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"To make sure that all sustainability criteria are considered, we coordinate an integrated general planning team with clear communication structures and a customized working process from the first conception until the phase of use." - kadawittfeldarchitekturKadawittfeldarchitektur has built a modern energy efficiency center on the campus of Hochschule Niederrhein in Mönchengladbach, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The zero emission building is constructed to Passive House standards which require thermal bridge free design, superior windows, ventilation with heat recovery, quality insulation and airtight construction. The driving idea behind the project was to unite the science and energy industry with the university in a collaborative effort to share innovative energy technologies with the public. The building accommodates an energy center for NEW, an energy and water utility company, along with an academic library, a startup center for new business ventures, and an energy laboratory for students. The building is designed to be an object in the landscape – a “solitaire” according to Mathias Garanin, Project Manager for kadawittfeldarchitektur. “Due to its conception as a solitaire, it is a building without a rear elevation, a building that faces public space in all directions.” Garanin and the kadawittfeldarchitektur project team say the building volume was based on setback distances from neighboring buildings, creating a compact, five-sided volume clad with oppositely inclined blue tinted glass and photovoltaic panels coordinated with the orientation and incidence of solar radiation. “The NEW-Blauhaus building is kept at a distance in order to establish new relationships.” Benefits to the volumetric shape of the building include a favorable volume-to-surface ratio for energy efficiency and a relatively short interior travel distances to maximize collaboration. While the architects have produced a formally engaging homogeneous skin, loaded with performative features acknowledging insulation requirements, acoustics, durability, and user comfort, perhaps the most important role of the building is to clearly communicate a high performance energy agenda. This is achieved in two ways: in the facade, which is clad with photovoltaic panels, and at the base of the building, where an energy center doubles as a showroom visible to onlookers from the exterior. Here, visitors can engage in displays showcasing sustainable energy, along with a specialized highly efficient reversible heat pump system involving an ice storage tank and chiller plant. kadawittfeldarchitektur says the facade is the building’s most exclusive means of expression. “As a significant part of the advanced energy concept, it communicates the approach to conserving resources to the outside and determines the identity of the architecture and its users in the urban environment.” A 4-foot structural grid establishes stacks of window and photovoltaic units that are variably rotated to most effective solar angles. Soundproofing panes located in front of the widow units work to compositionally complete the building envelopes patterned ornamentation. The window units are operable, providing individualized user comfort as required. The north facade receives enameled glass in place of the photovoltaic panels along the north facade were omitted from the design due to performative issues, and replaced with an enameled glass. The elegance of the envelope system inspired an interior design scheme of clarity and communication through “color blocking.” Based on the activity of the building as an energy generation system from dusk to dawn, the coloration of interior spaces combines hues of a defined color spectrum found in sunset and sunrise conditions.
Monsters, madmen, and magicians play starring roles in Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s, an exhibition that runs through April 26 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It’s a worthy successor to LACMA’s many explorations of that fertile era of experimentation. German studios churned out plenty of fluffy entertainments for mass consumption, but they also produced (as Hollywood rarely did) works of art that made few concessions to popular taste. The production sketches, stills, and movie clips from 25 features included in this exhibition reveal the huge potential of film to probe human psychology and imagine worlds that never were. Architects will be drawn to the elaborate sets and city streets, and by the installation, which was designed by Michael Maltzan and Amy Murphy.
The show has a strong emphasis throughout on architecture and urbanism. LACMA curator Britt Salvesen divided the 250 exhibits into four thematic sections and deftly wove them into a visual narrative, elucidated by succinct text panels. Within each section, one can review set and costume designs alongside production stills for a few features, and then step into a darkened space to watch excerpts of those films, back-projected onto suspended screens. Happily there was a rich trove to draw on, principally from the collection of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. Hollywood studios squandered their treasures, treating talent as hired hands, and junking their archives. Most of their publicity stills were portraits of popular stars; at UFA, the leading German studio, up to 800 photos documented every aspect of a major production. Lotte Eisner and other dedicated archivists rescued prints and drawings that survived wartime devastation and carried them off to the Cinémathèque. In doing so, they preserved a legacy of art and history.
Like the painters and sculptors whom the Nazis would soon condemn as decadent, filmmakers—including Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Georg Pabst, and Robert Wiene—mirrored the turmoil and creativity of the Weimar Republic. The distorted houses, oppressive city streets, and sinister laboratories they constructed on stages and back lots mirrored a society struggling to break free of the past, even as its economy and government foundered. Whereas the best German architecture of the 1920s—from the Weissenhofsiedlung to luxury villas and workers’ housing estates—is cool and rational, filmmakers exposed the contradictions of the times and the dark underside of material progress. Their subjects ranged from grinding poverty in the slums to the polarization of wealth, futuristic fantasies and folklore, surveillance and the threat of new technologies. The demons that haunt these films would soon achieve power: critic Siegfried Kracauer entitled his history of film, From Caligari to Hitler.
To articulate this multi-layered story and heighten its impact, Maltzan and Murphy have constructed a trio of wave-like forms to enclose projection screens, which are set at angles to each other, so one can watch one or several clips simultaneously. In the troughs between, small drawings and production stills are displayed on the canted surfaces, shard-like columns, and a jagged, open-ended frame. Posters occupy the side walls of the gallery, and sound cones descend from the ceiling. The installation is easy to navigate, but it subtly conveys an air of menace, mystery, and insecurity. Within a confined gallery, one can examine the exhibits, absorb the febrile atmosphere of Weimar, and surrender to the timeless magic of the movies.
LACMA is an appropriate host. It frequently presents selections from its fine collection of German Expressionist art, and commissions leading architects (including Frank Gehry, Morphosis, and Frederick Fisher) to install exhibitions. And it is located in the city that lured the finest talents of Germany in the years between the two world wars. Writers, directors, producers, actors, and—most successfully—cinematographers and composers migrated to Hollywood, initially for the money, and later as refugees. They brought a new sophistication to an escapist industry, and they helped establish the genre of film noir. For a decade, LA became Weimar on the Pacific, and there’s a faint echo of that era in the more interesting independent movies of recent years. Haunted Screens takes us back to the source.
Sounds of Silence
These acoustic solutions will silence even the noisiest offices
BuzziMood BuzziSpaceIt’s alive! American designer Cory Gross collaborated with the Belgian furniture purveyor on a noise controlling green wall system that doesn’t have to be watered, ever. Clothed in reindeer moss, the wall panels naturally absorb sound and simultaneously assimilate water from the air. Even better, you can mix and match seven different geometric shapes to create designs with two moss colors in a powder-coated metal frame, which can be painted any color under the sun. Jetty Table Abstracta Tired of sharing spaces with noisy coworkers? Unlike like typical large tables whose hard tops actually amplify noise, Jetty features a tabletop made of several layers that soak up sounds. Unusually large, the table is available in two titanic lengths: eight and fifteen feet. Island Wall System Rockfon Curtail noise in spacious spaces! Containing up to 41 percent recycled content, Rockfon’s stone wool wall panels absorb sound and diffuse light. The smooth surfaces actively reflect light and absorb sound in large, open spaces (e.g. lobbies, atriums, reception areas, etc.). Ideal for renovations and new projects alike, the panels can be installed in various sizes to make custom configurations. Gazebo Nienkämper Ever wish you could work outside? Employees can seek refuge in Nienkämper’s indoor “gazebo.” Outfitted with biophilic acoustic wall panels and wooden ceiling slats, the enclosed space is perfect for private meetings or individual retreat. Paravan Arper Last week at Orgatec in Cologne, Germany, Arper debuted the Paravan collection, a series of colorful modular partition walls. Creating a space for meetings, dining, and other purposes somewhere in between, the collection not only absorbs sound but defines space. Available in three curved and straight sizes, the panels can be arranged in endless configurations to foster privacy or collaboration. Philips Large Luminous Surfaces Soft Cells by Kvadrat Pairing Philips LEDS and Kvadrat textiles, these large surfaces control noise and provide ambient lighting. Comprising a multi-colored LED swathed in a textile panel, the system is available in standard as well as custom sizes and can be used individually or in groups. Outfitted with digital connectivity, Philips Luminous Textile Panels can be remotely controlled and managed by smart building systems. Vee Q Design for Allermuir Enclosed by a sound absorbing partition, this chair is an inviting place to work with built-in USB and electric ports, as well as under seat storage. Be it a traditional finance office with tufted chairs, or, perhaps, a slick technology start-up in a We Work-style open-office plan, Vee can fit in contemporary and traditional spaces alike. Allermuir offers a range of colored upholstery from the most sumptuous textile names, including Kvadrat and Maharam.
Slab LED Baffle TurfMade from 99 percent recycled felt, Turf’s LED lighting system actively absorbs sound. The slabs can be installed in a mix of both felt and LED-lit configurations, creating a landscape of sound absorbing ceiling tiles. Available in a range of warm and cool hues, the felt is accentuated by a pleasing heathered effect. Sponsored Product: Accurate Lock
SilentPac by Accurate is a suite of acoustically engineered door hardware designed to soften noise from opening and closing doors, ultimately resulting in more peaceful and quiet environments.