Ecosistema Urbano’s new Ecopolis Plaza project in Madrid has succeeded in turning an empty city lot into a bright and beautiful childcare facility.

The building features a nursery school, a playroom, and plentiful surrounding green space for children and all of the neighborhoods residents to play. And though it’s yellow, it’s also green. Very green. The building is half-buried underground, the firm says, to take advantage of the land’s natural “thermal inertia.” Then, the above-ground portion of the building, largely glass, faces the south to control the building’s temperature.

The building features a solar energy system, a mobile awning system to shield or allow sunlight, and uses recycled rainwater that is collected in the plaza area outside, which was artificially landscaped to mimic a riverbank. The building’s shape wraps around a green space, creating a common field for all local residents to use.

In addition to saving money on energy bills and providing a small ecological footprint, it was important to the architects to design the building to be sustainable because of who it will serve. “We believe that children should be aware of this process to become responsible adults in the near future,” the firm states in their portfolio.

The building, which has just been completed, cost 2.7 million Euros, though the firm says it cost 35 percent less to build, per square foot, than a “conventional” building. Read the rest of this entry »

Iridescent and glowing with soft, colored lights, the Chonqing New World Shopping Center rises next to the Yangtze River like a cylindrical jellyfish.

Aspiring to be the new icon of Chongqing, China’s central business district downtown, upon completion, the Center will be the world’s 13th largest shopping, entertainment and leisure facility in the world, with a floor area exceeding 700,00 square meters.

The tower, which is actually two wrapped to rise as one, will house luxury residential housing and a 5-star hotel. Below, spread amongst a beautifully landscaped park, is a sprawling, glass-encased, four-level shopping area. The bulbous glass shapes that cover the long shopping area will protect shoppers from the pollution that pervades the enormous city (2007 census figures show 31 million residents in the municipality).

The skyscraper was designed by German architecture firm Logon. While they don’t specify how, exactly, the firm says that sunlight, water, landscaping and wind will be utilized as natural resources that can beautify, and potentially help power, the complex. Read the rest of this entry »

A multi-faced design has clinched Spanish architecture firm MADE IN the bid for Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s design of their new Maritime Cultural & Pop Music Center after competing with other firms in an international competition.

MADE IN’s design is built along a bay with zones catering to a myriad of uses. The architects sought to create a design that did more than provide a venue for concerts and events. They wanted a complex that could be used every day by citizens of Kaohsiung.

The Center is split up into zones along a bay, with each accommodating different uses. In Zone 1, for example, there is an outdoor performance area that can hold up to 12,000 people, a performance hall that can hold 5,000, and a music exhibit area that fills two towers, which are 113 and 83 meters tall.

A “night market” and promenade in Zone 2 speaks to the complex’s use by residents every day, and in Zone 3, access to the area as a whole is granted with a ferry stop. Zone 3 also features streets created to attract shoppers with galleries, gardens and a bike and pedestrian path.

In all, the complex will take up 11 waterfront hectares; there will be 80,000 meters of built space, and 20,000 square meters of open, public space. The budget for the project is $100 million Euros. Read the rest of this entry »

Denton Corker Marshall’s recent design for a mixed use skyscraper in Dubai, which features large, angular shapes stacked on top of one another and held together, seemingly, by thin poles, has won the firm an award in the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects “Tall Building” category.

The tower is actually a cluster of four buildings. The top 75 levels of all four serve as separate office buildings, and they are grouped to form, in the middle, a 225 meter-tall atrium. The four office towers sit on a large podium; below, a 21-level apartment tower and a 27-level hotel, along with ample retail space, round out the development.

In choosing this tower as the “Tall Building” winner, judges remarked, “The striking and variegated forms would be in marked contrast to the general run of Dubai’s buildings. The complex as a whole embraces the idea of a mixed use neighborhood into which this tall building seamlessly plugs.” Read the rest of this entry »

With “Expect Amazing” as its slogan, the 2022 FIFA World Cup promises to be, well, amazing. To achieve this “wow” factor, FIFA chose as host a country willing to go the extra mile: Qatar. And Qatar is already bringing big ideas: German architecture firm AS&P (Albert Speer & Partner), along with the help of PROPROJEKT and SERVICEPLAN, has already designed eight of the 12 new stadiums that will be constructed or retrofitted for the global event.

According to AS&P, it’s not just construction of the stadiums that will fill the next 11 years. Billions of dollars in infrastructure will need to be built in the rich desert country. And their plans make the promised World Cup experience unique: with all of the stadiums located within an hour travel time of each other, football fans will be able to see more than one game in a day if they wish to.

Three existing stadiums will be expanded for the project, and nine new stadiums will be built. The firm plans to exceed FIFA’s specifications with every aspect of each stadium: the seats count will grow, environmental efficiency standards will match and exceed FIFA’s figures, and more. Photovoltaic panels will be utilized to this end, and air will be re-circulated within stadiums to help combat the desert heat efficiently. Additionally, the field itself will be cooled for players using innovative carbon-neutral technology. Read the rest of this entry »

Gardens typically need little more than plants and flowers (and the critters they attract) to awe and inspire visitors, but the Orquideorama botanical garden in Medellin, Colombia takes wonderment one step further through the construction of a steel and wood “flower and tree” canopy.

The Orquideorama was renovated in 2008 by Medellin firm plan:b arquitectos. Felipe Mesa and Alexander Bernal with plan:b wanted the botanical garden’s 14 interconnected modular structures, known as the flor-árbol (flower-tree), to accommodate a diverse range of uses. The space can be used to host events, or act as a butterfly reserve.

The idea was an organic one, with the architects envisioning each flor-árbol growing next to the rest, as flowers would sprout in a garden, or trees grow in a forest. Each new flor-árbol is connected, through its hexagonal, leaf-like top, to the garden of structures with a woven pine roof, and is braced at the bottom with steel stems. Read the rest of this entry »

Built to symbolize the turbulent trials of immigration and the furies of the sea that brought the immigrants to Florida, the Miami Pier Museum of Latin American Immigrants building is symbolic and artful in its reflection of the struggles of Miami’s immigrants.

The museum, designed by architect Maciej Zawadzki, who is based in Copenhagen, is thoughtful to the immigrants it is honoring in all aspects of its design. The exterior’s twists symbolize the complicated emotions involved with leaving a motherland and coming to a land of opportunity. Simultaneously, the building’s interior features twisting elevations, reminding visitors of the effort needed and hills that are climbed in the immigration process.

The building also honors and mimics the sea that brought immigrants from Latin America and the extreme weather that affects it, with Zawadzki naming hurricanes as an inspiration for the museum’s façade form. The building itself resembles a giant wave, and its positioning on a pier over the ocean, off a beach front enhances this likeness. Interestingly, the building has been designed to be resistant to the very force it resembles: construction materials that are resistant to high winds and water will be used, and the aerodynamic design itself seeks to protect the museum and its content from South Florida’s extreme weather. Read the rest of this entry »

The new office for the Qatar Minister of Municipal Affairs & Agriculture (MMAA) is one that speaks creatively and directly to the location and the office’s subject matter: it’s shaped like a giant cactus.

Bangkok firm Aesthetics Architecture has designed a modern, glass succulent for the MMAA, using the cactus as design inspiration both in how the building looks and functions. Qatar is a scorching desert country that averages only 3.2 inches of rainfall per year; as such, buildings could potentially waste enormous amounts of energy in attempts to cool the people inside. While any building in Qatar has its work cut out for it in terms of keeping cool, energy efficient elements in the design of the MMAA building, such as moveable sun shades that will adjust to respond to the sun’s strength, will aid the building in that task. The dome attached to the main cactus form will also bring an environmental offering, in the form of a botanical green house. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s another entry in the “architecture as a natural but inanimate object” category: The new “Cybertecture Egg” has been designed as a poultry-inspired office building for Mumbai, India.

The 32,000 square meter building was designed by James Law Cybertecture International, a firm based in Hong Kong, UAE and India that has coined the term “cybertecture” to mean a meeting of architecture, technology and innovative engineering to sculpt the urban environment. One way in which the firm has used technology in a new way for the design of the Egg is by electronically monitoring workers’ health: vital signs and statistics such as blood pressure are accessible to workers electronically in restrooms, and the stats can be signaled to doctors if deemed necessary.

The building’s design attempts to decrease energy demands through passive solar design, the construction of an elevated garden to help cool the building (through a process called thermolysis), the implementation of photovoltaic panels and wind turbines on the roof, and infrastructure to recycle gray water for landscaping. Read the rest of this entry »

Nigeria is already Africa’s most populous country, but the city of Calabar has been increasing the masses by attracting visitors from around the world with recent conferences and events. A conference center designed to impress is just what Calabar needs to keep this momentum going, city officials decided; thus, they hosted a design competition for the Calabar International Convention Center.

The winner is Henning Larsen Architects, a firm based in Copenhagen, who designed a four-part, modernist mass that will be sited on top of a hill and feature stunning views of a nearby river delta.

In addition to providing space for conferences, the geometrical building will serve as a cultural hub for the city’s residents, hosting events such as concerts and film festivals.

This added benefit is one that comes as a responsibility to the designers, according to Louis Becker, the firm’s international design director and partner. “Nigeria is developing rapidly at the moment and, as an architect invited to contribute to this development, you have a special obligation to consider architecture as more than a question of geometry,” he is quoted as saying on Henning Larsen’s website. “Architecture also contributes to the development of society.” Read the rest of this entry »