An auditorium uses translucent ETFE panels for a surreal look

February 14, 2019 by  
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Spanish design firm SelgasCano has completed the surreal Plasencia conference center and auditorium in Spain . Shaped like a giant boulder, the multifaceted building is wrapped in a translucent skin of ETFE panels that floods the interior with natural light during the day and glows like a lantern when illuminated from within at night. In contrast to its pale exterior, the interior is dominated with vibrant colors — from a bright orange entry hall to a deep red auditorium — that heighten the structure’s ethereal feel. Evocative of a futuristic spaceship, SelgasCano’s design of the Plasencia conference center and auditorium was selected in a 2005 competition. However, financing issues severely delayed the project’s completion to 2017. Now in operation, the building spans 7,500 square meters and includes an entrance lobby, a flexible 300-person secondary hall that can be split into three 100-person halls, the exhibition halls and the restaurant area. Set on a steep hillside straddling the border between urban development and the rural landscape, the conference center and auditorium was also designed to sit lightly on the land. Rather than fill in the site, the architects created a cantilevered shape to hover over the rocky terrain. They placed the entrance at the roadway, located 17 meters above the terrain, while inserting ramps and stairs that descend down to the various rooms. Related: SelgasCano’s incredible glass office gives employees a bug’s eye view of the forest floor “The building will be visible in the distance from an entire western perspective, from north to south,” the architects said. “It will be seen when passing by at high speed in a car, which is why we have planned it as a snapshot or a luminous form, acting as a sign for passengers by day and by night, playing at being a correspondence between sensation and reality, between the position it seems to be heading for and the position from where it will move.” + SelgasCano Images by Iwan Baan via SelgasCano

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An auditorium uses translucent ETFE panels for a surreal look

Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high

February 14, 2019 by  
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Tasmania’s water pollution is becoming a major problem for local residents and wildlife. A new study discovered that metal contamination in the state’s lakes are about as high as they get, raising concerns about the quality of water and food obtained from the region. The majority of the contamination can be traced to historic mining operations in Rosebery and Queenstown. The new study, which was conducted by the Australian National University, looked at six lakes in Tasmania, including Perched Lake, Lake Cygnus, Lake Dobson and Dove Lake, and found levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium and copper. Basin Lake and Owen Tarn had the highest levels of water pollution. The levels of contamination are bad enough to equal some of the highest contaminated waterways in the world, including Iran’s Shur River and Pakistan’s Kurang River. “The levels of contamination are really, really high,” the lead scientist on the study, Larissa Schneider. “They need to do research to know what is happening to the fish and if it’s really high… people should not be eating it.” Schneider compared the level of water pollution to what the United States has encountered in some areas of the country. In those cases, local fish populations were severely harmed by the pollutants, which is a major concern because the contamination levels in Tasmania are much higher. Related: California teen finds golf balls are a major source of plastic waste in our oceans Scientists, for example, discovered an alarming amount of lead contamination in Dove Lake, which could affect native organisms. The new research argues that the contaminates were spread via atmospheric transport. Mining operations in the 1930s used open cut mining, a popular practice until it was outlawed by the Environmental Protection Act in the 1970s. Metal contaminates were discovered over 80 miles away from old mining locations, and some of the lakes are in mountainous regions. This suggests that they reached these bodies of water by passing through the air. Will Hodgman, the premier of Tasmania, discussed the new findings and suggested a form of remediation on the part of government and private industries. The entity that looks after waterways, the Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment , has not commented on Tasmania’s water pollution levels. Via The Guardian Image via Wikipedia Commons  

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Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high

MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

February 14, 2019 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV has won a competition to renovate and expand the historic Palais du Commerce in Rennes, France. The impressive 19th century palace had once served multiple public functions but now suffers from disconnect with current civic life. Working in collaboration with co-architects Bernard Desmoulin for developers Frey and Engie Avenue, MVRDV plans to reactivate the former public building and transform it into an inviting mixed-use destination that will serve as the centerpiece of the city’s main commercial street. The 18,000-square-meter redevelopment project will include not only a building restoration with a modern 6,000-square-meter timber expansion of the Palais du Commerce, but also the reactivation of the surroundings including the transformation of the Place de la République into a pedestrian-friendly public square as well as the conversion of the Rue du Pré Botté into a landscaped pedestrian area. The landmark building will also be updated with a sensitive approach that will be respectful of its iconic 19th-century design while greatly increasing the building’s transparency. In addition to the replacement of existing windows with larger panes of glass, glazed storefronts will be added to the arches of the arcade and a new grand, winding staircase will anchor the center of the facade. “Not only is Palais du Commerce a local landmark, but its transformation will turn the Place de la République into a popular destination and act as a vital catalyst for its surroundings,” says Nathalie de Vries, founding partner of MVRDV. “Our design approaches this task with an appreciation of the building’s history, but also with an eye towards the future, helping Rennes to achieve its urban vision. The additions that we will make are clearly modern in character, clearly showcasing this design as the latest chapter in the building’s storied history.” Related: MVRDV designs solar-powered “KoolKiel” with Jenga-like architecture in Germany The building’s mixed-use program will include new shops, a hotel, offices, a co-working space, a variety of leisure spaces — including a LEGO museum, event space and an electronic music bar — and a school for the kitchen and hotel industry led by chef Thierry Marx. All spaces of the building will be used more effectively, from the basements to the roof, which will include a new bistro in the building’s central dome. Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2025. + MVRDV Images via ENGRAM, diagrams via MVRDV

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MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

December 28, 2017 by  
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Just in time for the holidays, Steven Holl Architects completed the latest Maggie’s Center, a building the U.S. firm describes as having “a new joyful, glowing presence.” The luminous building at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London is one in a network of drop-in centers with the charitable purpose of helping anyone who has been affected by cancer. Filled with natural light during the day and lit from within at night, this new Maggie’s Center is a sculptural beauty that takes inspiration from the church’s medieval heritage. Founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks in 1995, the Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Trust and the network of Maggie’s Centers seek to help those affected by cancer with free support, information, and advice. Located on the grounds of NHS hospitals, the buildings that house Maggie’s Centers also double as uplifting design destinations, having been designed by leading architects such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta. At the Maggie’s Center at St. Barts, Steven Holl Architects fashioned a curved three-story building—one of the few centers with a more vertical rather than horizontal profile—that draws the eye with its glowing matte glass facade decorated with colored glass fragments that evoke the “neume notation” of 13th century Medieval music. The glass facade is also organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff. “Interior lighting will be organized to allow the colored lenses together with the translucent white glass of the facade to present a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St. Barts Hospital,” wrote the architects. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature The architects continue to say that the building was envisioned as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” referring to the glass cladding as the outer layer on a branching concrete frame that holds an inner layer of perforated bamboo . The inner bamboo shell wraps around an open curved staircase and is bathed in colored light that changes over time and by season. The ground floor welcomes visitors with a rest area, counseling room, kitchen, and dining area. The first floor comprises a library and two additional rooms, while the topmost floor opens up to a public roof garden with flowering trees and a multipurpose space for yoga, Tai Chi, meetings and more. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

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