MVRDV to transform Seouls concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis

December 18, 2019 by  
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Seoul has announced yet another inspiring eco-oriented urban project — a waterfront revitalization scheme designed by Dutch firm MVRDV . Dubbed “The Weaves,” the new public space will transform the Tancheon Valley and a portion of the waterfront along Seoul’s Han River from a concrete-dominated landscape into a thriving pedestrian-friendly destination defined by lush green landscapes. The highlight of the project will be a ribbon-like pedestrian bridge connecting the Gangnam district to Olympic Park, which comprises a series of intersecting white pathways. The government of Seoul selected MVRDV’s project as the winner of a design competition for its “great balance between ecology and the creative program.” Located between the former Olympic Stadium in the Jamsil district and Gangnam district in southern Seoul, the project will transform a 1-kilometer-long stretch of the Tancheon River as well as a significant portion of the Han River waterfront, which stretches east to west across the city. The design was created in collaboration with local firms NOW Architect and Seoahn Total Landscape Architecture. Related: MVRDV introduces a psychedelic blend of art and architecture in Paradise City “The central concept of ‘The Weaves’ was to intertwine three aspects of the landscape: natural ecosystems, access for pedestrians and elements of public program where activities can take place,” MVRDV explained in a statement. The three-part plan will begin by returning the river and waterfront to a more natural state that includes changing the river from a straight canal to a meandering stream flanked by green riverbanks with native vegetation. The second part involves developing a network of winding, interconnected paths — a form inspired by tangled silk threads in reference to Jamsil’s history of silk production — that also includes the repurposing of sections of highway into pedestrian thoroughfares. The third element of the design will be the park’s public program, which ranges from viewing points and an amphitheater to space for cafes and other amenities. The new public space will cater to locals and visitors alike and even includes a city branding opportunity in the Seoul Water Path, a pathway that extends out over the Han River to spell the word “Seoul” in looping script. Construction on The Weaves is expected to begin in 2021 and completion is planned for 2024. + MVRDV Images via Atchain and MVRDV

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MVRDV to transform Seouls concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis

Fuksas designs a zero-impact public square in the heart of Sofia

December 13, 2019 by  
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Italian design firm Studio Fuksas has recently revealed designs for the new Sveta Nedelya Square, a “ zero-impact ” public space in the heart of Sofia, Bulgaria. Located in front of the medieval Sveta Nedelya Church, the project will bridge the city’s ancient roots and modern urbanism with a contemporary design that shows off the city’s historic architecture. As a beacon for sustainability, the square will feature transparent solar panels atop a “hi-tech canopy” of pavement modules and a rainwater collection system. Billed by the architects as “a key intervention for the entire nation,” the new Sveta Nedelya Square will represent the country’s forward-looking ambitions while paying homage to its cultural roots. “Our aim is to reduce the dichotomy between the ancient and contemporary city,” the firm explained in a project statement. “We started our design from the Roman framework, using the Cardo and Decumanus to extrapolate the square module, a pure geometric shape.” Related: Studio Fuksas completes Rome’s largest building in over 50 years Spanning an area of 34,000 square meters, the new Sveta Nedelya Square will be bisected by a tram line into two parts: a public park and a paved square. The design also proposes turning parts of the surrounding roads — the Kyaginya Maria Luiza Boulevard, Aleksander Stamboliyski Boulevard, Vitosha Boulevard and the Saborna Ulitsa — into pedestrian-only avenues. Visitors will be able to enjoy views of the ancient Roman cardo covered by protective panels of glass that can be walked on. Select pavement modules will be elevated to create a series of sculptural, vertical elements that form a forest-like covering, which will provide shade and will recall the shape of a rose, Bulgaria’s national flower. The curved shapes of the vertical elements also reference the northern and southern porticoed facades of the Sveta Nedelya Cathedral. The pavement modules are built with transparent solar panels that harness renewable energy, which is used to light up the square at night. The new Sveta Nedelya Square is expected to break ground in 2021, with completion slated for 2023. + Studio Fuksas Images via Studio Fuksas

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Fuksas designs a zero-impact public square in the heart of Sofia

Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design

July 25, 2019 by  
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Helsinki has entered a “new era of libraries” with the completion of Oodi, the Helsinki Central Library that not only serves as a new central point for the city’s public library network but also an award-winning public space with a movie theater, multipurpose hall and more in the heart of the Finnish capital. Designed by local architectural practice ALA Architects, Oodi is the largest public library in the Helsinki metropolitan area and marks the celebratory project of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland when it opened in December 2018. In addition to an eye-catching, undulating design, the library follows passive energy principles for extreme energy-efficient performance that reaches near Zero Energy Building (nZEB) status. Spanning an area of 17,250 square meters, Oodi consists of library facilities, meeting rooms, group working spaces, a maker space, a living lab, recording studios, a photography studio, editing rooms, offices, a cafe, restaurant, movie theater, auditorium, multi-purpose hall, exhibition facilities and information booths. Related: Urban waste is upcycling into an adorable, beetle-shaped micro library on wheels The library is divided into three distinct levels: an “active” ground floor, a “peaceful” upper floor that houses the “Book Heaven” and an enclosed in-between “Attic” volume with more specific functions housed inside flexible, irregularly shaped rooms, nooks and corners. To accommodate a large volume of people — the library is expected to attract 10,000 visitors per day and 2.5 million visitors per year — the ground floor has been engineered as a column-free public space. To ground the contemporary building into its surroundings, the architects constructed Oodi with locally sourced materials, including the 33-millimeter-thick Finnish high-quality spruce cladding used in the prefabricated wooden facade. Algorithm-aided parametric design models guided the design and manufacturing of the complex curved geometry. Passive solar design principles, highly efficient building systems and building information modeling has helped keep the library’s energy demands to a minimum. “The library will enliven and diversify the new urban environment created in the Töölönlahti area,” ALA Architects said. “It will offer activities and experiences for all ages. There will be plenty of spaces that enable people to gather and spend time together, free of charge. The role of the library’s clients will evolve from passive media users to active agents, participants and content producers. As a non-commercial open public space, the new Central Library will act as Helsinki residents’ common living room, work space and learning environment.” + ALA Architects Photography by Tuomas Uusheimo and Iwan Baan via ALA Architects

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Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design

COBEs Red Cross Volunteer House is an urban living room in Copenhagen

December 31, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based architecture firm COBE has unveiled images of the Red Cross Volunteer House, a new building in Copenhagen that not only celebrates the efforts of Red Cross volunteers, but also the power of great public space. Completed November 2017 as an extension of the national headquarters of the Red Cross, the Red Cross Volunteer House is a triangular building with an 850-square-meter roof that doubles as a large staircase and new meeting place for 34,000 Red Cross volunteers. Open to the public, the terraced space has also been embraced by the city as a new “urban living room.” With a floor area of 750 square meters, the Red Cross Volunteer House was designed by COBE — which won the design bid in a 2013 competition — in close collaboration with the Red Cross and representatives of the volunteer organization. Set partially underground, the volunteer center consists of exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities, training facilities, disaster management facilities and a cafe. The extension also houses the main entrance to both the volunteer center and the headquarters, which are further linked with a green park. Yellow bricks were also used on the extension’s triangular roof to visually tie the building to the headquarters’ yellow-brick facade. “With the Red Cross Volunteer House we wanted to create a place that provides optimal settings for the heroes of everyday life – the thousands of volunteers who make an extraordinary effort to help marginalized people,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and COBE founder. “The roof of the building is now the Red Cross’s face to the world and a unique meeting place that acts both as a terraced stand and as stairs while also offering an attractive and inviting space to the many thousands of volunteers and, equally, to passersby and the rest of the city. The building has become an urban space and expresses both generosity and modesty while inviting the outside world in.” Related: COBE transforms former grain silo into swanky apartments in Copenhagen Since the project was opened to the public in November 2017, the Red Cross has garnered increased attention and visits from volunteers and passersby. The extension was constructed with a grant of DKK 30.7 million from the private foundation A. P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formål. + COBE Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST via COBE

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COBEs Red Cross Volunteer House is an urban living room in Copenhagen

6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

December 31, 2018 by  
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Global carbon emissions may be on the rise and poised to reach an all-time high this year , but that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive climate news to talk about. If you are looking for some uplifting stories about the environment as we close out 2018 and head into the new year, here are six reasons to be hopeful in spite of  climate change . Plant-based meat The carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels is still the main greenhouse gas , but methane and nitrous oxide are more potent, and the levels are rising. Livestock farming is the main source of methane and nitrous oxide, and because the world loves meat and dairy, these gases are a huge factor in the battle against climate change. Simply put, if we don’t radically curb our meat consumption, we can’t beat global warming . Related: Look out meat industry — flexitarianism is on the rise People all over the world are switching to vegetarian, vegan  and flexitarian diets, and that is a step in the right direction. Bill Gates has invested in two plant-based burger companies that make food from plants that looks and tastes like meat. Major companies like Tyson, Danone and Nestle are also investing in plant-based products that have a tiny carbon footprint, so the market will continue to grow and offer a wide variety of plant-based foods. The renewable energy revolution Renewable energy is quickly becoming the new normal. Thanks to the cost of solar panels and wind turbines plummeting over the last decade, renewables are now cheaper than coal. There are already systems in place to shift from gas and oil to renewables. Companies all over the world are committing to renewable energy, and now more than half of the new capacity for generating electricity is renewable. Many parts of the world are already installing the cheapest electricity available. Last year, there was so much wind power in Germany that customers got free electricity . Even in the U.S., despite President Trump’s rollback of key climate legislation, there has been $30 billion invested in renewable energy sources. “We Are Still In” movement As a response to President Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement, thousands of America’s CEOs, college presidents and politicians have declared that the U.S. is “still in” the climate change fight with the We Are Still In movement. Over 2,600 leaders from across the country are standing together and committed to delivering the goals from the Paris Agreement. They also want to make sure that the U.S. continues to be a world leader in reducing emissions. More than 1,800 businesses and investors, 18 states and tribes and 335 of America’s colleges and universities are also part of the movement. More than half of the country’s Fortune 500 companies have the goal of cutting pollution . The death of coal Production of fossil fuels seems to have peaked in 2013, and since then, the demise has been shocking. Five years ago, the IEA anticipated a 40 percent growth in coal burning by 2040. But now, it only expects 1 percent growth. Bankruptcies are taking over the coal industry, and plans for many new coal plants are now dead and buried. China has halted plans for 151 coal plants, and in the U.K., coal has plummeted from 40 percent of the power supply to just 2 percent. This is all happening because solar and wind are now cheaper, but there is still more that can be done. When it becomes cheaper to build renewable energy sources compared to running existing coal plants, there will be zero reasons to keep digging coal out of the ground. Electric cars Oil is responsible for providing one-third of the world’s energy, so figuring out how to reduce this usage is a big challenge. One of the most promising options for reducing oil usage is battery-powered cars. They are starting to make a dent in the market, and China is leading the way by selling more electric cars every month than the U.S. and Europe combined. Just about every car manufacturer has  plans to go electric , and some will be doing it sooner rather than later. Both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to end production of pure fossil-fueled cars by 2021, and Tesla has already rolled out its Model 3. If current growth rates continue, EV-volumes.com analyst Viktor Irle said  that 80 percent of new cars will be electric by 2030. Batteries A big piece of the renewable puzzle is batteries. The big issue is how to deliver solar power when it’s cloudy or how to provide wind power on a calm day. New battery technology is now making it possible to continuously store renewable power, even when the sun is behind the clouds and the wind stops blowing. With battery technology improving so fast, the price of battery storage is expected to drop in half by 2030. The price of lithium-ion batteries has already dropped by 75 percent over the last six years. The latest battery technology is also contributing to the rising demand for electric cars. Via Grist , The Guardian and WWF Images via Appolinary Kalashnikova , KMW737 , Andreas160578 , Jon Tyson , Benita Welter , Stefan Schweihofer and  Sabine van Erp

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

The origami-like monocoque pavilion in London is shaped by its environment

July 25, 2018 by  
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A striking prefabricated  monocoque pavilion has popped up in London, bringing with it a social-enterprise cafe and multifunctional community space. Developed as part of the City of London Corporation’s transformation of the Aldgate gyrator into one of the largest public spaces in London’s Square Mile, the Portsoken Pavilion is a striking sculptural landmark that’s distinctive in its contemporary form yet sensitive to its heritage surroundings. Local architecture practice Make Architects designed the sculptural structure with a Corten canopy featuring large overhangs to provide solar shading and channel rainwater runoff. Spanning an area of nearly 3,500 square feet, the Portsoken Pavilion comprises a single light-filled level above ground as well as a basement area — reclaimed from former underground subway space — that houses plant, back-of-house facilities, kitchens and toilets. Local social enterprise Kahaila will run the pavilion’s cafe and multifunctional community space, which opens up to a new landscaped and pedestrian-friendly area. The origami-like roof is built from Corten cladding panels and folds down to touch the ground at three triangular support points; full-height glazing wraps around the exposed sides. Weathered steel was chosen as a nod to the brown brick of the Grade I-listed St. Botolph Without Aldgate church and the red brick Grade II-listed Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary school that sit on either side of the new square. “The final scheme is beautiful — distinctive, yet respectful of the heritage architecture surrounding it,” said project architect Sarah Shuttleworth. “It provides a bespoke civic amenity and the ambition and determination of the City of London Corporation to persist and deliver the square and the pavilion  — despite the challenges — in order to transform this parcel of London for the benefit of the local community, should be applauded.” Related: Make Architects unveil igloo-shaped cinema made from reclaimed cardboard in London The three glazed elevations of the parametrically designed pavilion face the three key pedestrian approaches to the square. The structure was prefabricated and weathered off site before it was reassembled and welded in situ. The underside of the steelwork was sprayed with 150 millimeters of insulation to minimize heat loss, while the constant temperature of the concrete tunnels that run below the structure help regulate the temperature in the cafe year-round. + Make Architects Images via Make Architects

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The origami-like monocoque pavilion in London is shaped by its environment

This sinuous, green-roofed Media Library in France looks like it floats in mid-air

March 28, 2018 by  
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With a sinuous, meandering form that blurs the line between interior and exterior, the new Media Library in Thionville, France , is a unique  public space . Dominique Coulon & Associates designed the building by combining irregular, typically independent systems, creating tension in the space and in how it is read. The building aims to promote a new kind of media library – one that allows members of the public to create and curate their own experiences. It offers a variety of activities and spaces that blend into each other, including music studios, a café and restaurant, and exhibition areas . Related: Gorgeous LEED Gold library was designed with the help of Facebook and Twitter The façade resembles an opaque ribbon that rises and falls to conceal or reveal the building’s interior. At the point closest to the street, the ribbon reaches ground level, then rises up again at points that sit further back on the plot. This construction not only plays with the idea of interior and exterior space, but also brings natural light all the way into the heart of the project, where it’s most needed. Taken as a whole, the project questions the physical and psychological limits of what constitutes public space and follows a design that eludes the Euclidean interpretation of built space. A garden ramp offers another connection to the outside, leading upwards to a summer bar that serves as a culmination of the architectural promenade . In addition, the presence of multiple routes offers constantly renewed viewpoints. The “bubbles” within the building contain specific parts of the library, such as a storytelling area, language laboratories, places for playing video games, and a plastic arts room. + Dominique Coulon & Associates Lead photo by  Eugeni Pons

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This sinuous, green-roofed Media Library in France looks like it floats in mid-air

First international Serpentine Pavilion will open in Beijing

February 1, 2018 by  
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The Serpentine Pavilion is going global, with its first international debut in Beijing , China. Launched by London’s Serpentine Galleries and Beijing’s WF CENTRAL, this major international collaboration will be designed by multidisciplinary Chinese practice JIAKUN Architects. The inaugural co-commission will be modeled on the Serpentine’s annual pavilion program in London’s Royal Park of Kensington Gardens. Every year since 2000, the Serpentine Galleries invites an international architect who has not completed a building in England at the time of the invitation to design a temporary pavilion on its grounds. The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing took a different approach to architect selection, and instead began with a competition brief seeking designs sensitive to Beijing’s historic and social context as well as the Serpentine Pavilion’s 17-year history. A selection committee that included representatives from the Serpentine Galleries, Hongkong Land, and Made in China, chose JIAKUN Architects’ design. The winning design draws inspiration from Confucianism and the Chinese philosophical term of junzi, used to describe the ideal man. According to the press release: “The design is characterized by the figure of the Archer, in the form of a curved cantilever beam that incorporates the forces of elasticity through cables stretched between steel plates. Although modern architecture in Beijing has developed a series of powerful techniques to fight the external forces of fierce winds and unpredictable earthquakes , the Pavilion’s integral structure aims—like the Tai Chi Master—to conquer the harshness of those forces with softness.” Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré’s rainwater-harvesting 2017 Serpentine Pavilion unveiled in London today The inaugural Serpentine Pavilion Beijing will launch in May 2018 at the opening of WF CENTRAL on Wangfujing in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, just 600 meters away from the historic Forbidden City. The temporary public pavilion will be on display for six months. + Serpentine Galleries Images via Serpentine Galleries

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First international Serpentine Pavilion will open in Beijing

Gorgeous street library in Bulgaria for 1,500 books uses parametric design

November 30, 2017 by  
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Nature inspired this stunning street library in Bulgaria , but it was computers that made the design possible. A team of young architects and designers created Rapana, the first street library in the city of Varna, using parametric design tools Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. The Rapana street library is built from 240 CNC-milled timber pieces fitted together into a curvaceous pavilion that provides shade, seating, and room for 1,500 books. The team of designers—Yuzdzhan Turgaev, Boyan Simeonov, Ibrim Asanov and Mariya Aleksieva—created the Rapana library in response to what they perceived as a diminishing interest in books in the digital age. Rapana was funded by the European Youth Capital , which had awarded the city of Varna with this year’s title. Varna’s seaside position and reputation as the “marine capital of Bulgaria” inspired the designers to craft the library into the shape of sea snail shell. “The design was inspired by nature and its organic shapes,” wrote the designers. “The installation takes into consideration the most important aspects of the city’s identity – the sea and its value to Varna’s citizens. The abstract construction unravels from a single focal point and develops into a semi-circle whilst creating a public space and shelves for placing books at the same time.” Related: Parametrically designed Louverwall house maximizes winter sunlight The team used 3D modeling to test over 20 concept designs before choosing a final design that fit the budget and conveyed the open library concept. The curvaceous library features two openings, seating, a tiny stage for performances, bookshelves, and a latticed shade structure. + Rapana Via ArchDaily Images © Emanuil Albert

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Gorgeous street library in Bulgaria for 1,500 books uses parametric design

LAVA unveils greenery-infused Garden Island to revamp Sydney Harbour

October 20, 2017 by  
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Australia-based firm LAVA just unveiled a stunning proposal for converting an inaccessible plot of land near Sydney Harbour into a sustainable waterfront community. The ambitious Garden Island proposal envisions a vibrant green public space with eco-friendly residential towers and multi-use buildings that would host activities throughout the year. Although the area is currently used by the Royal Australian Navy, the proposal hopes to completely overhaul the area in order to convert it into a new waterfront community. Using a sustainable model , a breezy cityscape would be built along the existing coastline that would include residential and multi-use buildings operating with green technology. The various towers, which would offer stunning views of the harbor, would all be installed with plenty of rooftop terraces and surrounded by public gardens . Related: LAVA’s Winning Design for Masdar’s City Center LAVA’s proposal also includes implementing various adaptive reuse methods where possible. For example, a former dry dock would be converted into a floating market that would have room for public baths, shopping, and performance spaces. The development would also install a number of amenities throughout renovated space such as a waterfront promenade, museums, and various social facilities that would aim to foster a strong sense of community. + LAVA Images via LAVA

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