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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hotel Quincy, Singapore, Singapore

Ong&Ong's new hotel raises the bar for Singaporean style
Hotel Quincy was envisaged as a one-of-a kind boutique hotel encompassing all the design aspects from architecture, interior design, landscape, project management and graphic design. This building shows the process of how one design concept is implemented through all design elements, providing consistency in creativity and design.

Quincy was built as an extension of the former Elizabeth Hotel sited next door. To break away from the dated look of its predecessor, dark aluminum and tempered glass was chosen to frame the entire façade. Each space is unique, each an individual configuration, providing a different experience. The aim was to create a distinctive, sustainable and timeless space that goes beyond the existing boutique hotels. The main concept was to create rooms from different variations and permutations of exterior glass and steel cladding. These rooms were then randomly stacked forming a unique one-of-a-kind exterior façade.

Playing on themes such as glamour, luxury and sophistication, the design team incorporated modern design elements and the latest amenities. From steel claddings to exotic rich suede and custom glasswork, only the finest materials are used to create this stunning masterpiece. Interior design is whimsical, with playful characteristics woven into every unexpected nook and corner. Bold, acid colours are selected for the ultra-modern furniture to contrast against the muted undertones backdrop of the off-white walls and grey raw look of cement stones. The landscape philosophy is sensitive to the contemporary building design and maintains a modern and reflective quality to the surrounding space appropriate to a boutique hotel.

Indigenous products in a modern application, such as dark grey steel detailing and granite stonework lit by fanciful light fixtures, demonstrate the fusion of old and new.

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Namba Parks, Osaka, Japan

2009 Winner ULI Awards of Excellence: Asia Pacific / 'Green' TOD Design for People
Namba Parks, located in Osaka, Japan, was named as one of four outstanding developments selected as a winner of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) 2009 Awards of Excellence: Asia Pacific competition.

Designed by The Jerde Partnership, Namba Parks sits adjacent to the Namba train station. It was conceived as a natural amenity in the city, literally an urban jungle, offering a sloping rooftop park that is bifurcated by a sinuous, open-air “canyon” path that reinforces the connection with nature while forming the primary circulation pattern.

Namba forms a dramatic new identity for the city. Alongside a 30-storey office tower and 46-storey residential tower, the project features a new lifestyle commercial center with a rooftop park that crosses multiple blocks while gradually ascending eight levels from the streets of the city. The sloping nature of the park serves as a green and highly visible oasis in a city where nature is sparse. By connecting to the street, the sloping park plane will draw people up and into the project among groves of trees, green spaces, water features and outdoor terraces, where they can dine, read, socialize, or simply taking in views of the city.

The second phase, completed in 2007, physically extends the sloping rooftop park, which rises from eight to 10 levels, and canyon, which opens just above the street on the end of the project opposite the train station.

Namba is a benchmark example of Green Transit-Oriented Development where economic performance and quality green design emerge as a single objective.

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Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, New York, United States

Morphosis' interior design of Cooper Union building revealed
In June this year WAN brought you the first look at the exterior of Thom Mayne's spectacularly individual Cooper Union building in New York ahead of its official completion. Now that the hub for future architects is fully functional, with its ribbon cutting earlier this month, new images have been released revealing its inner sanctum.

The Cooper Union is one of the United States oldest higher education facilities, founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper and includes the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture. Specialising in the advancement of science and art the 150 year-old's new building is designed to reflect Cooper’s fundamental belief that education of the highest quality should be as 'free as air and water'. The images taken by Iwan Baan show the community spirit embodied within building's vast open spaces, a cohesive design and an inspirational attention to detail.

"Internally, the building is conceived as a vehicle to foster collaboration and cross-disciplinary dialogue among the college’s three schools, previously housed in separate buildings," said Mayne. "A vertical piazza—the central space for informal social, intellectual and creative exchange—forms the heart of the new academic building. An undulating lattice envelopes a 20-foot wide grand stair which ascends four stories from the ground level through the sky-lit central atrium, which itself reaches to the full height of the building. This vertical piazza is the social heart of the building, providing a place for impromptu and planned meetings, student gatherings, lectures, and for the intellectual debate that defines the academic environment."

The building is a definitive landmark both for The Cooper Union and New York's Cooper Square connecting the school to its community.

"In the spirit of the institution’s dedication to free, open and accessible education, the building itself is symbolically open to the city," added Mayne. "Visual transparencies and accessible public spaces connect the institution to the physical, social and cultural fabric of its urban context. At street level, the transparent facade invites the neighborhood to observe and to take part in the intensity of activity contained within."

As part of this connection 8,800 sq ft of public space takes form in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, the Menschel Board Room, and the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Exhibition Foyer and Gallery. The remainder of the 175,000 sq ft of space over 9 stories accommodates 39,000 sq ft of laboratories, 10,000 sq ft of studios, 15,400 sq ft of classrooms and over 5,000 sq ft of student space.

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FLAME - Exposition Pavilion, Żory, Poland

New exposition pavilion as gateway to the city of Żory
FLAME exposition pavilion is situated with prominence on an exposed site near the main access road to the city. The aim of the pavilion is to promote the city of Żory and to showcase its offerings to newcomers, tourists, partners and investors as well.

The name of the city – Żory means “fire”, ”burnt”, “flames”. In XII century, when Żory was founded, forest was burnt in order to create free space for the new city. This tradition is still alive – there is a Festival of Fire in summer, and the logo of the city is a small Flame.

It became obvious to the architects, that they should design a building, that looks like a flame. The building consists of three independent walls that “swim” next to each other. Their composition and shapes covered with copper plates resemble dancing flames. Spaces between the walls are fully glazed forming entrances to the pavilion. Walls are made of architectural concrete, covered on the outside with copper plates and left untouched inside. The floor is paved with black stone, and continued to the outdoor elements.

The Pavilion has two main spaces –one for exhibition and the second – for presentation. A model of Żory centre will be exhibited under the glass floor. With a small bar, office , restrooms and technical rooms the program is complete.

Surrounding the pavilion is intensive landscaping. The Pavilion and the landscape work together creating a symbiosis of space consisting of pavilion itself, pedestrian paths running through the pavilion and green walkways.

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Palestra, London, United Kingdom

A significant addition to South London's commercial office market
The 295,000 sq ft (net internal area) / 405,000 (gross internal area) speculative development for Blackfriars Investments Limited and Royal London Asset Management is located on Blackfriars Road directly opposite the new Southwark underground station. The building’s bold architecture is seen as an expression of the developer’s confidence in both the scheme itself and in the South central market as an important new business location in central London.

With large, virtually column-free, flexible floor plates capable of subdivision, the building provides twelve floors of high quality contemporary commercial office space in a distinctive building in an acknowledged emerging business location. The ground floor retail and 5th and 6th floors were pre-let to The London Development Agency twelve months prior to the building’s completion and were occupied in September 2006. The remainder of the building was occupied by Transport for London at the end of 2007.

With its use of colour, retail pod at ground floor and distinctive floating block design, the Palestra building pioneers a new approach to commercial office design and symbolises a commercial renaissance of London’s south central business district.

The Architect says of the building; "A commercial brief need not negate the creation of a building enjoyable for passers-by. I am confident that Palestra will prove an enhancement to Blackfriars bridge road and be a fitting landmark for this part of the city."

The design is characterised by three separate volumes stacked on top of each other to break down the mass of the building and relate it to its surroundings. All three volumes differ in size, proportion, orientation and appearance yet are unified by the same architectural language. The lower tilted ‘ground-scraping’ slab lifts up towards the west cantilevering six meters above the pavement to create a dynamic building entrance and public space.

Visitors approaching the building will enter directly under the inclined soffit into an attractive reception complete with art wall, coloured glass cladding to stair core and a specially designed tilted reception desk. A key feature of the ground floor is the extraordinary pod shaped retail unit that has been let by the London Development Agency for public exhibition space. Lift lobbies adjacent to reception provide ready access to the eleven (twelve floors include the ground floor) upper office floors.

The building is clad in a glazed curtain walling system treated with a random pattern of coloured ceramic frit and solid panels to achieve a patchwork effect of colour giving scale and texture to the facade.

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Caserne de Bonne Shopping Center, Grenoble, France

A bioclimatic shopping centre at the heart of an exemplar European 'eco-quarter'
The city of Grenoble and the French Ministry of Defence launched in 2000 a programme for the conversion and development of the 8.5 acre Old Bonne Garrison into new housing quarters (family and social housing), a park and a shopping centre.

The site located between the city centre and the 'Grands Boulevards', was sold to the city in 1990 in order to develop a model green ZAC (concerted development urban area) with high environmental quality ('HQE'), partialy funded by the European programme Concerto. In 2005, Groupe-6 won the competition for the design and construction of 16 643 m² of shopping space, a student hall of residence, and a carpark which should open to the public in 2010.

As an 'eco-quarter', the Caserne de Bonne project is dedicated to reduce its impact onto the natural environment, boost economic development and quality of life. Beacon of the 'HQE' objectives for a commercial centre, the project has made some essential choices, including a bioclimatic system and the use of collectively generated power. Heat is produced thanks to the urban heating system ('chauffage urbain'), a network heating system allowing a minimum rejection of CO2 (objective of 161g/kwh produced).

The design also incorporates a naturally ventilated mall - no heating, no air-conditionning, with well insulated external façades and an internal enveloppe that encourages thermal exchanges with the shops. South oriented, it is closed in winter, heated by the sun. In summertime, the doors open allowing natural ventilation. The mall has a wooden structure made with European tree species only (concrete is used for the superstructure only). This is the first commercial centre of this kind in France.

Additionally, the design boasts 1000 m² of solar panels and an air-conditionning system using the ground water (between 13 and 15 °C). Half of the pluvial rains are absorbed thanks to an infiltration trench, and the rain drops are regulated thanks to the green roofs (holding of 55mm of water, i.e. 68% of the decennial rains, i.e. 80mm over 24h).

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Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island Hotel and Resort, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

First hotel build under way on the Island of Happiness
Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island Hotel and Resort has broken ground signalling the birth of a new luxury hotel destination in the Middle East. The man-made Saadiyat Island - or island of happiness - is situated just off the coast of Abu Dhabi and will soon be home to architecture from five Pritzker Prize winning architects. Park Hyatt will be the first hotel on the island, designed as a playground for the 'discerning traveller'.

The New York office of Perkins Eastman designed the 45,000 sq m resort for Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH). Situated on the shore, the bulk of the 314 guestrooms and suites are collated in the main hotel building, facing the two pools which separate the hotel from the private beach. A main dining room, specialty restaurant and bar, a beach restaurant, spa and meeting/banqueting facilities are all within the confines of the resort.

Materials used to create a feel of luxury appropriate to the Arabian sea include local stone, ceramics, and craftwork surrounded by lush indigenous landscape materials. All materials are sensitive to the environment with as many local materials used as possible, and many products made of recycled materials including the paving, tiles, and furniture, among others.

Reflecting the local culture was an important aspect of the design process: "The architecture of the hotel is a contemporary interpretation of Arabian style, with courtyards, reflecting pools, and screens. The simple forms of the architecture are highlighted with motifs found in the region, giving a sense of place while not mimicking the historic style or vocabulary," advised a spokesperson for Perkins Eastman. "A portion of the guestrooms are designed in small clusters around courtyards along the beach. These clusters are referred to as riads, which symbolize a small home in traditional culture. These guestrooms offer guests a unique accommodation within the resort, with a heightened sense of luxury and privacy."

Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Tadao Ando are contributing to the island's cultural district with a range of individual and inspirational centres under various stages of construction. Construction on the Park Hyatt is expected to complete within 18 months, welcoming its first guests by the end of the first quarter of 2011.

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National Music Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Allied Works celebrates winning National Music Centre project in Calgary
The Cantos Music Foundation in Calgary Canada has selected Portland based Allied Works Architecture led by Brad Cloepfil to design a new National Music Centre in Calgary’s East Village. The $100 million project presents an unprecedented opportunity to invent a new kind of institution; the first of its kind in Canada. The new centre, which will incorporate the now defunct historic King Edward Hotel, a legendary house of blues, will be part museum, part education and outreach facility, and part performance space.

Allied Works’ winning proposal, which perhaps owes a debt to the architecture of Louis Kahn, envisions a five-storey building designed as a series of “resonant vessels” or instruments orchestrated by the collections and programs of the new building. The design takes inspiration from the Western landscape, in particular the canyons and mountains of Alberta. “The concept truly captured the heart and soul of this project”, said Andrew Mosker, executive director of the Cantos Music Foundation. “Brad and his team will give us an innovative building that fits with Calgary, Alberta, the West and is symbolic of something that is truly uniquely Canadian”.

Allied Works, which partnered with local firm BKDI, was chosen from a short list of top international competitors: Diller Scofidio+Renfro, New York, with Kasian, Calgary; Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Paris, France; Saucier + Perrotte, Montreal; and SPF:architects of Los Angeles.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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Sea Front, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Dreams of unified coastline for the Russian city are revealed
Ivan Poliakov's architectural bureau has presented a new development conception of St-Petersburg's coastal area. The "Sea Front" project proposes the creation of a new space arrangement for the seaside area extending as long as 6 kilometers.

At the present time, it is encumbered by unbalanced apartment blocks and the Pribaltiyskaya hotel. The project proposes to rally all parts into a single complex with a unique microclimate and a unified infrastructure.

According to Ivan Poliakov, a new tourist point could serve the city well but it's the local residents' needs that should first be considered: "We have greatly enjoyed creating a model of this unique city space and thereby have found evidence that Petersburg remains a city with an enormous potential for development," he said. The 'Sea Front' includes a glazed seaside promenade, berths for private boats as well as passenger liners, a business area and a residential area, hotels, a public entertainment hall, shops, restaurants, tourist companies' offices, a new office of the Russian Navy, an aquatics center and a side-show

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Guangzhou Metro Authority Headquarters, Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou Metro HQ envokes speed, movement and progress
As part of an invited international design competition, Perkins Eastman created a sweeping, grand vision for the future 50,000 sq m (538,000 sq ft) headquarters of the Guangzhou Metro Authority. With the expansion of several metro lines, this building will enable the company to house all the planning and construction group activities under one roof. Sited on a major transit intersection, the concepts of “speed” and “progress” are incorporated into the plan, facade, and volume to provide a distinct identity for the corporate image of the Authority, while sustainable features reflect the core environmental values of the organization. The building will be developed in partnership with The Metro Design Institute in China, with construction expected to begin in mid-2010.

The building’s form represents physical speed, beginning at signature prow - the symbolic and functional entrance into the interpretive traditional courtyard - and spirals up around the circumference of the dynamic circular form. A significant part of the program includes a facility for training new employees while providing continuing training to existing employees, contained in the lower volumes of the building. The taller tower houses the administrative functions. Located in the plinth and spiraling to street level, the complex also includes public exhibit space and a museum to disseminate information to the public about the achievements in transportation engineering of Guangzhou Metro.

The Metro Authority is committed to being a 'green' company, and sustainable design strategies are specific to the climate, construction techniques, and technologies of the region. The humid, tropical climate in this part of China is addressed in the building design in several ways, most visibly is the integration of a terracotta sunscreen system on the exterior envelope that contributes to a reduction in the cooling system by providing direct shade. Green roofs insulate the building and are part of a larger design strategy to address storm water management as well as to create an outdoor amenity for employees. A significant percentage of the exterior envelope will be constructed with high-performance glass to provide daylight to the majority of the indoor spaces as well as to visually connect interior with exterior spaces.

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Okhta Center, St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia’s controversial tower project wins final approval
A 400-meter tower designed by RMJM for the Russian energy giant Gazprom has gained final approval from the city of St. Petersburg, despite opposition from residents and UNESCO. At 77 stories tall, the new tower, known as the Okhta Center, will eclipse the city’s tallest structure, the spire of St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, by more than a factor of three and may become the tallest building in Europe.

The building will serve as the headquaters for Gazprom's oil unit OAO Gazprom Neft, and include a concert hall, art museum, hotel and a business center. While supporters of the project say it promises to transform the depressed city into a thriving one, critics fear it will alter St. Petersburg’s character, which to this day exhibits the low rise profile and ambience of a 19th century city. Among the project’s critics is David Sarkisyan, Director of the Moscow Museum of Architecture. In an interview with, Sarkisyan called the decision to approve the project 'monstrous and barbaric'. "The tower is a symbol of political ego and people will always resent it,” he said. Residents rallied to defeat the project right up until the end, clashing with police and Gazprom security guards in the process.

UNESCO has threatened to strip the city of its status as a world heritage site if the tower is built.

Sharon McHugh
US Correspondent

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San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2, San Francisco, United States

San Fran Airport expansion tops off
While the world cries out for sustainability, there's one thing that people just aren't prepared to reduce, and that's air time. So increasingly, while passenger figures remain steadily on the rise, the air industry is looking to building design to generate not just new terminals, but green points too. The same is true at San Francisco International Airport's new Terminal 2 building which topped off last week.

Accommodating a 22% growth in passenger traffic, Gensler's design provides 587,000 sq ft of LEED Silver registered property (aiming for official certification once complete) and the architects advise the measures taken are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the facility by an estimated 1,667 tons, or the equivalent of 210 homes worth of CO2 emmissions every year.

To achieve these savings the architects have incorporated abundant use of natural light, saving in energy use for lighting during day hours; introduced efficient mechanical systems to distribute air at a higher temperature and lower velocity than traditional systems to save energy and provide cooling for just the spaces that require it; and used reclaimed water in a stand-alone plumbing system which will be independent of external sources.

A one-off saving of 12,300 tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to that emitted from over 1000 homes) which would otherwise have been created in the construction process has been made by reusing a substantial portion of the infrastructure of the existing building in the renovated T2. The building itself is to be used as a teaching tool with 'engaging' signage highlighting the importance of sustainable measures. Combined with an aggressive recycling policy and hydrating stations which will encourage users to refill or recycle their plastic bottles, Terminal 2 is set to be an agent for green solutions in transport.

Aside from the necessary sustainability nod though, the terminal, upon completion, is designed to provide an emphasis on service, hospitality, and comfort, all of which, as we all know, are essential when the unavoidable delays occur. To meet this standard Gensler have incorporated a post-security re-composure zone complete with zen-garden style water features (to take you to your 'happy place' while you put your shoes back on), a selection of hotel-inspired seating areas in the departure lounge together with a range of retail options, and your choice of two children's play zones where you can watch your kids wear themselves out before the long journey ahead.

These comforting design features also have a parallel benefit, say the architects: "We believe that if the average passenger is calm, relaxed, and confident in where he/she is going, this helps the entire airport operate more efficiently and safely and makes it easier for security personnel to identify suspicious behavior. So we really worked to create an experience that is comfortable, calm, and easy to understand via features like the revesting area post-security, the meeters and greeters (arrivals) lounge, as well as things things like warm colors, comfortable hotel-like furniture, etc. Having the ability to integrate the latest security technology into the airport already puts the terminal ahead of most others who have had to shoehorn it into a space that wasn’t designed to handle it. The security checkpoint will feature body-scan technology, and a pre-queuing area that flows into the actual security queue."

At a cost of $383 million, the extension will provide 4 new gates, 8 new security lanes, 26 ticketing positions and not to forget, 4 new baggage reclaim carousels when it opens its gates in 2011.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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Liège-Guillemins TGV Railway Station, Liège, Belgium

Liège-Guillemins TGV Railway Station opens in Belgium
13 years in the making, and three years after topping off, the new high-speed rail station at Liège-Guillemins designed by eminent architect, Santiago Calatrava, has finally opened in Belgium. Billed as the 'epicetre of the North European High Speed Network', the station can now beat as the heart of any transport network should.

Members of the Belgian royal family together with international dignitaries and Calatrava himself attended opening celebrations which were all held within the structure. With less than 200,000 occupants in Liège, the station is set to provide a new pulse for the former industrial city, acting as the first part of a planned architectural vision for a corporate center in Belgium and the launch of Liège’s renewal.

Calatrava was first commissioned to design the new Liège-Guillemins Station in 1996, and was tasked with the seemingly impossible duty of replacing the existing station without disturbing the ongoing train services and daily passage of 36,000 people.

The results of his efforts are a cathedral for passage throughout Europe. The vast glass roof encases exposed working platforms and the dynamism of the moving ensemble of passengers and trains, asserting the urbanity and bustle represented within the high-speed network. The architect's vision of a building without facades adding to this energy. Commuters can now travel to Aachen, Cologne and Brussels, as well as to Frankfurt, Paris, London and the Southern portions of Europe at a modern pace through this monumental gateway.

“It was my goal to create a 21st century transportation facility that would not only unite Liège with the rest of Europe, but would also serve as a symbol of the city’s renewal,” said Calatrava. “The project, as a whole, creates a new gateway into Liège and re-establishes a relationship with the city.”

Niki May Young
News Editor

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Guangzhou Southern Axis, Guangzhou, China

Heller Manus Architects’ masterplan design to transform Guangzhou
Having recently completed the design of the Northern Axis of China’s third largest city, Heller Manus Architects has been awarded the contract to design Guangzhou’s Southern Axis as well. Selected from entrants by both a jury of 9 experts and the general public, Heller Manus will now develop their plans for 14.78 sq km of the city incorporating waterfront and transit oriented development with a ferry terminal, central government districts, and a variety of urban land uses.

The project design is expected to take a further year to complete with ten years to implement and once complete, the two combined axes will provide a new urban centre for Guangzhou. The overall project is a collaboration led by Heller Manus with SWA Group and AECOM for the Southern Axis and Callison and Simon & Associates for the Northern Axis project. The Chinese associate team is from Shanghai Concept Engineering Consulting.

The Heller Manus concept was chosen for its balance of growth with sustainability and preservation, while promoting amenities for better livability. In addition, attention was given to the plan’s integration of traditional Lingnan culture, prevalent throughout Guangzhou and parts of Southern China, in the design.

“Lingnan culture encourages the harmonious integration of nature with the city environment along with innovative garden design,” said Taylor Manus, Marketing co-ordinator at Heller Manus. “The key concept of our master plan is organized around a major greenbelt axis, creating an Eco-corridor between the TV tower on the north end and the Pearl River on the south end.

“ This major public green space will give those living in the city the opportunity to connect with nature and provide a variety of recreational uses. Located in the center of the South Axis, Haizhu Lake will be completely re-designed, combining both traditional and contemporary Chinese garden design. In addition, we have created an overall design concept organizing buildings around landscaped courtyards.”

The Southern Axis project is comprehensive, replacing low density housing schemes with high density schemes, adding commercial, government and civic offices, mixed-use premises, embassies, education and research spaces, retail, entertainment, hospitals, municipal utilities, and transportation facilities. Special features include a TV tower, government district, sports parks, aquarium, hotel, ferry terminal, and transit oriented development with a light rail system.

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Club Nautico Poseidon, Pucusana, Peru

Seaside housing development set for Peru
Recently claiming the first prize in an international design competition, Alcuboarquitectos reveal their design for Club Nautico Poseidon in Pucusana, Peru.

Designed for client Rodrigo & Partners the project offers 215 housing units across a 40 acre plot on the sea. The comprehensive design includes piers, a club house, bar, swimming pool, sports facilities, 17 villas and 198 'casas'.

Created with a yacht club-feel the project is fully integrated bringing inhabitants closer to the landscape through the use of extensive balconies with views out to the sea and building the houses into the rocky cliff faces at the sea's edge. Micro-greens are introduced through terraces and at the club house where the topography is extended and covered meeting areas provide shade for rest.

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SQUARE - Brussels Meeting Centre, Brussels, Belgium

Glass cube entrance becomes the urban symbol of a new site of communication with the world
An audacious architectural proposition to the city offers a newfound visibility to the former “Palais des Congrès” by means of a poetic emblem embodied in the glass cube that forms the principal entry to SQUARE, Brussels Meeting Centre.

Its treelike structure and an aesthetic based on transparency and light, irresistibly evokes landscape architecture, takes root in history and projects the 'Mont des Arts' into modernity. This monumentality, mild and poetic, dialogs with the image of the garden. Present and at the same time melting into the surrounding architectural landscape, it changes in materiality as the light and time of day change. The entry, in the form of a large exterior auditorium, allows an entry to the base of the cube, sliding along the exposition hall under René Pechère’s renovated historic garden. A terrace leads to the upper access situated on the 'Esplanade du Mont des Arts'.

The carefully articulated cube contains ribbon shaped suspended stairs and catwalks that connect the different access levels to the complex of 50,000 sq m that optimally exploits the complex existing structure and succeeds in the challenge of increasing the capacity and the efficiency of the whole. Square now offers 27 meeting rooms of 40 to 1,200 for a total capacity of 3,538, an exposition zone of 3,670 sq m divisible in two distinct entities with a free ceiling height of 6m, a restaurant, and a 'brasserie' of 420 places.

The reorganisation fully exploits natural light in a building where the majority of spaces are underground. The meeting centre also benefits from the presence of prestigious works of art that decorate the foyers and position colours, which create an ambiance specific to the site.

Square therefore constitutes an attractive technological jewel at the heart of the 'Quartier des Arts', and consumes the transformation of an important historic site by respect for it’s history and ambition for it’s future.

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Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas, United States

Pritzker Prize winner reveals Museum of Nature & Science plans for Dallas
Thom Mayne has revealed his dramatic design for the new $185 million Perot Museum of Nature and Science at Victory Park in Dallas with groundbreaking due this Autumn. Described as a “living educational tool featuring architecture inspired by nature and science," the new facility designed by his firm, Morphosis, will provide 180,000 sq ft of display and archive space on a 4.7 acre site just north of downtown Dallas.

"Museums, armatures for collective societal experience and cultural expression, present new ways of interpreting the world," said Mayne. "They contain knowledge, preserve information and transmit ideas; they stimulate curiousity, raise awareness and create opportunities for exchange. As instruments of education and social change, museums have the potential to shape our understanding of ourselves and the world in which we live.

"The new Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Victory Park will create a distinct identity for the Museum, enhance the institution’s prominence in Dallas and enrich the city’s evolving cultural fabric."

At 170 ft and 14 stories high the structure presents itself as a cube structure atop a plinth. Working to a theme of 'nature in an urban fabric' its roof alone offers one acre of rolling native landscape featuring all the native flora and fauna of Texas and including a large urban plaza for events. Surrounding the building too landscape design, created in conjunction with Dallas-based Talley Associates, brings together science and technology with nature acting as an extension of the building design. The two are so integrated that, to mention one example, the parking lot is used to generate energy to power water features (post-rain).

80% of the building will be open to the public (an unusually high percentage) and facilities will include 10 exhibition galleries, including a children’s museum and outdoor playspace/courtyard; an expansive glass-enclosed lobby and adjacent outdoor terrace with a downtown view; state of the art exhibition gallery designated to host world-class travelling exhibitions; an education wing; large-format, multi-media digital cinema with seating for 300; flexible-space auditorium; public café; retail store; visible exhibit workshops; and offices.

A signature design feature within the museum is a 54-foot continuous-flow escalator contained in a 150-foot tube-like structure that dramatically extends outside the building. It will take visitors from the light-filled lobby atrium to the museum’s top floor. Patrons will arrive at a fully glazed balcony high above the city, with a bird’s-eye view of downtown Dallas.

“We believe the new Museum will provide an unforgettable experience for our visitors and help them better understand and appreciate the world we share,” said Nicole Small, President and CEO at the Museum of Nature & Science, “And our hope is that it will inspire young people – and those of any age – to pursue careers in math, science and technology

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Dalian Shide Football Stadium, Dalian, China

NBBJ’s competition entry presents a new vein of thinking for sporting venues
Entering into an international competition for the design of the new Shide stadium in Dalian, China, NBBJ has pulled out the stops to make its design stand out, creating a new concept to bring sports back to nature.

The original masterplanned site for the new stadium was set beside the ocean with the mountains to the rear. NBBJ’s design utilized the location to develop what they say is a ‘dramatically improved fan experience as well as greater ease of operations’. The masterplan has since changed, the competition halted while a new site in Dalian is being sourced, hopefully for NBBJ, with a similar backdrop to ensure their design is still relevant.

The architects have used an ‘organic architecture’ to challenge the typical stadium typology of a dramatic skin which shields the public from the activities within. Instead an open-ended ‘garden’ design welcomes external interaction, creates public space and invites visitors to breath in the surrounding nature. The short sides of the stadium drop down to public plazas encouraging inclusivity and taking advantage of the ocean and mountain views. Subtleties in the elevations prevent the access of the main stadium from these north and south plazas instead limiting access to three portholes through the east and west walls. The long sides of the stadium fold up from the landscape as planted walls featuring a variety of indigenous plants at a density of 10 to 20 plants per square metre. These walls contain all primary facilities including VIP suites, toilets and concessions stands, the mechanical spaces, and the ticket booths. They also provide the supporting structure for the innovative roof design.

While many stadiums remain open to the elements, NBBJ’s design for the Dalian stadium roof provides a unique form of shelter with a flexible system of cables and fabric which will flutter above the fans. “The fact that the roof is a collection of panels, each with its own orientation, will help to break up the wind off of the waterfront,” said a spokesperson for NBBJ. “Rather than a distraction, the shifting sound reflections from the different roof panels will amplify the crowd energy of the match, enhancing the Shide’s home field advantage.”

Within the stadium view optimisation is generated by increasing capacity along the preferred long sides. Seats near mid-field are also predominantly designed to hold clear views, ‘exceptional quality for a stadium of this size’, according to the spokesperson. The stadium is designed to hold 40,000 spectators with the open ends providing space for temporary grandstands which would accommodate a further 15,000.

With sustainable measures at the spine of NBBJ’s design they hope their ‘Garden Stadium’ will act as a unique integrated landmark for Dalian. All will depend on if the project competition meets its expected restart at the end of the year.

Niki May Young
News Editor

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DnB Nor bank headquarters, Oslo, Norway

Pixelated design for DnB NOR headquarters enters main construction phase
Foundations up to basement level are now complete at the main building of the new DnB NOR headquarters in Norway. The new headquarter cluster with a total surface of 80,000 sq m, is developed by the Norwegian Oslo S Utvikling (OSU), and its pixelated central building, designed by MVRDV with 17 floors and a surface of 36,500 sq m, is due to be completed in 2012.

In 2003, MVRDV, together with Norwegian firms Dark and a-lab, won the competition for the Bjørvika waterfront development and designed a dense urban master plan along Nyland Allé, the Oslo Barcode, that will be developed and realised by OSU in phases.

The project combines Norwegian bank DnB NOR's twenty offices into a new cluster of three volumes with a common basement and a 3,000m2 underground concourse interlinking the three buildings of the bank.

The project aims to create synergy and identity for the firm translating social and democratic culture into the design and making the space an enviable working facility. MVRDV's building is conceived as a steel ‘rack’ which permits adaptation to the flexible nature of the organisation. The steel rack is wrapped in a stone skin, which adopts Norwegian environmental standards. It appears as a rock, a strong shape within the boundaries of the Barcode. The niches of this rock provide space for vegetation growth: the positioning of the pixels creates roof gardens or outside areas for every floor.

The generic office floors which provide more than 2,000 flexible working spaces recline and are recessed in various places to reflect the urban context and to create communal indoor and outdoor areas and outstanding daylight conditions. At street level the building volume is opened by sheltered entrance zones, and intersected by a public passage leading to the Oslo Central Station. The pixelated design allows this specific response whilst being highly efficient and flexible. As a result, every floor of the building is both unique and generic: the pixelated volume makes the generic specific.

Additional facilities include a panoramic 140 seat canteen on the top level, an executive lounge with a view over the fjord, a board room, in the heart of the volume, DnB NOR’s trading room with 250 work stations, and the main entrance with a reception and access to the concourse. These collective elements are connected by a staggered continuous internal route of terraces, encouraging informal meetings and communication between employees and a series of wooden stairs and bridges allows travel between levels.

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New Orleans Arcology Habitat ( NOAH), New Orleans, United States

Floating city concept designed for ecological living solution
Kevin Schopfer, heading up Ahearn Schopfer architects practice, has developed this unconventional solution to ecological living, specified for use in New Orleans.

Together with Tangram 3DS, a firm specializing in visualization and computer animation, Schopfer has designed and presented New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) as a proposed urban Arcology (architecture and ecology), whose philosophic underpinnings rest in combining large scale sustainability with concentrated urban structures, in this case a floating city.

NOAH's structure is designed for concentrated use with around 20,000 housing units at an average of 1,100 sq ft, three hotels, 1,500 time-share units and 500,000 sq ft of retail space. Also incorporated are three casinos, 500,000 sq ft of commercial condominiums, parking for 8,000 cars, a school, 100,000 sq ft of cultural facilities and a 20,000 sq ft health facility, making the structure socially self-sufficient. All fitting together with public amenities and administrative offices into an estimated 30 million sq ft.

Asked about why NOAH took this form, the architect responded: "The Pyramid shape is the strongest, most able shape to guarantee structural stability when considering the size and height to width ratio of the entire structure. The shape was also chosen so that the wind and inclement weather would be able to blow through the building instead of fight it."

Transportation through the structure would be made possible by the implementation of staggered 'zone elevators' and a mini electric 'subway' system.

Chosen as the 'city that needs it most' the design of NOAH is not created to complement the fabric of New Orleans but as a 'sustainable icon' which would be forever anchored by its coastline.

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Pentominium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Contractors appointed to world's tallest residential tower set for Dubai
A glimmer of light has been shed over the gloom of Dubai's construction industry this week as contractors have been appointed to work on the world's tallest residential tower, set to grace the skies of Dubai in just two years.

Pentominium, designed by Dr Andrew Bromberg, Executive Director at Aedas, is currently the 6th tallest building under construction but not topped out according to statistics from the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Once completed - by the newly appointed Lebanese construction firm, Arabian Construction Co - it will provide 116,200 sq m floor space...and a much needed lift of confidence in the Dubai market.

Not the austere symbol expected of a land in financial turmoil, the Pentominium will maintain the modern ethos we've all come to expect from Dubai: 'more is more'. Trident International Holdings have collaborated with some big players to offer the height of luxury. Complete with a banquet room, sky lounge, observation deck, business centre and even its own cigar lounge sponsored by a collaboration with Davidoff fine cigars, if you like hotel-living this could be right up your street.

The tower itself is not out of place in Dubai. It's tall, really tall at 516 m. But what makes the design intriguing is its height to width ratio - this is an extremely slim-line design. Aedas explain the shape resulted from the project's main challenges of 'density/proximity to neighbours and the extreme environmental pressures of Dubai'. Addressing this issue the building is split into two sides, one which features a system of balconies and a vertical layer of glass to mitigate solar gain, and one which is staggered with sky gardens and apartment pods of one storey height, breaking up the density and offering privacy to outdoor space.

Having won several awards at the Arabian Property Awards before the financial crisis hit, the appointment of a contractor is a positive sign that quality projects can pull through the tough times, even in Dubai.

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5** Spa Hotel, Andalusia, Spain

Year-round retreat for those with 5 star lifestyle
Through a competitive interview process of an international shortlist of architects that included Thomas Heatherwick and David Adjaye, Amin Taha were selected to conduct a masterplan for this Residential Hotel Resort. The brief called for a 5** Spa hotel and 200 homes that together would create an all year round retreat community.

The challenges seen and highlighted through the interview process were in part related to the design/construction logistics of the very steep site but mostly targeted at how to set a precedent for sustainable development along a coastline that is disappearing under heavy urbanisation; How to avoid destroying the reason for being there in the first place; and How to form a believable community with working social spaces that go beyond the serviced apartment concept?

The architects' approach was to combine planning height guidelines with passive environmental controls mainly through thermal mass. With part cut and part fill the development would essentially be buried under local flora with grey and rainwater storage irrigating the more heavily landscaped social areas. Glazing being set far enough in to avoid solar gain during hotter months but allow it during winter and with cross ventilation brought in using solar chimneys. The ‘dug-in carved-out’ theme is continued with communal pools that join to external terraces and pedestrian routes and expand in areas to create an urban framework. A hierarchy of public spaces is centred at the hotel whose facilities are slightly fragmented to stand alone as it were around the village square.

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9/11 Memorial, New York, United States

Memorial museum architect reveals latest design details
As New York and the rest of the world reflect over events on this day 8 years ago, fresh images have been released showing the designs for the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Steven Davis, Partner at Davis Brody Bond Aedas attended a ceremony yesterday at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site to brief media on the updated designs. The 9/11 Memorial Preview Site, at 20 Vesey Street in Manhattan was opened to the public on 24 August where renderings and models of the museum are on display. The museum is situated within the 8 acre landscaped Memorial Plaza, bracketing the memorial pools set in the footprints of the pre-existing twin towers. The new images show the interior of the three-levelled museum where visitors will be able to witness remaining elements of the twin towers:

"The site of the NS11 Memorial Museum comprises the footprints of the twin towers and the space between them, and echoes the boundaries of the Memorial Plaza above," reads the architects' design statement. "Extending down nearly seventy feet from the plaza, the Museum is grounded in what is popularly called 'bedrock'. It is here, amidst the foundations of the original WTC complex, that the physical outline and structural remnants of the two towers can still be seen.

"The boundaries of the below-grade Museum are also defined by the neighbouring projects on the site, including the PATH Terminal and Freedom Tower. But the most important boundary of the museum is to the west, a sixty foot high expanse which is the original slurry wall, and which was part of the original WTC excavation that withstood enormous lateral pressures from the surrounding area after the collapse."

The public are being asked to contribute to the museum's collection via the "Make History" online initiative calling for images and stories related to 9/11 can be contributed through a newly launched, dynamic website. These will, in addition to voice recordings left by visitors to the preview site who have left messages of their story in specially designed recording booths, become a permanent part of the Museum’s Collection.

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10 Hills Place, London, United Kingdom

Office building receives landmark frontage
Amanda Levete Architects has harnessed high quality ship hull technology to create an ingenious sculptural facade for a new office building just off London’s Oxford Street.

Lack of daylight in the narrow streets around this major retail artery was a key issue. Inspired by the art work of Lucio Fontana, AL_A slashed the aluminium skin with large glazed areas orientated towards the sky to maximise and channel natural light into the office space.

The facade is fabricated using curved aluminium profiles assembled on-site. Self-cleaning glass and hidden gutters within the eyelids ensure the facade remains low maintenance. The fine faceting of the aluminium strips creates beautiful and complex reflections of sky and street, making the building highly visible from Oxford Street.

At ground level a bespoke glass, mesh and dichromatic film sandwich is animated with fibre optics to create visual depth of field and a dynamic moiré pattern on an otherwise blank facade.

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Xeritown, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

X-Architects team up with SMAQ to design award-winning sustainable urban scheme
“Xeritown” is a 59 hectare sustainable mixed-use development in one of the fastest growing cities of the world: Dubai. It provides housing for approximately 7000 inhabitants. It is located in Dubailand, a new extension of the city towards the inland desert. Instead of considering the site as a tabula rasa “Xeritown” takes the desert and local climate as a context within which the urban form emerges by working with the natural environment instead of against it.

In the design, the built up area has been compressed to occupy only 50% of the site as an immediate reaction to the sun conditions to achieve a compact shaded fabric: its structure is defined by alternating narrow pedestrian alleys and small squares, typical of Arabic towns. This urban tissue is divided in elongated islands that are orientated so to gain from the prevailing winds crossing the site. The cool breeze from the sea is channeled between the islands and through the longitudinal cuts in the urban fabric, while the hot wind from the desert is deviated above the development. Natural ventilation is enhanced by a rugged skyline breaking up air flows on the scale of both low rises and towers. Similar dynamics determine the formations of the dunes in the desert, thus the development appears as dunescape where the urban islands could be interpreted as a consolidation of the desert dunes.

The resulting landscape area is one of the design’s strongest assets. The landscape design draws on the existing potentially humid spots that are preserved thanks to a careful positioning of the islands. It is conceived as a series of humid zones in an arid setting and it profits from grey water, an inevitable byproduct of local human settlement. So the design not only builds on the present biodiversity of plants and animals, but enhances it, providing attractive designated areas. A focal part of the design is the edge between the urban fabric and the landscape. This is the moment in which architecture, infrastructure and landscape come together, coinciding with an intensification of human activity. Here people can walk under a shaded arcade looking at shops, or stroll along a promenade observing the landscape. A shading device is located here composed by photovoltaic panels which provide valuable energy to the site. The search for solutions that focus both on resource saving principles and on creating a pleasant environment for social interaction also determine the design of the architectural typologies, all of which benefit both climatically and visually from the proximity to the landscape.

The project applies a multitude of strategies for achieving an ecological quality and energy conservation like reducing energy demand by minimizing solar gains thanks to north-east orientation natural ventilation and earth pipes, dimmable LED street lighting, photovoltaic panels to generate low-voltage direct current electricity and roof top turbines; strategies for the conservation of resources by the reduction of the demand of potable water thanks to low water-use appliances, grey water recycling for irrigation and water saving irrigation systems, low maintenance landscape, re-use of soil present on site and waste-recycling facilities, strategies to reduce carbon emissions by easy access to public transport and by extensive shaded and well ventilated pedestrian and cycling network

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Juliana Bridge, Zaandijk, Netherlands

Juliana Bridge in Zaandijk now officially opened
Royal Haskoning were celebrating the opening of the Juliana Bridge in Zaandijk, the Netherlands this week. Ms Elisabeth Post, executive councillor of the province of North-Holland, Ronald Ootjes of Zaanstad and Mr de Regtuijt from BAM were present at the opening. Joris Smits and Syb van Breda of Royal Haskoning Architecten were responsible for the design of the bridge which is the fourth in a series of bridges designed by Royal Haskoning for Zaanstad over the past few years.

Joris Smits commented, "In view of the close proximity of the historical area of Zaansche Schans, the bridge design has been kept modest; a contemporary design which respects its historical surroundings. It is light-footed and transparent but also unpretentious. It offers plenty of space for pedestrians and cyclists by providing them with their own bridge deck. The measures implemented to counter the movement of the bridge have been cleverly incorporated into the 7th pillar to ensure a smooth flowing line from shore to shore."

The Juliana Bridge follows the Butterfly Bridge crossing the Thorbeckeweg, the Westzanerpolder Bridge in the Hoogtij commercial zone and the Prins Bernhard Bridge crossing the Zaan river in Zaandam.

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