MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a "floating roof"

November 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design practice MAD Architects has broken ground on the Courtyard Kindergarten, a striking adaptive reuse project that transform a traditional siheyuan courtyard from the 1700s into the site of a creative and colorful kindergarten. Located in Beijing, the project aims to preserve the cultural heritage of the site while injecting fresh life through the addition of new structures, including a “dynamic floating roof” that surrounds the historic courtyard. As with many of the firm’s projects, the design features curvaceous elements and is evocative of a Martian landscape. “There is a saying in old Beijing when children are naughty: ‘if you go three days without being punished, the roof will cave in,’” said MAD principal Ma Yansong of one of the inspirations behind the eye-catching rooftop , a place the firm describes as “full of magic — a playful escape for the children that is a symbol of freedom and endless imagination.” Designed as the primary space for children to engage in outdoor sports and activities, the multicolored floating roof will curve around the siheyuan’s existing hipped roofs and tree canopy and will also feature an undulating landscape of several small ‘hills’ and ‘plains.’ Classrooms, a library, a small theater and a gymnasium will be located below the roof in a new building with an open-plan layout that’s surrounded by walls of glass to let in ample natural light as well as views of greenery and the historic buildings next door. The building will also wrap around three existing ancient trees, creating miniature courtyards where children can connect with nature. The Courtyard Kindergarten will accommodate 400 children between the ages of two and five. Related: A 650-foot-long running track tops this space-saving elementary school in China The design aims to reconcile new and old elements, from the existing modern building on-site that was built in the 1990s to the nearly 400-year-old courtyard. Having just broke ground this month, the Courtyard Kindergarten is expected to be completed and operational in the fall of 2019. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a "floating roof"

Penda unveils a futuristic micro-cabin inspired by Beijings hutongs

October 26, 2018 by  
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The micro-apartment concept has been sweeping cities around the world due to overcrowding and rising housing prices. But out of the need to provide solutions for urban housing issues, some designers are looking toward the future. Known for its innovative housing concepts, Penda has just unveiled the MINI Living Urban Cabin, designed to achieve “maximum quality of living within a minimum space” by forgoing walls almost completely. The 160-square-foot,  pod-like cabin is a futuristic, circular volume with a sleek, white facade. Designed as a temporary living space, the micro-apartment was conceptualized to offer a high degree of flexibility within a compact, open-air structure. Related: Penda unveils temporary nature-filled “village” for the Beijing Horticultural Expo Penda co-founding partner and architect Sun Dayong sought inspiration for the design in Beijing’s architectural history , specifically the city’s beloved hutongs. By putting a modern take on traditional Beijing architecture, the open-air cabin is meant to connect the residents to the community. The cabin features various volumes jutting out from the upper layer of the structure. Lined in a reflective gold cladding, these volumes have cut-outs that give the structure a playful, futuristic appearance but also allow natural light to filter into the living space. Inside, the design is divided into two living areas on either side, each separated by thin columns. In the middle of the living areas, a sitting hammock swings from the roof, inviting activity and conversation as well as providing a place to relax and read. Elsewhere in the home, transforming furnishings were chosen for their space-saving techniques that offer the ultimate in flexibility . In fact, much of the furniture was built with push, fold and rotate mechanisms to provide various uses. Even the front door folds outward, reminiscent of a spaceship. + Penda Via Archdaily Photography by Xia zhi, Laurian Ghinitoiu via Penda

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Penda unveils a futuristic micro-cabin inspired by Beijings hutongs

Can China become a powerhouse in green manufacturing?

September 14, 2018 by  
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Initiatives in Shanghai and Beijing signal a heightened focus on emissions reductions and coordinated waste management across regions.

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Can China become a powerhouse in green manufacturing?

Heres your chance to stay at the first Airbnb on the Great Wall of China

August 3, 2018 by  
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If the climbing the Great Wall of China is on your bucket list, here’s your chance to check it off and take part in a one-of-a-kind overnight experience. Airbnb has teamed up with the Beijing Tourism Development Committee to bring the Great Wall onto the hospitality service site as a temporary lodging option. However, making a booking is not as easy as it typically is on AirBnB—hopeful guests will have to enter a contest for a chance to win. Working together with historians and preservations groups based in Beijing , the Airbnb team sensitively transformed a centuries-old Great Wall watchtower into a temporary suite complete with a bedroom, bathroom, dining area and living space. The elevated structure offers 360-degree views of the wall and lush scenery. “Known as one of the greatest architectural feats in human history, the Great Wall was built as a border to protect Chinese states against raids thousands of years ago,” reads a statement from Airbnb. “Today, it is widely considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world, bringing visitors from all walks of life together.” This unique Airbnb was created to bring attention to tourism to China by spotlighting its most famous icon and one of the world’s great wonders. Related: The Great Wall of China is slowly disappearing Airbnb will select the four winners (who can bring a guest) from the contest based on their responses to a prompt that asks about boundaries and human connections. During the stay, each winner will have the chance to experience different aspects of Chinese culture, from seal engraving to learning calligraphy. Guests will also have the opportunity to hike the Great Wall and enjoy a multiple-course gourmet dinner accompanied by Chinese music. Winners will be announced after August 11, 2018. + Great Wall of China Airbnb

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We calculated how much money planting trees can save for your city

June 8, 2018 by  
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From Beijing to Cairo to Mexico City to New York.

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We calculated how much money planting trees can save for your city

Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

December 26, 2017 by  
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Local architects Fon Studio breathed new life into a Beijing hutong , converting the historic residence into a chic neighborhood library claimed to be the nation’s first magazine library. Located next to a picturesque man-made canal, the Spring Whispers Book Club is an adaptive reuse project that preserves parts of the original structure while injecting an undeniably contemporary vibe. Nestled within Dongcheng District, Spring Whispers Book Club is set within a historic Beijing neighborhood full of winding alleys and hutongs, many of which have been converted for new commercial purposes. Spring Whispers Book Club’s original hutong structure was once a traditional three-room house that had fallen into disrepair. Fon Studio constructed a teak and steel framework based on traditional building techniques to reinforce the hutong’s decayed timber-and-brick shell. Clean lines and the use of timber, gray terrazzo, and glass gave the hutong’s facade a modern refresh. Related: ARCHSTUDIO inserts a modern teahouse into an ancient Chinese structure To provide a pleasant reading environment, the architects inserted a floor-to-ceiling window that fills the heart of the library with natural light and frames canal views. Operable timber shutters also let light into the other parts of the library . White steel framing in the interior guide the eye to the bookshelves lined with magazines. Light-colored timber used for the new internal structures and furnishings provides a beautiful contrast to the older dark-colored wood. The interior comprises a variety of seating areas and a bar. + Fon Studio Via ArchDaily Images via Fon Studio

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Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

Architects use local materials to turn an abandoned resort in Beijing into a remarkable hotel

December 20, 2017 by  
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An abandoneded resort in  Beijing has been transformed into a gorgeous luxury hotel that highlights the surrounding natural scenery. SYN Architects amplified the sensation of “natural wilderness” at The Creek Park Hotel using locally-sourced natural materials such as firewood, pebble stone and wood. The hotel is located in Beijing’s Pinggu District, just over 9 miles away from the Jinhai Lake International Resort. It replaces an abandoned resort estate, expanding and rebuilding the property into a high-end luxury destination surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Related: Vertical forest Mountain Hotel will clean the air in Guizhou, China The architects created an extensive 360° panoramic view effect in order to immerse visitors into the landscape. They inserted open rectangular terraces of different sizes with mountain-like features in between original structures, with a panoramic restaurant and a scenic glass platform delivering a unique atmosphere. The roof, structurally independent for other volumes, allows sunlight to come in through. Related: World’s first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan Vertical arrangements of wood surround the terrace to strengthen the feeling of “natural wilderness”. The use of natural materials helped reduce construction costs and deliver the appearance that mimics the look of traditional Chinese landscape paintings. + SYN Architects

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MADs mountain-like towers reach completion and LEED Gold in Beijing

December 5, 2017 by  
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Many of Asia’s high-rises may seem indistinguishable from those in the West, but MAD Architects’ recently completed Chaoyang Park Plaza puts a unique Chinese spin on skyscraper design. Located in Beijing’s central business district, the mixed-use development takes inspiration from the ‘shan shui’ style of traditional Chinese landscape painting that emphasizes balance and flowing lines. The mountain-like buildings, lush vegetation, and water features evoke an oasis of nature in a dense concrete jungle. The 220,000-square-meter Chaoyang Park Plaza comprises 10 buildings that eschew modern boxy forms for the curved forms commonly found in shan shui paintings. “It is an extension of the park into the city, naturalizing the CBD’s strong artificial skyline, borrowing scenery from a distant landscape ? a classical approach to Chinese garden architecture, where nature and architecture blend into one another,” wrote MAD architects. Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD architects, elaborates: “In modern cities, architecture as an artificial creation is seen more as a symbol of capital, power or technological development; while nature exists independently. It is different from traditional Eastern cities where architecture and nature are designed as a whole, creating an atmosphere that serves to fulfill one’s spiritual pursuits. We want to blur the boundary between nature and the artificial, and make it so that both are designed with the other in mind.” The pedestrian experience shares similarities with walking through a river valley with meandering pathways, flowing water features, traditional Eastern landscape elements like bamboos and pines, and organic boulder-like shapes. Offices will be housed in the two largest buildings that look like a pair of asymmetric mountains, as well as one of the lower-lying buildings on the south side of the site. Shorter buildings shaped like round river stones contain commercial space, while two Armani towers on the southwest side contain residences. Related: MAD Architects Break Ground on Mountainous Chaoyang Park Plaza in Beijing The project earned LEED Gold certification for its use of vertical fins on the exterior that have the double benefit of mitigating solar gain and emphasizing the smoothness and verticality of the towers. To combat Beijing’s sweltering summers, the architects installed a pool outside to serve as an air-cooling system and designed the building systems to draw in fresh air. + MAD Architects Images © Hufton+Crow

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MADs mountain-like towers reach completion and LEED Gold in Beijing

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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