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A new interpretation on ancient Omani architecture is explored by the Muscat Cultural Center by AS Architecture Studio. The design won the design completion to assemble the nation’s cultural heritage under one roof. A single large building with parametric roof sections perforated for light and air, the complex filters sunlight onto the large public spaces. A central courtyard is surrounded by Oman’s National Theatre, National Archive and National Library.

Placed between the sea and mountains the complex is an oasis of palm trees and protected open spaces. The 40,000 square meter area contains three wings adjacent to the courtyard. The roof bulges on the western wing for the theater program. Naturally cooled by overhangs and water features reminiscent of the countries aqueducts or falajs the courtyard is the protected core of the traditional fortified floor plan. Along with open sight lines a forest of thin columns adds airiness to the lobby and public spaces. Read the rest of this entry »

Thomas Heatherwick’s Rolling Bridge, completed in 2004 at Grand Union Canal Paddington Basin, London, is one of the most unique bridges in the world. A small pedestrian crossing, it is designed to curl up to allow boats through the inlet and uncurl again over the water. Eight triangular sections host a hydraulic ram on either side. As the rams open out of their vertical posts they extended the hand rails upwards. The pivoted sections are drawn toward each other creating a slow curling motion. The bridge can stop at any interval.

Fully curled up the bridge forms a compact vertical standing octagon at the water’s edge. Winner of the 2005 British Structural Steel award the bridge is also a sort of kinetic sculpture performing at high noon every Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

The Green Pavilion_Restaurant is a gently placed development on a green field, co-located with the existing mature trees. Located in Zagreb, Croatia, 3LHD Architects took care in carefully studying the existing conditions and designed a  footprint built around the exiting canopy and raising the ground to the building’s roof. Two restaurants and a small multi-use space makes up the lower program. Glass walls and doors look out to the courtyard allowing spill over seating outdoors. The building also splits to allow pedestrian traffic egress. The atrium allows light and vision lines throughout the complex and relies on natural breezes for much of it cooling. The persevered canopy and green roof also contribute significantly to reduced cooling needs. Read the rest of this entry »

The Coliseum was completed in only 18 months for the 2010 South American Games in Medellín, Colombia by Mazzanti Arquitectos and plan:b arquitectos. The green ribbons of roof lines create a distinctive character and utilitarian design for the complex which echoes the surrounding topography of the mountainous countryside. Six types of layered roof trusses are repeated in different patterns over four separate spans simplifying fabrication and installation. The undulating roofs extend beyond the inner volume to create public outdoor space.

The environmental design is an act of democratization and participation.The venue hosting sporting events for the cities residences is skinned in open air brise soleil wall partitions to allow passer-bys to witness events from the exterior.  The open skin also allows the local temperate breezes to provide natural cooling. The various relative heights of the roof truss ribbons allow room for vertical polycarbonate panels to provide natural lighting conditions. Orientation of the fenestration is north-south to reduce solar heat buildup and collect northern prevailing breezes. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flower of Life is as core symbol for a proposed sanatorium in Mariahof, Austria by Atelier Thomas Pucher. A place of residence those in a vegetative state and for their families, the design is the metamorphosis of the symbol of life in many world cultures. Developed to provide spiritual uplift for what often is a fearful and difficult transition the sanatorium’s concentric circular form embeds a cultural narrative on the cycle of birth and death.

Found throughout nature in the form of seed pods and flowers the motif has been widely used throughout the world in design. Increasingly complex versions of the motif show up in architecture like Catholic Church rose windows and Islamic design motifs. The richly detailed roof is the result of overlapping concentric circles set to a grid with sections highlighted. The vesica piscis shape is considard a sacred geometry, especially in Christan traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico City’s most provocative building may be underground. A 65 thousand square meter shopping mall and parking garage will be submerged 18 meters beneath an urban park in Santa Fe City Center. KMD Architect’s design for the multiuse space adds much needed private infrastructure to the area without subtracting from the public good. The result is layers of program that seamlessly transition from the street to the park to the retail environment below. Shops and entertainment venues will be the primary use with the park containing a jogging track, water features, trees, grass, and a performance space. Three levels of tucked under parking for 1600 cars will accommodate the complex and neighboring buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

One of four entrants to the competition to envision the new Calabar International Convention Center in Nigeria, Mecanoo Architecten took placement to heart by tucking the complex underneath the hilly local topography. The design calls for a grand entrance that run north south through the hillside, feeding a plaza hosting numerous water elements.

The stitching of the convention center to the landscape is furthered by numerous openings at different elevations providing walkouts and daylight. Large skylights provide daylight to the main corridor and upper gathering areas. The main hall has a capacity of 1,500 people with a smaller exhibition area than can hold 600. A series of support rooms, meeting spaces, and a business center provide a diverse set of functions for the facility. Read the rest of this entry »

The Canteen House designed by endemic architecture is a small agriculture housing concept that saves water in a bladder skin for use during dry periods. The home’s exterior is split into quadrants which are lined with a rubberized bladder that can store storm water runoff during the wet season. Each section can hold 17,000 gallons for use when irrigation water is difficult to come by. The home is connected to an irrigation system to distribute the water directly from its storage skin. With a total of 36,000 gallons of storage the architects estimate that the system can irrigate one acre of land for six weeks. The distribution of the water as well as type of crop, soil and weather make the estimate more of an art than science. Using rain collection to feed its water collection system the structures swelling and contracting creates a visual representation of the overall environmental conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

The Technical University of Munich’s upgrade of a weather tower has became an iconic symbol for the campus. Deubzer Konig + Rimmel Architekten’s sixty-two meter translucent tower supports a series of weather sensors at five heights collecting data for the collage’s research programs. The stepped concrete core of the facility is wrapped in a rounded Plexiglas shell which provides a semi translucent skin. The skin is attached to a series of metal rings which float off the concrete walls by horizontal rods and vertical guy wires. Piontwise bearings allow for a smooth transition for each level of the skin without supporting channels.

LEDs at the top of the tower spell the Universities acronym TUM. A lower level has 3570 embedded LEDs behind the Plexiglas skin which announces current weather conditions as well as campus news or images. The skin is 88% translucent which during daytime allows the towers concrete core to be revealed. At night the tower is internally illuminated to project the entire mass of the structure through the shell. A series of accessible internal platforms provides a protected gathering space. Read the rest of this entry »

The double video installation Topologies by artist Quayola is an experimental abstract of the Baroque period art works Las Meninas by Velazquez and L’ Immacolata Concezione by Tiepolo. The figurative paintings are systematically reduced to color planes and set in motion as a fluid kinetic skin. The fluttering undulations become almost entirely independent of their origins, responding to an underlying, ever changing formulation of three dimensional space. The abstractions have architectural geometric underpinnings of fixed points connected by simple geometric plains which create the three dimensional space. The organic movement of the topography is underscored by accompanying sounds corresponding to the intensity and scale of the movement. Read the rest of this entry »