Zaha Hadid has designed another seemingly-structurally-impossible parametric building form that is set to touch down in Macau in 2017. The building, which could be equally at home in Miami or Dubai, is a large block that has been punctured by three curvaceous openings. The entire mass is encased in an exposed exoskeleton that twists and turns along the structure's contours. The project was undertaken at the behest of Melco Crown Entertainment, casino magnates who have contributed the City of Dreams resort to the gambling-soaked Chinese island. The developers commissioned Hadid to create the fifth hotel located on the property, which will top out at 40 stories and house 780 rooms in over 1.6 million square feet of space. Other expected amenities include luxury retail, specialty restaurants, spa facilities, a roof-top pool, and a number of gaming areas. The external latticework varies in patterning as it crawls up the structure's facade. It is densest at its middle, where it navigates the irregularities of the design's central void, and becomes more elongated at each of the building's poles. The interior is more angular, awash in crystalline glass outcroppings subdivided by triangular grids. These walls collide with the curved base of the structure's opening to create a 130-foot central atrium that welcomes arriving visitors to the hotel. Construction for the newest member of the City of Dreams is already underway.
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Dutch firm MVRDV is creating a new office building in Hong Kong, and by the looks of the renderings, people will be really happy to work there. The project actually entails the transformation of the Cheung Fai Warehouse, a 14-story industrial building that currently sits on a busy corner in the city's designated business area of East Kowloon. MVRDV will be stripping the structure to its concrete infrastructural core before filling the frame with glass and stainless steel in order to define the new office spaces. Glass dominates the exterior as well, as large sheets are inserted into the white concrete frame of the structure. The largely clear facade is punctuated by small explosions of greenery, which spills out of select rectangular sections. The rooftop has been set aside for a terrace meant to serve as a communal gathering space. The glass spills over into the interior, bringing with it large amounts of light and also meaning that the building's concrete skeleton is readily visible throughout the offices and circulation areas. The Cheung Fai building is MVRDV's first foray into Hong Kong. In addition to 37 office units, the structure is also slated to house retail space and restaurants. At its rear the site faces a disused service alley that the firm hopes to one day convert into usable public space in keeping with the development of the surrounding area. The transformation is scheduled to be completed by 2015.
A Shanghai building company has erected a small village of pitched-roof, 3-D printed structures—in about a day. WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co is behind the series of humble buildings, a fully fabricated unit is expected to cost less than $5,000. The homes were created through the use of a 490- by 33- by 20-foot 3-D printer that fabricates the basic components required for assembly. Rather than plastic, the machine behind these structures spits out layer upon layer of concrete made in part from recycled construction waste, industrial waste, and tailings. WinSun intends to construct 100 factories that will harness such waste in order to generate their affordable "ink," which is also reinforced with glass fibers. Purists will note that the WinSun productions are not 3-D printed structures in the traditional sense. Rather than projects like these, or the contour crafting processes championed by USC Professor Berokh Khoshnev, the Shanghai homes are not printed on site layer by layer. Instead they are composites of 3-D printed parts that require human intervention in order to be assembled into something resembling a house. WinSun estimates that their methods can cut construction costs in half and sees the potential for "affordable and dignified housing" for the impoverished.
Pier Carlo Bontempi and Ruan Yisan accept Driehaus awards for classicist architecture and preservation
Italian architect Pier Carlo Bontempi and Chinese preservationist Ruan Yisan last weekend received the highest honors in the world of classicist design—a school of though that AN previously examined alongside the more widely known Pritzker Prize. The 2014 Richard H. Driehaus Prize went to Bontempi, an architect from Parma, Italy whose work includes a block recovery plan for that city’s historic center, as well as the Place de Toscane and the “Quartier du Lac” resort in Val d’Europe near Paris. In a WTTW documentary made for the occasion of the award, Bontempi likened traditional and classical design to well-made salami and other local delicacies—modernists, Bontempi said, cut through the whole sausage, while those with an eye to the past are more careful in their preparation. He told the crowd gathered at the award ceremony Saturday in Chicago that he considered it a great compliment when a Dutch couple confused one of his buildings with a string of historic structures along the road to Rome, wondering why it wasn’t included in their guide. Administered since 2003 by the school of architecture at the University of Notre Dame, the $200,000 Driehaus Prize “is awarded to a living architect whose work embodies the highest ideals of traditional and classical architecture in contemporary society, and creates a positive cultural, environmental, and artistic impact,” according to its website. Ruan Yisan received the $50,000 Henry Hope Reed Prize, which is “given to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion.” Yisan, a historic preservationist and professor of architecture at Shanghai’s Tongji University, has helped catalogue and preserve numerous cities and cultural sites around China. He supervised the Yangtze River Water Towns preservation project, and won protection for the Pingjiang Historic District in his native Suzhou—both sites have since landed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. The professor, who turns 80 this year, told the award audience Saturday that the American remittance of funds paid after China's 1900 Boxer Rebellion helped educate a generation of architects and designers who would sustain the nation’s architectural preservation movement through the 20th century. “It’s good karma,” he said through a translator. (Somewhat ironically, American designers and universities are also helping reshape contemporary China in a fashion decidedly more modern than that honored by the Driehaus Awards.)
One of our favorite duos, Oyler Wu, recently completed its biggest installation to date: The Cube, a twisting, glowing steel and wire concoction for the 2013 Beijing Biennale. The dramatic project is now touring China, but when pressed for the latest news the firm admitted that it is not sure where it is. So if you spot a giant cube somewhere in the country, please give them a ring, will you?
Construction has recently been completed on UNStudio's Hanjie Wanda Square, a new luxury shopping center in Wuhan, China. The firm boldly coated the exterior of the building in over 42,333 metallic spheres, bestowing a fluidity to the facade that extends into the interior of the structure. There, curved walkways and corridors flow together in order to carry shoppers throughout the upscale retail stores, catering outlets, and movie theaters within the center. North and South atria anchor the inside of the building, the former bedecked in gold and bronze tones, while silver and reflective materials pervade the latter. These elements are purported to speak to a "cultural traditional identity" and "city identity and urban rhythm" respectively. Each opening is capped by a large skylight. Each steel ball-bearing houses an LED light that projects multiple colors onto a laminated glass surface that cloaks the building. The facade thus acts as a canvas for the numerous effects generated by the combination of colored light and pattern. Such dynamism echoes the the approach adopted by UNStudio in other projects the firm has undertaken in Korea, Taiwan, and Bejing. Wanda Square will soon be joined by other UNStudio projects cropping up throughout China. While the firm initially established a Shanghai location in order to aid in the development of its Raffles City Development in Hangzhou, the once temporary branch has been transformed into a fully operational extension of the Amsterdam-based office. The completion of the mall comes in the wake of recent competition wins for the pavilion for the 2014 Horticultural World Expo in Qingdao and a large-scale multi-use development in Bejing within the coming years.
The design team at MODU, in collaboration with Ho-Yan Cheung of Arup, have created an urban public space for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial. Their design pays homage to Beijing's iconic Olympic Park, while drawing attention to environmental issues in the country’s densely populated capital. The biennial committee has also commissioned designs from leading international architects such as Wang Shu, Zaha Hadid, and Mohsen Mostafavi. The dual-purpose structure not only creates a unique civic space, but also acts as a barometer for the air quality in Beijing. This “room in the city” concept does not attempt to separate people from polluted outdoor air and filtered indoor air by means of physical boundaries. Instead, the structure highlights the air pollution issue through the use of punctured openings in the walls and ceiling panels, as well as a large elliptical roof which frames the Olympic Observation Tower. On clear days, the tower can be seen perfectly through the roof frame, but on days when the pollution creates a dense grey fog, the landmark virtually disappears from sight. The outdoor room is made from recycled materials and, according to its designers, represents a new era of socially responsive design. At the end of November, the structure will be installed in six other cities in China.
One World Trade may officially be the tallest building in the West, but according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the honor of the Best Tall Building in the World goes to OMA’s CCTV Headquarters in Beijing–a fitting birthday gift to the architect who previously declared war on the skyscraper (Happy 69th Rem!). Back in July, the CTBUH revealed its four regional finalists for the annual Best Tall Buildings competition, which included Foster + Partners’ The Bow (Calgary, Canada) for the Americas, Renzo Piano’s The Shard (London) for Europe, and Goettsch Partners Sowwah Square complex (Abu Dhabi) for the Middle East and Africa. The CCTV building was chosen as the worldwide champ after senior representatives from each of the winning firms presented their projects to a jury at the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago on November 7. The CTBUH praised Rem Koolhaas’ iconic building for challenging the definition and typology of the skyscraper with its groundbreaking form, pushing the limits of possibility with its cutting-edge structural engineering, and serving as a catalyst for the recent transformation of skyscrapers from the high-reaching towers of old to the dynamic urban centerpieces that are rising across the world today. In usual Koolhaas form, the architect accepted his award by expressing his distaste for traditional tall buildings. “When I published my last book, Content, in 2003, one chapter was called 'Kill the Skyscraper,'" Koolhaas said at the ceremony. “Basically it was an expression of disappointment at the way skyscraper typology was used and applied. I didn’t think there was a lot of creative life left in skyscrapers. Therefore, I tried to launch a campaign against the skyscraper in its more uninspired form.” “The fact that I am standing on this stage now, in this position, meant that my declaration of war went completely unnoted, and that my campaign was unsuccessful,” Koolhaas continued jokingly before concluding. “Being here, its is quite moving—to be part of a community that is trying to make skyscrapers more interesting. I am deeply grateful, and thank all my partners.”
Next Tuesday, the nearly 850-foot-tall Shenzhen Stock Exchange Building will be inaugurated as the new head of capitalist trading in Hong Kong. OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ architectural firm, was commissioned to design and construct the soaring structure in 2006. After nearly $500 million in expenditures, according to reports by the Wall Street Journal blog, the square-form skyscraper with a surprising floating base, is complete. Situated 118 feet above an outdoor, ground-level plaza, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s three-story cantilevered podium creates drama in the building’s form while satisfying practical needs. This floating base provides shade to pedestrians, a garden rooftop, and an outward indication of interior operations. OMA located the stock exchange’s main trading floors in the interior of this base, allowing maximum square footage for the computer servers. With a facade constructed of a gridded exoskeleton over a patterned glass curtain wall, the building reacts to changes in weather, muting to reflect grey days and brightening when the sun peeks out. The generic skyscraper design of the rest of the structure allows it to fit in with existing neighbors, but clever details like these set it apart from the typical.
Joel Sanders Architect with LA-based FreelandBuck have been announced as the winners of an international competition to design the Kunshan Phoenix Cultural Mall, located about an hour west of Shanghai. The project will be the largest to date for both firms. The 262,000-square-foot proposal was designed for Phoenix Publishing and Media Group (PPMG), one of the largest media companies in China. The project consists of a 20-story office tower perched upon a five-story podium, organized around four glass-clad “cultural cores." Each core houses theaters, exhibition halls, a fitness club, and an educational center. A retail loop—compromised of stores, restaurants, and cafes—spirals around each core. The site's cores define the perimeter of a central outdoor atrium, dramatically united by an elevated "Book Mart," whose green roof doubles as both a podium for the office tower and cultural park for the general public. The project's intricate, louvered facade is an example of FreelandBuck's focus on computational patterns as a way to generate tectonic shifts in geometry and space. The construction timeframe for the undertaking has yet to be announced.
Coop Himmelb(l)au recently won a competition to design the Deep Pit Ice and Snow World in the Dawang Mountain Resort area near the city of Changsha. The quarry project, which also featured proposals from Gensler and Asymptote, is the second of its kind in China, following the Songjiang Shimao Hotel outside of Shanghai. It is one of many new schemes for Changsha from international architects such as Zaha Hadid. The 394,000 square foot project is positioned directly on top of a historic cement mining quarry pit and lake, and consists of an Entertainment Ice World, Indoor Ski Slope, Water Park and restaurant and shopping facilities. The design emphasizes the existing quarry pit and the 560 foot spanning sculpted shell of the Snow and Ice World.
The Shell, which spans from cliff to cliff, covers a sunken and hanging garden, creating a new leisure space of islands, water pools, cliffside pathways and ramps that connect the building to its natural surroundings. Other highlights include a cantilevered outdoor swimming pool that also creates a 200-foot-tall waterfall into the quarry pit. A central glass cone provides controlled natural daylight to the Ice World structure and the islands and water surfaces below, and a sculptural 330-foot-tall tower will is to the Ice World via a grand central plaza. The project is slated to start construction sometime in 2014 with an expected completion date in 2016.
While it's been well-documented that China has been "borrowing from" U.S. designs for some time, it appears that relationship is starting to go both ways. Downtown Los Angeles is ready to get a new residential project that bears a striking resemblance to Steven Holl's Linked Hybrid apartment complex in Beijing. Note the porous, gridded facade and the glassy skybridges, to name just a couple of similarities. The mixed-use Medallion 2.0, designed by Kevin Tsai Architecture, would be located off the corner of Third and Main Streets, reported downtown blogger Brigham Yen. It's scheduled to break ground in 2015 and include 400 rental units, a theater, retail, and over half an acre of green space. We'll keep you posted on more Asian imports as they no doubt continue to arrive.