Pritzer Prize-winner Shigeru Ban has made a career out of pushing the limits of timber construction. This week, the Japanese architect celebrated the completion of one of the largest hybrid mass timber structures in the world. The 500,000-square-foot Swatch and Omega Campus in Biel, Switzerland took 8.5 years to build and is composed of three new buildings by Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA): The Swatch Headquarters, the Omega Factory, and the Cité du Temps, a flexible space serving as a conference hall and museum for both of the Swatch/Omega companies. While the buildings share commonalities in their function and composition, each carries its own distinct qualities. The Swatch Headquarters has a light and airy quality, with an arched, coffered canopy made of 7,700 individual pieces of engineered timber. Meanwhile, the Omega Factory presents itself as a more rectilinear, fixed structure, with exposed timber elements blending among paneled glass walls. The result is a clean, sharp aesthetic that highlights the duality of the building. The Cité du Temps acts as a crossroads for the watch manufacturing company, which operates 18 subsidiary brands, in its function as a space for meetings and exhibitions. To demonstrate this point, SBA designed the third building to intersect with the canopy of the Swatch Headquarters—here, the building becomes both a symbolic and physical link between the subsidiaries of the Swatch Group. SBA has always advocated for the use of wood in architectural design, arguing that it is one of the only truly renewable resources in construction. In addition, timber construction reduces the carbon footprint of buildings, cuts down the cost and duration of construction, and could even make tenants feel happier and healthier. In its tactical use of timber, SBA has long led the charge in sustainable design practices, tracing back to Shigeru Ban’s experiences with disaster relief efforts. A ribbon-cutting ceremony in Biel celebrated SBA’s remarkable achievement on October 3.
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This year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan saw its fair share of high-tech, hardware-embedded furniture, as well as a glorification of lo-fi representation. Pritzker winner Shigeru Ban utilized both approaches for his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, dropping Paper Temporary Studio in the courtyard of Palazzo Serbelloni during the Objets Nomades exhibition. From April 9 to 14, Ban’s modular mobile office was repurposed as a showcase of nomadic architecture. The bunker-like structure, assembled from recycled cardboard tubes and oriented strand board, was originally designed to act as a satellite office during the construction of the Centre Pompidou Metz in Metz, France, and was originally installed on the top of the original Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2004.
Although Paper Temporary Studio is now 15 years old, it exemplifies Ban’s approach to using low-cost, recycled materials in building easily-assembled structures, especially refugee and disaster housing. This isn’t the first time that Ban and Louis Vuitton have worked together; the fashion house invited Ban to build a dome inspired by its Papillon bag on the roof of La Maison Champs Élysées in Paris. The resulting cupola was erected from paper tubes covered in the iconic Louis Vuitton patterned textile and a white PVC canopy.View this post on Instagram
Histories of innovation in modern building materials typically recount how muscular substances are sculpted in the hands of masters: Eiffel and his iron, Corb and his concrete, Gehry and his shiny titanium scales. Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA), on the other hand, has sought out some of the less heroic products of our age, sometimes using trash as inspiration for the next big thing in structural solutions; the firm works with humble materials, but its final creations are no less accomplished for it. Wood is one of these seemingly humdrum materials that SBA has long played with, but in the past decade or so, it has skillfully taken advantage of the material’s flexibility. SBA is quite literally taking timber structures to new heights, and is currently at work on both the tallest hybrid timber structure and the largest mass timber development in the world. With work around the world, the firm has pushed the possibilities of what glulam, cross-laminated timber, and other wood products can do—both formally and functionally—proving to skeptical local administrators that timber is a material that can meet and even exceed their building codes. It’s not every firm that has clients with the appetite to replicate some of SBA’s more adventurous projects, but still, the firm has some basic advice for working with timber: Dean Maltz, the partner in charge of SBA’s New York office, said that “timber forces you to collaborate with trades closely,” which, he stressed, is both a challenge and an opportunity. Because mass timber products are prefabricated off-site and still something of an anomaly in much of the United States, it is crucial from the beginning of the design process to work with experienced fabricators. That early investment in collaboration can pay off later, though—Maltz claimed that even the firm’s more complex timber designs were built much faster than comparable steel or concrete structures because timber components can be prefabricated with incredible dimensional precision. The firm’s use of timber is not arbitrary—rather, it uses wood tactically, albeit sometimes extravagantly, to meet aesthetic and practical goals. While international building codes can be something of a jungle when it comes to mass timber, SBA is blazing trails through the wilderness. Aspen Art Museum The Aspen Art Museum, which is essentially a big-box building, doesn’t go wild with formal gyrations. Instead, for this low-key Rocky Mountain ski town, SBA let the structure steal the show. A basket-woven wooden screen dapples circulation spaces along the perimeter with Colorado sun, and the firm’s trademark paper tubes make an appearance as playful interior walls and seating. But the firm’s ingenuity really shines in the massive exposed timber roof truss. The space frame–like system is cleverly composed of interlocking planar timber members that curve gently at corners, a detail that allows components to be joined by a single fastener. The resulting mesh allows light to filter down to the spaces below while bolstering the roof against the winter snowfall. Kentucky Owl Park SBA’s most recent commission in the U.S. is for a 420-acre distillery and recreational campus themed after Kentucky Owl bourbon. Like much of the firm’s work, the park’s design blends bold geometry with nods to historical motifs and materials: While the trio of identically sized pyramids at the center of the complex contrasts with the surrounding big sky bluegrass landscape, these exposed timber structures are redolent of 19th-century metalwork, the kind that might have enlivened the original Kentucky Owl distillery. Further, wood columns will be girded by metal loops as in traditional barrel construction, and trusses webbed with curves and loops will add a stylized flourish. Swatch Headquarters and Omega Facilities SBA’s forthcoming trio of Swiss buildings for a pair of watch manufacturers (sister companies under the Swatch Group) are a study in contrasts. The new production facilities for Omega are rectilinear and formal, structured by a precisely gridded matrix of exposed engineered timber. The new Swatch headquarters, however, snakes along the Suze River under an arched wood canopy that is punctuated by periodic distortions before leaping across a street to connect to the joint Swatch-Omega Museum, also designed by SBA. Upon its completion later this year, the complex will be the largest timber development in the world. Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse No single SBA project displays the versatility and formal possibilities of hybrid timber structures as much as the Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse, completed in September 2018 in northern Japan. The hotel’s spa sits under a low dome supported by timber beams spectacularly interwoven in the same pattern used in La Seine Musicale, while the hotel itself showcases a sober mix of timber, concrete, and brick components. But in a shared central building, a long, open space is covered with a thin pleated wood roof that floats as though it were nothing more than a piece of folded paper.
Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA) has been selected to design and plan a new 420-acre campus for the owners of Kentucky Owl bourbon in Bardstown, Kentucky, just south of Louisville. Kentucky Owl Park will convert the former Cedar Creek Quarry into a tourist destination with a distillery, bottling center, and rickhouses, along with a stop for a "vintage dinner train" that will bring visitors in. Renderings from SBA show three timber pyramids housing the distillery at the center of the complex. The three matching buildings are clad in various proportions of diamond-shaped wood and glass panels, presumably to create different lighting conditions inside. The old quarry pits on site will be filled with water, setting the complex in a series of large ponds. The site plan indicates planned spaces for fishing, swimming, and other aquatic activities, along with an art gallery, convention center, and, appropriately enough, an "owl forest." The $150 million project comes on the heels of Stoli Group's purchasing of the Kentucky Owl brand in 2017. The bourbon line initially debuted in 1879 and was produced not far from Bardstown by Charles Mortimer Dedman, but production was discontinued in 1916. Dedman's descendants resurrected the line in 2014 and sold it to Stoli soon thereafter. According to an interview with Dmitry Efimov, head of Stoli Group’s American Whiskey Division, in the Lexington Herald Leader, Stoli was not previously producing brown liquors, and the new park evinces their intention to expand in that area. While Kentucky Owl will continue to be produced separately in small batches, the new distillery will mass produce other, as yet unannounced, brown liquors. Stoli plans to integrate the new park into the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a collection of distilleries that host tastings and tours in the area. Earthscape and Design Workshop are the landscape architecture firms on the project. The complex is scheduled to open in 2020.
The Shigeru Ban-designed Terrace House in Vancouver, set to become the tallest hybrid timber tower in North America once it’s finished, has received its official Building Permit and can begin construction. Vancouver-based PortLiving is developing the 19-story, 232-foot condo high-rise, which will contain only 20 luxury units and features a mixture of glass, concrete, and wood for the building’s terraced 12-story podium. The triangular seven-story extension at the building’s top will drop the concrete façade and expose the underlying structural timber, which is partially the reason for the delay in permitting. The approval of an “Alternative Solution” permit by Vancouver’s Chief Building Official’s Office means that the exposed timber complies with the city’s structural, fire and seismic-related regulations, and has been proven as safe as a conventionally-constructed tower of the same height. While no timber buildings of this height have been approved for construction before in either the U.S. or Canada, Canadian Architect notes that the 18-story Brock Commons, a mass timber student residence at the University of British Columbia, was allowed to rise after it covered all of its exposed timber with fire-rated gypsum. Earlier this month, Shigeru Ban Architects Americas released a first look at renderings of Terrace House’s interiors. The homes inside of the gable-shaped topper will receive full-floor views of the surrounding city and mountains, and will keep the wood floor slabs fully exposed. Ban will also be designing all of the fixtures, handles, pulls and millwork for each of the 20 units. Terrace House is located in Vancouver’s waterfront Coal Harbor, and Ban has stated that he specifically sought to reference the neighboring Evergreen Building, a landmarked tower designed by the late architect Arthur Erickson, through the use of layered terraces, triangular forms and natural materials. Viewed from the street, the cascading balconies of the Evergreen Building, seem to become a natural extension of Ban’s Terrace House.
After visiting the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement in Kenya, Pritzker Prize–winning architect Shigeru Ban has signed an agreement with UN-HABITAT to design up to 20,000 new shelters for the site’s incoming refugees. Ban has previously completed similar projects in Nepal, Turkey, Rwanda, and Italy to house displaced populations, demonstrating a skill for creating high-durability, low-cost shelters using eco-friendly building materials such as cardboard, wood, and recycled containers. The shelters need to be a replicable model that can be adapted to Kalobeyei's influx of people. The new housing has been commissioned in response to the settlement’s rapid growth in the past months—it currently houses 37,000 refugees fleeing violence and climate change in South Sudan and Somalia, and is expected to outnumber its original capacity of 45,000 within a year. This project in particular poses challenges: Kenya’s arid, hot climate gives way to powerful floods in the rainy season, existing shelters are rapidly deteriorating, building materials are scarce, and Nairobi is a three-day drive away. Yuka Terada, the Project Coordinator for UN-HABITAT, stated in a press release that the project’s approaches will be “strongly participatory and the relevant county officers, as well as the representatives from refugee and host community, will have an input in the design process.” During his visit to the settlement, Ban also emphasized his commitment to incorporating local architectural traditions into the final product. “The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants,” he stated. The resulting design will be prototyped on 20 shelters before expansion throughout the settlement.
Vancouver-based developer PortLiving has released the latest plans for the world’s tallest hybrid timber structure, designed by Japanese architect and 2014 Pritzker Prize awardee Shigeru Ban. Nicknamed the Terrace House, the project is located in Vancouver’s Coal Harbor neighborhood and pays tribute to its neighboring landmark-listed Evergreen Building, which was designed by late architect Arthur Erickson. The building, Ban’s first work in Canada and his tallest residential project to date, will house only 20 luxury apartments. Similar architectural cues of triangular shapes, natural materials, and green terraces create continuity between the Terrace House and Erickson’s building, according to the developers. “Shigeru Ban has tremendous respect for Arthur Erickson’s work. It was the opportunity to design a building next to one of Erickson’s masterpieces that initially drew him to this innovative project,” said Dean Maltz, managing partner at Shigeru Ban Architects Americas, in a press release. Cornelia Oberlander, the original landscape architect who worked on the Evergreen Building, and Hermann Blumer, an internationally renowned wood structural engineer, will be brought in to work with Ban. The wood, glass, and concrete building highlights Vancouver’s commitment to sustainable design and advanced timber construction, according to the developers. “We have brought together the best of the best—a team of true experts in creative collaboration, working together for the first time ever on a single project,” said Macario Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving, in a press release. “The result is truly a once-in-a-lifetime project setting new standards in design and construction.” Its exact height and dates of construction are unknown. Further project details will be released in coming months.
This summer, House Vision, curated by Muji creative director Kenya Hara, is showcasing a dwelling from Airbnb and Go Hasegawa (the Yoshino House), as well as a slew of Japanese architects including Sou Fujimoto, Atelier Bow-Wow, Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban. On display at the exhibition are twelve housing prototypes that respond to the theme of "CO-DIVIDUAL̶ Split and Connect/Separate and Come Together." Architects and design firms were tasked with addressing the idea of connectivity between individuals. In a press release, House Vision stated: "Japan faces significant issues with this topic, as a country struggling with economic stagnation, a decreasing population, an aging society, disasters striking one after another, and increasing friction in interpersonal communication." "That is precisely why Japan is the ideal place to examine the form of the house from many different perspectives, exploring specific survival strategies with the potential to show how we will live in the future," the statement continued. Talks are due to be held at the exhibition, which runs through to August 28 of this year, at the Rinkai Fukuroshin, Jarea, 21 A omi, Koto, Tokyo. Visitors to the exhibition can find the Yoshino House, a product of Airbnb’s newly announced design studio, Samara, who worked with Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa. Earlier this year, AN's senior editor Matt Shaw sat down with with Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia to discuss the house and the future of housing and community. Tickets for House Vision can be purchased here and as well as at the gate.
Renowned Tokyo-based architect Shigeru Ban has joined forces with Vancouver-based developers PortLiving to design a hybrid timber tower filled with luxury condos in the Coal Harbor district of Vancouver. The scheme will take up one of the last plots still available an area already home to many high-end apartments. Ban, who won the Pritzker Prize in 2014, is known for his humanitarian architecture work as well as his use of sustainable materials and construction methods. The development in Vancouver will be known as the Terrace House and the building is due to follow in the footsteps of the architect's previous work. While this project will be Ban's tallest residential project and his first in Canada, the Terrace House will—according to press release from PortLiving—also be the world's tallest hybrid timber structure when complete. However, its exact height and dates for the project have yet been released. Using locally-sourced timber from BC Wood, the development hopes to achieve a minimal carbon foot-print while also setting a "new standard for luxury urban development, sustainability, and engineering innovation." “We are honoured to be working with Shigeru Ban and his team to bring a visionary design and new landmark to the City of Vancouver,” said Macario (Tobi) Reyes, founder and CEO of PortLiving in a press release. “We are extremely excited by Shigeru Ban’s decision to bring his craft to the Pacific Northwest, where we expect he will be embraced for his environmentally-sustainable approach, creative integration of outdoor living, and his leadership in innovation.” “Shigeru Ban Architects welcomes this chance to design our first building in Canada. It is an opportunity to embrace the natural beauty of the surroundings and to capture inspiring views,” said Dean Maltz, Partner at Shigeru Ban Architects USA. Further details of the project are due to be released later in the year. Stay tuned.
New renderings confirm that CetraRuddy's new tower, at the border of Manhattan's Upper East Side and Midtown East, is a total basket case. The images of 200 East 59th Street released in November featured the latticed main entrance, and the wraparound roof decks with spiral staircases, but these are the first images to depict the full tower. 200 East 59th Street is developed by Macklowe Properties, the same entity behind Viñoly's 432 Park Avenue, but this tower is downright diminutive compared to its nearby cousin. It's set to rise 490 feet (35 stories), with 67 units over 99,848 square feet, YIMBY reports. The ceilings will be 14 feet tall, on average, although renderings seem to show the ceilings becoming progressively higher as the floors rise. The base of the tower will host almost 15,000 square feet of retail, and is clad in a shiny facade that takes inspiration from a woven basket. The ground floor looks awfully similar to Shigeru Ban Architects' Aspen Art Museum, a contemporary art space for the ritzy Colorado ski town that was completed in 2014 (and reviewed by AN here). The woven wood panel facade encircles 33,000 square feet of galleries; art sits cozily inside like a hatchlings in an artificial nest. The video below gives a full tour of the museum, for further comparison: https://vimeo.com/165649176 But, since CetraRuddy is a homegrown firm, maybe the luxury tower's true inspiration was the "Big Basket" out in Newark, Ohio that's now threatened with demolition? Regardless of inspiration, CetraRuddy's new Manhattan structure will cost approximately $278 million to build (think of how many crafty woven baskets you could buy for that!). Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2017.
Calling all multi-tasking architects: Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has designed a combination rollerball pen/retractable architect's scale for Acme studios. Made from aluminum with metric and imperial laser-etched measurements, the triangular pen can be extended to the length of a functional architect's scale for those times when you need to quickly convey a concept or plan.
What does it mean when the winner of the 2016 Pritzker Prize—Chile’s Alejandro Aravena—just came off the jury of the very same award? He was on the jury from 2009 to 2015 and all the jurors from 2015 (The Lord Palumbo (Chair), Alejandro Aravena, Stephen Breyer, Yung Ho Chang, Kristin Feireiss, Glenn Murcutt, Richard Rogers, Benedetta Tagliabue, and Ratan N. Tata) were on the 2016 jury—except Aravena? Two past winners were on the jury prior to receiving the award, but won 5 years after departing. Shigeru Ban served from 2006-9 and won in 2014. While Fukihiko Maki was a juror from 1985-88 and won in 93. Aravena's quick turnaround suggests that there is an emphasis on a definition of architecture that Aravena represents and was put on the jury to make a case for…or that he is part a network that makes these decisions and leads to friends nominating friends for the prize. Is this common in the world of international awards and prizes or is this how stars are made in 2016?