A lot of recent speculation into the future of agriculture and its role in urban environments includes the construction of large vertical farms – eco skyscrapers devoted completely to growing food. But what if there was an easier solution rather than constructing whole towers devoted to the endeavor? One idea is to craft growing pods or greenhouses designed for urban rooftops that feed off the building’s waste and excess. These growing pods would involve significantly less investment and infrastructure and easily tap into existing systems.

Natalie Jeremijenko, an aerospace engineer and environmental health professor at New York University, in partnership with Jeremy Edmiston, principal at SYSTEMarchitects, have come up with an interesting concept that could easily transform the rooftops of the urban fabric into growing machines. The rooftop greenhouses, called the Urban Space Structure, pack in the plants and can support growth all year long. Rib-like supports create the main structure, which is wrapped in ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), which is a translucent polymer that is both strong and recyclable and seen in use on many structures recently – most notably the Water Cube for the Beijing Olympics last year. Read the rest of this entry »


Although lacking an intriguing name, the “Multi-Storey Building” designed by Athens-based Kois Associated Architects has a very intriguing facade. Backed up against a living green wall, the mixed use building for Amman, Jordon, was designed after a study of Jordanian architecture, which informed the final volume of the building. A traditional block glass walled building is covered in a veil that has openings or shadings depending on the corresponding need for the program on that level. The veil acts as a boundary to the city, and the entrances on the street level are like gates into the building, providing a transition zone to those entering. Read the rest of this entry »

Masdar Headquarters-1

Construction on the sustainable headquarters for the City of Masdar in Abu Dubai has recently started and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City as part of the 2010 National Design Triennial. Masdar Headquarters, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, is on display until January 9th, 2011 along with 134 projects from 44 countries that all promote environmental stewardship, social equity, accessibility and creative capital. The centerpiece of Masdar City is slated for LEED Platinum certification and will be a positive energy, zero waste development. Read the rest of this entry »

Newsweek recently asked three leading architecture firms to imagine what our future cities would look like in 2030. They posed the question to Richard Meier & Partners, Cooper Robertson & Partners and HOK and had them take a look at the future of New York City, and how the way we commute, live, work and play would all change. All of the firms proposed that sustainability would be a major factor in our development, with more efficient transportation and buildings, more green space, more walking and homes that are closer to our place of work. The firms underlying vision of the future was that quality of life was richer and healthier as a result of the sustainable advances.

Richard Meier & Partners proposed that waterfront areas would be covered in green spaces to add more recreational places for city residents. While transportation along the North and South cooridors, the cross town transportation needs significant improvement. They proposed strengthening cross town public transportation and adding destinations at the end of the nodes. In the future, Richard Meier & Partners thinks that people will work closer to where they live to reduce time spent commuting and that the segregation between work areas and live areas will lessen.

Richard Meier – Live Work

Richard Meier Partners-LiveWork

Richard Meier – Recreation Read the rest of this entry »

Backcountry Ski Patrol-1

A recent design competition called for entries for a backcountry ski patrol and emergency services operation center for a site at 9,000 ft in elevation somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The winner of the 2010 Cavin Family Traveling Fellowship was Garrett van Leeuwen, a recent graduate of Architecture at Cal Poly, who now has $10,000 to use towards travel in order to learn about sustainable building. Garrett’s winning design 11,300 square foot facility incorporating emergency medical facilities, a backcountry operations center, sustainable building strategies as well as passive solar design.

The location for the backcountry operations center is at the top of a hill in a large valley with commanding views of the nearby ridges and terrain. Four main program categories make up the operations center – avalanche control, emergency medical service, ski patrol office and vehicle storage. Each program category needed an increasing amount of space, with vehicle storage needing the most and avalanche control needing the least. So four separate rooms were designed for a each purpose in ascending size, and linked together with storage towers and a hallway. Read the rest of this entry »

a-lab dnb nor headquarters-1

A large commercial development is underway in downtown Oslo near the waterfront called Bjørvika Barcode and includes many financial office buildings. The entire project was designed by a collaborative team of architecture firms including, a-lab, MRDV, and Dark Architects. a-lab is now working on its next phase of the project- the B-Building for the headquarters of Norwegian financial institution DnB NOR, which will be cluster of narrow buildings along the Barcode. MRDV is designing the A-Building and Dark Architects is working on the C-Building. Read the rest of this entry »


This summer, a blow-up pavilion will be touring through various parks and green spaces all around London. The Portavilion, designed by Berlin-based art and architecture collective Raumlaborberlin, is a portable pavilion made out of a translucent membrane that stuffs into the back of a van. Upon arrival at their destination, the membrane is inflated and supported by air and acts as a temporary pavilion. The Portavilion will play host to a number of dynamic cultural programs, including dance programs, festivals and music events led by leading organizations like the English National Ballet, London Festival of Architecture, Tate Modern, the Roundhouse and the Royal Society of Arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Hiding in Triangles Mountain Bike Hotel-1

If Lake Garda is as popular of a mountain biking destination as rumored, then no doubt this newly proposed hotel will make a big splash in the mountain biking community. Designed specifically with mountain bikers in mind, ‘Hiding in Triangles’ is a hotel proposed for the cliffs right above Italy’s largest lake, which is half way between Milan and Venice. Triangular shapes distinguish the architecture of this incredibly modern hotel making it hard to miss on the cliffs above the beautiful Italian lake. Read the rest of this entry »

photos ©Iwan Baan

New Carver Apartments_photoIwanBaan_5

Michael Maltzen is more than just a celebrity architect with commissions for museums and luxury residences – he also designs for the poor, the homeless and underprivileged. He recently completed work on the New Carver Apartments, an apartment complex for the recently homeless, elderly and disabled residents of downtown Los Angeles. This isn’t his first commission designing for those who have less, in fact the New Carver Apartments are his third commission from the Skid Row Housing Trust, who provide housing for the downtown homeless population.

The New Carver Apartments is a five-story, 57,000 sq ft apartment complex with 95 units, a community kitchen, laundry facilities and community rooms for activities. Built on a challenging site rite next to Freeway 10, New Carver had to be specially designed to fit in with its busy and noisy location, and at the same time provide a safe place for the residents. Matlzen and his worked hard to create a design that blocked out noise with a smart cylindrical design with efficiently placed triple glazed windows, so even at rush hour, there is just a slight hum. Even in the laundry and communal rooms on the third floor which overlooking the freeway and out towards downtown are quiet. Read the rest of this entry »

Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts-1

A recent ground breaking marked the start of what will be the largest cultural complex in Asia. The Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts, which is located in the main park of Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan, is 141,000 sq meters and features a number of large theaters, including a concert hall, opera hall, playhouse, recital hall, library and studios for music and dance. The project was largely invested in by the Taiwanese government and meant to help transform the city of Kaohsiung from a port town into a modern, cultural metropolis. Read the rest of this entry »