4/30/2012

Squish Studio


The Squish Studio is located just outside the small Canadian town of Tilting on the eastern end of Fogo Island.  First settled in the mid-18th century, Tilting is known for its strong Irish culture and is recent designation by Parks Canada as a National Cultural Landscape District of Canada.



The Squish Studio's white angular form, sited on a rocky strip of coastline, that could rival Italy's western coast, offers sharp contrast to the traditional vernacular architecture of the nearby picturesque community of Tilting.

Architect Todd Sanders designed a dramatic approach to the front entry of the studio, as the most southern end of the studio rises twenty feet above the ground, in sharp contrast to its most northern tip that measures only half of that dimension.  The compact, trapezium– shaped plan of the studio is augmented by the extension of the east and west exterior walls to create a sheltered, triangulated south entry deck and north terrace that overlooks the ocean.  From a distant view, the streamlined form of the Squish Studio becomes apparent with its high back and low (squished) front designed, in part to deflect the winds from the stormy North Atlantic.



As you enter the studio, the spatial compression of the tall and narrow entry area gives way to the horizontal expanse of the main room.  The downward angled roof leads the eye to the full height oblong glass window focused on a splendid view of Round Head.  The vertical white planks that line the interior walls are interrupted by the playful series of narrow windows integrated with an expanse of built-in cabinetry.



The studio is equipped with a compost toilet, a small kitchenette and wood-burning stove.  Power is supplied by standalone solar panels, mounted on an adjacent hilltop.  Both the interior and exterior of the studio, including the roof, is clad with spruce planks that are painted white.

4/27/2012

Indian Hero Replants Massive Forest


India native, Jadav Payeng could be considered to have the ultimate "green thumb" due to what many may say is a lifelong hobby of spending the last 30 years single handedly planting and caring for a massive 550-hectare forest, equivalent to 1,360 acres.  The forrest is located on a sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra River in Assam, India.


In 1980, Assam's Jorhat district's social forestry division launched a tree-planting initiative on 200 hectares of the land.  After five years, the project was completed and the laborers left, except for Payeng who chose to live in isolation on the sandbar to care for the trees and continue to plant thousands more.

First he transformed the sandbar into a bamboo thicket, he then decided to grow proper trees by collecting and planting them.  Payeng transported red ants from his village because of their ability to change the soil's properties.  The forest is home to thousands of varieties of trees as well as a thriving wildlife population including many endangered animal species such as four tigers, three rhinos and more than a hundred deer, rabbits and apes.  There are also a number of variety of birds who flock to this river paradise as well as a herd of about 100 elephants that are known to visit every year for about six months.


The Assam state forest department learnt about Payeng's forest only in 2008 when a herd of 100 wild elephants strayed into it after a marauding spree in villages nearby.  They also destroyed Payeng's hutment.  It was then that assistant conservator of forest Gunin Saikia met Payeng for the first time.

" We were surprised to find such a dense forest on the sandbar.  Locals, whose homes had been destroyed by the pachyderms, wanted to cut down the forest, but Payeng dared them to kill him instead.  He treats the trees and animal like his own children.  Seeing this, we too, decided to pitch in," Assistant Conservator of Forests, Gunin Saikia tells the Times of India.  "We're amazed at Payeng.  he has been at it for 30 years.  Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero."

There are now talks of Mulai's forest, (the name given to the forest adopted from Payeng's nick name given to him by the people of his village) being declared a wildlife sanctuary.  If the government proves itself capable of caring for the land, Payeng will start planting elsewhere.

Project Utopia



Never mind a boat house when you can build a mansion that truly defines ocean front property.  The skies are blue for anyone who yearns for a property line conceived of only the confines of their home, completely surrounded by water.  The Utopia Project is a man-made island, with glass canopy panels that cover its interior or open out to create decks, suitable for any climate.  The spaceship like design allows for observatories with 360-degree views.



Arrive by helicopter at one of four landing pads or dock your yacht at a wet dock paired with a mooring system if you decide to arrive by sea.  Designed by Nigel Gee as "a place to be"," the naval-inspired destination is 330 feet in diameter and has 11 decks.  The island's glass canopy allows sunlight to filter into the interior and can be opened for fresh air.  The top pool can also serve as an outdoor pool deck.  These architecturally expressive aquatic pads are great for the aesthetically inclined, secluded dwellings nature lovers, spacious compounds for the party minded, and unforgettable retreats for families.



The homes naval design, created by Yacht Island Designs in conjunction with BMT Nigel Gee, means it can be floated slowly to any desired location.  Once there the structure can withstand even the roughest seas thanks to its four legged design.

4/25/2012

Nashville's Adventure Park


Designed by Gavin McMillan, Nashville's 6.5 acre adventure play park, located on the Cumberland River is the flagship project for the city's New Riverfront Revitalization Plan.  Cumberland Park is geared toward families and children providing interactive play spaces and landscapes to encourage activity.  The design concept was inspired by Tennessee's geological diversity creating opportunities to interact with water, light, stone, rolling grass, trees, ridges, and valleys.  The parks integration of child play areas relies more on the use of creative imaginations than on conventional playground equipment.





Features of the park include a local stone climbing wall, sand play areas, mazes made of plants, outdoor seating, meandering paths, and other interactive play areas.  Other park anchors include a sizeable 1,200 person outdoor amphitheater, and a historic renovation of the Bridge Building, which holds public restrooms, a MetroParks office, food concessions, bike-share station and a soon to be announced restaurant.



The transformative project is part of a larger sustainable redevelopment project to transform the riverfront wasteland into beautiful recreational space for the downtown area.  Many sustainable and eco-conscious design decisions were made, which included adaptive reuse, harvesting for irrigation, improved biodiversity, renewable geo-thermal energy use, efficient-lighting, floodplain preservation and storage, and brownfield remediation.  Each year 1 million gallons of storm water is captured and reused for irrigation and over 1.6 acres of meadow and riparian grasses were restored.


4/22/2012

EWHA Womans University; Dominiqe Perrault Architecture



The newest addition of the EWHA Women's University in Seoul, Korea designed by Dominique Perrault Architecture and completed in 2008 is a remarkable display of topographical architecture with pristine form, function, and beautiful aesthetics.  The complexity of the immediate site through its relationship to the greater campus and the city of Shinchon to the south demands a "larger than site" response, an urban response, a global landscape solution which weaves together the tissue of the EWHA campus with that of the city.  This gesture, the "campus valley", in combination with the "sports strip", creates a new topography which impacts the surrounding landscape in a number of ways.




The pastoral nature of the campus is perhaps its most remarkable quality.  It should be permitted to grow outwards, or inwards in this case, covering the campus center with trees, flowers, and grass.  The park is re-drawn.  An idylic garden is the result, creating a special place for gathering, conducting informal classes, and simply relaxing.  The notion of weaving together the campus is again evident, blurring the distinction between old and new, building and landscape.



An interior seam slices through the topography creating an active void, a hybrid place, in which a variety of activities can unfold.  It is an avenue, gently descending, controlling the flow of traffic, leading to a monumental stair carrying visitors upwards like the Champs Elysees or the Campidoglio in Rome.

The central seam serves many purposes;
  • An entry court, from which accessto the various departments exist
  • A node, or point of trajectory to another destination
  • A forum for the exchange of ideas as students gather after class to discuss their views
  • A pizza, with the cafeteria spilling out creating a real destination to stop and relax
  • An outdoor theatre, as the stair can be used in an amphitheater like fashion
  • A sculpture garden where indoor gallery events can push outwards
It is precisely this flexibility which permits the New EWHA campus center to inevitably weave itself into the landscape sometimes as a building, a landscape, or as a sculpture.






4/20/2012

Sweet Victoria


The 55 million euro bejeweled Victoria Tower designed by Wingardh Arkitektkontor in Stockholm, Sweden stands like a lit mother of pearl jewel box along the road between downtown Stockholm and the city airport.  The 117.6-meter tower is a landmark for the Kista IT office park and for the conference center at the base of the tower and a manifestation of the area's high-tech profile.




At 24 stories, Victoria Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Stockholm.  Twenty-two floors are occupied by a 229-room hotel, the rest by offices, conference facilities and a sky bar.  At the base of the tower sits a broad podium that includes a restaurant, conference area and more.  The parallelepiped form of the tower is topped by a rectangular cuboid, so that the upper floors project out beyond the shaft below.  An irregular arrangement of metal-colored triangular panes of glass gives the facade its character.  It incorporates eight different types of glass distributed randomly over the surface so that no regular pattern can be detected.  Metal oxide has also been used to give the panes the insulating and solar shading attributes the project demands.





4/18/2012

Beach & Howe St. Tower; BIG- Bjarke Ingels Group


BIG's proposal, named after its location on the corner of Howe and Beach next to the Granville Street Bridge in downtown Vancouver, calls for a 600 residential unit 49-story tower, which will become the fourth tallest building in the city.  The tower rests on a nine-story commercial and retail base, offering market-rental housing.




The tower takes its shape after the site's complex urban conditions aiming to optimize the conditions for its future inhabitants in the air as well as on the street level.  At its base, the footprint of the tower is conditioned by concerns for two significant neighboring elements, including a 30-meter setback from the Granville Bridge which ensure that no residents will have windows and balconies in the middle of heavy traffic as well as concerns for sunlight to an adjacent park which limits how far south the building can be constructed.  As a result the footprint is restricted to a small triangle.



As the tower ascends, it clears the noise, exhaust, and visual invasion of the Granville Bridge.  BIG's design reclaims the lost area as the tower clears the zone of influence of the bridge, gradually cantilevering over the site.  This movement turns the inefficient triangle into an optimal rectangular floor plate, increasing the desirable spaces for living at its top, while freeing up a generous public space at its base.  The tower's podium is a mixed-use urban village with three triangular blocks that are composed of intimately-scaled spaces for working, shopping, and leisure which face onto public plazas and pathways.  The additional public space adds to the existing streets, giving the neighborhood a variety of open and covered outdoor spaces of various scales which transform the site under the Granville Bridge into a dynamic and iconic mixed-use neighborhood hub.




The courtyards created by the building volumes, roofs, and terraces are all designed to enhance views from the Granville Bridge and the residential units above.  The canted, triangular clusters of green roofs create a highly graphic and iconic gateway to an from the downtown core, reinforcing the City of Vancouver's focus on sustainable cities.  The exterior facades respond to the various solar exposures which is integral to the overall sustainability concept.  The building will strive for LEED Gold Certification.