A cave-like bar designed with simple materials has created a new, visually stunning modern space in Shanghai.

The Zebar was first conceived in 2006 by a Singaporean movie director and an ex musician from southern China. Designed by Francesco Gatti of the 3Gatti Architecture Studio, the bar is one hypnotic space after another, with white plasterboard fins stacked along walls to create a mesmerizing effect that draws visitors in.

The design, says the architect, is “a caved space formed from of a digital Boolean subtraction of hundreds of slices from an amorphic blob.” A byproudct of the age of 3-D computer modeling programs, the Zebar is a “digital design created in an analogic world,” Gatti said.

Each plasterboard wall section was cut by hand. Aside from the plasterboard, the only materials used were plywood and black cement, making the project low-cost, and quick to assemble. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Metropol Parasol” in Sevilla, Spain has a loft goal: to become the new icon for Sevilla, and remind the world just how culturally rich this Andalucían city is.

A goal so bold must be executed with a bold design, and the Metropol Parasol offers just that: with honeycomb-like bowls floating high in the air, supported by concrete trunks, the Parasol creates, with its expansive roof, an open air gathering space that is well defined, yet has no walls to impede pedestrian traffic.

The design of the complex is busy, but the materials are simple: a concrete base supports the parasols, which are made of wood coated with polyurethan.

Located in the Plaza de la Encarnacíon, the Metopol Parasol was designed by the J. MAYER H. architecture firm. The project is currently nearing completion: its concrete base was finished in 2008, and the wooden roof is currently being built. The architects hope the project will be completed by April of this year. Read the rest of this entry »

A new design by one of the world’s most esteemed architects, Frank Gehry, was unveiled last month in Australia. Plans for a new business school at Sydney’s University of Technology (UTS) will bring, school officials hope, a new archietcural landmark for the city of Sydney.

The Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building will be 11 stories tall, with a total floor area of 16,030 square meters. The building’s front and back will have very different facades: on one side, a curved and squished brick design will create wavy walls that reference the sandstone and brick of Sydney’s traditional built environment. On the other side, large sheets of glass will be pieced together to reflect the images of the surrounding buildings.

The UTS campus is an urban one, blending into Sydney’s Ultimo neighborhood. While they hoped for architectural greatness, school officials focused, in choosing a design for the building, says UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Ross Milbourne, on ensuring that the needs of students and professors were well met. UTS is spending $150 million to construct the building. Read the rest of this entry »

The new plans for the Zayed National Museum, a monument and memorial to the United Arab Emirates founding President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, were recently unveiled by Foster + Partners, an international architecture firm based in the United Kingdom.

The museum, which will be located on Saadiyat Island, 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi, seeks to blend modern, sustainable architectural design with traditional Arabic forms and cultural values. The result is a warm and hospitable complex that, while forward-thinking in design, is also uniquely of its place.

The museum will be warm culturally, but literally as well: the complex is comprised of a dramatic lobby that sits within a man-made hill, and is topped, in addition to a thick layer of earth, by five wing-shaped, solar thermal towers that act as thermal chimneys. Fresh air that flows into the lobby is pushed through the complex and up through the towers, giving a constant, cool airflow to the museum. The towers are made of lightweight steel to mirror the light, aerodynamic design of a bird’s wing. This design is functional but also references Sheik Zayed’s love of falcons. Read the rest of this entry »

Part art installation, part portable sanctuary, the “Ma Bulle, Ma Plante, & Moi” (My Bubble, My Plant, & Me) exhibition by Amaury Gallon recently placed several transparent, plant-filled bubble structures on the streets of Paris to provide passers by with 15 minutes of inspiration, beauty, and fresh air.

Four bubble gardens in total were constructed. One bubble overflowed with plants to be a “jungle;” another was filled with hundreds of orchids that were woven around the metal supports that comprised the bubble’s frame. All featured hundreds of lush plants and flowers, which were visible through the clear cover that enclosed the bubbles, which were wrapped around the metal frame. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Hill House” designed by Bjarke Ingels Group is, simply, a single family home with a green, living roof. However, the roof is special in how large it is: the elongated roof essentially serves as the structure’s roof and side walls simultaneously, wrapping from the top of the building down the sides, and connecting with the earth. The surface is covered in living sedum plants, which are low maintenance and drought tolerant.

The sedum roof protects the home from the hot sun in the summer, and keeps warmth in during the cold winter. Ingles also envisions it as a playful architectural element: the roof, he shows in renderings, can be used as a recreational greenspace, and perhaps could even be a hill for sledding or skiing down during Denmark’s long winters. Read the rest of this entry »

Paris-based Influx Studio obliterated the archetype of the safari-like zoo layout by designing, for a 2009 competition, a vertical-urban zoo.

With wide expanses to comfortably house animals stacked on top of each other, Influx Studio has created a completely original zoo design that makes wildlife accessible in the city. The project, proposed for Buenos Aires, Argentina, seeks to increase the awareness of the earth’s diversity of ecosystems by placing a diverse array of wildlife in the unusual urban context.

Within the structure is a giant ferris wheel that visitors ride, making the structure as a whole a functioning safari experience. The enormous wheel is comprised of cars where visitors ride and view the animals close up in their separate sections. The wheel turns very slowly, fully completing its circuit every hour.  At the top stop of the observation wheel, visitors can exit onto a sightseeing level to admire the view, eat, shop, or participate in educational activities.

At a staggering 240 meters tall, this urban zoo complex is certainly, as Influx Studio stated, “a surprising and dramatic city sightseeing safari.” Read the rest of this entry »

Paris-based Influx Studio, has designed “The Vortex,” a bold complex that will house the Kaohsiung, Taiwan Marine Culture and Pop Music Center, as well as retail, recreation, and outdoor performance spaces.

The Vortex’s center, or its “eye,” is a swirled hub that makes a strong architectural impact through its undulating roof. This part of the complex, designed to be an entertainment destination, will be open 24 hours a day, and will feature lively shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and more.

Designed to be a raised continuation of the sea waves that surround the complex, the roof extends from the “eye” in both directions along the waterfront, covering the cultural centers and retail spaces underneath like a thick, wavy ribbon. Influx Studio sees the structure’s defining wave imagery as representative of the sea, but also of sound waves, which further relates to the complex through its concert space.

An important aspect of this project actually lies outside of the complex: new pedestrian pathways leading to the site will be created to increase accessibility to the Vortex, and the waterfront area as a whole, from downtown Kaohsiung. Additionally, the land surrounding the complex will be landscaped into an urban park, furthering efforts to achieve Influx Studio’s goal of better uniting the city’s urban core and waterfront area. With this bold design, Influx Studio hopes that The Vortex will become an icon for the city, one that can entertain the masses and better unite the city’s urban core with its reawakening waterfront sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Rising high from the ocean below, the elevated “Emergency Land” proposed by South Korean architect Jinman Choi and graduate student Ji Yong Shim is a structure topped by skyscrapers that serves the vital cause of housing the 11,000 residents of the Tuvalu Islands – islands that may soon be swallowed by the sea.

The nine islands of Tuvalu, eight of which have human residents, are located in the Pacific Ocean near the equator. Two of the islands are already experiencing significant flooding, and with elevated sea levels submerging the islands’ lands another 0.5-0.6 cm a year, experts fear the islands could completely disappear within the coming decades.

Choi and Shim are especially concerned with the residents of the islands, as they seem to have few options for escape at this point. The two explain that, currently, nearby Australia has not opened their borders, and New Zealand only permits 75 immigrants from the islands per year, As such, new solutions must be crafted for Tuvalu residents, and quickly. Their solution is to build grand, elevated landmasses anchored by bases on the seafloor and topped by massive skyscrapers to house the 11,000 residents needing new homes. The “arch-designed core” will allow for the balance needed to support the expanded mass of “land” above. The funnel-shaped platforms can be recreated continually to expand the amount of land available. This socially responsible design brings innovation and attention to the needs of a people whose land may, sadly, soon be forever submerged. Read the rest of this entry »

Citing experts and news articles, architecture student Hugon Kowalski says that the unrest in the Darfur region of Sudan, where over 200,000 have been killed and 2 million have fled, has, in reality, been caused by the scarcity of water, and the subsequent struggles to claim some of this precious resource. Amazingly, researchers at Boston University discovered, in 2007, an underground lake in the region that, though now dry, could be refilled as an artificial lake. This reservoir could then be tapped to bring plentiful water, and quite possibly peace, to the war-torn area.

The skyscraper that Kowalski has designed taps into the underground lake and brings it to the surface for distribution. In addition to housing the water pumps and treatment facility, however, the building also has a hospital, school and a food storage center, centralizing many life-bringing and saving services into one vital tower.

The building is made of brick, which will be made on-site and baked, energy-free, by the hot desert sun. The building will also be environmentally responsible by utilizing water turbines and solar panels. Read the rest of this entry »