Designers selected for new Shenzhen Natural History Museum project

January 25, 2021 by  
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B+H Architects, 3XN Architects and Zhubo Design have been selected to design the new Shenzhen Natural History Museum. The team beat out over 70 proposals from around the world in an international competition. For the bidding state, 15 teams were selected, representing 18 different countries from throughout North America, Asia and Europe. China’s new Shenzhen Natural History Museum will be the first large-scale, comprehensive natural museum in Southern China and is set to become one of Shenzhen’s “Ten Cultural Facilities of the New Era” once complete. The site is located next to Yanzi Lake in Shenhen’s Pingshan District, a picturesque spot for a world-class natural science museum. The museum will be dedicated to advocating for science in the area, interpreting laws of natural evolution and showcasing the region’s geography and ecology in a global perspective. Related: Fram Museum extension is dedicated to environmental education B+H Architects, 3XN and Zhubo Design’s winning design scheme, called Delta, imagines a 42,000-square-meter facility that rises from the river delta with an accessible green rooftop and an adjoining public park. The park and green roof are meant to provide a welcoming invitation to both residents and visitors while highlighting the museum’s organic geometries. “This building captures the unique atmosphere of a riverfront site and finds the timeless property of water as a concept,” said Yvonne Farrell, Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate and contest judge. “The connection between function, site, concept, structure, material and space is very clear.” Each turn of the structure helps frame a distinct view over the park and nearby hills from viewing terraces along the roof, mimicking a river stream finding its shape in balance with the land. The museum will maximize access to the public park network and lush green areas, allowing residents and visitors to connect with nature and stay active through activities like early morning jogs and evening strolls. The pathways lead guests into a cave-like passageway that connects to the museum lobby, surrounded by multiple cafes and other public areas to centralize the building. + 3XN Architects + B+H Architects + Zhubo Design Images via 3XN Architects

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Designers selected for new Shenzhen Natural History Museum project

House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

January 20, 2021 by  
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As part of a National Association for Urban Renewal project that will run until 2030, the Maison de l’enfance à Albertville (Savoie, France) is the first step in an ambitious urban development masterplan in the area. Translated House of Childhood, the building was designed by Tectoniques Agency and is functional, inviting, striking and environmentally friendly. With a commitment to early childhood, this initial project is a multipurpose facility with a dynamic, open floor plan that incorporates a municipal daycare center, a family daycare center, space for nursery assistants, a leisure area and a school restaurant. Related: Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village According to a press release, the House of Childhood is, “set in the heart of the Bauges, Beaufortain, Lauzière and Grand Arc mountain ranges,” making for a natural backdrop in nearly every direction. Architects placed an emphasis on the upper level of the building in order to capture the sweeping landscape. In addition to exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, the building responds to a goal of minimal site impact . In fact, a compact design caters to the architects’ call for preserving the ground in anticipation of future land development of green spaces. The team relied on a concrete foundation — Albertville is in a seismic zone — but equally relied on natural materials like different types of locally sourced wood for framing and furniture. To soften the look, the concrete walls are surrounded by a wooden structure. The upper facade offers protection and visual appeal with a combination of shimmering bronze and copper coloring. A significant portion of the building was built using prefabricated panels, ensuring industrial quality while allowing expediency of construction. This technique enabled the project to be completed in 13 months. Energy-efficient elements are included, such as the biomass heating network and ventilation provided by an adiabatic AHU to keep children cool during hot summers. The centralized entrance provides access to a reception area on one end and the dining room, activity rooms and technical rooms on the other. The first floor houses a courtyard with a generous playground. Natural light illuminates the interior through a combination of skylights and glazed facades. The interior design is also focused on the children, drawing natural elements inside with fully exposed bleached beech and spruce walls, ceilings and furniture. Paint colors designate separate spaces; for example, yellow defines the changing rooms and blue defines the restrooms.  + Tectoniques agency Photography by Renaud Araud via Tectoniques agency 

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

January 7, 2021 by  
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A combination aviary and bird-watching platform in China’s Suzhou Taihu Lakeside National Wetland Park, this stunning conceptual design by Margot Krasojevi? Architecture utilizes piezoelectric energy to move parts of the structure, mimicking birds in flight. At the heart of the dome, a high tensile steel loom acts as a gallery for birds, while the primary structure is made from stainless steel spine beams that move and sway like feathers. Piezoelectric cells are connected to a motor that harnesses movement to produce an electrical current, making the entire structure self-sufficient. The cells then respond to the overall mechanical stress generated by the structure and create an electric charge, which in turn runs through a dichroic filtered electrochromic glass modifying the transparency and luminosity of the facade. Responding directly to the density of bird movement, the facade appears to “flutter” as the environment changes. Related: Abandoned amusement park to gain new life as a nature park in Suzhou Thanks to the reflective, fluttering facade, the structure appears to partially disappear into its wetland surroundings. The dome protects birds from flying into the glass cladding by projecting ultrasound signals from the surface. Extra electrical energy generated by the piezoelectric cells is used to control the dome’s temperature, humidity and building filtration, allowing the structure to essentially dictate its own ecosystem. The humidity is filtered and ecologically purified to be pumped back into the surrounding wetlands through the aviary’s dome.  Visitors are led into the wetlands and connected to the building entrance through a helical ramp that unfolds across the aviary. This hydraulic runway ramp glides along within the building, rather than touching the building envelope, to guide visitors as they walk among the birds. The ramp can lower and raise to take visitors to different heights within the interior; this can offer clearer views. The pile grid is anchored through concrete to enable it to rise and fall according to the substructure movement, all while maintaining equilibrium inside the aviary. + Margot Krasojevi? Architecture Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Futuristic aviary design uses piezoelectric energy to mimic bird movements

This will be the worlds largest Passive House-certified office building

January 1, 2021 by  
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Boston’s Financial District will soon welcome the groundbreaking Winthrop Center, a year-round, mixed-use gathering space with a suite of impressive eco-friendly credentials. Designed by Handel Architects in partnership with MIT professors, Winthrop Center will not only target LEED certifications and a WELL certification but is also expected to become the largest Passive House-certified office building in the world. The project takes COVID-19-era concerns into account with its emphasis on healthier indoor environments and will include features such as MERV 15 filtration and airtight workspaces that minimize moisture transfer and entry of contaminants. Slated for completion in 2022, the 691-foot-tall Winthrop Center will offer over 1.8 million square feet of mixed-use programming, including 812,000 square feet of Global Class A office space, 572,000 square feet of residential space (with 321 luxury residences) and the renovation of the existing One Winthrop Square into a grand new public space with year-round programming. At the heart of the project is The Connector, a ground-floor urban “living room” wrapped in 50-foot-tall structural glass walls that opens up to Winthrop Square and Federal Street to directly engage the pedestrian realm. The gathering space will be open to the public throughout all seasons from morning to night. Related: New International WELL Building Institute HQ achieves Platinum To meet LEED standards, the Winthrop Center will feature a high-performance exterior envelope to minimize solar heat gain while maximizing access to natural light. The curtainwall design will be constructed with triple-glazed insulated glass windows with glass spandrel panels for an average of R-30. Responsible water usage strategies, recycling, sustainable materials use and sourcing as well as energy-efficient building operations will also be incorporated. The office and public spaces will target LEED Platinum certifications, while the building’s residential component will be designed to LEED Gold standards. The office spaces will also target WELL Gold certification and provide occupants with a healthy indoor environment through elements such as improved air and water quality, healthier food options, encouragement of physical activity and enhanced natural lighting throughout. Office spaces are designed for flexibility to promote collaboration and connections. + Handel Architects Images by Handel Architects

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Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

January 1, 2021 by  
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Are you already recycling? Carrying around a refillable water bottle rather than contributing to the ocean-bound plastic problem? Composting your food scraps? That’s all commendable, but there’s more to be done to achieve a net-zero lifestyle. If you’re ready to up your environmental commitment this year (and hold larger entities accountable along the way), here are a few ideas — some more dramatic than others — for sustainable resolutions in 2021. Get rid of your car If you have a car , sell or donate it. Once you’ve unloaded the gas guzzler, do your errands on foot or by bike. If you don’t have your own bike, join your city’s bike-share program. With proper COVID-19 precautions, take public transportation for longer distances. Related: The pros and cons of electromobility Ditch the plastic liners Do you know how long those kitchen trash bags take to decompose? Anywhere from 10 to 1,000 years. Instead, go au naturel and regularly clean your trash, recycling and compost containers. Change your laundering style Did you know that most of the energy it takes to run a washing machine comes from heating the water? Only 10% of energy is for working the machine, so switch to cold-water washing . Once your clothes are clean, hang them to dry. If you live somewhere sunny and have space for a clothesline, this won’t be too hard. If you live somewhere cold and rainy, see if you can hang an inside clothesline or set up a drying rack. But if this is impractical and you must run the dryer, make sure it’s fairly full so you make the most of the energy. Dryers are the third-biggest energy hogs in the average house, after the refrigerator and washer. Forget the lawn Lawns are a huge waste of space and resources. In the U.S., people spray about 3 trillion gallons of water on them every year, use 800 million gallons of gas in their lawnmowers and treat them with nearly 80 million pounds of pesticides . But who are we trying to impress with this golf course-looking terrain around our homes? Instead, go with xeriscaping or planting vegetables. Let clover take over, or fill your yard with pollinator-friendly plants. Control your climate Invest in ways to weatherize your home and lifestyle year-round. If you have the money and own a home, a heat pump can cut your energy use in half. Try low-tech solutions like wearing thicker socks and a fleece bathrobe over your clothes so that you don’t need to turn the heater up as much in winter. Add an extra blanket to the bed, and turn your thermostat down at least seven degrees at night. You use about 1% less energy per eight hours for every degree you turn it down. In summer, air conditioning is a massive energy hog. Three-quarters of U.S. homes have air conditioners, which use 6% of the total electricity produced in the nation, according to Energy Saver . Annual cost? About $29 billion dollars and 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released. If you must use AC, don’t set it so low. Add insulation to your house. Wear a bikini. Eat more ice pops. Sweat a little, it won’t hurt you. Go vegan Yes, Meatless Mondays are a terrific start. But this year, try adding Tuesday. And Wednesday. Et cetera. A University of Oxford study concluded that cutting out meat and dairy could reduce your carbon footprint by 73%. “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” said lead author Joseph Poore, as reported by The Independent . Boycott new One way to stop supporting the constant addition to more junk in the waste stream is to boycott buying anything new (excluding food, prescriptions or emergency items). Perhaps you already enjoy thrifting and flea markets. If so, committing to buying nothing new might be a fun challenge. Make 2021 your year of browsing the free libraries, finding your new look at a garage sale and swapping useful items with other folks in your neighborhood. Set up regular donations to environmental organizations Just about every organization needs your help right now. Whether you prefer whales or bats, oceans or rivers, an environmental charity exists that would greatly appreciate your recurring donation, even if it’s just five bucks a month. Control your food waste The U.S. is one of the top countries for food waste in the world, tossing almost 40 million tons annually. Most of this food goes to landfills. In fact, food waste is the second-largest component of the average American landfill behind paper. This year, commit to only buy what you’ll eat and to eat what you buy. If you don’t already compost, get yourself a compost bin and throw in all your banana peels, coffee grounds, etc. Get political On the most basic level, vote. Beyond that, support causes you believe in by writing letters to your politicians or boycotting companies that are contributing to the global climate crisis. Attend town hall meetings with your local or state representatives. If you have the time, energy, resources and moxie, run for office. Images via Adobe Stock

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Take your sustainable lifestyle to the next level in 2021

New Urban Park in Portugal gets eco-conscious renovation

December 24, 2020 by  
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Community gathering spaces for indoor and outdoor use are central to the idea of shared land. As such, parks should be structured to maximize these benefits, though sometimes this comes at the cost of the surrounding landscape. However, the new Urban Park and Environmental Interpretation Center in construction for the Portuguese city of Oliveira de Azeméis offers over roughly 12 acres of public-use area designed with special consideration for the ecosystem.  The project began with the winning bid submitted anonymously to the city . A design by Ad Quadratum Arquitectos earned the support of decision-makers for its comprehensive and holistic outline. Related: French housing project “I Park” has a double-skinned green facade The first goal centers on creating a usable space for the community and its visitors. Citizens and tourists alike will enjoy the walkways and sitting areas scattered through the five hectares. Architects constructing the space aim to better the physical and mental health of the entire community . The outdoor arena will include a slide, tree-climbing structures, circuits and maintenance sports equipment, and rest areas, among many other recreational and leisure features. Additionally, the project will repurpose an existing building to  minimize site impact . When complete, the building, coupled with the surrounding infrastructure, will house the park café and café concert terrace, along with the provision of areas for the Interpretative Center and Pedagogical Center. The building renovation in the area commonly referred to as “old” Quinta dos Borges will also include restaurant spaces. Indoors and out, the project promises energy efficiency and environmental neutrality. Lead architect José António Lopes insists on respecting the history, culture, and materials by lifting the building up to new uses, rather than tearing it down. In addition to the preservation of the building, the team stresses the need to protect the surrounding ecosystem. They will retain as much of the existing  vegetation  as possible and also introduce new specimens to round out a self-sustaining ecosystem for long term success. + Ad Quadratum Arquitectos Images via Ad Quadratum Arquitectos

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Fram Museum extension is dedicated to environmental education

November 25, 2020 by  
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Norway- and Denmark-based architecture firm Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter has won an invited competition for the new extension of the Fram Museum, a museum in Oslo dedicated to the stories of Norwegian polar exploration. Dubbed Framtid — Norwegian for ‘future’ — the museum extension stands out from its sharply angular neighbors with its church bell-shaped gable and fully glazed end wall that allows views into the building and out toward the water. The timber-framed building will also be engineered with environmentally friendly considerations as part of the firm’s vision “that architecture exemplifies how we care for our environment.” Inaugurated in 1936, the Fram Museum was primarily built to honor the three great Norwegian polar explorers — Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup and Roald Amundsen — and is named after the original wooden exploration vessel Fram that sits at the heart of the museum . Although the new curved extension will be visually distinct from the museum’s A-frame buildings, the modern structure will also take cues from the existing layout with its long form set perpendicular to the water. Related: RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community The new Framtid wing will expand the footprint of the museum with gathering spaces, exhibition spaces, a café with an exterior amphitheater and an auditorium. The light-filled café and gathering spaces will be located at the north side of the building for optimal views of the water and easy access to the boat shuttle. The shore, which is currently private, will be made publicly accessible with these new spaces. Framtid’s exhibition spaces will be placed farther back into the building and be equipped with full light controls to create sensory experiences; passageways connect the new exhibition spaces to the museum’s other three wings. “An important aspect of polar expeditions was research on climate and the environment,” the architects noted. “Like the crews of Fram, Gjøa and Maud, the museum’s guests will be inspired to seek knowledge on environmental education in regard to current climate change and sustainable solutions.” + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images via Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

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Modern, energy-efficient office harvests rainwater in Surat

November 13, 2020 by  
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New Delhi-based multidisciplinary firm Urbanscape Architects has recently completed the Sangini House, a mixed-use office space in the Gujarati city of Surat. Designed for flexibility, energy efficiency and user comfort, the eight-story office building breaks the urban mold with its rounded and partly perforated form, which is softened by lush plantings that drape over the balconies. The project also integrates high-performance energy, rainwater harvesting and drip irrigation systems as part of a goal to achieve the green ‘Platinum Rating’ from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Commissioned by construction company the Sangini group, the Sagini House in Surat consists of two floors of commercial space and four floors of office space. A site-specific solar analysis informed the orientation and design of the building to maximize access to natural light while minimizing the effects of unwanted glare. As a result, the architects clad part of the building with a jali -inspired stone facade in Red Agra. The three-dimensional perforations let in light and provide shade, while giving the building an attractive, patterned look from afar. The front facade of the building projects outward with a series of sheltered and cantilevered outdoor balconies covered with greenery. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC Inside, column-free office spaces make the most of the building’s access to natural light. Exposed concrete is used primarily for the walls and ceilings; however, reclaimed wood and other timbers are inserted to lend a sense of warmth. Other natural materials , such as stone and glass, are also deliberately left unpainted and exposed. “The architecture and design of Sangini House explores ways in which it can respond to the context and spirit of the heritage in which it stands,” the architects explained. “The office building for the Sangini group, a leading construction firm delivering technical excellence in building design, characterizes new strategies for a flexible, column-free office space that creates a new urban venture in the city’s dense business district.” + Urbanscape Architects Photography by Noughts and Crosses via Urbanscape Architects

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Modern, energy-efficient office harvests rainwater in Surat

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

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

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

Smart home with AI sits above a nature reserve in Prague

November 10, 2020 by  
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Villa Sophia by COLL COLL celebrates the connection between technology and nature. A  smart home  with artificial intelligence, the house sits on the Trója hillside above a nature reserve with stunning views of Prague. The villa’s technological aspects feature blue light eliminating house lights and self-moving doors to aid in natural ventilation, while the green roof contributes to the building’s energetic balance. According to the architects, many of the structural and material construction choices are inspired by sustainability and durability. Samples of materials were tested for strength, elasticity stability, chemical stability and permanence before use. The house includes a  green roof  that is exposed from above, contributing to colorful blooms of plants and flowers throughout the seasons. This roof helps balance the building both energetically and aesthetically. Terraces around the house follow an unfolding star design that dissolves into the overgrown garden, which routinely sees a wide variety of wild animals. Related: Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas The smart home comes completely connected, integrated with a Sysloop system platform and EMPYREUM Information Technologies  artificial intelligence . To aid healthy sleep cycles, all of the house lights operate in the full spectrum of light (RGBW) to slowly eliminate harsh blue light components. For natural air ventilation, the doors operate on linear magnets. One wing of the house is dedicated to music, with a concert room that uses A.I. to play musical pieces or unique melodies to accompany the residents’ musical performances. Apart from the house’s environmental and technological features, the property also enjoys panoramic views of  Prague’s  Dejvice Hotel International. The office looks out on the Libe? Gasholder, while the living room hosts views of the garden, and the bedroom offers a look into the treetops thanks to a descending terrain. To ensure that surrounding homes can also enjoy the panoramic city views, Villa Sophia sits at the shortest possible height. + COLL COLL Photography by BoysPlayNice

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