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The city of Bilbao, Spain has a restrictive building code that requires stepped setbacks for all multistory buildings along its main boulevards. Coll Barreu Arquitecto’s response was to assemble a hybrid double skin which not only created a distinctive contemporary face but improved the building’s performance characteristics. The outer glazed skin is composed of framed glass set to a tubular frame. The windows are separated by several inches. Two major benefits arise from the design application: sound levels from the busy boulevard in the heart of the city is significantly reduced, and solar heat gain is curtailed by radiation reduction and a breathable wall system. The separated prismatic face also allows for balconies to wrap the structure without impeding the dynamic facade’s appearance which reflects the ever changing environmental light conditions. Behind the facade a traditional fenestration of double glazing wraps the two street side walls of the facility.

The code required tower hosts meeting spaces in a daylit, two story atrium that opens to a roof deck. The seven stories below contain office space and a subterranean three floor robotic parking lot, providing dense land use. Read the rest of this entry »

Kaohsiung, the largest port city in Taiwan, is in need of a cruise ship passenger terminal and public face for its contribution to the islands growing cultural importance. Sun and Associate’s submitted proposal for the Passenger Transportation District for the Port of Kaohsiung is a sweeping architectural statement on public use and green urban design. The obvious allusion to a wave creates a welcoming sensibility to visitors and speaks to the islands relationship to the sea. The building’s mixed use as a conference center, office, port and urban park expand the programs flexibility and public/ private accessibility. Read the rest of this entry »

The Greater Noida Housing Project is a large residential  development, 30 miles southwest of New Delhi. Designed by FXFOWEL Architects the  philosophy of the configuration stresses environmental and social sustainability. The modular prefabricated stacking of units, with shifting floors and open outdoor spaces and voids add a unique textural vertical living environment that lightens the scale of the project. Daylight and air penetrate the complex to create a wealth of outdoor living spaces.

The 22 buildings feature a modulated system stacked between terracotta colored sheer walls that also act a sun blocks. The majority of the planned 1700 residential units have a north-south orientation to maximize solar exposure in the winter months. A number of floors will be left open to allow cooling summer monsoon breezes maintain comfortable living conditions within the elevated living spaces. The voids between floors also contain balconies and public spaces encouraging interactions with the residences. Larger buildings stand up to forty five stories and block winds on the north side of the 47 acre site. A cluster of smaller buildings to the south let winter light penetrate the green belt between the building, creating an overall effect of a small scale city. Units will range from studios to 5 bedrooms. Read the rest of this entry »

The wryly named Fake Hills is a large apartment complex set on the water in the city of Beihai, China. MAD architects took the long lived Chinese principle of architecture mimicking or responding to nature to counterpoint the modern monolithic residential building trend by using local hill formations as a reference. Its principle design intention was to move away from the current residential towers that are sprouting up in the metropolitan area and reconnect the city with the local hillsides and natural formations. Currently the bulk of building construction in China is cheap residential towers and row buildings that are intended to maximize developer profits but dehumanize and denature the environs. Developed in such a large scale the apartment complex will create an iconic symbol for the city. Read the rest of this entry »

The Solstice on the Park Tower by Studio Gang Architects is a site specific passive solar residential tower to be built in South Chicago adjacent to Jackson Park. A substantial portion of glazing on the southern face of the 26 story tower is tilted to significantly reduce heat gain in summer but maintain solar exposure in the winter. The façade’s angle off vertical is calibrated to Chicago’s latitude resulting in a 71 degree pitch. The program consists of 145 units stacked in phases of four stories to accommodate the angled face. The offset face steps back to provide a walkout for the apartments above. Offices, a community room, conference space and gardens are also incorporated. Read the rest of this entry »

The proposed Solar Tower for Chicago by Zoka Zola Architects features an active solar array mounted to the façade which maximizes solar gain throughout the day. The spherically based design takes advantage of the large surface of a building by mounting the panels on the vertical plane. By incorporating tracking arms that the solar units mount to, summer electrical production can be improved by as much as 40% compared to a static mounted solar array, and even more compared to traditional vertically mounted solar facades. The array’s full potential is then realized, creating the greatest kWhrs production per square foot of any design. Wind pressure exerted on the solar panel holding mechanisms can be converted into energy.

The spherical panels are mounted in such a way as to maintain views for the interior but to reduce heat gain. This results in a minimized dependency on a cooling plant. The panels are evident from the interiors of the tower to emulate the technology. The siting of the tower will have a dramatic effect on its power production-being isolated or adjacent to a southerly body of water or park is preferable.  The entire building will have a kinetic profile raising onlooker’s awareness of renewable onsite energy production and sustainable urban design.

TEK is a public building in Taiwan that uses a form and highly mixed program to encourage a large cross section of users. Designed by BIG Architects, the 57 meter cubed building has an open section, or ‘street’ to allow full public access through the building. The access rises and dilates near the top of the building and opens onto a rooftop garden. The roof is to be a public park and informal performance area.

Radiating from the street will be hotel, retail, office, restaurants, etc, with no particular formal arrangement. The building is an expression of a city bock packed into a more vertical system. The ribs, evocative of the underside of a mushroom form stairs through the structure and is repeated on the walls and ceiling thus creating a visually continuous facade. The access through the building allows for ventilation, shade, and increased fenestration for the occupants. The building site is not yet disclosed. Read the rest of this entry »

As a part of the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark the signature Bella Sky Hotel is currently under construction. The towers lean 15 degrees in opposite directions to provide views for all the rooms but still alolows the towers to share a common footprint. Being located adjacent to Copenhagen Airport 3XN Architects had to design two 75m tall (25 floors) towers rather than a single tower to accommodate 800 rooms .

The 42,000 square meter facility is intended to provide a landmark status for Bella Center, host to many international events. A turn on the top floors of the towers is designed to lower wind turbulence around the structures and soften the angularity. The fenestration is angled with the towers lean, an effect enhanced from the interior view. The Bella Hotel recalls the Puerta de Europa twin towers in Madrid, only at a larger scale, becoming the largest hotel in Nordic Europe. Expected to top out this summer the first phase of the Bella Hotel will be completed in spring 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Capital Gate is a new building forming the entrance to Capital Centre, a major development project in Abu Dhabi and is designed by RMJM Architects.  It is an advanced parametrically designed tower sitting at 160 meters featuring a leaning façade of 18 degrees off horizontal. This technically has given it the title of the most substantial lean to a building in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The building contains a substantial concrete core slightly off center that carries the cantilevered floors. 490 pilings were cored to a depth of 30 meters to counteract the cantilever. A diagrid exterior structure made of triangular tubular steel units creates a ridged mesh to add support and act as a frame for the custom glazing units. The exterior was also developed to reduce the supports mass, thus weight. The triangular glass is a double glazing unit and is custom cut to fit the constantly changing form of the building’s skin. The individual units were installed in a prebuilt panel that was then secured to the diagrid structure. The building’s exhaust air cycled between the panes of glass to lower the radiant temperature. Read the rest of this entry »

Parade 3

Critical Practice is a public arts group based at the University of the Arts, London. They operate under the proposition that developing aesthetic and programmatic space is a radial rather than lineal process and created the installation Parade to explore the effectiveness of their process in the public square. Made from 4300 black milk crates tied together with zip ties the structure’s components were minimized in order to focus on special relationships during the design and assembly process. It was constructed on the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground at Chelsea Collage of Arts and Design during the third week of May, 2010. Read the rest of this entry »