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Send in the Clouds – MIT in bubbly bid for London Olympic Tower

Thanks to writer Julie V. Iovine and the folks at The Architects Newspaper, I came across this project.  It looks fantastic and I would love to see it built.  Although I admit I am not so sure I would ever reach the top to put my head in the “clouds”.  My fear of heights and intended airy and light feel of the structure might stand in my way. This of course assumes I ever travel to London.

A proposal spearheaded by MIT's Senseable City Lab envisions an inhabitable sculpture for London's 2012 Olympics.

All Photos Courtesy Raise the Cloud

In early November, British architects discovered with dismay that Mayor Boris Johnson of London was conducting a secret competition to select a designer for a $33 million beacon for the 2012 Olympics. Brushing aside the standard procurement process—which involves publishing a notice in The Official Journal of the European Communities—Johnson invited 30 firms to submit proposals for a prominent addition to the city’s skyline.

A Guggenheim-like spiral wrapped in cable netting will support the clouds, with much of the structure open to the public.

Called “the Cloud,” the structure starts with a slender spire that is ringed by a spiraling ramp, stabilized with a cable net, and sturdy enough for strollers and bicyclists to mount to a sky full of bubbly spheres. This upper aerie would host three types and sizes of spheres: The largest and most structural are Buckminster Fuller–type geodesic domes; next, cable-net bubbles would cluster around observation decks; and then, blurring the edge, bunches of hot-air-filled balloons create that head-in-the-clouds feeling.

The EFTE inflatables would be covered in a new type of distributed LED that is readable from any direction and could provide a constant stream of information, including game statistics, weather forecasts, traffic advisories, alien greetings, and presumably, advertisements.

Olympic visitors at play in "the Clouds."

Intended to stand 400 feet tall, the Cloud will barely have a footprint, sustainability-wise. Photovoltaic film, whose effect will be magnified by mirrors, is spread over the spheres. And while visitors can only ascend the one-kilometer ramp on foot or by bicycle, they can descend by means of a “regenerative lift” that uses the same braking system as a Prius to recoup electricity, as will water-wheels embedded in the column through rain collection.

The exact size of the Cloud remains to be determined. Taking a page from the grassroots innovations of the Obama campaign, the team has organized a structure that can expand or contract depending on donations. The density of the cloud cover—the number of spires and individual clouds, in fact—will depend on how many people sign on to contribute.

London Mayor Boris Johnson envisions a beacon for the Olympics, and mit's is only one of several proposals thought to be under consideration.

While the contenders—said to include Foreign Office Architecture—have yet to be named, one team is already spreading the word about their entry on Facebook. Carlo Ratti, architect and director of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, joined forces with German engineer Joerg Schlaich, Arup, artist Tomas Saraceno, corporate sponsor Google UK, and others to create what Ratti described as “not a building for London but a symbol of global ownership.”

The Facebook page Raise the Cloud was launched on November 11 with 1,000 fans and counting, according to Ratti, who would like to see as many as three spires covered in clouds at the as-yet-unselected site. “We can build our Cloud with five million pounds or 50 million,” he said. “The flexibility of the structural system will allow us to tune the size of the Cloud to the level of funding that is reached.” Whether or not selected by Mayor Johnson to be the official 2012 Olympic Tower, the Cloud is certain to attract plenty of air time.

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Island House by IROJE KHM Architects

From the Karmatrendz Blog

Floating site on the river

This site, where is floating on river and confronted the graceful landscape, was strongly recognized to me as a part of nature, from the first time that I met. From then, I started to visualize “the architectural nature” as a place of recreation. Form of site = Form of architecture = Maximum efficiency of landuse. While maximizing the efficiency of landuse, the leaner concrete mass, that cherishes the courtyard where is filled with the water and the greenery, was laid out on this site along the irregular formed site line. This courtyard is “The architectural nature” and a central recreation space as extended river that communicate the river and architecture. Continuous circulation of stepped roof garden – Creation of new green land in this site The whole part of the step typed roofs, where is moving upward with various level, are directly linked to the bed rooms in upper floor. Finally, this stepped roof gardens are linked to both sides of the inner court at where swimming pool is. The inner court where is filled with the water and flower and fruit, and the whole of the roof gardens are circulated as the continuous landscape place and that is the place as “architectural nature” in concept. Sucking in dynamic-surrounding landscape Naturally, all of the rooms inside this site-shaped-mass are laid toward the picturesque landscape to enjoy the graceful scenery surrounded this site. The huge panoramic view framed with sloped ceiling line that is composed with the lines of stepped roof gardens and the bottom line of the inner court, is the major impression of inner space of this house. Promenade inner space of skipfloor made the promenade roofgarden-space of skipfloor. Skip floor plan of inside of this house produced various dramatic spaces. Floating boxes with bamboo garden – Dynamic, unrealistic sequence of interior space. As “The architectural nature”, floating white polyhedral masses that have the built-in bamboo gardens, produced the various stories of vertical space Landscape architecture – Harmonizing with the surrounding landscape The shape of the mountain type composed of irregular polygonal shaped concrete mass and metal mesh was designed to harmonize with the context as “the architectural mountain”. There was the intention to be a part of the surrounding context that consisted of the river and the mountain. Architectural Island – Island House As a result, this house was to be “The island house” as an “architectural island”.

More photos and information from the Karmatrendz Blog

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BIG to Design Shenzhen International Energy Mansion

Amid the real estate and construction doldrums here in the US, it’s nice to see that exciting buildings are still being planned in other countries.

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From RADDblog:

Copenhagen-based BIG, in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, was awarded the first prize in the international competition to design Shenzhen International Energy Mansion, the regional headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company.

 Located in the center of Shenzhen, China the 96,000 square meter project will be integrated with the surrounding environment and designed to withstand the tropical climate of the city. BIG’s winning proposal was selected by the jury experts from Shenzhen Municipal Planning Bureau chaired by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and client representatives.

 The headquarters rises 200 meters creating a new landmark visible from the highway in the cultural, political and business center of Shenzhen. BIG envisions combining a practical and efficient floor plan layout with a sustainable façade that both, passively and actively reduce the energy consumption of the building. The façade is conceived as a folded skin that shades the office complex from direct sunlight and integrates solar thermal panels, reducing the overall energy consumption of the building.

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BIG explaining the project:

Modern Vernacular

The tropical climate of Shenzhen calls for a new approach to designing office buildings. How can we create comfortable working spaces in a tropical climate while reducing our energy consumption? The construction principle of the typical modern office tower is replicated all over the world. It has the advantage of a practical floor plan, and economical structural system.  But in tropical conditions the glazed curtain wall facades normally result in high energy consumption for air conditioning and poor views through coated windows. To achieve a comfortable working environment in these conditions an office building would especially need two things: Shading from direct exposure to sunlight, and dehumidification of interior air.

We are proposing a tower based on an efficient and well-proven floor plan, enclosed in a skin specifically modified and optimized for the local climate. We propose to enhance the sustainable performance of the building drastically by only focusing on its envelope, the facade.

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Photos of the Remota Hotel in Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Puerto Natales-Chile by Germán del Sol

This is a special building.  I’ll let the photo’s speak for themselves…

Hotel

Check out the rest of the photos courtesy of the Daily Dose blog.

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NYC Firms and Unions Will Cut Costs To Boost AEC Work

The following deal was announced on May 29th in NYC.  Two months have passed by and there has been no quantifiable increase in announcements of the projects mention herein nor any recently issued Building Permits.  The idea for this deal and subsequent cost cutting agreements are quite an achievement and should begin to payoff for the local economy and AEC professionals.  I will continue to monitor the situation for you.

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Here’s the announcement from New York Construction News:

In an effort to jump start building projects in New York City and put idle union construction workers back on the job, the leaders of more than 40 different building trades and union employer groups announced on May 29 what they termed a “historic compact” to cut wages of both labor and management and end expensive work rules. Proponents claim the citywide project-labor agreement will cut costs by as much as 21% on the first 12 high-rise and other commercial projects that it covers, representing $2 billion of construction and 10,000 jobs. But some are less enthusiastic about the cost savings, some unions are declining to participate and some developers may have to rethink profit margins in a changed city economy.

The agreement was reached between the Building and Construction Trades Council (BCTC) of Greater New York, which represents 100,000 union workers and the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA), which includes 28 contractor groups and 1,700 union firms. The groups have been negotiating since last October, said Louis J. Coletti, BTEA president. “Contractors would have liked more, unions less, but we’re trying to save jobs in New York City,” he says.

Building trades agreed to no strikes or work stoppages on projects included under the pact, as well as standard workdays and other work rule changes and enforcement. Contractors agreed to cut wages and benefits for management employees, reduce profit margins and strive for “improved project management and efficiency,” among other changes.

Several unions, which were not specified, have also agreed to one-year wage freezes and benefit cuts, according to BTEA. The pact is set to generate project cost reductions averaging 16% to 21%, based on a study conducted for BTEA by Hill International Inc., a Marlton, N.J., project and risk management firm. That figure does not include union wage-freeze cost savings, says the group.

“We have two problems in New York: the financial crisis and creeping nonunionism. This will help both,” said John A. Cavanagh, a former building contractor executive and chairman emeritus of the Contractors’ Association of Greater New York, a BTEA member group. He credited BCTC President Gary LaBarbera, a former teamsters’ union official. “Everyone had to do what they didn’t want to do, especially on the union side.”

The pact won praise from New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R). “Labor and management are not content merely to wait for a national rebound,” he said on May 29.“Their agreement is an important step to get stalled projects going again.”

But Stephen Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said, “It doesn’t go far enough.” He also says savings may be only between 3% and 8%, according to published reports. “We will be talking to our partners to bring costs down further,” he said.

But the pact press release coincided with the May 29 announcement by New York City-based Forest City Ratner Cos. that it plans to resume work on Beekman Tower, a planned 76-story mixed use project halted two months ago at the 37th floor. Reportedly set to be capped at 40 floors, the structure now will be built to its full planned height, says the developer, noting the new labor pact and cost reductions in materials and finishes. Kreisler Borg Florman is project contractor. Others among the first 12 projects that could restart include those being built by Bovis Lend Lease, Turner Construction, Tishman Construction, F.J. Sciame Co. and Plaza Construction. But Coletti acknowledged that not all may restart.

Even so, Coletti thinks the labor agreement is “more the end of the beginning,” noting that trades and employers are still discussing pact details and inclusion of new projects. The AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Dept. is set to review an additional 12 to 15 projects and the local labor-management committee will review up to nine more in the next week, he said.

One footnote, the city approved the master plan for the Coney Island Revitalization & Development Project yesterday.

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EDITT Tower – Singapore Goes Eco-Friendly

Every time I see this new genre of eco-friendly-green-buildings (like the EDITT Tower) I am inspired.  These buildings are inviting to look at and like I did as a young boy exploring Navy vesels in New York Harbor with my dad, I want to explore every floor, view and perspective.  Because these buildings have the potential to change the urban living experience for future generations, including rethinking the impact of sustainable design on our personal lives, I am showcasing them here.

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Freshome Blog: What, you though only Dubai and China have the most stunning buildings in the world? Guess again, because EDITT Tower (“Ecological Design In The Tropics”) will be built in Singapore with the financial support of their National University and should be the most eco-friendly in the country. The most interesting thing is that this 26-storey building will use photovotaic panels and will be wrapped in organic local vegetation that will act as a living wall insulator. More to it, the skyscraper was designed to collect rain-water, both for plant irrigation and for its “needs”. If you want to congratulate someone, T.R.Hamzah & Yeang have had their hands on the project.

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Article via Freshome Blog

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Dubai development may be down, but it’s not out

A BREAK IN THE ACTION: Stalled cranes and shells of structures stand in contrast with the exuberant building boom of the last two decades along Sheikh Zayed Road.

A BREAK IN THE ACTION: Stalled cranes and shells of structures stand in contrast with the exuberant building boom of the last two decades along Sheikh Zayed Road.

Many of the city-state’s bigger-than-life projects may be in a holding pattern, but don’t look for its mega-growth world influence to be contained any time soon.

By Christopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic
June 21, 2009
Reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates — If a city can be spectacularly quiet, this waterfront city-state has certainly qualified in recent months. Hundreds of abandoned construction cranes languish above Dubai’s gated communities and beach-side developments and, most dramatically, up and down Sheikh Zayed Road, its high-rise spine. According to a recent estimate in the Middle East Economic Digest, projects worth a staggering $335 billion in the United Arab Emirates — of which Dubai, with a population of about 2 million, is the largest member — are stalled or have been canceled outright.

Dubai’s residents, roughly 85% of them expatriates, have been left to wonder if the current crisis is merely a pause, a recessionary lull that will be painful but temporary, or closer to a fundamental reckoning that will entirely reorder the emirate and how it does business. The same question is being asked in cities around the world, of course. But it’s a particularly acute, even existential one here, since it goes right to the heart of Dubai’s self-image.

Full article via Los Angeles Times 
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Atlantic Yards won’t be derailed

Despite foes, watered-down project likely to proceed.

A Yards

Forest City Ratner’s long-delayed, dramatically altered Atlantic Yards project faces two key votes this week on its latest changes. Critics say the modifications will dilute—or erase—the plan’s pledged public benefits. 

On Tuesday, the Empire State Development Corp. board is expected to weigh in on a timetable that would put the completion date for the $4 billion, 22-acre project far past the original 2014 target. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will probably vote the next day on a proposal allowing Forest City to delay delivery of a $100 million lump-sum payment to the MTA for development rights, and possibly reduce the payment amount.

Full article via Crains New York Business

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Kindergarten Sighartstein – Can You Hear the Grass Growing?

bustler

Kadawittfeldarchitektur just completed their competition-winning kindergarten building in Sighartstein, Austria.

Gerrman architecture firm kadawittfeldarchitektur recently completed their competition-winning kindergarten building in Sighartstein, Austria.

The kindergarten is integrated into the landscape like a chameleon (including a crèche) for 4 groups. Kadawittfeldarchitektur’s proposal for the building won the 1st prize in the public architecture competition in 2003. The project was realized between 2008 and 2009 with a budget of €1.2 million ($1.7 million).

Full article and additional photos via Bustler Blog

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