Have you ever wanted to create delicate, complex shapes from plywood, but can’t because it’s too stiff and unforgiving? Well all that might soon change, thanks to Milan-based design studio MammaFotogramma. They have created a type of flexible, ‘Woodskin‘ triangular tiles of Russian plywood.
Read more about Woodskin after the break…
After an “arduous” public review and a heated debate over affordable housing, New York’s City Council has unanimously awarded final approval to BIG’s tetrahedral-shaped West 57th apartment building in Manhattan. As reported by Crain’s New York Business, a compromise has been made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments. As you may recall, the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer initially threatened to “torpedo the project” if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period. However, Durst apparently won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund.
“The good news, which is the mantra of my office and community board No. 4, is there will be, yes, by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing,” stated City Councilwoman Brewer, who represents the area.
Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building has commenced in San Francisco with an interesting announcement from the main stage. Google has granted $3 million to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in an effort to transform the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments.
“Healthy, non-toxic building materials are a critical component in green building,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Fostering awareness of the materials we put into our buildings is of paramount importance, since many materials can link to a host of environmental and health issues. Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4. This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions.”
More after the break… (more…)
A quick glimpse at the upcoming weather for Abu Dhabi will show a week of intense sunshine, temperatures steadily above 100 degrees Fahrenheit with 0% chance of rain. In such extreme weather conditions, even architects listing environmental design as their top priority are up against a tough battle. Never mind that the sand can compromise the structural integrity of the building, the intense heat and glare can render a comfortable indoor environment relatively impossible if not properly addressed. For Abu Dhabi’s newest pair of towers, Aedas Architects have designed a responsive facade which takes cultural cues from the “mashrabiya”, a traditional Islamic lattice shading device.
More about the towers’ shading system after the break. (more…)
Driven by the desire to find safe, carbon-neutral and sustainable alternatives to the incumbent structural materials of the urban world, Michael Green, Principal at Michael Green Architecture, has shared with us this highly-anticipated feasibility study, The Case for Tall Wood Buildings. The 200-page document encourages architects, engineers and designers to push the envelope of conventional thinking by demonstrating that wood is a viable material for tall and large buildings and exposing its environmental and economic benefits.
Co-author Michael Green explains, “To slow and contain greenhouse gas emissions and find truly sustainable solutions to building, we must look at the fundamentals of the way we build – from the bones of large urban building structures to the details of energy performance. We need to search for the big picture solutions of today’s vast climate, environmental, economic and world housing needs.” (more…)
The future potential to build and realize the concepts of the human mind lie just there, within the potential of the human mind. For years the architectural world has been struggling to keep up with the ability of pen-to-paper and the recent advents in NURB surface computer modeling, algorithmic and parametric architecture. This in-return has led to the building and technology industry playing catch-up with the recent advances in 3D architectural visualizations. In fact, as computer-aided design invaded these practices in the 1980s, radically transforming their generative foundations and productive capacities, architecture found itself most out-of-step and least alert, immersed in ideological and tautological debates and adrift in a realm of referents severed from material production.
Digital fabrication has been a popular discussion among architecture and design professionals. Students are digitally fabricating their models and building their own personalized 3D printers. What was impossible to build by hand is quickly assembled through digital fabrication. As the technology rapidly evolves, larger objects are being fabricated at more affordable prices. Today we may be digitally fabricating furniture and tomorrow we might be 3D printing our house. Architects and designers are jumping on board and exploring the capabilities of this game changing technology.
Diatom Studio is currently working on releasing SketchChair. This program offers easy to use, open-source software that allows you to design your own personalized digital furniture. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can view your masterpiece and digitally occupy it in order to test its comfort level and structural capabilities. Options range from personalized ready-made designs to more advanced features that allow you to design your chair from scratch.
Satisfied with your design? Perfect. The SketchChair allows you to export your masterpiece to any digital-fabrication service instantly. In a matter of days, you will receive your customized CNC-milled plywood parts for quick hand construction. Digital fabrication is changing the world of design and becoming available to the masses.
A team of graduate students recently created a temporary installation on the Kent State University, Kent campus in Ohio. The project grew out of an internal challenge in the matR design competition. Designed by graduate students Brian Thoma, Carl, Veith, Victoria, Capranica, Matt Veith, and Griffin Morris, the tunnel-like structure called “The Passage” was a study to support the conceptualization and actualization of innovative and experimental material research. The students created the initial form in Rhinoceros with a couple Grasshopper definitions as a waffle structure of 26 vertical ribs and 24 horizontal struts. More images and information after the break. (more…)
With the green premise growing in popularity across the globe, more and more people are turning to cargo container structures for green alternatives. There are countless numbers of empty, unused shipping containers around the world just sitting on shipping docks taking up space. The reason for this is that it’s too expensive for a country to ship empty containers back to their origin. In most cases, it’s just cheaper to buy new containers from Asia. The result is an extremely high surplus of empty shipping containers that are just waiting to become a home, office, apartment, school, dormitory, studio, emergency shelter, and everything else. More information after the break.
In today’s world “going green” has become a top priority in our society, and sustainable buildings and design are at the forefront of this green revolution. While many designers are focusing on passive and active energy systems, the reuse of recycled materials is beginning to stand out as an innovative, highly effective, and artistic expression of sustainable design. Reusing materials from existing on site and nearby site elements such as trees, structures, and paving is becoming a trend in the built environment, however more unorthodox materials such as soda cans and tires are being discovered as recyclable building materials. Materials and projects featured after the break.
The project presented here – Green Building: Madan Technology Center – was planned by the Forward architectural firm following a commission by the Association of the Almada / Setúbal Science and Technology Park – Madan Parque. The site is located in Portugal, on a site near the Faculty of Sciences and Technology – Nova University and is designed to host the Company Innovation program and a Data Centre serving the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region. Given its characteristics, the infrastructure shall serve as a pole of attraction for high technology companies in the context of an architectural proposal that is moving towards innovative solutions to the environmental issues of today.
More details on this project after the break. (more…)
When we came across the work of Michael Hansmeyer, we were struck by the complexity and the seemingly delicacy of his work. Educated as an architect and computer programmer, Hansmeyer intends to create a new kind of architectural expression using the mathematics of algorithms. “On the one hand, their [algorithms] computational power can address processes with a scale and complexity that precludes a manual approach. On the other hand, algorithms can generate endless permutations of a scheme. A slight tweaking of either the input or the process leads to an instant adaptation of output. When combined with an evaluative function, they can be used to recursively optimize output on both a functional and aesthetic level,” explained Hansmeyer. His Subdivision project features geometrically intricate surfaces that create an artistically articulated variety of columns. The 2.7 meter high columns are fabricated as a layered model with sheets 1mm thick.
More about the process after the break. (more…)
The Warming Huts competition called for a collaboration between artists, architects and designers to put forward ideas for shelter and to be constructed along the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Noa Biran and Roy Talman submitted the Woodpile, an interactive and practical shelter, that responds to both the needs required by the climate and its users.
More on this project after the break. (more…)
Architects GilBartolome ADW won the first prize in the competition Smart Future Minds Award with the project Lighting Device which aimed at anticipating technological and environmental aspects for the future of the city. Jurors selected this project for its viability, its vision for the future and the exclusive use of renewable energies and its potential as a social activator in the urban realm.
Read on after the break for more images and information. (more…)
For years, I’ve walked into buildings with an open eye towards architectural features – whether it be overall design, finishes, products, lighting or some other observation. It’s amazing how working in the architectural, engineering, or construction industry will forever change the way you look at buildings. There should be special drivers licenses for those of us in this industry – how many car accidents have we collectively almost caused hitting the brakes on a busy street to catch a glimpse of a beautiful building?
That’s the power of first impressions, though. It’s a big factor in building design. As with any introduction – to people, places, or products – first impressions are critical. Like interviewing for a job, there’s no denying the link between what the brain picks up in those first seconds, and the perceived quality over the life of that relationship. And by now we know that once humans are set in their ways, it’s very, very hard to change them.
So what first impressions are given when occupants enter your building? Where are the focal points, and what do they say about your design?
For so long, these impressions have been created by details or monumental features high up in the ceiling, a work of art or some other visual piece. Building entrances, however, can play a role in shaping the occupant’s experience and the ability to take in that focal point.
“Part of every space is the entrance – don’t neglect the importance of the threshold. This is where you may help occupants prepare for the visual stimuli they are about to take in, once inside. If there is no physical threshold, think of how the room’s details, lighting, materials and overall geometries will get their attention as they gain greater focus of the room over time.”
After all, it’s hard to soak up the visual beauty of an architectural masterpiece if your trousers are busy soaking up what’s on the floor:
That’s where Floorometry comes in. A new take on the traditional world of entrance flooring, this new system from Construction Specialties, Inc. looks to give architects the ability to reimagine their buildings’ entrances – creating those important first impressions and leading occupants to their intended destinations within those buildings.
We believe it is time to rethink flooring, particularly in our building’s entrances. With the intelligent, creative, and beautiful designs being put out as architecture evolves – we need to leave the roll up mats for the convenience stores and back porches of the world. Let’s do something architecturally significant – as an integrated part of the overall design.
The trouble in the past has been finding products that look great but also function in these high-traffic areas. How many times have you seen a beautiful finish be worn down with occupants slamming their shoes (ahem…heels!) into the floor day after day?
This is a sneak peek from the Floorometry catalogue showing off some of the finishes available in this new, easy-to-install entrance flooring product:
Here’s how Floorometry is taking entrance flooring to a new level:
|Traditional Entrance Flooring||C/S Floorometry|
|Traditional linear design||Robust modular design for creative flexibility|
|Limited selection of finishes and colors||Thousands of finish options and combinations|
|Installation can be cumbersome||Installs like a tile|
|Architectural product||Architectural feature|
The culmination of years of market research, Floorometry was developed specifically for high-end buildings that demand a statement in the entranceway. As dynamic as Floorometry’s visual appeal is, it is easy to forget that there was also careful attention paid to performance. Floorometry is incredibly effective at stopping dirt and moisture at the door, which means that other floor finishes will last longer and cost less to keep beautiful for many years.
Floorometry also contributes to multiple LEED credits including IEQ Credit 5, which requires designers to employ permanent entryway systems (grilles, grates, etc.) at least ten feet long at all high-traffic entryways. All Floorometry systems are constructed of materials carefully selected to be beautiful, long lasting as well as contain exceptionally high levels of recycled content.
Not only is this product designed with the environment in mind, it is also produced by a responsible manufacturer. To learn more about some of the environmental stewardship of Construction Specialties, Inc. take a moment to see the video and visit the links below.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Construction Specialties (C/S), one of our partners.
Peaking above some contemporary New York favorites – such as Gehry’s IAC Building and Field Operations + DS+R’s High Line – Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue adds yet another touch of character to Manhattan’s West Side. ArchRecord‘s great pieces on curtains walls gave us a better look at Nouvel’s textured glass curtain wall.
More about the curtain wall after the break. (more…)
In addition to being asked to design Baghdad’s newest banking headquarters as we reported previously, Zaha Hadid has also been recognized at the Structural Steel Design Awards. The awards, which are in their 42nd year, are bestowed upon those who attain excellence in both architectural and structural design with the use of steel. Hadid’s Legacy Roof (alongside Audi West London, the Infinity Footbridge in Stockton-on-Tees, and Dublin Airport Terminal 2) was awarded for its “heroic engineering achievement”. Working with Arup, Rowecord Engineering Ltd and Balfour Beatty Group Ltd, the team has designed an amazing structure to house the Aquatic Center for the Olympic Games in London. When we first introduced Hadid’s Legacy Roof, we were shocked by the fluidity the 160 m long and 3,000 ton roof could convey. Its dynamic curvaceous form is definitely a feat of engineering. The judges noted the project’s successful use of steel commenting that the roof ”has overcome severe program and constructional problems. A necessarily complex structure delivers the form and shape at the heart of what will become the emblematic and beautiful icon of the London 2012 Olympics.”
There’s no shortage of organizations out there, big or small, working to improve the conditions of our environment. In recent years, we’ve seen real advancements in climate change issues, many of which have been directly related to the built environment. Leading organizations such as the AIA, Architecture 2030, and USGBC have introduced innovative models aimed at encouraging greener building design and construction.
And while large scale initiatives have driven the green building movement here in North America and abroad, some issues have an easier time emerging as hot topics than others (think renewables). There’s no doubt that advances in those areas will, in fact, have positive impacts on the built environment, but there is an emerging group of products, technologies, materials, and design principles that seems to be taking shape in a growing number of buildings scattered across the globe.
You might call it “Green Building 2.0”. It’s the next stage of green building where initial advances in the last few years of the green revolution start coming together in dynamic, intelligent systems that have far greater impact in their buildings than those of each system operating independently. It’s where the individuals who occupy those buildings have a relationship with the environment around them; where parts of the building think, move, react, and adapt to real time conditions.
What if you could design a building that, at any given time, was optimized for the environmental conditions around it? What if that building meant more satisfied tenants, a lower carbon footprint, and significant savings in capital and operating costs? And what if you could do so without compromising the aesthetics of your building’s design, perhaps even enhancing it?
These possibilities are closer than ever to being fully realized, thanks to a select number of innovators making ‘living buildings’ a living reality.
Take solar shading and daylighting, for example. Traditionally, these existed as fixed systems bracketed in place on a building. Have a look at the video below, however, and you’ll see some of the possibilities with dynamic, controllable systems that react to environmental conditions:
Okay – so a futuristic kinetic facade might be overkill for your building design. We thought we’d outline three firms – one product manufacturer, one designer, and one architect – that are integrating living solar shading technologies into existing buildings with great success.
Hoberman Associates and Adaptive Building Initiative
Founded: Hoberman Associates in 1990, Adaptive Building Initiative in 2008
Description: “A joint venture between Buro Happold and Hoberman Associates dedicated to designing a new generation of buildings that optimize their configuration in real time by responding to environmental changes.“
Notable Projects: Hoberman designed an operable covering to accompany Foster + Partners’ design for the Aldar Central Market in Abu Dhabi.
A system of rectangular cells opens and closes to regulate sunlight and solar gain, as well as block sand and dust from entering the open-air traditional Souk
Cool thinking from their website:
“Adaptation is essential for survival and success: This is as true for our buildings as it is for all other aspects of our lives…Today buildings represent the single largest contributor to carbon output in the United States; their owners and occupants pay the price in higher energy costs and reduced comfort and flexibility. Rising energy demands, along with the lack of design solutions that sufficiently respond to the changes in our environment, may well be the defining problems of our century. Adaptation is the means by which we can begin to address these daunting challenges and enter a new era of innovation.”
With compelling but simple logic, “Buildings with adaptive systems use less energy, offer more occupant comfort, and feature better overall space efficiency than static buildings do…These technological advances allow us to create buildings that are self-optimizing, rather than merely best-fit compromises.”
Description: Behnisch is one of the leading architecture firms dealing with innovative solutions in daylighting, shading, facade technology and creating built environments, known for their “sensitivity to the culture and climate of place and the desire to bring a new quality of life to their users”.
Notable projects: Unilever Haus, featured in last month’s GreenSource, was recently named “Office Building of the Year” at the World Architecture Festival. Following the theme of intelligent buildings, Behnisch and team conceived an innovative system combining double skin facade technology, operable windows, and Warema controllable exterior venetian blinds on every elevation except the North (where shading is hardly needed).
Cool thinking: Behnisch and close collaborators Transsolar were recently featured in an exhibit at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District. The exhibit featured models of projects and interactive displays concerning the importance of light, shading, temperature and other building factors. In addition, viewers could watch documentaries on iPads with thought leaders in each area. Of interest were Behnisch’s thoughts on applying these principles to the existing building stock, an often overlooked opportunity in green building:
“…The most difficult stock we have to deal with, and it has to be done, if we really want to save CO2. We need to fix up about 60% of the existing buildings. The biggest challenge is not the historic buildings. The biggest challenge is 50s to 80s buildings. The mirror glass building across the street is one example. And these can be done well with new facades and technologies. The problem is less of a challenge than you think.”
Construction Specialties & Solarmotion
Description: The next generation of intelligent operable shading systems, ranging from exterior louver and fin systems to retractable external venetian blind systems.
Notable Project: C/S Operating Sun Controls were installed in 1997 over the gallery skylights of the J. Paul Getty Art Museum to provide filtered sunlight to each of the galleries and to prevent the sun’s UV rays from damaging valuable artwork.
Solarmotion dynamic facades are almost like a living part of the building and respond to the elements (wind, rain, sun, snow) providing optimal comfort.
Independent energy modeling on a 10-storey building in Dallas with Solarmotion intelligent shading showed a 21.1% reduction in the annual cooling energy demand (MWhrs) was achieved, translating into savings of $137,160 per annum on the building modeled.
From an architectural standpoint, one of the things we like best about Solarmotion technology is the design options for shading systems. Typically you’d see these systems as aluminum airfoils mounted to the building envelope. Solarmotion’s blade options, including Red Cedar wood, aluminum airfoils, laminated glass, a variety of perforated aluminum blades, clear acrylic, and even LED options mean your shading system could take the same form as your building, or stand out as a prominent feature.
As buildings all over the world are responsible for a majority of the greenhouse gases emitted today, one of the easiest ways to reduce a building’s energy usage post-construction is to take these adaptive and dynamic factors into consideration during pre-design. The technology is available, but it’s up to stakeholders at each level – architects, designers, contractors, and product manufacturers to listen closely to drivers in the market and respond with innovative, relevant, and effective solutions.
Europe has been doing this for some time now and North America is just beginning to embrace it. With the need for energy efficient buildings, including the existing building stock remaining one of the key solutions to addressing climate change, perhaps we can take a note from nature and learn how living, intelligent, dynamic systems can help the built environment adapt to the conditions around it. The market leaders mentioned above are seeing the future of intelligent buildings and designing solutions that work. Are you?
Let us know in the comments if you have been involved in a building with intelligent shading, facade, or building envelope technology. Do you work or live in such a building? Are you working on a cool technology or have you used one in a previous design? We want to hear about it!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post by Construction Specialties (C/S), one of our partners.