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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

111 Lafayette, New York, United States

Media façade set to enliven Chinatown building.

This six storey mixed-use building to be located at a busy and prominent intersection in the Chinatown neighbourhood of New York City is developed by ABS Partners Real Estate LLC and First Pioneer Properties and designed by New York based STUDIOS architecture.

The design responds to the frenetic and freestyle character of the neighbourhood while offering its future tenant lots of flexibility and a potential branding opportunity on the building’s façade, which has an integrated digital skin capable of displaying text and video throughout the day and evening.

The media façade is made of horizontal ribbons of LED, which does not block views for tenants but rather behaves much like a horizontal window shade. The screen is attached to the exterior curtain wall and also functions to reduce solar heat gain and glare to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The first and second floors will include retail space for a single tenant with good exposure to potential customers with its prominent corner position. The office tenants access is through a secondary lobby positioned off to the side of the site and could be outfitted to accommodate multi-tenant or single tenant scenarios.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta,Georgia, United States

Freelon/HOK selected for Civil Rights Museum

The Freelon Group with HOK has been selected to design the new Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) to be located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The team bested designs by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Stanley Beaman & Sears; Huff + Gooden Architects with Hammel Green and Abrahamson; Moody Nolan with Antoine Predock Architect; and Polshek Partnership Architects with Cooper Carry and Stanley Love-Stanley PC.

Freelon, which is based in North Carolina, has designed several cultural facilities that celebrate the struggles and the achievements of African Americans and is currently short listed to design the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Cultural in Washington D.C.

Freelon’s winning design features two interlocking terra cotta clad buildings surrounding an open courtyard, which is to function as an amphitheatre and exhibit space. The design is inspired by “the simple yet powerful image of interlocking arms that signifies the linkages that empower individuals and groups of seemingly divergent interests to find common ground,” said Philip Freelon, a Principal with the firm.

The new center will focus on continuing education and be a nexus for dialog and understanding about the universal struggle for civil and human rights, organizers said. It will reflect pre-Civil Rights movement history, the history of the movement in Atlanta and throughout the nation, as well as the struggle for equal rights across the globe. Organizers hope the facility will stimulate visitation to Atlanta's other Civil Rights landmarks, such as the King Center, Atlanta University Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The $125 million facility is expected to open in 2012.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
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40 Broadway, London, United Kingdom

In with the new office and residential scheme at 40 Broadway, London

On behalf of The Great Victoria Partnership (a joint venture between Great Portland Estates Plc and The Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society) Allies and Morrison have achieved planning consent from Westminster City Council for the proposed redevelopment of buildings at 40 Broadway, London SW1.

The scheme is located opposite St James Park tube in the Broadway and Christchurch Gardens Conservation Area and backs onto a number of Grade 1 listed houses in Queen Annes Gate, adjacent to St James Park.

Replacing a series of buildings dating from the 1920s to 1980s, the project comprises a new 8-storey office building (10,875 sq m) fronting Broadway as well as seven residential flats and one family ‘garden house’ along Carteret Street.

Allies and Morrison developed the design over 18 months; an extensive consultation process with Westminster City Council and local residents formed an integral part of the design process.

The Broadway elevation to the office building curves gently to respond to the street alignment and comprises a composition of Portland Stone wall and metal roofing punctuated with metal lined windows and dormers that fold out of the façade. A sloping cornice line ties the top of the wall into a formal composition with the adjacent buildings. The residential buildings feature hand-laid brick with punched window openings and timber and metal detailing.
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Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C., United States

Six vie to design National Museum of African American History and Culture

The race to build one of the last monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. just got a little more interesting today with the unveiling of six competing designs for the new National Museum of African American History. The designs, which are represented by concept drawings, photographs and models and vary widely from the more formalist proposals to wholly amorphous schemes, will be on view at the Smithsonian Museum now through April 3.

The six finalist teams are Devrouax & Purnell Architects with Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects; Diller Scofidio Renfro with KlingStubbins; Foster + Partners in joint venture with the URS Corp; Freelon Adjaye Bond with SmithGroup: Moody Nolan with Antoine Predock and Moshe Safdie and Associates with Sultan Campbell Britt & Associates.

The museum will be located on a five-acre plot of land adjacent to the Washington Monument on Constitution Avenue. It is expected to cost $500 million and be LEED Certified. Construction is expected to begin in 2012 with completion planned for 2015.

The winning team will be announced in mid-April.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
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Friday, March 27, 2009

1 and 20 Blackfriars Road, London, United Kingdom

Hazel Blears gives nod to two major projects on banks of the Thames

Two schemes poised for construction at the popular tourist and culture spot of London’s South Bank have been given the go ahead by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears after their planning applications were taken in for review. Matters were taken over the heads of the Southwark Council planning committee in March last year following fears that they may conflict with national and regional policies on issues including height restrictions and landmark significance.

1 Blackfriars Road by Ian Simpson Architects and 20 Blackfriars Road by Wilkinson Eyre Architects were both found to be compliant with the London Plan, English Heritage guidelines and the commanding planning guidelines for the City of London. Being outside of viewing corridors towards the Westminster heritage site and St James Park it was found that “both proposals would satisfy the policy framework relating to the location of tall buildings, including that they would have excellent accessibility to public transport facilities and be at a point of landmark significance,” said the inspector.

Ian Simpson Architects’ project will provide a landmark, sail-shaped, luxury hotel and residential tower with 96 apartments and 261 hotel rooms. An undulating public landscape is formed at the base and a public observation deck will be accessible at the top of the building.

Wilkinson Eyre’s scheme at 20 Blackfriars Road consists of two towers of 23 and 42 storeys and a public square. The smaller of the two towers will be used for commercial space and the larger for residential.

The inspector praised the potential of both schemes: “One of the proposals would bring a hotel; the other would bring offices; both would bring housing, shops/cafes/restaurants and open space,” reads the inspectors report, “Whether individually or jointly, it is difficult to see how the two proposals could not, by consolidating and adding to what is there, ‘help to provide a coherent location for economic clusters of related activities’.”

Jim Eyre, Director of Wilkinson Eyre, said of the news: “We are very pleased for our client, Circleplane and, of course, for the team at No. 1 Blackfriars. We are absolutely delighted with the Inspector’s ringing endorsement of the quality of our design and his clear and positive position on both the impact of our scheme from the Blue Bridge in St. James’ Park and on the beneficial contribution in urban design terms to London and in particular Southwark.

“We look forward to further discussions with Circleplane on how the project is taken forward in what we all recognize is an exceptionally difficult market.”

Niki May Young
News Editor
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Gravesend riverside renewal, Gravesend, United Kingdom

KPF wins planning approval for Gravesend riverside renewal project

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (London) have won planning approval for a new riverfront development to the north-west of Gravesend Town Centre that combines affordable housing, public amenity space and the restoration of Thames riverside heritage.

Clifton Wharf will occupy two brownfield sites separated by West Street. The unique location includes a disused iron railway pier extending out into the Thames. KPF’s proposed re-development advances both the Kent and Medway Structure Plan and the Gravesham Local Plan by redressing the legacy of decline to the environment and infrastructure of this area. It will revitalise Gravesend town centre by bringing life into the neighbourhood though the creation of jobs and much needed accommodation.

The scheme comprises 145 residential apartments, a retail unit and provisional river-related uses. The design overcomes the challenge of a split location by means of five sliced ellipsoidal buildings. Cutaway roofs allow for terraces at the top levels; punctuations in the wooden façades provide balconies for lower flats. The buildings, pebble-like in form, sit on a landscaped podium that stretches out in line with the pier. Every building in the cluster uses cutting edge morphology and careful positioning to maximise variety, giving the appearance of differing volumes and heights and taking advantage of the site’s access to unique views and natural light.

KPF’s scheme restores the old iron pier and introduces steps and ramps to allow members of the public to get close to the original engineering. The shape and orientation of the pier is echoed and extended inland by the podium which unifies the site and reinforces the connection with the river. The new public walkway, which extends across the road to the pier, provides pedestrian access to the terraces and viewpoints on the water. The relocation of the old river defence wall creates space for proper pavements on West Street and an improved flood protection barrier further to the north.
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Central Embassy, Bangkok, Thailand

Three projects revealed as Amanda Levete Architects rises

2009 presents a challenge to all architecture practices, big and small. But to Amanda Levete the challenge presents a steeper climb than most. Having agreed in 2007 to separate business activities with her ex husband and business partner, the late Jan Kaplicky, Levete embarked upon the creation of an entirely new firm, leaving the Future Systems name to Kaplicky, who sadly passed away in January.

With all eyes now on Levete, she has remained committed to works from the Future Systems portfolio such as the City Academy in London and Naples Subway, which are currently under construction. But now, Amanda Levete Architects has released details of the firm’s first three projects to be designed independently of Future Systems, launching the new firm at an international level and leaving voyeurs in eager anticipation of her creations.

In London, Levete’s campus design for News International’s new headquarters will facilitate the media giant collective of international firms including 20th Century Fox, News of the World and MySpace. A second London project of lesser significance is Huntington on the banks of the Thames.

But the signature project that could re-affirm Levete, commonly regarded as one of the parents of ‘blob’ architecture, as a heavy-weight in the architecture community, is the Central Embassy in Thailand. A major retail and hotel complex in central Bangkok’s primary commercial artery Ploen Chit Road, Central Embassy will be a new age architectural landmark for the city which has thusfar avoided the blatancy of contemporary architecture. The 1.5 million sq ft project will occupy the former gardens of the British Embassy in Nai Lert Park, and will consist of a 7-storey retail podium and a 30-storey 6-star hotel tower.

“Central Embassy will be the first contemporary landmark building in Bangkok. It is demonstrably of its time but rooted in Thai heritage and culture. Our architectural ambition is matched by the ambition of Central to create the best and most exciting retail and hotel destination in Thailand,” said Levete.

At first look, it is difficult to see where these roots take hold. But, as Project Director Alvin Huang explains, the design’s intricacies are wear the heritage is threaded. “Our design for this project has been underpinned by two strands of parallel research.

“We carried out extensive studies in Thailand exploring and documenting traditional patterns, materials and fabrication methods. In tandem, we’ve experimented with the application of advanced digital design techniques such as scripting and parametric modelling as a means of abstracting our hands-on research to create an innovative synthesis of technology and heritage that is specific to the context of Bangkok.”

And so Levete’s renowned attention to detail is married with the Thai’s own propensity for the same to create a very modern interpretation of Bangkok culture. Set to commence construction next year and complete in 2013, Central Embassy will provide a benchmark for the future success of Levete's solo ambitions.

Niki May Young
News Editor
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Singapore Pavilion World Expo 2010, Shanghai, China

Kay Ngee Tan Architects awarded lead architect for Singapore Pavilion

Singapore today unveiled the theme and design of the Singapore Pavilion for World Expo Shanghai 2010. Urban Symphony pays tribute to Singapore symbolising its harmony of culture, progress and sustainability. Following the call for design submissions last year, Kay Ngee Tan Architects and partners were awarded lead architect for their winning 3,000 sq m concept.

The Singapore Tourism Board received five submissions and the proposal by Kay Ngee Tan Architects was picked by an Evaluation Panel consisting of members of the Advisory Panel and Organising Committee for Singapore’s participation in the World Expo. The Evaluation Panel included experts from the creative, media, technology industries as well as senior representatives from several government agencies.

“Choosing the winner for this project was not easy given the quality of submissions presented. What struck a deep chord with the evaluation panel however, were Kay Ngee Tan Architect's design originality, sophistication and energy-saving innovations. The panel believes that the theme and design will breathe life into the pavilion, enabling visitors to experience the very essence and pulse of Singapore” said Ms Lim Sau Hoong, Chairperson of the Evaluation Panel.

Two further finalists' projects were remarkable due to their edgy and up-and-coming architecture firms, Ministry of Design and Design Act, with the firms celebrating their shortlisting as a progression for the young and often 'insecure' nation of Singapore.

The winner, although not conceived from a young firm, is not a tame choice. It focuses of the forces of nature, making a progressive statement about the world's responsibilities.

Façade slits and chilled water along the perimeter of the ground floor centre space will help reduce massive energy consumption whilst recyclable building materials such as aluminum and steel, well-shaded glass walls and ramps will feature extensively. This “Uniquely Singapore” experience will culminate in A Garden in the Sky - a roof-top garden landscaped with tropical flora. Here visitors will get a first-hand feel of Singapore as a Garden City.

“Cities of tomorrow must understand nature's ways of building structures and communities, and change the mindset of urban dwellers from exploiting the environment to being more in tune with nature. We hope to help translate Singapore’s eclectic urban tempo into an environmentally-friendly message to share with the world based on its compilation of cultural influences, thriving within a well-orchestrated environment. Through our showcase, we hope to encourage visitors to come to Singapore to experience our unique blend of sustainability and innovation,” said Mr Ken Low, Assistant Chief Executive, Marketing Group, Singapore Tourism Board.

In the lead up to the World Expo, the Singapore Pavilion design will make its China debut in an exhibition running from 25 to 31 March 2009 at the World Expo Shanghai 2010 Exhibition Centre. Exhibit items on display will include a 1:100 scale model of the pavilion. STB is also in talks with National Museum of Singapore to bring this exhibition back to Singapore in the month of May.
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Capella Resort, Sentosa Island, Singapore

architecture NOWContemporary Foster + Partners resort to open this month

Foster + Partners' Capella Resort is to open on Sentosa Island later this month. Built on a 30 acre site overlooking the ocean, the luxury resort contains Singapore's first circular, glass-roofed ballroom, two restaurants, a spa, private meeting rooms, a business centre and a club lounge.

Guests will have the option to live in the hotel for extended stays in sea-facing private suites and luxury bungalows nestled in rolling hills. The Foster design fused the contemporary with the historic, and the built elements with the tropical forest.

Foster & Partners called in Web Structures to help deliver its vision. Their “Fusion Engineering” techniques were put to work on the design, set to be Capella Singapore's new flagship in Asia. Web Structures’ team had to use all its expertise and innovation on the project, which blended the old with the new and included constructing a new development right alongside the old colonial buildings.

Another delicate part of the plan was the creation of a three-storey basement on the site, with no retaining walls. Dr Hossein Rezai-Jorabi, Web Structures group director, said his firm had successfully risen to “many challenges” during the project. He said: “The engineering challenges were numerous and varied, from the three storey basement, built on a site immediately next to the existing conservation buildings, to the large span ballroom.

“We also had to meet the challenges of the design and construction of the many different components of the resort on the steep slopes of the hilly site.

“Foster & Partners retained the existing colonial buildings which were on the site, and integrated these into the design in a manner that celebrated the characters of these buildings. That involved very delicate work, but using our techniques the new build now sits side by side with those historic buildings."

'Car Experience' - Automobile Museum, Nanjing, China

Automobile Museum design provides interactive driving experience

'Car Experience' is the project winner of the international invitation competition for the construction of the Automobile Museum in Nanjing, just announced.

The design utilises the automobile as an object of desire, exploration, technological prowess, as an article to display and as the means of navigating the building. Upon arriving at the museum visitors scale the first external ramp of the museum with their own private car, like a SAFARI, they park their car on the roof and visit by foot the internal ramp going down.

The building acts as an urban car exhibitor, with its corners and angles filled with tempting shining exposed automobiles. Here everything is geared to the automobile – the car is the point of reference. There are no stairs to different floors, walls and elevators, but ramps which wind sinuously upwards creating a fluid conception of space, and where the flux of cars can move freely and reach the different levels of the edifice.

On an overall scale the area tectonically resembles a road, with a structure similar to that of an elevated motorway or a car park, but on a more human scale, the structure is as complex, ergonomic and sophisticated as the interior of a car.

The principal structure of the building is a spiral ramp with a glass partition dividing the exterior from the interior. In the internal part, reserved for pedestrians, the incline is more gradual, whereas the exterior and steeper side is for the transit of cars.

The building’s typology develops sequentially, its structure similar to that of a film where the undisputed protagonist is the automobile. In fact the visitor, as the spectator of a film, is obliged, frame by frame, to follow the physical and psychological route as dictated by the museum’s architect.

The ascent up the external spiral offers a rather “extreme” sensation – as the ramp consists of rapid ascents and descents which create an undulating, uneven surface facilitating the exhibition of cars from different angles and enabling the visitor to observe them from either above or below. This alternating movement with its practical yet amusing function creates a corresponding visual effect on the outer façade of the building, which appears as a fanned sheet of paper, folded and refolded, and where each fold is an opportunity to exhibit at a suitable angle the cars which are attached to the inclining floor. 'Car Experience' is on course for completion in 2010.
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Burj Dubai Tower, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

As the recession digs its claws into Dubai, architects refuse to concede as designs continue

Stories of the mass abandonment of Dubai, lack of investment and a general depression in the once buzzing architectural centre have been rife in the international press of late. But it would seem that architects are not yet prepared to let go of their playground yet as this latest design shows.

There is one difference though - this design attempts to shed off the common association of distinctive with outrageous to create a more sophisticated building, perhaps a sign of a new era for Dubai?

"Our design for the Burj Dubai Residential Tower aims to create a distinctive building in Dubai to become an icon," says Alessandro Zoppini of the building's designers, studio zoppini associati. "We have proposed therefore something which refuses the usual fashion of twisting and torting volumes without any meaning or reason: the building volume is very simple and its layout is generated by the need to maximize the views to the New Burj Dubai Tower."

Zoppini believes the design also creates a closer expression to the local architectural culture. The greatest interpretation of this appears through the adaptable steel sun shading device which both provides sun protection as well as reinterpreting in a very modern way the traditional Arab sunshade.

The building has a very simple structural system: a central core concrete structure which provides for lateral stability and an external steel diamond structure allowing a completely flexible floor plate which can be easily adaptable to all tenants needs.

The 65 storey building has communal facilities and sky gardens at various intermediate floors which facilitate natural ventilation. Al flats have a private terrace. The architect hopes that the integrated sustainable design approach to the residential tower, which follows a five-step process to achieve a building that balances energy and water efficiency with superior thermal, visual, and acoustic comfort, will provide a road map to achieving a high LEED certification
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Vista Center, New Jersey, United States

NJ's new monumental build revealed

RMJM Hillier have unveiled their design for Vista Center, a new LEED Platinum office tower in Trenton, which will be the city’s largest commercial development in decades. At a time of economic crisis, this major investment will bring new jobs, revenue and an iconic tower to New Jersey’s Capital City. Trenton’s Planning Board unanimously approved the preliminary site plan in late 2008.

Vista Center is a 25-storey, 700,000-square-foot Class A office building planned directly adjacent to the Trenton Transit Center, the second busiest train station on New Jersey’s Northeast Corridor, which runs from Boston to Washington. The transit-oriented development will include 12,000 sq ft of ground-level retail, a parking garage for more than 1,140 cars and two public art components – a plaza with a signature sculpture and lobby with a video art installation.

The project is targeting a LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainable features include roof-mounted solar panels, energy efficient lighting with daylight dimming to lower electric bills, high performance façades with low-e glazing to reduce heating and cooling expenses, storm water collection and low VOC interior finishes ensuring healthier air quality for occupants.

The Trenton Transit Center, which is the final phase of a $75 million renovation program, is a major hub along the Northeast Corridor, served by NJ Transit, AMTRAK, SEPTA and the NJ Riverline. The combination of four train lines and a location seconds from U.S. Route 1 provide exceptional connectivity to the region’s workforce. The concept for Vista Center emerged from a larger urban plan that envisions great potential for this area – adjacent to the Trenton Transit Center and within walking distance to Trenton’s historic neighborhoods, offices and cultural facilities. The tower and plazas will effectively fill in the gaps around the train station and provide pedestrian pathways.

“The design aims to create a memorable gateway to the city that will attract people and businesses because they want to work in a building that is beautiful, healthy, energy-efficient, and you don’t need a car to get there,” says Sergio Coscia, RMJM architect and the project’s designer. “The City of Trenton and the developer are setting a wonderful example for the rest of the state and the region on the importance of investing in transit-oriented development and sustainable design.”
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Cellar 14 Viñas, Ciudad Real, Spain

Spanish winery embraces its location, reflecting its surroundings through design

Situated in an estate near Ciudad Real and Picón in Spain, is this winery. The plot area is located on the north of the estate and has a irregularity of 7m between the upper northeast ridge and the lower to the southeast. As a starting point the proposal looks to respect the natural resources and to reduce the waste materials impact through recycling and reuse.

The approach of the project comes from three previous determining factors: Site conditions - The winery arises as a free standing building with an accentuated singular character. Due to its industrial use as much as to its location in an emblematic environment it raises a respectful solution towards the landscape of low environmental impact.

Plot area - The winery is located on the top of a smooth hill that dominates the landscape and the vineyard to the south. Half buried, this condition polarizes the project and differentiates clearly between the north face and the south, allowing the vineyards south facing light and the industrial buildings protection to the north.

Programme conditions - The project is composed of a rectangular compact piece of land of 85.5m X 23.10m. Two differentiated essential elements compose the unit: The base is organized in two levels, a low concrete level of a massive character and the upper level lighter and metallic of a clearly tectonic character; The pleated metallic skin made of reflective aluminium, covers the base and provides the façades with a mimetic character. The folded sheet interacts with the landscape, allowing for both harmony and dialogue with the surroundings.
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Hedley Bull Centre, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

New facility designed to keep staff and students in the loop

This new four level building at The Australian National University in Canberra accommodates three Colleges specialising in international relations and comparative politics. Located at one of the University’s principal entry gateways, the building forms the hub of a new international studies precinct.

Its hexagonal plan form references the adjacent Coombs Building, metaphorically connecting the new building to this important ANU landmark and its originating role in the development of international studies in Australia. As an object in-the-round the building emphatically marks its urban street corner. The form is cut through on the principal facade, connecting inside and outside and framing views to the surrounding Canberra hills.

The ground floor accommodates the Centre’s public spaces – foyer, discursive teaching and lecture rooms, seminar spaces and a public cafe - all arranged around a central forum space. The upper levels accommodate the work, study and research spaces for Centre staff, visitors and students. Offices for quiet reflective work are located around the outer perimeter. The inner offices are positioned around the central forum space.

The hexagonal floor plan generates a continuous ‘loop’ which links together shared meeting, utility and work spaces. This active spine acts as a public street on each level and promotes interactivity and exchange. Two open timber staircases link the four levels of the building.

The building’s exterior is constructed from digital pre-cast concrete panels incised with horizontal meridians. The contrasting interior space is lined with Australian timbers which reference the wooded landscape of the ANU campus.
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School of Medicine, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, Australia

UWS gets stunning new School of Medicine building

This $AUD50m building accommodates a new foundation medical school at The University of Western Sydney. As an integrated medical teaching and research environment it supports the contemporary educational principles of student centered learning and collaborative interdisciplinary research.

The building contributes to a grass roots local indigenous health service culture. Its other objective is to create an iconic gateway for the Campus attracting the best students and the best postgraduate research and teaching staff – a proud institutional addition to the Western suburbs.

In support of the client’s educational objectives, the key idea for the building was the creation of an iconic socio-educational external hub space. The space is covered with a tree like canopy and provides a focal point for the three different programmes (teaching laboratories, office accommodation and research laboratories) to come together to discuss medicine. Problem based learning pods clad in recycled timber provide home room identity for the students.

The learning spaces are designed as ‘enabling’ spaces, set up to enable students to move between self-directed learning, and with academic staff in a mentoring role. These spaces include large collaborative learning areas, virtual laboratories and spaces specifically focused on team learning activities.

All spaces within the complex are interconnected vertically with generous open stairs so that sharing between staff and students is optimised. Laboratories are designed on a generic platform allowing for changing research needs.

The solid East and West walls of the building are rendered in precast ‘brick’ panels, coloured to match the campus palette, in contrast to the transparent north and south facades.

The ‘gateway’ administration module is elevated off the ground to create a spacious colonnade at the building entry, encouraging access through to the hub spaces for people entering the campus.
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Automotive Centre of Excellence, Kangan Batman TAFE, Melbourne, Australia

Hands-on learning environment for students at ACE

The new Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) in Melbourne’s Docklands accommodates a dedicated training and showcase facility for Australia’s automotive trades and manufacturing. It consists of high-bay workshop spaces, specialist workrooms, classrooms and office accommodation.

The project sets a new benchmark for the integration of practical and theory training within a vocational training setting. Students work within a ‘learning by doing’ paradigm, moving between training activities within the open workshop. The only separate training spaces provided are those required to meet specific occupational health and safety needs.

The design of the learning environment works on the idea of ‘simulation’ - simulating an industry workshop, thereby further adding to the students learning pedagogy. A significant number of students also enroll direct from industry on short courses, and the workshop learning environments are set up to meet their needs.

The building also absorbs sources from automotive culture, and its relationships with the city; kerb signs, tyre treads, city overpasses, and the sheen of car showrooms. The interiors evoke something of the automotive predilection for contrasting the technological and mechanical with the finished and the smooth.

The main foyer with its monumental staircase acts as the key circulation pathway through the building. Visitors experience a transition from traditional technical college materiality; raw blockwork, exposed steel and concrete to contemporary applications of carbon fibre and glass projection technology.

The shed facade system incorporates automated louvres which enable the workshop spaces to be naturally ventilated. The offices and classroom spaces are cooled by an active thermal mass system. In combination with other environmental sustainable design features the building has achieved a 5-Star Green Star environmental rating
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Cassa NY, New York, New York, United States

Ten Arquitectos unveils design for luxury hotel condo tower in NY

Ten Arquitectos, led by Enrique Norten, in collaboration with Cetra /Ruddy has unveiled the design for Cassa NY, a new luxury hotel and residential tower in Mid-town Manhattan that will dramatically alter the skyline.

The tower, which is located two blocks north of Bryant Park, will rise 47 stories from a narrow footprint, resulting in a distinctive obelisk form that stands in contrast to the surrounding low rise glass and stone buildings. The building will be clad in white aluminum panels and punctured by a series of windows, forming a rhythmic pattern that becomes the building’s only exterior decoration. The building’s seven-storey base will be clad with a metal mesh scrim with a window wall behind it.

The project will house a boutique hotel with 166 suites from the second to seventh floor and 57 luxury residences on the floors above. The residences range in size from a 584 sq ft studio to a 2,500 sq ft three bedroom penthouse unit priced at $13.2 million. The building will also contain a signature restaurant, lounge, conference facilities, and a business and fitness center. The hotel and residences will share a triple height lobby. The project is scheduled to open in 2010.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent
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Clinton Park, New York, United States

Mixed-use block provides horse, car and human housing in central Manhattan

Located at the western edge of Midtown Manhattan, the Clinton Park mixed-use development, currently in the first stages of construction, will occupy more than half of a city block with 1.3 million sq ft of commercial and residential programs.

Designed by Enrique Norten and Ten Arquitectos, the building fills a void in the urban fabric by integrating multiple commercial uses at the base and providing 900 housing units in the 27 floors above. The base building will include a 50,000 sq-ft auto showroom fronting 11th Avenue with 250,000 sq ft of service floors below grade, a 30,000 sq-ft horse stable for the NYPD Mounted Police, a 7,500 square-foot neighborhood market, a 30,000 square-foot health club, and 200 parking spaces.

The overall massing of the project slopes up and away from Clinton Park, starting at 96 feet along 11th Avenue and climbing up to 348 feet at the middle of the residential block; this height transition negotiates two very dissimilar urban scales: the flat, horizontal one of the park located to the west of 11th Avenue and the vertical, windowless structure of the telephone switching tower to the east of the site.

Securing light and air for a great majority of apartment units, the double loaded corridor shifts diagonally across the site in a unique orientation to the Manhattan grid, reducing the building’s mass adjacent to the neighboring buildings.

Each floor steps up from the one below, allowing for unobstructed views to the park and Hudson River and providing private roof terraces with green roofs on every floor. A varied treatment of street walls and interior facades creates a solid exterior with smaller openings along the street edges of the building, while lighter facades skin the building where the form pulls away from the street. This language of interior and exterior makes reference to the historic court spaces of New York City housing.

The building’s mirrored structure introduces the creation of two garden terraces, a unique green feature among the city’s urban grid. The gardens and the green roofs on each floor introduce a refreshing sense of proximity to nature into the otherwise massive structure.
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Delft Faculty of Architecture, Delft, Netherlands

Three winners chosen to rebuild Delft Faculty of Architecture

The winners of an ideas competition to rebuild the TU Delft Faculty of Architecture, which burned to the ground in May 2008, have been announced. The competition, which drew 466 entries from 50 countries, resulted in three winners; Dutch practices Laura Alvarez Architecture, Gijs Raggers and French practice Marc Bringer Architecture. The three practices each won €15,000 (£13,800), which they received at a ceremony on Thursday 19 March at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam.

Laura Alvarez’s proposal, entitled "amalgam” departs from the existing university building that currently serves as the architecture faculty. Even though the Julianalaan building is intended as a temporary solution, the proposal for the faculty to remain at this site and invest in improving its facilities was an idea the jurors lauded and considered to be a wise strategy, particularly in these times of economic and ecological crisis.

Marc Bringer’s proposal, entitled “GREEN-HOUSED CULTURE”, combines a greenhouse typology with a dynamic laboratory atmosphere. The greenhouse is not only an interesting spatial and climatological typology, but also refers to a local characteristic: the Westland area greenhouses in the immediate vicinity of Delft, while simultaneously evoking large university laboratories. The jurors commended the proposal for its clear statement on sustainability, without exaggerating the architectural expression that often accompanies it.

Gijs Raggers design, entitled A World Without Objects, looks back to existing projects and typologies, while proposing to literally use the Rotterdam shopping street Lijnbaan, which was originally designed in 1952. This street, measuring 500x50x5 metres, is projected onto the Mekelweg. The Mekelpark's programmatic void thus becomes filled with activities. The jury praised the proposal for its "radical move resulting in an intriguing project that is finely tuned into a building that can engage in different relationships with the street.”

All 466 competition entries are on display from 15 March through 7 June at the NAI (Netherlands Architecture Institute) in Rotterdam.

Sharon McHugh
International Correspondent
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Civic Center Park, Los Angeles, United States

LA's Civic Center Park gets a bold facelift

Los Angeles is often seen as a disconnected city, better experienced by car than by foot. People there live in “pockets” and pretty much keep to themselves. But that is about to change with the making of a new, democratic, 12-acre park in one of the city’s prime areas, next to City Hall, that is designed to bring people of diverse backgrounds together for a host of public gatherings and activities. Dubbed the “Multicultural Garden”, the park, designed by Los Angeles based Rios Clementi Hale Studios, will have four zones - an event lawn for rallies and concerts, a community terrace with a multicultural garden, a performance space with a stage, and a large public plaza.

In its current condition the site presented many challenges. “Although originally designed as a park, it never worked well” said Tony Paradowski, a senior associate with the firm. The site was bound on both edges by buildings, thus limiting its visibility. And, it had an 80-degree grade change from one end to the other, making cross circulation difficult. With a couple of sweeping moves, the architects have transformed the failed park into a bold new civic space. “The first move was to open up the site and increase its access and visibility”, Paradowski said. “Next, we increased the green space by greening over a parking lot to create an event lawn capable of accommodating up to 30,000 people.” As envisioned, the lawn is a flexible space that could be a used for such passive activities as sunning and reading, like Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow, or play host to large concerts, films and public rallies. To accommodate such events, the architects have incorporated 'media hydrants' throughout, which are “plug-in” power sources for lighting and sound.

Three years in the making, the project awaits schematic design approval. If approved, the park will break ground in 2010 and open in the spring of 2012.

Sharon McHugh
architecture NOW

Selborne House and Wellington House, London, United Kingdom

London borough revitalisation brought closer with approval for 2 schemes

The run down Victoria borough in London, is taken one step closer to regeneration with the approval of two key schemes by Westminster City Council. Selbourne House and Wellington House, will join further Land Securities' projects in the borough: Cardinal Place, which completed in 2006; and VTI2 which gained permission last month, providing a mix of offices, shops, cafés, restaurants and homes to the area.

Colette O’Shea, Head of Development of Land Securities’ London Portfolio, said: “Victoria is on the way to becoming the commercial centre of the West End. Land Securities’ relationship with Victoria spans decades and our understanding of its changing needs underpins everything we do in the area. Selborne House and Wellington House form the next exciting chapter of the improvement process along Victoria Street. We will continue the regeneration ripple effect, attracting new residents, businesses and visitors.”

The current Selborne House, an outdated 1960’s office building, will be replaced by a new building offering premium office accommodation suitable for modern occupiers. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Swanke Hayden Connell, the building will also create street-level shops and restaurant/café spaces fronting onto both Victoria Street and a new canopied pedestrian area that will be opened up to connect Victoria Street, Spenser Street and Seaforth Place, providing opportunities for pavement cafés and outdoor public seating.

Selborne House has been designed to be environmentally sensitive. Its systems have been selected to limit the use of energy and emission of carbon dioxide and several green walls and a landscaped terrace will be installed to enhance bio-diversity and reduce urban rainwater run-off. This approach is part of Land Securities’ wider commitment to make London a more sustainable city.

Responding to Westminster City Council’s priority of residential land use within the London Central Activities Zone, the redevelopment of Wellington House will deliver 59 high-quality contemporary residential apartments, all designed to meet Lifetime Homes specifications, with 10 per cent of apartments being wheelchair accessible.

The new Wellington House has been designed by award winning architectural practice John McAslan + Partners and is intended to complement the traditional London red-brick mansion block, of which Victoria has many.
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Chalkidos Street Residence, Larnaca, Cyprus

Oasis of calm in centralised abode

It was requested of Armon choros architektonikis by the client that the design be that of an introverted residence, centred around an internal yard where water would constitute the sovereign element of the space but also of the whole design.

The natural parameters of the south-east sun and the western air were exploited to the best possible means, spaces were given height and light and also kept plain and hospitable to the art collection of the householder.

The reference to the westwards neighbouring thicket was considered to be a direct factor, it had to intervene decisively in the format of the work. This being the case a compact skin was developed, encompassing the residence and framing the open space revealed on the west. The natural elements enter the residence changing gradually in colours. As for the water, its freedom and erosive properties pierce the skin to a point at the south.

The access is tangent to the curve and the spaces with reference to the interior, while the “public space” of the living room, being transparent, sees outside with a view to the thicket. The internal circulation in the ground floor both separates and unifies the inside with the outside, while in the first floor it recedes leaving the spaces in free view to the yard. The planting outdoors is allocated freely up to the limit of the plot.
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Prada Transformer, Seoul, South Korea

4-in-1 venue innovation to launch in Seoul

Seoul is an exciting city right now. It’s undergoing a publicly funded transformation encouraging investment from the west and expanding upon its already cosmopolitan ambiance, a change which could make Seoul THE place to be. So, where better to launch the couture branded, multi-purpose performance venue, Prada Transformer? Echoing the fast paced transition of the city, the Transformer, designed by AMO’s Alexander Reichert, utilises four steel framed sides of a tetrahedron: hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle, which transform into an entirely new arena in a ‘roll of the dice’ manoever.

The building, entirely covered with a smooth elastic membrane, will be flipped using cranes, completely reconfiguring the visitor's experience and creating a new cultural venue. Each side plan is precisely designed to organize a different event installation creating a building with four identities. Whenever one shape becomes the ground plan, the other three shapes become the walls and the ceiling defining the space.

The project is one of several in a collaboration between the international architects and the fashion label. A programme of events scheduled for the structure will open on the 25 April with "Waist Down - Skirts by Miuccia Prada", and close with the Prada fashion show for 500 guests. Other events will include an extended film showcase and an art exhibition.

The venue will be in-situ beside the ancient 16th century Gyeuonghui Palace for 5 months, the dramatic juxtaposition of the venue to its location providing a stark reflection of the duality of Seoul today, as a historic city swiftly advancing into a modern cultural capital.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

The Art Fund Pavilion, London, United Kingdom

600 whittled down to 5 for London pavilion

Over 600 entries from 52 countries were entered in the design competition for the Art Fund Pavilion which will serve as a semi-permanent extension to The Lighthouse museum and gallery. 5 have now been selected to battle for the pavilion design which marks awarding of the £100,000 Art Fund Prize to The Lighthouse.

The entries were reviewed by an elite panel of judges that included the Director of The Architecture Foundation, Sarah Ichioka and the Turner-Prize nominated artist, Richard Wilson. The Shortlisted Entries are: AREA [Architecture Research Athens], Greece; Feix & Merlin Architects with Martin Stockley Associates, UK; IN & EDIT Architecture, France; Karim Muallem, UK; and Tina Manis Associates, USA.

“The unprecedented level of interest in this competition may be attributed to a global slowdown being experienced by many professional practices and the special interest associated with the prospect of designing a public building/space, be it even a small public space - a definite tick box on most architects list of dream projects,” said Jimmy MacDonald of Tent London, the events agency who organised the competition.

The shortlisted entries and other applications that demonstrate the range of work submitted to the competition will be exhibited at The Lightbox from 31 March - 12 April 2009 and the winner will be announced on the 6 April 2009.

The winning entry will be engineered and constructed by Facit and shown as part of Tent London during the London Design Festival 2009, before taking up residence at The Lightbox.
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Finnish Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

Winning design will have to wait says Under-Secretary of State

Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Ltd have taken first prize in the architectural competition arranged by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the new Embassy building in Tokyo, but at the same time as the announcement they were advised they would have to wait for the financial crisis to settle before the project could move forward.

The winner was announced by Mikko Paaso, Director for Real Estates, at an event to publicise the competition results held at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 13 March. At the event, Under-Secretary of State Antti Sierla said that he would be surprised if the building were completed during the present decade. “Owing to the economic situation in Finland and Japan, it’s probably necessary to put the project on hold for a bit,” he continued.

According to Director for Real Estates Mikko Paaso of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the building will be constructed in a manner neutral to the budget; i.e. so that the government need not grant specific budget funding. In order to do so, a collaboration with the Japanese private sector is being strongly considered. Sierla said: “We needed a midway point so that we could see whether this concept is feasible."

Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Ltd's Aiki design was chosen unanimously by the jury consisting both of industry professionals and Ministry officials. “The most important is to create an image of Finland. The Embassy must represent Finland in the right way,” said Rainer Mahlamäki on behalf of the winning architects’ office at the event.

Entries to the competition were invited from ALA Architects Ltd; Heikkinen - Komonen Architects; Helin & Co Architects; JKMM Architects; Architects Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Ltd and SARC Architects Ltd.

The Embassy in Japan will be one in a series of Embassy renewals throughout the world where the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs aims to provide a modern showcase for the State of Finland.

Niki May Young
News Editor
architecture NOW

Hatlehol Church, Hatlehol, Norway

Winning church design to bring congregation closer to nature

Young Danish architects firm Cornelius + Vöge has won an international competition for the design of a new church in Norway. The practise was among 123 competing for the design.

The church is placed in the town of Hatlehol in Aalesund near the west coast of Norway. It will be situated in a beautiful landscape of fjords and mountains which helped to form the theme of the design where nature plays an important role. The church is shaped as abstractions of the rocks and mountains in the landscape, integrated skylights creating cave like appearances. A bell tower rises to form an impressive landmark. The building retains the topography of its foundation land, moulding atop the ground to further integrate with the landscape.

Rocks are integrated within the building as baptistery. And rain water is being collected in smaller ponds around the building blocks and lead through the natural terrain to an existing stream.

Funding for the church and community facilities in Hatlehol has been collected for more than 40 years and finally the project is close to realisation.
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University of Nottingham Agricultural Campus, Nottingham, United Kingdom

Make wins University of Nottingham comp

Make architects has won a competition to design a new building for The University of Nottingham’s agricultural campus at Sutton Bonington. The landmark building, with a value of £5million, is the first stage of a new masterplan commissioned by the University to consolidate and enhance facilities on the campus. Make won the OJEU competition to design a new building for the School of Veterinary, Medical and Sciences together with the School of Biosciences, to house a mixture of laboratories and office space. The brief is to provide a visionary new identity for the campus befitting its status as a leading educational establishment and assist in transforming the site into a wholly sustainable and people focused development.

Work will begin in March on the planning application for the new 3,100sqm building which is designed to be sensitive to its rural setting, yet with a future-proof infrastructure for the researchers, academics and students who will use it daily.

Make’s design was chosen for its highly flexible floorplates and impressive sustainable credentials which include locally sourced materials such as timber and pre-fabricated straw panels.

David Patterson said: “The changing environment is a key challenge for today and one in which architecture and the built environment plays a crucial role. It is refreshing therefore to have a client so willing to tackle these challenges in a proactive way. The Sutton Bonington site presents the perfect opportunity to marry high-tech facilities with a rural location which we have embraced within the design. We are looking forward to getting started.”

Tim Brooksbank, Development Director at The University of Nottingham’s Estate Department, said: “The team led by Make showed real insight into the aims of the University and the requirements of this new building. The design is stunningly simple and will set a new standard for future development on the campus.”

The development is expected to take two years to complete. The design team comprises Couch Perry Wilkes, Price and Myers, Sand Project Management and WSP.

Make completed three buildings, landscaping and the UK’s tallest sculpture for The University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus in Summer 2008.
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Hermitage Plaza, Paris, France

Foster+Partners announce design for bustling new district in French capital

Hermitage Plaza will create a new community to the east of La Défense, in Courbevoie, that extends down to the river Seine with cafés, shops and a sunny public plaza at its heart. Revealed by Foster + Partners at MIPIM in Cannes, the project incorporates two 323-metre-high buildings – the tallest mixed-use towers in Western Europe – which will establish a distinctive symbol for this new urban destination on the Paris skyline.

The result of a close collaboration with EPAD, the City of Courbevoie, Atelier de Paysage Urbain and Département de Hauts-de-Seine, the project is intended to inject life into the area east of La Défense by creating a sustainable, high-density community. Due to start on site in 2010 and complete by the end of 2014, the two towers accommodate a hotel, spa, panoramic apartments, offices and serviced apartments, as well as shops at the base.

Forming two interlocking triangles on plan, the buildings face one another at ground level. Open and permeable to encourage people to walk through the site, the towers enclose a public piazza which establishes the social focus. As they rise, the towers transform, turning outward to address views across Paris. The glazed façade panels catch the light, the sun animating different facets of the buildings as it changes direction throughout the day. The angle of the panels promotes self-shading and vents can be opened to draw fresh air inside, contributing to an environmental strategy that targets a BREEAM ‘excellent’ rating. The diagrid structure is not only highly efficient - doing more with less - but it emphasises the elegant proportions of the towers.

A crystal-shaped podium building contains office space, with two detached satellite buildings housing a gallery and auditorium that further extend the public realm. The piazza – created by burying the existing busy road beneath a landscaped deck – slopes gently downward to the water’s edge, which is lined with new cafés and restaurants. Locking into the existing Courbevoie and EPAD masterplans, the project will reinforce the regeneration of the riverfront.

Norman Foster said: “Hermitage Plaza will create a 24-hour community that will regenerate the riverfront and inject new life into a predominantly commercial part of the city. A light catching addition to the Paris skyline, the development will also provide a public piazza that leads down to the river’s edge to create a new destination for the city.”
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Legend Park, Tonglu, Zhejiang Province, China

New York design firm Stelle Architects designs residential project in China

Legend Park, located in Zhejiang Province in the city of Tonglu, is comprised of approximately five hundred luxury condominiums contained within five main buildings, varying in height from 18-24 stories, and twenty townhouses of three stories. The main design objective is to create a timeless sense of place, connected to both the hills to southwest and the town to the north and east.

The buildings are organised around central landscape spaces; the green-water system, infused with life and activities, plazas and gardens making the park a walking part of the city. Views within as well as views out to the hills and the town have been preserved, while allowing the breeze and sunlight to filter throughout.

The vitality of the urban condition arises from the variety of experiences that the park offers to his inhabitants. The project incorporates advanced environmentally sensitive and sustainable design features which will have a positive effect on the surrounding landscape, enhancing the quality of life for its residents, and setting a high standard for future development within the city.
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Efizia Tower, Mexico City, Mexico

copyright: SPACE Architects

WAN talks to SPACE Architects about their new eco-tower design

SPACE architects is aiming to produce one of the greenest buildings in Latin America with a new 33-storey tower set for Mexico City. The Efizia tower project is a mixed use building for developer Diimx in the Santa Fe district of the city, which in recent years has been transformed from one of the city’s most rundown areas into a business and leisure destination. Juan Carlos Baumgartner, managing director of SPACE’s Mexico City office told World Architecture News at MIPIM that the scheme will be the first in Mexico to use a double skin, with a stainless steel mesh aiding energy use by trapping heat and offering shade. “We view the external architecture as a shell for protecting the internal space from what is happening outside, hence ensuring that a building is fit for purpose and designed for occupation”, he said. “We design from the inside, out and the shell is the result of everything else”.

SPACE, which now specialises in green design but hitherto has perhaps been better known for its interiors projects for clients including Michelin than its buildings, was selected in an international competition by developer Diimx, which wanted “the best building in Latin America”. The speculative scheme comprises 33 floors with floor plates of 2000m2 totalling 66,000m2, with retail and restaurants on its ground floor. But it is the building’s projected environmental performance which the scheme’s backers hope will set it apart. The dual façade is a double glazed glass façade with a distinctive, irregularly shaped stainless steel mesh that places less stress on the air conditioning and should reduce energy consumption by some 37%. And whilst the steel has been brought in from Germany, the project’s sustainable credentials – which include grey water recycling, 30% recycled materials and green roofs – have already gained a ‘gold’ standard at pre-certification in the LEED process.

Construction of the Efezia Tower is on course to begin later this year and complete in 2012.
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Polyclinic, Split, Croatia

3LHD wins competition to design Polyclinic Center in Split

The close surroundings and the historical site of the Firule area are one of the most enjoyable Split’s living, working and recreation environments. The extraordinary location for the polyclinic is one of its greatest advantages. Its location near an existing hospital complex in Firule, in close proximity to the sea and fresh air, gives it even more importance and value.

A project of such determinate function requires maximum pragmatism, as well as a high level of technical equipment and technological functionality. It was necessary to develop acquired functions vertically in order to place all the services, diagnostics, practices and laboratories as requested. All public spaces are located on the basement, ground and first floors, with the patient clinic and administration on the upper floors and a garage underground. The main visual element of the building which accents the whole is a facade envelope, made of horizontal bands, covering the building like the bandages protecting a patient.

Like a membrane which protects from the sun, it is a sophisticated light regulator and it conceals as much as reveals. It is also used as a classic sunshade, its design inspired by one of the most recognisable elements of Split’s modern architecture - Ivo Radi’s “Briss Soleil”. atria / loggias are segments of exterior and semi public areas placed throughout all floors.

These divide and connect the spaces of the polyclinic, and instead of an introvert hospital corridor, they provide a relaxing zone filled with Mediterranean greenery, wooden terraces with view to the sea and surrounding islands. In the atria, patients, staff and visitors can take a break, take in some fresh sea air and take a walk...even in their pyjamas.
architecture NOW

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Francis Marion University's Performing Arts Center, Florence, United States

Holzman Moss innovate with 5 minute unfolding stage

Marking the latest trend in performance hall innovation is Francis Marion University's Performing Arts Center (which just broke ground on 30 Jan). Designed by Holzman Moss Architecture, a firm known for its expertise in theater design, both the external and internal renderings show a colour and light-infused beauty, but it is the technology which makes the theatre remarkable.

This multi-purpose, $32.8 million, 68,000 sq ft center features a push-button operated, revolutionary mechanized acoustic stage shell that enables one person to transform the stage from housing a symphonic performance to hosting a theatrical production in less than five minutes - a transition that normally takes a large crew many hours to perform. Made from donated oriented strand board (OSB), a recycled material, this radical new stage shell design is both economically and environmentally sound.

Finished, stained, OSB glulam members extend across the ceiling and around the sidewall to form the theater shell. The rectangular geometry of the shell telescopes outwards to envelope both the stage and audience in a single, arching wooden structure. Sweeping bands of blue-stained OSB acoustic wall panels arranged in a herringbone pattern add to this expansive effect. Their intricately configured, dramatic patterning is heightened by linear LED lighting, which bathes the main hall in streams of warm light. Vertically-placed acoustic fins accent the balcony loggias, which are composed of regional pine board stained a golden brown. Their overlapping form mimics the draping effect of the dark gold stage curtain.

Given today’s economic downturn, any future performing arts center building plans will certainly call for improved technology and multi-functioning design that radically reduces building and operating costs. Holzman Moss Architecture’s low-tech design fix could provide other future performing arts facilities throughout the world the ability to afford the same flexible staging options found in such high-profile venues as the Radio City Music Hall (designed by HMA’s precursor firm, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates).
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Australian Technical College, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia

ATC provides a colourful beacon for vocational training

The recently completed Australian Technical College (ATC) in Sunshine, Victoria provides a new and innovative model for technical trade training facilities in Australia. The project team’s challenge was to design a purpose built school for a specific student demographic whilst maintaining maximum flexibility of use within the confines of a tight government budget. The design brief was to accommodate up to 350 students studying year 11 & 12 with an emphasis on trade based subjects including automotive, construction and engineering.

This vibrant and playful building has become a successful marketing tool in the school’s challenge to attract students, while the robust industrial aesthetic celebrates the history of the area and reflects the trade courses offered at the school.

Located in the flat, dry inland suburbs of Melbourne, ATC Sunshine incorporates best practice passive design princples. The building is naturally ventilated (no air-conditioning) and incorporates an underground earth canal to bring tempered air into the building. The abundance of natural light through roof skylights minimises the need for artifical light.

Student participation in the building’s construction process was encouraged, with subcontractors taking on school apprenticeship students and interior furnishing projects being incorporated into the curriculum. This project embodies a wholistic approach to design, not often seen in public school buildings in Australia. From the exterior architectural expression to the smallest joinery detail, the designers have sought to capture the imagination and engage the staff and students in their built environment.
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Lot 179, Shanghai, China

Competition entry seeks to restore balance between the built and natural environments

Top international architecture and design firm Perkins Eastman participated in a design competition to transform an empty lot in one of the most visible and historically significant sections of Shanghai into a world class, mixed-use facility comprising gallery and exhibition space for the city’s premiere modern art institution, the Museum of Modern Art (MoCA).

Despite the strong presence of traditional vernacular architecture in the area, the design team chose to create a modern form complementary to its surroundings. The six-storey, 50,000 sq m (538,400 sq ft) building utilizes basic stacking and strong linear axes combined with stone and glass to complement the neighborhood’s scale and context. The simplicity of the structure belies the complex inner workings of a facility designed to integrate high-end retail and office space, a boutique hotel and spa, a restaurant, as well as the exhibition space in a singular form.

By building up, rather than out, designers were able to incorporate water gardens, green walls, and verdant public plazas throughout the site restoring a balance between the natural and built environments in such a heavily frequented area of the city. Designed as a free-standing structure, the site lines surrounding the building are landscaped to create unobstructed green pathways from one end to the other—a tranquil setting in an otherwise busy hub of Shanghai.
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Oval Speed Skating Center for Winter Olympics, Sochi, Russia

Sochi's speed skating rink prepares for 2014 completion

Set within a rare location which takes advantage simultaneously of views of the mountains to the North and the sea to the South, the design for Sochi's new Oval Speed Skating Center incorporates this advantage throughout. The longer sides are opened up to allow users to see the most predominant architectural image.

Generous concourses and the main hall itself have been designed to give the users the sense of being immersed and surrounded by mountains and forests: an extensive use of timber will finish the interior adding to this theme.

The total capacity of the stands will be 8,500 seats, distributed as follows: visitors 7,457, VIPs 396, TV positions 60, journalists 176, observers 168, athletes 232. The stands are completely demountable in order to provide maximum flexibility in the post-Olympic period, when the Oval will host other Sports events, concerts, exhibitions, and so on.
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Science Laboratories - Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Science facility draws inspiration from the periodic table

The Science Laboratories development at the Chinese University of Hong Kong accommodates state-of-the-art research laboratory facilities in a 6 storey building structure within the Central Campus of the University. The project completed in 2006 and acts as a visual landmark that is architecturally sensitive to the campus context, providing linkage to the existing Science Centre, as well as integrating with an existing pedestrian network within the natural landscape.

This laboratory facility sits on a 2,600sqm footprint on a steeply sloping site overlooking Tolo Harbour. Its unique façade curves to blend and complement the rolling landscape whilst softening the impact of the building onto the hillside. The layout and design of the building were carefully considered as the interior laboratories were required to be linked by a series of "dirty" corridors ensuring separation of the clean and contaminated areas.

Inspiration for the coloured façade was derived from the periodic table of elements, stating the importance of science to mankind. At the same time this southern facing façade has an environmental function of regulating the ambient and solar heat gain, thus increasing the thermal comfort of the interior space. The students profit from the outward looking views toward Tai Po Road.

The building was awarded the Merit Award – Community Building 2006 by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects.
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University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich, United Kingdom

RMJM meet difficult challenge in blending iconic new building into its surroundings

The University Campus Suffolk Waterfront building, designed by RMJM, is the flagship of the UCS urban campus and the first building of the Ipswich Education Quarter. It opened in September 2008. The 10,500m² Waterfront building supports flexible learning with open study on all floors and points where students can access networked computers. The flexible layout, coupled with balconies overlooking one another enables excellent interaction between staff and students. The ground floor contains a reception area with digital screens presenting upcoming lectures and seminars, a large exhibition space as well as public and breakout space, provide an informal meeting focus point for students and academic staff.

For UCS, the aspiration was to create a campus that consists of contemporary and timeless buildings, flexible enough to cope with future changes in teaching and learning, and demonstrably sustainable. Throughout the process the success of the project was measured against the following aspirational adjectives, established by UCS: innovative – bold – flexible – sustainable – student centred – integrated– implementable.

Meeting the UCS aspirations and urban design issues was a major challenge.The design matches the scale of the adjacent waterfront development at seven storeys, then dramatically sweeps down to the two storeys of the medieval buildings on Fore Street. Linking the two different scales is the unique and innovative 20 degree sloping green roof. This provides acoustic insulation, thermal mass, increases bio-diversity, helps retain water to reduce impact on local services infrastructure, and ultimately achieved an excellent BREEAM rating.
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One Jackson Square, New York, United States

Kohn Pedersen Fox raise the bar for accommodation in the Big Apple

Located in historic Greenwich Village in Manhattan and bordered by 8th and Greenwich Avenues to the west and southwest, One Jackson Square is a 35-unit luxury residential development with a street level retail component that responds in dramatic fashion to its celebrated locale.

The building occupies an irregular site in the West Village as a result of the area’s diagonal street grid and falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District. The goal for KPF’s design is to enhance the architectural diversity of the neighbourhood and to mediate between the predominantly low-rise area and the taller buildings to the north, also taking into account the zoning laws. The design, which incorporates 65,600 sq ft, therefore steps down from 11 storeys at the northern end, to seven at the southern.

Formerly a surface parking lot, the six-sided, split-zone site above two subway tunnels posed significant challenges, which the design negotiates through its massing, material expression, and robust foundation – the building is literally cantilevered over the subway tunnels.

Over the past decade KPF’s has witnessed the most successful examples of integrating new buildings into an historic context being achieved through a design strategy which places into juxtaposition the weight of the new with the lightness of the old. This method most frequently relies upon the characteristics of glass – transparency and reflection – as a foil and balance to architecture of opacity and solidity.

Through reflection, glass has the ability to ‘playback’ the surrounding context and it is this capacity which can make it most effective in a context of masonry structures. KPF’s design uses undulating bands of floor-to-ceiling glass to identify individual storeys, creating a ribbon-like series of convexities and concavities along the external wall flooding each apartment with light and allowing Greenwich Village’s busy street-life to become part of the private living space. A series of green roofs extends the private realm of the building into the public domain of the adjacent park.

Paul Katz, President of KPF, New York, commenting on the building said: “The design developed assumes the Greenwich Village Historic District to be a place which is not frozen in time, but one which will continue to accept exceptions if they emanate from the idiosyncratic spirit of and scale of the district.” One Jackson Square, which is targeting LEED certification, will offer one, two and three bedroom apartments as well as providing residents with a 24-hour concierge service, valet parking, fitness centre, spa facility and courtyard garden.

One Jackson Square was given the MIPIM Future Project Awards Commendation in 2007, and is likely to receive further plaudits on completion in the autumn of 2009.
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McGill University - Life Sciences Complex, Montreal, Canada

Life Sciences Centre consolidates research at Mcgill University

The new Life Sciences Complex at McGill University is designed to encourage interdisciplinary research by bringing some of the world’s key scientific talent under one roof, speeding the process of translating discoveries into treatments and cures. The Complex encompasses two new facilities, the Francesco Bellini Life Sciences Building and the Cancer Research Building, as well as the existing McIntyre Medical Sciences and Stewart Biological Sciences buildings.

Integrating the existing buildings with the new structures eliminates the physical separation of researchers and creates innovative spaces designed to encourage different disciplines to work more closely together in achieving scientific breakthroughs and developing new medical treatments.

The new facilities are home to 60 principal investigators and 600 researchers, joined by over 2,000 researchers, technical personnel, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the renovated Stewart and McIntyre buildings. Housing a dozen core facilities and research projects the Life Sciences Centre focuses on five biomedical fields: Cancer, Complex Traits, Chemical Biology, Developmental Biology, and Cell Information Systems.

The Complex is sited adjacent to one of the most cherished green spaces in Montreal – the upper slopes of Mount Royal. The sensitive context, coupled with the University’s sustainable building mandate and the architects’ commitment to reducing the ecological impact of architecture, helped to establish the design team’s goal of constructing an unobtrusive, energy efficient building. The new Bellini and Cancer pavilions are designed to achieve LEED Gold certification with the Canadian Green Building Council.
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Urban Mediaspace, Aarhus, Denmark

Banks of River Aarhus to house new public cultural realm

Assuming inspiration from the Oslo Opera House and London's South Bank cultural precinct, the banks of the Aarhus in Denmark will integrate Scandinavia's largest library into its landscape. Designed by schmidt hammer lassen architects (SHL Architects) the international competition-winning design for 'Urban Mediaspace' will merge with its surroundings by graduating its surrounding public space towards the river.

Urban Mediaspace is part of a wider plan to regenerate the old cargo docks on the harbour front, connecting it to the old city centre. The competition jury described SHL Architects’ design as: “a beautiful and highly-functional city harbour space, reflecting a deep understanding of the challenges faced when designing a public library. The new areas will offer flexible and exciting spaces with many possibilities for socialising and contemplation.”

SHL's €228 million scheme will become a new visual and cultural focal point for the city whilst pioneering the next generation of library design. The innovative 30,000 sq m scheme reassesses traditional concepts of library design. Instead of a building focused around books, “Urban Mediaspace” is a hub of social interaction, incorporating interior and exterior recreational spaces for studying, socialising, and relaxing. The building will also have the capacity to host multi-media and cultural events.

The building’s distinctive heptagonal-shape design will be a landmark in Aarhus. The library’s offices will have impressive panoramic views over the harbour with steps leading out on to the waterfront. SHL Architects’ design connects the library to the Aarhus River by creating an external recreational area that will run along the south side of the “Urban Mediaspace”. The building’s glazed façade will create light, well-ventilated interior spaces whilst also making the inside of the library visible to passersby, inviting the community inside.

Partner of SHL Architects Kim Holst Jensen said: “We are delighted to have won such a prestigious and culturally important project. At SHL Architects we believe that library design is about more than just books. Libraries revolve around people and should provide flexible spaces for social interaction as well as studying. “Urban Mediaspace” further establishes the practice as leaders of this democratic, social kind of library design.”javascript:void(0)
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Concert and Congress Hall/Palacio de Congreso, Lanzarote, Spain

Volcanoes inspire Lanzarote's new concert and congress hall

The renowned Danish architectural company Henning Larsen Architects and Spanish architect Carlos Morales have won the international architectural competition to design the new concert and congress hall on one of the Canary Islands', Lanzarote.

Henning Larsen Architects has designed several internationally noted concert halls. Among others, the opera in Copenhagen, Uppsala Concert & Congress Hall in Sweden and Iceland’s new national concert hall currently being built on the harbour in Reykjavik.

The new 15,000 sq m concert and congress hall of Lanzarote, Palacio de Congresos, will be located at the sea promenade of Arrecife, the island’s main city. The building is inspired by the jagged and characteristic landscape of Lanzarote. The crystalline shape accentuates the identity and evolves the profile of the city. In the evening it welcomes visitors and shows the inner glow and activity.

"The building will become a cultural point of reference for Lanzarote”, explains Design Director Louis Becker, Henning Larsen Architects. “It holds the sense and feel of the island. You experience the vast nature with its mountains, volcanoes, ocean and the high sky. The building is created for this place and this place alone”.

Lanzarote’s new concert and congress hall is designed to be as flexible catering for: classical concerts, electronic music and conferences. Additionally, the size of the three halls can be modified.

"The building itself is an answer to the functional program with a strong sense of belonging to the place for which it is designed", says Managing Director Carlos Morales, Carlos Morales Arquitecto SLP.

Palacio de Congresos is due for completion in 2013.
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