Salvaged materials from devastating fire take new life in a British pier

July 26, 2017 by  
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A British seaside pier destroyed by a devastating fire in 2010 has made an incredible comeback in the hands of dRMM Architects . After a seven-year process, the century-old pier in Hastings, England was transformed from its decrepit and dangerous state to a vibrant new public space clad in reclaimed materials. Crafted in collaboration with the community, the Hastings Pier is an inspiring story of sustainable restoration and craft, earning it a place on the shortlist for the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize , UK’s top architecture award. Originally constructed in 1872 and later topped with a pavilion that survived until the fire, the Hastings Pier enjoyed its heyday as an entertainment destination in the 1930s but later fell into disrepair and ultimately closed in recent decades due to neglect. Rather than restore the Victorian pier to its original design, drMM wanted to craft a pier better suited to the 21st century and focused on designing an attractive multipurpose space with few buildings. The architects not only redesigned the pier, but also wrote the brief and helped raise funds with the Heritage Lottery Fund that paid for structural repairs below deck and partially covered the costs of rebuilding the pier above deck. The most defining building on the new pier is the new visitor center , that’s not positioned at the end of the pier but rather on top of the damaged pier’s weakest section. The cross-laminated timber structure is clad in reclaimed timber salvaged from the fire and is topped with an accessible viewpoint rooftop that doubles as an events space. The only other structures are a pair of circular extensions that house a kitchen, staff facility, and toilet; a group of hut-like trading stalls; and deck furniture built from reclaimed materials as part of a local employment initiative. The 266-meter-long deck was rebuilt with sustainably sourced African Ekki hardwood. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature RIBA wrote: “From a conservation perspective, this project has reinvigorated a fire-damaged historic structure and facilitated a contemporary and appropriate new 21st century use. The project has been mindful to integrate material from the original pier in the new design, and the process of restoration was used to help train a new generation of craft specialists.” + dRMM Via Dezeen Images © Alex de Rijke

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Salvaged materials from devastating fire take new life in a British pier

Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

July 24, 2017 by  
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Digital fabrication and traditional woodworking fuse together in Y, a modern sculpture with a provocative and pixelated appearance. A team of international architects and carpenters comprising &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] collaborated with the Finnish National Museum to create the funnel-shaped art piece in Helsinki’s Seurasaari open-air museum. The intriguing artwork is built from horizontal prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements interlocked by 568 timber wedges. The temporary Y was built in the historical Niemelä Tenant Farm courtyard , creating a new social space on museum grounds. “Y is an equation of temporality, time and provocative use of wood in the museum milieu,” wrote the architects. “As Y is the mathematical symbol for the unknown, the installation Y points to the future and the possible outcomes of Nordic built heritage. In Niemelä, Y is a variable within the parameter of time.” The funnels-shaped sculpture is large enough to climb into and explore like a cave, and its hypnotic effect encourages meditative practice. Related: Palestinian architects give the ancient stone vault a modern twist in Jericho Architecturally, the most interesting aspect of Y is its combination of digital fabrication with traditional woodworking . The project’s carpenters used traditional handicraft methods to help develop the project, while the architects brought their set of digital design and production tools to the table. The result is a sculpture that functions like a giant wooden joint that’s built from prefabricated cross-laminated timber elements. The use of timber gives the artwork a feeling of familiarity, however the pixelated appearance adds a touch of the futuristic and unknown. + &’ [Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects] Images by SWANG

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Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown

Epic Iron Ring symbolizes Wales majestic legends and landscapes

July 24, 2017 by  
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Simply put, Wales’ ancient landscape is epic. To celebrate the land’s majestic history and nature, George King Architects designed the Iron Ring, an enormous rusted steel crown that will be embedded into the earth beside Flint Castle. The massive sculpture won Wales’ Year of Legends contest and symbolizes the relationship between the medieval monarchies of Europe and the castles they built. Unveiled last week, the £395,000 Iron Ring will be built next to Flint Castle , one of the first castles to be built in Wales by King Edward I, and will mark the momentous event when Richard II surrendered the crown to Henry IV. The massive sculpture will serve as a cantilevered bridge soaring up to seven meters in height and 30 meters in diameter. The ring-shaped landmark will gently pierce the earth at two points and be engraved with words that celebrate local landmarks, historic towns, and other connections with Flint Castle and the Dee estuary. Related: 8 tiny folklore-inspired cabins pop up in the Welsh countryside “The sculpture will take a precariously balanced form, half buried beneath the ground, half projecting into the air, to demonstrate the unstable nature of the crown,” said George King. “The sculpture has been carefully designed to work at many scales. From afar its striking, iconic form resembles a giant ancient artefact, washed up on the shore of the Dee Estuary. Its scale and dynamic appearance means that it will become an instantly recognisable landmark for the area.” The Iron Ring is slated to open in 2018. The sculpture will help bring increased awareness to Flint Castle, which was recently renovated to include the installation of a £217k stainless-steel spiral staircase . + George King Architects

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Epic Iron Ring symbolizes Wales majestic legends and landscapes

Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

July 12, 2017 by  
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Timber constructions are rapidly carving their rightful place in urban environments all over the world, and now, beautiful Sydney is home to the Australia’s largest commercial all-timber building. The International House by Tzannes Architects is a beautiful seven-story building constructed entirely with engineered or cross laminated timber . Located between the Barangaroo South area and the historic heart of the city, the International House is a beautiful all-wood design. With the exception of the single ground retail level, which is made out of conventional concrete, the striking building was constructed with engineered or cross laminated timber , including the floors, columns, walls, roof, elevator shafts, etc. The building is the first timber commercial building of its size in Australia. Related: Nation’s largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability The architects chose to go with timber for its many sustainable features , but were also determined to create a design whose all-wood aesthetic would serve as an iconic landmark for the city. According to the architects, “We have turned the structural limitations imposed by the use of timber to advantage and celebrated them, forming a unique colonnade form evocative of a forest of trees which gives the building its distinctive character.” The project used a massive 3,500 cubic meters of sustainably grown and recycled timber . Using timber instead of concrete resulted in saving thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. + Tzannes Architects Via Archdaily Photography by The Guthrie Project

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Australia’s largest commercial timber building rises in Sydney

This gigantic floating Manta Ray could naturally purify Seouls river

June 12, 2017 by  
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What if our city infrastructure could also repair the damage we’ve done to nature? Vincent Callebaut’s Manta Ray is an experimental landscape design that aims to sustainably restore the natural environment in Seoul . Developed for an international competition, Manta Ray is a floating ferry terminal proposal that uses marshland plants to naturally purify the Han River and produces 100% of its energy needs through renewable sources. The Manta Ray is the latest design in Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ extensive portfolio of green utopian designs. His striking proposal for Seoul takes a multilayered approach to the landscape , beginning with the transformation of the existing Yeouido Park on the banks of the Han River into a “genuine cultural hub” reinforced with resilient design principals. A forest of willow trees is proposed for the park, as are marsh-like filtering strips to protect the banks against flooding . Pedestrian paths, large terraces, bicycle lanes, and an amphitheater would be added along the river. The Yeoui-Naru floating three-level ferry terminal juts out of the park and would be suspended above a marina and gardens. On the lower docks is a marina comprising linked steel dikes integrated with equipment to charge boats with water, electricity, and biofuels. Atop the marina is a flared, manta ray-shaped structure that houses the reception, leisure areas, food courts, exhibition space, and educational spaces. Tree-shaped structures made from cross-laminated timber sourced from “eco-responsible Korean forests” crown the building. The top-most level also includes an observation deck with views towards Ban island, as well as a rooftop orchard. Related: How the Cheonggyecheon River Urban Design Restored the Green Heart of Seoul The Manta Ray would produce all of its energy needs from a mix of renewable energy sources. The first includes solar energy harvested from 49,000 square feet of rooftop solar cells installed on the laminated glass facade, as well as 37,300 square feet of opaque photothermal panels. The 52 CLT trees are topped with wind turbines . Organic and biodegradable waste from Yeouido Park would be collected for use at a biomethanation plant to provide energy for Manta Ray, while oscillating-foils hydrokinetic turbines (HAO) would be integrated along the hull of the large floating barrier encircling the marina. “Seoul is finding new ways to invest in this kind of soft infrastructure, helping to foster social cohesion with a greater sense of community among diverse socio-economic groups,” writes Vincent Callebaut Architectures. “With an eye toward increasing equitable access for everyone to these new facilities, this floating vessel is an example of biophilic and resilient architecture, demonstrating that it is possible to build with nature rather than against it, by respecting the life of the river and allowing the local fauna and flora to flourish. The “Manta Ray” project promotes the permeability and renaturalization of river banks in cities with rivers running through them. The banks become new playgrounds for social innovation, and for urban “consumers-actors” seeking to promote urban farming, agroforestry and permaculture. The goal is to make them less vulnerable to climate change, and to the subsequent dramatic flood and urban heat island events witnessed over the past decades.” + Vincent Callebaut

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This gigantic floating Manta Ray could naturally purify Seouls river

Lush gardens hang from dramatic student housing proposed for Birmingham

April 14, 2017 by  
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An oasis-like residence has been envisioned for Birmingham’s growing, multicultural student population. Tapped by Chinese private equity fund PGC-Capital, London practice Architects of Invention created Garden Hill, a stunning proposal for student housing that draws inspiration from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Sky gardens and landscaped terraces cover the two staggered 25-storey towers joined together into a dramatic crescent-shaped volume. Proposed for a 7,500-square-meter site in Digbeth, the mixed-use Garden Hill would comprise 500 residential units, measuring between 40 and 75 square meters, as well as large shared facilities for communal living, music recording studios, ground-floor retail, and commercial units available to rent by startups. The building’s terraced configuration would allow all residents to access greenery and gardens hung at every level as well as private and public landscaped terraces. Related: UC San Diego’s Charles David Keeling Apartments Set the Bar for Sustainable Student Housing The architects envision the complex to be built from cross-laminated timber and describe the project as an “exercise in highly sustainable construction.” To reduce Garden Hill’s carbon footprint, the architects propose using electric underfloor heating for space heating, installing solar hot water heaters , and purchasing 100 percent renewable electrical energy from the grid. + Architects of Invention Via ArchDaily Images via Architects of Invention

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Lush gardens hang from dramatic student housing proposed for Birmingham

German architecture students and refugees build a beautiful timber community center

February 22, 2017 by  
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Architecture students from Germany’s University of Kaiserslautern teamed up with 25 refugees to build a timber community center for a refugee camp in Mannheim, Germany. Completed as part of the “Building Together—Learning Together” program, the 550-square-meter structure breathes new life into the bare-bones surroundings with a beautiful new gathering space. The design/build project prioritized ecological and cost-effective design without compromising construction quality. The timber community center was created in response to the desolate conditions of the Mannheim refugee camp located on the former American Spinelli Barracks. To aid in the refugee crisis , 18 architecture students teamed up with 25 refugees to design the new building, from concept to final build. The students lived at the refugee camp and worked intensively for six weeks from mid-August to the end of October to realize the project and help teach their new coworkers basic building skills and German. Related: Self-shaping shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing The community center is made almost entirely of lightweight untreated timber , with the larger components prefabricated in a hangar of the former military facility and later assembled onsite. The main walls are clad in Douglas fir while the latticework walls are used as structural support, allowing for natural ventilation and light while also creating a beautiful dappled play of light and shadow. The center wraps around a small garden courtyard as well as a large outdoor events space. Built-in seating is arranged around this area, shielded from the elements by a two-meter-wall canopy and partitions. The center also includes a pair of storerooms that can be adapted for different uses in the future. + Atelier U20 Via ArchDaily Images © Yannick Wegner

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German architecture students and refugees build a beautiful timber community center

Earth, air and fire inspire deep green interior of Ecuador’s twisted tower

February 22, 2017 by  
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Design firm Arquitectónica transformed an 18-story tower in Quito, Ecuador into a slender urban sculpture that twists upwards to meet the sky. The building’s animated exterior is matched by a deep green interior designed by Marcel Wanders , and belongs to a larger scheme comprising four major developments conceived in collaboration between leading experts in real estate development, industrial design and architecture. The architects achieved the twisting shape of the tower by displacing the floor plates, generating the impression of movement. Nestled between two orthogonal buildings, the Oh Residences introduce an element of playfulness and surprise to the neighborhood. Related: Marcel Wanders Unveils Plant-Sprouting Swing for Droog The interior design, inspired by Ecuadorian flora and fauna , offers diverse spaces that reference three classical elements–earth, air and fire. The areas referencing earth use authentic natural materials , while sensations of serenity, softness and tranquility dominate the spaces where air is the main motif. Contrasts that combine crafts, patterns and colors mark the spaces with fire as the thematic guide. + YOO + Marcel Wanders + Arquitectónica + Uribe & Schwarzkopf

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Earth, air and fire inspire deep green interior of Ecuador’s twisted tower

New silicon nanoparticles could finally make solar windows commercially viable

February 22, 2017 by  
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The trend toward integrating solar into homes and buildings seems to be taking off. First Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his rooftop solar shingles that are invisible when viewed from the street. Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca have developed technology that could usher in a future with photovoltaic windows harvesting renewable energy from the sun. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Photonics, demonstrates that high-tech silicon nanoparticles embedded into luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) can make the performance of solar windows more efficient, comparable to flat solar concentrators. “In our lab, we ‘trick’ nature by shirking the dimension of silicon crystals to a few nanometers, that is about one ten-thousandths of the diameter of human hair,” said University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor Uwe Kortshagen, one of the senior authors of the study. “At this size, silicon’s properties change and it becomes an efficient light emitter, with the important property not to re-absorb its own luminescence. This is the key feature that makes silicon nanoparticles ideally suited for LSC applications.” Related: Revolutionary new solar windows could generate 50 times more power than conventional photovoltaics Photovoltaic windows could be a game changer in the race to power cities with renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Modern glass office towers could be retrofited with photovoltaic windows that wouldn’t change the aesthetics of the building and yet would be able to meet the structure’s electricity needs. According to the US Department of Energy, turning the windows at One World Trade Center into solar collectors could power more than 350 apartments. The researchers say that silicon nanoparticles could make solar windows commercially viable for the building-integrated photovoltaic market. The silicon nanoparticles, which are produced using a plasma reactor and formed into a powder, could realize flexible LSCs that efficiently capture more than five percent of the sun’s energy. One day soon the sun shining on skyscrapers in cities around the world could also be the source of their energy. + Highly efficient luminescent solar concentrators based on earth-abundant indirect-bandgap silicon quantum dots Via Phys.org Images via University of Minnesota

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New silicon nanoparticles could finally make solar windows commercially viable

Penda unveils temporary nature-filled village for the Beijing Horticultural Expo

January 20, 2017 by  
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Architecture studio Penda’s love of modular, timber architecture will make waves at Beijing’s International Horticultural Expo 2019 in the form of a stunning, village-like exhibition space. Commissioned by property developer Vanke , the 30,000-square-meter complex is remarkably different from the typical expo pavilion, which is usually designed as a single large building where visitors must queue to enter and are guided from place to place. Instead, Penda created a sprawling exhibition space, called Thousand Yards, that’s filled with plants and winding paths to encourage individual exploration and discovery. Selected as the winning design in Vanke’s invited competition, Thousand Yards features a series of color-coded timber modular units massed in organic, asymmetrical patterns around a central plaza. “The pavilion was designed as a network of small scale units,” said Precht. “It was a core feature to avoid a large, iconic structure that covers a majority of the land. Rather, we wanted to create a village-like typology that can be explored by the visitors.” The modular units will be prefabricated using cross-laminated timber and constructed using an eight-by-eight-meter configuration inspired by an ancient Chinese measuring system called Li. Related: Penda’s Low-Impact Modular Bamboo Hotel Reconnects Visitors with Nature Greenery will be woven throughout the site on multiple levels, from the ground floor to the rooftops. Visitors will also be given a packet of seeds when they enter and asked to plant them on the roofs. Winding pathways, hidden views, and the unpredictable placement of architecture offers visitors the chance to make discoveries of their surroundings, from unexpected playgrounds and vegetable gardens to a teahouse and food court. + Penda Via Dezeen

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