A former anti-aircraft platform is now a beautiful skywalk in Gibraltar

July 6, 2018 by  
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If you’re not afraid of heights, you can now experience the famed Rock of Gibraltar in a whole new way. Gibraltar-based architecture firm  Arc Designs has turned an old WWII military platform on the very top of the landmark into a gorgeous glass skywalk with stunning views of the Rock and the surrounding ocean. Located 340 meters above sea level, the Gibraltar Skywalk is comprised of four layers of glass and over 60,000 pounds of steel embedded into the rocky, steep terrain. The glass-enclosed viewing area is built in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, which contained a platform formerly used as an anti-aircraft base in WWII. The architects used the base as a starting point to extend a glazed walkway and balustrade over the rocky terrain. Related: This terrifying glass walkway in China ‘cracks’ as you step on it Visitors can access the viewing platform via stairs or a glass elevator. Once on the walkway, they can enjoy east and westward views that look out over the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In fact, according to Arc Designs, the extraordinary location drove the inspiration for the skywalk ‘s design: “The design aspiration of this project was to afford the visitor with new and unrivaled views in all directions including over the rocky cliff-face below, while at the same time ensuring a subtle intervention, which did not detract from the natural and historic nature of this unique setting.” Although the setting guarantees beautiful views, the perilous terrain did present quite a few challenges for the project. “Because vehicular access to this area is limited to very narrow and winding roads, the entire walkway structure had to be fabricated in smaller sections which could be transported and assembled together in-situ,” explain the architects. To ensure that the glass skywalk was secure enough to withstand the visitor load, as well as the typical wind speeds – which can reach over 93 miles hour – the structure had to be embedded into the ground with multiple rock anchors. The entire project used a steel skeleton made up of 18 separate pieces. To build out the walkway, over 8,000 square feet of glass panels were installed. + Arc Designs Via Dezeen Photographs by Stephen Ball, courtesy of Bovis-Koala JV

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A former anti-aircraft platform is now a beautiful skywalk in Gibraltar

Snarkitectures mind-bending Fun House opens at the National Building Museum

July 6, 2018 by  
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In Washington D.C., a massive, mind-bending Fun House has taken over the National Building Museum to offer an interactive experience that easily lives up to the exhibition’s name. Created by New York-based collaborative design practice Snarkitecture , Fun House is the latest installment in the Museum’s Summer Block Party series of temporary structures. The exhibition also commemorates Snarkitecture’s ten-year history and showcases 42 of the firm’s projects using the framework of a traditional American house. Located in the Museum’s historic Great Hall, Fun House is an all-white interactive installation that comprises a two-story freestanding house with a front and back yard. “A lot of Snarkitecture’s work is about surprise, wonder and disbelief,” explains Italy-based curator Maria Cristina Didero, who worked with the architects to capture the essence of their decade-long work, which has focused on reinterpreting everyday materials in an imaginative new light and challenging people to rethink their surroundings. “We wanted to think back to basics,” continues Didero. “And then, we thought, what is more basic than a house? So, Fun House follows the look of a traditional American house…but if you walk in you’ll see that nothing is as it should be.” Related: Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C. Stripped of all color, the all-white Fun House plays with texture and the element of surprise throughout. The installation begins at the front yard, where massive upholstered letter-shaped benches that spell out ‘Fun House’ are scattered in reference to the firm’s 2012 project ‘A Memorial Bowing.’ Behind a white picket fence is the main house, a simple gabled structure which would look fairly normal – that is, if the entrance weren’t completely chiseled away. The doorway, as well as the foyer, is a reinterpretation of Snarkitecture’s 2011 ‘Dig’ project; it explores the architecture of excavation with EPS architectural foam carved away with hammers, picks and chisels to cavernous effect. The EPS foam material will be returned to the manufacturer and recycled at the end of the exhibition. More oddities abound inside the home, which consists of the traditional sequence of rooms including a hallway, playroom, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, study and living room—each carefully crafted to evoke familiarity and surprise while paying homage to Snarkitecture’s past projects. Highlights include the bedroom’s ‘Light Cavern,’ an ethereal space that comprises 30,000 suspended strips of perforated white fabric to elicit porosity and translucency; ‘The Beach Chair’ bathtub ball pit, a throwback to Snarkitecture’s 2015 ‘The Beach’ installation at the National Building Museum; the study that serves as a showroom for various iconic works like the ‘Fractured’ bench and ‘Bearbrick’ sculpture; and the living room that’s made up of giant inflated tubes bundled together to form a ceiling—a reimagined version of the 2012 ‘Drift’ pavilion for Design Miami —and a playful small-scale version of their 2016 ‘Pillow Fort’ down below. Related: Gigantic swimmable ball pit takes over D.C.’s National Building Museum The most popular space, however, is undoubtedly the backyard, where ‘The Beach’ is reimagined as a circular kiddie pool and a larger kidney-shaped pool. Recyclable balls with anti-microbial coatings fill the pools to serve as ball pits shallow enough for kids yet large enough to entertain adults. White astroturf, lounge seating, umbrellas, and a picket fence surround the pools to finish off the relaxing, beach-like setting. “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.” As with the National Building Museum’s previous Summer Block Party installations—which have included collaborations like ‘Hive’ by Studio Gang (2017) and the BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group (2014)—Fun House will be accompanied by a series of programs and events, from behind-the-scenes construction tours to pop-up talks hosted during “Late Nights” on Wednesdays. Visitors will be given a one-hour timed entry ticket to explore Fun House. The ticket includes access to all of the National Building Museum’s exhibitions, including the not-to-be-missed ‘Secret Cities’ exhibit, which explores the history of the Manhattan Project secret cities from their design and construction to daily life inside them and their lasting influences on the American architectural landscape. Fun House concludes on September 3, 2018. + Snarkitecture + National Building Museum Images by Lucy Wang

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Snarkitectures mind-bending Fun House opens at the National Building Museum

This Swiss straw-bale house is completely self-sufficient

July 6, 2018 by  
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Traditional building techniques and modern technology come together in the House in Berne, a self-sufficient straw bale house in Graben, a Swiss village located less than an hour’s drive north of Bern. Trun-based architecture practice Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH designed the modern home, crafting it to blend in with the rural surroundings by taking on the appearance of an old Bernese farming house. Additionally, the self-sufficient house is powered entirely by rooftop solar panels. Completed this year, the House in Berne is set in the middle of a vast and open farming landscape. The dwelling comprises three floors in addition to a small basement for a total area of 1,970 square feet. In response to the client’s request for a modern, self-sustaining home that would be flooded with natural light , Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH designed a building with large yet carefully placed openings, as well as an energy-efficient envelope to ensure minimal heating energy demands that could be satisfied through a photovoltaic array or passive solar means. “Inside the house, glass ceilings ensure that daylight can penetrate fully into the whole building,” explains Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH in a project statement. “The reduction of inside walls allows the owners to live and work in a big open modern space. The 80 centimeter thick straw-bale walls guarantee minimal heat losses. The electrical and thermic energy gained on the solar roof is stored in a home battery system and in a 5000 [liter] solar tank located in the basement. If needed the house can be heated by the stored thermic energy.” Related: Leaky cottage retrofitted with straw bale sees 80% energy reduction Set on an east-west axis, House in Berne is built primarily from unfinished timber for both the interior and the exterior; the timber façade will develop a patina over time and further blend the building into the landscape. Solar panels top the roof, which features long overhanging eaves to protect the interior from unwanted solar heat gain . + Atelier SCHMIDT GmbH Images by Rasmus Norlander

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This Swiss straw-bale house is completely self-sufficient

Sleek fiberglass visitor center is a beacon for wind energy in Denmark

April 25, 2018 by  
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The wind turbines at Thisted, Denmark don’t just generate renewable energy—these massive structures are among the world’s largest offshore wind turbines and have become a big draw for tourism too. In light of the site’s popularity, Cubo Arkitekter was tapped to design the Østerild Visitors and Operation Center that offers insight on wind energy and other sustainable technologies. Completed last year in the National Park Thy, the nearly 7,000-square-foot Østerild Visitors and Operation Center was designed for minimal site impact . Raised on stilts, the visitor center features a long and rectangular form clad in a lightweight fiberglass facade and topped with a curved roof. “The new Visitors and National Test Center gently inserts itself into the surrounding landscape as a slightly raised linear structure with a hovering appearance, which only lightly touches the terrain in order to preserve the local biodiversity ,” wrote the architects. Related: General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK The wood-lined interior features a flexible layout that can adapt to a variety of uses, from exhibition space to meeting rooms. Glazing wraps around the building to let in light and views. The curved roof gradually slants upwards towards one end of the building, creating incrementally taller ceiling heights and culminating in a covered outdoor terrace . + Cubo Arkitekter Via ArchDaily Images by Martin Schubert

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Sleek fiberglass visitor center is a beacon for wind energy in Denmark

This beautiful, barn-inspired visitor center has nine movable sections that let in natural light

March 28, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm 70F architecture has designed a beautiful, barn-inspired visitor center in the Netherlands that “breathes” thanks to nine movable sections that open up the facade in the morning and close it at night. The Hof van Duivenvoorde Center welcomes visitors to the Duivenvoorde Castle and Estate, offering a light-filled restaurant and information center with an innovative, changeable window system engineered by the architects themselves. The Duivenvoorde Foundation requested a simple building that would blend into the surroundings – the castle grounds have an expansive lawn and plenty of green areas – as well as provide a comfortable place where visitors  can relax.  Keeping the natural landscape in mind, the architects created an understated building with an elongated form and vertical slats that evoke a typical, rustic  barn design. The movable panels signal that the building is open for visitors during park hours, but at closing time, they lower back down and the center virtually disappears into the surrounding environment. Related: Visitor center disguised as a hill to welcome visitors to Denmark’s historic Kalø Castle Ruins The movable panels cover glass windows and slide upwards with the help of an innovative engineering system created by Bas ten Brinke, founder of 70F architecture. Once the panels have lifted,  natural light floods the center’s interior, which, at 6 by 30 meters, is relatively small. The large windows both enhance this space and provide a natural ventilation system throughout. The  visitor center houses a restaurant and museum shop, as well as space for the volunteers who give guided tours of the estate. The architects decided to forgo any type of separation between the different areas in order to give the interior an open, airy feel. Out back, a large garden wall provides shade during the warm summer months. And, finally, an open-air patio provides the perfect opportunity to sit back and enjoy the surrounding nature. + 70F architecture Via World Architecture News Images by Luuk Kramer  

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This beautiful, barn-inspired visitor center has nine movable sections that let in natural light

Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

August 9, 2017 by  
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Prolific architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson crafted the Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill Visitor Center in Qingdao, China with a gorgeous rolling green roof . Located at the base of the Zhushan National Forest Park, the wooden building ‘s undulating canopy mimics the mountain range in the backdrop. At 223,000 square feet, the visitor center is certainly massive, however it was carefully designed to blend into its natural surroundings thanks to its subtle stature and verdant green roof. Additionally, the building is strategically oriented so that visitors can enjoy amazing views of the mountain range on one side and expansive sea views on the other end. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls provide these views while illuminating the building with natural light . Related: Manetti Shrem Museum’s 50,000-square-foot canopy was inspired by the agrarian landscape The designers choose to use wood as the building’s principle material to create a strong connection to nature. The unique wooden truss roof structure uses large logs to support a layer of Canadian Class J SPF wood. At the center of the undulating roof is an abundance of lush greenery, further integrating the building into its environment. The green roof was strategically designed to insulate the interior and reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Via Archdaily Photography by He Lian

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Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint

August 9, 2017 by  
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Thailand’s eco-friendly Panyaden International School has added a stunning new sports hall to its campus that’s built entirely of bamboo and stays naturally cool year-round in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Designed by Chiangmai Life Construction , the Bamboo Sports Hall features a modern organic design that draws inspiration from the lotus flower. The large multipurpose facility was built to withstand local natural forces including high-speed winds and earthquakes, and boasts a zero-carbon footprint. Completed this year, the Bamboo Sports Hall features a lotus-like organic shape in a nod to Panyaden International School’s use of Buddhist values in its academic curriculum. Its undulating shape also reflects the surrounding hilly topography. The 782-square-meter open-air building is supported with a series of arches and topped with three petal-like round roofs lifted up at the edges to let in natural ventilation and indirect light. The multipurpose facility can accommodate 300 students and includes futsal, basketball, volleyball, and badminton courts, as well as a stage that can be lifted automatically, and storage room for sports and drama equipment. Viewing balconies flank the sporting area and stage. Related: Chiangmai Life Construction creates homes using rammed earth, bamboo and recycled wood Bamboo was selected as the primary building material to maintain Panyaden’s “Green School” mission of a low carbon footprint and to blend in with the school’s existing earth-and-bamboo buildings. “Panyaden’s Sports Hall’s carbon footprint is zero,” write the architects. “The bamboo used absorbed carbon to a much higher extent than the carbon emitted during treatment, transport and construction.” The large openings for natural ventilation, insulation, and use of bamboo help create a comfortable indoor climate year-round. No toxic chemicals were used to treat the bamboo, which has an expected lifespan of at least 50 years. The exposed prefabricated bamboo trusses span over 17 meters. “Here we show how bamboo can create a space that is 15 meters wide and high without any steel reinforcements,” wrote the architects. “From the outside it looks like it has grown there or transformed from one of the rolling hills in the background to become a human artifice. As in fact the Panyaden International School Sports Hall is a combination of careful artistic design, beautiful detailed handicraft and major construction.” + Chiangmai Life Construction Via ArchDaily Images © Alberto Cosi, Markus Roselieb, Chiangmai Life Construction

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Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint

LEED Silver visitor center is a portal to a historic American battlefield

December 12, 2016 by  
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Calling attention to a historic landscape can be difficult when there are few artifacts to differentiate it from its surroundings. New Jersey-based ikon.5 architects successfully brought renewed attention to a historic battlefield from the American Revolutionary War with their design of the Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center in Manalapan Township, New Jersey. Located on a high point, the building is a glazed LEED Silver -certified pavilion that frames views of the battlefield while maintaining a minimal energy footprint. The Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center replaced an underutilized structure built for the Bicentennial and comprises office space, a theater, museum store, exhibition space, classrooms, an archeology lab, and restrooms. Though the pavilion features many programmatic features, its thoughtful design keeps the focus on the landscape thanks to its custom-fabricated “mullion-less” glass curtain wall . The largely glazed building appears to float on the landscape and offers unobstructed views of the battlefield from the museum . “Sited at the top of Combs Hill overlooking the Battlefield, the pavilion is conceived as a modern day primitive hut, templar in its siting, but diminutive in its appearance,” write the architects. Related: University of Pennsylvania’s green-roofed New College House targets LEED Silver The building achieved LEED Silver certification thanks to the installation of triple-glazed low-e laminated glazing that wraps around the building and minimizes heat gain and loss. The roof features long eaves to shade the interior and further minimize unwanted solar heat gain. The new visitor center was built within the bounds of the existing property to minimize site impact and incorporates renovated portions of the original building. Rainwater collected on the roof is reused in a rain garden . A geothermal system is used to heat and cool the building. + ikon.5 architects Images via ikon.5 architects , by Jeffrey Totaro and James D’Addio

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LEED Silver visitor center is a portal to a historic American battlefield

Extreme rain storms in the US could increase by 400% due to climate change

December 12, 2016 by  
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The forecast of America’s future includes a 400 percent increase in the number of extreme rain storms if climate change has its way. Six scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) found the frequency of intense rainstorms could increase by 2100, and could dump 70 percent more rain, in the absence of powerful action on climate change. The frequency of very extreme rainstorms leading to flooding or destruction could ramp up from once per season to five times per season before the end of this century, an increase of 400 percent, according to the NCAR scientists. Even worse, when those storms do come, they could hit harder, damaging infrastructure and homes that aren’t equipped to handle the deluge. Lead author Andreas Prein told The Guardian these rainstorms could be one of climate change’s worst consequences in the United States. Related: Winter storms will hit new extremes as the planet gets warmer every year The increase in rain could mainly affect the Atlantic and Gulf coast areas, but even the central part of America, which could get drier under warmer temperatures, might see extreme rainfall. The problem is that for dry areas, moderate rainstorms that nourish the land wouldn’t happen as much as drastic downpours that would damage crops. Other analyses have revealed extreme rainfall is more likely to happen already because of climate change. Prein said the extreme rainstorms we see now could intensify in the future if we don’t step up and do something. He still seems to hold out hope these increased extreme weather patterns aren’t a done deal in the future. He told The Guardian, “It’s really in our hands to change that if we want to.” By limiting emissions, there might still be more extreme rain, but not as much as the NCAR scientists predict. The journal Nature Climate Change published the scientists’ study online this week. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Extreme rain storms in the US could increase by 400% due to climate change

This green-roofed visitor center will be nestled under a hill in Denmark

November 28, 2016 by  
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The green-roofed Skamlingsbanken Visitor Center near Sjølund in southern Denmark will blur the line between nature and architecture. CEBRA Architects ‘ winning proposal envisions a series of exhibition and gathering spaces formed under a softy curving hill. The project is designed to serve as a gateway to the area’s historic legacy. The center will be located at the highest point of an undulating moraine landscape in southern Denmark, with spectacular views over the Little Belt strait. It will articulate the natural surroundings and provide a contemplative space where visitors can explore the history of the area, which acted as a cultural gathering point during the most politically and culturally turbulent times in the country’s history. The site functioned as a natural stage for advocates for the Danish language, front-runners of the feminist movement, and a celebration marking the end of WWII. Related: CEBRA’s Smart School Meadow is an inclusive learning space that doubles as community center in Russia By lifting a single point within the landscape along a linear cut, the architects created an addition to the landscape in the form of a hill which accommodates the visitor center. From the starting point for hikes, visitors are guided into the landscape or can explore the exhibition and educational facilities within. Various routes provides by the project allow people to freely explore the area, joining a long list of historical events that shaped the nation. + CEBRA Architects Via Archdaily

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This green-roofed visitor center will be nestled under a hill in Denmark

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