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Toronto Terroir

80 Atlantic is Toronto’s first timber office building in generations
A look around Toronto’s seemingly innumerable construction sites tends to reveal building materials common to many North American cities: brick and stone, steel and glass, and of course, concrete. But a new mass timber office building in the Liberty Village neighborhood points in a different direction. Designed by Canadian firm Quadrangle for Hullmark Developments, with partner BentallGreenOak on behalf of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, the five-story, 90,000-square-foot 80 Atlantic debuted this past fall as Toronto’s first wood-frame office building in over a century. Part of a larger commercial development near the King Street corridor a few blocks north of the Gardiner Expressway, 80 Atlantic’s underground parking garage, first floor, and core were built using conventional cast-in-place concrete. The upper four stories, including an uppermost mechanical level, were built with glue-laminated timber (GLT) columns and beams that support nail-laminated timber floors. The rectangular building’s street-fronting east and west facades feature an irregular grid pattern in stone and glass, while its longer north and south aspects are fully glazed to reveal and highlight the internal timber structure. This is the second Liberty Village building designed by Quadrangle for Hullmark, following the firm’s conversion of an adjacent historic warehouse structure, 60 Atlantic, into office and retail space. According to the designers, uncovering the original post-and-beam structure at 60 Atlantic inspired the idea for a mass timber neighbor, now newly legal thanks to a 2015 change in regional building codes that allows for mass timber structures of up to six stories. “We started to imagine a modern wood office building that took all of the best parts of the old post and beam building that we uncovered at 60 Atlantic and combine it with all the modern comforts of a 21st-century office building and started referring to that concept as post and beam 2.0,” Quadrangle’s Wayne McMillan said at Toronto’s recent Building Show. According to the development team, using mass timber for 80 Atlantic also offered an important point of aesthetic differentiation as well as environmental benefit. Made from layers of treated and glued wood, GLT is fire resistant and durable and is considered more sustainable than concrete or steel. As the building industry increasingly searched for ways to to reduce both embodied and emitted carbon, advocates of mass timber forms such as GLT and its closely-related cross-laminated timber point to environmental benefits including wood’s ability to sequester carbon while growing, and to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated in the construction process. While mass timber has garnered significant interest abroad, including for the U.K.’s recently approved, fully timber Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects, its adoption for large-scale buildings in North America has been slower. 80 Atlantic is only the second mass timber building to be approved in Toronto, following 728 Yonge Street. This may soon change, as Sidewalk Labs recently proposed an entirely timber smart city on the Toronto waterfront.
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Russian Jet

Asthetíque pilots its latest cafe design toward Russia
Imagine a bustling airport terminal: something straight out of a PanAm advertisement but somehow, also in Russia. Setting the stage of this amalgamated image is a monolithic cement wall that mimics the jagged curves of a Soviet-era building. Whispy airplane motifs appear to take flight but are anchored in place by a number of Brutalist details. The interior design of this Moscow cafe is both figuratively and literally influenced by the nearby Khodynka Airfield. As the story goes, the restaurant is located near the Khodynka airfield which saw the first Russian flight in 1910 and remained active till the early 2000s. Asthetíque cofounder Alina Pimkina watched the site transform from a functional airfield into an abandoned tarmaC AND to what is now known as the Leningradsky Redevelopment Project (which includes a soon-to-be space and air museum). For the nearby haunt, Pimkina and partner Julien Albertini envisioned a space that could be both nostalgic and charming with hints of a Wes Anderson stage set.  Cafe Polet's mise en scene combines masculine and feminine characteristics. Plush upholstery lines curvaceous booths and whimsical moon-shaped chairbacks while panels of brass bend and curve around partitions walls. With a delicate balance of light and heavy material, the eatery is organized into three major areas: a diner, cafe, and private dining rooms. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Curved Lines

Chevalier Morales Architectes' Drummondville Library unites a community
Accoladed Montreal firm Chevalier Morales Architectes recently completed the Drummondville Public library. Set on a strategically central site in the historic Québécois market town, the new curtain wall structure serves as much more than just a standard bibliothèque. The "well rounded" building operates as a sorely needed connector that bridges a formerly isolated civic complex to Drummonville's commercial core. Making use of as much space as possible on an awkwardly-shaped plot, the project's mass snakes in different directions but ultimately finds its grounding tucked in between various preexisting infrastructures, a power-line to the east and a skating rink to the west. The two-story building's curvilinear envelope carries through into its interior where convex and concave architectural elements help foster a program of unencumbered and layered movement. The structure not only houses the city's main library but also its historic society, arts and culture, and immigration departments. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Scrutonizing His Record

Controversial conservative architectural commentator Sir Roger Scruton dies
Sir Roger Scruton has passed away at the age of 75. Scruton, former chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful housing commission in the U.K., died of cancer on Sunday, January 12 after a six-month battle with the disease. Scruton was born in February 1944 and studied at Cambridge. According to an interview with the Guardian, his conservative political leanings emerged when in Paris during the 1968 student protests, which he viewed as an “unruly mob of self-indulgent middle-class hooligans” professing “ludicrous Marxist gobbledegook.” His career traced many ups and downs and was not without controversy. In 2016 he was knighted for his services to philosophy, teaching, and public education; two years later he became a housing adviser only to be fired one year into the job amid alleged racist comments said while speaking to the New Statesman. Scruton was reappointed, however, after it was realized his comments were taken out of context and misrepresented. As Chair of the commission, Scruton was accused of re-igniting architectural style wars, fueled by his loathing of modernism and penchant to classicism. In April 2018, as AN's reported, Scruton suggested that one of the 9/11 hijackers, who had studied architecture in Hamburg, was “taking revenge on an architectural practice which had been introduced into the Middle East by Le Corbusier.” In 1982, Scruton launched the Salisbury Review, a journal promoting and celebrating conservatism for which he was the founding editor. Later, he visited dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia as part of a series of excursions where he smuggled across books, supported banned artists, and provided courses in subjects suppressed by authorities. He was eventually caught, however, being detained in Brno in 1985 before being kicked out and banned from the country. Never one to stay out of trouble, Scruton was sued by the Pet Shop Boys after he wrongly said in his book, An Intelligent Person's Guide to Pop Culture, that the band's songs should be credited to sound engineers rather than them. In another book, On Hunting, he also discussed his passion for fox hunting. In a 2001 article for New York’s conservative City Journal magazine, Scruton claimed that being gay was just as bad as smoking and knocked 10 years off of the lives of LGBTQ individuals. Scruton had also taken fire for his close association with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and over comments many interpreted as antisemitic and Islamaphobic. “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL. Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday 12th January,” read a statement on his own website, posted on Sunday. “His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements.” Tributes have also come in from U.K. architects and the political sphere. “Deeply sorry to learn of the death of Sir Roger Scruton. His work on building more beautifully, submitted recently to my department, will proceed and stand part of his unusually rich legacy,” tweeted Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government Robert Jenrick. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, said: “RIP Sir Roger Scruton. We have lost the greatest modern conservative thinker—who not only had the guts to say what he thought but said it beautifully.” Robert Adam, director of ADAM Architecture, a firm which specializes in classical and traditional architecture and urban design, told the Architects' Journal, “[Scruton] was always prepared to argue a point in a balanced and sensible manner but was often met with prejudice and hysteria. As a philosopher, he understood that people would have different views and that this was not a matter for opprobrium but for debate. He was a great thinker and a great author and his work will have a lasting legacy but, for me, it is the principle of reasoned and courteous debate, without personal acrimony, with those with whom you disagree, that will live on.”
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Inside Out

MUT Design breaks spatial barriers at imm Cologne
For the past nine years, stalwart furniture fair imm Cologne has mounted the Das Haus program: an annual walk-in home simulation and fair booth installation conceived by some of the most promising designers of the day. Since 2012, recognized talents like Todd Bracher, Luca Nichetto, Neri&Hu, Sebastian Herkner, and Louise Campbell have been invited to develop their own interpretations. Incorporating contemporary furnishings and finishes in a custom and experimental set design, each iteration of the Das Haus has illustrated one or more visions for the future of domestic life and interior design. Part practical and part speculative, the program provides a platform for an up-and-coming or mid-career designer to showcase and solidify their individual approach to the field. This year, the German fair called on emerging practice MUT Design to develop a Das Haus concept that blurs the boundaries between indoor and outdoor space. The Spanish duo—Alberto Sánchez and Eduardo Villalón—champions of an emotive approach to design. Evident in an abundant gamut of boldly-colored, richly-textured, yet cleverly minimal products, MUT Design's mastery of composition and geometry is only matched by its understanding of materiality and visual impact. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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LAIR OF PRETENSION

Lair puts a spotlight on the homes of famous movie villains
Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains By Chad Oppenheim / Andrea Gollin Tra Publishing $75.00 Bad people don't always have good taste, but when they do, their homes are the stuff of architecture history. Curzio Malaparte was attending fascist rallies in between stays at his cliffside retreat, the various owners of Lloyd Wright's Sowden House committed unspeakable crimes behind its stony facade, and Philip Johnson's sordid past all but eclipses his career as one of the most accomplished architects of the 20th century. While most of us may not be able to tour the homes of these baddies or live in anything remotely like them ourselves, the homes of movie villains are at our disposal however many times we wish to visit them. Chad Oppenheim of Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture and writer Andrea Gollin have come together to shine a spotlight on the homes of the silver screen that lurk in the shadows to draw an undeniable connection between low morale and high design. Their book, Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, pries open 15 of the most diabolical abodes and renders them in silk-silver linework over depthless black paper, all of which were exquisitely illustrated by Carlos Fueyo, a VFX and CG supervisor behind some of the most visually sumptuous blockbusters of the last decade. Lair makes evident that the average movie's art production team is at its most creative when given the opportunity to imagine homes as sinister and calculated as the villains that would commission them with dark money. An eye-opening interview between Oppenheim and Star Wars set decorator Roger Christian uncovers the inspiration behind the Death Star, arguably the most famous evil lair in cinema, albeit one that doubles as a weapon capable of obliterating planets many times its size. "When it came to the Death Star," Christian explained, "that was inspired by the Reich architecture of Albert Speer, obviously. When you look at Nazi architecture, it's very black with red on it. Very simple and very daunting—and strangely beautiful." Fueyo's illustrations render the highly articulate surface of the Death Star with all the wonderfully arbitrary detailing of the original and managed to produce a perspective cutaway that offers a glimpse into the orderly, clock-like work of its scaleless interior. The divergent paths of the light and dark sides of the force are as apparent in the contrasting austerity between the Empire's home base and the humble desert residences of the Jedi as they are in any of the other cinematic choices made in the production of the blockbuster film series. About a third of the 15 lairs are owned by various Bond villains, from Ernst Stavro Blofeld's sub-volcanic hideaway in You Only Live Twice (1967) to Karl Stromberg's spider-like marine research laboratory in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). While Bond trots around the world as a stylish nomad, his enemies stay put in increasingly eccentric abodes that speak to their character just as effectively as their words or actions. The sensuous architecture of Los Angeles-architect John Lautner makes more than a few cameos and is otherwise the unsubtle inspiration for a number of the evil lairs throughout the movie series. A rarely-seen interview between Lautner and Marlene Laskey on the Elrod House, a home the architect designed in 1968 that was extensively featured in Diamonds are Forever (1971), reveals that the home was built with surprisingly few restraints, thus imbuing the structure with a number of eccentricities suited to the fictional supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Good design often comes at a price, either through its exchange with one's soul or a sum of money that no one person should reasonably have. While real-life crooks reveal little of themselves to the public by trade, the homes featured in Lair grants its readers a more-than-generous look into the lives lived by a fictional class of villains.
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Editorial Invitorial

Cultural sites under attack in the age of unaccountability
In a manner befitting of the current American presidency, Donald Trump’s casual tweet “....we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” aired some forty-eight hours ago. In fact, the president’s threat does not merit further comment beyond what has been articulated widely in the press: to destroy cultural sites would be an illegal act, and moreover a war crime. Trump’s threat has already been retracted by the Pentagon in what is, by now, a common pattern of contradictory communications so endemic of this administration. The fifty-two target sites in Iran are claimed to be symbolically linked to the fifty-two American citizens that Iran held hostage in 1979, as if those individuals asked for retribution after forty years. For those of us who remember the hostage crisis and the 444 days of suffering it created, the trauma was real and the political implications have remained intact for over forty years. But for those who remember a generation prior, we are reminded of the infamous 1953 American intervention in Iran that sowed the seeds of systematic mistrust, when a U.S. administration participated in a coup that overthrew a democratically elected Mossadegh to reinstate the Shah’s dictatorship that would guarantee American access to oil. Indeed, the Iranian Revolution may have crested in 1979, but its roots can be linked to an earlier upheaval where the American involvement cannot be understated. As the White House scrambles to justify recent actions, we are wise to recall that the direct U.S. involvement and complicity in the creation and destruction of nations is not restricted to the Iranian experience. Iraq is now reliving its own trauma, the result of rogue American judgment and the coercion of a prior U.S. administration, whose facts were not only flawed but intentions clearly motivated by an a priori decision to occupy a foreign land without any appeal to the truth. The more significant question that underlies this premise is to what degree the United States can be held accountable in the International Court of Justice in the Hague for its crimes. The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute which founded the International Criminal Court. By refusing to participate, the U.S. also sees itself as exempt from the international system that attempts to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so. Insofar as the destruction of cultural sites continues to fall under these protective measures of the World Court, then the aim of this piece is also to demonstrate a broader link between cultural heritage, foreign policy, and a system of governance on which we can rely for checks and balances, both national and international. Though not visible at first sight, the environmental policies that drive foreign affairs is also at the center of this narrative, making important links between the American way of life and its reliance of fossil fuels, the very factor that is coming to challenge how we view the environment, whether in cultural or ecological terms. A rudimentary scan through the various heritage sites in Iran unearths a wide variety of cultural significance, protected by both World and National Heritage registers, identifying the very diversity of this region’s history. Indeed, even if the current regime’s theocracy has only enjoyed about forty years of leadership, Iran is composed of many people, tribes, and religions including Zoroastrians, Christians, Jewish, Bahai, and of course Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite. The country’s cities are known for the many contributions they have made to art, science, and architecture, as made apparent through works of infrastructure, urbanism, landscape, architecture, sustainability, and building technologies. The “Qanat” of Gonabad is estimated to be 2700 years old and an early invention of an underground aqueduct, an infrastructural system designed for arid climates –allowing provisions for agriculture, bathing, drinking water, and human survival. In turn, the urban promenade that binds Naqshe Jahan Square, the Bazaar, and the Si-o-se-pol Bridge on the Zayandeh Rud in Isfahan forms one of the most significant examples of urban design known to the discipline. The housing fabric of Kashan and their contained landscapes, “Hayats” and “Baghs”, are the basis for some of the early doctrines of landscape architecture. The wind-catching “Badgir” towers of the Yazd houses are some of the earliest examples of sustainable cooling strategies of this region’s architecture. Of course, beyond public monuments like the well-known Shah and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosques, there are many other classic icons, like the Soltanieh Mosque, whose double-shell dome is one of the most innovative engineering feats of its time, built some one hundred years prior to Brunelleschi’s in Florence. Some of the earlier passages of the region’s heritage go back to Antiquities, and Pasargad, Persepolis, and the cube of Zoroaster take us back to a time when Persia’s international relations formed a completely different dynamic with Greece. Of that era, the Cyrus Cylinder, dating back to the 6th century B.C. remains maybe one of the earliest artifacts to document the idea of a unified state under higher governance with a direct appeal to human rights as part of its contribution to humanity. Thus, while examining the current political predicaments of our moment, it is important to look at this culture’s history, with over 3000 years of documented heritage, to establish how the diversity of its people come to contribute to the legacy of world culture, and indeed, part of its living history. While few will challenge American generosity in the Second World War and its seminal role in building an alliance that addressed war crimes that defined the 20th Century, the White House’s self-entitlement today is a means to escape the very standards of law and democracy that stoke our national pride and the civil values foundational to American society. Ironically, this sense of entitlement is also foundational to what has allowed the Trump administration to relieve itself of accountability for other questionable actions over the past three years—a factor that prior generations of American leaders could neither have calculated nor fathomed. Sadly, this administration’s hubris is now part of this nation’s ethos; reversing it will be a task to reckon with in the coming years, if not decades, and it will fall on the collective shoulders of the entire nation to address. As we ponder the American omnipresence in the Middle East, Australia burns with a vengeance, a disaster seemingly unrelated to Iran in both cause and effect. And while it burns, the country’s Prime Minister returns from a family vacation in Hawaii, only after being compelled by mounting political pressure, too little too late. With all the scientific evidence behind the sources of global warming and its impact on climate change, Prime Minister Morrison remains unswerving in his commitment to the investments of fossil fuels, coal and the many policies his party holds dear in its commitment to profit. In this sense, Morrison follows a path no different than that of his American cohorts, whose military presence in Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, among other places in the Middle East has defined American foreign policy for decades. Beyond the social, economic, and cultural upheaval, industry-first policies have produced the injustice of climate inequity, the very phenomenon that stands to compromise not so much humanity (although it will) but the ecosystems, flora, and fauna that do not have the legal instruments to protect themselves. Thus, the American immunity to the World Court is no small issue, because the scale of its ramifications can only be measured in relation to global forces, not merely national ones. It will only be a matter of time when the balance of world economies in Asia take a turn towards other super-powers whose might will define America’s position in the future world order. However, the imposition of their reign may not be paired with the promise of democracy, equity, or a civil society; it is at that junction when we, as Americans, will regret to have abandoned the very values for which we would want to be known today and for history to have recorded for the future. By absolving ourselves of international responsibilities in the World Court today, the US guarantees precedence for others to do the same in the future. Moreover, the current U.S. administration’s abandonment of collaborative dialogue with the United Nations, UNESCO, The Paris Accord and other world bodies only exacerbates the possibilities of other rogue states, whose strategic interests in the future might be to establish their primacy over the greater good of a global community. Trump’s disregard for democratic institutions, collective processes, and legal frameworks is only radicalized by his penchant to isolate individuals or smaller interest groups as a basis for assault. His current bombast on Iran is no different from what we have witnessed him unleash on African Americans, women, Mexican immigrants, the LBGTQ community, and many others whose diverse backgrounds, belief systems and ways of life differ from his own. Within this context, the destruction of cultural heritage sites can only be interpreted as a targeted attack on the very significance of cultural diversity, and the role that monuments play in the representation of a people. I am reminded of the vacuous niches that once held the monuments of Bamiyan. Magnificent Buddhas were destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban in an act of brutality, using cultural artifacts as pawns to eviscerate an ‘other’ culture than that of their own. Among other things, the Rome Statute was put in place precisely to protect from such eventualities. Trump’s prejudicial pattern of destruction is perhaps even more sinister because it is inflicted without pause. Some have misperceived Trump’s thuggish mockery of Greta Thunberg—an enlightened embodiment of the next generation—as an assault on an individual. Indeed, it was, but it was also a concurrent assault on the collective: on civil society, on a cultural heritage, on critical discourse, and in the age of Thunberg, on the global environment. Within this context, it is virtually implausible to make a case for the protection of cultural heritage without reinforcing the very foundations on which they rely: A global environment that is sustainable, and a faith in governance and policies of stewardship that can uphold it. The individual and the collective take on a different resonance in the context of Trump as a person and the system of governance that supports him. It is completely understandable that an individual may not be able to comprehend the basic tenets of fairness, decency or democracy; less digestible is witnessing an entire political party that shuts its eyes to a pattern of behavior that has demonstrated itself to be no accident. There may be no larger strategy to this president’s actions, but there is nothing unpremeditated: Trump behaves the way he does by design. More alarmingly, an entire Republican party behind him, composed of hundreds of individual leaders, support his illegal actions, whether in enunciated defense or silence. Without a restoration of democracy, in the way in which this country’s founders had imagined, it is hard to conceive how its politicians can advance collective agendas that transcend the terms of party lines, and moreover world politics, whose relevance to the United States should be heeded. The Iranian Revolution occurred in 1979, and its current regime is well-aware of its statute of limitations; with a population of 81 million people –that is, 43 million more than the time of the revolution—the Iranian government understands that its youthful majority can only thrive with a completely different interaction with the international sphere. Despite its acrimony with the West, the achievements of the nuclear deal set in place with the former U.S. administration demonstrated wisdom from both the East and the West. Gain can only come from good communication, collaboration and an appeal to an expanded discursive field. Here, I would argue, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) was not actually the only target, but the means to develop a discussion that could be temporally transported to future administrations: effectively to build better collaborations over time. Ironically, the Mullahs clearly understood the impending dangers of obsolescence; in order to survive, they could no longer isolate themselves from the world. The current isolationist doctrine of the United States has not only alienated its conventional adversaries; recklessly, but it has also distanced itself from the very allies that hold their connection to America so dear. For America to remain relevant to these audiences, the first step will be to recognize the all-important inter-relationship between global phenomena that sees no borders. Whether considering climate change, economic equity, fair trade policies, or the mutual respect of other’s heritage, an integrated view of world interests might be the only way for securing American priorities in a meaningful way. The monuments that populate seemingly remote regions of the world are not the ‘other’ of America; they are its foundation, its source, and its reference, and once we recognize America’s diversity again, we can also re-enter the global dialogue. An understanding of shared governance may also be the only path towards a strategic plan for survival: there is no America once the global sphere is compromised beyond repair. The disengagement of these relationships can only help to obscure the many causalities that have given rise to the dire state of affairs today. Nader Tehrani is founding principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. Tehrani is also Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union.
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Fælled by Axe

Henning Larsen proposes an all-timber neighborhood in Copenhagen
Copenhagen-based firm Henning Larsen Architects has proposed a low-rise neighborhood south of central Copenhagen using all-timber construction. The neighborhood, named Fælledby, was the winning concept of a national design competition hosted by local real estate company By & Havn, and was designed in collaboration with local engineers MOE. Divided into three circular “villages,” the neighborhood is designed to accommodate approximately 7,000 residents while leaving 40 percent of the natural landscape on its 44-acre property unaltered. “With the rural village as an archetype," said Signe Kongebro, partner at Henning Larsen, in a press statement, "we’re creating a city where biodiversity and active recreation define a sustainable pact between people and nature.” In particular, the master plan intends to preserve the wetlands and dry scrub on-site that have long been habitats for indigenous turtles, songbirds, deer and other wildlife. Henning Larsen intended to develop a new typology for the 21st century that combined the amenities of a city with the sense of community and relationship to nature of a village. Each of the master plan's three neighborhoods has a scalar design, beginning with "The Habitat" for local biodiversity, "The home" for different family unit types, "The Collection" for about 150 residents to share a garden or greenhouse, and "The Courtyard" for about 450 people to share a common parcel of land. Inspired by the rural village model, the new district will feature green corridors, active street corners, and a relatively dense city center where visitors and residents can congregate. The homes will all be built using locally-sourced timber and will come in 37 living arrangements types to house families, students, and retirees. To ensure that nature is given precedence in Fælledby, the roads will be narrow, parking will primarily be built underground, and the facades of each building will contain alcoves to accommodate birdhouses and other non-human habitats. Fælledby is currently in the planning stage with the city of Copenhagen and no completion date has been given.
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mirror mirror on the wall

MVRDV's Depot houses a national archive behind mirror glass
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The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (MBVB), located in Rotterdam's 10-acre Museumpark, is receiving a striking new addition designed by MVRDV. The Depot will house up to 125,000 of the museum's artworks not currently used for exhibitions, with over 70,000 of the pieces being made accessible to the public in a semi-curated format. In response to the site and the functional requirements of the project, Depot's spherical concrete shell has been clad with over 1,500 curved mirrored glass panels. For MVRDV, the location of the seven-story archive drove the decision to use mirror glass for the facade. "The project is situated in a piece of parkland between many cultural and medical institutions, so we did not want to turn our back to any of the neighbors, we wanted to visually enlarge the park," said MVRDV associate architect Arjen Ketting. "A piece of the park has been sacrificed to make space for this building, we visually reintroduce the setting in the facade." This effect is maximized by The Depot's circular massing which allows passing pedestrian to see around the corner of the structure towards the park's greater landscape.
  • Facade Manufacturer ShenZhen ShenNanYi Glass ODS Walasco Kingspan
  • Architect MVRDV
  • Facade Installer Sorba
  • Facade Consultant ABT
  • Location Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Date of Completion 2021
  • System Custom system of brackets
  • Products ShenZhen ShenNanYi Glass Mirror Glass
Depot broke ground in 2017 and rises from an approximately 22,000-square-foot concrete foundation that supports a seven-story, poured concrete sphere that cantilevers over 30 feet in every direction. At its thickest, the sphere is one-and-a-half-feet in section—a built-in anti-burglary measure—and is punctured by just a handful of window openings to prevent sunlight from reaching the interior. Brackets were anchored into the structure during the concrete pour, and are further supplemented by a secondary network of small black frames; Rotterdam's municipal code requires secondary safety measures for facade cladding. Installation of the mirrored panels began in April 2019 and are arranged into 26 horizontal layers consisting of 64 identical panels, with each layer conforming to the curvature of the concrete shell. Prior to fabrication, the design team digitally unfolded the sphere's surface into a two-dimensional format inlaid with the cutting pattern, which was in turn exported to the manufacturer. Each panel consists of two layers of glass separated by multiple layers of reflective foils, which were curved together during the fabrication process. A layer of insulation produced by Kingspan backs the panels and facade installer Sorba incised the membrane using a 3D model of the supporting brackets to reduce thermal bridging. Although the bulk of the mirrored panels are subject to the same treatment, there are certain segments that correspond to nearby structures. For example, a significant block of the eastern elevation is composed of a less reflective coating to guard the privacy of patients found at the adjacent Erasmus Medical Center. Additionally, mirrored glass panels abutting windows are treated to transition to those transparent moments. The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2020 and will open in 2021.
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The Muji Model

Muji’s newest prefab home has ample open space and zero stairs
Muji, the famed Japanese retailer of “no-brand” home goods—and over the last 15 years, entire small homes—has released its fourth, and latest, prefabricated abode in Japan. Dubbed Yō no le (Plain House), the dwelling is a noted departure from the retailer’s previous venture into prefab housing, a slim and decidedly stair-intensive abode geared for impossibly tight urban lots named Tate no le (Vertical House) launched in 2010. While Yō no le is predictably compact and ultra-unfussy in keeping with Muji’s pared-down aesthetic, it’s the first prefab home offering from the company to be entirely stair-free and geared more toward rural environs than cramped Japanese cities where there’s not much room to go aside from up. Sporting 800 square feet of interior living space with a generously sized deck with room for container gardening out back, Yō no le’s flexible single-floor, single-bedroom layout is geared to appeal to homeowners who want to settle down and stay put in the same space for the long haul. A particular target market is seniors and empty nesters looking to live a more minimalist—and low-maintenance—lifestyle. Boasting clean lines, light wood, and loads of natural light, the highly customizable home (Muji also makes pretty much everything under the sun one would want to customize the home with) was described by the company as being designed to “accommodate wide range of generations and provide more choices for places to live, thus supporting a variety of lifestyles.” Although Muji has a healthy retail presence across the globe including over a dozen stateside stores mainly in New York and California, Yō no le, like the company’s other prefab homes, is only available for sale in Japan at an affordable $160,000. Of course, Muji isn’t the only purveyor of home furnishings to delve into the production of simply designed and assembled homes catering specifically to baby boomers and beyond. In 2019, IKEA announced a partnership with Swedish construction behemoth Skanska to erect a series of modular homes in the Stockholm suburbs for elderly inhabitants living with dementia.
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Architects Assisting Affected

Architects organize to provide pro-bono services to those affected by Australian bushfires
The New South Wales bushfires that have been ravaging parts of Australia since September 2019 have inspired a group of local architects to provide disaster relief in a manner fitting of their profession, free of charge. There are currently over 200 registered architects and over 400 architecture students volunteering to represent Architects Assist (AA), a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, is dedicating their resources and collective expertise to "to enable those affected by the present and future disasters to rebuild their lives, either by themselves or with help from the community, at once or in stages, with minimum amount of money." The nonprofit will respond to inquiries on their website by connecting those affected with members of the design team to determine how best they can help. In most cases, its members will plan and design structures to replace what individuals, small business and communities have lost to the fires. The design outcomes, the organization ensures, will be resilient to future natural disasters, comprised of sustainably-sourced materials, spatially efficient, and as inexpensive as possible to construct. The group was established by Jiri Lev of Atelier Jiri Lev, a local architecture firm specializing in sustainable building, urban design, and humanitarian work. "With the growing scale of the disaster," Architects Assist explains, "it soon became obvious that the resources of individual firms will not be sufficient to assist all those requiring help, and so Architects Assist was established." The group operates as a country-wide network rather than as an organization with a central office, to address the fact that many of the fires are located in regions without a surplus of architecture offices to provide services. Architects Assist has already enlisted a significant number of registered architects and students since forming on January 3, and are still seeking potential volunteers to apply on their website.
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They're BIG in Japan

BIG’s first project in Japan is a high-tech mobility incubator for Toyota
Yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Toyota and BIG unveiled a new concept for a high-tech “Woven City” to be built at the car maker's 175-acre former factory site at the foothills of Mount Fuji, in Japan. “In Higashi-Fuji, Japan, we have decided to build a prototype town of the future where people live, work, play, and participate in a living laboratory,” explained Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda in a press release, going on to say that it would be a “smart city that would allow researchers, engineers, and scientists the opportunity to freely test technology such as autonomy, mobility as a service, personal mobility, robotics, smart home connected technology, AI and more, in a real-world environment.” The automotive company plans to invite private and academic researchers to collaborate on the experiment. To keep it green, the city will use solar power and geothermal energy, along with hydrogen fuel cells. BIG’s buildings—including housing, retail, and office space—will primarily be built with carbon-sequestering mass timber construction, reportedly with a method that combines handcraftsmanship (and a look inspired by the tatami flooring of traditional Japanese architecture) with robotic technology. The streets, also master-planned by BIG would be, as the name suggests, “woven” into three-by-three blocks, framing courtyards interconnected by a linear park. The grid isn’t meant to be rigid; it can flexibly evolve to contain both large parks and denser buildings. Infrastructure would be buried underground, including a “goods delivery network” Toyota and BIG have coined the “matternet.”  The roads will also be organized in threes themselves: A primary thoroughfare for autonomous vehicles, as well as two other streets, one for transit options like bikes and scooters, and a plant-lined option for pedestrians. The logistical traffic would flow underground, carried by Toyota’s driverless e-Palette vehicle. Beyond moving goods and people, Toyota and BIG also imagine the vehicle could be a mobile site for healthcare, retail, and work. “A swarm of different technologies are beginning to radically change how we inhabit and navigate our cities,” said Bjarke Ingels in a press release. “Connected, autonomous, emission-free and shared mobility solutions are bound to unleash a world of opportunities for new forms of urban life.” He added that he hoped that Woven City might serve as a prototype for future infrastructure projects in other parts of the world. Construction on the project is set to begin in 2021.