In rural Victoria, Australia, a local firm Branch Studio Architects designed Pump House, a shed-like home that stores a water pump, farming equipment, and, sometimes, the clients, when they visit their horse, George. Pump House is built of plywood, corrugated sheeting, rough-sawn timber, and other low-cost materials. The unfinished plywood and timber clad the interior, which consists of an open living room and kitchen, separated from a bedroom and studio by a bathroom. Since the kitchen wraps the bathroom walls, there is one, central services core. The house is also minimal in environmental impact. It is oriented North-South to absorb the winter sun, and all energy and fuel are provided from off-grid sources. For instance, solar panels provide power, rainwater tanks supply water, and a wood-burner gives-off heat. The exterior is wrapped in black, corrugated, iron panels. Since the front and rear walls are glazed floor-to-ceiling, the clients have tree-house-like views of the lake, greenery, and George. In the summer, these windows and doors are opened for cross-ventilation, a natural way to cool the house. This craftsmanship, layout, and landscape allow Pump House, a small, cozy home, to have a sense of spaciousness.
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Aesop, the Australian cult skincare brand, just released its newest project—a microsite entitled Taxonomy of Design dedicated to the architecture and design behind Aesop's stores. In addition to the company’s reputation for high-quality bath products, Aesop has created a name for itself in the design realm thanks to stores designed by the likes of Snøhetta, Ilse Crawford, Torafu, and Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Taxonomy of Design is dedicated to these spaces, showcasing the special details and ongoing themes through their stores. The digital guide also offers a set of interviews with the designers and architects behind these stores, focusing on the creative process, material selection, and the store’s context in its surroundings. AN sat down with creative director Marsha Meredith to learn more and to hear a bit about Aesop’s newest Chicago location with Norman Kelly. The Architect's Newspaper: How do you approach designing each store? What elements stay consistent and what elements change? Marsha Meredith: Each of our stores is unique. We take inspiration from neighborhoods, past and current streetscapes, and then seek to add something of value. Collaborating with architects also allows new and poetic interpretations of Aesop, conceptually and physically, through the materiality and design features. Consistency for us means remembering at all times what our stores are meant to be: Places of respite where you can thoughtfully explore our skincare formulations. How does location factor into the materials palette? Are there essential materials you include in each store? Architecturally, our method is to work with what is already there, weaving ourselves into the core and fabric of the street rather than imposing ourselves upon a locale. Materiality often responds to a local history and allows us to be playful too. At Aesop Le Marais, in Paris, Ciguë repurposed 427 small polished steel discs—conventionally used to close plumbing pipes throughout the city— to create shelving for our products. For Aesop Nolita, our first U.S. store, Jeremy Barbour reclaimed 2,800 New York Times, cut them into 400,000 strips, and stacked them to craft “bricks” of paper that line the walls and create joinery. As the leaves yellow with the years, they become a testament to the time captured within and passing around the pages. How do you select an architect for each store? We select architects not only for the excellence of their work but also their personality; their capacity to communicate and connect with us is integral to the realization of new spaces. In order to understand their motivations, we like to meet in person for a meal and conversation. The minimum criterion to be considered for a signature store project is usually five years’ professional experience though we are also keen to work with rising talents. We’re opening this fall our first Chicago store, conceived by Norman Kelley. This is their first retail project—their work usually lives in a more conceptual, artistic area. We’re excited to see the mark they will leave on an Aesop space. Could you tell us more about Norman Kelley's upcoming Midwest store? Aesop Bucktown will open later this fall. Carrie and Thomas are working with the Chicago common brick as a primary material. Their design investigates the geometry of Chicago's urban city grid and overlays grid patterns, putting our perceptions at play. Carrie and Thomas’ work can be currently seen at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of the Architecture Biennal.
Piggybacking off the axiom that sex sells and anything Beyoncé-related has the potential to break the Internet, Australian architecture firm Elenberg Fraser has nabbed planning approval for a “Beyoncé tower” inspired by the superstar’s hourglass form. The Premiere Tower in Melbourne features an undulating shape that swells in and out at various points – purportedly a concession to “structural efficiency” in response to climate, wind, and “the limitations of the site.” To develop the unique form, the architects used parametric modeling, a type of responsive, computer-guided design where users can program in site-specific data so that the design corrects itself proportional to site constraints. “This project is the culmination of our significant research. The complex form – a vertical cantilever – is actually the most effective way to redistribute the building’s mass, giving best results in terms of structural dispersion, frequency oscillation and wind requirements,” Elenberg Fraser insists in a statement. More specifically, the 68-story structure is inspired by the dancers in Queen B’s music video, Ghost, released separately from her single ‘Haunted’ off her 2013 self-titled album. In it, naked dancers attempt to escape from cocoons of stretchy white fabric that adhere to their svelte figures, creating – if one were to really push it – amorphous towers of curve and sinew. Jokes have abounded over the Internet about the appealing possibility of living in Beyoncé's famous posterior. “For those more on the art than science side, we will reveal that the form does pay homage to something more aesthetic. We’re going to trust that you’ve seen the music video for Beyoncé’s Ghost,” say the architects. Located at 134 Spencer Street at the west end of Melbourne’s central business district, the tower will contain 660 apartments and 160 hotel rooms. The entire structure will be mounted on a stepped podium to be occupied by retail tenants. Public house the Savoy Tavern, which reopened in 2014 after being derelict for nearly 20 years, will be demolished to make way for the tower. Presently, the entire precinct will be replanned, with the goal of respecting its heritage buildings. “The whole precinct is designed with a more long-term view to urban design, creating a self-sustaining development,” says Elenberg Fraser. Construction for the $350 million project is estimated at 40 months, with no completion date yet announced. Meanwhile, controversy has ensued over the building’s potential to overshadow nearby Batman Park and the north bank of the Yarra River. The skyscraper, whose “spiraling curves recall the twists and turns of a woman dancing in black cloth,” joins the dubious leagues of MAD’s curvaceous, twisting skyscrapers in Mississauga, Canada, dubbed the “Marilyn Monroe towers” by local residents. The Chinese firm insists that the design arose as an “organic” antithesis to the boxy typology of urban buildings. With backup dancers becoming the architectural inspiration du jour, perhaps we can next expect a building modeled after Katy Perry’s Left Shark, AKA the Super Bowl Halftime Shark, which recently spawned a lookalike iPhone case designed by Perry herself.
Dutch ecopreneur Joost Bakker designs zero-waste homes, repurposes carcasses for his restaurant and delivers flowers
Vertical gardens fully obscure the home of eco garden entrepreneur Joost Bakker like a mossy overgrowth. The eco entrepreneur, a high school dropout and florist by trade, also designs zero-waste restaurants, composting toilets, freestanding vertical green walls, and houses built from straw for a laundry list of clients. His 6,500 square foot home in Monbulk, Australia, occupies a six-acre former cherry orchard, and is covered with a steel mesh normally used to reinforce concrete. This metal scaffolding holds 11,000 terra cotta pots of strawberries and shields the home from harsh hilltop sunlight. Beneath the mesh screen, the inner walls are insulated with straw bales behind a facade of corrugated, galvanized iron. “Our house stays beautifully warm in winter and cool in summer,” Bakker, who has parlayed the pet peeve of waste-producing industry into a career, told Gardenista. "Most people don't realize that straw is the world's most abundant waste product with over 1 billion farmers producing it. It's basically the stalk that's left over after the heads of rice, wheat, barley, and other grains are harvested." The Netherlands native harvests rainwater to wash dishes, mills his own oats, and folds others’ organic rejects into his own compost pile. The DIY home itself exemplifies the “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos, built on a recycled concrete slab foundation and sporting walls sided with 150-year-old wood planks once used in the Woolloomooloo wharves in Sydney. Repurposed waste materials prevail indoors, too, with industrial-felt curtains shielding the windows, training-wire ceiling lamps, and unpolished plywood floors. On the driveway sits a spherical sculpture by the enterprising Bakker: a white ball of yarn bedecked with white butterflies. After turning restaurateur, carcasses have become the serial entrepreneur’s latest preoccupation. Last July Bakker opened Brothl, a high-end soup canteen where otherwise discarded though nevertheless reusable beef bones, seafood shells and chicken frames form the base of Bakker’s pungent, nutrient-dense soups. Bakker’s businesses enjoy the same cross-fertilization and managerial economies of a conglomerate: He trades the flowers he grows in his garden for bones to make soup at his restaurant, using the leftovers to feed his garden, which in turn supplies his restaurant.
Tokyo-based architecture firm SANAA has won an international competition to design a new modern wing for the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. The firm beat out the likes of David Chipperfield, Renzo Piano, and Herzog & de Meuron for the commission, know as the "Sydney Modern Project." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sNbYB-YYak The $450 million scheme includes the creation of an entirely new building comprising three grass-topped pavilions set on existing parkland. This will double the size of the existing gallery. “We proposed making a number of plates, each containing a gallery,” SANAA's Kazuyo Sejima told ArchitectureAU. “The plates sit along the topography. So every plate has a slightly different relationship to nature.” SANAA will also be implementing strategies to increase daylight within the gallery's current 19th century home. Those involved in the selection process praised SANAA's scheme for the way it subtly adds to the gallery without dominating its existing building or the adjacent open space. SANAA's design will be refined over the next year, and is slated to be completed in 2021—just in time for the gallery's 150th birthday.
Home expansion becomes ungraceful when it dwarfs its context—be it Corinthian pillars among shingle-style houses or an imposingly large annex. With this in mind, a family of five decided to extend their modest weatherboard dwelling upward rather than outward. “Australia is wide and flat. As a result, our homes are wide and flat,” said Andrew Maynard Architects, which was commissioned for the project. Tower House in Victoria, Australia comprises a series of five interconnected, tower-like buildings with triangular roofs that not only heighten ceilings but compartmentalize the home into high-end, treehouse-like nooks and crannies for the twin eight-year-old boys to unleash their imaginations. The house now accommodates a library, an astroturfed getaway nook in the center of the home, and a study room for the kids with floor-to-ceiling shelving, over which a hammock-like net is suspended for them to relax and study. The triangular-shaped towers resemble a tiny village from the outside, but indoors, the home is much less compact than it appears. The family requested a home “for community, art and nature to come together,” and Tower House checks all three boxes. While the backyard is fenced off, the front yard has been transformed into a communal vegetable plot where visitors are welcome to help themselves or take up shovel and hoe. “Rather than simply extrude the existing structure, the new form runs along the south side to maximize sunlight exposure,” the architects wrote in Archdaily. Completed in 2014, the “anti-monolith” home was designed not to impose on the surrounding modest brick and weatherboard homes and country lane-like roads.
Admonishing your kids not to graffiti the walls may be forever futile. A new art installation by publicly deranged Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama entails children being given printed sheets of colored stickers and told to go to town on the walls, furniture, and fixtures of all-white living spaces. Everything from the upright piano to the cutlery and linens in the once-spartan rooms are dappled crazily in a disorienting clot of jarring primary colors. Over the course of two weeks, the Queensland Art Gallery’s pint-sized visitors “obliterated” the room with approximately 3.3 million stickers. According to Kusama, who has suffered hallucinatory visions of repeating patterns since childhood, the process of rendering the orderly space frenetic and unrecognizable is tantamount to “clearing the mind.” Paradoxes aside, dots became a cathartic outlet and Kusama’s trademark after she began to incorporate them into her artwork in the 1960s, at which time she actively rallied in anti-war demonstrations using the medium of art. “One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe,” said the 85-year-old artist, an outpatient at a Japanese mental institution since 1977. “I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness.” According to Kusama, the non-descript living spaces function as blank canvases to be “obliterated,” while the nature of constant flux as the artwork changes with every sticker application reflects the loss of control associated with mental illness. ‘The Obliteration Room’ is a vicarious foray into the artist's hallucinatory alternate reality. The installation is on view at the Queensland Art Gallery through April 19, 2015.
“Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.” – Yayoi Kusama.
Known for being economical in terms of space and sticker price, prefabricated homes are also boasting increasingly abbreviated build times. One modest-sized dwelling in Castlemaine, Australia took a mere 10 days to construct and garnered an esteemed sustainability marque from PassivHaus to boot. One of the world’s fastest-growing energy performance standards, ‘Passive House’ accreditation is doled out solely to homes operating on 90 percent less energy than traditional homes. For consideration, three eco-friendly parameters are paramount: thermal performance, airtightness, and ventilation. The most efficient homes use the sun, internal heat sources, and heat recovery for insulation, avoiding the need for energy-guzzling radiators even in the icy throes of winter. At just 419 square feet, the Passive House in Castlemaine, Australia (the first in the country to receive this certification) comprises a wooden frame with wool and fiber insulation and a facade clad in steel to confer a modern look. Further insulation comes from the triple-glazed windows and specially engineered seals protecting the windows and floors, which is made from an air-tight membrane called Intello. Keeping the interior snug and toasty year-round is an energy recovery system which, contrary to ordinary logic, funnels air into the house, heating it in the winter and cooling it in the summer at low running cost while also keeping moisture out. The system also tamps down heat transfer, giving the exterior of the house a u-value (heat transfer coefficient) of 0.261 watts per square meter. The lower a home’s u-value, the better its insulation. As a result, annual heating, electricity and hot water demands for the Castlemaine Passivhaus are a mere 11 kilowatt hours per square foot. Designed by Australian architectural firm CARBONlite, which specializes in prefab homes, the various sections of the Castlemaine dwelling were built off-site over a 5-day period. Once assembled on site, the exterior was erected and the building made wind and watertight that same day. The house has a mono pitch roof with an overhang to provide shade and minimize overheating during Australia’s scorching summers.
The most famous architect in the world agrees that his latest building kind of looks like a crumpled brown paper bag. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Frank Gehry, the creator of the very wavy, very paper bag-y Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology, Sydney. "It is a container, maybe it is a brown paper bag," said the starchitect at the building's recent opening. "But it is flexible on the inside; there is a lot of room for change and movement which I think in the world today is essential." The structure has been so universally compared to the disposable sacks used to carry a child's lunch because of its waving brown brick facade, which certainly looks like crinkled paper—especially from a distance. To allow light into the 11-story bag—sorry, building—there are prominent, rectangular windows punched through the rippling facade. There are also large expanses of glass tucked behind the paper—sorry, brick. Taken altogether, the starchitect’s first completed project in Australia looks like a throwback to some of his early work with its heavy use of masonry. An interior staircase that is sheathed in a warped metallic skin is more in line with Gehry's recent projects. Since Gehry said the design was inspired by a tree house, the paper bag comparison is not ideal. When he was was recently asked if he was happy with the final product, he reportedly replied: "Oh boy, I’m Jewish and I feel guilty about everything." Hey, chin up, Gehry. It's not all bad news, Australia’s Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the building looked like “the most beautiful squashed brown paper bag” he had even seen. So, at the very least, it beat the competition. You can watch a timelapse video of the building's construction below.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the nonprofit arbiter on tall building design, has named its 2014 picks for best tall buildings. Among the winners are a twisting tower in Dubai, Portland's greenest retrofit, and a veritable jungle of a high-rise. The four regional winners are: The Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, Portland, USA (Americas); One Central Park, Sydney, Australia (Asia & Australia); De Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands (Europe); and Cayan Tower, Dubai, UAE (Middle East & Africa). Portland’s Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building is not a new building. Designed by SOM in 1974, the office tower used a pre-cast concrete façade that had begun to fail by the turn of the 21st century. Bainbridge Island, Washington-based Cutler Anderson Architects and local firm SERA modernized the 18-story, 512,474 square-foot structure that is now targeting LEED Platinum. One Central Park in Sydney uses hydroponics and heliostats to cultivate gardens and green walls throughout the tower, cooling the building and creating the world's tallest vertical garden. OMA’s De Rotterdam is the largest building in the Netherlands, and its form playfully morphs the glassy midcentury office high-rise in a way that’s part homage and part experimental deconstruction. In the Middle East, Dubai’s twisting Cayan Tower (formerly The Infinity Tower) is a 75-story luxury apartment building that turns 90 degrees over its 997-foot ascent. Remarked the CTBUH panel: “happening upon its dancing form in the skyline is like encountering a hula-hooper on a train full of gray flannel suits.” CTBUH will pick an overall “Best Tall Building Worldwide” winner at their 13th Annual Awards on November 6, at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Their panel of judges includes Jeanne Gang, OMA’s David Gianotten, Laing O’Rourke’s David Scott, and Sir Terry Farrell, among others. OMA’s CCTV Tower in Beijing won last year’s competition. Most of the 88 contest entries were from Asia, CTBUH said, continuing that continent’s dominance of global supertall building construction. CTBUH's international conference will take place in Shanghai in September. You can find more about the 2014 CTBUH awards, including a full list of finalists, at their website.
Following it's opening in 2009, urban planners all over the world have been keen on acquiring their own versions of New York's much-lauded High Line. Sydney is the latest city to enter the fray, selecting a 500-meter stretch of abandoned railway as a foundation for the Goods Line, an urban park and public space, replete with bike paths, study pods and outdoor workspaces catering to local students. The construction is a two stage process. Work on the Northern phase will commence this month and connect the Powerhouse Museum to Frank Gehry's confusingly named and fairly unpleasant addition to the UTS campus, the Chau Chak Wing Building. The second portion will reshape an existing pedestrian walkway and is set to begin following the projected November 2014 completion date of Goods Line North. The project arrives with a promotional video, offering a sleek fly-through of the space as the requisite techno soundtrack pulsates gently in the background. The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is leading the initiative, working to realize a design by ASPECT Studios and Choi Ropiha Fighera(CHROFI). A feasibility study regarding potential further extension is currently underway as the team mulls the possibility of continuing the Goods Line into other portions of Sydney's Cultural Ribbon.
Nearly three decades after he was launched into design stardom by his biomorphic, aluminum Lockhead Lounge (above), famed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson will soon receive his first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Marc Newson: At Home" will collect furniture, clothing, appliances, and Newsons’ 021C Ford concept car within a mock, six-room home in the museum’s Collab Gallery. Gathered from collections across Europe, Japan, and the United States, in addition to Newson’s personal cache, the objects on display will highlight the various facets of the designer’s distinctive style of flowing lines, bulbous forms, bright colors, and industrial references which helped to define an era of industrial design. The exhibition opens November 23rd and runs until April 20, 2014. Newson's signature riveted chaise lounge, both one of his most recognizable and rarest works, will be exhibited in the living room along side the matching, cello-shaped Pod of Drawers (1987), Super Guppy lamp (1987), and honeycombed, marble Voronoi Low Shelf (2008), among other works. The kitchen will contain a more attainable collection, including the curving, plastic Dish Doctor dish rack (1997), dinnerware by Noritake, glassware by Iitalla, cutlery from Alessi, and the Champagne Coffret Magnum (2006) for Don Pérignon. Newson's playful forms and vibrant colors take hold of the children's room, wherein the classic, three-legged Embryo Chair (1988), modular, plastic Bunky Bunk Beds (2010), and "Rocky" Rocking Horse create a vibrant, Jetsonian environment. To catch a glimpse of some Newson-designed clothing from G-Star, head over to the adult bedroom, which will also contain the retro Nimrod chair (2003) and transparent Atmos clock for Swiss watchmakers Jaeger LeCoultre (2008). The minimalist, streamlined Wall Hung "Invisi II" Toilet and Wash Basin (2012) take center stage in Newson's bathroom, while the 021C concept car, designed for Ford and exhibited at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1999, is housed within the garage.