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Innovative Uses of Water in Architecture

From playful indoor pools to tranquil exterior fountains to soaring waterfalls and grand lakes of enormous proportions, architecture throughout the centuries has engaged with water in endlessly innovative ways. Sometimes serving aesthetic purposes, but just as often acting as centers of activity or promoting sustainability, water features can take countless different forms and serve multiple different purposes. Below, we synthesize a series of water features espoused by innovative contemporary architectural projects, ranging from single-family residential homes to vast commercial complexes.

The Winery at VIK / Smiljan Radic. Image © Cristobal Palma Jellyfish House / Wiel Arets Architects. Image © Jan Bitter Jewel Changi Airport / Safdie Architects. Image Courtesy of Peter Walkner Partners Landscape Architects Moses Bridge / RO&AD Architecten. Image © RO&AD Architecten + 34

Spotlight: Alejandro Aravena

Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh
Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh

As founder of the “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL, Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena (born on June 22, 1967) is perhaps the most socially-engaged architect to receive the Pritzker Prize. Far from the usual aesthetically driven approach, Aravena explains that “We don’t think of ourselves as artists. Architects like to build things that are unique. But if something is unique it can’t be repeated, so in terms of it serving many people in many places, the value is close to zero.” [1] For Aravena, the architect’s primary goal is to improve people's way of life by assessing both social needs and human desires, as well as political, economic and environmental issues.

Indoor Pools: Bringing the Tranquility of Water to Interiors

Within architecture, water evokes sentiments of calmness and wellbeing. The element has influenced design through its dynamic and fluid nature. With recent technological advances, architects have created some of the most strategic, innovative, and unexpected intersections of design and H2O.

Below, we have provided a roundup of indoor pools that highlight the application of water in different spaces, showing its relationship to materiality and use.

This collection is one of many interesting content groupings made by our registered users. Remember you can save and manage what inspires you on My ArchDaily. Create your account here.

© Mariela Apollonio © Yoshihiro Koitani + Aby Helfon y Ramón Helfon © Héctor Fernández Santos-Díez © Vinicius Nunes + 30

Valparaíso Cultural Park / HLPS

© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
Valparaiso, Chile
  • Architects: HLPS
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area: 8711.0
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year: 2011

© Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma © Cristobal Palma + 31

ArchDaily's Sustainability Glossary : A-B-C

It is expected that within the next couple of decades, Earth will have absolutely nothing left to offer whoever/whatever is capable of surviving on it. Although the human race is solely responsible for the damages done to the planet, a thin silver lining can still be seen if radical changes were to be done to the way we live on Earth and how we sustain it. 

Since architects and designers carry a responsibility of building a substantial future, we have put together an A-Z list of every sustainability term that you might come across. Every week, a new set of letters will be published, helping you stay well-rounded on everything related to sustainable architecture and design. Here are the terms that start with letters A, B, and C.

100 Public Spaces: From Tiny Squares to Urban Parks

© DuoCai Photograph
© DuoCai Photograph

© Gianluca Stefani © Thomas Zaar © Tomasz Zakrzewski © Sebastien Michelini + 112

This collection is one of many interesting content groupings made by our registered users. Remember you can save and manage what inspires you on My ArchDaily. Create your account here.

The key to successfully designing or recovering public spaces is to achieve a series of ingredients that enhance their use as meeting places. Regardless of their scale, some important tips are designing for people's needs, the human scale, a mix of uses, multifunctionality and flexibility, comfort and safety, and integration to the urban fabric.

To give you some ideas on how to design urban furniture, bus stops, lookouts, bridges, playgrounds, squares, sports spaces, small parks and urban parks, check out these 100 notable public spaces.

30 Plans, Sections and Details for Sustainable Projects

The dramatic improvement in recent decades in our understanding of sustainable design has shown that designing sustainably doesn't have to be a compromise—it can instead be a benefit. When done correctly, sustainable design results in higher-performing, healthier buildings which contribute to their inhabitants' physical and mental well-being.

The benefits of incorporating vegetation in façades and in roofs, as well as materials and construction systems that take energy use and pollution into account, demonstrate that sustainable design has the potential to create buildings that improve living conditions and respect the natural environment.

Below we have compiled 30 plans, sections and construction details of projects that stand out for their approach to sustainability.

The Possibilities of Pigmented Concrete: 18 Buildings Infused With Color

When we think of concrete, the color gray generally comes to mind. The traditional mixture of concrete, which comprises cement, gravel, sand, and water may vary in color depending on elements and admixtures but naturally varies from light to dark gray. However, compounds that add pigment to the mixture are becoming increasingly prevalent and popular,  as they infuse the concrete with hues more stable than paint. These shades result from the addition of oxides:  yellow, red and their derivations (eg. brown) are obtained with the addition of iron oxide; chromium and cobalt oxide create the greens and blues, respectively. For black concrete, it is common to use black iron oxide and carbon oxide combined with pozzolanic cement.

Centro Cultural Comunitário Teotitlán del Valle / PRODUCTORA. Image © Luis Gallardo - LGM Studio Museu Cais do Sertão / Brasil Arquitetura. Image © Nelson Kon Residência Montagnola / Attilio Panzeri & Partners. Image © Giorgio Marafioti Galería Solar S. Roque / Manuel Maia Gomes. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG + 19

Reframing Climate Change as a Local Problem of Global Proportion: 4 Ways Architects can Deliver Change

Bankside 123 in London creates new routes, public spaces and retail, with three simple rectilinear buildings set within a permeable public realm designed to reconnect the site with its surroundings. Image Courtesy of Allies & Morrison
Bankside 123 in London creates new routes, public spaces and retail, with three simple rectilinear buildings set within a permeable public realm designed to reconnect the site with its surroundings. Image Courtesy of Allies & Morrison

The latest UN special report on climate change, released in October 2018, was bleak - perhaps unsurprisingly after a year of recording breaking temperatures, wildfires, floods, and storms. The report, released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reiterated the magnitude of climate change’s global impact, but shed new light on the problem’s depth and urgency. Climate change is a catastrophe for the world as we know it and will transform it into something that we don’t. And we have just 12 years to prevent it.

Zinc-Coated Buildings: 20 Recyclable and Durable Facades

Zinc is a natural element extracted from ores. Its symbol, which appears in the dreaded Periodic Table, is Zn. Through a metallurgical process of burning its impurities (reducing zinc oxide and refining), it assumes a much more friendly appearance, and later becomes the sheets, coils, and rollers used in construction. The main characteristic of this material is its malleability, which allows it to be worked easily, allowing to cover complex forms in facades and roofs of buildings.

Bringing Work Home: 9 Times Architects Designed for Themselves

Cien House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Cristobal Palma
Cien House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Cristobal Palma

Architects are often bound by the will of their client, reluctantly sacrificing and compromising design choices in order to suit their needs. But what happens when architects become their own clients? When architects design for themselves, they have the potential to test their ideas freely, explore without creative restriction, and create spaces which wholly define who they are, how they design, and what they stand for. From iconic architect houses like the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica to private houses that double as a public-entry museum, here are 9 fascinating examples of how architects design when they only have themselves to answer to.

Cien House / Pezo von Ellrichshausen. Image © Cristobal Palma Melnikov House. Image © Denis Esakov Gehry Residence. Image via netropolitan.org Lyon Housemuseum / Lyons. Image © Dianna Snape + 20

The Beauty of Pre-Oxidized Copper Through 8 Facades

Patinated copper, also called oxidized, is a metal coat that "ages well" with excellent weathering resistance. Due to its capacity for transformation over time, when coming into contact with atmospheric conditions, the material does not require major maintenance, giving a unique aspect to the facades.

In addition to orange-colored plates, this material also gives off a blue / green appearance through a controlled chemical oxidation process. Its coloration is defined by the amount of crystals contained in the surface of the material. With the appearance of natural light, the panels display various shades and nuances of color.

South American Architects Sandra Barclay and Gloria Cabral Win 2018 Women in Architecture Awards

Two South American architects have been selected as the winners of The Architectural Review and The Architects’ Journal’s 2018 Women in Architecture awards. This year’s top prize, Architect of the Year, has been awarded to Peruvian architect Sandra Barclay, while Paraguayan architect Gloria Cabral has been selected as the winner of the Moira Gemmill Prize for Emerging Architecture, with both being recognized by the jury for their mastery of materials.

4 Ways You Can Dress Like an Architect

1. All black.
2. Black with a bit of grey.
3. Black with a bit of white.
4. Match different shades of black. 

It’s Elementary (Not): On the Architecture of Alejandro Aravena

Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma
Siamese Towers. Image © Cristobal Palma

When reading about the work of Alejandro Aravena, it can sometimes seem like two distinct discussions: one about his widely praised social housing innovations, and another about his impressive (albeit more conventional in scope) buildings for universities and municipalities. In this post originally shared on his Facebook page Hashim Sarkis, the Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, connects the two apparently separate threads of Aravena's architecture, discovering the underlying beliefs that guide this year's Pritzker Prize winner.

Much of the work of Alejandro Aravena, whether designed alone or with the group ELEMENTAL, embodies a eureka moment, a moment where after a careful interrogation of the program with the client, the architect comes up with a counterintuitive but simple response to the charge. (For the computer center at the Catholic University, the labs have to be both dark and well-lit. For the social housing in Iquique, instead of a full good house that you cannot afford, you get a half good house that you can). In turn, these simple equations are embodied in buildings that usually acquire similarly simple forms. The clients and occupants repeat the “aha” with Aravena’s same tone and realization. “If I cannot convincingly convey the design idea over the phone, then I know it is a bad idea,” he says.

Las Cruces Lookout Point. Image © Iwan Baan Design for Casa OchoQuebradas. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL Innovation Center UC - Anacleto Angelini. Image © Nico Saieh Quinta Monroy housing. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL + 11

Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize

Alejandro Aravena has been named as the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize. Highlighting his dedication to improve urban environments and to address the global housing crisis, the Pritzker Prize jury praised the way in which the Chilean architect has "risen to the demands of practicing architecture as an artful endeavor, as well as meeting today's social and economic challenges." Aravena is the 41st Pritzker Prize laureate and the first Chilean to receive the award.

At 48 years of age, Aravena has a large portfolio of private, public and educational projects in Chile, the USA, Mexico, China and Switzerland. But perhaps more notably, through his “Do Tank” firm ELEMENTAL he has managed to build 2,500 units of social housing, engaging in the public housing policies of governments where he works and taking an opportunistic approach to market forces to generate a powerful impact on lower-income communities.

"Alejandro Aravena epitomizes the revival of a more socially engaged architect, especially in his long-term commitment to tackling the global housing crisis and fighting for a better urban environment for all,” explained the Jury in their citation. “He has a deep understanding of both architecture and civil society, as is reflected in his writing, his activism and his designs. The role of the architect is now being challenged to serve greater social and humanitarian needs, and Alejandro Aravena has clearly, generously and fully responded to this challenge."

UC Innovation Center – Anacleto Angelini, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2014. Image © Nina Vidic Monterrey Housing. Monterrey, Mexico 2010. Image © Ramiro Ramirez Medical School, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2004. Image © Roland Halbe Siamese Towers, San Joaquín Campus, Universidad Católica de Chile. Santiago, Chile 2005. Image © Cristobal Palma + 23