4/26/2013

Batumi Fuel Station + McDonalds


Architects at Giorgi Khmaladze Architects have transformed the common perception of a fueling station stretching the boundaries of design to produce a beautiful design.  The project is located in one of the newly urbanized parts of the seaside city of Batumi, Georgia.  It includes a fuel station, McDonald's, recreational spaces and a reflective pool.  Given the central location and importance of the site, it was decided to give back as much area as possible for recreation to the city by limiting the footprint of the building and vehicular circulation.  This resulted in one volume with all programs compressed within.




Spaces are divided in two major programs – vehicle services and dining area are isolated from one another, both physically and visually so that all operations of the fuel station are hidden from the view of the customers of the restaurant.  Because of the predefined, small building footprint, most of the supporting and utility spaces are grouped and located on the ground level to be close to all technical access points.



Public space of the restaurant starts from the lobby with its dedicated entrance on the ground floor.  From there, as a way to naturally connect to the upper floor and to offer customers the experience of smooth transition between levels, the floor steps upwards and creates inhabitable decks on intermediate levels to be occupied as dining spaces.




Part of the dining space offers views towards outside water features, while the rest of it seamlessly transitions into an open air patio on the upper level.  The patio, enclosed from all sides to protect the space from outside noise, provides calm open air seating. The vegitation layer, which covers the cantilevered giant canopy of the fuel station adds natural environment and acts as a "ecological shield" for the terrace.

EU Develops Next Generation Wind Turbines


The European Union recently launched SUPRAPOWER, a four-year project led by Tecnalia of Spain, that includes nine other industry and science partners across Europe.  The initiative's goal is to research and produce superconductor technology to develop a next-gen wind turbine that could cut manufacturing cost of current day turbines by 30%.  The EU plans to construct more offshore and land wind farms, but the extreme cost of building and maintaing the massive turbines has lead leaders to seek  more cost effective prototypes.


The Karisruhe Institute of Technology's Cryogenic Engineering Division is focusing on reducing the size of wind turbines using superconductors.  Below a certain temperature superconductors have no electrical resistance and conduct electricity without a loss.  The researchers are developing a rotating cryostat that will cool superconducting coils to minus 253 degrees, ensuring the highest efficiency of the coils and thereby reducing the size, weight and cost of turbines. The project will design, construct, and test super conducting dummy coils in the lab before launching them out in the field.  Suprapower's overall goal is to maximize wind turbine efficiency in order to meet the EU's goal of cutting emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.

4/24/2013

Transforming Cities Through Placemaking & Public Spaces


UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a 5-year cooperative agreement in 2011 to aspire to raise international awareness of the importance of public space in cities, to foster a lively exchange of ideas among partners and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists and other civic leaders about the benefits of what they call the "Placemaking methodology."


Building inclusive, healthy, functional, and productive cities is perhaps the greatest challenge facing humanity today, but when done right, they can jumpstart economic development, help build a sense of community, civic identity and culture, facilitate social capital and community revitalization.  Investing into the quality of a public space delivers a significant return to a city that has the foresight to see its value.


Because urbanization is the definitive reality of the 21st century and because it is occurring most rapidly in places with the greatest lack of urban planning, UN-HABITAT and PPS came up with the Place-making method in order to create places where the community feels ownership and engagement, and where design serves function, meeting basic human needs.  The process will identify and catalyze local leadership, funding and other resources, drawing on the assets and skills of a community rather than on relying solely on professional experts, so to speak.


The Duo released 10 informative steps that cities and communities can take to improve the quality of their public spaces.

1. Improve Streets as Public Spaces
2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations
3. Build Local Economies Through Markets
4. Design Buildings to Support Places
5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda
6. Reinvent Community Planning
7. The Principle of the Power of 10
8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda
9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment
10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces

Read More and Explanations for the 10 Steps HERE

4/23/2013

The Sheraton Moon Hotel


Architects at MAD Architect weren't crazy when they designed the Sheraton Moon Hotel in Huzhou China.  The Moon Hotel takes full advantage of its waterfront by directly integrating architecture and nature.  the circular building corresponds with its reflection in the water, creating a surreal picture and connection between real and phantom.  Beneath the sunlight and the reflection of the lake, the curved shape of the building is crystal clear.  When night falls, the entire building is lit up brightly by both its interior and exterior lighting.  Soft light wraps around the hotel and the water, resembling the bright moon rising above the lake, blending classic and modern through the reflection.





The clear ring-shape posed a great challenge to the structural design and eventually, a "reinforced concrete core-tube" featuring high capacity, light weight and excellent earthquake resistance, was implemented while simultaneously reducing environmental pollution during construction.  the mesh curved surface structure makes the building more solid and it is this solidity that is further enhanced by the bridge-like bracing steel structure that connects with the double cone structure at the top floor.  The hotel facade is covered with layers of fine textured white aluminum rings and glass, bringing about illusion and drama of the building scale.



The annular shape of the hotel allows for all rooms to accommodate good views while increasing the natural light in all directions.  The Moon hotel puts emphasis on the harmony of man and nature and enhances visitors' sensual and spiritual experiences, undoubtedly becoming Huzhou's new symbol of humanity and nature.

4/06/2013

Baku Flame Towers


Known as the 'region of eternal fires', Baku's long history of fire worshiping provided the inspiration for the development's iconic design, consisting of three flame shaped towers, each with a different function, set in a triangular formation.  The tower's, located in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by HOK Architects, stands at a height of 140 meters.  It can be seen from most vantage points within the surrounding area and is already a prominent feature of the Baku skyline.



HOK undertook the master planning, concept and schematic design for the site and towers.  The residential tower sits to the south, accommodating 130 residential apartments over 39 floors, and is the tallest of the three towers.  It houses luxury apartments and boasts stunning views across the surrounding area, while the hotel is sited on the northern corner of the site and consists of 250 rooms and 61 serviced apartments over 33 floors.  The office tower is set on the western side of the complex, providing a net 33.144 square meters of grade A flexible commercial office space.


4/05/2013

Study Reveals Why Antarctic Ice Continues To Expand Despite Global Warming


It is not news that our planet is warming and an increasing rate with every passing year, but what has been surprising is the amount of ice expansion at the south pole.  As ice continues to disappear at the Arctic Circle, sea ice around Antarctica is expanding during the winter.  ice in the Antarctic has reached an all-time high in 2010 despite the year being recorded as the hottest ever.  Scientists have unlocked the mystery which brings it all back to global warming.


According to a new study published Nature Geoscience, every year the edges of the Antarctic thaw, sending more and more melting ice out into the ocean.  That melted water forms large cold-water plumes in the ocean, which, according to the study, "shields the surface ocean fro the warmer deeper waters that are melting the ice shelves." As temperature drop in the winter, these cold-water plumes refreeze, adding to the ice in the Antarctic.

Although the ice formation in the Antarctic seems to be increasing, the overall melt across the planet is still contributing to a rise is sea level overall.  Additionally, the ice below the surface in the Antacrtic is still melting as quickly as ever.  The Antarctic is losing about 250 billion tons of ice a year, which alone contributes to a rise of .003 inches in sea level, and the loss seems to be moving faster. The effect mis exacerbated by the fact that snowfall in the region has been less than expected.