging spaces for electric and hybrid cars. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Hufton+Crow / Zaha Hadid Architects

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BIGs LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces

November 14, 2019 by  
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After five years in the making, BIG has completed The Heights, a new public school building in Arlington, Virginia that not only offers a unique and energy-efficient take on school architecture, but also helps maximize density and open space. Located along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, The Heights combines two existing secondary schools into a new 180,000-square-foot building that opens like a fan with a cascade of green-roofed terraces to provide an indoor-outdoor learning landscape. An emphasis on natural daylighting, green space, material reuse and energy efficiency has put the building on track to achieve LEED Gold certification . Completed on a $100 million budget, the dynamic new school building houses two programs: the H-B Woodlawn Program that offers visual and performing arts-focused curricula for grades 6 through 12, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program that serves students aged 11 to 22 with special needs. The school can accommodate an expected enrollment of up to 775 students. Related: Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the “greenest school in Nepal” To make the most of a compact urban site bounded by roads on three sides, BIG organized the school as a stack of five rectangular floorplates rotated around a fixed pivot point to create a series of outdoor green-roofed terraces connected with a rotating central staircase. The spacious first terrace can be used for special events while the upper terraces are more suitable as classroom and study areas. The classroom “bars” have also informed the interior layout, which is anchored by a central vertical core containing the elevators, stairs and bathrooms as well as a triple-height lobby with stepped seating on the ground floor. For easy accessibility and to encourage public interaction throughout the school, the lobby is directly adjacent to many of the school’s common spaces, such as the 400-seat auditorium , main gymnasium, library, reception and cafeteria. Intuitive wayfinding is also extended to the classroom spaces in that each classroom “bar” is defined by its own color used to paint the walls and lockers. In contrast to its colorful interior, The Heights’ exterior is clad in white glazed brick to unify its fanned-out massing and to respect the surroundings, including the historic architecture of Old Town Alexandria. Select materials from the former Wilson School, which The Heights was built to replace, have been salvaged and reused in the new build. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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A modern timber house in Indonesia celebrates mummified wood

March 18, 2019 by  
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When Bandung-based architectural studio Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture was asked to renovate an old house in the West Java neighborhood of Kiaracondong in Indonesia, they made a surprising discovery. During the demolition process, the architects found that the wooden roof truss structure was in very good condition, despite its age, thanks to a culturally significant type of timber, a kind of Albizzia wood that’s been mummified to improve strength and durability. Described by the architects as a “local treasure,” the timber was not only preserved in the roof truss, but also becomes a defining element in the contemporary home, aptly named the Albizzia House. Completed in 2019, the Albizzia House spans an area of approximately 2,000 square feet across two floors. The existing timber house was partly demolished to allow for a reorganization of the layout and a structural expansion. Organized around a light-filled atrium housing the primarily living spaces, the home now includes three bedrooms, garden and terrace spaces, a reading room and a ground-floor prayer room. Natural light and ventilation is optimized in the renovated dwelling. One of the key changes to the house was the addition of timber cladding as a secondary skin to mitigate unwanted solar heat gain and privacy concerns. The vertical timber slats—and interior wooden furnishings—are a visual continuation of the Albizzia wood used as accents in the ceiling and reading room. The preserved wood in the existing building’s roof truss is also highlighted with the expansion of the truss into the new structure. Related: Green-roofed Hanging Villa is embedded into a lush jungle landscape Although Albizzia, a fast-growing and economical timber, is typically considered low-grade due to its weak and brittle qualities, local farmers in Ciamis, West Java, discovered long ago a method to improve upon the strength of the wood. In this “long-established technology,” the locally procured wood is buried under the paddy fields after the harvest season and the timber is then “mummified” in the compaction process, which, according to the architects, greatly increases the wood grade. + Aaksen Responsible Aarchitecture Via ArchDaily Images by KIE

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Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape

November 30, 2018 by  
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Named after the way light bounces off of its angled walls and ceilings, Dancing Light is an award-winning dwelling nestled in the desert town of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Local architecture practice Kendle Design Collaborative crafted the custom residence, giving it a sense of drama with pointy pavilion-like rooflines, yet grounded the design through indigenous materials and a desert-inspired color palette. Full-height walls of glass also embrace the landscape and the home is also set up to optimize indoor-outdoor living. Spread out across 6,200 square feet on a single story, the Dancing Light Home organizes the master suite, open-plan living spaces, and a four-car garage as seemingly separate structures around a central atrium—landscaped with rocks, succulents, and an ironwood tree—and linked with glass-walled corridors to allow daylight and cross-breezes to penetrate deep into the house. Key to the design is the dramatic floating roof canopy that lifts upwards at the outer edges of the home to draw the eye up and out towards panoramic mountain views. The angled, tectonic-like surfaces were inspired by the local geology and monsoon cloud formations; the “fissures” conceal the lighting and mechanical systems. “ Natural light brings this home to life, seeping in through carefully articulated crevices or reflecting off the strategically located pool, constantly transforming the mood of this home,” explains Kendle Design Collaborative in a project statement. “At times water-reflected light dances across the fractured planes of earth and wood while at other times it provides a Zen-like sense of calm.” Related: Rammed-Earth Quartz Mountain Residence Captures Beauty of Arizona Desert ` The cast-in-situ concrete walls and the rammed earth walls tie the building into the desert landscape and create a rustic feel. The materials also have the added benefit of absorbing heat during the day and dissipating it at night to reduce reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems. + Kendle Design Collaborative Images by Alexander Vertikoff

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Magical rainbow swamp goes viral

November 30, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, Brent Rossen posted a photo on Reddit that his girlfriend took of a rainbow swamp, and within 24 hours the photo received more than 120,000 upvotes. The couple was enjoying a walk at First Landing State Park in Virginia when they came upon the unusual phenomenon. “Me and my girlfriend were walking in the woods the other week and saw a rainbow pool for the first time,” Rossen wrote in his post. Related: Magical artworks place lamps, books and chairs in the middle of nature So how does this happen? Jeff Ripple, a former Florida swamp walk leader, told the BBC that the rainbow effect occurs because of the natural oils released by decaying vegetation. The decomposing leaves in the water release tannic acid and a thin film forms on top of pooled water in swamps and marshes. When the sunlight hits it at a certain angle, you can see the gorgeous colors. However, if you look at the water in a shadow, it appears to be normal swamp water. But, on a sunny day, you can see the rainbow when you look at it from an angle. The water also needs to be still for a long period of time for the rainbows to appear. Ripple says that any movement from sheet flow, wind disturbances, or current will “destroy the fragile rainbow film.” This phenomenon reportedly happens at various swamps and marshes along the Eastern seaboard. Retired engineer Michael Hussey posted a pic on Facebook of a rainbow pool in Tallahassee, Florida. Swamp walk leader Sandra Friend has also blogged about her experience with rainbow swamps, and Annie from Not Just Abroad has also posted about a rainbow swamp in Caw Caw County Park in Charleston, South Carolina. Hussey says that he sees this happen every three to four years, and it is “beautiful to see.” Thomas Thornton, facility manager at Caw Caw swamp, says that it must be the result of some kind of perfect storm, and it seems like you have to be lucky to see it in person. Via BBC Images via Shutterstock

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Architects recycle shipping containers into a breezy Dhaka home

October 30, 2018 by  
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In Dhaka, Bangladesh , local architecture firm River & Rain transformed four shipping containers into a light-filled, three-story house spanning 134 square meters. Completed in 2017, the cargotecture dwelling doesn’t hide its shipping container roots yet manages to exude a welcoming and livable atmosphere through strategically cut openings, terraces that emphasize indoor-outdoor living and greenery that grows up, around and through the building. Recycled materials were also used throughout the home, which is named Escape Den after its tranquil setting on the outskirts of the city. Spread out across three floors, the Escape Den organizes the kitchen and dining spaces on an elevated ground floor and places the living room and bedroom areas on the upper levels. Accessed via a side gate off of a dirt road, the property features an entry sequence that begins with a short flight of stairs from the parking pad to a sheltered deck. The deck consists of the dining area and other seating options oriented to face views of the lawn, which takes up approximately two-thirds of the site. The covered deck also connects to a shipping container converted to house a small media room, kitchen and bathroom. The caretaker’s room is located in the back. A flight of stairs traverses the central atrium space — anchored by an almond tree and a veil of green vines that hang from the ceiling — and connects to a glass-enclosed living room. Another flight of stairs leads up to the third floor, where a third shipping container, housing the two bedrooms, is set perpendicular to the bulk of the building in a dramatic cantilever and is topped with a green roof . One of the bedrooms also connects to an outdoor terrace . The green-roofed shipping container can be reached via a spiral staircase. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces “The hefty look of those containers has become dramatically airier with some skillful ensemble of architectural details,” the architects explained. “The floated platforms of the house, intertwining stairs and diverse direction of container placement have made the project more visually eye-catching.” + River & Rain Photography by Maruf Raihan , Hasan Saifuddin Chandan  and Snahasis Saha via River & Rain

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Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building

October 17, 2018 by  
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Delft-based architectural office cepezed recently completed a solar-powered branch for Graafschap College in Doetinchem that — unlike most school buildings in the Netherlands — eschews natural gas in favor of a power supply that’s 100 percent electric. Built for the students of the Sports & Exercise and Safety & Craftsmanship departments, the new school building prioritizes a healthy indoor learning environment that maximizes access to natural daylight and views of the outdoors. In homage of the many oak trees that grow around the building, the architects partially wrapped the structure in tree-shaped weathered steel cladding that serves as a double skin for solar shading. Built to house approximately 700 students, the new Graafschap College branch at Sportpark Zuid features at its heart a large, light-filled atrium named The Midfield in reference to sports and teamwork. The Midfield is organized into a series of cascading terraces with large landing areas that serve as informal meeting spaces. The glass atrium roof floods The Midfield with natural light and is combined with sensor-enabled LED lighting to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. “In order to be able to look over the car park from the ground floor, and to give the building the appearance of a pavilion in green surroundings, the school has been elevated by a half-story and placed on a basement,” the architecture firm noted. “Beside the car park, the height difference is bridged by an elongated, landscaped staircase, which also incorporates a ramp.” Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 For the facade, the architects installed alternating strips of glass and black aluminum panels to create a sleek and modern appearance. A second skin of perforated Corten steel cut into the shapes of oak trees is laid over the east, west and south facades of the building and helps deflect unwanted solar gain without preventing daylight from entering the building. cepezedinterieur handled the interior design, which also follows a contemporary aesthetic but with brighter colors and patterns that allude to sports and movement. In addition to solar panels, the school also uses solar boilers for water heating. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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