On July 22nd and 23rd 2015, in the city Beijing, China, Hua Yan Group, the promoter of the MOLEWA International Competition along with the President of UIA, officials from UNESCO, China’s business leaders and minister-level officials from the Chinese Government, held an award ceremony to socialize and recognize the competition results. The event also featured round tables to discuss next steps for the projects´ and masterplan refinement and construction.

TEAM730 led by José Muñoz Villers and Carlos Marín were awarded Silver Medal for Plot 7: Shopping Street, in the architects´ words: the International Competition for MOLEWA offers a fresh opportunity to re-invent and re-imagine the future of urbanism and architecture not only through the celebration of open public spaces and the overall pedestrian environment, but also, through different approaches to propose sustainable typologies in architecture to respond successfully to contemporary and future generations to come.

Architecture should enable us to design experiences and possibilities for things to happen; architecture should suggest rather than impose. The design philosophy is based on key components to respond successfully to the project´s highest performance:

By introducing the WEST SIDE BOULEVARD – a 126-meter long street which contracts and expands to create small, intimate plazas and pocket parks, the project successfully addresses not only to the client’s demands on creating a shopping street, but also to the tremendous opportunity to re-invent the contemporary pedestrian street.  The WEST SIDE BOULEVARD links both ends of the parcel, operating as an urban component to connect with different plots and programs (Museum District and Shopping COMPLEX), by doing so this inner pedestrian street propels the flow of people, program and activity needed to activate the entire site. The pedestrian street serves as a meeting place, both spontaneous and planned, due to series of intimate plazas, pocket gardens and parks that appear along the way, it also provides multiple standpoints to observe the high-end retail stores, gallery spaces, and enjoy the flowers, handmade goods or Italian gelato kiosks.  The architecture that is strategically placed along the boulevard generates a vertical impression with a deep perspective, inviting the visitor to come, experience and stay.  The WEST SIDE BOULEVARD helps to create “a sense of place”; it offers a comfortable place to sit and gather while creating a unique image for the neighborhood.  It promotes sustainability through minimizing heat islands and responding to climatic demands; and is capable of being maintained without excessive costs. 
The WEST SIDE BOULEVARD also performs as the epicenter for culture, fashion, art and entertainment.  Proposed as a multi-event pedestrian street, it is easily transformed from a busy commercial street with coffee shops, gelato and flower kiosks, into a vibrant fashion show to introduce new season clothing for the high-end retail stores, or a summer concert from a local orchestra.  In order to offer the best climate conditions for this year-round events, the shopping street is protected by a series of thin columns supporting hanging roofs to cast shadows and protect from rain, without blocking views from and to the site and the surroundings.

A collection of vitrines ranging from one floor to three stories; enclosed or entirely open; formal and informal; transparent or opaque; with art terraces or verandas; from 25 to 1000 square meters, the project attempts to suggest rather than impose architectures with a wide range of flexibility in future and potential tenants.  The buildings are able to work as an stand-alone high-end retail store for a world-class couture brand, or to be rented to a AAA office space on one floor and a gallery space on the other; the scale of the buildings responds successfully in reassuring that natural light and ventilation (if needed) is achieved, that main and service entrances are placed where needed, but above all, that each vitrine has full 4-façade exposure. The scheme presents 8,717m2 of built area, but is fully flexible and able to increase by 20% in leasable area without losing its distinctive character, lightness and porosity.

A distinctive roofscape is introduced as a key component to engage an active dialogue with the Chinese culture, the subtropical climate, and as a signature of the architectural program and activities of the site.  The project presents a series of light suspended structures supported by thin columns to increase a comfort zone for outdoors activities to take place.  The distinctive geometry and lightness is referred to a contemporary re-interpretation of the Chinese traditional architecture of pagodas, such structures respond successfully to the subtropical conditions of the site while providing an open but protective roof.  The roofscape is also intended to function as the ultimate unifying architectural element not only for the inhabitable architecture, but also for the informal network of pedestrian streets.

The program proposed for the project is based on the client request for high-end retail and luxury.  High-end goods as well as luxury services are placed strategically across the site to activate a perfect mix between shopping, business and pleasure. Access to these tailored services is achieved not only from the West End Boulevard, but through a series of perpendicular streets that links the architecture to the surroundings.High-End Stores: primarily located on corners or street intersections for highest visibility.  The project includes 5 opportunities for luxury retail, each store could be turn into a magnificent temple of the brand, design for “slow shopping” and designed with a welcome environment. Based on extensive research in regard of high-end retail stores, the architecture is presented as a vitrine for the brands to personalize and organize it according to their requirements while maintaining the brand´s identity. The stores are to function not only for sales, but also for brand communication, store experience and identity.  The high-end stores proposed for the project are of the size of “regular stores” that range from 400 to 1000 square meters.  It has been considered that each store could contain: women´s universe: women shoes, leather goods, accessories; men´s universe: shoes, leather goods; luggage and accessories.  They might also have small VIP lounge and Back of the House areas for stock, office manager space, manager assistance area, area for service entrance and security, toilet and kitchenette. Art Galleries: contemporary art galleries not only form part of the West End Boulevard, but they are also an inevitable and inseparable part of luxury universe. Luxury and art are very powerful and very closely linked sociological markers. Luxury product corresponds to a deep and relatively personal and spontaneous desire, while art, meaning skill or craft, is a product of a body of knowledge and spirit. Chinese Luxury Silk store: the most emblematic passion on the West End Boulevard is dedicated to a Chinese Luxury Silk store. Through its location it is proudly evoking the history of Silk Road that used to be a connection between China, Europe and the rest of the world. Today, it is a meeting point between China and Europe; it is a connection, a shared beauty, a shared luxury and desire. Italian gelato and coffee shops: the most unpredictable, subtle and indirect way of bringing a piece of European spirit is definitely through deeply integrated street life and enjoyment, but also through small pleasures, sweet delicacies and cup of coffee. These small nucleuses formed by coffee and ice-cream shops, create a gathering point, a peaceful and intimate shelter or a vivid atmosphere full of human whispering and laughter. Handmade craft: a product is luxury when it is handmade, tailored for few. Luxury means exclusiveness. Something truly unique, thus craftsmanship is undoubtedly an integrative part of this luxury universe.  It gives it humble human touch. Finally, this new form of development that integrates luxury shopping + art + hedonism + spa + sweet delicacies + flower and silk crafts, represents a democratization of luxury: “exclusively for everybody”. It is creating a new life style.

The proposal reinforces the idea that streets should not only serve as transportation routes, but be also front yards and public squares for the city, the city streets should be vibrant again.  Since streets in general represent 25% of the city´s land area, the design and conditions of these public spaces has an important impact on the city´s environmental health and quality of life of the residents.  The proposal design streets as public spaces that beyond moving people and goods, they comprise and extensive network of public open spaces to facilitate social, cultural, civic and economic interaction.

The scheme features two main components with distinctive  purposes: on the one hand, a series of 22 boxes to respond to the maximum variety and diversity of potential tenants, the box-like structures present proportions that become them suitable not only for the suggested use (commercial), but also for future and unpredictable new programs (housing, hospitality).  On the other hand, a suspended roofscape is deployed strategically across the site creating not only a controlled micro-climate, but also a unique image for the neighborhood, the roofscape generates a vertical impression with deep perspective, inviting the visitor to come, experience and stay.

In the same fashion that goods and services are delivered in typical shopping streets in Europe, the proposed scheme takes advantage of the inner pedestrian street (West End Boulevard) to be used, in days and hours previously chosen, as a service street where small vans or trucks have specific parking spots nearby stores, kiosks and offices.  The project also features vehicle entrance and exit on the north facade and has assigned a specific area for service parking and freight elevators at the parking floor.

Competition: International Competiton for MOLEWA, Plot 7: Shopping Street
Client: Hua Yan Cultural Investment Company, Ltd.• Project Manager: Creativersal International, Ltd.• Competition organizers: UIA.
Location: Huayan Township / City of Ruichang, China.
Design Directors: José Muñoz Villers + Carlos Marín
Design team: Djurdja Milutinovic, Claudio Nieto Rojas
Plot size: 10,000m2.
Program: 8,717m2 of mix-use and 10,000m2 of parking space.
Project year: 2015
Model: Fernando Kido Kerse
Visualization: CG Verón, lab07
Photographs: Marcos Betanzos Read the rest of this entry »

“Clouds are the most evocative, poetic aspect of nature.” Gavin Pretor-Pinney

The city of Atlanta has long been considered a horizontal landscape of autonomous neighborhoods distributed over a large metropolitan area. The central core of the city is experienced by many via Interstate 75/85 (Atlanta Connector).

The bridge enhancement program can effectively communicate to a very broad audience the arrival of Downtown as a diverse and vital urban distinct.

The idea of Skyscape designed by Ricardo Zurita Architecture and Planning, sprang from the awareness that of primary importance was the need to redefine the existing relation of the large irregular geometries of the bridge to its surrounding context. Skyscape “smoothes out” the uneven edges creating a three-dimensional “facade” on the bridge for both those on the bridge and those below on the freeway.

Skyscape is a complex geometry designed using a computer-assisted parametric process. The development of geometrically complex structures is iterative, from analysis to modeling, computation and modifications, seamless between design and construction. Technical feasibility and costs are the most important influencing constraints that can be studied via the parametric process. The derivation of forms is the result of surface triangulation (based on a 3D Delaunay algorithm) that optimizes the quantity of material used and minimizes structure.

Skyscape is a “kit of parts” consisting of three self-framing structures comprised of a steel-tube supporting frame with roll-formed panels and steel attachments.

The Cloud can be a delightful and unexpected gift to the visitor to the Park as well as to the busy motorist who momentarily will find beauty and perspective by just looking up. Read the rest of this entry »

Danjiang Bridge by Zaha Hadid Architects, render by VisualArch


Zaha Hadid Architects, working with Leonhardt, Andrä & Partner and Sinotech Engineering Consultants, have won the international competition to design the new Danjiang Bridge in Taipei for the Directorate General of Highways, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Located at the mouth of Tamsui River that flows through the capital Taipei, the Danjiang Bridge is integral to the infrastructure upgrading program of northern Taiwan. The bridge will increase connectivity between neighbourhoods and reduce through-traffic on local roads within local town centres by linking the Highways 2 and 15, with the West Coast Expressway (Route 61) and Bali-Xindian Expressway (Route 64). By also reducing traffic from the congested Guandu Bridge upriver, the Danjiang Bridge will greatly improve the northern coast traffic system and enhance accessibility throughout the region with the rapidly expanding Port of Taipei/Taipei Harbour, the region’s busiest shipping port.

The Danjiang Bridge will also allow for the extension of Danhai Light Rail Transportation (DHLRT) system over the Tamsui River to connect the town of BaLi and the Port/Harbour with Taipei’s public rail network.

The Tamsui River estuary is a natural environment flanked by the urban centres of Tamsui to the East and Bali to the west. The estuary is rapidly growing in popularity with both residents and tourists as a recreational area where people gather each day to watch the sun setting over the Taiwan Strait.

The cable-stayed bridge design minimises its visual impact by using only one concrete structural mast to support the 920m road, rail and pedestrian deck made from steel. The Danjiang Bridge will be the world’s longest single-tower, asymmetric cable-stayed bridge.

The mast is designed and engineered to be as slender as possible and positioned to offer the best structural performance, avoid impeding the navigability of the river and also minimise any interference with the views of the sunset from popular viewing points along the river. This single-mast design also minimizes structural elements in the riverbed in accordance with the increased protection programs of the estuary’s ecosystems.

Zaha Hadid Architects, with Leonhardt, Andrä & Partner and Sinotech Engineering Consultants placed first in the competition. CECI and Nippon Engineering Consultants placed second; Aecom Asia and Resources Engineering Services placed third, MAA Group and Cowi placed fourth, with Oriental Consultants with Pacific Engineers & Constructors and Pyunghwa Engineering Consultants and Pacific Consultants with Taiwan Engineering Consultants and Yuang Engineering Consultants placing joint fifth. Read the rest of this entry »

Ecocapsule - Photo: Tomas Manina / Juraj Fifiki

Ecocapsule designed by Nice Architects is smart house powered by purely the solar and wind energy. It allows people to reach the frontiers with the luxury of the hotel room. It can serve as cottage, pop-up hotel or even as charging station for electric cars.

Extended off-grid stay
Ecocapsule is equipped with dual power production system bypassing periods of low energy production and massive battery capacity allowing to store surplus energy for later usage.

Spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is carefully formed to maximize collection of the rain water and morning dew. Membrane water filters installed in the Ecocapsule are devised to purify 99,999% of the bacteria and rendering any natural water source suitable for drinking.

Low-energy design
Spherical shape of the Ecocapsule was purposely designed to minimize energy losses. Hollow walls filled with hi-performance thermal insulation are protecting inhabitants from harsh environment and helping to achieve near passive house performance. Low consumption system and energy recuperation are helping to reduce energy consumption and extend life span.

Easy mobility
Ecocapsule is optimized for easy transportation. It can fit into standard shipping container therefore it can be easily shipped globally with lowest shipping fees possible. Mobility of the Capsule can be extended via additional undercarriage which will turn Ecocapsule to the fully functioning caravan. Read the rest of this entry »

The Maximillian Chair

By: admin | August - 13 - 2015

The chair that embodies design, ingenuity and meticulous American craftsmanship.

Maximillian Chair

Los Angeles based industrial designer Armen Sevada recently launched his Maximillian Chair. Seven years in the making, the chair combines meticulous attention to design proportion and craftsmanship.

“Fine-tuning a timeless chair that needed to be built like a watch was perhaps the hardest part of the process. My goal is to design objects that are timeless and complete in and of themselves. For me, this is the true test of sustainability; designs that are not governed by style or frivolous form. I wanted to create an object that for me embodied meticulous attention to design proportion and craftsmanship. I believe the Maximillian embodies design, ingenuity and meticulous American craftsmanship. I wanted to create something that could be as close to a perfect chair as possible” ~ 
Armen Sevada

The Maximillian Chair took seven years of design and prototyping to create, and is a true testament to American manufacturing. Each piece is welded from stainless steel sheets that are cut with laser precision. It takes six weeks to produce one chair. The chair’s hollow structure is meticulously designed like a building, and is manufactured in Los Angeles, handcrafted meticulously by expert artisans. The chair is designed to withstand the effects of moisture, and will not rust or tarnish.

“I believe that furniture has become a commodity. The general public may spend thousands of dollars on their clothing, but care less how they live behind closed doors. I believe the handcrafted approach is important to show that there are objects that are built with care and precision rather than mass production. Hermès bags are also handmade and I think this is one of the reasons why they are valued as they are. I think it is important to make things that have a personal touch, and there is a beauty in subtle imperfection. We are too used to identical objects that are manufactured by machines”

The chair is a real investment piece, with only 100 available worldwide. Each chair comes with a numbered plaque and signature, priced at $25,000. The first one went to Armen’s son, Maximillian, the inspiration for this project.

Armen Sevada Gharabegian, designer and producer of the Maximillian Chair, is an accomplished industrial designer based in Los Angeles. He is the founder and principal designer of Lounge22, a modern furniture design and fabrication company, as well as the founder and CEO of Ethos Design, a production company involved in global exhibits and events worldwide. He is an accomplished artist, sculptor and published author who continues to pursue all his passions. A graduate of the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, he holds a Master’s degrees in industrial design and has taught furniture design for several years.

The complete story of the chair can be found at http://maximillianchair.com Read the rest of this entry »

The former French Concession in the heart of Shanghai is known for its typical rectilinear development – the Li Long. Li stands for neighborhood, and Long refers to the narrow rectilinear streets separating the buildings. This urban morphology, which is typical of Shanghai, creates narrow and intimate urban spaces.

The design for SOHO Fuxing Lu, an urban quarter with restaurants, shops and offices primarily intended for young start-up companies, adopts the scale and orientation of the neighboring blocks, integrates existing historic buildings and, in this way, adds to the important urban seam in the inner city using the existing urban development structure.

The ensemble consists of nine oblong building blocks with sloping roofs and an east-west orientation, and a high-rise building which provides a more general reference to the urban landscape.

Within the confines of this precinct, a network of pathways and small alleys converges at a central square with restaurants. A circular access provides entry to commercial facilities in the basement and to the underground railway. The façades and roofs have been clad with light natural stone strips of different widths. The dark grey metal elements of the glass façades provide a contrast to these strips.

The abstract pattern image of the façades and the omission of any historic references underscore the urban focus of the project in the center of the city.

On completion, the project obtained the LEED Gold certificate.

Design – Meinhard von Gerkan and Stephan Schütz with Stephan Rewolle
Project management – competition Su Jun
Team members – competition Stefan Hornscheidt, Li Zheng, Zhou Bin, Zhang Jing
Project management – detailed design Matthias Wiegelmann, Kong Jing
Team members – detailed design Cai Yu, Guo Fuhui, Kornelia Krzykowska, Li Ling, Sebastian Linack, Xie Fang, Thilo Zehme, Zhang Yingying, Zheng Shanshan, Zhou Bin, Catharina Cragg, Dai Tianxing, Gao Rui, Hua Rong, Wu Hua, Yuan Hang, Zhang Xuhui
Client SOHO China
Chinese partner practice ECADI (East China Architectural Design & Research Institute CO. LTD)
GFA, total above ground 71,565 m²
GFA, total below ground 64,975 m²
Retail area 85,661 m²
Office area 50,879 m²
Height of high-rise building 99.85 m Read the rest of this entry »

Designed by Aedas, the project occupies one of the best locations in Dubai Marina, facing the Arabian Gulf on one side and the Dubai Marina on the other. It consists of three residential towers standing above a cluster of podium loft units with retail facilities at lower levels. The towers range from 43 to 56 storeys, offering spacious, modern apartments and duplex penthouses. They are tied together by a seven-storey podium that houses waterfront villas and boutique retail units. Each building has its own tropical pool deck, gym and facilities.

The client’s vision for the development was to provide spectacular views of the Marina for each apartment with well planned orientation and spatial layouts. Architecturally the development ‘grows’ from the ground. Aedas designed a solid base of stepped retails and villas with concrete and textured paint finishes, while the apartment towers above have a glass façade with a lightweight and transparent feel. The towers look clean and elegant in daytime, shaded with mesh fins that reflect the adjacent water, and transform into a lit sculpture at night, creating an iconic architecture on the most prominent site in Dubai Marina. Read the rest of this entry »

Melike Altınışık and Gül Ertekin were listed as finalist with their proposal for the İstanbul Gülsuyu Cemevi and Cultural Center Competition which was opened in May 2015 by Maltepe Municipality of Istanbul for a religious and cultural complex for Alevis. “Cemevi” is the name of the religious building of Alevis and there isn’t enough research on the history of it. The competition was opened to challenge local architects to come up with a design which serves the contemporary needs of this society while carrying traces of their culture.

There is a tension between the past and the present, the rural and the urban when it comes to design a Cemevi and Cultural Complex. The historical and rural samples of Cemevi are more small scale and hidden spaces. Due to the massive immigration of Alevis to big cities in the last 30 years and their new needs (cultural and social facilities), the scale of “City Cemevi” has become bigger and unfortunately they lack the feeling of a religious building.

Instead of a formal sustainability of the past, the cultural sustainability became the core of the design. Alevi culture and their values are taken as main principles for the architecture of Cemevi; such as humanism, modesty, socializing, strong connection with nature and the surroundings

The proposal offers a new way of designing Cemevi and Cultural Complex with its human scale, expanded, yet united look. It is consisted of repeating modules to express the unity of the complex, while differentiating the religious hall from other units with material changes. Pedestrian experience and socialising are important inputs for the project. Roof landscape, terraces oriented to the islands view, courtyards, and visible visual and physical connections between the functions create lively public spaces inside the complex for people to interact. Read the rest of this entry »

Presidential Library

By: admin | August - 3 - 2015

The objective of this project designed by Armin Senoner was to contextualize and gradually change both, the appearance as well as the physical experience of a Presidential Library.

The brake up from a seemingly purely contextualized agglomeration of solids into a new more articulated central library can be interpreted as the reflection of the last year’s turbulent, refreshing maybe also controversial presidency.

This project sees itself as a timeline, where the old and traditional negotiates creating new forms. Situated in Chicago, the presidential library takes place at West Garfield Park, at 5th Avenue and Kostner. A neighborhood predominated by high criminality, poverty, high percentage of low weight births and high rates of infant mortality.

The objective is to clear up the neighborhood by creating employment, adding service facilities and therefore hopefully lowering criminality. Many buildings are empty, lots can still be filled up. High potential for urban expansion guaranteed. In terms of program, the 105.000m² large area will be overbuild with the library and the archives in first place, followed up by a medical care center.

A boulevard is splitting the two main buildings and at the same time numerous shopping and retail facilities will revitalize the area and hopefully decrease negative characteristics of the surrounding area. Read the rest of this entry »

The prosposed design is not inteded to be seen just as a normal bridge or a path which is just the shortest link.The exisitng structure fullfills this requirement well enough. In this case it’s character and essence would be deepely rooted in making the city center of Atlanta more accessible and user friendly to the community and attractive to guests passing through. Because modern monuments don’t need to be just statues.They can be structures,areas , surfaces or places strengthening interaction, focused on performance in many ways, on what they can give in return to the eco-system, nature and society due to claiming of a piece of land. Hence the bridge design does not have to derive from aesthetics, beeing a sculptural form what would not bring any solutions for the issues of those who live within and visit Atlanta using the connections above the connector via car, bicycle, transit, and pedestrian movement systems.It can be a performative approach showcased in this parametric bridge design proposal which has the potential to be easily tailored to different needs and conditions including financial ones.

The outcome is a 35 meters wide and 144 meters long platform which would hover and stretch beyond the focus area to create a seamless connection with the land and improve pedestrian connections. The structure would form a roof allowing to shade specific areas positioned on an easy promenade featuring social active functions such as meeting points or market places. The extended pavement would still be giving necessary clearance for each type of traffic,where cars,bicycles would have it’s own lane, designed to changing vehicular needs. While the bridge would be a functional connector it’s character and essence would be defined by nature and the Atlanta City itself. Read the rest of this entry »