Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

November 15, 2019 by  
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London-based architectural firm Mæ has completed the second phase of Brentford Lock West, a urban regeneration masterplan that is providing quality homes — 40 percent of which are designated for shared ownership — designed to engage the waterfront environment and community. Taking inspiration from the site’s industrial past, the architecture complements its historic setting with distinctive sawtooth roofs that help funnel light into the buildings and the material palette of blond brick, in-situ concrete and reconstituted stone. In addition to designing for optimal daylighting, the architects have included mechanical ventilation heat recovery systems and high levels of thermal insulation to ensure energy efficiency . Completed at the end of 2018, the second phase of Brentford Lock West introduces an additional 157 homes to the mixed-use masterplan and includes a combination of lateral apartments, duplexes, penthouses and townhouses. All homes are “step-free” and follow the Lifetime Home Standard , a set of design principles that emphasize inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and good value. Each home is carefully oriented to maximize privacy as well as views, whether of the canal to the north or the city to the south. Related: RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community In designing the development, the architects worked with the local community and other stakeholders. As a result, community values have been embedded into the design of Brentford Lock West. One such example is the new “neighborhood street” — a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists that is landscaped and paved with herringbone brick — that knits the two phases together. Also at the heart of the development is a landscaped communal garden. Large cantilevered balconies engage the street below. “Continuing the architectural language of phase one, the second phase builds upon scale and massing, alongside the benchmark it set in terms of quality and sense of place,” the architecture firm added. “Holding the corners of each plot, six pavilion buildings are linked through rows of private townhouses and bridge structures that form entrance portals and house further accommodation above.” + Mæ Images via Goodfellow Communications

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Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

Deciphering wine labels: the differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

November 15, 2019 by  
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‘Tis the season for holiday celebrations, cocktail parties and family gatherings. But before you pop the corks on those bottles of wine, take a moment to understand what you are about to drink. If you are hoping to serve wine made with sustainably grown, organic grapes , read the label carefully before committing to the purchase, or you might not be getting what you expect. With words like “natural,” “organic,” “biodynamic” and “sustainable,” it can be hard to decipher which wine is truly best for the planet. Here are some tips to understand sustainable wine labels. Marketing is a powerful tool, and companies will advertise characteristics of their wines that they think will appeal to the consumer. However, the terminology can be so confusing that a winery might misguide you without meaning to. Some words are so similar that you (and they) might even assume they all mean the same thing. Related: This is how climate change will impact wine Fortunately, steps have been taken to standardize the verbiage on these labels so you can better understand what’s in the bottle. But there is still variation throughout the food and beverage industry, especially for wine. Here is the terminology you are likely to see and exactly what it all means for the wines you imbibe. Organic or 100 percent organic wine In the U.S., the term organic is regulated and must fit into specific criteria. However, even within that criteria, you will find different wording. For example, wines made from organically grown grapes are grown without the use of pesticides , fungicides, herbicides, etc., and these wines do not contain sulfites added during wine production. (Organic wines do contain naturally occurring sulfites.) Note that the standards for “organic” classifications in Canada and Europe allow for a small amount of sulfites to be used during production. Biodynamic wine Biodynamic wines are organic, and these wines also follow farming ideologies dating back to the 1920s, when Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and academic, presented scientific support showing that in order for a grape to reach its potential, the entire vineyard must be taken into account. In addition to growing grapes without chemicals or common additions such as yeast, the lunar and astrological cycles are often considered when making decisions about the health of the vineyard . These wines are also produced without interference to adjust for acidity. For example, instead of making changes during fermentation and flavor development, the focus is on healthy roots, soil and the atmosphere of the vineyard as a whole. Like the term “organic,” “biodynamic” wines have earned certification by meeting specific requirements. The governing board that approves the label is the Demeter Association, a branch of an organization dating back to 1928 during Steiner’s efforts to bring societal awareness about biodynamics in agriculture. Sustainable wine This label is fairly subjective and typically refers to the way the vineyard is managed more than the way the wine is produced. A vineyard (or farm) that aims to grow crops sustainably is concerned with the impact on the planet. This means using natural methods of balancing the soil, such as crop rotation. It can also mean using energy or water-saving practices . If your wine is made “sustainably,” it likely means it was made organically in accordance with the typical goals of sustainable farming, but don’t assume it’s organic without the label identifying it as such. Natural, all-natural or 100 percent natural wine When you see the word “natural” on a label, be aware that there are limited regulations surrounding the use of this term. There is no distinction between “natural,” “all-natural” or “100 percent natural.” Manufacturers of all types of food can slap this wording on labels. But most producers in the wine industry see the “natural” classification differently. For wine-making, a natural wine is the result of a natural process, meaning that process involves as little intervention as possible throughout the stages. In other words, the wine is fermented grapes in their most natural form. That means that a natural wine is organic and sometimes biodynamic, but organic and biodynamic wines are not always natural. Furthermore, any of these wines may or may not be sustainably produced. Because there is no oversight committee for a “natural” label, selecting a wine is all about getting to know the winemaker and asking questions at the tasting room. If you live in a wine region, buy locally so you can see the vineyard and know the source of your bottle. If you don’t live near a winery, do you research online. Most wineries are proud to share their growing practices and provide transparency if they are using sustainable, organic, natural or biodynamic methods. Via Wine Spectator , Eating Well and The Guardian Images via Shutterstock

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Lemay injects new life into Montreals Expo 67 site

November 7, 2019 by  
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Canadian multidisciplinary design firm Lemay recently revitalized a core area on the site of Expo 67, the 1967 International and Universal Exposition that was held in Montreal and is considered the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century. The $60 million project, which concluded earlier this summer, was carried out as part of the City of Montreal’s 375th anniversary in 2017. Spanning an area of approximately 35 acres, the redevelopment project known as the new Espace 67 enhances the visitor experience with the addition of new wayfinding elements, a multipurpose amphitheater, an Event Village, a Natural Agora and a variety of service pavilions. Held for six months in Montreal in 1967, the Expo 67 hosted a record-breaking number of World’s Fair visitors and attracted 62 nation participants. After its end, the site preserved a collection of international pavilions known as “Man and His World” located on two islands: Saint Helen’s Island and the human-made Notre Dame Island on the St. Lawrence River. Using an integrated design approach, Lemay has enhanced the pedestrian experience that begins from the metro with new service pavilions and leads to the site that connects the islands’ north and south shores. Related: An old warehouse is rehabbed into chic apartments in Montreal “Lemay’s concept blends the enchanting natural setting and rich historic past of this exceptional site, to offer a truly versatile space,” said Andrew King, partner and design principal at Lemay. “It has been reborn as a destination unto itself, now able to fully accommodate a wide range of major events.” The architectural geometry of Expo 67 is repeated in the new design. For example, the geometric patterns found in Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome, also known as the Biosphere, have been reproduced in the pavilion roofs, wall perforations and outdoor paving. Materials, lighting and massing were specially selected to help guide visitors through the site and are optimized for crowd management. + Lemay Photography by Marc Cramer via Lemay

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Lemay injects new life into Montreals Expo 67 site

Henning Larsen wins bid to design a sustainable business district for Shenzhen

May 13, 2019 by  
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Danish architectural firm Henning Larsen Architects has won an international competition for the design of the Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City, a new district in the southern Chinese city spanning 5.5 million square meters. Working alongside two other local firms, Henning Larsen’s green and sustainable master plan will help cement Shenzhen  — often likened to China’s Silicon Valley — as the innovation center of the country. A critical part of the Shenzhen Bay Headquarters City is reconnecting the business district with the waterfront and emphasizing the pedestrian urban realm — something that Chinese planning authorities have long overlooked in favor of vehicular traffic. In Henning Larsen’s approach, cars will be relegated to an underground network of roads and highways so that commuter cars will rarely be seen aboveground in public areas. Moreover, the master plan’s central organizing axis will consist of a linear waterway that visually and physically connects the district to two larger bodies of water. “Our design aims to make Shenzhen the waterfront city it should always have been,” said Claude Godefroy, partner and design director of Henning Larsen’s Hong Kong Office. “To create an attractive waterfront, we brought commercial and cultural facilities meters away from the seashore, so citizens will finally be able to enjoy the atmosphere of Shenzhen Bay in an activated urban environment, like in Sydney, Singapore or Copenhagen.” Related: MVRDV unveils a “three-dimensional city” skyscraper for Shenzhen The architects also want to introduce a more “porous urban fabric.” Rather than create massive shopping malls that sit beneath tall buildings, Henning Larsen proposes siting smaller buildings between the towers and tucking retail partially underground. The city’s porous nature will optimize access to sea breezes to combat the urban heat island effect . As part of its “Forest City” vision for the master plan, the firm also plans to introduce 10,000 trees, roof gardens and ground-level bioswales to help cool the environment and create habitats for birds and insects. + Henning Larsen Images via Henning Larsen

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MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

February 14, 2019 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV has won a competition to renovate and expand the historic Palais du Commerce in Rennes, France. The impressive 19th century palace had once served multiple public functions but now suffers from disconnect with current civic life. Working in collaboration with co-architects Bernard Desmoulin for developers Frey and Engie Avenue, MVRDV plans to reactivate the former public building and transform it into an inviting mixed-use destination that will serve as the centerpiece of the city’s main commercial street. The 18,000-square-meter redevelopment project will include not only a building restoration with a modern 6,000-square-meter timber expansion of the Palais du Commerce, but also the reactivation of the surroundings including the transformation of the Place de la République into a pedestrian-friendly public square as well as the conversion of the Rue du Pré Botté into a landscaped pedestrian area. The landmark building will also be updated with a sensitive approach that will be respectful of its iconic 19th-century design while greatly increasing the building’s transparency. In addition to the replacement of existing windows with larger panes of glass, glazed storefronts will be added to the arches of the arcade and a new grand, winding staircase will anchor the center of the facade. “Not only is Palais du Commerce a local landmark, but its transformation will turn the Place de la République into a popular destination and act as a vital catalyst for its surroundings,” says Nathalie de Vries, founding partner of MVRDV. “Our design approaches this task with an appreciation of the building’s history, but also with an eye towards the future, helping Rennes to achieve its urban vision. The additions that we will make are clearly modern in character, clearly showcasing this design as the latest chapter in the building’s storied history.” Related: MVRDV designs solar-powered “KoolKiel” with Jenga-like architecture in Germany The building’s mixed-use program will include new shops, a hotel, offices, a co-working space, a variety of leisure spaces — including a LEGO museum, event space and an electronic music bar — and a school for the kitchen and hotel industry led by chef Thierry Marx. All spaces of the building will be used more effectively, from the basements to the roof, which will include a new bistro in the building’s central dome. Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2025. + MVRDV Images via ENGRAM, diagrams via MVRDV

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MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal

August 6, 2018 by  
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Giant twisting tree-like sculptures have sprouted in downtown Montreal—and passersby are welcome to climb to the top of its gnarled canopy. The striking art installation is the latest work of local artist Michel de Broin , who was invited by the City of Montreal to help activate the recently developed International Civil Aviation Organization Plaza (ICAO). Dubbed Dendrites after the branched projections of a neuron, the large-scale artworks are clad in weathering steel and are equipped with metal stairs with platforms for an interactive element. Spanning both sides of Notre-Dame Street in downtown Montreal , Dendrites comprises two sculptural stairways that mimic the form of trees and neuron structures. The reddish hue of its weathering steel cladding is a reference to ochre tree trunks as well as the urban site’s industrial past and iron infrastructure. “Dendrites encourages climbing through a network of alternate possible routes,” explains the project press release. “When a passer-by ascends the stairs they consistently face a bifurcation, and a decision must ensue. An apt metaphor is found in the way thoughts are formed in the human brain through the transmission of electrical impulses within a larger network of neuronal dendrites; much like the climber in the sculpture discovering the structures of his surrounding environment. From one end of the work to the other — like a neural impulse traveling across the brain — the walker climbs the stairs and ventures into the sculpture, emerging on the other side with a new perspective.” Related: Whimsically windswept cabin-like kiosks are designed to soothe urban stress The emphasis of walking ties into the redevelopment of site, which was formerly a car-centric area that was displaced as a new pedestrian-friendly and cyclist-friendly space. Dendrites’ twisting branches culminate in a series of independent viewing platforms of varying heights, allowing multiple visitors to climb and enjoy the sculpture simultaneously. + Michel de Broin Images by Michel de Broin and Jules Beauchamp Desbiens

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

Studio Gang to sustainably grow Toronto with this energy-efficient tower

July 20, 2018 by  
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American architecture practice Studio Gang has unveiled designs for One Delisle, a new residential tower that marks the firm’s first foray in Canada. Located in downtown Toronto on the corner of Yonge and Delisle, the project is envisioned as a standout architectural icon that combines a striking hive-like design with energy-efficient performance. The proposed building intends to achieve Tier 2 of the Toronto Green Standard. Inspired by plant growth, the sculptural, 16-sided One Delisle features eight-story modules stacked together in a spiraling formation to reach a height that surpasses 500 feet. The 550,000-square-foot building will comprise 263 residential units as well as a two-story base with retail space and restaurants. The area around the tower will also be redesigned to include wider landscaped sidewalks, an expanded park and other improvements for a more pedestrian-friendly experience. The main street character will be preserved to respect the existing neighborhood architecture. “Responsive to the surrounding streetscape, the tower is rectilinear at its base to fit within the city grid and address its corner condition at Yonge Street and Delisle Avenue, transforming into a multifaceted cylindrical shape as it rises to expand views, capture more sunlight and minimize shadows on the street,” the firm said. “The full-block revitalization will utilize a district energy system that allows the new construction to share mechanical loads with existing commercial buildings, offsetting energy use .” Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. One Delisle, along with the newly developed Delisle Park, will provide greater density to one of the city’s most important nodes at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. In addition to greener outdoor spaces for the public, residents will enjoy access to balconies and spacious terraces carefully angled for protection against wind and sun. Different floor plate sizes and configurations allows for a variety of residential options. The project is slated for completion in 2023. + Studio Gang Images via Norm Li/Studio Gang

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Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid to masterplan Russias largest port

June 8, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won the Admiral Serebryakov Embankment competition, an international masterplanning contest for Novorossiysk, a Russian city on the Black Sea coast with the nation’s largest shipping port. Created in collaboration with local architecture firm Pride TPO, the winning masterplan aims to reconnect the city with its coast and celebrate the region’s rich industrial history and relationship with the sea. The masterplan will introduce a diverse mix of programming and facilities that prioritize non-vehicular circulation. As the nation’s main port on the Black Sea, the southern Russian city of Novorossiysk connects the country with the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and the Suez Canal. The city is the third-busiest port in Europe by turnover and is the leading Russian port for exporting grain. Zaha Hadid Architects and Pride TPO tap into Novorossiysk’s rich history and traditions as a center of trade in their masterplan. The masterplan is organized on the concept of “instancing,” a concept borrowed from photography in which a subject is slightly manipulated in between frames. Here, it is applied in the 13.9-hectare masterplan’s nine main buildings, each a manipulation of the same form in response to the individual structure’s functions, site conditions, and requirements. The design was informed through digital computation models . Related: Zaha Hadid’s only house rises like a spaceship in a forest near Moscow “Connected at various levels with walkways, squares, and podia and controlled by parametric [tools], the relationships of volumes are informed by multiple simultaneous iterations that test the orientation, height and thickness of these volumes. Utilising this parametric model allows the designers and stakeholders alike to accommodate fluctuations in the financial, volumetric, functional and time-related projections of the client without losing control of a coherent and architecturally elegant urban formation,” explained Zaha Hadid Architects. “Setting the orientation perpendicular to the sea, the Masterplan ensures maximum open unimpeded views towards the sea, as well as a comfortable layout considering the wind movements in and around the site. This results in a configuration that is porous and well-knit with the city fabric, inviting residents as well as visitors in and around the volumes.” The first phase of the masterplan will start construction in the second half of 2019. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects, by VA

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Brooklyn’s new Domino Park features relics from the old sugar factory

June 8, 2018 by  
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Prolific landscape architecture firm  James Corner Field Operations  has managed to transform many desolate areas with its amazing park designs, but perhaps its crowning achievement will be Brooklyn’s Domino Park. Set to open to the public on June 10, the park — which was installed with reclaimed relics from the former Domino Sugar Refinery — has been converted into a quarter-mile long stretch of open green space running along the Williamsburg waterfront. Working with Brooklyn-based Two Trees Management, James Corner Field Operations (the lead architects on the beloved High Line park in Manhattan) has taken great care to convert the former industrial area into a welcoming public green space for the Williamsburg neighbors. The stretch of land from Grand Street to South Fifth Street has been desolate for years, its vacant lots blocked to visitors with chain-link fences. Now, after an extensive renovation to create a community-tailored recreational area, the project is ready to welcome the public. Related: Abandoned Lot Turned into Public Farm and Mountain Bike Course in Brooklyn First and foremost, the master plan for the park’s design included a strong emphasis on historic preservation. Reclaimed sugar refining and industrial materials, as well as various timber pieces, are just some of the relics  salvaged from the factory and placed in the park to pay homage to its origins. The 1,200-foot-long waterfront esplanade runs the length of the east bank of the East River, providing visitors with incredible panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Williamsburg Bridge. For those looking to simply sit and enjoy the surrounding views, there are plenty of benches around the park, which were also made out of reclaimed wood from the factory. The park’s expansive green space  is separated into two areas, a passive zone and an active zone. For those looking for a relaxing day at the park, there is an urban beach where visitors can soak up the sun on lounge chairs. A Japanese Pine garden leads into an open lawn with a designated 100-person picnic area and a large playground. For those who love to be active, there is a full-sized volleyball court, two boccie courts, and a 6,300-square-foot playing field. Dogs are also welcome to stretch their legs in the spacious dog run. At the heart of the park is a central gathering space, “Water Square.” Like most of the firm’s work, the greenery found throughout the park includes various sustainable plantings, as well as a mix of local and exotic foliage, flowers and trees. A four-tiered seating area with a water fountain provides visitors with a meeting place to enjoy the incredible views. Next to the wooden seating, four salvaged syrup tanks from the refinery were installed as a whimsical “Syrup Tank Garden.” Overlooking the park is an elevated, five-block long walkway. “Artifact Walk” is made from various pieces of salvaged factory equipment, such as steel columns, crane tracks and tall cylindrical tanks. During the ambitious project, Hurricane Sandy forced the planners to put resilience at the forefront of the design. Accordingly, the park is raised above the 100-year flood elevation levels and pushed back 100 feet from the water’s edge. + James Corner Field Operations + Two Trees Management Via Architectural Digest Images via Two Trees Management

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Brooklyn’s new Domino Park features relics from the old sugar factory

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