Finalists for Japan's New National Stadium

Zaha Hadid and UNStudio were among the eleven finalists announced by Tadao Ando and the Japan Sport Council, who will complete in the final round of the international competition for the New National Stadium of Japan.  The new reconstruction of the National Stadium hopes to attract world-class events with the world's largest spectator capacity and the world's finest hospitality.   The new stadium, ahead of schedule is committed to hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup and is slated for completion in 2018.

A quote from Tadao Ando was shared by Arch Daily: "Our wish is to see a stadium designed by someone who shares this earth, with wisdom and technology that looks to the future of our planet."

Enjoy renderings from a few of the finalist below.

Cox Architecture pty LTD


Zaha Hadid Architects

Dorell.Ghotmeh.Tane / Architects & A+Architecture

Azusa Sekkei Co., Ltd

gmp.International GmbH


Beton Hala Waterfront Center, Winning Proposal

Sou Fujimoto Architects were the first place winners with their proposal for the Beton Hala Waterfront Centre in Belgrade, Serbia.  The project is an elaborate system of ramps combing landscaping, architecture, and urban space intertwining an array of social and transportation programs, contrasting the medieval fabric of the capital city.

The new, vibrant pedestrian square will serve as the principal access point from the capital's riverfront to it's historic core.  It will house retail space, cafes and restaurants, exterior exhibition space and a viewing platform, al perched atop a subterranean parking garage and transportation hub linking the ferry terminal, tram and bus.


Vast Acres of Solar Farms are Approved by the Obama Administration for 6 Western States

The Obama Administration, last week, approved a plan that will make way for utility-scale solar development on 285,000 acres of public land in the Western U.S.  The land covers areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah creating 17 "Solar Energy Zones".  it provides strong economic incentives for development within these zones, with allowances for faster and easier permitting as well as improved mitigation strategies.

U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar released the Programmatic Environmental impact Statement on Friday which details the 17 zones where solar developers will be encouraged to locate their projects, alongside additional 19 million acres of variance zones where solar developers will be permitted to work but with fewer incentives and 79 million acres in exclusive zones where any energy development is off-limits.  Out of the six states, California has twice the acreage of solar zones than any other state.  The plan creates 750,000 acres in variance zones for the state, much of which is located in the Mojavi Desert.

But some conservation groups still oppose the plan with concerns that the desert, which is home to scores of endangered plants and animal, will not be capable of absorbing the planned industrial scale projects.  Janine Blaelock of the group Solar Done Right contends that, "We aren't getting that public land back. Once it's industrialized, everything that lives there and everything we enjoy about it will be gone.

This sweeping master plan for solar energy development is part of the Obama administration's efforts to expand domestic energy production.  Since 2009, the Department of Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure.  When built, these projects are projected to provide enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes.

Source: Inhabitat

Grand Central Re-imagined

Yesterday Oct 18, Norman Foster presented his re-imagining of New York's Grand Central Station along with other architects at the MAS 2012 Summit.  The station turns 100 this February, and with that it will soon be taking on more passengers than ever, with the expansion of the LIRR East Side Access to the iconic structure.  Grand Central was designed to support 75,000 people a day, but it routinely handles about ten times that amount with often a million passengers on peak days.

The station is consumed with overcrowding; connections to the rail and subway lines beneath the concourse are inadequate; and the arrival and departure experience is poor. Added to that, the surrounding streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are marginalized.  The rapid growth of tall buildings in the vicinity has all but consumed the Terminal.

Within the station, the proposal creates wider concourses, with new and improved entrances.  Externally, streets will be reconfigured as shared vehicle/pedestrian routes, and Vanderbilt Avenue fully pedestrianized.  The proposal also creates new civic spaces that will provide Grand Central with an appropriate urban setting for the next 100 years.

The 42nd street entrance to the south, where access is severely constrained, will be widened to fill the entire elevation by using existing openings, thus greatly easing accessibility.  The access via tunnels on the northern approach from Park Avenue will be rebalanced in favor of pedestrians by creating grander, enlarged underground spaces through the Helmsley building.  Lexington Avenue to the east will be tree-lined with wider sidewalks and will benefit from more prominent and enhanced tunnel access to Grand Central Terminal.

Pedestrianizing Vanderbilt Avenue to the west would be extended.  The street would be anchored to the south by a major new enlarged civic space between 43rd Street and the west entrance to the Terminal and to the north by a plaza accommodating new entrances to the East Side Access lines.  Trees, sculpture and street cafes will bring life and new breathing space to Grand Central Terminal.

At platform and concourse levels where congestion is particularly acute for travelers on the 4,5,6,and 7 lines, the design radically enlarged the connecting public areas, to address the huge increase in passenger traffic.  A generous new concourse will be created beneath the west entrance plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue connecting directly into the main station concourse.

This visionary master plan with its focus on pedestrians and travelers will allow Grand Central Terminal to regain the civic stature that it deserves as a major New York landmark and an appropriate twenty-first century transport hub.


Global Environmental Safety Improves as Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer Switches On

Inhabitat reports tat the world's most powerful climate change supercomputer switched on this week at the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC).  The 1.5- petaflop IBM supercomputer known as Yellowstone will be used to study everything from atmospheric disturbances to subterranean faults.  The hope is that results can be used to better predict tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and other national disasters.

The new computer system will allow researchers around the world to access their projects remotely via a laptop or desktop computer and the internet.  The new center's advanced computing resources will aid understanding of complex processes at work in the atmosphere and throughout the Earth.  The computer will further accelerate research into severe weather, geomagnetic storms, climate change, carbon sequestration, aviation safety, wildfires, and other critical geoscience topics.

"The center will help transform our understanding of the natural world in ways that offer enormous benefits to society," says Thomas Bogdan, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.  This future influx of crucial date will not only be beneficial to public safety but also to our economy, allowing governments and industries to prepare for disaster well in advance.


Gardens by the Bay Conservatories

Gardens by the Bay, in Marina Bay, Singapore, is a key project in delivering the Singapore Government's vision of transforming Singapore into a 'City in a Garden'.  The 101 hectare park comprises three distinct waterfront gardens- Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central.  The Conservatories at the focus of this piece are at the center of the 54 hectare Bay South Garden.

This Cooled Conservatory Complex covers an area in excess of 20,000 sq m and are among the largest climate-controlled glasshouses in the world.  They provide a spectacular, all-weather attraction and comprise a 1.28 hectare cool dry conservatory (the 'Flower Dome') and a 0.73 hectare cool moist conservatory (the 'Cloud Forest')  Each with its own distinct character explores the horticulture of those environments most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Flower Dome tells the story of plants and people in the Mediterranean climate zone, and how the plants cultivated in these regions will gradually become endangered as temperatures rise.  It has a planted footprint of more than 10,100 sq m and aims to bring alive the experience of seasonal change change for visitors more used to Singapore's eternally tropical climate and lush green vegetation.  The landform of the conservatories draws inspiration from Mediterranean landscapes and evokes the language of dry, sun-baked hillsides punctuated with rocky terraces and stoney outcrops.  At the center of this permanent display is the Flower Field– a vast carpet of flowers in bloom which will change seasonally.

The Cloud Forest highlights the relationship between plants and the planet, showing how the warming of the cool tropical cloud forests will threaten biodiversity.  With a smaller footprint but greater height than Flower Dome, it has at its heart a planted 'Mountain' from which a 35m high waterfall drops.  Visitors can experience the forest at different levels from a Cloud Walk, a Canopy Walk and the Forest Floor and Ravine Walks.  Within the mountain, a series of exhibition spaces describe the impact of incremental temperature change and the sustainable technologies employed across the gardens, while at its foot is the Ravine– a series of darkened secret gardens surrounded in mist.

Both conservatories have a dual system structure of gridshell and arches to permit as much light as possible through to the planted displays within.  The gridshell portion is very fragile and is designed to only support its own weight and the weight of the glass.  Wind loads are resisted by the arches that are set away from the surface of the envelope and arranged radially in line with the geometry of the gridshell.  The structural combination creates a distinctive, lightweight clear-span structure which is thought to be among the largest gridshells in the world.


The Windstrument

At a time when clean domestic energy production is commonly mentioned in todays media and news outlets, the young wind power industry is constantly at the design table, developing more cost effective, manageable, and site neutral models for this effective but costly form of energy.  FastCompany ask "how can wind power be brought to a wider variety of landscapes, including urban ones, as opposed to the rural, mountainous, or desert areas where you typically find fields of hulking turbines?" Also, how can designers and entrepreneurs lower the technology's impact on local ecosystems?

A new manufacture thinks they've figured it out with a new turbine design called the Windstrument.  They claim the product is a truly affordable wind energy system that is quiet, bird safe, and scalable.  The technology is compact and unobtrusive enough to be installed in an urban area for smaller-scale use.  For homes and businesses who don't require much power, a pole with a single, four-foot turbine would suffice, and a rooftop mounting option is available.  For power needs of an entire neighborhood or an industrial complex, many turbines can be added to a single pole, a configuration the company calls a "Windorchard."

The shape of the turbine's blades are called conical helicoids, inspired by the design of racing sails and capable of sustaining their functionality even in fierce winds.  The Windstrument also disperses the air in a way that birds do not get sucked in.  The company performed two years of trials in a wetland heavily populated with birds, and not a single one was harmed.

Tianjin Grand Theater

Tianjin, China's Grand Theater occupies a key position in the newly built Cultural Park of Tianjin.  The design by GMP Architecture incorporates a circular roof construction to correspond with the existing Museum of Natural History in order to continue an architectural dialogue of an earth-bound structure establishing two "floating" circular volumes at both park ends.  Earth and sky represent a fundamental thinking in Chinese philosophy.

The roof volume of the Grand Theater opens up toward the broad water surface like an open sea shell.  The Opera Hall, concert hall and the small multifunctional hall are exposed to the water surface like pearls in an oyster shell.  The three volumes are conceived as free standing volumes on a stone base.  Broad stairways connect the stone base with the raised plaza creating a kind of stage for urban life which overlooks the lake and the Cultural Park.  The roof construction is a transformation of the traditional Chinese element of multiple eaves and thus defines a system of common horizontal layers, which creates an architectural entity of roof, facade and stone base.

Vehicular traffic is avoided on the water side.  Drop-offs are located to the north and South whilst bus loops are situated along a dwelling mound to the east of the building.  All internal areas are located within the base so that an unobstructed internal circulation in achieved.