X|Atelier is organizing four international intensive workshops of Advanced Architectural Design. The X|A Summer Workshops 2015 are led by X|A principals Erick Carcamo (SCI-ARC) and Nefeli Chatzimina (USC, NTUA), both Allumni Graduates of Columbia University in New York City.

X|A LA Workshop I is organized in Downtown Los Angeles. Selected Participants will attend the compu-tation design workshops, academic lectures, final reviews and exhibition of the final work. Daily meetings will take place from 10am to 6pm.

X|A Athens Workshops II&III are organized under the auspices of the Hellenic Institute of Architecture and the Athens School of Fine Arts. Selected Participants will attend the computation design work-shops, academic lectures, final reviews and exhibition at Benaki Museum of Athens from 30th of June -11th of July 2014 or from the 14th -25th of July 2014. Daily meetings will take place from 10am to 6pm at the Benaki Museum of Pireos 138 in Athens.

X|A Innsbruck Workshop IV  is organized in Austria.  Selected Participants will attend the computation design workshops, academic lectures, final reviews and exhibition of the final work. Daily meetings will take place from 10am to 6pm.

As part of an ongoing academic research, Our goal is to explore innovative, potential architectural expressions of the current discourse around Form through computational tools (Autodesk MAYA). We will focus on technique elaboration, material intelligence, formal logic efficiencies and precision assemblies as an ultimate condition of design. The workshop will develop and investigate the notion of proficient geometric variations at a level of complexity, so that questions towards geometrical effectiveness, accuracy and performance can begin to be understood in a contemporary setting. The workshop is a discourse based in the use of multi-layered techniques and production processes that allow for control over intelligent geometries, calibration of parts, and behavioral taxonomies, normalizing an innovative held of predictability.

X|Atelier was founded in 2007 by Erick Cárcamo and Nefeli Chatzimina ::X|A:: is an architectural practice based in the use of multi-layered experimental techniques and production processes networked in Europe, US and Latin America. Both hold a Master’s of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and have graduated from SCI_Arc and N.T.U.Athens respectively. Their teaching expertise extends to Sci-Arc, University of Southern California, Columbia University, Yale SOA, UPenn, Pratt Institute, University of Kentucky, Die Angewandte, N.T.U.Athens and LTH in Sweden.



The New Gastronomical Innovation Center, designed by Oscar Abrahamsson and Jacob Waas at SCI Arc, is a speculative proposal for the El Bulli Research Campus in Cala Montjoi, Catalonia that explores complex systems and baroque geometry as tools in creating an artificial rival to nature.

Our project addresses its relationship to the rural countryside left behind by urbanization and long excluded from the architectural discourse. Instead of trying to imitate or integrate the romantic notions of the “natural”, we are embracing the rapid and radical change of the European countryside – with the understanding that the countryside of today is without doubt man-made – not natural.

We are showcasing the artificiality by withdrawing from the surroundings and turning inward, to create a discrete an internalized world for El Bulli gastronomy. This internalized world is designed to enable El Bulli to not only to house its research and production but to also allow the research and production to affect the built environment.

Our system is derived from the Baroque geometry of Francesco Borromini that is employed at different intensities and scales throughout the building using different computational systems operating at mulitple scales. At the large scale, taking from the platonic geometry of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, a series of delaminated volumes are nested within an exterior envelope, sometimes tightly fit, and sometimes loosely fit; creating interstitial spaces that fit the programmatic function of this live-research-education facility. The interstitial space becomes a separation of the world and the interior. At certain points, the interior system breaks through and dissolves the envelope, exposing the intricate shapes of the internal volume. The separations of the different layers are never discrete, but they interweave with each other, always indexing each other in different ways.

The outcome is a building that is based on architectural relationships, but exhibits intricacies usually associated with systems found in nature, thus it creates a cross breed of (synthetically) organic complexity and architectural intention. This is an attempt of questioning the romantic notion of what is “natural” but also an attempt of incorporating the current technological tools that, at a root level, can manipulate geometries to achieve mulitiple intensities of detail.

The corruptive interior system, producing an eroding effect on the figure of architecture, creates cavities and niches that provide a surface for the cultivation required by the El Bulli research. By integrating and informing our systems with systems of organic matter, we want to obscure the relationship between a synthetic nature and the organic, between the living and the non-living.

Design: Oscar Abrahamsson, Jacob Waas.
Instructor: M. Casey Rehm. Read the rest of this entry »

The Clover House is a kindergarten that feels like home. Due to limited land area the owner of a local kindergarten decided to renovate his own family house transforming the original private nursery into a fully developed education institution. Clover House differentiates itself from traditional kindergartens by fully embracing its role as a shelter—a haven for education during the day and a home in the evening. The kindergarten’s homelike environment supports Clover House’s fully open teaching methodology, through which the children can build emotional bonds and trust among one another. During the day, children and teachers can eat, study, communicate, rest and play as if they were at a home. At night, the house reverts back to be the living space for the owner’s family and the school teachers.

The transformation started with an investigation of the existing 105 sqm two-story house. Like the surrounding houses, this wood structure building was first constructed as standard mass-production housing. After on-site surveys, MAD decided to reutilize the existing wood structure, incorporating it into the new building’s design. One of the signature repurposed elements is the pitched roof, which not only creates dynamic interior spaces, but also brings the owner’s memories of the building as his home into this residence and the starting point of the clover house.

The new house’s skin and structure wraps the old wood structure like a piece of cloth covering the building’s skeleton, creating a blurry space in between the new and the old. The original wood structure is present throughout the main learning area, integrating the history of the building with the educational lessons to tell the students Clover House’s traditions and stories. Its translucent and enclosed spaces easily adapt to different teaching activities. Sunlight sifts through the windows to create ever-changing shadows, chasing the students’ curiosity and innocent imaginations. Read the rest of this entry »

The challenge of this project designed by Zelig Fok at the Savannah College of Art and Design was to design a boutique and showroom for the Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons in Tokyo’s Aoyama shopping district. Architecture and fashion share a dedication to experimental design as well as the ability to question customary enclosure/dress, prescribed aesthetics, and notion of beauty. Collections by the fashion designer were studied, particularly where padded figures were stuffed beneath or sewn into the lining of garments.

This project creates architectural enclosure that fluctuates between 2D flat and 3D massing effects. The interior objects are soft bubbles aggregated into a tense constellation. The outer object has harder edges and addresses the site boundaries. This formal morphology acts to deny the simultaneity between the container and the contained. Similarly, figural cuts, creases, and tattoos work against this surface geometry. Competing surface logics and hybrid articulation confound the boundaries between interior and exterior as the building enclosure modulates between thin surface and thick poché. This strategy challenges architecture’s traditional hierarchies of enclosure and internal subdivision of space. Read the rest of this entry »

Breeding Clouds Skyscraper

By: admin | April - 17 - 2015

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Davide Coluzzi


On Earth, aridity has always been a problem … Latest scientific research shows that our planet is constantly getting hotter which causes significant changes perceptible for everyone. The equatorial region’ s population is already living with scarce resources of water and due to global warming, aridity will even increase in the future

Controlling the Climate

United by the aim to preserve territories and resources, humanity should respond as community to the problem of rising aridity. Some companies have dedicated years of scientific research on working out how to govern the climate. In early 2000, finally, their work concluded with positive results in the matter of controlling the climate. In their experiments, scientist used various methods to control rainfall, one of the oldest basing on chemtrails spread by airplanes, before turning to a solution with “apparently” less impact on the global system: ionization.

Few companies are touting their ability to create rain from clouds that would normally produce none. To make this process, still barely understood by the scientific community, become proven science, ionization devices are being field-tested around the globe. Most people are unaware that weather modification by cloud seeding has gone on for years, and even less are aware of this new technology.

WeatherTec cloud ionizers were used in Abu Dhabi for precipitation enhancement, with Claimed results of making it rain over 50 times when forecasters expected no rain. Their system employs radio frequency antennas to emit negatively charged ions which statically charge clouds, increasing water drop size, causing precipitation. Another, easier way to put it is the antennas create statically charged dust particles in the cloud that attract water vapor, forming droplets that fall to the ground

Based on the ILAP Technology (Influence on the Local Atmospheric Processes), Clear Sky Manager TM has been developed by Advanced Synoptic Technologies Ltd (AST) for managing, at a local atmospheric level, humidity density in the sky in order to pursue a a wide range of possible objectives: create precipitation, avoid or create snow, disperse fog and smog or, generally speaking, conduct any type of atmospheric action that may improve living conditions at ground level.

Most of these studies are only at the theoretical level, the evidence of the operation are uncertain, the research continues.

Clearly there is a serious danger related to the possibility of making military use of climate control, which is why many researches are secret. I sincerely hope that the use of such powerful technologies will be to the benefit of all humanity and not turn against it.

The project

Breeding clouds is a vision of a possible future in which mankind has managed to use its wits to solve serious problems such as climate change and aridity.

To interpret vertical building in a world in danger means to create small vertical ecosystems. The Breeding Clouds towers are rain generators. The lower part of the tower consists of ionizers that collect and electrify dust particles from the ground. Negatively charged ions tend to rise to the warmer air. Each tower has the ability to capture within a giant glass case the ionized particles. Inside the condensation chamber they are kept in continuous circular motion in order to condense the charged particles with the right humidity: in this way a cloud is generated. The fully charged cloud will create rain, which is collected along the stem of the tower and will be used to irrigate the levels of the tower and the surrounding soil. Large amounts of rain concentrated in a small point may change the way to cultivate plants. The tower is a large vertical greenhouse to collect botanical species that usually could not exist in an arid climate. Developing these towers in desert areas means generating artificial oases. The power supply of this futuristic building is autonomous, using the kinetic energy of the water itself and solar energy captured on the outer shell of the cloud generating condensation-chamber.

The project is clearly utopian but it wants to point out that new technologies and climate research can used in an alternative way than to terrorize or defeat others: to finally comfort and give a better life to those in distress. Read the rest of this entry »

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Cai Zeyu, Du Dikang

The sky lantern flock across the Formosa Strait – A new definition of the skyscraper

According to the complicated politic statues, the communication between people in Taiwan and main land may have some difficulties, however, which situation would also exists all over the world in fact. How to stitch such kind of politic cut in the way of culture? Our solution is to arouse the common cultural icon to cross the gap. We finds a new way – the aggregation and segregation of thousands of small units – to definite the composition of the skyscraper as out concrete expression.

The statistics tells us that more than 70 percent of Taiwanese are from the region of Southern Fujian, most of who migrated to Taiwan during the period of Dutch colonial possessions. There goes a Chinese traditional saying—the falling leaves will always return to roots. We hope their wish and blessing would pass over the Formosa Strait from Taiwan to their hometown Fujian, their hometown, by the help of the new “Sky lantern”—a device designed to express wishes in a traditional way.

Tradition Revitalization

The sky lanterns in China represent a kind of blessing in traditional culture, which hold the simple wish from ordinary people when rising slowly up to the sky after ignited. However, with the development of technology, we begin to lose the traditional way of living, and this kind of symbol is being gradually forgotten during the new ages. We want to revitalize this tradition, in order to arouse the sense of the cultural self-identity across the strait.

The sky lantern, which holds the best wishes from the Taiwan people, flies slowing across the strait to the Tulou( a traditional building based in the kinship in Fujian) by the navigation of GPS inside and the power of the flight system of the quadrotor aircraft. The projector in the central columnar will cast the personal image and video to the surrounding screen skin.

With the rapid urbanization and the migration of population from rural to urban, some Tulou have been discarded because of the lack of public space.

Our lanterns will gather around the discarded and damaged Tulou, whose new translucent skin will combine the lantern into a new light form. It will not only provide a new public space for the locals but also revitalize the traditional building which is on the verge of fading away.

Rebuild the connection between time and space

As Taiwan and the main land shares similar cultural customs, the height of the aggregation will fluctuate according to the extent of the Nostalgia between each other and especially during some traditional festival, the height will arise to its maximum. In this way, we hope to visualize the emotions in people across the Strait and incite the spiritual and cultural resonance. Read the rest of this entry »

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Rodrigo Carmona
United States

The Oculus is a vertical community. It is a place to live, work, and commune with nature. The building exemplifies a new urban high-rise typology where one can experience the human condition as it is meant to be, full of life.

The purpose of this skyscraper is to cultivate a sense of community through its mixed-use program (public, private, collective, and civic), and to promote a self-sustained environment through the building’s digital weather system and form.

The Oculus’ site was chosen in Lower Manhattan– at the intersection of Water Street, Pearl, and Beekman– wedged between corporate downtown and the industrial South Street Seaport.

The challenge of building on a “no air rights zone” ultimately lead the project to embrace its existing irregular shape, a triangular parcel that is surrounded by two intersections and a pedestrian walk-way.

The building’s concept was derived from its triangular footprint, and as a result, the unique form of the building evoked a new spiritual identity for the metropolitan community.

The Oculus is a flexible and adaptable apparatus, which collects, develops, and sustains natural resources for the benefit of its inhabitants and surrounding society.

The Oculus is a new approach to building technology based on its form and concept. It is a new deploy-able way of creating vertical topology anywhere. It is a solution to problems related to impending global change and human sprawl.

By addressing the need for reusable water and the need for clean air in a city overrun with pollution, in addition to protecting the depletion of natural resources for the community, the design of The Oculus aims to resolve 21st century cultural and development issues.

The Oculus embraces our most progressive environmental control strategies, all the while sustaining life within its one-of-a-kind form and infrastructure.

Xerophyte Tower

By: admin | April - 17 - 2015

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Allstair Lillystone, Shonn Mills
United Kingdom, Singapore

A xerophyte is a type of plant that has evolved over time to adapt to the dry conditions in a desert. The adaptation or evolution of a xerophyte is to store significant amounts of water to allow the plant to survive over long periods without water.

Building design and construction has developed create fixed objects that serve a function over time. This approach is in line with human-kinds basic needs for shelter and stability but the result are products that have a limited to ability change without significant expense. This design approach has been adequate for the majority of human history as the rate of change for the way we live has been nearly in line with the products of our architecture. The past several decades we have seen an extreme acceleration and change in the ways we work play and communicate and our approach to design of the places we build has also evolved with the way we live. With the pace of technological change and the effect on the built environment the design is bringing the old new together to produce a creative solution and balance between technology and nature. the building is defined by its ability to change, a philosophy that seeks to create spaces which can evolve and change with the needs of its inhabitants and the constraints and challenges imposed by its surroundings.

The Xerophyte Tower uses conventional high reside technologies coupled with some of the latest advances in materials and science. The backbone of the will be a central core used as the anchoring point and primary structure.

The tower utilises conventional high rise technology coupled with advances in material science and. The backbone of the tower will be a central core that is used for the primary structure. This central spine will service to provide a portion of the vertical movement and servicing for the tower. Orbiting the perimeter of the core will be secondary structures which are envisioned to be completely modular secondary units. Constructed completely off-site in factories with the use of renewable resource’s such as forested timber.

These modular secondary units will provide all of the accommodation for the tower and can be completely replaced. This will allow the finishes and even the use of the accommodation on the tower to change with climatic and economic requirements as the building moves through time. The placement and replacement of the modular accommodation will be completed by a permanent robotic crane system constructed in the crown of the central core. This robotic crane, operated by the central BMS and eventually potentially an automated system will provide and manage the maintenance of the building as well as the long-term adaption of the space. Read the rest of this entry »

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Yi Wang, Jin Wei

Design Background

Gulao waterfront village as the last ecological area which has traditional characteristics in Pearl River Delta of China has another reputation named “Southern Venice”. With the development of population of the local villagers, Gulao waterfront village is facing a severe challenge between its expansion and the scarcity of land resource. It has abundant water resources in Southern China, and most of the villages are built near water. The settlement architecture in Gulao waterfront village are one unique as dots that are scattered across the whole village, which accounted for expansion limited. It is essential for us to help the last traditional waterfront village in Southern China in the role of designers as an attempt to solve the problem. Therefore, a skyscraper is designed as “Floating Waterfront Village”, capable of sustainable development.

In ancient times, waterfront villages in Southern China are located in low-lying areas, which is accounting for flood disasters, a serious threat to villagers’ life and productive activities. The local people dug deep ponds for breeding fish in some low-lying areas, according to local condition. The whole village was constructed of mulberry-dike-fishponds avoiding the depression of flood and creating ecological environment. Some villages were constructed on the piers, spreading across the waterfront area. Pier as land is linked to pond-protecting wall. Buildings are constructed on the piers as little as one household to as much as twenty households and also ancestral halls are constructed on them. Ponds separate different piers, thereby forming punctuate villages.

Design Conception

“Floating Waterfront Village” as a new kind of skyscrapers will be introduced to Gulao waterfront village, making the best use of original land of the village, by not destroying its skin texture. The height of skyscraper is more than 300 meters; it looks like a floating waterfront village or a bird paradise in the air from the ground. From the morphological point of view, the design inspiration is from the traditional big Banyan in Southern China, and mainly living and activity function are put on the small and large platforms. There are some small living platforms hung down around the top roof as “aerial roots”, which makes the skyscraper integrated into the whole environment. “Floating Waterfront Village” not only has practical function, but also set complex ecological energy saving, scenery viewing, science educating and art in one of the multiple experience. By the way, it establishes a showcase of waterfront village of green ecological and low carbon energy saving technology in the future.

The function of the skyscraper

“Floating Waterfront Village” has multiple identities. It is a village with living function in the air, also a climate observation station, or an agricultural research station, or a sightseeing platform. First of all, this skyscraper is a village for people’s living activities. Forming a waterfront village in Southern China is including lakes, ponds, wells, squares and the Banyan trees. Therefore, a huge platform is on the top of this skyscraper as the functions of activity and communication. Vertical supporting-skeleton is the water delivery system like a huge well; the water is taken out from the ponds to living areas. At the same time, different kinds of roofs have rainwater collection systems, replenishing water into ponds during the drought seasons. There are many Banyan trees planted on the platforms of the building, and the trees will be a certain scale after 3-5 years in Southern China, looking like a bird paradise. Secondly, the waterfront village belongs to the natural ecological zones, and a Banyan tree will be with luxuriant foliage covering 1 square meters, thousands of birds will be here. The climate observation station will be set in the skyscraper, also for the protection of the natural environment and rare species. Thirdly, there is an agricultural research station here to provide research and guidance the sustainable development of the waterfront village. Finally, the traditional village as an ecological area attracts thousands of visitors. The skyscraper not only releases such pressure, but also brings some economic income.

Even under the worst situation, even if it is supposed that Gulao waterfront village disappeared, the skyscraper was still meaningful. It will stand there not only as a “Floating Waterfront Village” but also an ironical monument, a piece of evidence witnessing the crime of the selfish human beings. Read the rest of this entry »

A Thousand Splendid Suns

By: admin | April - 17 - 2015

Editor’s Choice
2015 Skyscraper Competition

Bart Chompff, James Park

For centuries we have designed our buildings aligned to the sun. We aim to inverse this premise, by aligning the rays of the sun to our buildings.

With the advent of new technologies we believe the sun has the potential to play an even larger role in society than it does today, or has ever done before. Humanity has worshiped it, evolved with it, and organized its life around it. Our project aims to augment the utilization of sun’s energy on an architectural scale whereby the focus on capturing the sun’s energy goes beyond the mere application of photovoltaic cells upon surfaces. With this in mind, our design incorporates two available and proven processes of harvesting energy from the sun. Both of these processes operate by way of redirecting and thereby concentrating the rays of the sun towards a specific target but differ significantly in their output.

The first of our integrated concepts is Concentrated Solar Power (fig. 1). This is a system by which heliostats redirect and concentrate a large amount of thermal energy upon a small area which is transferred to a viscous substance which is in turn used to drive a steam turbine.

The second incorporated concept of energy harvesting is commonly referred to as Solar Thermal Cooling (fig. 2). It operates on a similar principle of focusing solar rays but alternatively uses the accumulated heat to fuel an absorption chiller, a device that transforms a hot substance into a cold one, which in turn may be used to cool the interior space of the building.

As previously indicated, both strategies utilize a methodology that operates on the principle of Forward Ray Tracing (fig. 3). Accordingly, arrays of heliostats are optimally positioned around the tower which redirect the sun’s rays as the earth completes its daily rotation. The tower’s deformed surfaces demarcate areas where Concentrated Solar Power and Solar Thermal Cooling are employed and are convex and concave respectively in accordance with the spatial requirements of the two technologies.

By harvesting more of the sun’s rays not only can we utilize more use of the sun’s latent energy but also fundamentally alter the relation between the sun and the architectural object. Read the rest of this entry »