The Putrajaya Waterfront development, south of Kuala Lumpur, is home to a large planned residential tower complex in Precinct 4. As part of large centrally planned commercial and government district the towers Studio Nicoletti Associati conceived the design to stand as counterpoint to the tall traditional towers nearby. The overall form is both reminiscent of a sailboat’s profile and a nod to Islamic design sensibilities by terminating with a contemporary ogive arch. Starting with an rounded exoskeleton the towers vary in height and orientation to create an open, pedestrian friendly landscape. Each tower ranging from 18 to 20 stories is topped out with a large terrace spa and green space partially shaded by the support structure that terminates a few stories above. The project totals 278,000 square feet of floor area.

The brise soleil skin provides the distinct identity to the buildings as well as high energy performance which is estimated to reduce energy consumption by 50% of typical mid-rise residential towers in Singapore. The supporting frame will act as a shading device over the glazing but not affect views. The buildings are to support natural cooling techniques which will enter the operable windows and be flushed out through the same apartment or across multiple floors. The buildings are placed to avoid blocking prevailing breezes. Read the rest of this entry »

The R129 prototype shelter by Werner Sobeck is a radical fusion of building sciences and material sciences to explore the potential of changeable space. The monospace design is intended to exist autonomously from the grid. The skin of the dome is 10 millimeter plastic skin which is self supporting across the entire roof span. An electrochromatic foil integrated into the skin will be able to switch from translucent to opaque in sections or as a whole. Controls can allow daylight in without overheating. An undisrupted series of fenestration allows the building to capture prevailing breezes and occupants to gain entrance from any point.

The interior is an open floor plan with no walls. Rooms are “created” by furniture, cabinets, and appliances that are inserted below floor level and rise when only when needed, thus making a relatively small living space functionally much larger. Heating, cooling, plumbing services and storage is also contained in the floor system. The design is intended to work completely off-grid as an independent, self supporting environment. The research involved in developing the R129 Prototype at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design merges the disciplines of architecture and engineering to push the boundaries of thin materials in the building sciences, reducing material requirements while improving building performance. Read the rest of this entry »


By:  | January - 10 - 2011

Norwegian Architectural firm MVRDV had their DnB NOR Bank Project top out this fall and is part of the large Oslo Barcode downtown development. Conceived as the largest and  most pixilated of three joined buildings which consolidate the banks operation. An underground concourse connects the three towers. The nonlinear narrative of the façade stands in opposition to it new neighbors situated along the track of the Oslo train depot. A complex program results with many informal spaces to allow staff interaction, open eating facility at the top and multiple paths through the building. The internal egress routes cross the building allowing multiple paths to each floor. Access is provided to the outdoors and green spaces for each floor as a result of the staggered floor plates.

The pixilated form also provides daylight penetration deeper into the interior and a large covered outdoor entrance to the lobby. Areas of floor to ceiling fenestration using advanced thermal glass enhances the daylight harvesting. The 17 floor building will hold an impressive 2000 workstations along with the executive suites and trading floor. A stone skin will cover the face of the building allowing for crags to provide vegetation mimicking the Norwegian mountains. Construction will be completed in early 2012. Read the rest of this entry »

Melbourne based Architect Toby Horricks recently had an installation tilted “Icon” installed in the Gallery of Australian Design in Canberra. Four cardboard freestanding sculptures each represent a magazine from the publisher Architecture Media, with copies of the corresponding building design publications available at each installation. Each work stands on a simple cardboard pad of 1.8 x 1.8 meters.

Horricks experiments in cardboard lead to dynamic forms that share a common grid but unique forms, exploring the dynamics of a lightweight material forming complex structure.  The parametric abstracts reflect the aesthetic dynamics and tension between solid and negative space, as well as that of the fixed grid and free form.

Developed to be flat packed for simple transportation and display as freestanding objects the use of cardboard has a low initial environmental impact and is entirely recyclable. Cardboard as building material, explored by architects such as Shigeru Ban, shows promise as a way to focus on pushing the limits of low impact design within building science and aesthetic. Horricks has focused much of his work in the development of cardboard furniture to examine environmental materials, design and space issues. Read the rest of this entry »

The Hydro House by Rael San Fratello Architects is a conceptual design which, using water, creates a micro climate in desert regions to regulate internal temperatures. A roof pond along with a pond in the courtyard and a unique water retaining wall system are the primary water sources. Through evapotranspiration, breezes penetrate the outer courtyard’s skin and are cooled as they crosses the water surface and then into the home. A large operable skylight on the leeward side allows air to escape, and by stack effect draws air through the structure.

The thick walls collect and store rainwater that overflows from the roof pond. The water’s thermal mass in the walls along with the roof act as a thermal flywheel. By absorbing the heat of the day the mass then expels it at night, moderating internal temperatures. The top of the walls also house planters which help shade the roof. A white patina also assists in reflecting unwanted daytime heat gain.

The inner courtyard pond is flanked by the private quarters and public spaces forming a V shaped footprint. All rooms facing the pond feature shaded glass doors that allow cross ventilation. The roof and walls have multiple round skylights to distribute daylight. Read the rest of this entry »

In an increasingly dense urban fabric, residents become further disconnected from the origin of food they consume. Urban vertical farms challenge this disconnect, often through challenging design. Emerging architect Scott Johnson has hyperlocalized the vertical farm into a program that supports the tower’s residences with a tiered farm in the core of the building.

The Chicago based concept tower is based on the structure of a sea cucumber. The animal is a part of the Echinoderms family with a spiny exterior skin protecting soft tissues dedicated for digestion and reproduction. The provocatively named project Aberrant Architecture is conceived similarly as a ridged exterior frame supporting the floor plates. An outer section is for a hotel and residential units, making up the bulk of the program of the outer ring. The southern face is reserved to food production and dips to provide exposure for an inner tower which is dedicated for growing crops. Each level is reserved for one of twelve foods, depending on solar exposure and humidity. Read the rest of this entry »

Designed by Bill Caplin the Cornucopia Sukkah is a temporary religious structure used during the Jewish Festival Sukkot and is an entrant in the 2010 New York Sukkah City Design Competition. The design is a contemporary re-visioning of a traditional structure which represents a rough wilderness shelter. The sculptural ribbon serves as human scaled furniture as it winds through the pipe and canvas shelter. The wooden platform extends from the ground to function as a seat, table and then a schach, a traditional covering.  As it climbs it take on symbolic value, fulfilling the terms of design by providing shade but still allowing rain through. Filtered daylight though the wooden slats become an endless changing abstract against the white canvas. The building is developed for simple construction and teardown and uses only three materials in its construction. Read the rest of this entry »

London based design group PostlerFerguson recently displayed the conceptual renderings of Microclimates a passive cooling unit that is as much art as it is functional. The project uses artificial sandstone to make a complex series of surfaces which when wet allow air to be cooled by evapo-transmission. The pieces stand in central areas where air currents are maximized to cool and moisten the immediate environment.

Using stereolithography a 3-D printing process by D-Shape the individual units are inspired by desert cooling techniques developed over the millennia. The stand alone units are composed of sand and an organic binder that is printed out in layers to achieve the complex internal area required for sufficient evaporative surface. The structure’s patterns are an interpretation on Islamic architecture styles. While intended to be art installations the design holds promise to be incorporated into desert buildings where peak energy loads can be reduced. Read the rest of this entry »

The B+U proposal for the Taipei Performing Arts Center began with a study of sound waves. Sound was analyzed and transformed into a three dimensional form which informed the overall shape of the building. Inside are housed three performance areas. Radiating from a central foyer the Grand Theater and Playhouse form the bulk of the program to the north. Suspended above the plaza to the south is a multi function theater.

The uplifted section shelters the approach to the entrance, a multi layered foyer which connects to all three performance spaces. The parametric foyer is also a public gathering space that supports retail and assembly. Its massive staircase, glass walls and undulating form becomes the centerpiece of the building.

The Grand Theater seats 1500 while the Playhouse and Multiform Theater both seat 800 patrons. The design and program are intended to inspire and host contemporary performance for a wide range of audiences. Specific program use is accommodated by the scale and flexibility of the theaters. The radical building shell is intended to highlight the arts in society and celebrate contemporary sensibilities within the creative community. Read the rest of this entry »

Kazakhstan based architect and artist Saken Narynov re-imagines earth, the most ancient of building materials, as a modern multistory complex serving multiple families in a high density, low impact fashion. Adobe construction has been a common place construction method in Asia for at least 6 thousand years. Its ongoing prevalence due to its low cost, energy performance and relative low skill set to work with makes it a unique building material for housing.

A proposed ten story lattice performs as a base for organic building to be constructed in using adobe and cob construction techniques.  The frame supports add necessary rigidity for moderate earthquake protection. The roof holds a solar array for localized energy production. The large roof also protects the walls from weather and the dwellings from intense sun. Balconies and roof decks provide outdoor access. Using a basic structural framework relatively unskilled labor can construct midrise housing using locally sourced materials and trades. The reduced energy requirements and indoor air quality of the abode wall will protect the inhabitant’s well being.  Adaptive reuse of the grid infrastructure can accommodate multifamily, small commercial purposes as well as grow in density as population pressures require. Read the rest of this entry »