Modular treehouse concept is inspired by wasp nests

November 27, 2020 by  
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As an entry to the Young Architects Competitions’ Tree House Module contest, the architecture team of Garvin Goepel and Christian Baumgarten have proposed a modular treehouse called Nidus Domum that is made up of two shelters inspired by wasp nests. The modules are designed to sit on the property of Vibrac castle in France to help visitors escape modern civilization. Curved in shape and designed to shelter visitors high up in the trees, Nidus Domum provides a closer connection to nature . The layering, addition and multiplication of individual elements of the modules are inspired by the way that wasps build their nests, in a similar systematic and engineered pattern. With wasps, oval-shaped nests are protected by a layer of chewed wood chips and wasp saliva, like a glue. The insects build layers next to each other in order to strengthen the inner population’s protection. Related: Treehouse hotel in Bali offers maximum views with a minimal footprint The modules interlock through single parts rather than in a continuous large surface, making the production and fabrication of the treehouse highly customizable. Panels can be adapted to specialized contextual arrangements, like tree branches, by exchanging and customizing single panels. Individual elements are designed small enough to be prefabricated in local factories, quickly transported to building sites and easily assembled. Subsequently, the modules are also easy to take apart and move to other locations. The treehouse modules are composed of 24 individual panels with a wooden frame that includes inner bent wood paneling and an outer cladding made of liana tree bark splits sourced from the building site. The first module, Nidus Dolichovespula sylvestris (Nest of a Tree Wasp), suspends from the tree high above the ground. From the shelter, inhabitants gain an elevated view through the forest toward the castle on one side and the remote wild landscape on the other. In contrast, the second module, Nidus Polistinae (Nest of a Field Wasp), has a free-standing construction. The design is elevated by pilings, so it doesn’t require a tree as structural support and maintains space for a sauna . This sauna is built using the same system and connects to a terrace poised over the lake surface. Users can steam in the sauna before dipping their feet in the cold water below. + Garvin Goepel + Christian Baumgarten Images via Christian Baumgarten

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

November 12, 2020 by  
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Italian firm Barberio Colella Architetti and architect Angelo Figliola have unveiled a futuristic vision for an urban oasis in Abu Dhabi that combines cutting-edge technology with low-tech systems to stay naturally cool in extreme climates. The conceptual project — dubbed Urban Dunes — uses locally sourced sand as the main building material, which would be 3D printed in stereotomic blocks of sandstone. In addition to providing passive cooling, the oasis would also pay homage to the region’s culture with intricate and elegant spaces that mimic the traditional architecture of Abu Dhabi. Designed to span 1,000 square meters, the Urban Dunes project features the tagline “rethinking local sustainable models.” The proposal “started from the deep awareness of the climatic context of Abu Dhabi’s and the Emirates’ traditional architecture, such as elegant vaulted spaces, vernacular shading devices and cold-water basins,” the architects explained in a press statement. As a result, Urban Dunes’ sculptural, sand dune-like form is integrated with iconic elements such as mashrabiya , vaulted spaces, water basins, fountains and palms. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia For adaptability, the architects have proposed a modular design to fit a variety of spatial settings. The basic module, a square, can be extended to create everything from an L-shaped layout to a courtyard. Each module would be made from 3D-printed blocks that stack together to create a vault with a thickness of 55 centimeters that, together with the heat-reflective cool pigments mixed into the sand, help protect against solar heat gain. The vaulted spaces below are also optimized for natural cooling with elegant mashrabiya, a type of perforated window screen to enable natural ventilation . The incoming airflow is cooled by the water basins placed around the interior as well as the two waterfall fountains and palm trees in the center. Earth pipes are laid underground to feed water to the fountains and basins. + Barberio Colella Architetti Images via Barberio Colella Architetti

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

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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Fully circular office can be sustainably demounted and rebuilt in weeks

April 2, 2020 by  
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In its latest example of circular construction, Dutch architecture firm cepezed has completed Building D(emountable), a modern structure that can be fully demounted and is currently located in the heart of Delft. Designed as a building kit of prefabricated parts, the office raises the bar for sustainable architecture in the Netherlands, which aims to make all construction activities fully circular by 2050. Building D(emountable) was created as part of an office complex mostly housed in historic buildings on a centrally located site that cepezed purchased from Delft University of Technology in 2012. Over the years, the architecture firm repurposed the existing historic buildings into offices; however, it opted to demolish the site’s single non-historic structure due to its poor condition and to make way for new construction. Completed in late 2019, Building D(emountable) provides a modern counterpart to its historic neighbors. The building houses office space; the current tenants are app and website developer 9to5 Software and game developer Triumph Studios. Related: Amsterdam’s new circular archives building sustainably generates all of its own energy “Building D(emountable) has exactly the same footprint as the existing building that was no longer good and was demolished,” cepezed said of the four-story building, which encompasses nearly 1,000 square meters. “In addition to being demountable and remountable, the structure is also super lightweight: the use of materials is kept to an absolute minimum. The building is also completely flexible in its arrangement, has no gas connection and is equipped with heat recovery .” Apart from the concrete ground floor, all of the building components are modular and dry-mounted to allow for speedy construction, which takes a little over six months. The building structure — from the steel skeleton to the lightweight Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) floors — was assembled onsite in just three weeks. Double-glazed panels were mounted directly onto the steel structure to create walls of glazing that give the building the appearance of a large, glass cube. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university

March 20, 2020 by  
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For nearly 50 years, Bangladesh-based nonprofit  BRAC  has championed change for good, and now the NGO will take its do-gooding a big step forward with the establishment of BRAC University in Dhaka. Designed by Singaporean architecture firm  WOHA , the university will be a beacon of environmental and social sustainability as well as a catalyst for positive change in the local community. Slated for completion in 2021, the development will accommodate over 10,000 students on a site that has been remediated from polluted swampland.  In addition to serving as a place of learning, BRAC University will become a showcase of sustainable low-tech solutions for mitigating Bangladesh’s intense summers and heavy monsoons. Key to the design will be the abundance of greenery that blankets the building, which translates to over 26,000 square meters of landscaping that grows both vertically and horizontally to help cut out glare and dust and promote natural cooling to reduce dependence on air conditioning. The architects will also remediate the swamp grounds into a bio-retention pond filled with lush native landscaping that will further enhance a comfortably cool microclimate through evaporate cooling.  Due to Dhaka’s density, the roughly 88,000-square-meter university will rise to a total of 13 stories. Rooms will be based on nine-by-nine-meter structural  modules  to ensure flexibility so that classrooms can combine to former larger units or be subdivided as needed. A “single-room-thick design” also gives every classroom easy access to cross ventilation and daylighting. Gathering spaces will be open and airy yet sheltered from the elements.  Related: WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’ A large recreational sky park known as the “University Green” will crown the roof of the university and comprise a recreational field, a swimming pool and a 200-meter running track beneath a large photovoltaic canopy. Harvested  solar  energy will be used to power giant High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans, common area lights and student laptops.  + WOHA Images via WOHA

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WOHA to transform polluted swamp into green university

Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution

February 20, 2020 by  
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In a bid to revolutionize agriculture, New York City and Bergen-based innovation studio  Framlab  has proposed Glasir, a community-based system for urban farming that combines the flexibility of modularity with aeroponics to vastly reduce the environmental footprint for growing food. Created in the likeness of a tree, the space-saving conceptual design grows vertically and can be installed in even the densest of urban areas. The high-yield, vertical farming proposal would be integrated with smart technology, sensors, and renewable systems such as solar panels to optimize production and minimize its carbon footprint. Named after a fabled and supernatural tree in Norse mythology, Glasir was conceived by Framlab as a response to the World Health Organization’s estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025. To curb the water-guzzling and land-intensive processes of modern  agriculture , Framlab developed Glasir as an alternative that would provide neighborhoods with affordable, local produce year-round. The self-regulating system comprises a monopodial trunk that is expanded with branch-like modules and would occupy only a two-by-two-foot space, about the same size needed for a small street tree on a sidewalk.  The basic components for a Glasir system comprise ten base  modules : five growth modules, three production modules, and two access modules. The modules are all interconnected and feed information to one another through an artificial intelligence program. Environmental sensors track and evaluate site conditions such as solar gain, temperature levels, and winds to optimize growth. The system can be assembled in a variety of configurations to fit the needs of the community that it serves.  Related: Sustainable agriculture cleans up rivers in Cuba In addition to the use of extremely water-efficient aeroponic growing methods, Glasir reduces its environmental impact with translucent photovoltaic cells that power its electricity needs. A  rainwater collection  system stores, purifies and redirects runoff for irrigation in the production modules. The exterior of the modules will also be coated in Titanium Oxide to help clean air pollutants.  + Framlab Images via Framlab

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Self-sustaining Ugandan surgical facility provides healthcare to underserved areas

January 21, 2020 by  
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In an inspiring example of humanitarian architecture, Kliment Halsband Architects teamed up with Mount Sinai Surgery in New York to create the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility, a prototype for an independent, self-sustaining ambulatory surgical facility. According to the architects, roughly 5 billion people lack any form of safe or affordable surgery, leading to millions of deaths annually worldwide. In response, the architects created a modular, easily replicable surgical facility to provide ambulatory surgical procedures for underserved populations in resource-poor regions. Located in Kyabirwa, a rural village near the equator in Uganda, the Mount Sinai Kyabirwa Uganda Surgical Facility is located on a site that originally lacked potable water, reliable electricity, internet or adequate sanitary facilities. To keep construction simple, the architects used a modular and minimally invasive design inspired by locally available materials. Taking advantage of the area’s abundance of red clay, the architects used locally sourced and fired bricks and cladding tiles for the main structure and topped it with a wavy roof reminiscent of the nearby White Nile. Related: Snøhetta designs healing forest cabins for patients at Norway’s largest hospitals Uninterrupted power is provided by 75 kWp solar panels installed atop the wavy roof, Li-Lead Acid Hybrid battery storage, an onsite generator and intermittent power from the grid. The team also installed 20 miles of underground cabling with fiberoptic service to provide critical internet connection for telemedicine links to Mount Sinai Surgery in New York, where doctors provide advanced surgical consultation and real-time operating room video conferencing. Gravity tanks with a filter and sterilization system store well water and intermittently available town water on-site, while water from a graywater system is recycled for toilet flushing and irrigation. The building relies primarily on natural ventilation and is not air conditioned with the exception of the operating rooms. “The primary reason for the limited availability of surgical treatments in underserved parts of the world is the belief that surgery is either too expensive or too complicated to be broadly available,” reads the project’s client statement. “We believe that surgical treatments are essential to building healthy communities worldwide and that surgical therapies need not be complex or expensive. This model is built around developing an independent, self-sustaining facility capable of providing surgical treatments in resource-poor areas.” + Kliment Halsband Architects Photography by Bob Ditty and Will Boase via Kliment Halsband Architects

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Students propose a biomimetic solution to reduce post-harvest food waste in Nigeria

November 26, 2019 by  
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As one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest producers of tomatoes, Nigeria grows up to 1.5 million tons of the fruit annually, yet nearly half of that harvest fails to make it to the market. In a bid to provide a solution to post-harvest food waste, a team of Pratt Institute students designed a storage facility for tomato farmers in Nigeria that takes inspiration from the respiratory system of a cricket and the ribs of a cactus. The proposal — titled Tomato’s Home — was recently named a finalist in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge and has advanced to the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs bring nature-inspired solutions to market. Unlike consumer-driven food waste that plagues the developed world, much of the food waste in developing countries such as Nigeria occurs during the post-processing stage. The students’ proposal focuses on the small farms around Kano in northern Nigeria, where the majority of the country’s tomatoes are grown. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimcry The students’ solution begins with a storage basket made from natural materials. Inspired by the way peas are protected and arranged in their shell, the students suggest weaving together loofa — the dried, fibrous part of the luffa fruit naturalized in the area — into a basket base for storing the individual tomatoes and to prevent bruising. The soft bed of loofa would be protected and given structure by a layer of woven teak on the outside. To store the tomato baskets, the students have also proposed a modular building constructed from natural materials, including clay bricks and thatch. Designed with an emphasis on natural ventilation and insulation, the buildings take direct inspiration from elements in nature, such as stack flow ventilation that the students say mimic the respiratory system of crickets. Light colors on the facade help reflect heat much like the white shells of certain desert snails, while the thatched roof — inspired by the thatched nests of grass-cutting ants — provide insulating benefits without compromising ventilation. + Pratt Institute Images via Pratt Institute

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Architects reveal winning design for Western Sydney Airport

November 6, 2019 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects and Sydney-based Cox Architecture have won the international design competition for the Western Sydney International Airport, a new travel hub that is slated to become the largest international gateway to Australia by 2060. Located in Sydney’s new western Parkland City region, the greenfield airport draws inspiration for its form and material palette from the unique local flora and nearby mountains. In addition to referencing the natural landscape, the architecture will emphasize energy efficiency through daylighting, natural ventilation and water recycling. Selected from a shortlist of five competitors narrowed down from 40 entries, Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture’s winning design mirrors the surrounding terrain with its wavy roof and gold-toned color palette. The Western Sydney International Airport — also known as the Nancy-Bird Walton Airport after the famous Australian aviatrix — aims to catalyze the city’s western expansion and cement Parkland City’s position as the third urban hub of Sydney . Related: Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing Under the direction of Zaha Hadid Architects and Cox Architecture, who will jointly serve as Master Architect for the entire airport precinct, the project will be constructed in four phases. The initial phase will accommodate 10 million annual passengers and is slated for completion in 2026. The project will be completed in its entirety by 2060 and is expected to accommodate 82 million annual passengers. The architecture follows sustainable design and construction principles for an energy-efficient, modular build. “We are honored to have been selected for this amazing project,” said ZHA Project Director Cristiano Ceccato in a press statement. “The design is an evolution of Australian architecture past, present and future. It draws inspiration from both traditional architectural features such as the veranda as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding bushland.” + Zaha Hadid Architects + Cox Architecture Images via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Architects reveal winning design for Western Sydney Airport

Studio Lotus designs an innovative and low-impact visitor center for Jodhpurs Mehrangarh Fort

July 4, 2019 by  
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Delhi-based multidisciplinary design practice Studio Lotus has won a competition to design the new visitor center and knowledge center for Jodpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, one of India’s largest forts that dates back to the 15th century. Now a major tourist destination and repository for cultural and historical artifacts, the Mehrangarh Fort has been undergoing adaptive reuse and redevelopment projects that include the recent design competition organized by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. Studio Lotus’ winning proposal for “sensitive spatial interventions” was selected due to its use of a highly flexible construction methodology capable of handling high volumes of pedestrian traffic with minimal ecological impact. Selected from three finalists, Studio Lotus’ winning proposal was conceived as an “architectural system” rather than a set of buildings. The modular construction — made primarily from metal and stone to blend in with the environs — are scalable and can be easily inserted and adapted for a variety of areas within the Mehrangarh Fort. The construction system can be used to create a variety of structures, from raised pathways to buildings. “Studio Lotus’ proposal seeks to create new linkages in the fort precinct by means of sensitive spatial interventions that bolster the existing circulation scheme,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The towering edifice of Mehrangarh and its various outcroppings constitute a staggeringly intricate built character, as much a testament to the beauty of the built form as it is an embodiment of the region’s culture and heritage. It was pertinent that any additions or modifications to this dense fabric enmesh with the existing; the proposed intervention aims to do just that — through expressive and adaptable additions that make the most of modern construction technology, yet stand deferential to the historic site’s timeless magnificence.” Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant Located at the junction of the Jai Pol Plaza and a new parallel pathway along the main fort entrance, the new visitor center will mark an alternate entrance and be built from woven steel lattice-based modules fitted with stone ‘tukdi’ slabs. The Knowledge Center will be set on the northwestern ramparts overlooking the Chohelao Bagh and be made up of a series of interconnected decks descending from the Palace Plaza and arranged around a steep lightwell. The programming along the decks will progress from public to more private spaces and include exhibition galleries, seminar halls, community spaces and a space for scholar studies. + Studio Lotus Images via Studio Lotus

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Studio Lotus designs an innovative and low-impact visitor center for Jodhpurs Mehrangarh Fort

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