Energy-neutral school in Utrecht enhances biodiversity

July 2, 2020 by  
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At the Winkerlaan in Utrecht, Dutch architecture firm EVA architecten has completed SO Fier, an energy-neutral primary school for Special Education Cluster 2 students that emphasizes sustainability, flexibility and connections with nature. The school , which belongs to SPO Utrecht, is split into two volumes — academia and a gym — that read as a single mass thanks to the continuous brick masonry that wraps around the facade as well as the rounded corners that soften the building’s appearance. Large windows fill the interiors with natural light and frame views of greenery and outdoor spaces on all sides. At nearly 3,000 square meters, SO Fier comprises 15 group rooms, a technical room, two gyms, offices for ambulatory care and additional supporting space. Designed to provide specialized care to the students, each group room includes a bathroom and a workplace that serves as a shelter zone. All group rooms face a central courtyard , which funnels natural light into the rooms and “literally forms a resting point in the building,” the architects explained. “Here you can isolate yourself from the rest as a pupil or teacher.” Related: Dutch villa taps into solar energy and optimal site conditions In addition to the central courtyard, SO Fier enhances biodiversity with a green roof located on the low roof between the two building volumes as well as with the integration of nest boxes — for local swifts, bats and house sparrows — into the facade. Flexibility has also been built into the school’s design; for instance, the group rooms can be rearranged to accommodate regular classes. The project has achieved Fresh Schools Class B, a Dutch rating tool for determining indoor air quality . “In consultation with the users and in collaboration with interior architect NEST and landscape architects Beuk, the complete interior and exterior spaces were also designed,” the architects added. “A coordinated color and material palette ensures peace and consistency in the busy life of the school. The same applies to the squares: These are programmatically connected to the spaces on the facade, each age group has its own square that is as green as possible.” + EVA architecten Photography by Sebastian van Damme via EVA architecten

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Energy-neutral school in Utrecht enhances biodiversity

Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

April 27, 2020 by  
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Studio Precht has turned the rules of social distancing into a design guideline for Parc de la Distance, an innovative park proposal that ensures all visitors will be separated at least 6 feet from one another at all times. Created in the shape of a fingerprint with spiraling ridges represented by tall hedge rows, the conceptual park takes inspiration from both French baroque gardens and Japanese Zen gardens. The hedge-lined paths slowly spiral toward a center, where fountains are located. With all famous parks across Vienna closed due to the pandemic , Studio Precht wanted to create a safe way for local residents to get access to a brief time of solitude and nature. As a result, it has proposed Parc de la Distance for a vacant lot in Vienna that comprises multiple spaced-out pathways for individual walks. “Although our ‘Park de la Distance’ encourages physical distance, the design is shaped by the human touch: a fingerprint,” the architects explained. “Like a fingerprint, parallel lanes guide visitors through the undulating landscape.” Related: Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing Each lane is bookended by an entrance gateway and exit gateway to indicate whether the path is occupied or free to stroll . The lanes are spaced 8 feet apart and flanked with nearly 3-foot-wide hedges on either side for visual separation. The height of the hedges vary along the path. Each individual path is 0.37 miles long and takes around 20 minutes to walk from start to finish. Although visitors are often shielded from view from one another, they will be able to hear the sounds of footsteps on the reddish granite gravel that line each path. “For now, the park is designed to create a safe physical distance between its visitors,” Studio Precht founder Chris Precht said. “After the pandemic, the park is used to escape the noise and bustle of the city and be alone for some time. I lived in many cities, but I think I have never been alone in public. I think that’s a rare quality.” + Studio Precht Images via Studio Precht

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Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing

UK university unveils efficient, BREEAM-certified learning center

March 12, 2020 by  
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Years ago, Durham University decided to implement a 10-year plan to improve on-campus facilities for its student body. Tasking British firm Faulkner Browns with the ambitious project, one of the first buildings to come to fruition is the Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre. The massive, three-level student center was built to be incredibly energy-efficient , so much so that the innovative design has already been BREEAM-certified for its sustainability profile. The 3,000-square-foot building is clad in handmade gray brick that contrasts with the abundance of greenery that surrounds the site. The design’s most striking feature, however, is the 12 rooftop modules that are all topped with asymmetric pyramidal peaks. Each of these roofs is arranged around a small or large skylight, which brighten the interior spaces with natural light. Related: Ecosistema Urbano designs a digitally integrated eco-campus for the University of Malaga The interior spaces were strategically positioned to foster a strong sense of community. In the past, learning centers were often arranged into multiple private spaces for individual or small group study. While the Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre certainly has ample space for quiet study, the main floors are filled according to a specific teaching and learning “space model”, which seeks to create an open and welcoming area for the entire student body, regardless of the students’ specific areas of study. Students and visitors enter through a massive central courtyard , which forms the social hub of the building. Further into the first floor, there are various seminar spaces and project rooms as well as two 250- and 500-seat lecture halls. There is also a spacious cafe for taking a break from the tough studying grind. Leading to the upper floors, a wide staircase adds a dramatic feel to the learning center. On the vaulted top floor, there is an expansive, flexible space that can be used for quiet, contemplative study or as a group lounge-like setting for collaborative learning projects. In addition to the ample natural light that filters through the many skylights, the building features full-height windows that provide views of the landscape. The learning center has a tight thermal envelope and was installed with several energy-efficient features, which has led to the project to earn a distinguished BREEAM Excellent certification. + Faulkner Browns Photography by Jack Hobhouse, David Cadzow and Kristen McCluskie via Faulkner Browns

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UK university unveils efficient, BREEAM-certified learning center

Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems

December 9, 2019 by  
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Although brick homes are certainly nothing new, the respected building material is having somewhat of a renaissance moment as architects search for materials with sustainable properties. Dutch firm Joris Verhoeven Architectuur has just unveiled Villa Alders — a large, brick family home that runs completely on solar power, making the structure a zero-energy  build. A maintenance-friendly product, bricks are incredibly durable, meaning that they are suitable for virtually any climate. The porous nature of brick enables a tight thermal envelope because it can store and radiate heat when necessary. Brick is also unique in that it is a material that can be recycled or repurposed fairly easily when the structure has come to the end of its lifecycle. Related: Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick Keeping these features in mind, the architects created the beautiful Villa Alders in a way that complements, rather than stands out from, many other homes throughout the Netherlands. However, its boxy shape conceals a number of unique systems that enable the structure to be a zero-energy household. Punctuated with several windows, the house consists of several cubes clad in Belgian hand-molded bricks. Additionally, the home’s cubed volumes allowed the architects to use various flat roofs to their advantage. On the upper roof, a massive solar array meets all of the home’s energy needs while the lower roof was planted with a state-of-the-art cooling sedum green roof that adds significant insulation properties to the design. The interior boasts a modern but warm living space. All-white walls and concrete flooring contrast nicely while an abundance of natural light in the living spaces further reduces energy demand during the day. Minimalist furnishings and art pieces are found throughout, adding to the home’s contemporary aesthetic. The house is also designed to be flexible based on the family’s needs for generations to come. The layout spans two stories, which can be closed off to create a separate living area on the bottom floor after the children grow up and leave home. This allows for the possibility of creating a rental unit upstairs for extra income or a spacious guest room for visitors. + Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Photography by John van Groenedaal via Joris Verhoeven Architectuur

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Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems

A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France

December 9, 2019 by  
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In the Alsace region of eastern France, Oslo-based architectural firm Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter and French design studio Parenthèse Paysage have teamed up to transform the historic, 11-kilometer-long Rosheim-St Nabor railway into a new landmark celebrating local history, culture and the landscape. Redeveloped with curving, ribbon-like sheets of weathered steel, the area takes on new, artistic life while the dismantled tracks have been adapted for the enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians alike. The adaptive reuse project was completed this year. Opened in 1902, the 11-kilometer-long Rosheim-St Nabor railway was originally created to serve the quarries in the sub-Vosges hills and to transport passengers between five communes. To share the history of the landscape, the designers retraced the existing track and used each train stop as an opportunity to highlight different characteristics of the landscape. Related: Old Paris railway site will transform into a carbon-neutral “ecosystem neighborhood” “Ominous, sometimes hidden, the vestiges of the railway still mark the reading of the site,” the architects explained. “The journey to discover forgotten landscapes or to take a different view on everyday landscapes is addressed to both local users and tourists. Like the old track that offered a dual function (industrial and passenger transport), the route has a double vocation where the functional must rub shoulders with the imaginary of travel.” At the first stop at the French commune Rosheim, the designers created a labyrinthine pavilion ringed by curved sheets of weathered steel with carefully sited openings that frame select views of the landscape. To “tell the story of the past,” the train tracks are conserved in that area and viewing platforms are complemented with benches. At the next stop of Boersch, focus is placed on the river; the riverbed has been enlarged, and a large open-space amphitheater was built alongside the water. After a long, green tunnel is Leonardsau, where the designers “tell the story of the land” with two weathered steel plates that frame views toward Mont St. Odile and emphasize the transition from the forest to the open landscape. At Ottrott, a former train station has been renovated to relay the history of the railway. Lastly is the train stop for Saint-Nabor, which has been redeveloped to tell “the story of luck.” The quarries at this last stop have been gradually overtaken with nature, the views of which can be enjoyed from a dramatic weathered steel promontory with sweeping views of the landscape. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Photography by Florent Michel 11h45 via Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter

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A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France

MVRDV’s garden oasis in Utrecht includes a green-roofed convention center

December 9, 2019 by  
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MVRDV has unveiled designs to transform the underutilized area on the west side of Utrecht’s central station into “a garden in the city” with a new, green-roofed Jaarbeurs convention center. The redeveloped events venue will be at the the heart of a 600,000-square-meter masterplan. Created to achieve BREEAM Excellent certification, the project has been fittingly named a “city oasis” by Jaarbeurs CEO Albert Arp for its inclusion of accessible green space, the beautification of the streetscape and the focus on sustainable design. Developed in collaboration with SITE Urban Development, the masterplan for the Jaarbeursdistrict will redefine the area as one presently dominated by cars into a more pedestrian-friendly destination. The new design will introduce a car-free street — the “Jaarbeurs Boulevard” — that will serve as the neighborhood’s new backbone and provide access to the new Jaarbeurs convention center as well as create a direct link from the station to the shops and restaurants along the Merwede Canal and areas beyond. Related: This Eco Villa in Utrecht produces all of its own energy through solar power In addition to the inclusion of sustainable technologies, the new Jaarbeurs venue will feature an accessible green roof that descends to the ground level via cascading terraces that can be reached from all four sides. The spacious green roof will house a rooftop park with a “carpet of programmable ‘squares’ and gardens” to host a wide variety of programming and renewable systems, such as water storage and energy generation. Construction of the Jaarbeurs events venue is expected to start in 2023. “It is rare that a private party not only invests in its own building but also includes the environment in its plans,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “This masterplan shows that Jaarbeurs is passionate about the city and dares to think outside the box. This is desperately needed, because this underutilized area has the potential to become a fantastic neighborhood with the venue as its core — an attractive green ‘hill’ in the city. The plan is also an opportunity to significantly improve the city and properly connect the center, the station area, the Merwede Canal zone and the Kanaleneiland.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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Apartment complex will be infused with vegetation to create a vibrant ‘garden city’

September 11, 2019 by  
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Malmö-based architect Jonas Lindvall has been chosen by the Swedish coastal city of Ystad to construct a plant-filled apartment complex. Slated for the Trädgårdsstad neighborhood, the Brf Leanderklockan will be comprised of 18 two- and three-story apartments that will incorporate the existing flora from a nursery that was formerly located on the site. The Brf Leanderklockan development will feature 18 units within the northern part of the new district in Ystad’s Dammhejdan area. Considering that the site was formerly occupied by a plant nursery, the new urban development will incorporate the existing vegetation to create a lush, nature-like atmosphere for residents. Related: A modern home in South Korea is embedded into its environment via an expansive green roof The complex will consist of three separate blocks, with each one containing six apartments . The units will range in size from 850 square feet to 1,500 square feet and will have open-plan layouts. Most of the apartments will boast a flexible design layout that allows them to easily be converted into live/work spaces or multi-generational homes. Some of the larger units will feature double-height ceilings with mezzanine floors, and most of the units also have spacious private terraces or patios accessible through sliding glass doors. Although the concept is quite minimalist and contemporary, the new complex will also feature plenty of green space . As part of the local council’s plan to create a “green neighborhood” in the area, much of the original vegetation from the former nursery will be preserved, including hanging vines, trees and bushes, in order to create a vibrant, verdant environment for future residents to enjoy. + Jonas Lindvall Renderings and drawings by Lindvall A & D

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Apartment complex will be infused with vegetation to create a vibrant ‘garden city’

Futuristic art center in China has detachable rooms that can bike around town

December 19, 2017 by  
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People’s Architecture Office just unveiled a futuristic cultural center in China that is equipped with detachable room that serve as “cultural satellites.” The incredible building – called the People’s Station – uses the flexible mini-structures to add extra space when necessary. When not in use, the mini-buildings can be collapsed and transported by bike to other locations. The architects used their own prefabricated system to manufacture the building, which took just three months to construct. Located in a quiet region of Yantai, the building’s design was created to attract visitors to the historic center of the city. Its funky angular volume is comprised of wide open entryways and various sections that seem to float off the ground. Related: China’s new futuristic library is unlike any we’ve seen before On the inside, the exhibition rooms are the first two floors are expansive, with high ceilings that are staggered up diagonally up to the second and third floors. Triangular glass panels flood the interior with natural light . On the top floor, visitors can enjoy a lounge area with a bookstore and a cinema. Throughout the building, there are various outdoor terraces that offer beautiful views of surrounding cityscape, as well as the ocean in the distance. + People’s Architecture Office Via Archdaily Photography courtesy PAO  

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Futuristic art center in China has detachable rooms that can bike around town

Futuristic art center in China has detachable rooms that can bike around town

December 19, 2017 by  
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People’s Architecture Office just unveiled a futuristic cultural center in China that is equipped with detachable room that serve as “cultural satellites.” The incredible building – called the People’s Station – uses the flexible mini-structures to add extra space when necessary. When not in use, the mini-buildings can be collapsed and transported by bike to other locations. The architects used their own prefabricated system to manufacture the building, which took just three months to construct. Located in a quiet region of Yantai, the building’s design was created to attract visitors to the historic center of the city. Its funky angular volume is comprised of wide open entryways and various sections that seem to float off the ground. Related: China’s new futuristic library is unlike any we’ve seen before On the inside, the exhibition rooms are the first two floors are expansive, with high ceilings that are staggered up diagonally up to the second and third floors. Triangular glass panels flood the interior with natural light . On the top floor, visitors can enjoy a lounge area with a bookstore and a cinema. Throughout the building, there are various outdoor terraces that offer beautiful views of surrounding cityscape, as well as the ocean in the distance. + People’s Architecture Office Via Archdaily Photography courtesy PAO  

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Futuristic art center in China has detachable rooms that can bike around town

Floating, solar-powered ‘dragonfly’ bridge can sail to new locations

August 10, 2017 by  
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This floating pedestrian bridge  can sail along rivers and oceans like a boat. Designer Margot Krasojevic conceived the bridge as a flexible structure that can be folded, stacked and expanded so that it can be moored along quaysides, sailed to different locations, or permanently positioned. The Ordos government commissioned Krasojevic to design a pedestrian bridge which would cross the Wulanmulun River, located in Ordos city, Kangbashi district Mongolia. The SailBoat bridge consists of a main floating section, three expanding walkways, and a carbon fiber triple sail. The sail can be lowered and raised by a buoyancy rotator and allows the bridge to function as a sailboat in order to reach new locations. Cylindrical cross-flow turbines function as rafts and help stabilize the primary structure. Related: Margot Krasojevic designs Belgrade trolly system powered by piezoelectricity A hydraulic telescopic secondary structure supports the pedestrian walkway which expands and contracts into the main body of the structure. The walkways are flexible and can adapt to different spans. Caisson foundations and screw-in moorings can be used to permanently stabilize the bridge. A rotating Mobius ballast chamber hydraulically operated by a thruster and powered by photovoltaic cells rotates the sails which are made from lightweight aluminium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. + Margot Krasojevic Architecture

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Floating, solar-powered ‘dragonfly’ bridge can sail to new locations

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