SOMs diagrid glass tower rises like a Chinese paper lantern in Beijing

June 19, 2017 by  
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A glittering glass lantern has risen in Beijing . Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) designed the Poly International Plaza, a three-tower complex located midway between the Forbidden City and the Beijing Capital Airport. The main and tallest tower draws inspiration from Chinese paper lanterns for its continuous diagrid pattern that shimmers like a jewel and helps lower the building’s energy footprint. Winner of two 2017 Architizer A+Awards , the Poly International Plaza was completed in 2016 shortly after the Beijing Greenland Center , another SOM-designed energy-efficient glass tower. China Poly Group, one of the country’s largest state-supervised conglomerates, commissioned the commercial project. The client specified a modern and elegant building that, in the words of Poly executive Zhang Wei, would “make [their] company more famous.” The Poly International Plaza comprises three elliptical towers connected underground. The eye-catching central tower is nicknamed the Diamond Lantern and rises to a height of 499 feet and is clad in a steel-and-concrete diagrid exoskeleton with angled glass. The two smaller buildings on either side reach heights of 275 feet and 220 feet and are covered in vertical grids of dark metal rods. Related: Beautiful prismatic glass panels envelop SOM’s Beijing Greenland Center SOM writes: “The exoskeleton structural system forms an outer thermal envelope around the office spaces, which are enclosed within a second glazed interior envelope. This creates daylit communal areas that accommodate meetings and foster social interaction, while establishing physical and visual connections between floors. The long-span structural design not only opens up the interior, creating a column-free work environment, but also employs a highly sustainable architectural/mechanical approach to address the climatic and air quality challenges particular to Beijing.” + SOM Via Architectural Record Images via SOM , photos by Bruce Damonte

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SOMs diagrid glass tower rises like a Chinese paper lantern in Beijing

Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

April 25, 2017 by  
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The next time you visit Beijing you may want to get your sled ready. China’s ever-evolving capital will soon be home to a stunning new civic center topped with an artificial snow-covered slope perfect for skiing and sledding. Designed by architect Andrew Bromberg of Aedas , the civic center, called the China World Trade Center Phase 3C, will merge energy efficient principles with mixed-use programming that accommodates the arts, outdoor recreation, and even organic farming. Set for completion in 2020, this extraordinary project is the final piece of the China World Trade Center masterplan, which includes Beijing’s two tallest towers to date in the city’s business district. With its eye-catching sculptural shape and ample green space, the Phase 3C development will serve as an anchor and gateway to the complex. Instead of massing the buildings around a single street-level civic green, Bromberg elevated the green space to the upper level to create a series of green terraces outfitted with seating and large trees. The shape of the elevated building dips towards the street corner but gently lifts up towards the tall towers. An Olympic-sized indoor ice-skating rink will be located directly below the largest roof garden, which sits above multiple levels of retail. Parking is tucked beneath ground. The building will also include an amphitheater, art studios, exhibition spaces, an organic farm , cultural and educational facilities, a rock climbing wall, theater, and a water play area that can be converted into an outdoor ice skating rink in winter. The crown jewel of the project is the sloping hill at the crest of the building that, with the use of artificial snow, will be turned into a slope for skiing and sledding during the colder months. Related: Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution To lower its energy footprint, the building will be clad in low-e , low-iron glass and is designed to maximize indoor access to natural light to reduce electricity demands. Existing trees will be transplanted onto the roof of the development and the natural landscaping will help reduce the city’s heat island effect and solar gain. Specially chosen plants and an efficient irrigation system are expected to reduce the project’s landscape requirements by as much as 30 percent as compared to the project baseline for the peak watering month. Water Efficiency Labeling Scheme (WELS) rated water fittings will also be used. The project will begin construction in August 2017. + Aedas Images via Aedas

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Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

Renovated Beijing factory gets new life with an elegantly-integrated Zen garden

March 27, 2017 by  
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After several renovations since the original construction of this Beijing factory, an extensive overhaul has breathed new life into the building – literally.  He Wei Studio / 3andwich Design renovated the building with a beautiful Zen garden gracefully integrated into the structure in order to convey the essence of the traditional Chinese private garden. Modern office workers can immerse themselves in a calming, natural environment, no matter how stressful the day gets. The original factory, built in 1970, went through several renovations before He Wei undertook the challenge of turning it into a modern office space that keeps the spirit of ancient building practices. The team restructured the circulation and created longer routes to allow people to calm down when entering the main space. Related: Former Panasonic factory building in China converted into a modern events space A zigzagging path leads visitors from the entrance on the west side through a long, narrow semi-outdoor corridor. This way people have to walk through the entire garden, called Zen Chamber. A folded stair, located between the long ramp and paralleled stairs, offer views of the inner courtyard and big tearoom through grating racks. The second floor, which serves as the main public space, is narrow and long and houses a music room, small tearooms, meditation room and a large tearoom. + He Wei Studio / 3andwich Design Via Sunshine PR Photos by Zou Bin

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
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Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

March 23, 2017 by  
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Pollution has plagued India recently; a 2017 report showed people are more likely to die from air pollution not in China, as might be your first guess, but in India. But one area of the country could receive a breath of fresh air. Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world, could become the country’s first carbon-neutral district. Majuli, which is found in India’s Assam state, is home to plentiful biodiversity and the neo-Vaishnavite culture, which according to The Guardian is a monotheistic branch of Hinduism. But the river island is in trouble: monsoons and the river absorb homes as land is disappearing rapidly. In the middle of the 19th century, the river island was around 463 square miles, but in 2015 it was just around 154 square miles, and some research says Majuli could be gone in two decades. Related: New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth “Majuli is facing an existential crisis and therefore initiatives like designating [it] a carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site are [the] needs of the hour to preserve its rich heritage and legacy,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The government aims to make the river island the country’s first carbon-neutral sector by 2020 . Sonowal aims to raise awareness among locals as the area works to become free of pollution. He suggested parents could give a sapling to their children for their birthdays, and plant trees around their homes. He also started an electronic registry to scrutinize the climate impact of any projects proposed for Majuli. A project called the Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development, started late last year, will ensure the river island’s infrastructure is low carbon . According to Sonowal’s office as quoted by The Times of India, “Further declaration of Majuli as a Biodiversity Heritage Site, the first in the state, enforces the rich biological biodiversity in the wild, cultivated areas of the island and cultural heritage of Majuli.” Via India Times , The Times of India , and The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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China to replace Beijing’s 67,000 gas-powered taxis with electric cars

March 2, 2017 by  
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Beijing ‘s air pollution was so bad last December that hundreds of flights were canceled at the city’s international airport due to poor visibility. In an effort to clean up the capital’s notorious smog, China just announced a plan to replace the city’s 67,000 gas-powered taxis with electric cars – and it will require all new taxis to be electric. The gas-to-electric cab conversion project is expected to cost taxi operators $1.3 billion (9 billion yuan). Electric vehicles in China currently cost around $20,000, which is twice as much as conventional cars. Besides the high price tag for EVs, another challenge for taxi companies looking to electrify their fleets is the lack of charging stations in Beijing. When the city added 200 electric taxis to its fleet in 2014, drivers reportedly were waiting in lines of up to six hours at charging stations. Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution While China made improvements to air quality in 2014 with its “war on pollution,” smog is on the rise again because of increased industrial production in China’s steelmaking heartland south of Beijing, according to Greenpeace. Shifting wind patterns have blown air pollution north, with heavy smog settling into the Jingjinji national capital region (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei). China also recently announced that its domestic railway will expand by nearly 19,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) before 2020, with one-third of the increased mileage to be high-speed rail. According to China’s Economic Daily newspaper, “by 2020, China will have built a comprehensive modern transportation system that is safe, convenient, efficient and green.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Flickr and Wikimedia

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Dazzling art-filled passageway immerses visitors in everything that makes Amsterdam special

March 2, 2017 by  
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The city of Amsterdam just added another attraction to its long list of must-sees. Artists Arno Coenen, Iris Roskam and Hans van Bentem converted an arched passageway into Amsterdam Oersoep, an immersive art project decorated with seemingly innumerable references to the city of Amsterdam, its history, and its future. Glass mosaic, traditional Italian terrazzo, gilded mirrors, and recycled bicycle chandeliers are just a few of the beautiful elements that make up the intricate and enchanting artwork. Commissioned by Bouwinvest , Amsterdam Oersoep was created as part of a redevelopment project called Nowadays that encompasses the passageway and the buildings attached to it on Nieuwendijk and Damrak. Amsterdam Oersoepâ??Oersoep is Dutch for â??primordial soupâ??â??was created in Beurspassage , a passageway between Damrak avenue and the street of Nieuwendijk popularly used among Amsterdam residents and tourists. The renewed Beurspassage was created as a major tourist attraction, beautification project, and to include the worldâ??s longest coffee bar in the world: Liquid Mokum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf89uLLvO5A Related: Nature-filled office takes over a former factory building in Amsterdam-Noord The Amsterdam Oersoep pays homage to the cityâ??s canals with its color scheme and wavy images that give the effect of walking through an underwater tunnel. The ceiling is covered in 450 square meters of glass mosaic embedded with iconic symbols of Amsterdam, from fish and air bubbles that allude to the canals to bicycle gears and a floating Vincent van Gogh ear. The sides of the passageway are lined with bluish-green tiles as well as large gilded and engraved Art Deco-styled mirrors. Handmade stained glass lamps, crafted in thirteen different shapes, hang from the sides. The traditional Italian terrazzo flooring is decorated with icons symbolic of the cityâ??s rich heritage of art and trade. Seven golden chandeliers hung from above are made from recycled bicycle parts like gears, headlamps, and handlebars. Every detail in the Amsterdam Oersoep hints to the stories of Amsterdam, creating a richly layered and beautiful artwork that fully immerses whomever walks through the passage. + Beurspassage Images by Kees Hummel

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Chinas rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design

February 15, 2017 by  
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Airbnb’s biggest rival in China, Xiaozhu , just opened their latest office in Beijing, a diverse and flexible work environment that bears similarities to an Ikea showroom. The office space, called Sliced House, is the work of People’s Architecture Office (PAO) and People’s Industrial Design Office (PIDO), and is largely inspired by the diversity of the home-sharing startup’s online listings. The office’s collection of domestic spaces creates a casual and playful setting that fosters spontaneous interactions. PAO credits Xiaozhu’s need for a flexible work environment to the startup’s rapid growth—the five-year-old startup is valued at over $300 million and could possibly be bought out by AirBnB in the near future. The office is mostly open plan but also includes private meeting rooms, a conference room, and lounge. Most of the workspaces can be rearranged into different configurations, from the jigsaw-like worktables that can break away into individual desks to the conference room that uses room dividers to transform one long conference table to three smaller tables in separate rooms. The fixed meeting rooms are built to look like cozy living rooms and kitchens. Related: Airbnb launches nature-filled Tokyo office that feels like a beautiful cozy home “Sliced House is conceived as a house that has been divided and its parts dispersed throughout an otherwise banal office interior,” write the architects. “Shared interior finishes between split spaces make apparent that adjacent portions refer to a single room. These sliced samples of domesticity include kitchen, living room, and bedroom and double as ad hoc meeting areas. Such spaces reflect Xiaozhu’s rental offerings, providing users with a wide spectrum of settings to choose from.” PIDO custom built the transforming furniture , which include workspaces and a mobile trishaw-like meeting area made from converted tricycles . This wheeled workspaces were inspired by Xiaozhu’s Tricycle House listing and the tricycle’s long history in China. + People’s Architecture Office Via ArchDaily

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Chinas rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design

Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog

January 11, 2017 by  
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Notoriously smoggy Beijing has created a new police force specifically to crack down on air pollution. The environmental police squad is one of several new plans announced by Beijing’s acting major, Cai Qi to deal with the city’s massive pollution problem . Other measures on Cai’s list include: cutting coal use by 30 percent in 2017, shutting down 500 polluting factories, upgrading 2,500 facilities, phasing out 300,000 older vehicles and getting cleaner gas and diesel to stations as soon as Feb. 15. “Though we have made some progresses, air pollution in winter is still very serious,” Cai told media on Saturday. “That’s why the government must strengthen environmental protection and step up supervision and accountability in 2017. “Open-air barbecues, garbage incineration, biomass burning, dust from roads – these acts of non-compliance with regulations are actually the result of lax supervision and weak law enforcement.” While air pollution is a constant problem in China , it tends to get worse in the winter and often goes beyond WHO safety guidelines. It is so bad it causes school and business closures, flight cancellations, and driving bans. Just one day before making the announcement, the government announced city schools and kindergartens would be equipped with air purifiers. Related: Pollution in China prompts Beijing exodus Strict anti-pollution laws that came into effect in 2014 have taken somewhat of a bite out of the problem, but according to the Christian Science Monitor , an economic slowdown in 2016 dampened the enthusiasm a bit – as the Chinese government supported polluting industries to help drive economic growth. Via Christian Science Monitor Images via Yinan Chen and McKay Savage , Wikimedia Commons

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Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall

December 30, 2016 by  
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Nestled near China’s famous Great Wall rests a new cultural museum made with shipping containers . The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum designed by IAPA Design Consultants offers an opportunity to learn while appreciating glorious scenery. Locally sourced and recycled materials add to the peaceful museum’s sustainability. IAPA worked with The Mother Earth Happiness Group to design the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum in Beijing, China. The design statement said the architects emphasized art culture and environmental protection in their vision for the sleek center that includes offices and exhibit areas wrapped in patios, courtyards, and gardens. Trees and hills of the encircling Great Wall historic site root the museum in nature . Related: Rammed earth Palenque Cultural Tambillo is designed to celebrate Afro-ecuadorean arts Modular containers provide the museum’s main buildings, and recycled timber decking adds a natural touch. Details like woven reeds sourced locally for the outdoor corridor ceilings add to the museum’s beauty. Stone, steel, and hemp are among the other building materials utilized. Varying building heights allow the complex to blend in without blocking too much of the landscape; the design statement says courtyard house style inspired the architects. The Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a place to relax; visitors can soak in the scenery via a roof garden, viewing platform, viewing tower, or from the bridges connecting the shipping container buildings. They can wander about the museum, dine in a restaurant, or seek refreshment in a teahouse. According to the design statement, “Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum is a representation of the continuity of traditional cultural heritage.” IAPA’s goal as stated on their website is to use “modern design techniques to interpret traditional oriental philosophy.” It appears they accomplished that goal elegantly in the Zhao Hua Xi Shi Living Museum. + IAPA Design Consultants Via ArchDaily Images via ZENG Zhe/ArchDaily

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