Barcelona to transform Eixample streets into car-free zones

December 1, 2020 by  
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The city council of Barcelona has laid out a plan that will transform some of the streets in the Eixample district into car-free zones . According to the city council, the plan entails restricting cars from one in every three streets within the district. If it is successfully implemented, the plan will turn a total of 21 streets and 21 road junctions into green spaces for public use. Further, 33.4 hectares of land will be available, where residents can access pedestrian streets, green parks and recreational areas. The ambitious project is expected to take shape over the next 10 years. It is one of many similar initiatives underway globally to curb excessive pollution . The Catalan capital is ranked among the most polluted cities in the world due to its high population density. Related: Superblock of Sant Antoni reclaims Barcelona streets for pedestrians The Eixample business district was developed in the 19th century by renowned urban planner Ildefons Cerdà. Although the district’s layout had been unique and attractive at the time, it seems to have outlived its era. Today, the world is moving toward more sustainable cities that focus less on private cars. According to Barcelona’s city council, the Eixample district has a high impact on the rest of the city and will be instrumental in changing the pollution status for the entire city. “The Cerdà plan … was designed to modernize Barcelona at the end of the 19th century and achieve better public health conditions,” Barcelona City Council explained. “In the current context, this large area of ??the city is once again an excellent opportunity to recover this spirit of urban transformation and update the Cerdà plan in the 21st century.” In 2019, Barcelona recorded high levels of nitrogen dioxide , exceeding both the EU and the World Health Organization limits. According to a report released by the city, pollution in the Eixample district is the highest compared to other districts. Further, this pollution is estimated to cause about 23% of all deaths in the area. The hope behind the car-free zone is that the district will become safer for the local community and the planet. Via Dezeen Image via Jorge Salvador

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

September 17, 2020 by  
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Currently under construction in Hyderabad, India and designed by Studio Symbiosis, the Floating Terraces Villa will measure 11,840 square feet on one acre of natural landscape. One of the property’s most unique features is its cascading terraces , which appear to float from the indoor living space to the outside in order to protect residents from the region’s harsh climate. According to the architects, the nature-focused villa is designed to create an intimate relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape, with the terraces and a series of outdoor courtyards fostering this connection. The city of Hyderabad in South India is known for its iconic monuments that attract visitors from around the world. The area’s arid climate includes extremely hot, dry days with slightly cooler temperatures at night, limiting most people indoors for the majority of daylight hours. This is the main hurdle that the villa addresses through its build. The designers extended the series of cascading terraces from indoor to outdoor, creating a barrier for occupants during the hotter parts of the day and allowing for circulating ventilation with the cooler evening winds. Additionally, the terraces serve to create varied levels of privacy between rooms. Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces The center of the Floating Terraces Villa is defined by its double-height living space, which spills into a kitchen, library and formal drawing room. Bedrooms, each with its own dedicated outdoor courtyard and views into the main gardens, are flanked along the central living space as well. A double-height family room is accessed through a semi-covered green space , providing views of four separate courtyards while serving as a supplemental connection to nature. The starting point of the design was originally derived from a traditional Indian system of architecture called Vastu Shastra, modified to create alternating periphery grids that favor outdoor courtyards. Exposed concrete and natural wood are prioritized as construction elements. + Studio Symbiosis Images via Studio Symbiosis

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This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

September 17, 2020 by  
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In the outskirts of Jiaxing, China, a nature reserve has been transformed into a multipurpose recreational zone known as Ginkgo Swan Lake. Named after the inclusion of a ginkgo forest and a human-made lake, the family-friendly park features a small train track that loops around the grounds. Hangzhou-based architecture firm Hexia Architects recently completed Ginkgo Swan Lake’s second train station, which comprises a pair of eco-friendly timber buildings designed to highlight the outdoor landscape. Located in the Xiusui New District of Jiaxing in an area rich in both ecological resources and traditional culture, Ginkgo Swan Lake was created to celebrate a harmonious coexistence of ecology, nature and art . The park comprises a gridded ginkgo forest, a train track that loops around the lake, an art museum, an ecological bird island and a water village. Hexia Architects, which has been involved with multiple aspects of the park project, recently completed the second train station that serves as a multifunctional space for visitors of all ages. Related: Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest The train station consists of two timber-and-glass buildings. To the south of the train tracks is the building with a reception and information desk that is flanked by amphitheater -like seating on either side and the main bathroom facilities behind it. The second floor includes child-friendly spaces including sunken ball pits, a small library and cloud-like seating. The building on the other side of the train tracks features a more flexible layout for pop-up stores, exhibitions and other gatherings. A pair of curved white staircases — dubbed the “White Towers” — lead up to two loft spaces for overlooking the double-height hall. Instead of steel or concrete, the architects opted to build the train station buildings with timber to reduce the carbon emissions of the project. All the technical equipment, such as the HVAC, are skillfully hidden to keep the focus on the exposed wooden structures. The architects explained, “We made two large space with wood structure to break a common misunderstanding in China that a wooden building is either an ancient building or a small building.” + Hexia Architects Photography by Gushang Culture via Hexia Architects

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A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

PAU unveils carbon-neutral Sunnyside Yard masterplan in NYC

March 13, 2020 by  
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Global architecture firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) has revealed a masterplan for transforming over 180 acres of underutilized land in Western Queens’ Sunnyside Railyard into a thriving mixed-use neighborhood with a net carbon-neutral footprint. Developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary design team on behalf of the City of New York, the ambitious urban revitalization project seeks multiple sustainability targets, from equitable economic growth and placemaking to the implementation of on-site renewable energy and energy storage systems.  Created in partnership with New York City’s Economic Development Corporation and Amtrak, the Sunnyside Railyard masterplan envisions a mixed-use program comprising 12,000 new 100% affordable residential units, 60 acres of open public space, a new Sunnyside Station to connect Western Queens with the Greater New York region, ten schools, two libraries, over 30 childcare centers, five healthcare facilities and five million square feet of new commercial and manufacturing space to stimulate new middle-class job growth.  Walkability  and livability will be major drivers behind the design and have informed decisions to incorporate more mid-rise scale buildings, anti-displacement strategies and an abundance of connective green space. “At over 180 acres, the Yard represents our city’s most significant opportunity to realize shared progressive goals all in a carbon-neutral environment that will set a model globally for sustainable urban growth while maintaining a scale and density reflective of Western Queens,” explained Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder of PAU. “Neighboring communities now have a unique opportunity to leverage this Plan to address long-standing needs in terms of transportation, housing , jobs, open space, social infrastructure, and environmental resilience.” Related: Striking LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia A major highlight of the masterplan is the “deck” that will be built over 80% of the existing rail yard to create a new elevated neighborhood that seamlessly connects with the rail operations below. The deck will also provide a new way for people to traverse Sunnyside Station — a new regional rail hub — on foot, bike or wheelchair. To meet carbon-neutral targets, the masterplan also calls for renewable energy systems, cutting-edge building technologies such as  mass timber  and the inclusion of an institute dedicated to research and development of clean technologies. + PAU Images via PAU

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PAU unveils carbon-neutral Sunnyside Yard masterplan in NYC

A lush public park grows on the roof of a luxury Wuhan mall

November 20, 2019 by  
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When Los Angeles-based design studio 5+design was tapped to create a high-end mall in Wuhan, China, the firm was also given the opportunity to create a publicly accessible green space — an amenity in decline in the city due to rapid development. As a result, the 164,000-square-meter Wuhan North Pavilion supports a lush public rooftop park that’s accessible from the ground level and provides active and passive spaces for children and adults alike. Designed to foster community and an added sense of identity, the park’s seasonal planting palette references Wuhan’s pastoral landscapes and the region’s agricultural past. Built to span the entire length of the mall, the rooftop public park features a mix of walkways, recreational spaces and children’s play areas. The landscape design helps define a variety of active and passive spaces, while the plant choices create “an ecological haven.” Greenery is also integrated into the street-level landscape and along the other parts of the architecture to soften the appearance of the building and to give the mall a more human scale. Related: Studio NAB wants to rehab parking lots into energy-producing urban gardens “With Wuhan’s steady decline of green space in the face of rapid development, Wuhan North Pavilion preserves a place to observe and absorb nature that goes beyond the standard use of today’s retail spaces,” the designers explained in a project statement. “The addition of careful planting with variety in scale, openness and intimacy creates a new kind of public space within the city that fosters community and an added sense of identity.” In addition to the rooftop park’s benefits in fighting the urban heat island effect , the Wuhan North Pavilion incorporates energy-saving features such as LED lighting, fans, pumps and chillers. Water usage has been reduced thanks to low-flow urinals and bathroom fixtures fitted with sensors. Low-emitting materials, adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings were also selected to help reduce indoor air pollutants. + 5+design Images via 5+design

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A lush public park grows on the roof of a luxury Wuhan mall

Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

October 17, 2019 by  
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When Wendy Morgan accepted a friend’s invitation to go see Elda Behm’s garden in the 1990s, she had no idea she would become entangled in a project for the next 25 years. “Elda popped her head around the garage and that was the beginning of it,” Morgan says with a laugh. “She was a saleswoman.” The Port of Seattle was planning its third runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport . Behm’s home and garden were in the way, so the port slated them for demolition, but Behm wasn’t giving up her garden without a fight. By the end of the decade, her charisma and love of her plants would entice Morgan and 200 other volunteers to move Behm’s entire garden. As Morgan and her dog Snooks show my tour group around the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden , we see the rich community partnership that has grown up around the original effort to recycle a garden into a new space. Five local flower societies have started gardens within Highline, and many individuals pay $40 per year for a community garden plot. Some people include the garden in their daily dog walk, and hundreds turn out for the annual summer time ice cream social. The garden’s beginnings Elda Gothke Behm was born in 1913 and raised on a farm near Wenatchee, Washington. She became a certified landscape designer in 1953 and moved to Burien, near SeaTac, in 1954. “Elda never met a plant she didn’t like,” Morgan reminisces as we wander through the Elda Behm Paradise Garden section of Highline. Plants flourished under her care — enough so that the Burien City Council and the City of SeaTac (yes, there’s a city as well as an airport with that name) agreed to develop 11 acres in North SeaTac Park into a public garden, starting with relocating Behm’s plants to save them from runway three. The Highline Botanical Garden Foundation was incorporated to oversee the garden. Volunteers worked with the Port of Seattle and the City of SeaTac from late 1999 into the spring of 2000 to move plants, trees and shrubs from Behm’s home into a holding area while gardeners prepared the soil. Behm favored native species, especially rhododendrons. The port supplied cranes and trucks to hoist conifers and other trees into their new home. The garden is planted on former residential land that the port had claimed in the 1950s, demolishing houses for a buffer zone around runway two. Morgan, who promotes interactive tours by asking questions and urging visitors to guess the answers, wants to know what we think they found when they started digging. “Water heaters!” she tells us triumphantly after we guess wrong a few times. Buried appliances had been left behind, which had to be cleared out. But some trees and shrubs had survived from the long ago houses, so those are incorporated in the garden today. Behm didn’t quietly slide into the background once her garden was moved. “She stayed on the board even in her nineties,” Morgan recalls. “She never gave up leadership.” Morgan remembers lots of arguments Behm had with the board over features she wanted added to the garden. Her last project was a shade garden featuring ferns, hostas, hellebores and her special favorite black trilliums. Behm died in 2008 at the age of 94. The Japanese garden While the thought of transplanting one entire garden is astonishing enough, in 2005 Highline relocated a second garden. The Seike family came from Japan , settling in Des Moines, Washington around 1920. The three sons all studied horticulture and helped run the family-owned Des Moines Nursery. They were forced into an internment camp during World War Two. Unlike most Japanese families, the Seikes were lucky in that a German-American family tended their plants during their internment and returned their property intact after the war. However, a much greater wartime loss befell them: their second son, Toll, died while fighting in France. Later, in conjunction with the 1962 Seattle World Fair, they hired a gardener to come from Hiroshima and build an authentic Japanese garden in Toll’s honor. Fast forward to 2004. Again, the Port of Seattle wanted more property. This time, the Seike family nursery was on the chopping block. The city of SeaTac found funding to move the miniature mountain and waterfall garden to Highline. Now generations who were born long after World War Two can sit by the pond and contemplate this family’s suffering and perseverance. The garden today Highline covers 11 acres today, with half developed and half still just dreams in gardeners’ heads. In addition to grants, donations and bequests, Highline raises money at its annual plant sales. Volunteer coordinator and gardener Jolly Eitelberg propagates the plants in the garden’s greenhouse. The garden is an extremely peaceful place, despite being so close to planes landing and taking off. Many out of town visitors with long layovers find their way to Highline, Morgan says, as it’s one of the closest attractions to the airport. But the airport has one unexpected effect on the garden — Highline can’t put koi in its ponds, because koi attract herons , which could get sucked into jet engines. Morgan is especially proud of the victory garden, modeled after those who tended to the home front during World War Two, when fresh vegetables supplemented ration cards. Highline donates green beans, tomatoes, zucchini and other vegetables grow in the victory garden to the Tukwila Food Bank. Morgan is a big believer in sharing food. She even takes our group into her plot in the community garden and offers us parsley, cucumbers and tomatoes. “Where do you think we get most of our volunteers?” she asks, a twinkle in her eye. “Most of our volunteers run red lights. And then when the judge says that will be 500 dollars they say they don’t have that kind of money.” They choose working in the garden as their community service so they can get outside, she says. Some like it so much they stay. After 25 years, the garden still inspires Morgan, who loves to share its message with visitors. To her, Highline is a triumph over what looked like insurmountable odds for Behm’s beautiful garden. She repeats herself several times over the course of our tour, driving her point home: “If you have something in your life that you think should be preserved or kept somehow, you can. If you gather people around you and keep pushing.” Images via Inhabitat

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Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy

Architects use simple, low-cost and efficient materials to create spectacular home with ‘flying roof’ in Chile

October 17, 2019 by  
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Modern homes come in all shapes and sizes, but it seems that architects are opting to take a simpler route these days when it comes to creating amazing designs. Case in point is the beautiful BL House by Mas Fernandez Architectos . Located in a coastal area in Chile’s Valparaíso region, the gorgeous home was built using prefabricated and modular materials, then topped with an eye-catching, origami-inspired metal roof. Tucked into a hilly landscape covered with trees and vegetation, the almost 2,000-square-foot home was designed to embrace its idyllic, quiet setting. Using the surrounding nature as inspiration , the team at Mas Fernandez used simple, cost-effective materials to create a design that would offer the homeowners a peaceful respite away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Related: Breezy, prefab home stays naturally cool in tropical Costa Rica The single-level home is gently nestled into the topography of the land in order to minimize impact. Using concrete pillars, part of the home is elevated over a gentle slop. The home is topped with a fun, origami-inspired aluminum roof that gives off the impression that it is about to take flight at any moment. The roof juts out over the home’s frame, shading the interior from harsh sunlight during the hot summer months. The roof also has two triangular cutouts that allow for natural light to filter into the two interior courtyards. The house was built using prefabricated materials that allowed the architects to keep construction costs down and minimize construction time. The project is clad in a dramatic, dark pine cladding with some walls made of glass panels. The five-bedroom home features an open-concept living, dining and kitchen area that is filled with simple, rustic decor reminiscent of a contemporary cabin. Massive, floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide a seamless connection between the outdoors and indoors. Additionally, the walls and ceilings are lined with native treated pinewood, adding warmth to the atmosphere. For outdoor space, the home has an enviable, open-air deck with plenty of space for seating and dining. + Mas Fernandez Arquitectos Via Dezeen Images via Mas Fernandez Arquitectos

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Architects use simple, low-cost and efficient materials to create spectacular home with ‘flying roof’ in Chile

Rural, modular home in Mexico allows for a wide variety of configurations

August 30, 2019 by  
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Mexico City- and Berlin-based Zeller & Moye has unveiled a unique modular home that allows for multiple horizontal and vertical configurations through its lifespan. Not only is Casa Hilo a flexible, low-cost, modular construction, but it is also a model for sustainable rural home design in that its materials (including locally made adobe) were chosen to create a strong thermal mass to withstand Mexico’s harsh summer climate. According to the architects, the Casa Hilo project was designed as a housing prototype for building family homes in rural areas with warm climates. Located in Apan, Mexico, the 970-square-foot abode is made up of four distinct blocks comprising two bedrooms, one kitchen/dining room and a bathroom. Related: Experimental timber prototype champions sustainable modular housing for the masses Whereas conventional homes normally consist of one large volume, this modular design sees various blocks that can be interconnected according to personal needs. The initial design is a horizontal, single-story home, but it could easily be configured into multi-story arrangements down the road in order to make room for additional family members. In a horizontal arrangement, the rooms have all been connected so that each room is a separate space with its own front door and roof terrace. Joined at the corners, the layout enables the house to embrace the landscape. Each “box” has its separate green space or garden, which becomes an integral part of the entire home. In addition to its remarkable flexibility, the project also boasts a strong sustainable profile . The boxes are framed with concrete and then filled with locally made adobe blocks. The natural materials provide thermal mass to the home, a feature that reduces energy loss and keeps the interiors at a comfortable temperature year-round. The windows and doors are made of bamboo lattice shades, which allow for natural light and ventilation to flow into the interior living spaces. Additionally, they pull double-duty as shade-providing pergolas to create pleasant areas for socializing outside the home. + Zeller & Moye Via ArchDaily Photography by Jaime Navarro and drawings by Zeller & Moye

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