LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

February 13, 2020 by  
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After nearly a year of public input by Canadians from coast to coast, Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects has finally revealed renderings for the new Ottawa library and archives. Designed in collaboration with KWC Architects , the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be an innovative landmark representative of all Canadians. The building will target, at minimum, LEED Gold certification and will reflect the region’s rich history and natural beauty with its organic and dynamic design oriented for unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Quebec. The recently unveiled designs for the Ottawa library are the result of an unprecedented public co-design process called the “Inspire555 Series” after the building’s address at 555 Albert Street, on the western edge of downtown Ottawa . The process, which began in February last year, asked residents, indigenous communities and Canadians from across the country to participate in a series of design workshops, pop-up events, expert lectures and online activities to shape the design and direction of the public institution. More than 4,000 people contributed to the library’s major design themes, which include accessibility, a sense of welcoming for diverse groups and needs, site-specific elements and a connection to nature.  Related: Henning Larsen’s energy-efficient Kiruna Town Hall opens to the public As a result, the final design takes cues from Ottawa’s environment with an undulating form that references the nearby Ottawa River. The stone and wood exterior grounds the building into the nearby escarpment landscape, while the top floors, rooftop and abundance of glazing frame views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. The five-story building will be organized around a large town hall at its heart and will include exhibition and collections spaces, reading rooms, a creative center, a children’s area, a genealogy center and a cafe. “The location at a cultural crossroads of a route that traces the three founding peoples — French, English and Indigenous — underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story,” said Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The joint facility has a CA $193 million ($145 million) budget and is scheduled to open in 2024. + Diamond Schmitt Architects Images via Diamond Schmitt Architects

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LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

February 12, 2020 by  
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In a bold move to embrace environmental education, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine recently welcomed the Roux Center for the Environment, a new three-story academic building that’s also been certified LEED Platinum. Designed by Cambridge-based architectural firm Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. , the 29,000-square-foot interdisciplinary building brings together faculty and students from across campus into a collaborative setting focused on finding solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. Officially opened in October 2018, the Roux Center for the Environment comprises flexible classrooms, laboratories, research labs, teaching labs, offices, conference rooms, common spaces, storage, and other miscellaneous support spaces. Durable, thermally-modified poplar siding clads the east and west facades, while glass wraps around the north and south facades. The walls of glass that surround the front entrance of the building also provide views into The Lantern, an indoor amphitheater -like space that can seat up to 150 people and hosts lectures and informal gatherings.  “Transparency, both physical and pedagogical, enables a clearer engagement of teaching, learning and scholarship,” the architects’ project statement said. “The building’s form is expressed by two bars shifted and angled to one another within the trapezoidal site, with the east bar housing faculty offices and research labs and the west bar containing classrooms and teaching labs. A glazed circulation space connects the two, fostering connections between faculty and students.” Related: Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature As a teaching and learning lab for sustainable technologies, the Roux Center for the Environment includes a variety of renewable energy and energy-saving systems that have earned the building LEED Platinum certification. Examples of such systems include the rooftop solar array that offsets 13% of annual electric costs; a gray water reclamation system; high-efficiency mechanical systems for reduced energy usage; an experimental, research-based green roof; and stormwater swales at grade. + Cambridge Seven Associates Images by Jeff Goldberg – Esto

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LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

Tencent gets proposal from MVRDV for green smart city

January 27, 2020 by  
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After two years of development,  MVRDV  has unveiled its competition entry for Chinese tech giant Tencent’s next campus — a green and futuristic smart city shaped like a continuous undulating mountain range. Located on a 133-hectare site in Shenzhen’s Qianhai Bay, the nature-inspired development combines references to the lush, mountainous surroundings with Tencent’s cutting-edge technology. The massive urban district is expected to include enough office space for 80,000 to 100,000 employees, public amenities, a conference center and homes for 19,000 Tencent employees.  Although Tencent recently completed their current Shenzhen headquarters, the Tencent Seafront Towers, the company’s meteoric growth and technological ambitions spurred them to launch a design competition for yet another headquarters in  Shenzhen  that would take the shape of an enormous smart city district. In developing their competition entry for the Tencent Campus, MVRDV conducted intensive research and created 28 different outline designs. Their final proposal not only includes the key qualities of smart cities, such as innovation and adaptability, but also incorporates green technology, from solar energy to the introduction of autonomous cars and a shuttle bus loop as the main means of transit. MVRDV’s proposal envisions the Tencent campus as a grid of over 100 buildings topped with an undulating roof of  solar  panels. Sky bridges link certain buildings to create a continuous surface reminiscent of a mountain range, while a waterfront park at the foot of the buildings emphasizes the campus’ connection to Qianhai Bay to the east. The park is also home to many of the urban district’s public buildings, including a school and kindergarten, a sports center and a data center. A rock-shaped conference center bookends the southern side of the park. The “beating heart” of the development is a spherical information plaza that will display data related to the everyday functioning of the campus, from occupancy rates to carbon usage.  Related: BIG presents a sustainable “living laboratory” town in Japan for Toyota at CES “Our studies and competition entry for Tencent are an attempt to show that the smart city is also the green city,” Winy Mass, MVRDV founding partner, said. “With ubiquitous smart city elements, headlined by a futuristic data hub at the heart of the campus, Tencent employees would feel enveloped by technology. But they are also literally surrounded by nature, with the serpentine park always within a short walking distance, and green terraces all around them.” + MVRDV Images by Atchain and MVRDV

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Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

January 27, 2020 by  
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Developed with the tagline “Grow whatever your heart desires, wherever you are,” Sherpa Light is a tunable artificial light source with the potential to replicate the exact sunlight conditions needed to grow any plant from around the world. Using tunable, full-spectrum LEDs , the device was created to emit different lighting intensities depending on the plant’s cellular structure to optimize growth. Korea-based design studio  Sherpa Space  developed the Sherpa Light and recently showcased their prototype product at CES 2020, where it was named an honoree of the event’s Innovation Award. Sherpa Space was founded to enhance plant growth through technology. The designers say that sunlight falls short of producing the optimal light settings that different plants need at different growth stages. They believe that their artificial lights, which use an adjustable combination of narrow-band LEDs, are best suited to generating the right light conditions — such as intensity, photoperiod, and quality — needed to optimize plant health, from growth and flowering to the enhancement of leaf quality and the concentration of desired chemicals in plants. “Much like how a baby first needs breastfeeding and later switches to solid foods, plants also need different lights and nutrition at different growth stages for maximum growth,” the designers said in a project statement. “For instance, flowering can be promoted in many crops by changing the wavelength given to a plant. Sherpa Space’s unique competitive advantage lies in our ability to convert light wavelengths with minimal energy loss. Using the quantum dot technology, we can provide lights of specific wavelengths optimized not only for each plant but also for each growth stage. As a result, we maximize crops’ nutrient compositions and productivity.” Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive The designers also say that Sherpa Light could be the key to recreating the desired flavor components of certain fruits and vegetables that are typically only enjoyed in the region where they’re grown. For instance, they claim that mangos grown with Sherpa Light in Canada could taste just as good as those in India. There is no word yet of when this product will be made available for sale or testing.  + Sherpa Space Images via Sherpa Space and Inhabitat

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Sherpa Light for indoor farming wins CES 2020 Innovation Award

Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

January 20, 2020 by  
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At the 11th annual Design Week Mexico, Mexican architect Gerardo Broissin created the Egaligilo Pavilion, an eye-catching structure made with large jigsaw puzzle-shaped concrete pieces. Installed on the grounds of Mexico City’s contemporary art museum Museo Tamayo, the boxy pavilion draws the eye with its puzzle-inspired form and bubble-like protrusions designed to deliberately obscure views of the interior. Inside is a lush garden that remains exposed to the outdoor elements thanks to small slits and perforations cut into the pavilion on all sides. Installed last year at the beginning of October, Broissin’s Egaligilo Pavilion builds upon Design Week Mexico’s tradition of using architecture and design to spur thought-provoking conversations. The basis for the Egaligilo Pavilion begins with the teachings of French philosopher Michel Foucault, particularly how the discovery of self is centered on a state of constant questioning. Broissin explores this “principle of agitation” by designing a space that juxtaposes seemingly opposite elements, from the inclusion of both traditional and parametric architecture to the concepts of the artificial and the natural. For instance, the rectangular pavilion’s puzzle piece-shaped panels seem to suggest rigidity and order but are contrasted with the bubble-like dome protrusions and further undermined by the interior’s curved walls. A large circular opening marks one end of the pavilion and provides the only view inside of the structure, which houses a surprisingly lush garden with a mulch ground. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online “The Egaligilo’s external structure remains light weighted and displays shape contrasts, it holds a living oasis inside, in which symbolism is exalted and gives the visitor the capacity to assume a new role, to reinvent him/herself following Foucault,” Broissin said in the project statement. “A space that originally should have been outside is held on to walls that are capriciously opened to light, but can’t be penetrated by the gaze. This quality demands the visitor to immerse in space, and once again, creates a tension between the limit of the public and the private.” + Gerardo Broissin Images via Gerardo Broissin

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Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

January 15, 2020 by  
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To empower a marginalized community in Brazil’s Maranhão state, São Paulo-based architecture firm  Estudio Flume  has completed Castanha de Caju, a new headquarters for a women’s agricultural cooperative that doubles as a welcoming community hub. Constructed on a limited budget and a tight timeline, the inspiring project included the refurbishment and extension of a small house as well as the inclusion of traditional construction techniques and materials to reduce costs. Low-cost passive thermal control strategies and considerable community input helped shape the project, which also includes permaculture principles, a biodigester, and rainwater harvesting. Located in Nova Vida, a small impoverished community in Bom Jesus das Selvas, the new agricultural co-op headquarters was primarily built to serve a group of women who make their living by collecting and processing a type of oil-rich Brazilian nut. As a result, the layout of the building was informed by the co-op’s workflows and includes nut cooking and breaking areas as well as an internal courtyard for drying foods. In light of the lack of  public spaces in the town, the architects also added facilities to the project, such as the sun-room and concrete bunch, to encourage community cohesion and knowledge sharing. In addition to  reusing  as much of the original building as possible, the new headquarters is constructed with perforated bricks and ‘brise-soleil’ pivot doors made with traditional techniques to allow for cross ventilation, natural light, and views. Since the area lacks a sewage system and a constant supply of potable water, the architects added a rainwater harvesting system and a septic tank biodigester for sewage treatment as well as a banana circle to filter gray water. The architects hope that through continued use and maintenance, the community will gradually begin to adapt these systems into other buildings in the town. Related: This beekeepers workshop uses sustainable design to minimize its footprint “This project is part of a wider plan for renovation works for small cooperatives and associations in the interior Maranhão and Pará states, in the north and northeast of Brazil ,” the architects said. “In a country with enormous continental diversity and cultural richness, it represents the opportunity to defend some sense of social justice, to ensure job security, comfort in the routine of a group of women. This was an opportunity to work with those who produce food on a small scale and with respect for the environment and, in the end, these products are eaten in the big cities.” + Estudio Flume Images via Estudio Flume

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Passive solar community in Brazil combines social justice and sustainability

Snhetta to revitalize Midtown Manhattan with vibrant garden

January 15, 2020 by  
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Midtown Manhattan will soon become much greener thanks to New York City Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of Snøhetta’s design for a new privately-owned public space (POPS) in 550 Madison, a Philip Johnson-designed postmodernist landmark. Designed as a “vibrant sensory retreat,” the new public space will take the shape of a lush garden — the largest of its kind in the area — that will become a haven for both people and urban pollinators. The garden is being developed as part of the recent renovation of 550 Madison, which will open this year as a multi-tenant building under The Olayan Group. This structure will be the only LEED Platinum and WELL Gold certified building in the Plaza District. Proposed for the west end of the tower, the 550 Madison garden will engage the public with a series of interconnected outdoor “rooms.” The landscape design takes inspiration from its urban surroundings and architecture. Philip Johnson’s playful use of circular motifs at 550 Madison will inform the geometry of the garden rooms, while the layered planting plan references the canyon-like verticality of Midtown Manhattan. The lush circular rooms will encourage passersby to slow down, linger, and connect with nature. “Privately-owned public spaces are a critical part of New York City’s public realm. Urban life thrives in and around spaces that allow us to connect with one another and to nature,” said Michelle Delk, Partner and Director of Landscape Architecture at Snøhetta. “Moreover, we need to make the most of the spaces we already have and recognize that they are part of a network that contribute to the livelihood of the city. We’re thrilled to be a part of renewing the future of this historic site.” Related: Philip Johnson’s secret brick and glass home in Manhattan, NYC The immersive green respite will comprise a seasonal Northeastern planting palette that will include evergreens, perennials and flowering shrubs. Over 40 trees will be planted in the space. An enormous glass canopy will flood the interior with natural daylight . The architects will also install a central water wall as a point of interest and noise buffer from the commotion of the neighborhood. Informational signage will punctuate the space and provide details about the site’s environmental and cultural history. + Snøhetta Via ArchPaper Images via Snøhetta

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3XN unveils new, sustainable building for UNSW Sydney

January 10, 2020 by  
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Following a rigorous international competition, Danish architectural firm 3XN has won the bid to design the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) new Multipurpose Building — a project that the architects say will have a “focus on resilience and environmental sustainability.” Proposed for the northeast gate (Gate 9) of the UNSW main Kensington campus in Sydney, the Multipurpose Building will serve as a vibrant campus gateway close to a soon-to-open light rail station. The building will emphasize healthy indoor environments with carefully chosen materials, passive cooling, and ample daylighting. The UNSW Multipurpose Building marks the first Australian educational facility project for 3XN, which is continually expanding its portfolio abroad. Conceived as the heart of the UNSW campus, the building design combines a tower element with horizontal massing to create an L-shaped volume that’s made all the more distinctive by a staggered facade. “Our concept for this building is really special in that it offers a new  learning environment  for interdisciplinary collaboration and inspiration,” Stig Vesterager Gothelf, Architect MAA and Partner in Charge at 3XN in Copenhagen, said in a project statement. “Students will be able to observe and learn from each other in new ways, thanks to the open design concept used throughout.” Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces Given the building’s proximity to a planned light rail station, the project will include a large plaza and green space to accommodate increased  pedestrian traffic . Inside, the building will include six distinct teaching and learning environments, common student facilities, event and exhibition space, workplaces, supporting and ancillary facilities and additional amenities. Using passive solar strategies, the design will also aim to minimize the building’s energy use, water use and maintenance costs. + 3XN Images via 3XN

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This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

January 10, 2020 by  
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Lighting can set the tone of a room, so a lamp with a natural and compostable lampshade can create a cozy, gorgeous and sustainable setting. In a partnership between Indian designer Vaidehi Thakkar and London-based Nir Meiri Studio, Veggie Lights are just that — lampshades made out of red cabbage leaves that lend a warm glow to any space. A testament to the duo’s dedication to exploring and highlighting sustainable options, Veggie Lights offer a useful and elegant decor option straight from the garden. To create the lampshades, Thakkar developed the process of converting vegetables into a paper-like substance called Fiber Flats. Meiri joined the project with a passion for using organic materials, as seen from previous successes in using both mycelium and seaweed to make lampshades. Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one Each lampshade in the Veggie Lights line is unique, a result of the natural variations in the leaves. Cabbage leaves may not be in the spotlight for intrinsic beauty, but through the process of separating the leaves and soaking them in a water-based color preservative, the originality of each leaf begins to shine through. The leaves are then shaped and left to dry in high temperatures, so all of the moisture evaporates. At this point, the leaves are either left unfinished, or the edges are trimmed and contoured into a gentle downward curve. The design of Veggie Lights places the bulb and electrical parts in a simple and streamlined base. This allows the light to shine upward into the shade, illuminating the natural veins and color variations in the cabbage leaf. Because the lampshades are naturally biodegradable, they will age and are meant to eventually be replaced. However, the base is long-lasting, so you can replace the shade at the end of its life for a refreshed look without producing waste . + Nir Meiri Studio + Vaidehi Thakkar Via Dezeen Image via Nir Meiri Studios

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This lovely lampshade is made from cabbage

California winery innovates with sustainable recycling creation

January 6, 2020 by  
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In the California city of West Paso Robles, architecture firm Clayton & Little has given old oil field drill stem pipes unexpected new life — as an equipment barn that offsets over 100% of the energy needs for a sustainably-minded winery. Covered with a photovoltaic roof, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn is not only self-sufficient, but also champions environmentally friendly design principles that include material reuse , rainwater collection and responsible stormwater management practices. The simple agricultural storage structure was strategically placed at the property’s vineyard-lined entrance as an icon of the winery’s commitment to sustainability. Located in the Templeton Gap area at the foot of the 50-acre James Berry Vineyard, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn was constructed with a frame made from reclaimed oil field drill stem pipes. Along with timber and welded WT steel flitch purlins, the pipe structure supports a series of laminated glass solar modules that provide shelter and serve as the solar system capable of producing a third more power than needed — roughly 87,000 kWh per year. The pipe framing has also been fitted with a gutter system to accommodate future rainwater harvesting . In addition to offsetting all of the winery’s power demands, the minimalist building provides covered open-air storage for farming vehicles, livestock supplies and workshop and maintenance space. The salvaged pipes were left to weather naturally and are complemented with 22 gauge Western Rib Cor-Ten corrugated perforated steel panels for added shade and filtered privacy to equipment bays. Pervious gravel paving was installed for all open vehicle storage bays and livestock pens to return rainwater to the watershed. Related: Old ruins are transformed into a cozy, off-grid guesthouse in France “ Salvaged materials do more with less,” the architects explained in a press statement. “Barn doors are clad in weathered steel off-cuts that were saved for reuse from the adjacent winery shoring walls, re-used in a ‘calico’ pattern to fit the oddly shaped panels to tube steel framed door leafs. Storage boxes are skinned with stained cedar siding with the interiors clad with unfinished rotary cut Douglas Fir plywood.” + Clayton & Little Images by Casey Dunn

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