Vatican Citys first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale

June 1, 2018 by  
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The Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See opened to fanfare last week, marking Vatican City’s debut at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Curated by Professor Francesco Dal Co, the temporary installation consists of 10 chapel-inspired pavilions, each designed by a different renowned design practice from around the world. Perhaps the most anticipated of them all is the pavilion by Foster + Partners , which takes the form of an open-air chapel built with a tensegrity structure. Spread out across the picturesque San Giorgio Maggiore Island, the Vatican Chapels Pavilion of the Holy See is set in a contemplative wooded environment. Foster + Partners’ chapel is located between two mature trees on one end of the island and connects to the lagoon beyond. The chapel comprises a tensegrity structure made up of three upright crosses that support a larch latticework membrane connected with steel cables and masts. Italian furniture company Tecno built the installation. “The project started with the selection of the site,” explained Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners. “On a visit to San Giorgio Maggiore, close to Palladio’s magnificent church and the Teatro Verde, I found a green space with two mature trees beautifully framing the view of the lagoon. It was like a small oasis in the big garden, perfect for contemplation. Our aim was to create a small space diffused with dappled shade and removed from the normality of passers-by, focused instead on the water and sky beyond – a sanctuary.” Related: Foster+Partners unveil design for first-ever Vatican Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale The larch membrane allows dappled light to pass through the chapel’s interior. The tensegrity structure was also engineered to withstand wind loads. Jasmine vines are planted around the structure and will grow overtop it in time to soften its contours and add an extra sensory element. The pavilion will remain open to the public until November 25, 2018. + Foster + Partners Images by Nigel Young/Foster + Partners

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Vatican Citys first-ever pavilion debuts at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

May 31, 2018 by  
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A giant handmade pavilion created in the image of an ancient fishing tool has popped up at the entrance of Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Rising to a height of nearly 30 feet, The Trap is a temporary installation designed by Taiwanese artist Cheng Tsung Feng that pays homage to the fishing tools and materials used by various ethnic groups in Taiwan. The movement of people through and under the structure is meant to evoke the crowds of fish caught in a fish trap. Completed this month, The Trap was commissioned as part of MOCA’s “The Charismatic Rebirth of Yore” exhibition. Artist Cheng Tsung Feng , who has a history of working with natural and locally-sourced materials, found inspiration in fish traps, an ancient Taiwanese fishing tool made of bamboo and rattan. During his research, FENG discovered huge variations in the traps created by different ethnic groups because of differences in available materials, culture and the type of catch. Despite these differences, he found that the site-specific fish traps were united by common production practices. Handmade from thin strips of bamboo, rattan and steel, The Trap is anchored over the MOCA’s entrance and features arched openings to mirror the historic building’s existing arches. Gaps between the rattan strips give the piece a lightweight feel and let dappled light shine through. The artwork measures nearly 92 feet long and more than 65 feet wide. Related: A twisting infinity-loop roof tops this prefab bamboo pavilion “These intangible cultures hidden behind tangible objects are like living things that can grow in response to the environment,” Cheng Tsung Feng said. “In this installation art, we relocated the fish trap from thousands of natural rivers to Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, a 100-year-old man-made building. And replaced various kinds of fishes with the crowd of people. What will this traditional wisdom evolve after adapting to distinct environments and prey?” The installation will be on display until July 22, 2018. + Cheng Tsung Feng Images by Sheng Da TSAI

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Massive handmade bamboo-and-rattan "fish trap" springs up in Taipei

Hope for mountain gorillas: new census results reveal the population is increasing

May 31, 2018 by  
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Good news for mountain gorillas : the number of the  critically endangered apes residing in the Virunga Massif is up to 604 from 480 in 2010, according to a statement from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International . In fact, the World Wildlife Fund said (WWF) the mountain gorilla is “the only great ape in the world that is considered to be increasing in population.” In 1981, just 242 mountain gorillas lived in the Virunga Massif, a transboundary area spanning Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several population counts later, though, the numbers are far more encouraging. There are now over 1,000 mountain gorillas in the world when the Virunga population is added to a separate one in Uganda. The population count comes from a recent census coordinated by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration  and in which the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center participated. The International Gorilla Conservation Program , a coalition program that includes WWF among its partners, backed the census. Related: Wild tigers are returning to Kazakhstan after 70-year absence 60 people took part in the census, walking through the gorillas’ range in two sweeps approximately three months apart. Researchers gathered information like hair and dung samples from night nets to work towards a population count and identify individual gorillas . The mountain gorilla population increase is due to daily protection, according to the Fossey Fund. But the fight isn’t over yet; the great apes are threatened by disease, snares laid for other animals, limited habitat, and climate change . Conservationists called for continued protection. “Dian Fossey thought mountain gorillas would go extinct by the year 2000,” Fossey Fund CEO Tara Stoinski said. “Their survival and continued increase clearly shows that intensive conservation efforts can work. The take home from the mountain gorilla story is that significant financial and time investment is needed for conservation to happen — there are no overnight fixes. We must be in it for the long haul and increase the resources available for conservation if we want charismatic species like gorillas, rhinos , elephants , and tigers to survive.” + Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International + World Wildlife Fund Images courtesy of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

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Hope for mountain gorillas: new census results reveal the population is increasing

Snarkitectures Fun House will take over the National Building Museum

May 2, 2018 by  
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It’s almost that time again—the National Building Museum’s (NBM) Great Hall will undergo another dramatic transformation as part of its ongoing Summer Block Party series, this year under the direction of New York-based Snarkitecture . Returning after their wildly popular ‘The Beach’ NBM installation from 2015, the design studio recently unveiled designs for ‘Fun House,’ a comprehensive museum exhibition housed within a freestanding gabled structure. Created in the image of a giant traditional home, Fun House will comprise rooms exhibiting well-known Snarkitecture projects that trace the firm’s 10-year history. National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party is one of Washington, D.C.’s most anticipated architecture events every year thanks to its interactive, family-friendly installations by major design names including the likes of Bjarke Ingels Group , Studio Gang, and James Corner Field Operations. One of the most popular NBM exhibitions to date has been Snarkitecture’s The Beach, which filled 10,000 square feet of the historic Great Hall with nearly one million recyclable plastic balls. Snarkitecture’s Fun House will, for the first time, take up the entirety of the Great Hall. The exhibition, curated by Italy-based Maria Cristina Didero, will lead visitors through a sequence of interactive rooms with recreations of Snarkitecture’s important projects, such as The Beach -inspired kidney-shaped ball pit. The Fun House opens to the public July 4 through September 3, 2018 and will be complemented by a full schedule of programs and special events. Related: Gigantic swimmable ball pit takes over D.C.’s National Building Museum “Fun House represents a unique opportunity for us to bring together a number of different Snarkitecture-designed interiors, installations, and objects into a single, immersive experience,” said Alex Mustonen, co-founder of Snarkitecture. “Our practice aims to create moments that make architecture accessible and engaging to a wide, diverse audience. With that in mind, we are excited to invite all visitors to the National Building Museum to an exhibition and installation that we hope is both unexpected and memorable.” + Snarkitecture Images via Snarkitecture , photographs by Noah Kalina

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Snarkitectures Fun House will take over the National Building Museum

Stunning temporary beach pavilion rises in Lebanon’s Tyre Coast Nature Reserve

March 20, 2018 by  
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Wood, metal ties and rope come together in this temporary space in Lebanon, forming a lightweight structure designed to raise awareness of the area’s rich marine biodiversity. The Tyre Nature Reserve Hub, named MARAH, was designed by Architecture students from the American University of Beirut , who used the project as an experiment in building lightweight and temporary systems, as well as creating spaces that have a large social and programmatic impact. Some of Lebanon ’s longest sandy beaches are located in the Tyre region–also a popular nesting site for the endangered Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtles, as well as the home of several species of local wildlife, such as the Arabian spiny mouse and the Red fox. Phoenician springs and freshwater estuaries dominate the Ras el Ain area which facilities a diversity of marine life and a large part of this region has been turned into a protected area. Despite this, the Tyre region has seen severe destruction and devastation, which acted as impetus for creating a temporary pavilion that would help spread awareness of the importance of conserving marine biodiversity . Related: Floating timber pavilion transforms a Swiss lake into an exciting new public square Architecture AUB students from the DI-LAB (Design Impact Laboratory) teamed up with environmental consultants and the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve to introduce a structure that acts as a hub for the Tyre Coast Nature Reserve. The center is located directly on the beach, where it acts as a meeting point, an information point, a presentation pavilion, an exhibition space, and a training center, among other things. The pavilion was built using wood, metal ties and ropes and addresses the idea of creating a space that simultaneously generates a large social impact and minimal site impact. + Di-Lab – American University of Beirut Via Archdaily Photos by Lorenzo Tugnoli

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Stunning temporary beach pavilion rises in Lebanon’s Tyre Coast Nature Reserve

Lacy Flying Mosque installation changes shape depending on the viewing angle

March 9, 2018 by  
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Following their gorgeous sea urchin-inspired installation at Singapore’s iLight Marina Bay Festival, Choi+Shine Architects unveiled a new lacy design crocheted in geometric shapes that mix cultural influences of the east and the west. The Flying Mosque is comprised of architecture elements that come together to form a mosque when viewed at one angle, or an elegant collection of lacy shapes from other angles. The project reinterprets an Islamic mosque by deconstructing it into elements that form a harmonious whole or a seemingly illegible composition, depending on the viewing angle. Each element is a shape familiar in both Eastern and Western architecture. The varying views of the composition emphasize individual elements that are independent, complete and can stand alone, but can also form a harmonious single entity. Related: Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light The elements of the project sway and rotate in the wind, creating a series of kinetic patterned shadows in which viewers can immerse themselves. The geometric patterns reference the traditional Islamic arabesque. The abstract expression embodied in its repetitive, orderly and cohesive pattern signifies infinity and its quiet impact produces a meditative feeling. + Choi+Shine Architects

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Lacy Flying Mosque installation changes shape depending on the viewing angle

MIT claims that clean, limitless nuclear fusion energy is just 15 years away

March 9, 2018 by  
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You’ve probably heard about the promise of nuclear fusion before… many times. But when MIT is involved, it’s best to listen up. The university has teamed up with Commonwealth Fusion Systems , and they believe that clean, limitless power could be just around the corner. Thanks to the development of a new superconductor, the team believes that they can have a working fusion power plant on-grid within the next 15 years. Scientists have been trying to make nuclear fusion happen for decades, and for a good reason – it could provide nearly endless clean energy without the risks associated with nuclear energy. In the 1950s, scientists theorized that nuclear fusion was just a few decades away. Then, after that failed to materialize, scientists in the 1970s said that it was just a few more decades away. Cut to today, and it seems like we are no closer to nuclear fusion power… until now. Related: ‘We were blown away’ – researchers eliminate obstacle to fusion energy So what makes this time different, I hear you ask? The team says that a new type of superconductor that just became available is the breakthrough they were looking for. Part of the problem with making nuclear fusion happen is that you have to be able to heat things up to a mind-boggling 150 million degrees, which turns most containers into plasma. MIT and Commonwealth plan to use this new superconductor – made of steel tape coated with yttrium-barium-copper oxide – to make magnets that will help make nuclear fusion a reality. “This is an important historical moment: Advances in superconducting magnets have put fusion energy potentially within reach, offering the prospect of a safe, carbon-free energy future,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. + MIT Via Fast Company Images via MIT

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MIT claims that clean, limitless nuclear fusion energy is just 15 years away

Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light

January 9, 2018 by  
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Design studio antyRAMA collective converted a dark underpass in the city of Katowice, Poland, into a colorful neon-lit sound installation. The music tunnel, illuminated by polychromatic LED lights , houses an inventive structure made from hanging PVC pipes that form the shape of a sound wave. The PVC pipes, hung from the ceiling of the underpass , are rocked by the strong breeze that passes through the tunnel and hit each other to create a variety of sound effects. Passersby have the opportunity to interact with the structure and put the hanging pipes in motion. Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. The installation consists of 2018 white PVC pipes suspended on different lengths of a steel wire rope attached to a net placed just under the ceiling. The composition of the tubes creates waves similar to the recording of sound waves and gets denser as it exits towards the Wojewódzka street. Twenty-three new points of colorful LED light have also been added, which effectively illuminate the area and create a unique ambiance. The project pays homage to the musical tradition of Katowice, which was named Creative City by UNESCO. Its interactive nature reflects the evolution of the city’s music which had for centuries connected people from different corners of the world and different cultures. + antyRAMA collective

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Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light

Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows

September 27, 2017 by  
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This pyramid-shaped cabin in France features beautiful stained glass windows and lookout towers that offer unique views of the surrounding landscape. Visual artist Lou Andréa Lassalle designed the Prism Cabin to allow occupants to rediscover the world around them through the colors cast from its faceted windows. The cabin comprises part of the Refuges Périurbains project, which offers overnight stays in temporary installations built all around the periphery of Bordeaux. Related: Kengo Kuma’s Transparent Temporary Shelter Pays Homage to Classic Japanese Literature Built by Zebra3 , the pyramid-shaped structure reveals unsuspected aspects of the landscape through color and shape. The designers say it “evokes the esotericism of the water bank where local fish, monsters from the depths, high voltage towers and natural fog mix.” Full of playful design features, the cabin includes lookout towers built in the shape of the Great Sphinx. It can host up to eight people at once and encourages people to reconnect with Bordeaux’s gorgeous landscapes. + Lou Andréa Lassalle + Zebra3 + Refuges Périurbains Via Treehugger Photos by Lou Andréa Lassalle

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Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows

Twin warming huts for TED conference evoke the Great Canadian Wilderness

July 26, 2017 by  
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The architecture and design students of DBR | Design Build Research created ELEVATE, unique pop-up structures that brought a slice of the Canadian backcountry winter experience to downtown Vancouver . Crafted as part of a three-month design/build course, this temporary installation served as a sheltered outdoor living room for the TED2016 conference. Innovation with wood and technical fabrication were explored in the project, most notably through the curved planks of CNC-milled timber used to create the structures’ inviting, cocoon-like shapes. From afar, ELEVATE evokes snow-covered hilltops, however a closer look reveals the design’s likeness to high alpine shelters . The 16 students sought to create an attractive meeting place where TED attendees, known as TEDsters, could gather and discuss ideas. The structures were also outfitted with graphics of provincial and national parks to encourage TEDsters to explore Vancouver’s great outdoors during their visit. Related: Solar-powered alpine prefab shows off the power of prefab in extreme conditions METSA Wood donated Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), an advanced wood product, that was shaped with CNC technology into the ELEVATE’s skeleton. Set on sill plates, the structures feature a timber deck and curved timber ribs reinforced by cross bracing. A white translucent covering protects visitors from the elements and is complemented with exposed timber ribbing visible from the interior. Each warming hut includes a large seating area marked with the TED logo, as well as bright red beanbags. + DBR | Design Build Research Images by Ema Peter

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Twin warming huts for TED conference evoke the Great Canadian Wilderness

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