Superblock of Sant Antoni reclaims Barcelona streets for pedestrians

May 7, 2020 by  
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As part of Barcelona’s efforts to reclaim its car-congested streets for pedestrians, the city has tapped architects to create “superblocks” — groups of streets transformed into car-free public plazas. One such project was completed in 2019 by Leku Studio in the trendy neighborhood of Sant Antoni. Redesigned with attractive way-finding elements and street furniture, the Superblock of Sant Antoni is the second of six superblocks completed to date. The Superblocks Program was conceived as a way to curb air pollution while addressing a lack of green and social spaces in the city. Each superblock comprises nine city blocks and is closed off to thru-traffic, with parking tucked underground. New street furniture, colorful graphics and removable planters are added to encourage walking, cycling and social gathering. Related: How Barcelona “superblocks” return city streets to the people “Where previously there was an urban highway, now there is a healthy street full of life and green, where there was a traffic intersection now there is a livable plaza ,” explained the architects, who implemented the first phase of the Superblock of Sant Antoni in 2018. “Car noise has been replaced by children playing, cheerful conversations between neighbors or elderly people chess games. The transformation continues together with this flexible landscape capable of integrating new changes derived from urban testing and social innovation.” Reversibility was a guiding principle behind the design of the Superblock of Sant Antoni. As a result, the architects created an “adaptive urban furniture toolkit” so that the street furniture and planters — built with eco-friendly materials — could be combined in a variety of ways. The graphic tiles and signage also provide a reference for the arrangement of the new urban elements. The City of Barcelona plans to create 503 superblocks that will eventually connect to one another to create a series of “green corridors” that total 400 acres of new green space by 2030. + Leku Studio Photography by DEL RIO BANI via Leku Studio

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Superblock of Sant Antoni reclaims Barcelona streets for pedestrians

10 ways to celebrate Mothers Day virtually in 2020

May 7, 2020 by  
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With the majority of the country continuing to observe social distancing and shelter-in-place laws, families are beginning to face a new normal of interacting for the holidays. Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and while most of us won’t be able to see our moms in person this year, there are still ways to celebrate! A silver-lining? Choosing to celebrate from home, social distance-style, can be a win for the environment, too. 1. Have flowers planted in Central Park In New York’s Central Park, hundreds of thousands of tulips and daffodils bloom every year just in time for Mother’s Day. The city is offering a tax-deductible $1-per-bulb donation so that you can plant flowers in the park in someone’s name. After you’ve made your contribution, New York City will mail a certificate or e-card to your recipient letting them know about the donation. It is an inventive way to give your mom flowers this year that will continue to grow and thrive in a natural setting, rather than cut flowers. Related: Mother’s Day bouquet and other fun DIY ideas 2. Virtual 5K Although nearly all organized group runs this spring and summer have been cancelled, many of them have made the switch to become virtual runs instead. The All Community Events Mother’s Day Run Walk is a virtual 5K, 10K or half-marathon race that you can complete wherever you’d like. If you’re social distancing from your mom, it is a great way to stay connected while getting some exercise . You and Mom can choose your own routes in your own neighborhoods or an alternative favorite running route and log the miles together. 3. Virtual wine tasting Make a list of some organic or biodynamic wines, and send a few to your mom to try (don’t forget to buy some for yourself, as well). Start a video call and taste the wines together, making notes of which ones you like the most. Once you can visit each other in person again, it will be fun to bring your new favorite bottle to enjoy together! 4. Virtual brunch Get the whole family together (virtually, of course) by organizing a Mother’s Day brunch via Zoom, Facetime or Skype. Choose a simple, healthy recipe that everyone can make themselves at home, or have each person make something unique. 5. Take an online course together Choose an online cooking, art or gardening class that interests both of you. Learn a new skill while spending time with Mom, and you might even end up with a new hobby to appreciate together once social distancing rules ease up. Udemy has 100,000 online courses and is running Mother’s Day specials through May 14, or you can browse Skillshare for classes in everything from floral decoration to interior design. 6. Meal delivery kit Make sure that Mom is eating well during the pandemic with a subscription to a meal delivery service. The food will be delivered right to her door, eliminating at least a couple of trips to the grocery store. Daily Harvest offers delicious smoothie and bowl selections that you can give through a gift card or send as a nine-item gift box. Some other popular plant-based subscriptions include Purple Carrot and Sun Basket . 7. Decorate Mom’s front door Surprise Mom and brighten her day by decorating her front door for Mother’s Day with a festive wreath or handmade decorations . You won’t have to interact in person, but it will make you feel connected all the same! 8. Online yoga subscription Everyone is looking for ways to stay in shape from the comfort of their own homes these days, and online yoga provides the perfect combination of exercise and self care. Some of the more popular subscription options that incorporate meditation as well as yoga and Pilates are Glo and Gaia , although you can always check Groupon for online specials, too. 9. Tree planting donation Give an environmentally friendly gift that grows by planting a tree in Mom’s name for Mother’s Day. Check out the Earth Day Canopy Project and help in the fight against deforestation with one tree planted for each $1 donated; the network set a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees (one for every person on the planet) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. Tree People is offering beautiful, specially designed and sustainably made Mother’s Day cards with custom messages with tree planting donations of $25 or more. 10. Host a Netflix Party Netflix’s new Party feature allows groups to synchronize video playback and chat while watching Netflix together, even from far away. Choose something inspiring like a Planet Earth nature documentary to get excited for when the world opens back up again. Images via Lum3n , Saramatos , Sofia Morin , Petra , Emily Austin and Aiokr Chen

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An old mall becomes an urban lagoon and public square in central Tainan

March 18, 2020 by  
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In downtown Tainan, Taiwan, MVRDV has transformed a former shopping mall into the Tainan Spring, an urban lagoon and park. Commissioned by the city government as part of an urban revitalization masterplan, the adaptive reuse project not only provides a new public space that reconnects residents with nature, but also sets an inspiring example for how defunct malls can be given new, sustainable lives. Created as part of a masterplan to rejuvenate a “T-Axis” to the East of the Tainan Canal, the Tainan Spring project includes the transformation of the former China Town Mall as well as the beautification of a kilometer-long stretch of the city’s Haian Road, now redesigned to reduce traffic and improve pedestrian access . In replacing the old mall, the architects have “meticulously recycled” the building and turned the mall’s underground parking level into a sunken public plaza with an urban pool, planting beds, playgrounds, gathering spaces and a stage for performances. A glass floor exposes part of the structure of the second basement level below to connect visitors to the history of the site.  Related: MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof “In Tainan Spring, people can bathe in the overgrown remains of a shopping mall. Children will soon be swimming in the ruins of the past — how fantastic is that?” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “Inspired by the history of the city, both the original jungle and the water were important sources of inspiration. Tainan is a very grey city. With the reintroduction of the jungle to every place that was possible, the city is reintegrating into the surrounding landscape. That the reintroduction of greenery was an important thread in our master plan can be seen in the planting areas on Haian Road. We mixed local plant species so that they mimic the natural landscape east of Tainan. I think the city will benefit greatly from this.” In two to three years, the newly planted beds will grow into a lush garden comprising native trees, shrubs and grasses to form a tropical jungle-like environment that will help offset the urban heat island effect . Visitors can also find relief from Tainan’s tropical climate in the urban pool and mist sprayers in the summer. The pool’s water level will rise and fall in response to the rainy and dry seasons.  + MVRDV Photography by Daria Scagliola via MVRDV

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An old mall becomes an urban lagoon and public square in central Tainan

LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
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The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

August 7, 2017 by  
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Public art should do more than decorate. Brooks + Scarpa targeted a triple bottom line with their design of the recently completed Gateway Sculpture at Pembroke Pines City Center in southern Florida. Constructed to enhance user experience, the sculpture is made up of four yellow stainless-steel tree columns topped with kinetic canopies that create the effect of dappled light as visitors walk beneath. Environmental and economic sustainability were considered for the project, which is designed for low maintenance, optimal environmental comfort, and landscape conservation. The eye-catching Gateway Sculpture welcomes locals and visitors to the new Pembroke Pines City Center that comprises a public plaza , a 3,500-seat performing arts hall, city hall, and The Frank Art Gallery. Prior to this new development Pembroke Pines had no downtown or community space. Working with a limited budget, Brooks + Scarpa crafted a beautiful community anchor that framed the pedestrian thoroughfare to the public plaza. The sculpture evokes an experience of a subtropical hardwood forest with its tree-like columns topped with canopy-like perforated plates that spin in the continuous breeze of south Florida. The sculpture provides much-needed shade for seating underneath, while programmable uplighting enhances the experience at night. Stainless steel was chosen for its durability in the heavy saltwater-laden coastal environment and ability to withstand 175 mile-per-hour winds. Related: Rolling green ‘ribbons’ proposed for new urban park in downtown LA “A triple-bottom-line approach was conceived of that worked within the clients abilities and budget,” wrote Brooks + Scarpa. “This is achieved through material durability where stainless steel was used over mild steel to insure the longevity of the structure. A durable paint that is environmentally sensitive was also employed. Lastly, large planting areas surround the structure collecting stormwater from the entire building and impervious hardscape of the plaza. Essentially rain gardens , these planters include native facultative landscape material with vibrant color to enhance user experience and provide critical refuge and habitat to native wildlife.” + Brooks + Scarpa Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

HWKN unveils plans for a green-roofed business district in Munich

May 16, 2017 by  
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New York-based architecture firm Hollwich Kushner just released images of Die Macherei– their first European project– a mixed-use business district based in Munich, Germany. HWKN collaborated with German firms msm meyer schmitz-morkramer and OSA Ochs Schmidhuber Architekten to design the new financial hub that will bring together offices, retail and hospitality spaces. Art-Invest Real Estate and Accumulata Immobilien developed the new business district , which will total 64,000 square meters (15 acres) of rental space. Out of the six new buildings, HWKN designed the hotel and two adjacent office buildings located on the eastern quarter of the site. The hotel will feature an elevated bar with a series of outdoor terraces that offer views of the surrounding mountains. The office building will accommodate a two-story gym, while the third building will guide pedestrians toward the public plaza which will function as the heart of the development. Related: HWKN converts a paint factory into Upenn’s new state-of-the-art innovation hub “Designed not just as a series of buildings but as an exploration of the spaces between the buildings, Die Macherei is an innovative design for a new way of working and interacting, integrating social activity and behaviors to promote a sense of community,” said Matthias Hollwich. + Hollwich Kushner

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Anyone can be a designer using this amazing modular system made from cardboard stools

May 16, 2017 by  
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This amazing “spaceship” playhouse can be assembled in an endless variety of combinations – and it’s made entirely from kid’s folded cardboard stools. Noa Haim of Collective Paper Aesthetics conceived the innovative project that allows everyone to become a designer – and he’s taken the concept on tour around the world. It’s coming the Design Pavilion at Times Square from May 18th and 22nd, so swing on by for a chance to experience the interactive installation and create your own designs. The design team, led by Noa Haim, conceived Spaceship Heart system as a blank canvas like for people to create their own architectural/urban models . They originally designed the project for the Shenzhen and Hong Kong bi-city biennale of urbanism architecture 2011 and then reconstructed for IX Semana de la Arquitectura in Madrid and he Victoria & Albert museum in London. Related: Tiny Helix Shelter made of laster-cut recycled cardboard is a temporary habitat for one During the five-day event in New York , visitors will have the opportunity to create their own structures. The project will be among several interactive projects that will bring design and innovation directly to Times Square’s newly renovated plazas. + Collective Paper Aesthetics

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Anyone can be a designer using this amazing modular system made from cardboard stools

Ron Arad Architects unveil designs for Israels tallest skyscraper in Tel Aviv

October 13, 2016 by  
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ToHA was commissioned as a joint venture between two large investment and development companies that procured a coveted 1.8-hectare site in the center of Tel Aviv. The two sculptural towers offer 160,000 square meters of floor space and feature tapered facades partially elevated on legs for a minimal footprint on the ground plane. The glazed and angled facades are carefully oriented to ensure that every desk within the generous office floor-plates have access to natural light . Related: Zaha Hadid unveils sinuous skyscrapers for Australia’s Gold Coast In minimizing the building footprint, the architects open the ground plane up to public plazas and densely planted gardens. Three stories of community facilities within the building and a large roof garden will also be accessible to the public. Construction for phase 1 of ToHA began in 2013 and the project is slated for completion at the end of 2018. + Ron Arad Architects Via Dezeen Images via Ron Arad Architects

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Ron Arad Architects unveil designs for Israels tallest skyscraper in Tel Aviv

Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung

June 9, 2016 by  
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Set on an 8.5-hectare site with a sunken station plaza, the 182,000-square-meter Kaohsiung Train Station will be a major transit hub serving trains, metros, local buses, intercity buses, taxis, and bicycles. A 35,000-square-meter green canopy sprawls out across the square like an amoeba and extends rounded arms that connect the various forms of transport. The underside of the canopy continues the organic motif with asymmetrical oval-like ceiling sound panels and lights, as well as large rounded skylights. Related: Mecanoo wins competition to design the Tainan Public Library with natural materials “The station’s large curvilinear shaped canopy reaches out to the city in a powerful gesture, acting as a green connector that unifies different modes of transport, and represents Kaohsiung’s vision for the future as a sustainable city,” writes Mecanoo. The landscaped canopy shields a shaded open public plaza from the harsh sun and offers a space for community events such as farmers’ markets and festivals. The architects will also move the colonial Japanese station building to the project site to showcase an interesting juxtaposition between traditional and contemporary design. The project is expected to be complete by 2023. + Mecanoo Via NOW News Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung

Daniel Libeskind unveils design for the new green-roofed Lithuanian Modern Art Center in Vilnius

November 26, 2015 by  
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Studio Libeskind just unveiled their latest design venture into the museum typology: the New Lithuanian Modern Art Center to be erected in Vilnius, Lithuania. The green-roofed building, dedicated to the works created by Lithuanian artists, was designed as two intertwined volumes clad in white concrete, with a large public piazza providing a connection to the historic medieval city which the museum aims to reference. Read the rest of Daniel Libeskind unveils design for the new green-roofed Lithuanian Modern Art Center in Vilnius

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