Calgary Central Library is wrapped in a striking, snowflake-like facade

November 7, 2018 by  
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Calgary’s new Central Library has just opened its doors to the public — and it’s a thing of elegant, energy-efficient beauty. International architecture firm Snøhetta teamed up with North America-based multidisciplinary design firm DIALOG to create the new main branch of the Calgary Public Library, one of the largest library systems on the continent. Wrapped in a dynamic, triple-glazed facade overlaid in an intricate, hexagonal pattern, the eye-catching library provides 240,000 square feet of expanded facilities in a contemporary and light-filled environment. Located in downtown Calgary and elevated above the Light Rail Transit Line, the $245 million CAD Calgary Central Library is the city’s largest public investment since the 1988 Olympics. Opened on Nov. 1, 2018, the library is expected to welcome over twice as many annual visitors and offer a strengthened role as a public gathering space with new areas dedicated to social interaction and exchange as well as sufficient spaces for studying and learning. The outdoor landscape has also been designed to facilitate public gatherings with outdoor amphitheaters and an entry plaza that unites the Downtown and East Village, two neighborhoods previously split by the Light Rail Transit Line. The outdoor planting plan references Calgary’s mountains and prairies with a palette of native flora. The crystalline geometry of the building facade dramatically stands out from the urban fabric while fritted glass cutouts provide views into the building from afar. “From these shapes emerge familiar forms: parts of the pattern might resemble an open book, snowflake-like linework or interlocking houses, anchoring the ideas of the collective and community,” the firm explained. “Most importantly, the entire building volume is enclosed in the same pattern, allowing all sides to function as the ‘front’ of the building. This visual vocabulary continues inside, expressed in the design of CPL’s new visual identity and wayfinding signage in the building, unifying the library’s goals of inclusivity.” Related: Snøhetta designs an energy-positive data center to fight climate change Inside, the library is spread out across six floors and lined with wood throughout. The floors are organized “on a spectrum of ‘fun’ to ‘serious’” with the more active programming, like the Children’s Library, placed on the lower floors and the quiet study areas and jewel box-like Great Reading Room on the upper floors. + Snøhetta + DIALOG Photography by Michael Grimm via Snøhetta

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Calgary Central Library is wrapped in a striking, snowflake-like facade

Earthquake-resistant Christchurch Central Library is a stunning symbol of rebirth

October 26, 2018 by  
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Nearly eight years after multiple massive earthquakes ravaged the New Zealand city of Christchurch , Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects have completed the Christchurch Central Library, a “stunning symbol of hope, unity and rebirth” built on the concepts of resiliency and sustainability. Dubbed T?ranga — M?ori for “foundation” — the earthquake-resistant building also pays homage to the deep cultural heritage of Ng?i T??huriri, the local M?ori people, through various artworks as well as with a striking gold facade inspired by the shape of the local harakeke flax. The $92 million library is one of several major public projects aimed at revitalizing the city. Located at Christchurch’s historic Cathedral Square, the Christchurch Central Library spans five stories across 9,500 square meters. To protect against potential earthquakes in the future, Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers developed a seismic force-resisting system consisting of large-scale concrete walls connected to high tensile, pre-tensioned steel cables that allow the building to sway and then return to its original position. The self-centering mechanism means that the library will sustain minimal structural damage even during large earthquake events. In addition to its earthquake-resistant properties, the building is modeled after the vernacular architecture of the Ng?i T??huriri thanks to close collaboration with the Matapopore Charitable Trust. The organization helped weave the many M?ori references into the library from the building materials to the various terraces oriented for views of significant Ng?i T??huriri landmarks like Mount Grey and Hawaiki. Schmidt Hammer Lassen drew on its extensive experience with library design to create an inviting and light-filled environment centered on a grand, staggered atrium that doubles as a social staircase and gathering space. Related: Shigeru Ban completes incredible cardboard cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand “T?ranga is the kind of multi-faceted project that layers architectural interest with significant cultural relevance,” said Morten Schmidt, founding partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen . “It has been a privilege to design a project that not only fulfills the need for a new central library , but also one whose mission of restoring the soul of the city includes the deep cultural heritage of Ng?i T??huriri, the local M?ori people.” + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Photography by Adam Mørk via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Earthquake-resistant Christchurch Central Library is a stunning symbol of rebirth

This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops

August 20, 2018 by  
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A new pagoda-like library in China’s megacity of Shenzhen sweeps visitors above the tree canopy with an elevated walkway. Located in Xiangmi Park, a densely forested area originally used as an agricultural research center, the Xiangmi Park Science Library celebrates its verdant surroundings with a “treetop walk” and an abundance of glazing. International architecture and design firm MLA+ led the design of the library and visitor center, and ZEN landscape architects handled the landscape design. Completed in 2017 in Shenzhen’s central Futian District, the Xiangmi Park Science Library covers an area of 1,500 square meters. The park had been protected from urban encroachment for 35 years and includes a large lychee orchard on a hill, fishponds, a flower market and a rich diversity of local flora and fauna. The architects have compared the site to an “undiscovered treasure box in the middle of a metropolis” and thus aimed to preserve and enhance the natural environment as much as possible. Drawing inspiration from classical Chinese garden architecture, the pagoda-like library building is made from steel and glass for an airy and lightweight feel; the cantilevered elements provide solar shading and reference local architecture. In addition to library stacks, the building includes a meeting room, a reading area, terraces and administrative offices. Related: BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen “Perched in between the trees , the building offers an ever-changing experience of its surrounding landscape,” the firm said. “This experience varies from floor to floor. With its dematerialized ground floor, it becomes a part of the shaded forest floor. Structural elements blend with the surrounding tree trunks. Upper levels sit in between the dense canopy of leaves and therefore have a more enclosed, intimate feeling. The very top floor offers the views of the surroundings and the city. Experiencing the library is like climbing a tree — a tree of knowledge.” + MLA+ Images © Vlad Feoktistov

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This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops

Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

May 24, 2018 by  
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Rural-urban migration in China is at an all-time high, with experts estimating an influx of 243 million migrants to Chinese cities by 2025 . In a bid to combat this wave of migration and raise living standards for farmers, Stefano Boeri Architetti  designed Slow Food Freespace, China’s first Slow Village that follows the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement. The Slow Village pilot project will be presented this week at the 16th Venice Biennial. Founded in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food Movement has grown into a worldwide campaign that promotes local food, traditional cooking and sustainability in agricultural economies. Inspired by this vision, Stefano Boeri Architetti created a Slow Village program for China that comprises three cultural epicenters — a school , a library and a small museum — that would be built in each village and serve as hubs for disseminating farming knowledge and celebrating each area’s unique cultural characteristics. “We easily forget that the rural areas provide sustainability to our daily lives,” Stefano Boeri said. “It is an inevitable necessity of architecture to confront the speed of evolution while also feeding it with the richness of the past. For this reason, we have proposed to enhance the agricultural villages with a system of small but precious catalysts of local culture, able to improve the lives of the residents.” Related: NYC Design Collaborative Shows Communities How To Cook with Ingredients from the Sidewalk The first Chinese Slow Village will be located in Qiyan, in the Southwest province of Sichuan. Stefano Boeri Architetti China will provide its services pro-bono for the design and construction of the first pilot system, including the library, school and museum. Likened to a “single organic accelerator,” the three buildings will teach about the preparation, consumption and supply of food, as well as ancient and deeply rooted food traditions. The Slow Villages are also expected to spur and accommodate tourism. The Slow Food Freespace presentation will take place at the Venice Biennial  on May 25, 2018. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

February 9, 2018 by  
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This gorgeous visitor center in China was inspired by Mongolian yurts . Architecture firm HDD combined locally sourced stone and wooden beams to create a multi-functional space where local children can play and read. The Mulan Weichang Visitors Center also offers overnight accommodations and a great spot for astronomy enthusiasts to observe the night sky, all nestled within the stunning Mongolian grasslands. The building is located in the northeast of Hebei province, an area connected to inner Mongolia grasslands where ancient Chinese emperors used to hold autumn hunting festivals. Blending into its grassy surroundings, the building resembles the traditional Mongolian yurt. This layout creates a series of round, semi-public spaces that fit perfectly with the modern lifestyle. Related: A Firsthand Look at the Magnolia 2300 Yurt – the First Energy Star Home in British Columbia The middle of the library is a sunken living space, and the kitchen and dining area located off to the side. Large windows fill the interior with natural light and offer views of the landscape. This openness toward the exterior dominates every corner of the interior, including the bathroom, where a freestanding bathtub sits in front of another large window. Related: Trakke Transforms Ancient Yurt into a Packable Round House That Pops Up Anywhere for the Everyday Adventurer The architects used local materials including old stone and used wooden beams in order for the building to blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings. The main structure of the building is steel framing, combined with triple layered low-e glass panels, while the exterior wooden frames double as an efficient shading system. + HDD Architecture Via Contemporist Photos by Shengliang Su

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Yurt-inspired visitor’s center in China blends into its exceptional surroundings

Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans

February 9, 2018 by  
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has once again aired thoughts that depart from mainstream climate science , according to The Guardian . In a recent interview with Nevada TV station News 3 , Pruitt suggested global warming could be beneficial for people. He said, “Do we really know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100, in the year 2018? It’s fairly arrogant for us to think we know exactly what it should be in 2100.” Pruitt said in an interview with News 3’s Gerard Ramahlo, “No one disputes the climate changes , is changing, that’s, we see that, that’s constant. We obviously contribute to it; we live in the climate, right?…Now measuring that with precision, Gerard, I think is more challenging than is let on at times but I think the bigger question is…is it an existential threat? Is it something that is unsustainable or what kind of effect or harm is this going to have? I mean, we know that humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends. I mean, so, so, I think there’s assumptions made that because the climate is warming that that necessarily is a bad thing.” Related: Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO before denying pesticide ban The EPA administrator echoed an idea that’s been raised in the past of a debate on climate change, to go over “what we do know and what we don’t know, so the American people can be informed and make decisions on their own.” A snapshot of the EPA website on January 19, 2017, the day before Donald Trump was sworn into office, was very clear that the impacts of climate change would threaten human health . They said people could be exposed to disease , be threatened by extreme weather events, or face food insecurity due to climate change impacts. Via The Guardian and News 3 Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Scott Pruitt thinks global warming could be favorable for humans

Beautiful Eichler-inspired home draws the eye with a dramatic roof

February 9, 2018 by  
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A coastal infill lot in Southern California has been transformed into a beautiful new home that leans heavily on mid-century modern influences. Surfside Projects and architect Lloyd Russell teamed up to design Avocado Acres House in Encinitas, a beach town just outside of San Diego. The Case Study Houses and Eichler Homes provided the main inspiration for the home, which also incorporates sustainable and energy-efficient design elements. Like all beloved mid-century modern homes in California, Avocado Acres Home embraces the outdoors with ample glazing . A sloping curved shed roof tops the single-story building and tie together its three pavilions that make up a U-shaped plan. “Straight lines with an angular street front geometry sits in stark contrast to the unique curvilinear roof profile,” wrote the designers. “A simple color palette of the open interior space complements the muscular concrete walls and extensive use of natural wood tones on the vaulted ceiling, flooring and cabinetry.” Related: Classic Eichler gets a tasteful renovation and expansion in the heart of Silicon Valley The main living spaces are placed at the front of the home near the street and arranged in an L-formation, however, high walls and clerestory windows preserve privacy. In contrast, nine-foot-tall sliding glass doors open the dining room up to the outdoor courtyard hidden from the street. Three bedrooms, including the master ensuite, are located at the rear of the home. The home’s sustainable features were certified by California’s GreenPoint Rated system. + Surfside Projects + Lloyd Russell Photos by Darren Bradley

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Steven Holl Architects unveils funky Parachute Hybrids residences for Moscow

February 9, 2018 by  
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Steven Holl Architects and Art-group Kamen have unveiled designs for a playful and unusual-looking mixed-use development set to rise in Moscow’s Tushino district. Punctuated by giant circles and topped with green roofs, these asymmetrical glass buildings won an international design competition, beating out proposals from the likes of Fuksas Architecture and Zaha Hadid Architects. The project draws from the site’s history as a former paratrooper airfield and proposes a new building typology that the architects call “Parachute Hybrids.” Located along the bank of the Moscow River, the new mixed-use center will comprise housing, social spaces, a kindergarten and an elementary school. A large public garden and playground space occupies the heart of the project—a reference to the site’s former use as a historic paratrooper airfield—with optimal access to natural light . “The new building type we have proposed here, inspired by the site’s history, is unique to this place,” said Steven Holl. His firm describes the “Parachute Hybrids” typology as one that “combines residential bar and slab structures with supplemental programming suspended in sections above, like parachutes frozen in the sky.” Related: Renzo Piano to convert a Moscow power station into a solar-powered arts center Sustainability is also a central component of the design. In addition to green roofs , the buildings will incorporate solar pergolas, rainwater recycling, geothermal heating and cooling, as well as optimize daylighting. Apartments will feature operable glass that opens up to balconies. + Steven Holl Architects + Art-group Kamen Images by Steven Holl Architects and Art-group Kamen

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Steven Holl Architects unveils funky Parachute Hybrids residences for Moscow

Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

December 26, 2017 by  
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Local architects Fon Studio breathed new life into a Beijing hutong , converting the historic residence into a chic neighborhood library claimed to be the nation’s first magazine library. Located next to a picturesque man-made canal, the Spring Whispers Book Club is an adaptive reuse project that preserves parts of the original structure while injecting an undeniably contemporary vibe. Nestled within Dongcheng District, Spring Whispers Book Club is set within a historic Beijing neighborhood full of winding alleys and hutongs, many of which have been converted for new commercial purposes. Spring Whispers Book Club’s original hutong structure was once a traditional three-room house that had fallen into disrepair. Fon Studio constructed a teak and steel framework based on traditional building techniques to reinforce the hutong’s decayed timber-and-brick shell. Clean lines and the use of timber, gray terrazzo, and glass gave the hutong’s facade a modern refresh. Related: ARCHSTUDIO inserts a modern teahouse into an ancient Chinese structure To provide a pleasant reading environment, the architects inserted a floor-to-ceiling window that fills the heart of the library with natural light and frames canal views. Operable timber shutters also let light into the other parts of the library . White steel framing in the interior guide the eye to the bookshelves lined with magazines. Light-colored timber used for the new internal structures and furnishings provides a beautiful contrast to the older dark-colored wood. The interior comprises a variety of seating areas and a bar. + Fon Studio Via ArchDaily Images via Fon Studio

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Chinas first magazine library is housed in a renovated Beijing hutong

Architecture students transform an old Alabama bank into a town library

December 14, 2017 by  
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A historic bank in a tiny Alabama town has been reborn into a surprisingly elegant library with looks rivaling a chic retail store. The project, called Newborn Library, was completed in 2013 as part of Rural Studio , an Auburn University student design-build program with a focus on community design. The adaptive reuse and expansion project preserves much of the historic architectural elements while using modern construction technologies, such as CNC techniques, to create a contemporary interior. Located in the historic downtown of Newbern, a town with fewer than 200 people, the Old Bank Building was donated to the community by a local family who wanted the building turned into a library . Rural Studio, which follows a philosophy of providing good design to both rich and poor, was a fitting choice for the adaptive reuse project. The vision was to transform the bank into a social center that provided “after-school programming, computer access, and the first public Internet point in the community.” Related: Students design beautiful homes for mass-production at just $20,000 each To this end, the architecture students gutted the interior and expanded the footprint of the building while leaving the bank’s white brick exterior and glazed front intact to preserve its historical context. Timber lines the interior, from the CNC-milled birch plywood shelves to the patterned ceiling panels also made of birch. The old pine floor was preserved and elements of the past punctuate the space like the bank vault door and original bricks repurposed as paving and low walls. A 700-square-foot boxy cypress -clad extension was added to the back of the building, while a small outdoor space to the north provides an outdoor reading space. + Rural Studio Via Dezeen Images via Timothy Hursley

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Architecture students transform an old Alabama bank into a town library

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