Few sounds in this world are quite as satisfying as that of fresh rainwater falling on a tin roof. However, this soothing sensation is just one element of the Cloud House, a unique, interactive rainwater-harvesting system created by designer Matthew Mazzotta in Springfield, Missouri. From the comfort of a wooden rocking chair, the user is immersed in a rural farm experience, offering passers-by a moment to slow down, enjoy fresh edible plants and, as promised, bask in the sound of rain striking a tin roof.
Utrecht University’s Urban Futures Studio have announced the 10 finalists for their Post-Fossil City Contest, judged by a jury which included MVRDV co-founder Winy Maas. Each of the successful submissions responded to the contest’s call for the design of a sustainable city no longer reliant on non-renewable energy sources. Designers and makers were invited to envision this new future, which “will reshape our cities and everyday lives so radically that it is hard to imagine what it might feel, taste, smell, and look like.”
Out of the 250 total entries, below are the 10 selected finalists along with a snippet of their proposed futures as described by the competition website.
With the ever-expanding global population, cities around the world today are caught in the midst of mass urbanization; the resultant problems are the topic of much of the current architectural discourse. From these trends stems the challenges of providing adequate amounts of both housing and urban green space, and by extension, providing adequate food production. In order to address this divide, Toronto will soon be home to The Plant – a mixed-use community revolving around sustainable residential urban farming and social responsibility in the Queen Street West neighborhood.
“It might seem extreme, but we orientated this entire project around our connection to food,” says Curated Properties partner Gary Eisen, one of the developers involved in the project. “It’s our guiding principle and the result is a building that lives and breathes and offers a better quality of life to the people who will live and work here. The Plant is a community that fits with the foodie culture that has come to define Queen West.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced via Twitter that his company’s fully-integrated solar roof system is nearly ready to be released to the public, and will begin taking orders on the shingles starting next month.
The solar roof project was announced this past October after acquiring energy services provider SolarCity for $2.1 billion. Offered in four different styles – smooth glass, textured glass, French slate and Tuscan glass – the shingles would allow homeowners to make the switch to solar without having to change their aesthetic tastes. Though exact costs have yet to be released, Musk believes the system could be more affordable than a traditional roof.
Swedish architecture firm Kjellander Sjöberg has released images of their proposed new city block to enrich the Swedish city of Uppsala. The four competition-winning residential buildings, known collectively as the Tunet, will feature cross-laminated timber construction and wood detailing, creating an environmentally-friendly addition to the city.
QUAD 2017 is seeking design proposals that capture the essence of social sustainability by addressing the various factors contributing to the three pillars of sustainability: Environment, Economy and Equity.
Cast & Place has been announced as the winner of the 2017 City of Dreams competition to create a pavilion for New York City’s Governors Island. Held by not-for-profit arts organization FIGMENT, the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York, the competition called for a design to be the hub of FIGMENT’s free community arts festival during Summer 2017, based on questions of the future of New York, how design can confront environmental challenges, and how architecture can be built from recycled or borrowed material.
With these questions in mind, Cast & Place was conceptualized as a pavilion made entirely from waste. 300,000 recycled aluminum cans, cast into the cracks of dried clay, will form structural panels that assemble into shaded spaces for performance and play.
Architecture continually evolves to meet societal demands. Recently, a global effort to tackle climate change, and to achieve optimum energy efficiency in buildings, has brought standards such as BREEAM and LEED to the fore. However, as scientific analysis and awareness of human mental health has increased, architects are once again required to place humans at the centre of the design process. This growing trend has led to the development of WELL Building Certification – considered the world’s first certification focused exclusively on human health and wellbeing.
"Vernacular architecture can be said to be 'the architectural language of the people' with its ethnic, regional and local 'dialects,'" writes Paul Oliver, author of The Encyclopaedia of Vernacular Architecture of The World’. Unfortunately, there has been a growing disregard for traditional architectural language around the world due to modern building technology quickly spreading a “loss of identity and cultural vibrancy” through what the Architectural Review recently described as “a global pandemic of generic buildings.” People have come to see steel, concrete and glass as architecture of high quality, whereas a lot of vernacular methods including adobe, reed or peat moss are often associated with underdevelopment. Ironically, these local methods are far more sustainable and contextually aware than much contemporary architecture seen today, despite ongoing talks and debates about the importance of sustainability. As a result of these trends, a tremendous amount of architectural and cultural knowledge is being lost.
In 1925, Italian designer Armando Brasini created a sweeping masterplan to transform the Albanian capital city of Tirana. Almost one hundred years later, the Tirana 2030 (TR030) Local Plan by Italian firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has been approved by Tirana City Council. Collaborating with UNILAB and IND, Boeri seeks to define a new era in the country’s capital, incorporating controlled development, advanced infrastructure, green corridors, and an enhancement of the city’s architectural heritage.
The One Heart Foundation has announced the winners of the Children’s Eco-Village Design Competition. Attracting 45 submissions from 21 countries, the brief asked participants to propose an environmentally-friendly campus for orphaned and abandoned children, to be built in Soy, Kenya.
5 Techniques to Incorporate Solar Panels into Your Architecture Beautifully (Not as an Ugly Afterthought)
This article was originally published by Autodesk's Redshift publication as "5 Ways to Design Solar Architecture Beautifully—Not as an Ugly Afterthought."
No one puts solar panels on their house because they’re sexy—at least, not yet.
Jon Gardzelewski, an architect and associate lecturer at the University of Wyoming in the Building Energy Research Group (UW-BERG), wants to change that. He believes the fact that solar panels are usually an afterthought to the design of a building is a big barrier to integrating them into a critical mass of houses and buildings.
In honour of its 10th anniversary, the Curry Stone Design Prize will recognize a large group of the world’s most socially conscious and active design practices, in what the Foundation has coined as the Social Design Circle.
Over the course of the year, 100 firms will be added to the Circle for their sustainable, socially inclusive and impactful design work, under twelve specific themes. Each month, select firms’ work will be highlighted individually on the Prize’s website, while also featuring on the Curry Stone Foundation’s new podcast, Social Design Insights.
The following seven practices were selected for the month of February, in response to the theme “Is The Right to Housing Real?”:
Dutch firm de Architekten Cie, in collaboration with Felixx Landscape Architects and Planners, has won an international competition to transform the historic Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The winning masterplan, chosen by the City Administration of Chelyabinsk from five proposals, seeks to activate the city’s existing grid structure and to use it as a vehicle for spatial transformation.
FAAB Architektura has designed a smog-fighting music academy on the site of a former military base in Cracow, Poland. In a city constantly tackling air pollution, FAAB has incorporated a 1300 square meter "Air Purifier" into their proposal, combating CO2 levels as effectively as 33,000 city trees. This system, however, is only one element in a music academy wholly integrated with its natural surroundings.
This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Why Architects Must Rethink Carbon (It's Not the Enemy We Face)."
Metropolis editor in chief Susan Szenasy sits down with William McDonough—the designer, author, and developer of Cradle to Cradle design—to understand why we must begin to employ a new language regarding carbon and sustainable design.
Susan Szenasy: Your article in Nature, “Carbon is Not the Enemy,” really caught my attention. You're redefining how we think about carbon, what it is, and what we should be looking for. It seems like a new phase that you're leading us to. How did you come up with this idea, that there needs to be a new language on carbon? Can you trace back your thought process?
William McDonough: [With the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015,] everybody kept saying, "Oh, we have to do this, to reduce our carbon 20% by 2020." Well, when you think about that Susan, it's absurd. What you're telling us is what you're not going to do. You’re going to reduce your badness by 20% by 2020? That would be like getting in a taxi and saying to the driver, "Quick, I'm not going to the airport." It doesn't tell us what you're going to do.
The fact-finding mission to Germany for US Architects is part of the "Energy Efficiency - Made in Germany" initiative of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and is organized by energiewaechter GmbH and the German American Chamber of Commerce, Inc. in New York. Joining the fact-finding mission to Frankfurt and Darmstadt will give US Architects the opportunity to learn about innovative German technologies and services in the field of energy efficient buildings and passive house.
Vincent Callebaut Architectures has released plans for the development of a radical eco-neighborhood at Tour & Taxis, Brussels, Belgium. Covering an area of 135,000 square meters, the proposal will see the redevelopment of the early twentieth-century Gare Maritime, and the construction of three residential “vertical forests” reaching 100 meters in height. The architect’s ultimate vision is a neighborhood which embraces technological progress, sustainable building principles, and renewal of the built heritage.
Situated northwest of Brussels city center, and constructed in 1907, the industrial park at Tour & Taxis originally operated as a shipping and customs complex. Whilst the lifting of European customs borders has rendered its original function obsolete, the Gare Maritime (Marine Terminal) still embodies the architecture of the industrial era.