Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

August 3, 2020 by  
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Dutch architectural firms KCAP and Orange Architects have teamed up with A.Len Architectural Bureau to redesign St. Petersburg’s former Tovarno-Vitebskaya railway yard into a new mixed-use district with extensive greenery. Created as a continuation of Glorax Development’s Ligovsky City neighborhood development project, the new adaptive reuse proposal will combine historic structures with contemporary architecture to inject new life into the area while paying homage to the site’s history. A variety of green space will be incorporated into the masterplan, from linear parks and landscaped boulevards that follow the historic railway tracks to more intimate courtyards and walkways interspersed between the new buildings. Located in the southeastern part of St. Petersburg’s “gray belt”, the adaptive reuse proposal would transform a former railway yard on Ligovsky Prospekt into a predominately residential district for 8,600 people. The 30-hectare site would also include restaurants, cafes, leisure facilities, street retail, service companies, sports facilities, four kindergartens, one primary and one secondary school and both underground and surface parking lots.  Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The architects have inventoried the existing architectural structures and plan to reuse many historic elements — such as small buildings, blue cranes, tracks and poles — into the long and linear public parks that will be developed along the main railway tracks from north to south. The project’s main entrance will be located on the primarily mixed-use northern end where the new “Borovaya” metro station will stand and serve as the new urban center for Ligovsky. In contrast, the southern part of the site will feature taller buildings, three of which will create a strong building edge nicknamed “The Trio.” “We want to create an active and landscaped environment where you can feel the history of the railway and live with the people around you,” said Patrick Meijers, partner at Orange Architects. “An area that simultaneously is smoothly connected to the city of St. Petersburg.” + KCAP + Orange Architects Images via Orange Architects

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Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

New metro stations extend sustainable, site-sensitive transit in Denmark

July 10, 2020 by  
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Copenhagen-based architecture firm Cobe teamed up with Arup on the recently completed Orientkaj and Nordhavn — two new metro stations that connect Copenhagen’s northern docklands with the city center. Developed as part of one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Northern Europe, the metro stations aim to revitalize the post-industrial area with a passenger-focused design and appearance reflective of the urban areas they serve. The two metro stations are expected to serve 9,000 daily users by 2025. Recently opened in March 2020, the two metro stations connect Copenhagen Central Station to Nordhavn in just 4 minutes. Each metro station was designed with site-specific characteristics. The overground Orientkaj station takes inspiration from a shipping container as a nod to the Brutalist and large-scale dockland buildings with boxy construction built of glass, concrete and aluminum. Large spans of glazing frame views of the area across Øresund into Sweden. Set above the Orientkaj dock and clad in reflective anodized aluminum cladding, the station was created as an eye-catching local landmark and a prototype for future overground stations in Nordhavn, a new city district designed by Cobe that will eventually encompass over 1,500,000 square meters of sustainable, mixed-use development. Related: COBE unveils images of LEED Gold-targeted Adidas HQ in Germany In contrast, the underground Nordhavn station is defined by folded, origami-like ceramic panels and an interior clad in red tiles characteristic of Cityringen’s interchange stations for design consistency. Both the overground Orientkaj station and the underground Nordhavn station emphasize passenger comfort with clear wayfinding elements and an abundance of lighting to provide comfort and safety. “Nordhavn is a city of sustainable mobility , where it is easier to walk, bike or use public transport, than it is to drive your own car,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of Cobe. “The two metro stations unlock the potential of this new Copenhagen city district, enabling more efficient and sustainable transport between the individual neighborhoods, and to the rest of Copenhagen, while adding a new chapter to the story of the Copenhagen harbor front.” + Cobe + Arup Images via Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST / COBE

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New metro stations extend sustainable, site-sensitive transit in Denmark

Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

May 26, 2020 by  
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Paris-based design studio Rescubika has unveiled a fantastical proposal for the Babylon Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge over the river Seine. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the proposed bridge would be covered with greenery on multiple levels, from trees that line the length of the bridge to the hanging planters that surround a central waterfall feature. The new public park would also be connected to the riverbanks, which could be turned into urban agriculture plots for local use. The Babylon Bridge proposal spans the Seine to connect the Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet on the left bank with the 14-hectare Parc de Bercy on the right. Rescubika designed the proposal in response to the revitalization of Avenue de France — most notably with the ongoing development of architect Jean Nouvel’s Tour Duo project — and its desire to provide urban beautification that can be seen by a greater number of residents and visitors. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor “This project aims to study the possibility of a strong city entrance in the form of a hanging landscape,” the firm explained. “The Babylon Bridge is a positive vision of the city of tomorrow, less chaotic and annihilating than that of yesterday. The bridge is an urban tool allowing the passage of flows over areas that are impossible to cross, here we also want to allow the user to stroll and relax. It is a participative and positive architecture.” As an antidote to city living, the Babylon Bridge will shield visitors from urban noise and pollution with its hanging gardens and the noise buffer created by the central waterfall. A large, landscaped canopy would stretch over the bridge to provide shade and support for thousands of hanging potted plants. Seating areas would be integrated along the path to encourage visitors to take their lunch out on the bridge, which would be accessible from street level and the riverbanks below. + Rescubika Images via Rescubika

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

LEED Platinum-certified Half Moon Bay Library targets net-zero energy

May 26, 2020 by  
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At three times the size of its predecessor with a recently minted LEED Platinum certification, California’s Half Moon Bay Library is an impressive community resource in more ways than one. Designed by Berkeley-based firm Noll & Tam Architects , the $18.2 million library serves a diverse and growing coastal region that includes Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County and 10 other unincorporated communities along the coast as well. Flexibility, energy efficiency and emphases on nature and the community drove the design of the new regional library that has won multiple awards, including the 2019 AIA/ALA Library Building Award. Completed in 2018, the 22,000-square-foot Half Moon Library minimizes its visual impact with its low-profile massing that includes two single-story rectangular volumes along the street and a larger, second-story volume tucked behind. Minimizing the building’s presence in the neighborhood was part of the architects’ strategy to draw greater attention to views of the ocean, which is located just a short walk away. A low-maintenance natural material palette — including reclaimed wood , patinated copper and rough stone — takes inspiration from the coastal landscape and helps draw the outdoors in. Related: Charles Library boasts one of Pennsylvania’s largest green roofs As a result of extensive community workshops, the Half Moon Library is highly flexible. Three-quarters of the stacks are on wheels so that the layout of the room can be easily changed over time to accommodate a variety of events. In addition to multipurpose spaces, the library also includes a 122-seat community room, adult reading area, children’s area, quiet reading area, teen room, maker space and support areas. Sustainability is at the heart of the project, which is designed to achieve net-zero energy . The high-performance building envelope draws power from rooftop solar panels, while thoughtful site orientation and implementation of passive principles for natural ventilation and lighting reduces energy demand. The Half Moon Library also features bioswales , recycled materials, low-water fixtures, high-performance HVAC systems and drought-tolerant plantings. + Noll & Tam Architects Photography by Anthony Lindsey via Noll & Tam Architects

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LEED Platinum-certified Half Moon Bay Library targets net-zero energy

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

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

MVRDV’s garden oasis in Utrecht includes a green-roofed convention center

December 9, 2019 by  
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MVRDV has unveiled designs to transform the underutilized area on the west side of Utrecht’s central station into “a garden in the city” with a new, green-roofed Jaarbeurs convention center. The redeveloped events venue will be at the the heart of a 600,000-square-meter masterplan. Created to achieve BREEAM Excellent certification, the project has been fittingly named a “city oasis” by Jaarbeurs CEO Albert Arp for its inclusion of accessible green space, the beautification of the streetscape and the focus on sustainable design. Developed in collaboration with SITE Urban Development, the masterplan for the Jaarbeursdistrict will redefine the area as one presently dominated by cars into a more pedestrian-friendly destination. The new design will introduce a car-free street — the “Jaarbeurs Boulevard” — that will serve as the neighborhood’s new backbone and provide access to the new Jaarbeurs convention center as well as create a direct link from the station to the shops and restaurants along the Merwede Canal and areas beyond. Related: This Eco Villa in Utrecht produces all of its own energy through solar power In addition to the inclusion of sustainable technologies, the new Jaarbeurs venue will feature an accessible green roof that descends to the ground level via cascading terraces that can be reached from all four sides. The spacious green roof will house a rooftop park with a “carpet of programmable ‘squares’ and gardens” to host a wide variety of programming and renewable systems, such as water storage and energy generation. Construction of the Jaarbeurs events venue is expected to start in 2023. “It is rare that a private party not only invests in its own building but also includes the environment in its plans,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “This masterplan shows that Jaarbeurs is passionate about the city and dares to think outside the box. This is desperately needed, because this underutilized area has the potential to become a fantastic neighborhood with the venue as its core — an attractive green ‘hill’ in the city. The plan is also an opportunity to significantly improve the city and properly connect the center, the station area, the Merwede Canal zone and the Kanaleneiland.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV’s garden oasis in Utrecht includes a green-roofed convention center

Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

December 6, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 Thai Urban Designers Association exhibition, landscape architecture studio Shma unveiled the Bangkok Green Link, an urban revitalization proposal for boosting the livability of the Thai capital with over 30 miles of greenways. In a bid to reconnect the city to nature and encourage residents to adopt healthier lifestyles, the project links major neighborhoods and transportation nodes with lush linear parks with diverse programming. Vibrant and chaotic, the city of Bangkok is infamous for its urban sprawl and haphazard city infrastructure that resulted from rapid growth and lack of urban planning. To accommodate rapid development, many of the city’s green spaces and canals were paved over; an inadequate transportation network has made the city of 8 million people a victim of intense traffic congestion and air pollution . To make Bangkok a greener and more sustainable city, Shma developed the Bangkok Green Link project with the concept of “Revitalize City Infrastructure to Relink Urban Life.” Related: Thailand’s first LEED Platinum “vertical village” to rise in Bangkok Proposed for the heart of the city, the Bangkok Green Link scheme includes 54 kilometers of new greenways with up to 10,800 large trees that can absorb approximately 1,620 tons of carbon dioxide a year and filter 3,580 tons of dust annually. The designers also believe that the greening effort can boost land prices, inspire residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and counteract the urban heat island effect. The greenways — which would be developed alongside canals, railways, existing sidewalks and under expressways — would provide much-needed public spaces. Shma has organized the proposed greenways into a set of 28-kilometer-long outer ring greenways and 26 kilometers of crossover greenways. The outer ring would consist of four main links: a 10-kilometer-long Mixed Urban Activity link split into six sections for different programming; the Sathorn Link that passes through a major road in Bangkok’s central business district; the Rail link that turns the space beside an underutilized railway into a bicycle expressway ; and the Vipawadee link that provides a linear parkway and bikeway that connects inner Bangkok to the north side of the city. The 26 kilometers of crossover greenways comprise eight sub-links to better connect formerly disconnected neighborhoods. + Shma Designs Images via Shma

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Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

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

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