Imperial War Museums Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness

June 6, 2019 by  
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Britain’s Imperial War Museum has recently gained a new high-performance archive facility in Cambridgeshire, England that boasts the world record for airtightness with results of 0.03 ach (air changes per hour). U.K. architectural practice Architype designed the new storage building — called the IWM Paper Store — to house some of the world’s most important collections of artworks, photographs, letters and diaries that chronicle the history of warfare in the past two centuries. Engineered to meet Passivhaus standards, the boxy, single-story collections facility is sheathed in ground-to-roof panels of perforated oxidized steel. Having completed a Passivhaus archive before, Architype was tapped to develop a second airtight facility for the Imperial War Museum (the new repository is currently awaiting certification). Drawing on its decades of experience designing beautiful, low-carbon buildings, the practice not only crafted the building to meet stringent environmental conditions for archival needs, but also thoughtfully designed the exterior to complement the existing historic buildings on site at IWM Duxford. Completed January 2019 for an approximate cost of £2.8 million, the rectangular building spans an area of 13,326 square feet to bring together over 14,000 linear meters of IWM’s collections into a central repository. The building can provide for up to 30 years’ expansion of IWM’s unique collections. To stabilize temperature and humidity levels, the architects turned to Passivhaus as a low-energy alternative to a highly mechanized and energy-intensive building system. Related: Architect designs and builds his dream Passive House in New York Working together with construction provider Fabrite, the architects conceived an uninterrupted facade of oxidized steel to complement the color and texture of historic brickwork onsite. “Though simple in form, the oxidized steel facade offers thoughtful detail, consisting of ground-to-roof panels that signify each year of archived collections from 1914 onward,” the architects explained. “Perforations in panels denote the 1 According to current records held by the International Passivhaus Association quantity of collected documentation, with noteworthy years around wartimes being heavily perforated in accordance with the volume collected.” + Architype Images via Richard Ash / IWM

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Imperial War Museums Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness

Tibetan antelope are being decimated to produce opulent shahtoosh scarves

May 2, 2019 by  
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Poachers are taking advantage of a fashion trend to turn Tibetan antelope into expensive scarves. It takes four Tibetan antelopes to make the single opulent wrap known as a shahtoosh, and the hunt is decimating the antelope populations. These scarves, once used as dowry items in India, are seeing an increase in demand by Westerners willing to pay upward of $20,000 a piece. Over the past century, conservationists have measured a 90 percent drop in antelope numbers, mostly due to increasing wool demands . Experts believe there was once a million antelope that roamed the Tibetan landscape, but their numbers fell to around 75,000 in the 1990s. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife According to National Geographic , population numbers started to recover in the 2000s after China enacted tough laws against trading the antelope wool, but the demand for shahtoosh has increased poaching over the past 10 years. Since 2010, border agents in Switzerland have confiscated 295 scarves, which represent the deaths of more than 1,000 Tibetan antelopes. In light of the alarming numbers, officials are asking for other countries to keep a close eye on shahtoosh trafficking with the hope of curbing some of the fashion demand. It takes a trained eye to identify a shahtoosh. The biggest key in properly locating a shahtoosh is looking for antelope guard hairs. These long pieces of hair are difficult to remove in the manufacturing process and are easy to identify under a microscope. Once it is determined that a scarf is a shahtoosh, the owner is fined a few thousand dollars, and the piece of clothing is confiscated. The shahtoosh trade appears to be less of an issue in the United States, at least on the surface. Since 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not confiscated a single shahtoosh, though it is possible that the material has simply flown under the radar. Either way, experts do not believe Tibetan antelopes will be able to make sustained recoveries until the demand for the luxurious scarf is significantly reduced. Via National Geographic Image via McKay Savage and Metropolitan Museum of Art

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One-of-a-kind Wilhelm Lamp is 3D-printed from recycled polycarbonate

April 12, 2019 by  
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Challenged by Milanese design gallerist Rossana Orlandi to “give plastic a second life,” Italian architect Tiziano Vudafieri has created the Wilhelm Lamp, a unique light fixture and tribute to the renowned German industrial designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Presented at Rossana Orlandi’s exhibition Guitlessplastic – Master’s Pieces during Milan Design Week, the Wilhelm Lamp reinterprets the Wagenfeld’s modernist glass vase as an enlarged pendant lamp that is 3D-printed from recycled polycarbonate. First launched last year, Rossana Orlandi’s Guitlessplastic project was created to challenge the public discourse around plastic. The initiative has included talks and numerous collaborations between brands, artists and architects invited to showcase responsible uses of plastic through recycling. The Guitlessplastic – Master’s Pieces collection exhibits unique works made out of recycled and recyclable plastic by renowned artists, designers and architects and is currently on show at the Railway Pavilion of the Museum Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan until April 14. As an admirer of Wilhelm Wagenfeld, Tiziano Vudafieri owns a 1935 Wagenfield glass vase as part of his personal collection and used it as the inspiration for the Wilhelm Lamp. Created in collaboration with BAOLAB, LATI and GIMAC, the lamp was 3D-printed into a large, bulbous shape from recycled polycarbonate , a material that boasts high thermal and mechanical resistance. At the exhibition, the translucent pendant lamp is suspended above the 1935 Wagenfeld vase, which is bathed in the lamp’s light. Related: Make your own custom sunglasses from recycled plastic with FOS “Wilhelm Wagenfeld was the only Bauhaus master to apply this movement’s utopia to real life, invading the market after World War II with beautiful everyday objects with innovative designs and affordable prices,” Vudafieri said. “Among his works, I prefer his glass pieces, particularly the vases, with their classic and rigorous, elegant and modern forms. Hence the idea of recycling not only the materials used for the object, but also the design itself, fitting in perfectly with the Guiltless Plastic theme.” + Tiziano Vudafieri Images via Tiziano Vudafieri

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One-of-a-kind Wilhelm Lamp is 3D-printed from recycled polycarbonate

This camper van features not just one, but two sleeping pods in its cozy interior

April 12, 2019 by  
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While most DIY van conversions end up as just one project, Oxford-based Jack Richens and Lucy Hedges took their passion for transforming camper vans into contemporary homes on wheels and turned it into a career. Their company, This Moving House , has just finished its sixth project, the Jubel Explorer, and it is a doozy. The ultra-compact space has been completely transformed into a chic adventuring vehicle, complete with two innovative sleeping nooks. Constructed on a long wheel base Mercedes Benz Sprinter, the camper van ‘s revamped interior is surprisingly modern and space-efficient. At the front of the van, the driving area has two chairs that swivel around to face a small table with a three-person bench, creating enough space for dining or working. Related: Denver-based company helps you fulfill your van conversion dreams But at the heart of this incredible tiny home on wheels is the kitchen and sleeping space. Although incredibly compact, the kitchen is contemporary thanks to a palette of matte white with wooden trim. A white resin sink sits in front of a light-gray backsplash with a two-burner stove on one side and a countertop on the other. For additional preparation space, larger countertop panels folds out from the cabinetry. Next to the quaint cooking area is a day bed tucked into the very end of the camper van. Beside this bed, a simple staircase leads up to the company’s now-signature pod bunks. Accessed by porthole-style windows, the sleeping pods come complete with fixed full-sized mattress and reading lights as well as the possibility for tailored furnishings, such as a custom mattress and privacy curtains. To keep the space clutter-free, the camper van is outfitted with plenty of storage. The stairs to the sleeping pods lift up to reveal built-in nooks, and the main bed has pull-out drawers underneath. For additional storage, there is an extra-large drawer and room for gear in the back of the van. The Jubel Explorer was also made to be semi- off-grid  with a diesel heater that keeps the interior space warm and cozy. Power comes from a 110AH and 12V electrical system, and the van also comes with a 21-gallon water tank. + This Moving House Via Curbed Photography by Tim Hall Photography via This Moving House

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This camper van features not just one, but two sleeping pods in its cozy interior

Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo

April 11, 2019 by  
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This spring, tapestry-like shrubbery and geometric flowerbeds won’t be the only highlights at the Het Loo Palace’s Dutch Baroque gardens. The palatial grounds in Apeldoorn, Netherlands recently opened a new climate change-inspired exhibit, ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries,’ featuring four monumental art installations designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind . The exhibit showcases the first-ever contemporary installations on show in the gardens of Paleis Het Loo, which dates back to the late 17th century. ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ opened April 2, 2019 and will remain on display at the palace until mid-2021. Architect Daniel Libeskind of the New York-based Studio Libeskind is best known for his avant-garde buildings. His best-known portfolio pieces typically pertain to the arts and museums; however, he also famously won the competition to design the masterplan for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. In addition to architectural work, Libeskind has also created furnishings, fixtures, sculptures and even opera sets. Libeskind’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ consists of four abstract sculptures that “explore the imbalance of humankind in nature,” according to Studio Libeskind. “Each of the approximately 3-meter-tall fragments of a globe represent different chemical compounds that contribute to our changing climate . Conceived as a sculptural and conceptual counterpoint to the ordered beauty of the palace garden, the gardens of the 17th century represent a perceived paradise, man’s perfection of nature. But, due to technology and human intervention, our current planet is rapidly changing.” Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils twisted, tree-covered skyscraper for Toulouse Considered one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands, Museum Paleis Het Loo comprises a grand palace where the House of Orange-Nassau once lived, the symmetrical baroque gardens, the Stables Square and the palace park. The museum, which opened to the public in the 1980s after an extensive renovation, is now undergoing another major renovation and renewal slated for completion in 2021. Stables Square and the garden are open from April to September. + Daniel Libeskind Images via Studio Libeskind

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Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo

Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free

April 11, 2019 by  
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Reducing plastic usage is a challenging task in today’s everything-plastic society. We all understand the importance of reducing petroleum-based emissions and the post-use waste that never really goes away, but implementing practices in your home can seem overwhelming. It’s even worse when only one member of the family is working towards the goal. The good news is that kids are very open to making a bit of extra effort if they understand that it is good for the environment and the animals in it, including us. The key is to make lessons applicable to their daily life and make goals incremental and therefore, attainable. Here’s a list of ways you can get the entire family involved in reducing your plastic consumption without tears or arguments. Grocery shop together One of the best ways to reduce plastic in your home is to keep it from coming into the home in the first place. The grocery store can be a full-blown battle when it comes to buying products packaged in plastic. From the wrap on produce to the containers your favorite sour cream comes in, you will need all the ideas from your family members to get the job done. Related: Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby Heading to the store together gives you a chance to challenge and educate each other. Instead of reaching for the apples in the plastic bag , get the ones piled in a paper bag, use a compostable bag, or bring your own produce bag to the store. If you have a few bathrooms, buy shampoo in bulk and divide it up instead of buying separate plastic shampoo bottles. Let the kids choose their own stainless steel or glass shampoo containers they want for bathtime. These are just a few example of the thousands of plastic products at the grocery store you can avoid with a concerted effort. Carefully select gifts It feels good to give gifts to friends and family members, but it doesn’t feel good to contribute to plastic waste , so this is another opportunity to skirt the plastic options. Let your kids help make layered gifts in a jar with ingredients for soup or cookies, with no waste. Choose wooden toys over plastic, buy books and give the gift of experiences. Also pay attention to the types of wrapping you use, staying away from plastic bags and products packaged with plastic. Use homework to your advantage When your child comes to you to brainstorm ideas for a school project, think plastic elimination. For example, if the topic is controversial political differences, have them write about the ban on plastic bags. This gives them the opportunity to better educate themselves, and others, on the topic. Have a good old-fashioned challenge Every family becomes motivated by a sibling-to-sibling or parent versus child challenges. Eliminating plastic from the home is no exception so come up with a great reward (plastic free of course) and set up the boundaries of the challenge. Give every person or team a recycling bin. You could mandate that everyone drop all plastic waste into the tote and the team at the end of the week or month with the least amount of plastic waste wins. Alternately, drop items in when you find a way to replace it with a plastic free option, such as making your own yogurt, which eliminates the need for yogurt containers from the store. The person or team with the most plastic wins! Ban single-use plastic Refusing to buy and use single-use plastic is a personal choice, but as a family you can choose to ban those products from your home. Eliminate single-use straws, plastic water bottles , multi-purpose cleaner spray bottles and a thousand other things. Replace them by making your own products (laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, fabric softener or even bubble bath), using reusable straws and water bottles and bringing your own containers to the bulk section for refills. Get creative When the conversation gets started, you might be surprised at what ideas your crew comes up with. Make it easy to record those ideas by making an idea jar. This can be as simple as a large mason jar with a ribbon around the top or a label on the front. Set aside a specific time to read the suggestions and vow to incorporate one idea each week, or whatever works for your family. Remember the goal is progress, not perfection. Plan a trip When you announce your next family day trip or longer vacation, brainstorm ways to make it plastic free. Obviously you’ll skip the store-bought water bottles in favor of refillable ones, but what about other items you’ll need? For example, source a metal bucket and shovel for a trip to the beach instead of taking plastic varieties. Tour a recycling plant While you’re unlikely to be 100 percent successful at eliminating plastic from your home, recycling is an option for many items that at least keeps it out of the landfill . Figuring out what can be recycled can be very confusing. Every facility is different in the types of plastic they accept. So, get together as a family and take a tour of a recycling plant or attend a local lecture to better understand the process. Having that kind of visual education will resonate as you make purchasing decisions. Plastic-free lunch challenge Lunch time can be a wasteful venture with disposable silverware, sandwich bags, and drink containers. Instead, skip the Gatorade and flavor water in your reusable bottle with powdered crystals instead. Ditch the sandwich bags in favor of glass or stainless steel containers. Bring real silverware or track down a bamboo set that travels with you. Volunteer in community clean up events Being involved in community events is always a great family activity and when the event targets beach or city clean-ups the rewards go well past the single day. Understanding the damage that plastic brings to sea life or the local park gives the entire family motivation to cut it out. Images via Shutterstock

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New study predicts mass extinction in 140 years

February 25, 2019 by  
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A new study suggests that the old saying about history repeating itself is absolutely true. In this case, history repeating itself pertains to none other than the topic on everyone’s minds— extinction. Researchers believe it’s taken 56 million years for earth to face another mass extinction that can occur in as little as 140 years.  The research, released last Wednesday and published in Geophysical Research Letters , compares conditions in the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) period with our planet’s present warming condition. Back in PETM days, carbon dioxide shot up, increasing Earth’s temperatures by 9 to 14 degrees. The tropical Atlantic heated up to approximately 97 degrees. Land and marine animals died. It took 150,000 years for the planet to recover. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Unfortunately for us, carbon dioxide emissions are rising ten times faster now than they did during the PETM. Back then, wildfires, volcanic activity and methane wafting from the seafloor and permafrost were the culprits. Today, it’s down to us. Last year, emissions in countries with advanced economies rose slightly after a five-year decline. At this rate, the study predicts Earth’s atmosphere will be comparable to the beginning of PETM in 140 years, reaching a peak in 259 years. The result? Mass extinction. Philip Gingerich, the study’s author, did a literature review of previous studies on PETM and the rate of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. Based on eight studies published between 2009 and 2018, he used models to project future emissions caused by humans. Gingerich is an emeritus professor in the University of Michigan’s earth sciences department. He directed the university’s Museum of Paleontology for nearly 30 years. “[It’s] as if we are deliberately and efficiently manufacturing carbon for emission to the atmosphere at a rate that will soon have consequences comparable to major events long ago in earth history,” Gingerich told Earther. As he states in his study, “A second PETM-scale global greenhouse warming event is on the horizon if we cannot lower anthropogenic carbon emission rates.” Via Earther Image via nikolabelopitv

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LEED Gold Gateway Arch Museum sports a 3-acre green roof in St. Louis

February 4, 2019 by  
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Praised for its use of sustainable materials and energy-saving features, the recently renovated Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis has just been awarded LEED Gold certification. Currently one of only eleven other LEED-certified National Park Service sites, the newly expanded development is the work of Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates , in collaboration with Trivers Associates , and marks the centerpiece for the renewal of the 91-acre Gateway Arch National Park. The updated 150,000-square-foot building is tucked almost entirely underground and is topped with a 3.1-acre green roof. Opened to the public in July of last year, the Visitor Center and Museum at the Gateway Arch is designed to maximize park space and provide improved visitor amenities without drawing attention away from Eero Saarinen’s iconic arch. By tucking the building underground beneath a vegetated roof, the architects not only preserves unobstructed sight lines to the Gateway Arch, but also helps reduce the heat island effect and maximizes the amount of open space. The energy cost savings for the project is estimated to be 24 percent below the baseline while the overall project’s potable water usage is estimated to have been reduced by over 31 percent from the baseline thanks to low-flow water features. “The National Park service has ambitious sustainability goals that the design team embraced enthusiastically,” Director of Cooper Robertson Scott Newman FAIA says. “In addition to a 3.1-acre extensive green roof , the building features further sustainable and resilient design components such as LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC systems, and close connections to local public transportation networks. These features bring a high level of efficiency that matches the National Park Service’s ambition. The LEED Gold certification recognizes that commitment and design innovation.” Related: The first Active House in North America is now complete near St. Louis Other factors that contributed to the project’s LEED Gold certification include the use of regionally extracted and manufactured (within 500 miles) construction materials that were selected based on their recycled content; low-emitting materials were chosen for the interior. Over 80 percent of the construction waste generated was diverted from landfills. Multiple recycling collection points and storage areas are located throughout the building. Water cisterns collect and recycle stormwater on site. + Cooper Robertson + James Carpenter Design Associates Images via Gateway Arch Park Foundation

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LEED Gold Gateway Arch Museum sports a 3-acre green roof in St. Louis

This museum is carved into the seaside sand dunes of China’s Gold Coast

December 18, 2018 by  
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International firm  OPEN Architecture has unveiled a stunning museum embedded into the sand dunes along China’s Gold Coast. At 10,000 square feet, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is a massive structure, but its all-white cladding and various low, curved volumes tucked deep into the rolling landscape give the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) a modern yet unassuming character. Located on the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay, the museum was a labor of love for the architects, who spent three years carefully crafting the design to be as much a work of art as the museum’s collection. Embedding the structure into the sand dunes was a strategic decision to help protect the landscape from over-development. Related: Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency “The decision to create the art museum underneath the dunes surrounding it was born out of both the architects’ deep reverence for nature and their desire to protect the vulnerable dune ecosystem, formed by natural forces over thousands of years,” said the project description. “Because of the museum, these sand dunes will be preserved instead of leveled to make space for ocean-view real estate developments, as has happened to many other dunes along the shore.” The unique space is comprised of various pod-like structures whose curved volumes were made possible thanks to small linear wood strips bent into shape. During the construction, the architects collaborated with local workers from Qinhuangdao, many of whom are former shipbuilders. The architects paid their respect to the handcrafted labor by leaving the imperfect textures of the formwork visible. Covered in concrete and painted a stark white, the museum’s multiple roofs are finished with sand . This feature not only helped connect the design to the natural landscape, but it also helps to reduce solar gain on the interior. Additionally, the museum is equipped with a low-energy, zero-emissions ground source heat pump that keeps the building cool during the searing summer months. Embedded into the rolling sand dunes, the curvaceous volumes house the museum’s 10 galleries. Visitors to the museum enter through a long, dark tunnel and small reception area. Further into the structure, the exhibition spaces are made up of immense cave-like rooms clad in raw concrete. Throughout the interior, large cutouts in the roof and multiple skylights of varying sizes flood the galleries with natural light . A large spiral staircase leads visitors from the underground galleries up to the museum’s open-air viewing platform as well as a cafe space. Here, guests can enjoy the stunning views of the sea. + OPEN Architecture Via Archpaper Photography by Wu Qingshan via Open Architecture

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This museum is carved into the seaside sand dunes of China’s Gold Coast

Steven Holl Architects LEED Gold-seeking museum is a beacon for sustainability

May 22, 2018 by  
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Environmental design and contemporary art go hand-in-hand in Steven Holl Architects’ recently completed The Markel Center , the home of the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Located at the busiest intersection in Richmond, The Markel Center embodies VCU and the ICA’s commitment to sustainability with its LEED Gold-seeking design and energy-efficient technologies. Filled with natural light to reduce electricity demands, the museum draws energy from geothermal wells and features over 8,000 square feet of green roofs for extra insulation. Opened last month, VCU’s new Institute for Contemporary Art is free to the public and marks Richmond’s first art institution dedicated exclusively to exhibiting contemporary art . Sandwiched between VCU’s Monroe Park campus and the city’s art district, the ICA is a sculptural, 41,000-square-foot structure spread out across three floors and flooded with natural light from large glass walls, windows and skylights. The glass, which ranges in transparency from clear to opaque, filters out UV rays and, when backlit, gives the titanium-zinc-clad building a light, box-like appearance. The lobby, offices, cafe, bar, 240-seat auditorium , and concept shop, along with a 4,000-square-foot gallery, occupy the first floor and connect to the ICA’s central forum and outdoor garden, dubbed the “Thinking Field.” The second floor houses two forking galleries, an interactive “learning lab,” and a publicly accessible landscaped terrace . The top floor features a gallery with 33-foot-tall walls in addition to administrative suites and the boardroom. “We designed the ICA to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that will both illuminate and serve as a catalyst for the transformative possibilities of contemporary art,” said architect Steven Holl. “Like many contemporary artists working today, the ICA’s design does not draw distinctions between the visual and performing arts. The fluidity of the design allows for experimentation and will encourage new ways to display and present art that will capitalize on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus.” Related: Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum Clad in 100% recyclable titanium-zinc exterior paneling, the LEED Gold -seeking building draws energy from 43 geothermal wells for its radiant floor system. Native plants are used in the permeable landscape design as well as on the green roofs that cover three of the four gallery roofs. Nearly a third of materials used during construction were recyclable and nearly a quarter of the materials were regionally sourced. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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