Chapel At Murcia, Spain

Architect Sanjay Puri of Sanjay Puri architects designed the inspiring Chapel at Murcia in Murcia, Spain in 2011.  The buildings breathtaking views and gratifying energy brings a peace and serenity to those who come to worship and pray in communal unity.

Framing a gently undulating landscape with a view of the ocean in the distance, this small chapel is perched at a height of 90m on a steeply sloping hill.  Visitors approach the chapel from a winding road leading up to the hill.  A small doorway is nestled amidst landscape mounds originally merging with the hill.

As you enter, the volume gradually increases with the doorway widening into a cavernous space created with a large cantilevered concrete roof that folds up from one side.  The cross sits on the edge of a rectilinear pool with an infinity edge that merges with the ocean in the distance.

The water from the pool descends into a lower trough that creates a small waterfall with a mist creating a blur at the floor level of the chapel making it seemingly float above the hill.  The minimal interruption of structural elements in creating this space accentuates the natural beauty of the site and its panoramic views.

The design in its simplicity creates the seamless integration of the internal volume with the open landscape beyond creating a space conducive to contemplation.

Oriented towards the north with natural green cover on the south, the design of this small chapel creates a space that will remain cool throughout the year sheltered from the southern sun in a city with temperatures ranging from 16 to 38 degrees.  Its design facilitates complete cross ventilation and reduces the need for any mechanical system rendering it energy efficient.


Green Cast, Japan

Kengo Kuma Associates have brought to life a mixed-use structure  in Odawara, Japan, adorned with a vast configuration of intricately placed aluminum die-cast panels creating a living facade.  The 3 to 6 aluminum panels, which also form the planters, are made in momoblox casting.  The slanted organic looking panels are made of decayed styrene foam. Equipment such as a watering hose, air reservoir for ventilation and down-pipes are integrated behind the panels to allow the facade to accommodate a comprehensive system for the building.

The five story building was completed in 2011.  The basement and ground floor contain parking, a clinic and pharmacy. The second and third floors provide space for offices and a vocational school, leading up to a fourth floor two bedroom residence.


MÉCA, Cultural Complex for Bordeaux

A team of well known designer wins a competition to design a new 12,000 m2 cultural center on the Riverfront of Bordeaux, merging three cultural institutions into one single building.  The new Maison de l'Économie Créative et de la Culture en Aquitaine, MÉCA, located on the historical riverfront of Bordeaux will house three regional visual and performing arts agencies FRAC, the ECLA and the OARA in one single institution.

Spearheaded by BIG, (in partnership with FREAKS freearchitects, dUCKS scéno, khephren Ingénierie, VPEAS, ALTO Ingénierie, Vincent Hedont, PBNL, Myrk $ Moriceau, and Ph.A), the proposal arranges the new center for contemporary art, the performing arts institution and the center for literature and movies around a public space open towards the city of Bordeaux and the Garonne River. The building is conceived as a single loop of public space and cultural institutions as the pavement of the promenade rises to form the roof of the main lobbies, ascends vertically along the stage tower of OARA, bridges across the promenade with the sky lit galleries of the FRAC and returns vertically to the ground at the archives of the ECLA in order to reunite with the waterfront promenade.

MÉCA, in an effort to engage the public who may not be as informed about the arts, spills its activities into the public realm and the urban room.  The public is also invited to walk around, through, above and below the new cultural gateway.  By inviting the art into the city and the city into the arts, the MÉCA will provide opportunities for new hybrids of cultural and social life beyond the specific definitions of its constituent parts.

The multiple ramps and stairs of the building create an institution that is publicly accessible and welcoming on the inside as well as the outside.  The urban room and the informal seating of the stairs will make the MÉCA a lively place and a natural extension of the life along the Quai de Paludate street and the new promenade.  During festivals or other special occasions in the city, the outside of the MÉCA can be transformed into a stage for outdoor concerts, theatrical spectacles or art installations.

Brooklyn Will Soon Be Home to the Largest Urban Farm

BrightFarms has ambitious plans to build the world's largest rooftop farm in Brooklyn, New York.  The hydroponic greenhouse company announced back in April that Sunset Park was chosen as the location of the future 100,000 square-foot, multi-acre rooftop farm, which would be able to grow enough food to meet the fresh produce needs of 5,000 New Yorkers.

The Farm will be built on top of Liberty View Industrial Plaza, an 8-story, 1.1 million square-foot warehouse building in Sunset Park.  Sunset park is home to a large Chinatown neighborhood as well as many grocery stores.  The farm will be constructed by BrightFarms, Inc in partnership with Salmar Properties LLC.  The revolutionary rooftop farm is part of the Bloomberg administration's plan to revitalize Brooklyn's industrial waterfront.

The new farm will have the ability to grow up to 1 million pounds of local produce per year, including tomatoes, lettuces and herbs.  The rooftop's greenery can also prevent up to 1.8 million gallons of storm water from going into local waterways.

BrightFarms announced recently that their long-term retail partner will be A&P, the grocery mega-giant formally known as the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.  They will be the exclusive retailer of up to 1 million pounds a year of lettuce, tomatoes and herbs produced at the farm.  The produce will then be sold locally at A&P's various retail outlets including The Food Imporium, Pathmark, Waldbaums, and grocery stores under the A&P name itself.

News via Inhabitat


Chinese Company BSB Aims to Build World's Tallest Building in 90 Days

"A 200- Story Energy and Material Efficient; Earthquake Resistant Building; A Car-Free City for 100,000 People; A milestone of Life-Style Transforming"  This is the advertising campaign for Sky City One, China's next major engineering endeavor propose by Chinese construction company Broad Sustainable Building (BSB).  The company has already established a reputation for themselves by erecting a 30-story hotel in 360 hours in December 2011.  They claim that their innovative construction techniques help them to meet such bold targets, including constructing buildings with prefabricated components from their factory before the construction team breaks ground, allowing the pre-finished pieces to be assembled on site much quicker, like a 3D puzzle.

The 220 story building also aims to be as sustainable as possible by using glazing and 15-centimeter-thick exterior walls for thermal insulation.  It is also expected to use a fifth of the energy that a regular building requires due to BSB's unique construction methods, and will serve as a city unto itself by housing over 100,000 people.

Currently the world's tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai standing at 828 meters and taking five years to complete. Sky City One will stand just 10 meters taller at 838 meters. Not many facts are out there about the project except that it will feature the world's tallest hotel "The J Hotel" and be linked by 104 elevators.  National news outlet Xinhua said that Sky City would not simply be another Chinese landmark, but a "medium-cost, super-saving utility to promote a futuristic urban lifestyle.

Stadel Museum; Germany

Since its foundation in 1815, the Stadel Museum has continually expanded its holdings by purchasing an active acquisition policy.  The collection presently encompasses some 2,900 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs and more than 100,000 drawings and prints.  With this rich inventory, the Stadel presents a survey of seven hundred years of European art history from the early fourteenth century to the Renaissance, the Baroque, early modern art and the present.

The latest extension of the Stadel museum, one of the most well know art Museums in Germany, by Schneider Schumacher Architekten, opened last April.  The additional 2,600 sq m of exhibition space is dedicated to contemporary art.  The architects won an international competition in 2008 with their design concept of placing the new museum hall underneath the Stadel garden instead of above ground like former extensions.

The height of the exhibition hall ranges from 6 to 8.2 meters and 195 circular skylights supply the underground area with natural light.  The freely shaped concrete ceiling shell rests on only twelve iner columns as well as on the surrounding reinforced concrete walls of the rectangular subterranean structure measuring about 76m x 52 m.  The ceiling curves upwards forming a dome shape with a height of up to 2.26 m in a central area of approximately 26. x 26m.


Willets Point, Queens; New Green Neighborhood

Mayor Bloomberg unveiled this week, a massive new plan to turn an area near Citi Field i Queens into a new neighborhood filled with green spaces.  The Willets Point area, between Flushing and Corona, is best known for its industrial landscape, and is home to many automotive shops which have contaminated the soil and air over time.

Soon the area will be revamped into a residential district with affordable housing, a mall, movie theaters, a hotel and green public space.  Despite the large mall and parking lot, the United States Green Building Council has designated Willets Point as a LEED-ND pilot project that aims to demonstrate NYC's commitment to an environmentally- friendly future for the area and the waterways that surround it.  The project has already received LEED-ND pre-certification approval.

The 62-acre site will be redeveloped over the next 15 years, starting with teh controversial relocation of residents and businesses during the first phase of the project.  Unhappy residents sued the city in the past over the relocation plan, but the city has already acquired 95% of the land required for the redevelopment.

Over the next few months, the first phase of the project will begin, cleaning up 23 acres of contaminated land near Citi Field.  After the area is pronounced livable, the 126th Street corridor will be developed, including a 200 room hotel, retail shops and restaurants.  Mixed income  residents will come next, and 875 units out of the 2,500 total units built will fall under affordable housing.  Bloomberg projects that the new Willets Point will bring approximately 3,000 jobs and economic growth while also creating a new residential area in Queens.