Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

The Case for Skyscrapers Made of Wood – Design – The Atlantic Cities   Leave a comment

“Since the invention and development of steel and concrete, the combination of which would spawn the birth of the skyscraper, wood as a building material has been marginalized as simple construction ephemera, used to form concrete or to structure building frames advanced with the expressed purpose of producing single family homes or large estates and to furnishing their plush interiors.

Wood fell out of vogue in a large part because of its vulnerability to fire, probably the single greatest factor in restricting use of the material to smaller structures. But change is coming, writes CNN, as wood has become transformed by a handful of dedicated engineers and architects – Shigeru Ban most notable among them – and put to use in the service of large-scale structures like Michael Green‘s proposed “Tallwood” skyscraper in Vancouver. ”

The plans for the 30-story tower are among a small group of “woodscrapers” being proposed throughout the world, which all had to overcome stringent building codes. Explaining the motivation behind his design, Green says that wood construction at such scales is decidedly cheaper than standard-industry methods and, more importantly, much more energy efficient, given the large amounts of CO2 expended in the manufacturing of steel and concrete and the extent of their large carbon footprints. Conversely, wood traps carbon dioxide throughout a building’s life cycle, and, if sustainably harvested from controlled and well-managed forests, can prove to be a renewable resource.

 

For Tallwood, Green has created a system of laminated strand lumber beams which are load-bearing and fire-resistant. Where the structural capacity of steel rapidly degrades when exposed to flames, the large beams, which are comprised of strips of wood fibers glued together, develop an exterior layer of char that insulates the wood’s structural core. Innovative designs such as Tallwood, when coupled with  may propel wood at the forefront of future construction advancements.

 

As Green says, “Really we’re at the stage where we’re able to start to show what’s possible, a bit like that Eiffel Tower moment. That was built when no one was used or understood tall structures, but it showed what could be done and just as importantly stretched the imagination.”

via The Case for Skyscrapers Made of Wood – Design – The Atlantic Cities.

Posted March 24, 2012 by arnoneumann in architecture

Tagged with , ,

A plan to turn a former jail into rental housing -Vancouver , BC   Leave a comment

Gregory Henriquez believes that transforming a former city jail into affordable rental housing is poetry.

He is the architect behind the transformation of the former remand centre at 211 Gore into 95 units of rental housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

The poetic metaphor of transforming a jail into housing is really a healthy message for any society,” says Mr. Henriquez, seated inside his upstairs office in the old B.C. Securities heritage building at Homer and Pender. The office is grand with plaster cornices, tall windows and marble floors.

“Incarcerating people isn’t the answer,” says Mr. Henriquez. “Housing them is.”

He has become known as the Vancouver architect with the vision towards equitable housing. He is the designer behind the Woodward’s Building, lauded as a successful merger of low-income housing and market housing, as well as the affordable Downtown Eastside condo project at 60 W. Cordova.

Mr. Henriquez is often confused with his famous architect father Richard, well known for Eugenia Place in English Bay, with the tree rising from the rooftop, a tribute to the forest that stood there before it.

The remand centre is a passing of the baton from father to son because Richard designed the original building, and Gregory has re-designed and will soon re-purpose it for social and affordable housing. While Richard is the true poet of the family, son Gregory has carved out his own niche as the social issues-minded architect.

“He is the architect with the ethical pen,” says condo marketer Bob Rennie, who worked with Mr. Henriquez on Woodward’s as well as numerous other projects.

Mr. Henriquez’s decision to focus on the remand centre was driven as much by personal necessity as it was to supply essential rental stock.

It was 2008, when the market had bottomed out, and Mr. Henriquez thought that he could either take a long break, or put his architects to work on a housing project he’d considered for awhile. His father’s 1973 remand centre had been sitting unused since it closed in 2002, and was an ideal and obvious source of rental housing for low-income tenants in the area.

It was, in fact, an empty shell awaiting a new purpose. It had already been gutted before the basement became home to a community courtroom.

“I thought, we can either give up or look for projects that are really meaningful and put some people to work drawing up things that would be very exciting around issues of social justice and affordability and housing and inclusivity, and things we hold near and dear to our hearts,” he says.

A remand centre is a detention centre for people who have not yet been found guilty and are awaiting their appearance in court. The Vancouver remand centre at 211 Gore is striking because of the rows of concrete bays that jut out the side of the building. Inside, the bays are used as alcoves for beds. The feature is a Richard Henriquez metaphor.

“They are obviously in prison but still in society, and they are not yet guilty, so the metaphor of them sleeping on the outside of the building was an interesting thing,” says Mr. Henriquez.

He made a pitch to the province’s housing ministry, and after three years of back and forth, the idea became a reality last spring. The remand centre is set for a makeover to be completed by mid 2013.

The 95 rental units built, to be managed by the St. James Community Service Society, will include 34 rental units for low-income tenants. Tenants who qualify for a studio apartment can earn around $32,500, while one-bedroom units will be rented to tenants who make $36,300, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. housing income levels. The maximum rents would be about $800 to $900 a month. Studios will be up to 485 square feet in size, and one bedrooms up to 590 square feet.

The remainder of the units will be for at-risk youth who work in the BladeRunners construction-training program, as well as those who are on a shelter allowance. The 34 rental units will generate enough revenue so that the project won’t require subsidies. Rents will cover the $1.6-million mortgage.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman has said that the $13-million project is also possible because of the already existing building, which drastically offsets construction costs.

As for the concrete bays, Mr. Henriquez will replace them with larger glass bays, allowing light into the units.

The project provides much-needed affordable rental housing in an area where rental and condo prices have skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Some of his own architects, says Mr. Henriquez, cannot afford to live in Vancouver.

“Which is sad and wrong.”

While an effort has been made to provide affordable condo housing, such as Mr. Henriquez’s project at 60 W. Cordova, many people still can’t afford the down payment. About 50 per cent of Vancouverites rent, and in the Downtown Eastside in particular, rental stock is essential.

Mr. Henriquez doesn’t expect the new housing to transform the gritty block, but he figures it will, for what it’s worth, help fill the massive gap that is rental housing. He can’t think of another new rental building in the neighbourhood, which isn’t surprising considering land values.

“Vancouver hasn’t produced rental because most land trades at market housing rates,” he says.

“But straight market housing by itself in the neighbourhood isn’t going to work. Every project has to bring some level of affordability and some statement about caring about the neighbourhood … You don’t want people to feel you are bulldozing their neighbourhood.”

Mr. Henriquez says speculative condo buyers push prices up, and creative methods must be used to keep them from purchasing units that are intended to be affordable. Those methods include making the project a no-rent building, not including parking, and banning the practice of flipping.

Condo owners usually don’t provide affordable rentals, either. Condo marketer Bob Rennie says those speculative condo investors who need to rent their units to cover their mortgages are currently providing much of the rental stock.

“These passive condo buyers that everybody hates are the rental supplier,” he says.

They price their rents on average around $1,600 a month, which is too high for many people. And because the number of condo units being developed in the last few years downtown has drastically dropped, there will be less of those rental condos available.

“To find rental under $1,250 or under $1,000 is a rare commodity, given our land costs and construction costs,” says Mr. Rennie. “So building small suites and providing affordable rental fills a need.”

The city has recognized the need for rental stock with its STIR program, which stands for Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing, and includes breaks on property taxes, development cost levies, and parking, and allowances for greater density, in exchange for development of rental housing.

Vancouver property prices, however, are expensive, and condominiums remain more lucrative to the average developer.

“You just have to look at really creative models, and looking at smaller sizes,” says Mr. Rennie. “So whether it’s condos or affordable rental, you have to try different models. We can’t keep hanging onto yesterday’s model, because land has become so expensive.”

via A plan to turn a former jail into rental housing – The Globe and Mail.

Your Roof: Once Black, Now Green – Meakin Armstrong – National – The Atlantic   1 comment

 

 

Toronto has been aggressive about it: they have a new, comprehensive green roof law, the first one in North America.

Like all laws, it’s complicated, but new building permit applications for residential, commercial, and institutional developments must now have green roofs. New industrial developments (as of April 30, 2012) will soon have to be green, also.

The law states a minimum roof size, so it doesn’t apply to gardening sheds. And the larger the roof, the greater the percentage of it will have to be green. People can opt out, but they have to pay toward a fund.

Efforts are already paying off: Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is reporting that the law has resulted in more than 1.2 million square feet of new green space planned on new commercial, institutional, and multi-unit residential developments. It will also keep enough rainwater runoff out of the lakes and rivers to fill fifty Olympic sized swimming pools. It’s reduced the heat island effect and led to an annual energy savings of over 1.5 million KWH for building owners.

And there are still other benefits: opportunities for parks and recreational areas. Birds and bees do well with these changes. To get an idea of what these roofs can look like, here’s a collection of still images of green roofs around the world.

Other cities are trying to catch up with Toronto. New York City is in the midst of its PlaNYC initiative that’s encouraging green roofs, planting trees, and trying to improve the streetscape so to minimize the heat island effect for which the city is notorious: temperatures there can exceed rural areas by seven degrees. The first green roof in New York City, which is at a large post office facility in Midtown, saves its owners $30,000 in electrical bills.

What’s stopping people the world-over from having green roofs? Higher initial cost. Sometimes, higher maintenance cost or roofs unable to handle the weight. But proponents say electrical savings can help in those areas. Also because the roof is covered with waterproofing and a lot of dirt, the roof is preserved and tends to last longer. And more buildings are under construction that have been designed with green roofs in mind, like this refinery office in Rotterdam.

What’s next? Perhaps “blue roofs,” which preserve rainwater for recreation, like at Urbeach. Then, there’s this: what about green floors? Or Depave, a Portland group that rids areas of “unnecessary concrete?” ”

via Your Roof: Once Black, Now Green – Meakin Armstrong – National – The Atlantic.

Posted October 16, 2011 by arnoneumann in architecture, Green Roofs

Tagged with , , ,

Cooper-Hewitt show presents slums as innovation hotbeds | SmartPlanet   Leave a comment

 

 

“The predecessor to “Design with the Other 90%: Cities” opened at the Cooper-Hewitt in 2007. Titled “Design for the Other 90%,” the 2007 show was smaller, featuring 34 projects from around the world, ranging from One Laptop Per Child, an often-debated initiative to create inexpensive computers for kids in resource-challenged regions, to LifeStraw, a straw designed to filter and purify water immediately as a user sips through it.The initial show’s thesis, as well as that of the on-going series, is that designers have traditionally focused on creating products and services to sell to the wealthiest 10% of the world’s population, but architects, engineers, graphic and industrial designers, as well as design-savvy entrepreneurs, are increasingly addressing the needs of the majority of the globe’s residents–namely those who live in poverty.“The first show hit a nerve. It started to spark an international conversation on what role design could play in solving critical global issues,” Smith said, pointing out that the first show traveled to six different venues and the catalog has been reprinted seven times, including Japanese and Korean editions.“We saw there was dearth of information on this type of design,” Smith added. “So we decided to create a series.”While it’s still early to talk about what the Cooper-Hewitt has planned for its next show–Smith said there will be others–the series has a permanent home online as individual exhibitions open and close, with the Design Other 90 Network. The site offers a database that will kick off with 100 projects from both of the shows in the series to date. There’s room for more as worldwide conversations–and debates–on how to best design for, and with, the 90 percent of the world’s citizens are sure to continue.”

via Cooper-Hewitt show presents slums as innovation hotbeds | SmartPlanet.

Posted October 16, 2011 by arnoneumann in architecture, design

Tagged with , , ,

LEGO.com Architecture Fallingwater®   Leave a comment

 

LEGO is still so astounding in its range and creativity. Here is a beautiful example of an architectural application .

 

 

“When Frank Lloyd Wright presented his brilliant vision for Fallingwater®, he surprised everyone. The imagined residence wasn’t placed beside the waterfall that ran through the property, but above it, which almost totally eliminated its visibility. He argued that hearing the water instead of looking at it would connect the owners closer to nature, making it a thoroughly integrated part of their life. 

In his design, Wright made use of similar shapes as those found in its surroundings.It consists of climbing levels shaped by large sandstone ledges so the house seems to hover above ground, stretching itself across the diving stream.

The entire house is composed of projected balconies jutting out above the rock. The rooms themselves, with their adjacent outdoor terraces appear to reach out to the branches of the surrounding trees.

Constructed using local craftsmen building with local sandstone, the daring, groundbreaking project would catch instant fame after being featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1938, making it the world’s most famous Private Residence.”

LEGO.com Architecture Fallingwater®.

Posted September 25, 2011 by arnoneumann in architecture, LEGO

Tagged with , ,

What Is the Lab? | BMW Guggenheim Lab   Leave a comment

Novel , innovative interaction by the people for the people to discuss urban ideas ; their ideas in their cities. The process learnt is adaptable to any other city. Will be interesting to see the outcome and results from the 9 city , 6 year journey.

“The BMW Guggenheim Lab launches in New York from August 3 to October 16, 2011, before traveling to Berlin and a city in Asia, to be announced later this year. Cycle 1 concludes with an exhibition presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2013. Two additional two-year cycles will follow, each with a new mobile structure and theme, concluding in the fall of 2016.

Part urban think tank, part community center and public gathering space, the Lab is conceived to inspire public discourse in cities around the world and through the BMW Guggenheim Lab website and online social communities.”

via What Is the Lab? | BMW Guggenheim Lab.

Posted August 5, 2011 by arnoneumann in architecture, urban

Tagged with , ,

Xeroxed Village: Chinese Secretly Copy Austrian UNESCO Town – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International   Leave a comment

 

 

Residents of the Austrian mountain town of Hallstatt, population 800, are scandalized. A Chinese firm has plans to replicate the village — including its famous lake — in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Austrian media reported this week.

via Xeroxed Village: Chinese Secretly Copy Austrian UNESCO Town – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International.

Now this is subtle….doing a complete replica of a UNESCO world heritage European city. Do read about the other replicas as well…

Posted June 18, 2011 by arnoneumann in architecture, China

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: