Timber Woody office in France embraces Paris’ largest park

November 29, 2019 by  
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In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of construction, French architecture firm Atelier du Pont has created an office for Santé publique France, the French public healthcare agency. The new office is built almost entirely from wood and is free of solvents and plastics . Nicknamed “Woody” after its timber build, the office is located on the eastern edge of Paris right next to the Bois de Vincennes, the largest public park in the city. The architecture responds to the neighboring landscape with its branching design that embraces the surroundings “like open, protective arms.” Inspired by the Bois de Vincennes, Woody features an all-natural material palette of timber, which is used for everything from the cross-laminated timber structural components and oak flooring to the shingled facades and wood furnishings. Large, furnished terraces jut out from the building to overlook beautiful views of the wooded park, while expansive walls of glass bring those views and natural light indoors. The connection to nature is also referenced in the shape of the building, which resembles a bundle of sticks placed on the ground. Related: Railway enclave in Paris is transformed into a solar-powered mixed-use eco-district “This design symbolizes the mission of this institution, which oversees the health of everyone who lives in France ,” the architects explained in a press release. “The aim is to be exemplary in terms of its impact on the environment and the health. The project has created a pleasant space that takes its users’ wellbeing fully into account.” To create a healthy work environment, the architects have emphasized natural daylighting and a connection to nature. The neutral color palette and unpainted timber lend a warm and tactile feel to the interior. In addition to the nearby park, occupants can enjoy the three gardens around the building, each organized around a theme of beneficial, healing or harmful plants. + Atelier du Pont Photography by Takuji Shimmura via Atelier du Pont

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Timber Woody office in France embraces Paris’ largest park

Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

November 11, 2019 by  
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Construction management firm DPR Construction has recently moved into an impressive new workplace of its own making — a LEED Gold -certified facility located on the east side of Austin, Texas. Designed to follow sustainable principles, the net-zero energy office is fitted with energy-efficient fixtures, environmentally friendly materials and health-minded features that have also earned the project WELL Silver certification. The interiors of the new office — DPR’s regional team occupies the top floor of the mixed-use facility — were designed by IA Interior Architects . DPR’s Austin office is the fifth net-zero energy office completed by the company across the country and is seen as one of the firm’s “living labs” for sustainable design. In addition to a focus on energy efficiency, the building is notable for its promotion of healthy living. Natural lighting is emphasized while materials with volatile organic compounds are limited wherever possible. Circadian lighting design, ergonomic workspaces, a spotlight on healthy eating and activity incentive programs have helped the project achieve WELL Certification. Related: Sound-absorbing materials fold into a giant origami-like meeting pod The workspace design is also reflective of DPR’s four core values: integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness and ever-forward. As an extension of the company’s flat organizational structure, an open-office concept was created in place of private offices. Instead, employees can work from a variety of different work areas with adjustable-height workstations. Amenity spaces such as the bar/break room and the gaming corridor surround the office. “Multiple green walls with air plants and succulents, like the one in reception, enhance and in some cases provide privacy,” reads a project statement by IA Interior Architects. “Environmentally friendly and sustainable local materials, views to the outside, circadian lighting design and an increase in natural light provided by the added skylights are all factors contributing to the design’s sustainability story and DPR’s commitment to wellness in the workplace.” + IA Interior Architects Photography by Robin Hill via IA Interior Architects

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Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

Calm Booth is a soundproof office retreat made out of recycled plastic bottles

October 21, 2019 by  
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The stresses of work often make us want to crawl under our desks. Now, one innovative firm is providing offices with a designated place to tune out the noise and find inner peace. Designed by New York-based firm ROOM , the Calm Booth, which is made out of 1,088 recycled plastic bottles , was created for companies that want to provide their employees with a space to enjoy a moment of peace while working. According to the designers, the inspiration for the Calm Booth came from the common difficulty that workers face when wanting to find a moment of  peace during a long, hectic workday. The booth is designed to be a place where “meditation meets privacy,” allowing workers to enjoy a respite to relax and refocus during the day. Related: Upcycled plastic bottles are used to create this durable emergency shelter ROOM has long been known for its soundproof booths that are designed to create private spaces for office use . But this time around, it is partnering with a meditation app, called Calm, to create a soothing space that has an extensive library of meditation soundtracks, from nature soundscapes to music to “nap stories.” The Calm Booth is a simple structure clad in a crisp, white facade with a frosted, acrylic privacy door. The booth is made soundproof thanks to three layers of insulation made with more than 1,000 recycled plastic bottles . On the interior, the space is minimalist with a simple, green forest print on the walls. The booth also comes with a small shelf, a built-in Ethernet port, soft motion-enabled LED lighting and a ventilation system. According to the American Institute of Stress , work-related stress accounts for high absenteeism in offices around the country. Hopefully, companies will begin to take notice that providing a place for workers to practice mindfulness within the office is both beneficial to employees as well as the bottom line. Creating that space with recycled materials is better for the planet, too. + ROOM Architects Images via ROOM Architects

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Calm Booth is a soundproof office retreat made out of recycled plastic bottles

Sustainable tech powers the Corten steel-clad Cube in Denmark

September 18, 2019 by  
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When Danish architectural firm Christensen & Co. Architects was asked to design the new headquarters for the Helsingør Power Plant, they felt it would be fitting if the project serve as an extension of the client’s commitment to sustainable supply technologies. Clad in Corten steel as a nod to the surrounding industrial architecture, the sustainably powered Forsyning Helsingør Operations Center has been dubbed The Cube after its geometric shape. For a reduced energy footprint, the office complex draws excess heat from a nearby wood-chipping plant, while rainwater is collected from the roof and reused in the building. Spanning an area of 6,000 square meters, the Forsyning Helsingør Operations Center includes the five-story Cube as well as an Operating Facilities complex that contains storage space, garages, and all the operations equipment. The ground-floor of the public-facing Cube is organized around a central light-filled atrium that connects to administrative rooms, a customer service center, as well as an exhibition area. Large skylights and full-height windows also let in ample amounts of natural light and are shielded with Corten steel solar fins . “The design for Helsingør Power Plant´s new HQ supports the narrative about the municipality’s sustainable supply technologies – from wastewater treatment to energy and waste handling,” explains Christensen & Co. Architects in their project statement. “The project comprises the Cube and Operating Facilities, two buildings that will stand adjacent to the power plant with its distinctive architecture. The facility forms a protective shield around the central working area while screening the surroundings from noise.” Related: Danish city becomes world’s first to power water treatment plant with sewage Information about the sustainable technologies used in the building and by the municipality are made available to visitors in the Cube. Visitors can also enjoy views from the ground-floor customer center to the entire building thanks to the large atrium .  + Christensen & Co. Architects Via Dezeen Images by Niels Nygaard

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Sustainable tech powers the Corten steel-clad Cube in Denmark

Vertical forest buildings designed by Stefano Boeri set to center new Cairo Administrative district

August 22, 2019 by  
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In a world of high population growth, it’s increasingly difficult to find adequate housing as green space is diminishing throughout most urban areas. But when Cairo began developing a new administrative capital area, architects and designers jumped into the planning with vertical forest block buildings. Italian architect Stefano Boeri collaborated with Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash as a local partner, as well as landscape agronomist Laura Gatti to create three, seven-story buildings including a hotel and two apartment blocks. Set in the desert about 30 miles outside Cairo, the buildings will be unique with the incorporation of garden terraces throughout. The design creates the appearance of a living building, with plants cascading down all sides. Related: Egypt’s new Science City International – an oasis of knowledge in the desert Each building will measure 30 meters both in height and width for eye-catching square features in the center of town.  Beyond the shape, the trio of buildings will host an estimated 350 trees and more than 14,000 shrubs and perennials belonging to 100 different species. This remarkable goal represents one third of the total number of living plants in the whole Greater Cairo area. The total green area will cover 3600 sq.m, matching the building footprint. Types of plants will vary to offer visual appeal as the seasons change. As with all trees and plants, the air should be cleaner around the vertical forest with the studio estimating an absorption of 7 tons of carbon dioxide and release of 8 tons of oxygen each year. Not to mention, the buildings will provide their own energy and the greenery will add insulating features. Egyption property developer MISR Italia Properties is building the project, with the vertical concept forest being the first that Boeri has brought to Africa. Previously, he designed building forests in Albania, the Netherlands and even conceptual models for Mars. Architect Stefano Boeri and partner and project director of the office, architect Francesca Cesa Bianchi presented the project and the vision of a ‘ Greener Cairo ‘ at il Cairo last July and construction is set to begin 2020 with finishing touches scheduled for 2022. According to Stefano Boeri and Francesca Cesa Bianchi: “Cairo can become the first Northern-African metropolis to face the big challenge of climate change and of the ecological reconversion”. + STEFANO BOERI ARCHITETTI Images via STEFANO BOERI ARCHITETTI

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Vertical forest buildings designed by Stefano Boeri set to center new Cairo Administrative district

Wisconsin plans to go carbon-free by 2050

August 21, 2019 by  
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Following a year of historic flooding and sweltering heat waves across the Midwest, some states are ready to fight the climate crisis through legislation. If all goes according to plan, Wisconsin residents will be using 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050. Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Anthony Evers recently signed an executive order kicking off the clean energy legislation he has been pitching for a while. “A transition to a clean energy economy will generate thousands of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a news release as reported by Gizmodo . “Our state has a responsibility to current and future generations of Wisconsinites to act to prevent continuing damage to our climate and to invest in solutions that help to mitigate the changes that have already occurred.” Related: California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy Evers introduced the clean energy plan, which is not yet a mandate, in the state’s 2019 budget; however, it was removed by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, according to Madison.com . With its new goal of transitioning to clean energy by 2050, the Badger state is aiming to help curb the climate crisis. Some examples include addressing the higher than normal temperatures from heat waves and earlier 2019 flooding from heavy rains and storms. Additionally, the Wisconsin Initiate on Climate Change Impacts noted that if carbon emissions worldwide keep climbing come 2055, Wisconsin could see its problems increase by 25 percent. To make sure the newly signed legislation meets the 2050 deadline, the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will be formed. Part of its undertaking will be to hire workers who can develop and research strategies and technologies to implement the carbon-free energy policy. With Evers’ executive order signed, Wisconsin is now the first state in the Midwest to jump on the 100 percent carbon-free, clean energy bandwagon. Others following a similar path include Washington, California, Hawaii, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Via Gizmodo and Madison.com Image via Anne Marie Peterson

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MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

July 25, 2019 by  
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A new facility for researching sustainable technologies and green business models is coming soon to the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. MVRDV recently unveiled designs for Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex that will be home to the University of Amsterdam’s Sustainalab, a specialist research facility aimed at stimulating creative cooperation between academia, government, and businesses on sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability will also be woven into the design of the building, which will target BREEAM excellent certification and be powered with rooftop solar panels. Located on the east side of Amsterdam , Matrix 1 at Amsterdam Science Park will span 13,000 square meters. The SustainaLab will occupy a quarter of the building footprint. To open the new facility up to the existing buildings on campus, which include the six existing buildings of the Matrix Innovation Center as well as the University of Amsterdam’s Facility of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science buildings, the architects will clad a large portion of Matrix 1 in glass to ensure that the building will be “open and social.” The focal point of the building will be a spacious zigzagging staircase that’s fully visible from the outside. Prominently located at the entrance, the stairwell serves as the social heart of the building that stimulates interaction and “provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture— an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” say the architects in a press release. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has been normal in the tech sector.” Related: Amsterdam announces plan to ban all polluting cars by 2030 To meet BREEAM excellent standards, the six-story building will be optimized for flexibility and reusability. Office spaces can be easily transformed into laboratory spaces and vice versa. The building’s steel structure and concrete floors can also be dismantled for reuse in the future. In addition to solar panels, landscaping will top the roof to contribute to biodiversity and water buffering. + MVRDV Images by MVRDV

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Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert

July 16, 2019 by  
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For the second year in a row, design lab Space Saloon has just wrapped up an exciting avant-garde art festival deep in the Southern Californian desert. Aimed to foster innovative design-build and hands-on education, the art festival , named Fieldworks, is an experimental outdoor campus where young artists can learn new techniques and showcase their groundbreaking designs. This year’s festival took place within the expansive desert landscape in the San Bernardino mountains between Joshua Tree, Palm Springs and Los Angeles. According to Space Saloon, the desert was the perfect place to host the open-air campus thanks to the wide open landscape that offers virtually no physical limits. Related: A magical field of solar-powered lights takes over a California landscape Like the first year’s event, Landing , Fieldworks was a week-long program where teams of students and designers live and work together, collaborating on site-specific installations that seek to question the relation between art and the environment. Led by Office Kovacs + Kyle May, Architect and MILLIØNS (Zeina Koreitem and John May), Fieldworks allowed students to attend various workshops that focus on subjects that differ from traditional techniques and processes in an attempt to broaden the students’ artistic horizons . The workshops showcase a range of experimental material, from coding exercises and sound mapping to performances and interactive installations. Using these workshops as guidance, the students developed new art projects, which could include any number of formats, including performances, videos, interactive coded programs, sound installations or immersive objects. One of the standout designs from this year’s event is DOTS, a pink and white framework with various connected platforms that could be used for an almost infinite number of interventions, especially as a flexible, temporary shelter . Another innovative project is Gymnasium 1, an outdoor communal bathing facility made completely out of hempcrete that aims to show that the carbon-negative material can be used in place of traditional concrete construction. The student projects from Fieldworks will be exhibited in Los Angeles in the fall. + Space Saloon Via Archdaily Images via Space Saloon

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Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert

Steven Holls new solar-powered concert hall plays up the dramatic contrast between new and old

July 16, 2019 by  
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New York-based Steven Holl Architects and Architecture Acts has won an international competition to design the new 1,300-seat concert hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Created as a “perfect acoustic instrument in its case,” the acoustics-driven design has a strikingly contemporary appearance with a rounded zinc-clad exterior that stands in dramatic contrast with the Ostrava Cultural Center, a modern classicism-style building that will be overlapped by the new concert hall. In addition to optimized acoustics, the shape of the new building is engineered to minimize energy demands and the hall will be entirely powered by rooftop solar panels. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the new building has a roughly teardrop-shaped form with the concert hall positioned at the rear to shield it from urban traffic noise. The new entrance on the promenade appears to float over the top of the existing Cultural center and connects to a new sky-lit lobby. The rounded facade is clad in zinc with a titanium oxide smog-eating coating and punctuated with triple-glazed windows to prevent heat gains. The roof is topped with solar panels, while stormwater will be collected from the roofs of the Cultural Center and the new building and then treated and collected in a garden pond to create a cooling microclimate. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for Russia’s new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall “The smooth case of zinc holds an “instrument” in an extended vineyard-type plan made of concrete and maple wood,” explain the architects in a press statement. “Czech composer, Leoš Janá?ek’s theories of time will guide and give order to the concert hall’s interior geometry. Acoustic wall panels are organized according to scasovani, or rhythm, in three variants: Znici = sounding; Scitaci = counting; and Scelovac = summing.” The new concert hall will fulfill a decades-long dream of Ostrava to provide a more suitable space for the Janá?ek Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the leading orchestras in the Czech Republic . The concert hall competition was the biggest architectural competition in the city’s recent history. The opening ceremony for the new concert hall and refurbished Ostrava Cultural Center building is scheduled for 2024. + Steven Holl Architects Images Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

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Steven Holls new solar-powered concert hall plays up the dramatic contrast between new and old

A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

July 2, 2019 by  
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New Orleans-based firm Office of Jonathan Tate has unveiled a modern residential complex for combat veterans and their families. Located in the Gentilly district of the city, the Bastion Community is comprised of 29 two-unit apartment buildings laid out specifically in a way to foster social interaction. Additionally, considering the area’s history for severe flooding, the development was constructed with several resilient features . Located on a formerly vacant lot that spans 6.4 acres, the Bastion Community is now a vibrant residential complex comprising 29 apartment buildings, each containing two units. Within the development, there are various one-, two- or three-bedroom options, ranging from 720 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen Already known locally for creating modern but affordable housing complexes, the architects specifically designed the Bastion Community to be a “protected but inclusive and thriving live-work environment” for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families. The layout of the homes as well as the on-site community and wellness center were part of a strategy to create a strong sense of community for those who often feel isolated. The homes are uniform in their design, which includes pitched roofs, pale exterior tones and wooden fencing. All units were built to be adapted to be ADA accessible . Considering the location has a long history of flooding , resiliency was at the forefront of the design. All of the structures are elevated off the landscape via concrete piers to allow flood waters to flow freely under the buildings without causing harm. Additionally, landscaping and building strategies for filtering, storing and returning water to the soil were also incorporated into the design. In addition to their resiliency, the apartments were designed to be sustainable and durable for years to come. Tight insulation and high-performance HVAC equipment were used to cut energy costs, and there are tentative plans to install solar panels in the future. Each unit has high vaulted ceilings and operable windows to allow for natural air ventilation. + Office of Jonathan Tate Via Dezeen Photography by William Crocker and aerial photography by Jackson Hill

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