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Live off the Grid in Nice Architects’ Wind and Solar-Powered Ecocapsule

Living off the grid just got a little bit easier, thanks to Nice Architects’ Ecocapsule, a self-sufficient, portable pod that is powered by solar and wind energy. Unveiled at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, the micro-home’s spherical shape is designed to maximize the collection of rainwater and minimize energy loss.

The Ecocapsule includes a 9,744 watt-hour battery, which is charged by a built-in 750-watt wind turbine, and 2.6 square meters of solar panels. The energy system can support someone living off the grid for about a year, depending on the location, according to the architects. The unit also contains a built-in kitchenette with running water, a flushing toilet and hot water.  

Learn more about the Ecocapsule and view images after the break.

Inside the Spanish Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015

Spanish photographers Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre and Adrià Goula have shared with us images of the Spanish pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015. Designed by B720 Fermín Vazquez Arquitectos, the pavilion represents the fusion between Spain’s traditional food and innovative gastronomy. This duality creates an attractive and flexible space, which incorporates an open, patio-like area with orange trees – another symbol of Spanish culture.  

© Adrià Goula © Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre © Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre © Iñigo Bujedo-Aguirre

The Rise Of Private Art Galleries

In an article for The New Yorker, Ben Mauk examines the rise of the private art 'museum.' In the centre of Berlin there sits a "heavy, grey, and shrapnel-pocked" bunker, designed by Nazi architect Karl Bonatz under the direction of Albert Speer which, in 2003, was transformed into a private gallery. Having been bought by Christian and Karen Boros in order to display a portion of their sizeable collection of contemporary art, the only way for a member of the public to gain admittance is by registering online for a group tour. For Mauk, however, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Read the article in full here.

MGA Proposes World's Tallest Wood Building in Paris

Michael Green Architecture (MGA) and DVVD has teamed up with REI France developments to propose the world's tallest wood building in Paris. The carbon-neutral proposal, developed as part of the city’s innovative Réinventer Paris competition, aims to alleviate the city's urban housing challenges.

“Our goal is that through innovation, youthful social contact and overall community building, we have created a design that becomes uniquely important to Paris,” said Michael Green, Principal of MGA. “Just as Gustave Eiffel shattered our conception of what was possible a century and a half ago, this project can push the envelope of wood innovation with France in the forefront. The Pershing Site is the perfect moment for Paris to embrace the next era of architecture.” 

New Site Revealed for BIG and Heatherwick-Designed Google HQ Expansion

Google has found another way to realize its futuristic Mountain View headquarter's expansion. As the San Jose Mercury News reports, the search engine giant revealed plans to utilize a vacant site just east of their existing Googleplex that was approved by the city almost a decade ago to host nearly 600,000 square-feet of office and commercial space. The approval occurred prior to the city implementing strict legislation that restricts office expansions in the North Bayshore district, therefore Google's entitlement is essentially "grandfathered in."

AD App Guide: Morpholio Launches Crit, a Messaging App for Architects

Adding to an already stellar range of apps for architects and designers, today The Morpholio Project has launched Crit, a messaging app for architects which allows users to critique designs, share ideas and send key information such as dimensions and materials. With modern architectural projects relying on increasingly large teams of architects, engineers, project managers and contractors, design decisions have to be shared with a large number of people - leading to slow decisions in an increasingly fast-paced world. According to Morpholio, the idea for the Crit App arose from the question: "What if photos, sketches, images, drawings, and comments could be instantly fused into a single legible “design” discussion?"

Courtesy of The Morpholio Project Courtesy of The Morpholio Project Courtesy of The Morpholio Project Courtesy of The Morpholio Project

Winners of the 2015 Auckland Architecture Awards Announced

From 159 submissions, 44 have emerged as winners of the NZIA's 2015 Auckland Architecture Awards. The titles were bestowed upon 20 firms for new projects spanning 10 categories, ranging from a restrained renovation of a historic building in a Victorian neighborhood, to a bold, modern transportation hub. This year's awards were grounded in three main areas of the city, with Britomart dominating in hospitality and retail designs, Hobsonville Point receiving educational and multi-unit housing awards, and Titirangi gaining recognition for its stellar public architecture and housing.

The winning projects will be considered for the highest honor in the NZIA's awards program, the New Zealand Architecture Awards, which will be announced in November. See the full list of winners after the break.

Boatsheds / Strachan Group Architects and Rachael Rush. Image © Patrick Reynolds Te Kohanga House / Wendy Shacklock Architects and Paul Clarke of Crosson Clarke Carnachan. Image © Sam Hartnett MIT Manukau and Transport Interchange / Warren and Mahoney. Image © Simon Devitt Pt Chevalier Bungalow / Megan Edwards Architects. Image © Patrick Reynolds

PixPlant 3: Create Custom 3D Texture Maps for Rendering

Rendering has become the ultimate tool in the architect’s arsenal for communicating designs directly to clients. But with the seemingly infinite number of real-life material options that exist today, the textures built into rendering programs often fall short. In some cases, one may be able to find appropriate texture maps for their desired materials online, but when experimenting with new materials or unique colors the need for greater customization arises. In the past, perhaps you could attempt to manually create and edit your own texture maps, but this can be a long and arduous process.

Zupagrafika's "Eastern Block" Series Brings Warsaw to Life in Paper

In the spirit of their popular London series, Polish studio Zupagrafika has designed another set of paper cut-out models, entitled "Eastern Block." The series highlights Warsaw's modernist architecture, ranging from the quintessentially functional (Rotunda PKO) to regionally recognized works (Za Żelazną Bramą, Smolna 8, Mokotów) and a prefabricated block on the city's outskirts (Tarchomin).

© Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika © Zupagrafika

Call for Entries in Competition to Design Colombia's National Museum of History

In collaboration with the Colombian Society of Architects, the National Centre for Historical Memory (NCHM) has announced a new international competition to design Colombia's National Museum of Memory. Commemorating decades-long internal conflict in Colombia, the competition is part of a series of initiatives to make reparations to victims of the unrest, and will be the first national museum constructed in the midst of ongoing armed conflict. It is hoped that the museum will bring together mainstream historical accounts and "voices of resistance" to create a cultural landmark that is "restorative, monumental and memorial in nature." On June 1, the organizers will conduct a competition Q&A live stream in Spanish, after which point competition registration will be open until June 19. Entries can be submitted until July 29, with a winner announced on August 13. To read more about the competition and to register, click here.

The Principals’ Dynamic Sanctuary Pulses in Time to Visitors’ Heartbeats

Brooklyn design studio The Principals have completed the Dynamic Sanctuary, an interactive installation at Sight Unseen OFFSITE, during the 2015 NYCxDESIGN festival. Commissioned by Ford Motors, the light-based installation detects and pulses with the biorhythms of its visitors, creating a dynamic space in both name and nature.

The modular installation was manually constructed by The Principals in their Brooklyn studio. Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.  

© Pippa Drummond © Mike Vorrasi © Pippa Drummond © Pippa Drummond

Call for Participation: Urban Realities Takes A Look At Abandoned Construction Pits in Ljubljana

In cooperation with the Museum of Architecture and Design Ljubljana an interactive Blind Date of European architects, planners and experts in urban development will be organized in autumn 2015. Under the title “Urban Realities” a collaboration of three selected teams together with local experts will be started. Invited architects and planners will work on a concrete topic and on abandoned construction pits in the city of Ljubljana.

SHoP Unveils Plans for New Uber Headquarters in San Francisco

SHoP Architects and Studio O+A have unveiled designs for a new Uber headquarters in San Francisco. Planned to rise on a 14-acre vacant site in the city's Mission Bay neighborhood, the 423,000 square-foot scheme will consist of two towers: an 11‐story tower at 1455 Third Street and a 6‐story structure at 1515 Third Street.

© SHoP Architects © SHoP Architects © SHoP Architects © SHoP Architects

Brooklyn Academy of Music Showcases 5 Murals by Michael Graves

Brooklyn Academy of Music is showcasing five murals by the late Michael Graves as part of the institution's permanent visual art collection. All completed in 1974, the paintings were originally commissioned by Charles Gwathmey - one of the New York Five, along with Graves. And, as the New York Times reports, their "heightened use of color and ornamentation" portray a "general shift away from minimalism." Read more about the murals, here

Step Back in Time with the New York Public Library's "OldNYC" Archive Project

Discover historic New York with "OldNYC," a digital archive of the New York Public Library's "Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s" Collection. Bringing together an extensive catalogue of images from the library's Milstein Collection, OldNYC organizes photographs geographically, allowing users to view images specific to individual blocks and streets.

The project is also collaborative, asking visitors on the site to comment on photographs with "what's there now, what's changed, and what's stayed the same." Users can edit or add to captions on the back of each of the photos, creating a personal element in the latest retelling of New York's vibrant history.

Learn more about the project and view selected images after the break.

"Bridges - Brooklyn Bridge - Manhattan Bridge - [New York Steam Corporation.]", Percy Loomis Sperr (1934). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Celebrations - Parades - Municipal events - The Victory Arch.", Unknown (1918). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Manhattan: 6th Avenue - 42nd Street (West)", Unknown (1939). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/ "Manhattan: 5th Avenue - 46th Street", Unknown (1931). Image Courtesy of The New York Public Library http://www.oldnyc.org/

6 Winners Selected for OISTAT Competition to Design a Floating Theatre in Germany

Out of 197 entries from 38 countries, six proposals have been chosen as the winners of the 2015 OISTAT Theatre Architecture Competition, which sought proposals for a floating theatre that could be moved to different locations along the Spree River in Germany. The ideas competition was organized by OISTAT (International Organization of Scenographers, Technicians, and Theatre Architects), and the winning proposals will be showcased at the exhibition Stage│Set│Scenery in Berlin in June. 

Per the competition requirements, the floating theatre proposals accommodate audiences of up to 300 people with a backstage area for 20 or fewer performers. The performance space remains moored on the river, while the foyer, restrooms, and refreshments are housed in a temporary structure on land that can be moved when necessary.

RIBA Future Trends Survey Reveals Minor Drop In Some UK Sectors

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s Future Trends Survey for April 2015 shows widespread consistency in comparison to March, the workload index remaining around the same at +35 from +36 last month. The private housing sector remains strong, rising to +38, while the commercial sector forecast dropped slightly to +15. In addition, the public sector forecast saw a drop to +3 while the community sector forecast "experienced a significant decline" to -3 from +9 in March. However, workload forecast balance figures have remained high, and practices in London and the South of England are most confident about medium-term workloads. Small practices continue to be positive about the outlook for future workloads, while medium and large practices "continue to be even more optimistic about future growth."

Graham Foundation Awards Grants for 63 Outstanding Projects

The Graham Foundation has awarded over $490,000 in "Grants to Individuals" of 63 "outstanding projects" that "engage original ideas in architects." From a photographic survey of Le Corbusier's completed works to an online oral history regarding efforts to building housing for homeless individuals living with HIV and AIDS in New York City, the awarded projects range from participatory workshops to exhibitions and documentary films.

As The Graham Foundation says, each awarded project "advances new scholarship in the field of architecture, fuel creative experimentation and critical dialogue, and expand opportunities for public engagement with architecture and its role in contemporary society."

View all 63 awarded projects, after the break.

Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, 1928–32, Poissy, France. Photo: Richard Pare. From the 2015 Individual Grant to Richard Pare for “Le Corbusier, The Built Work.”. Image Courtesy of Graham Foundation Ying Xiao and Shengchen Yang, “Occupy Skyscraper,” 2012, New York. Courtesy of the artists. From the 2015 Individual Grant to Esther Choi and Marrikka Trotter for “Architecture is All Over.”. Image Courtesy of Graham Foundation Group Ludic, playground, “Quartier de la Grande Delle,” 1968, Herouville St. Clair, France. Courtesy of Xavier de la Salle. From the 2015 Individual Grant to Gabriela Burkhalter for “Group Ludic’s Visionary Urban Landscapes, 1968–1979.”. Image Courtesy of Graham Foundation Craig Hodgetts, collage from “Design Quarterly 100, Inside James Stirling,” 1976. Courtesy of Craig Hodgetts. From the 2015 Individual Grant to Todd Gannon and Craig Hodgetts for “Biography of a Teaching Machine and Other Writings.”. Image Courtesy of Graham Foundation