Bangkoks Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs

December 18, 2020 by  
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Thai architecture firm Architectkidd has flipped the script on the typical Southeast Asian shopping mall with its completion of Mega Park, a nature-focused retail connection in Bangkok. Designed to connect the Megabangna shopping mall with a future mixed-use development, Mega Park was created to give the closed-off mega-mall a more “extroverted” character by encouraging visitors to go outdoors to enjoy a richly programmed public park that features a nature walk, a tree top walk and even an amphitheater. Mega Park’s white galvanized steel column structure can also double as a “green scaffold” for supporting vertical vegetation. Completed in 2019, the Mega Park is the newest large-scale addition to the Megabangna, the first low-rise super regional mall in Southeast Asia that was completed over a decade ago. Mega Park connects to the shopping mall with a steel elevated pathway inspired by the local footbridges and pedestrian pathways found across Bangkok . The galvanized steel columns, which measure 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters, are spaced a meter apart to provide sufficient support for the walkways, canopies and programming while allowing for generous views toward the lush, landscaped grounds. Related: Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm can grow 20 tons of food annually Universal design ramps are integrated throughout the park for a seamless transition between the skywalk and ground-level circulation. The ground-level circulation takes the shape of a winding red path that weaves through a variety of garden spaces planted with native tropical species, such as ironwood. Perennial plants provide food and habitat for local pollinators as well. “It has been over 10 years since the original shopping center was built housing the first IKEA in Thailand ,” the architects said. “Since then the retail and urban environment in South East Asia have evolved significantly. Architectkidd’s design brings a vision of change to the shopping center model as well as an opportunity to experiment with new approaches that combine the commercial with community and the public.”  + Architectkidd Photography by WWorkspace, Ketsiree Wongwan and Panoramic Studio via Architectkidd

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Bangkoks Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs

Biden chooses his climate team here are the nominees

December 18, 2020 by  
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As president-elect Joe Biden continues to pick his Cabinet and agency heads, eco-conscious Americans watch to see what his choices will mean for the climate crisis. So far, it looks like Biden is surrounding himself with a strong climate team consistent with his top priority of quickly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, Biden named former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. Auto workers, energy lobbyists and environmental groups supported this choice. “ Transportation is an issue that touches all Americans — urban, rural, coastal and in the heartland of our nation,” said Chris Spear , American Trucking Associations President and CEO. “Having served as a mayor, Pete Buttigieg has had an up close and personal look at how our infrastructure problems are impacting Americans, and how important it is to solve them.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 Buttigieg also comes into the position with a plan that he developed during his time as a presidential contender. The plan, which he presented back in January, included $165 billion for the Highway Trust Fund to fix and update bridges and roads and create more union jobs. He championed electric vehicles and suggested dispersing $6 billion in loans and grants to cities and states for funding charging station networks. Biden has nominated former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for energy secretary, and he said he will appoint former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to lead domestic climate efforts. The Energy Department is in charge of regulating utility companies. Granholm has a good record on clean energy and has worked closely with chemical and energy firms in the past. As Michigan’s governor, she encouraged the increased manufacturing of electric vehicles. McCarthy was head of the EPA under President Barack Obama. She had a strong record of making rules to oppose climate change. Her new position would be coordinating and overseeing a federal interagency approach to climate issues. She is currently the president and CEO of NRDC . On Thursday, Biden nominated Michael Regan to lead the EPA. Regan began working as North Carolina’s environmental chief in 2017, and during this time, he focused on environmental justice. He has spent years helping low-income communities that were the most impacted by industrial pollution. Biden also announced his nomination of Deb Haaland, who would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior. If confirmed, she will oversee the management of public lands as well as the protection and honoring of Indigenous communities. In a statement, the Biden-Harris transition team said Haaland will be “ready on day one to protect our environment and fight for a clean energy future.” Via Washington Post , AP and NPR Image via René DeAnda

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Biden chooses his climate team here are the nominees

Outdoor adventures in Hot Springs, Arkansas

December 9, 2020 by  
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If you look at an aerial view of Hot Springs, Arkansas , you see a few rows of buildings squeezed in between wild, green mountains. This resort town, about an hour southwest of Little Rock, is an unusual place where you can walk out the door of your downtown hotel and within minutes be shopping at boutiques, taking the waters in a historic bathhouse or hiking a national park trail. I visited in October, as COVID-19 ramped up nationwide and everybody seemed to be seeking outdoor activities. I found plenty in Hot Springs. Outdoors fun in Hot Springs Hot Springs National Park encompasses both the cultural assets of Bathhouse Row and the natural resources, such as many miles of trails in the Ouachita Mountains. Because bathhouses aren’t as popular as they were in 1900, the park has to think of new strategies to maintain its rank as the 18th most-visited U.S. national park . “It’s a lot of work to keep the park relevant to the American public,” said park ranger Ashley Waymouth. She’s preparing programming for 2021, the park’s centennial. Some of the plans revolve around that magic number 100, such as rallying people to donate 100 hours of volunteer work to the park in 2021 or walk/bike/paddle 100 miles in Arkansas. There will even be a special ‘bark ranger’ event for dogs. Related: This modern art museum was once a cheese factory in Arkansas Early Hot Springs medical practitioners prescribed walks of various distances and altitude gains as part of their patients’ health regimens. Today within the national park, the Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails and the West Mountain Trails offer hiking options ranging from short, scenic loops to the 10-mile Sunset Trail. Many of the trails are interconnected. A short walk from downtown, the Peak Trail leads you to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. You can take an elevator or walk 300-plus steps up the 216-foot tower to get a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. Once you reach the open-air observation deck, you’re 1,256 feet above sea level and can admire 140 square miles of park and mountain views. For a more cultivated outdoors experience, venture about 8 miles from town to Garvan Woodland Gardens . Now run by the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design, the garden started out as the personal project of philanthropist and lumber heiress Verna Cook Garvan. Now, visitors wander 5 miles of paved pathways through an ever-changing landscape, be it an explosion of daffodils in spring or fall color in October. The garden also attracts architecture buffs, especially to see the spectacular Anthony Chapel, a light-filled structure of glass, wood and stone. In 2018, a gorgeous and innovative treehouse opened within the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, delighting adult visitors as well. Hot Springs is also a mountain biking destination. The Northwoods Trail System has 26 miles of single-track, multi-track and other types of trails, plus a bike skills park, to keep beginning to advanced riders entertained for days. Northwoods hosts the annual Gudrun MTB Festival each November. Trail runners and hikers can also use this trail system. Wellness The city of 37,000 was founded on wellness, and you’ll still find options along those lines. Some visitors expect natural hot springs like you find in the west. But Hot Springs’ water is protected. Springs are covered, and their flow is directed. You can still experience the water at two of Hot Springs’ historic bathhouses. The Buckstaff is a bit more old-school, while the Quapaw operates more like a modern spa. When I visited in October , public bathing was still happening despite COVID-19. Bathers were asked to social distance in the Quapaw’s multiple pools of varying temperatures. The water felt good, but not as relaxing as it would’ve been in pre-pandemic times. Hot Springs has several yoga studios, including Om Lounge Yoga and The Yoga Place . For the safest options during the pandemic, check out Garvan’s schedule of outdoor classes, such as yoga and tai chi in the garden. Dining out During my October visit, I found a couple of places for excellent vegan food. The best meal I had was lunch at the Superior Bathhouse : hot, salty, blistered shishito peppers followed by a Vietnamese-inspired veggie and noodle bowl. The tofu was so good, I suspected it was from an obscure Arkansas soy artisan, but it turned out to be the magic of the Superior’s chef. For breakfast or a caffeine fix, Kollective Coffee + Tea is the place to go. Owner Kevin Rogers’ family has long been into coffee, including a Christmas tradition of sending each other unusual coffees . “We’d try to one-up each other every year,” he said. Rogers was surprised when he found the best cup of coffee close to home. Onyx Coffee Lab , an award-winning roaster in Northwest Arkansas, supplies Kollective with its coffees. I had to agree it was one of the best soy cappuccinos I ever had. Kollective draws local and visiting vegans from around the country. “It’s pretty significant for us based on how rare it is in town,” Rogers said of the demand for the restaurant’s vegan dishes. In addition to a changing assortment of vegan pastries and mini cheesecakes, Kollective offers a couple of plant-based full breakfasts, including vegan frijoles rancheros. SQZBX is open for takeaway during the pandemic. This pizzeria offers vegan cheese, which is not exactly widely available in Arkansas. Where to stay I stayed at The Waters, which afforded a lively view of Hot Springs’ main drag. George Mann, best known for designing the Arkansas State Capitol, was the building’s main architect. It was called the Thompson Building when it was built in 1913 and originally housed doctors’ offices catering to visitors taking the healing waters. After a huge renovation in 2017, The Waters offers perfectly modern and spacious hotel rooms. But my favorite part was the lovingly restored tile work in the hallways. A popular rooftop bar provides beautiful views of Bathhouse Row and the mountains beyond. Hotel Hale , which just opened in 2019, is a boutique hotel inside a restored bathhouse. The owners incorporated exposed brick walls, original pine floors and arched windows into plush and comfortable rooms. If I ever visit again, I’d love to stay here. But I’d probably never leave the bathroom; the Hale pipes in hot spring water so you can take the waters in your own private bathtub. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: Like the author, we recommend taking the utmost care to keep those around you safe if you choose to travel. You can find more advice on travel precautions from the  CDC  and  WHO .

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Renowned landscape architects unveil designs to save the Tidal Basin

November 20, 2020 by  
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The National Mall Tidal Basin — also known as “America’s front yard” — is home to some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. But the beloved Washington, D.C. public space is under threat from daily flooding and is in urgent need of critical repairs and improvements. In a bid to save the celebrated landscape, five prestigious landscape architecture firms — DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations and Reed Hilderbrand — have been tapped to reimagine the future of the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Keep reading for a preview of all the designs. In 2019, the National Trust for Historic Preservation banded together with the Trust for the National Mall, the National Parks Service, Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) and American Express to launch the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab , an initiative seeking proposals to save the 107-acre Tidal Basin site in Washington, D.C. After months of preparation, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab recently unveiled visionary proposals from five award-winning landscape architecture firms including New York City-based DLANDstudio, Seattle-based GGN, Oakland-based Hood Design Studio, New York City-based James Corner Field Operations and Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand. Each proposal not only responds to the pressing issues plaguing the area’s infrastructure but also examines ways to heighten the visitor experience through improved environmental and cultural considerations. Due to the pandemic, the proposals are presented in an online-only, museum-quality exhibition co-curated by New York City curator of design Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, an architectural historian and independent curator. The public is invited to learn about the Tidal Basin’s history, which was completed in 1887 as a major hydrological feat as well as the ongoing challenges and comprehensive proposals. The public will also be able to give feedback and offer ideas on saving the Tidal Basin. “As part of ‘America’s front yard’, the Tidal Basin is home to some of the most iconic landmarks and traditions in the nation’s capital,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Yet current conditions do not do justice to a landscape of such significance. With this new digital exhibition, we are excited to share and engage the public with creative thinking from five of the best landscape architecture firms in the world. These ideas explore ways to sustain this cultural landscape and its richly layered meanings for generations to come. This isn’t preservation as usual: this is preservation as innovation.” Related: BIG unveils sweeping overhaul to Smithsonian Campus Master Plan True to its name, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab will be focused on cultivating bold ideas and promoting dialogue between designers, stakeholders and the public rather than choosing a single winner as is typical in design competitions. The exhibition will supplement the National Park Service’s mandated environmental review of the Tidal Basin as well as master planning and detailed design, which have not yet been completed but are integral to securing funding for construction and implementation. All five creative concepts, revealed late last month, celebrate and raise awareness of the Tidal Basin’s long history and have reimagined the cultural landscape to better meet modern safety and accessibility needs while addressing critical infrastructure repairs and improvements. DLANDstudio’s proposal makes bold steps of introducing extensions to the landscape in both the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River to reorient circulation. A long land bridge would connect the Jefferson Memorial and the White House, while a new jetty to the west would branch off of the Lincoln Memorial to house the relocated memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. Flooding would be mitigated with sponge park wetlands , a reflective weir and a green security wall. GGN’s vision is an adaptive plan phased across three stages to conclude in 2090. The design uses ecological solutions to protect the landscape from forecasted sea level changes and also the potential adaptation and relocation of existing monuments. James Corner Field Operations has proposed three ideas for combating rising sea levels : Protect & Preserve, a scheme to keep the existing landscape intact with improved maintenance and engineering; Island Archipelago, in which flooding would be accepted as an inevitable reality and monuments would be elevated and treated as islands within the Tidal Basin; and Curate Entropy, another design where the site is allowed to flood and a careful balance is maintained between the Tidal Basin’s existing layout and the new landscape. Hood Design Studio focuses on reshaping the Tidal Basin with underrepresented narratives, from the stories of how wetlands were valued by Indigenous and enslaved peoples to promoting dialogue on rebuilding urban ecologies. Reed Hilderbrand’s design draws on the 1902 McMillan Plan, a comprehensive planning document that strongly influenced the urban planning and design of Washington, D.C., particularly with its proposal for a “Washington Commons,” a diverse and connected regional park system. The plan also encourages new interactions with the landscape with an uplands Cherry Walk, a Memorial Walk, a Marsh Walk and a new landform called Independence Rise that would accommodate rising water levels and connect back to the city with a pedestrian bridge. + Tidal Basin Ideas Lab Images via Tidal Basin Ideas Lab

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Renowned landscape architects unveil designs to save the Tidal Basin

Architects turn waste into trendy glamping shelters in Rotterdam

November 20, 2020 by  
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If you’ve ever looked at a dumpster and thought “with a little work, that could be a cool fort,” then you’ll certainly be interested in the ‘waste architecture’ in action at Culture Campsite. This is a campground in a parking lot in Rotterdam that is putting a whole new twist on camping while showing the world what waste architecture is and what it can do. Culture Campsite, located just 10 minutes from the heart of Rotterdam, doesn’t look like any other campground. There aren’t really tents here; you’ll find futuristic shelters made from recycled and repurposed items. Here, you can sleep in a feed silo, a calf shelter, an old delivery van and yes, even a dumpster. Each “tent” offers a totally unique camping experience. “At Culture Campsite, you’ll sleep in one of the different architectural objects made from upcycled and waste stream materials,” according to the property’s website. “They are smaller than a tiny house, more exciting than a tent and different from all glamping accommodations.” Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste If you’re hungry, go to the geodesic dome . This is where meals are served. There’s also a communal bathroom area for your other needs. The campground is full of plants and flowers, bright colors and lots of natural light, and the site is just a short walk to the city’s historic old harbor. It’s a lovely little oasis in an urban landscape. Many of the shelters at the campsite are designed by Mobile Urban Design (MUD). Boris Dujineveld, the founder of MUD said that the principle of waste architecture is “designing and sketching with the materials and objects that are available…playing with form, material and color leads to new insights and forms that cannot be imagined on a white sheet of paper.” Dujineveld is definitely right about that. Culture Campsite is like nowhere else on Earth … for now, at least. The concept of waste architecture looks pretty impressive here, and it’s only the beginning of how far this kind of upcycling in construction can go. The campsite sets a whole new bar for the concept of repurposing and shows the world how even a parking lot can transform into a vacation spot. Culture Campsite is currently closed for the season, but plans to reopen May 2021 with rates starting at $76 a night. + Culture Campsite Photography by Heeman-Fotografie via MUD

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Architects turn waste into trendy glamping shelters in Rotterdam

Old bathhouses get new life via NPS adaptive reuse program

November 19, 2020 by  
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After Rose Schweikhart, an avid homebrewer, settled in Hot Springs,  Arkansas , she began to wonder if the mineral-rich hot spring water that made “Spa City” famous could be used to brew beer. Since the springs are government-owned as part of Hot Springs National Park, she called the park superintendent to ask permission to use the water. Next thing she knew, she was filling out the long application to be part of the National Park Service’s adaptive reuse program for the crumbling, once-opulent bathhouses that line the city’s main drag, aka Bathhouse Row. Now, the 9,000-square-foot  Superior Bathhouse  finds new life as a restaurant, event space and the world’s first microbrewery to use hot spring water for brewing beer. This project represents one of the success stories revitalizing both the town of Hot Springs and the overlapping national park. Water is the soul of Hot Springs As you could guess from its name, the town wouldn’t exist without its natural hot springs.  Hot Springs National Park  is tasked with protecting 47 springs in the downtown area. “We’re really strict about the park,” said park ranger Ashley Waymouth as she led a walking tour of Bathhouse Row. “We don’t use herbicides. We don’t use pesticides. We’re really conscientious about what we do. Because we know everything that goes on the ground ultimately makes its way into the  water .” Waymouth explained the long route the water takes, how time, depth and pressure heat the water for thousands of years before it bursts through a geologic fault line in the park. Rain from ancient Egyptian times now comes out of the hots springs 4,000 years later, Waymouth said. “It really instills in us long term thinking.” Keeping that water safe requires daily monitoring by a team of hydrogeologists. Archeological evidence shows that people used the springs here for thousands of years, and early inhabitants considered them a neutral ground and a place of healing. Many Americans first learned about the springs when President Jefferson sent the Hunter-Dunbar expedition to check out this part of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase in 1804. Explorers returned with news of the wonders of Hot Springs’ healing waters, which soon began to attract people from all over. In 1832, the U.S.  government  proclaimed the area a federal reserve. Related: These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses By 1900, Hot Springs was a major  health  destination. In addition to bathing, some of the bathhouses offered gymnasiums, physical therapy and medical professionals who would prescribe hikes and other exercises. The surrounding area was cultivated as a beauty spot, with gardens in front of the bathhouses, a series of trails groomed on the hills behind and cute little parks dotting the town. The earliest bathhouses burnt in fires. Built between 1892 and 1923, the eight huge buildings standing today feature a mishmash of Spanish, Italian, Roman and Greek styles. The Fordyce, built for the town’s wealthiest visitors, features sea-colored stained  glass  and carved Neptune heads on its facade. The Ozark is mission style, in a possible nod to the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who searched for the fountain of youth. Hot Springs accommodated a variety of people, though facilities often reflected issues of the time. While the town hosted a free government-run bathhouse, Black visitors could only use a segregated bathhouse until the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed. Of course, there were also upscale options for the rich and famous, especially those with an ailment they hoped to heal. Australian-born international opera star Marjorie Lawrence made  Hot Springs  her home after contracting polio. Gangster Al Capone also frequently visited, hoping to cure his syphilis. But over the course of the 20th century, enthusiasm for public bathing faded. By 1980, Americans preferred to relax in backyard hot tubs than public bathhouses. All bathhouses but the  Buckstaff  closed down, some remaining vacant for decades. Since Bathhouse Row is part of Hot Springs National Park, the Park Service had to figure out what to do about the empty buildings. On one hand, the buildings were historical, architectural and cultural treasures. On another, they were hulking behemoths ranging from 9,000 to nearly 30,000-square-feet inside — expensive to retrofit, heat and maintain. In 2004, the National Park Service devised an innovative adaptive  reuse  program that has preserved the bathhouses, drawn more visitors and enriched their experience, and reinvigorated downtown Hot Springs. Hospitality and adaptive reuse Of the eight bathhouses, only the Maurice remains empty. The Buckstaff has continuously operated since opening in 1912. The other six have either been repurposed by the  National Park  Service itself or entered into public/private partnerships. Fortunately, the park had the foresight to turn the opulent Fordyce into a bathhouse museum. The men’s wing is much grander than the women’s, with a stained-glass skylight featuring topless mermaids and a statue in the center of a kneeling Native woman presenting de Soto with a jug of water. The best part is all the weird and fascinating hydrotherapy equipment. While this equipment — such as steam cabinets where people sat with just their heads sticking out, and a hydroelectric tub that somehow combined electricity with water for stunning results — must have been cutting edge in its day, it now looks more like a  medical  torture chamber. At the Superior Bathhouse Brewery, Rose Schweikhart has worked wonders with both the old bathhouse and the water itself. Under the NPS adaptive reuse program, Schweikhart got a 55-year lease on the  building . Built in 1916, the Superior is the smallest bathhouse on the row, but it still has 9,000 square feet that had to be improved and now require maintenance. Currently, Schweikhart is saving for a new roof. Since the building is a historic structure in a national park and has the federal government as a landlord, Schweikhart needs approval before changing the structure. “Usually they say yes, because a vacant building isn’t doing anyone any good,” Schweikhart said. The building closed as a bathhouse in 1983 and sat empty for 30 years before Schweikhart gave it a new life. Still, the NPS drew the line at letting her install a roll-up door. This meant Schweikhart had to carefully bring all the brewery equipment through the front  window , the historic building’s largest opening. “I had to get the manufacturer to measure everything very carefully,” Schweikhart said. The water is piped in at about 144 degrees, then heated to 160 degrees to make the beer and sell it locally in growlers. It’s a bathhouse-centric operation with no canning, bottling or distribution. So, you’ll have to go to Hot Springs to experience the Superior’s Goat Rock Bock or Desoto’s Folly. Next door, Ellen and Pat McCabe repurposed the Hale Bathhouse into a nine-room boutique  hotel  with a beautiful dining room open to all. The duo incorporated touches that appeal to aficionados of historic buildings, such as exposed rough brick walls and the original pine floors. But the  Hotel Hale’s  modern touches make it a very comfortable place to stay — coffee service delivered to your door at your chosen time every morning, signature orange-vanilla scented toiletries made by a local soap maker and, best of all, hot spring water piped into your own private bathtub. Hotel Hale is also known for laying out a fabulous brunch. If you’re really lucky, the McCabes might unlock a door in the corner of the dining room and let you peek into the old natural steam room cut into the mountain. It’s hot, muddy and too much of an insurance liability for modern use, but is a fascinating glimpse back into Spa City’s history. The  Quapaw  reuse project remains truest to the original bathhouse spirit. Constructed in 1924, the 24,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial building is now a modern  spa . Its 2007 makeover earned a LEED Silver certification and won the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas’ 2009 Excellence in Preservation through Restoration Award. The Quapaw offers both private services like massages and facials and public bathing in a series of shared pools of different temperatures, ranging from comfortably warm to roasting. A visit to either the Quapaw or the even more historic Buckstaff baths is the closest visitors can get to the old days where everybody from movie stars to gangsters made healing pilgrimages to Hot Springs. Images via Teresa Bergen

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Niraamaya Retreat honors traditional design with local materials

November 19, 2020 by  
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Located in Vayitharamattom, Kumarakom in the lakefront region of Southern India, the Niraamaya Retreat is a haven for wellness and rejuvenation with sustainable design elements throughout. A product of Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd, an award-winning architectural practice based in India, the 65,000-square-foot retreat offers a contemporary feel while still honoring the traditional style of the region with locally sourced building materials. The boutique resort is spread across seven acres facing Lake Vembanad and includes 27 independent luxury villas, two restaurants, a health club, a wellness center and a spa. The spa features multiple treatment rooms, a pool and yoga pavilions, while the business center contains meeting rooms and an amphitheater. Related: These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers What sets this stunning coastal escape apart from the rest are the nods to classical Kerala architecture, a design style that incorporates traditional elements like sloping roofs, Mogappus and Charupadi, a type of built-in, ventilated porch bench. Locally sourced materials such as clay tiles for the roofing, granite pavilions and dados, laterite and wood are featured in the construction work. According to the designers, one of the biggest challenges for the project came in the form of high rainfall and water stagnation due to the site’s unique contours. To combat this, they enabled a network of natural bodies of water to allow for smooth surface runoff , even in the event of heavy monsoon showers. The landscape can only be described as tropical yet well-groomed, with native trees and plants leading to the onsite river. The intimate villas are scattered thoughtfully about the property, connected with peaceful pathways that wind through the lush surroundings. Each villa is about 100 square meters in size and includes a private moot pond, an open shower, a portico and bed facing the lake as well as a semi-open private landscaped area. + Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd Images via Edifice Consultants Pvt. Ltd

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Niraamaya Retreat honors traditional design with local materials

West 8 and Studio 44 win Tuchkov Buyan Park competition in St. Petersburg

October 12, 2020 by  
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Rotterdam-based West 8 and Saint Petersburg-based Studio 44 have won an international competition with their design for the Tuchkov Buyan Park, a new proposed waterfront park in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Over 200 teams from 50 countries applied for participation in the competition. A shortlist of eight participants were selected, including Studio 44 and West 8; a team led by Agence Ter and Philippe Rahm architectes; Bjarke Ingels Group with BuroHappold NYC; JV Vogt and Herzog & de Meuron with ARUP; Kengo Kuma and Associates with Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture; and a team led by Michel Desvigne Paysagiste and Meganom. The JV Vogt and Herzog & de Meuron team and local firm Khvoya were selected as finalists. Developed on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation, the international competition for the Tuchkov Buyan Park in Saint Petersburg sought a design for the city’s first park with direct river access in the city’s Petrograd region. The park, which would be within walking distance of key city landmarks such as the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Rostral Columns of Vasilievsky Island, would also link the city’s green spaces with an unbroken pedestrian route . Related: Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg The winning proposal by West 8 and Studio 44 conceptualizes a contemporary park with strong sculptural landscaping to not only create a buffer from the urban fabric but also provide protection from the wind and direct sightlines. In addition to sculpted topography, the Tuchkov Buyan Park comprises 12 new biotopes including a boreal forest, a mixed forest, the waterside, the park area and the Orangery to create shelter and nesting opportunities for local fauna. Year-round programming would also be provided so that visitors can enjoy the park in all seasons.  To reduce the park’s environmental footprint, energy-efficient LEDs will be used for outdoor lighting. Solar panels mounted on building roofs would also offset energy needs, while a rainwater management system that collects, transports and filters rainwater is proposed for landscape irrigation purposes. + West 8 + Studio 44 Images via Strelka KB

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West 8 and Studio 44 win Tuchkov Buyan Park competition in St. Petersburg

A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

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

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A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

The Olympic House sets a new green building standard

September 16, 2020 by  
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The International Olympics Committee has a brand-new home in Lausanne, Switzerland . The stunning new Olympic House brings together 500 employees who were working at different offices scattered throughout the city. Now, these employees will work in an award-winning building that features all the latest green technology in a truly breathtaking design. Olympic House’s design centers three values: movement, flexibility and sustainability. These values show in every facet of the design. View the building from another angle, and suddenly the design looks completely different. The sweeping, elegant design sets the standard for all future buildings. The Olympic House boasts a LEED v4 Platinum building certification, with the highest score ever given (93 of 100). Minergie P. and SNBS platinum certifications further prove this building as one of the world’s most sustainable offices. Environmental concerns influence the design in more ways than one. The building connects to a beautiful park and fits perfectly with that setting. After all, this isn’t an ordinary office building. This office building houses the Olympics committee. The Olympics brings together nations and people from all around the world; that’s why the campus design allows for public enjoyment as well. As one of the most sustainable buildings ever created, the new Olympic House sets a standard for all other buildings to follow. The building even includes a green roof and multiple terraces, plus a fitness center for employees to use. Low flow taps and toilets help reduce water consumption, and rainwater capture helps provide the building with water. Meanwhile, solar panels power the Olympic House. Through green design, the Olympic House lowers carbon emissions, conserves resources, provides a healthy environment for employees and maintains green spaces. At the heart of the Olympic House, the Unity Staircase features a curving, twisting and awe-inspiring design. Hopefully, the building’s incredible design and multiple green features will inspire others to create more sustainable buildings that improve the environment, rather than damage it. + 3XN Via Architizer Images via 3XN

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The Olympic House sets a new green building standard

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