Eco Mono-Rail to Boost Tourism in The Ukraine

ZA Architects proposes a economic boosting public service project that they say will become the framework for further development of human activity in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.  The backbone of the project is a mono-rail road with 4 stations, each with its own unique function.  This environmentally-friendly and profitable railroad will cater to the tourist and industrial needs and can be implemented in several stages.

In the first stage, two 4-carriage trains for 176 passengers will be introduced.  The road will be located 4-6 meters above the ground, providing a great view, reducing noise levels and allowing animals to cross the territory freely.  Old objects located in the area are regarded as tourist attractions.  In the western less forested part of the zone there will be a wind power station.  the glazed facades are equipped with blinds covered with a thick layer of metal protecting people from radioactive exposure and excessive sun radiation.

The project faces some opposition with many people having an negative idea about the exclusion zone around Chernobyl nuclear power plant, although most of the territory does not pose any radioactive hazard.  Currently the territory is practically uninhabited, with the exception of a few scientist, people who refused to leave their homes, and tourists.  The design proposal focuses on the Ukranian part of the territory, development of industry, environment protection, and as a consequence- attraction of investment.  The bulk of attention is focused on Tourist infrastructure; extreme, industrial, ecological, game tourism, and photo-safari.

Stations can change in form and size in the process of construction, as their structural elements are interchangeable.  The platform is located on the second level.  Entering the station trains are washed and dried in the decontamination zone.  The space between the platforms accommodates vertical communications and interactive touch- boxes for booking guided tours.  The first level contains emergency shower cabins and a decontamination zone where visitors discard polluted clothes are receive clean ones.  the 3rd level houses entertainment and catering facilities, the 4th offices, and the 5th residential units.  The stations are viewed to be the starting point for further economic and urban development.

The aim of the project is to attract public attention to the phenomenon Chernobyl exclusion zone.  The designed objects are located outside of the area of radioactive contamination.  The proposed solutions will transform the abandoned territory which is now financed at the expense of the taxpayers into a prosperous tourist destination which is beneficial for society and profitable for the state.


Museo Soumaya

The Museo Soumaya, with its bold and commanding presence, is a beacon of beauty continuing drive Mexico City's recognition for having distinguished architectural gems.  The museum plays a key role in the reconversion of a former industrial zone into a preeminent cultural program.  It acts as an initiator in the transformation of the urban perception.  Its institutional status activates the public space with functionalities other than commercial and grants the new neighborhood the urban intensity it requires.

The Soumaya Museum was conceived as a sculptural building that is both unique and contemporary.  Its avant-garde morphology and typology define a new paradigm in the history of Mexican International Architecture.  The museum holds the second largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the world, several authors of Medieval and Renaissance art, as well as impressionist painters.

The collection is housed in a continuous exhibition space spread over six levels, representing approximately 6,000 m2.  The building also includes and auditorium for 350 people, library, offices, a restaurant, a gift shop, and a multi-purpose gathering lounge.

The shell of the building is constructed with 28 steel curved columns of different diameters, each with its own geometry and shape, offering visitors a soft non-linear circulation throughout the building.  Located at each floor level, seven ring beams provide a system that braces the structure and guarantees its stability.  The facade is made of hexagonal aluminum modules that optimize the preservation and durability of the entire building.

LAR@SOUMAYA from onnis luque on Vimeo.

The Folded House

Japan is known for stretching the limits in town home design, and creating dynamic spaces with challenging site conditions.  It seems the drive for designers is to create the ultimate experience regardless of tradition or site constraints.  The "Folded House" in Osaka pushes the limit offering a different experience with every space and structural element.

The typical design method for laying out a house would be to assign rectangular rooms with specific functions and lay them out accordingly, producing a series of rooms of similar size and proportion lending to monotonous spacial experiences.  Designers, Alphaville Architecture, steered from this conventional design practice and created a structurally rational but spatially heterogeneous house.  They used Voronoi line segments that divide equally the shortest distance to create spaces.

First, the building's shape was squashed in a parallelogram in order to keep an adequate distance from the site's borders.  Second, the center wall was folded to divide the space into two, diagonal to the site on the first floor and parallel to the site on the third floor.  Next, the floors were skipped, and the final step was to slope the roof.  Through this process various spaces were created producing a continuous sequence of changes that can be experienced as one moves along or through the bent wall.


World Population Reaches 7 Billion!!??

A world of 7 billion people poses many challenges and births countless possibilities to make positive change to secure a more sustainable future and balanced way of life.  On October 31, world population will reach 7 billion.  As this happens, half the worlds population is living in urban areas, this is up 3% from 200 years ago.  If all goes according to prediction, that number will pass 70% by 2050.  With numbers like these, scientists and policy makers will have their hands full over the next 30+ years beefing up infrastructure and steering us in the direction of renewable energy sources and minimizing wasteful consumption of materials, goods, energy, food, and resources.  Water and Food will certainly take precedents over energy. Giving, the changing climate sparking mass drought, famine, over-saturated soils, and contaminated drinking water due to poor infrastructure and unusual heavy rains in many regions.

In Western Europe, Japan and Russia, it will be an ironic milestone amid worries about low birthrates and aging populations.  In China and India, the two most populous nations, it's an occasion to reassess policies that have already slowed once-rapid growth.  But in Burundi,  Uganda and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, this reality is much more crucial.  The region staggers under the double burden of the world's highest birthrates and deepest poverty.  The regional population of nearly 900 million could reach 2 billion in 40 years at current rates, accounting for about half of the projected global population growth over that span.

Catastrophe however does not necessarily have to define our future.  Experts say most of Africa and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives.  Water is also becoming a main constraint in many regions.  the International Water Management Institute predicts that by 2025 about 1.8 billion people will live in places suffering from severe water scarcity.

"Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other," says Lester Brown, the environmental analyst who heads the Earth Policy Institute in Washington.  "The challenge is to intervene in that cycle and accelerate the shift to smaller families."

Several of the world's most influential planners put their heads together at last September's Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting to share ideas and solutions for some of the biggest challenges faced by growing cities. Challenges will be fast in the coming years, but measures to deal with the impending human deluge are already underway.  Whether they favored megacities or clusters of smaller cities, all the panelists agreed that keeping population centers close together is the best way to maximize the value of public utilities, mass transportation, and other services that become less efficient in rural areas.  The key is creating long-term development strategies and financing schemes that address a city's infrastructure needs and the world's greenhouse gas reduction needs.

Overcrowded bus in New Delhi 

New York City subway

Article via The Huffington Post and The Infrastructurist

The Aero-Train; Could Trains With Wheels Soon Go the Way of Steam Engines?

The Aero-Train is a levitating plane-like vehicle that travels 10 cm above the ground at an incredible 350km/h (220mph).  Using a method called the "ground-effect", the Aero Train literally flies inches above the ground on a cushion of air.  Powered completely by wind and solar energy, the zero-carbon demsign also significantly decreases the friction that makes more traditional rail travel inefficient.  The Aero Train is currently a prototype at the Tohoku University in Japan, but they hope it can be in public use by 2020.

In the mean time, China and Asia are already using wheel-less trains, the mag-lev.  Using a magnetic field and hovering just centimeters above the ground, the trains are able to eliminate ground friction to achieve speeds of up to 581km/h (361mph), and a next generation train is currently being developed that can hit 1000kph.


Worlds First Vertical Forest in Milan; Bosco Verticale

Milan may be the last place you would think to be the first to build a vertical forest, maybe China, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, or even California? yes I say California and not the US because of the regions forward thinking when it comes to building sustainably.  Milan however is one of the most polluted cities in Europe, so sustainable buildings such as this would be of great benefit to the city.

Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, Bosco Verticale is a system that optimizes, recuperates, and produces energy.  Covered in plant life, the building aids in balancing the microclimate and in filtering the dust particles contained in the urban environment.  The diversity of the plants and their characteristics produce humidity, absorb Co2 and dust particles, producing oxygen and protect the building from radiation and acoustic pollution.  This not only improves the quality of living spaces, but gives way to dramatic energy savings year round.

Each apartment in the building will have a balcony planted with trees that are able to respond to the city's weather – shade will be provided within the summer, while also filtering city pollution; and in the winter the bare trees will allow sunlight to permeate through the spaces.  Plant irrigation will be supported through the filtering and reuse of the greywater produced by the building.  Aeolian and photovoltaic energy systems will further promote the tower's self-sufficiency.

The design of the Bosco Verticale is a response to both urban sprawl and the disappearance of nature from our lives and on the landscape.  the architect notes that if the units were to be constructed unstacked and stand-alone units across a single surface, bthe project would require 50,000 square meters of land, and 10,000 square meters of woodland.  Bosco Verticale is the first offer in his proposed BioMilano, which envisions a green belt created around the city to incorporate 60 abandoned farms on the outskirts of the city to be revitalized for community use.


G8 Update; 2200 Amber

G8's 2200 Amber is inching closer and closer to its Kensington debut.  Framing is up, electrical and plumbing are in, windows and doors a sealed, walls are sheet rocked and sanded, and the exterior cement board is pretty much complete.  Give her just a few more months and she'll be ready for move in.  This is exciting news for us at G8, a small development firm making a big statement and hopefully positively impacting the development of its community.  Further good news is the sale of its neighbor 2061 E. Susquehanna.  Another G8 gem, not even a day on the shelf, the home was snatched up straight off the delivery truck. This amazing rehab has taken Philadelphia row-homes to another level.  Open and unorthodox floor plans are in and G8 is the Way-To-Go!


BOOM– The Future of Palm Springs, CA

The design and development of BOOM draws on Palm Spring's rich architectural heritage.  Twentieth Century Modernists Richard Neutra, Albert Frey and John Lautner built some of the most influential work in Pal Springs.  BOOM recognizes their courage to experiment and pays tribute to how these famed architects were inspired by the desert and its inhabitants.
To follow up on last weeks post of BOOM in Spain, here is peak at what's to expect from the daring developers much sooner in the U.S.A. BOOM in Palm Springs, CA!

BOOm is many voices, a collaborative project that brings together the visions and dreams of 10 world-renowned and exciting emerging architects.  With each team designing a unique neighborhood, BOOM celebrates self-expression through groundbreaking design that is fresh, unconventional and bold.

The community has a pretty extensive architectural fact sheet for a retirement community that mirrors more of a program for a lavish resort or mega cruise ship.  With over thousands of ideas, there are concretely 300 residences, 750 master bedrooms, 60 boutique hotel suites, 1 event center, 6 assisted living suites, 1 gym and spa, 10 swimming pools, 1 clubhouse, 8 unique neighborhoods, 4 parks, 1 meditation center, 9 specialized nursing beds, 5 performance spaces, 1 healing funhouse, 2 nightclubs, and 5 outdoor cafes.

"BOOM is really about celebrating outdoor life, indoor life, but also the liberty and individuality of human living." – Jurgen Mayer

Location: Palm Springs, CA

Team: HWKN, J. Mayer H, LOT-EK, Joel Sanders Architect, Sader + Vuga, L2 Tsionov-Vitkon, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Arakawa + Gins, Rudin Doner Design, Surfacedesign (Landscape)

Status: Expected Completion 2013