Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design

October 15, 2019 by  
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A Stefano Boeri Architetti -led design team has won a competition to design a new urban project to transform the Polcevera valley in Genoa, Italy into a beacon of sustainability. Titled “The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle,” the urban regeneration scheme will include a series of parks beneath the new Renzo Piano-designed bridge that will replace the Morandi Bridge that collapsed on August 14, 2018 — a tragedy that killed 43 people. In addition to revitalizing the area and memorializing the recent tragedy, the project will promote sustainable design through renewable technologies, green space and an emphasis on non-motorized transport. Designed in collaboration with architecture firm Metrogramma Milano and Dutch landscape design firm Inside Outside, The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle will include a sustainable mobility grid, a system of parks, and solar-powered buildings that will serve as hubs of productivity and innovation to lead the area’s economic revitalization. The Red Steel Circle refers to the circular elevated pedestrian/ cyclist pathway that will visually and physically knit together the two sides of the valley. This “relationship-building structure” measures 1,570 meters in length, 6 meters in width and 250 meters in diameter, and will be equipped with a 120-meter-tall Wind Tower for generating and producing renewable energy. The new series of parks will also be designed with sustainability in mind and include rainwater harvesting systems and an emphasis on biodiversity . A planting palette of species native to the Mediterranean basin area as well as a rich diversity of spaces — including recreational, educational and social areas — will define the landscape. A memorial to the victims of the collapsed Morandi bridge will be located at the heart of the park. Titled Genova in the wood, the art installation will feature 43 trees, one for each victim lost. Related: Stefano Boeri Architetti’s iridescent tower breaks ground in Tirana “The Red Circle, the Tower, the World Buildings, and the Polcevera Park with its vital chromatic and botanical variety will act as Genoa’s welcome to the passers-by of the future,” says Stefano Boeri. “A welcome to the world that crosses it and reaches Genoa from a network of infrastructure that stretches from east to west connecting Italy to Europe, parks perched on vertical walls, workers and noblewomen, singers- poets and naval engineers. A Superb City, even though it is afflicted by poignant melancholy; beautiful, even if in the harshness of its everlasting contradictions. A city of steel and sea, sculpted by wind and tragedy, but always able to stand tall.” + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via The Big Picture, Renovatio design, 46xy via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design

Renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels in the UK

October 15, 2019 by  
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In a first for the United Kingdom, wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable energy sources have generated more electricity than their fossil fuel counterparts of coal and natural gas. This significant milestone confirms that since the Industrial Revolution began and the U.K.’s first power plant was established in 1882, zero-carbon energy has finally generated more clean terawatt hours. This is thanks to the decreasing cost of renewable energy, making alternative power sources a more feasible and desirable choice. Full decarbonization of the British electricity grid system now looks to be within reach. Related: Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow For centuries, coal was king for the British energy industry. According to Carbon Brief , coal stoked British lighting from the 1810s, and it powered British railroads and ships from the 1840s and British centralized electricity generators from the 1880s. Then, a profound cultural shift began upon the enactment of the influential Clean Air Act of 1956 as a response to London’s Great Smog of 1952 . The Act steered both public and private sectors away from coal use. Even financial grants were issued to fund the transition to cleaner fuel sources. The ban to use coal for home heating and the restrictions against burning coal in urban areas notably contributed to a decline in British coal use. The 1980s saw the imminent dethroning of British coal, first with numerous pit closures occurring as a consequence of widespread strikes by miners. The closures heightened the importation of foreign coal, in turn producing supply uncertainty and geopolitical conflict. By the turn of the millennium, British environmentalists pushed for greener ambitions that swept out the U.K.’s reliance on coal. Now, only seven power plants powered by coal remain in the British isles. The last one is scheduled to close by 2025. As Carbon Brief reported, “In the third quarter of 2019, some 39 percent of U.K. electricity was from coal, oil and gas, including 38 percent from gas and less than 1 percent from coal and oil combined.” But just how much exactly comes from renewables ? Renewable energy now accounts for 40 percent: 20 percent wind power, 19 percent nuclear, 12 percent plant biomass, mainly from wood pellets, and 6 percent solar power. Wind power’s dominance among British renewable energy sources is by virtue of some newly constructed offshore windfarms. For instance, the world’s largest offshore windfarm, the Hornsea 1 , comprises wind turbines that dot more than 157 square miles of the North Sea. Secondly, the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm , Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm off the Wick coast in the North Sea, likewise opened in July. Renewable clean energy has a bright future in the U.K. The British continue to build a smart energy system that offers resilience, reliability and sustainability . Via The Guardian Image via Stephen Gidley

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Renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels in the UK

Golden State bans hotel mini-toiletries in effort to minimize waste

October 15, 2019 by  
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To reduce the impact of plastic waste pollution, California banned hotel and lodging use and distribution of travel-size plastic toiletries. No longer will miniature personal care products like shampoos, conditioners and liquid bath soaps be part of the amenities package. The proliferation of single-use plastics has devastated the environment and is overwhelming landfills . To minimize the single-use plastic footprint, the Golden State shall phase out toiletry bottles from all lodging accommodations by January 2023 for large hotels and by 2024 for lodgings with 50 rooms or less. The lodging establishments affected include resorts, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts even certain vacation rentals. Related: One plastic teabag can release billions of microplastics into your cup As a replacement, hotels can offer bulk products, such as wall-mounted public dispensers. Doing so minimizes the need for reliance on single-use items. Hotel chains like Marriott International and the InterContinental Group (IHG) have already begun replacing single-use toiletries with wall-mounted dispensers. Meanwhile, Hilton and Wyndham Hotel Group have opted to sanitize and repackage leftover soap for a second life with Clean the World Foundation ’s recycling initiative. Interestingly, the reason for the implementation date beginning in 2023 is to allow an adjustment period. During this adjustment to the new law, all hotels and lodging establishments are given time to exhaust their current stock of single-use plastic personal care products. Should a hotel or lodging establishment be noncompliant, they will be issued a citation. On the first violation, a written warning will be issued along with a $500 fine. For each succeeding day of noncompliance thereafter, an additional $500 per day of noncompliance will be issued. A $2,000 fine will be imposed after a second or reoccurring violation. The legislation is aligned with California’s restrictions on single-use straws at restaurants and single-use plastic grocery bags. Via EcoWatch Images via Marriott

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Golden State bans hotel mini-toiletries in effort to minimize waste

MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

September 27, 2019 by  
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In a bid to restore a lost part of nature to The Hague, MVRDV has unveiled a proposal to reopen the city’s 17th-century canals that were filled in between 1910 and 1970. Created in partnership with the local community, the “Grachten Open” (Canals Open) initiative would restore access to the waterways and would revitalize a run-down part of the historic center by introducing new programming from swimming canals to a gastronomy route with a new market hall. The urban revitalization project would also bring ecological benefits by bringing natural habitat back into the city center. As the seat of government for the Netherlands, The Hague has placed less emphasis on its canal system compared to other Dutch cities historically more reliant on trade. While many of the canals have been drained and filled in, a local grassroots movement to preserve the canal area in the historic city center began to take root in the late 20th century. In recent years, the movement has seen greater community action for revitalizing the area and reopening the lost canals. One of the most notable contributors to the cause is local resident Shireen Poyck, who co-founded the ‘Grachten Open’ and, in 2018, invited her neighbor, MVRDV partner Jan Knikker, to participate. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor Working together with local neighborhood organizations, MVRDV recently presented a plan to reopen the canals to the city of The Hague. The design proposes restoring the main canals and creating plans for the minor canals, which can be remade into “urban activators” and used as swimming canals, koi carp canals or even surf canals. The main canals would be defined by themed “routes,” that include a green route, creative route, shopping route, culinary route and sport route. “All over the world, neighborhoods like the old center of The Hague form the backbone of tourism and provide an identity to a city, but in The Hague, somehow this ancient and incredibly charming area was forgotten,” said Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. “The area offers the unique chance for an urban regeneration that will improve the local economy and make a leap forward in the city’s energy transition.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagens harbor

August 20, 2019 by  
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Copenhagen has once again cemented its title as the best bicycle city in the world with the completion of the Lille Langebro cycle and pedestrian bridge. Spanning 160 meters across Copenhagen’s Inner Harbor, the opening bridge is the work of London-headquartered architecture practice WilkinsonEyre , which won the bid in a design competition hosted by Danish client Realdania By & Byg. In addition to revitalizing the once-deserted harbor area, the Lille Langebro bridge also pays homage to the neighborhood’s historical context with its elegantly curving shape that evokes the great arc of ramparts and moat of Christianshavn. Designed solely for bicycle and pedestrian use, the Lille Langebro bridge is split into five spans with two 28-meter parts on either side of the 48-meter main section. Pedestrians are allotted a 3-meter-wide zone, while a 4-meter-wide zone is dedicated for cyclists . This zone is also divided into two lanes for two-way traffic. The bridge features a curved profile emphasized by the steel ribbon-like edges that rise like wings on either side. Related: This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere To accommodate maritime traffic, the bridge is engineered to open and features a midspan higher than the quaysides. When closed, the flowing lines of the bridge are uninterrupted from end-to-end thanks to the hidden opening mechanisms created in collaboration with engineer BuroHappold. “We are delighted to have worked with Realdania to design a distinctive new bridge for the people of Copenhagen that will improve the urban spaces and promenades along the waterfront and strengthen the cycling culture in the city while also being safe and accessible to everyone,” said Simon Roberts, associate director at WilkinsonEyre. The bridge, which connects to the new BLOX building that houses the Danish Architecture Center and other public spaces, is part of a continued effort to revitalize a part of the Copenhagen waterfront that had been deserted for decades. + WilkinsonEyre Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj via WilkinsonEyre

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Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagens harbor

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 proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

January 11, 2019 by  
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Prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled a bold proposal to transform Taipei’s Main Station into a “Times Square for Taiwan.” Designed as part of a consortium led by Nan Hai Development, the Taipei Twin Towers aim to reactivate the area with two high-rises clad in interactive media facades. The mixed-use project would offer new retail, office space, two cinemas and two hotels, in addition to the unification and redevelopment of the existing plazas. Located on the east side of the city, Taipei Main Station is currently ensnared in an aging concrete jungle and offers an arrival sequence — the transportation hub includes access to inter- and intra-city buses, metro and the airport railway — that MVRDV principal and co-founder Winy Maas has described as an “anti-climax.” To revitalize the area as a tourist and shopping destination, the architects have proposed stacking a mix of small and large blocks together into “vertical village” skyscrapers. The smaller blocks, located near the bottom, would house different retail outlets while the larger blocks above would contain the offices, cinemas and two hotels. The blocks will be strategically stacked to not only create public atriums  but to also allow for natural ventilation. Landscaped terraces will be located on the top of the retail blocks and connected via escalators and elevated walkways. Some blocks would also be covered with interactive media displays that can be programmed to show major cultural spectacles, sporting events or advertising for the retail tenants. Related: Shimmering bamboo-shaped skyscraper to rise in Taipei “The Taipei Twin Towers will turn this area into the downtown that Taipei deserves, with its vibrant mixture of activities matched only by the vibrant collection of facade treatments on the stacked neighborhood above,” Winy Maas explained. “We break down the required program into pleasant small blocks that echo the surrounding urban quarters, thus fitting the density fit into its surroundings. People can climb over the blocks to the top — a true vertical village . And the space in between allows for social gatherings and natural ventilation.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

Massive shipping container shopping center to pop up in Warsaw

January 3, 2019 by  
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Nearly 300  shipping containers may soon be given a new lease on life as a massive pop-up shopping center in downtown Warsaw, Poland. Designed by local architecture practice Szcz and commissioned by investor Nowa Epoka Handlu, the cargotecture proposal would transform a 2.6-acre site into one of the world’s largest shipping container retail complexes. Named Implant, the three-story modular building would house approximately 80 tenants and host mixed programming from retail and restaurants to social and cultural space. Proposed for an empty lot adjacent to Warsaw’s ?elazna Street and Chmielna Street, Implant aims to revitalize a once-thriving area that was gutted during World War II and has since struggled to return to its former brilliance. In addition to urban revitalization, the project will inject much-needed greenery into the area with open courtyards and vertical green walls. Modeled after existing shipping container pop-up malls such as London’s BoxPark and Bangkok’s ArtBox, Implant will include a usable floor area of 5,318 square meters and will be split in three main zones: food and beverage, retail, and social and cultural event space. A total of 273 shipping containers will be used: 221 40-foot-long containers and 52 20-foot-long containers. The bars and restaurants will be located on the ground floor of the three-story building while studios, shops and other services will be placed on the upper floors. Related: Boxpark, London’s first pop-up shipping container mall, opens in Shoreditch “Vertical division of functions represents the synergy between culinary consumption taking place on the ground floor, either inside or outside the bars, while more qualified functions attract people who have special interest in visiting furniture designers, craftsmen and artists located on the first floor,” the architecture firm said. “The lot is enclosed from the southern side with a lower building containing a multifunctional space for concerts, exhibitions and other events and a pop-up children’s museum accessible from the courtyard. The mix of bars, studios providing obligatory workshops for different age groups and large functions (children’s museums and multifunctional indoor space) will create a mix of users that will come to the complex due to varied motivations.” + Szcz Images via Szcz

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Massive shipping container shopping center to pop up in Warsaw

Henning Larsen completes award-winning Wave apartments in Denmark

December 26, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has completed The Wave, a striking wave-shaped apartment complex that has made splashes internationally long before the project was finished. Located in Vejle, Denmark, the award-winning building was designed as an extension of its surroundings, from the waterfront location to the rolling, forested hills that rise from Vejle Fjord. The Wave’s sculptural silhouette comprises five rounded towers that create a new visual landmark for the town and are visible from rail, road and sea. Spanning an area of nearly 3.5 acres, The Wave consists of more than a hundred luxury apartment units along with a new public pier in front that aims to revitalize the waterfront. Although construction on the complex started in 2006, the financial crisis halted all progress after the completion of only two towers; construction resumed on the remaining three towers in late 2015. The wave-shaped towers consist of nine floors each and appear identical to one another to create the appearance of a unified building. The fifth and final tower of The Wave was finalized in November 2018. “The land surrounding Vejle is unique for its rolling hills, which are an uncommon sight in Denmark ,” explained Søren Øllgaard, partner and design director at Henning Larsen. “We designed The Wave as striking new presence in the Vejle skyline, one that reflects and embodies the surrounding area. We feel our design merges our own contemporary designs with a strong sense of local identity.” Related: Henning Larsen’s energy-efficient Kiruna Town Hall opens to the public The spectacular nature-inspired building garnered international attention and awards even before the project was completed. In 2009, The Wave’s two completed towers were crowned ‘Residential Building of the Year’ by Danish trade magazine Byggeri. The project has also earned an ABB LEAF Award for innovative architecture in 2012 as well as the prestigious Civic Trust Award in 2013. + Henning Larsen Architects Photography by Jacob Due via Henning Larsen Architects

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Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery

December 26, 2018 by  
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The site of a former house in Bogota has been reborn into a gorgeous bakery and cafe that respects the surrounding residential context. Designed by New York City-based Studio Cadena , the sculptural building draws the eye with oversized triangular windows, a monolithic concrete envelope and contemporary interiors featuring playful terrazzo floors, timber furnishings and pops of greenery. With an area of 7,500 square feet, the restaurant marks Studio Cadena’s second and largest commission for Masa, a popular bakery chain in Colombia. Inside, the building comprises a cafe and bakery along with a dining area and separate retail space. Outdoor seating can be found along a street-facing patio as well as in the rear garden area that overlooks the kitchen through a large circular window. To achieve an airy and open feel, the architects used an open-plan layout and delineated spaces with strategically placed elements such as a long concrete bar, cylindrical wood-clad service station and multi-tiered seating platform at the entrance. “The idea is that everything is connected, but the spaces remain fragmented for intimacy,” explained Studio Cadena founder and principal Benjamin Cadena. “In any space in the restaurant , you might hear or smell things that give a sense of the adjacent spaces, but it isn’t completely open. The design defines distinct spatial volumes yet allows you to move through them with the freedom of an open plan.” Studio Cadena designed all of the surfaces, fixtures and furniture. The variety of lighting designs also distinguish the different spaces, from the large paper globes in the corner cafe to the hand-painted metal mesh that hangs down in the middle of the building. Related: An ancient Jaipur palace property is transformed into a modern restaurant The building volume is built with textured cast-in-place concrete walls inside and out. Triangular windows of different sizes punctuate the concrete envelope and open the restaurant up to natural light while establishing a connection between the street and the interior. + Studio Cadena Photography by Benjamin Cadena and Naho Kubota via Studio Cadena

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Triangular windows bring light and drama to a stunning Bogota bakery

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