Posts tagged with "Nature":

NatureStructure Sketch Workshop

What would it be like to approach the city from the perspective of an animal pushed out of its home by development, water falling during rain, or a windblown seed wanting to take root? What structures and spaces could be created or adjusted to make the city a more welcoming place for nature and wildlife? How could nature improve the urban environment if things were designed to welcome the natural world instead of seeing wildlife as unwelcomed invaders? This special event will start with a short tour around NatureStructure by exhibition curator Scott Burnham, followed by a session in which participants will brainstorm ideas for a more nature-centric city and draw on the windows of BSA Space gallery, sketching their ideas for a more harmonious relationship between nature and the city. All skill levels are welcome. You do not need to be a master sketcher to participate. Snacks, beer, and wine will be provided. Places are limited so reserve your spot today!
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Swedish retreat mimics its surroundings

"Our ambition was to design a house adapted to the site and the nature."

Ulla Alberts and Hans Murman, partners at Murman Arkitekter, have designed and built a vacation house in Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic sea, serving as a summer and weekend retreat. Fondly named Juniper House, the building is cloaked with a large format graphic print camouflaging the structure into its natural setting. Friends and family of the architects assisted in the assembly of the purposefully economical, easy to construct, functional design. Simple, locally-sourced materials are prioritized in the project. A natural wood cladding treated with turpentine, tar, and linseed oil serves as the primary facade material, while the foundation is a conventional concrete slab on grade, and a roofscape that is flat clad with tar paper. Despite this conventional residential construction assembly, Murman says the project was an opportunity to attempt something out of the ordinary for Gotland—a playful commentary directed toward restrictive local planning regulations: “This is an experiment and investigation in what you see and do not see of a house and how this affects you and how you experience color, texture, surface, material, transparency, through the facades. For us as architects, it is an important experience.”
  • Facade Manufacturer Big Image Systems (printed netvinyl)
  • Architects Ulla Alberts, Hans Murman architects SAR/MSA
  • Facade Installer Ulla Alberts, Hans Murman, friends & family
  • Facade Consultants Big Image Systems (Sweden)
  • Location Gotland, Sweden
  • System fabric attached to galvanized steel frame, oil-treated wooden facade
  • Products Velfac (aluminium sliding glass parts); Schüco (full aluminium); kitchen concrete board by a local factory (Skulpturfabriken), 120 mm mineral wool insulation, flat clad tar paper roof, perforated netvinyl with printed images by Big Image Systems
The building is approached via a cul-de-sac that ends in a sheep fence leading to open land framed by a backdrop of large juniper trees. It is in this glade of trees that Alberts and Murman have embedded their building. “The house is barely visible, like a mirror of its own surroundings. We wanted it to be experienced as being part of the area it stands on.” This dissolve into nature is as much a part of the interior experience as it is on the exterior. Planned views on the diagonal through the interior of the structure lead to a wall of glass from floor to ceiling, providing uninterrupted views into the landscape. “From the master bedroom there is a lot of sky visible, due to the glass partitions from floor to ceiling. Through a low placed window beside the bed, one can spot wild rabbits in the morning from bed.” The patterning of the printed graphics consists of a base photograph of juniper trees from the site. The vinyl cloth material was custom tailored at over 100 feet wide by 10 feet tall, and wraps three sides of the building, extending into the landscape to provide screening for an outdoor shower. Supported by a galvanized steel framework, the fabric is offset from the building envelope by 16 inches. The architects enlisted the support of an graphics firm working in advertising and the film industry to optimize and fabricate the large format graphics. The architects credit the printed facade concept to an early preservation project they worked on over a decade ago for the Boston Consulting Group’s Stockholm office renovation. In this project, the structure of the building was not allowed to be modified, so the project team designed a series of fabric shelled rooms within the historic structure. Murman says the assembly of the retreat was assisted by neighbors and family members, who have all become a part of the project. Colleagues, visitors, and even the local authorities will visit during the summer months. Their take on the project? “Fascination is the most common reaction.”
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It took four years to grow this church in New Zealand out of trees

In New Zealand, it would appear that buildings grow on trees—or, rather, trees grow into buildings. After years of careful maintenance, Barry Cox, tree aficionado, has created a lush chapel and garden in Waikato, just south of Auckland. Three-acres of greenery includes endless outdoor space that safeguards a masterpiece that Mother Nature could have coined herself—a tree-recycled church. Four years in the making, the concisely named TreeChurch is canopied by cut Leaf Adler, is composed of a Camelia ‘Black Tie’ lower border hedge, Acer ‘Globosums’ perched up on either side of the gateway, Thuja Pyramidalis and then closed off by Copper Sheen walls. The wrought iron windows were made by Barry himself, using leftover metal from his workshop, while the gates of the church were recycled from his family’s barn in Shannon. The altar, made of Italian marble, also comes from his hometown. It precedes over rows of wooden benches accommodating groups of 100 people. Outside the church, a line of Himalayan birch leads to a large labyrinth that Cox landscaped after the walls surrounding the ancient city of Jericho. Throughout the land, Cox scattered pieces of vintage gardening tools and placed them precariously by tree trunks for an aesthetic boost, not that nature’s beauty ever needed boosting. The decision to create TreeChurch and its surrounding gardens was not immediate but the development of such an idea began on the road. His religious upbringing and love for nature led him to tour around New Zealand, Europe, and the United States, meandering through the streets on a motorbike and all the while observing each church steeple and wooden archway with as much fascination as the 10 year old head altar boy he once was. His travels encouraged his desire to keep working with trees and later founded Treelocations, a business specializing in tree transplanting, removing, or relocating. Treelocations is one of three businesses in New Zealand that uses a "tree spade," a crane-like machine that digs deep underground to scoop up all parts of the tree, including the root ball, thereby leaving it completely unharmed. After devoting much of his time serving Mother Nature’s voiceless mighty oaks, he then decides his next project: renovate his backyard. “I walked out my back door one day and thought, ‘that space needs a church,” he told New Zealand Gardener. In piecing together TreeChurch, he cross-pollinated his two loves and, not intending to do so, created a beautified marriage between landscape and architecture. Cox opened the TreeChurch Gardens to the public in January and is now available for public viewing and private events. [Via MyModernMet.]
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Shanghai Talks> Watch SOM’s top sustainable engineer talk air quality, environmental design

Last September, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism. I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Luke Leung, director of sustainable engineering for SOM. In Shanghai's Jin Mao Tower (an SOM building), we talked air quality, sustainable design metrics, and whether humanity might be able to build ourselves out of the environmental mess we find ourselves in. "The tall building can help to create better health and potentially less carbon emissions in the city per capita," Leung said, but he added it's important to address the issue holistically. We need to reduce emissions associated with embodied carbon, transportation carbon and operating carbon, Leung said: “We need to strike to make those three components to be all approaching net-zero.” Asked if LEED is still the best way to rank green buildings, Leung acknowledged shortcomings in how we talk about sustainable design. “It's amazing that the focus is on energy and water, while the building is designed for human beings,” he said. And he called for more attention to human-centric systems that address human health: “From that standpoint all the green building systems, they have room for improvement, but LEED is one that starts addressing some of those issues.” Finally, in light of technological progress, Leung stressed humility before nature. “[To] go back and listen to the basic laws of nature is our best bet,” Leung said. “But that time is limited.” Watch more videos on CTBUH’s website, and on YouTube. You can subscribe to their monthly video series here.
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Biomimicry guides the design of Shanghai’s new nautilus-shaped museum of natural history

This weekend a Shanghai museum got a new home, and its design takes a major cue from nature. The Shanghai Natural History Museum wraps 479,180 square feet of exhibition space with facades inspired by the elements, natural phenomena, and the biological structure of cells. Perkins + Will designed the structure, which expresses architectural themes found in nature. A green roof rises from the site plan, spiraling logarithmically like the shell of a nautilus. A 100-foot-tall atrium rises within that organizing geometry, transmitting natural light through a craggy lattice that mimics the shape and organization of living cells. Nature inspired the design of the building's other facades, too. Its eastern face is a living wall, complementing a north-facing facade of stone that the architects said suggests shifting tectonic plates and canyon walls eroded by rivers. The interaction of natural elements is also meant to invoke traditional Chinese landscape architecture. “The use of cultural references found in traditional Chinese gardens was key to the design,” Ralph Johnson, principal at Perkins + Will, said in a press release. “Through its integration with the site, the building represents the harmony of human and nature and is an abstraction of the basic elements of Chinese art and design.”

Though it sits within Shanghai's Jing An Sculpture Park, the building is designed to be more than inhabited art. It recycles rainwater through its green roof and minimizes solar gain using an intelligent building skin, while its oval courtyard pond helps cool the building. Geothermal energy regulates the building's temperature.

The museum's collection comprises some 290,000 samples, including a complete, 140-million-year-old skeleton of the dinosaur Mamenchisaurus, and species which cannot be found outside China, such as Yellow River mammoth, giant salamander, giant panda, and Yangtze Alligator. Situated in Shanghai's Cotton Exchange Building since 1956, the natural history museum leaves its historic home for a building with 20 times the exhibition space and a design that looks forward, as well as back through the eons.
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Sou Fujimoto’s Outlook Tower is a Stacked Mirage in Saudi Arabia

Tokyo-based architect and creator of this year's Serpentine Pavilion, Sou Fujimoto, has recently unveiled his latest rendering of Outlook Tower and Water Plaza, a proposal that's part of his master plan development for the coastal resort district of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His proposed 473,612-square-foot structure is based on a vernacular type of Islamic architecture and mirrors the shape of Bedouin tents. Seen from afar, their silhouettes are designed to form the shape of a mirage-like gateway linking the mainland to the sea. Fujimoto’s idea was to create a tower that would represent the forest and its intricate web of natural elements. The numerous towers act as natural airstream barriers, as the strong winds, particularly coming from the north, are funneled vertically into the space below. This circulation of air provides a cool breeze and the south-facing facades bring in natural light into indoor spaces. The building includes eco-friendly elements such as solar panels installed on its roof to provide energy and natural heat and an integrated geothermal heat pump system to cool the building. By creating a space that bridges order and chaos, Fujimoto was able to generate a futuristic prototype comprised of arching modules stacked one on top of the other, each measuring between 10 to 40 feet. As a whole, the resulting organization creates a mesmerizing architectural spectacle. Multiple waterfalls are placed across the arches of the structure, feeding water into a large dock at the base of the tower. Fujimoto also included other elements that provide sources of natural light that altogether create a series of multiple transparent towers.  
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World’s Tallest Vertical Garden Planned for Sydney’s One Central Park Tower

Defying the standards of conventional landscaping, living walls take vegetated ground cover to the vertical extreme. For the past 30 years, French botanist and green enthusiast Patrick Blanc has made a quantum leap forward in the art of gardening by designing and building these living walls all over the globe. Blanc's latest project—One Central Park Tower—is in Sydney, Australia, where nature’s tranquil features join forces with dynamic city life. The project is a collaborative effort between Blanc and Jean Nouvel. When completed, the major mixed-use urban renewal housing plan will boast the world’s tallest vertical garden. The building consists of two adjoining residential towers connected by terraced gardens, built atop a retail center. Each tower measures 380 feet in height and consists of shops, cafes, restaurants, offices, 624 apartments, and 38 luxury penthouse suites. Over the years, Blanc has perfected the art of the vertical garden by using synthetic moss instead of soil for the growing medium. At One Central Park, he envisions covering up 50 percent of the building’s facade by incorporating 1,200 square feet of plants stretching from the 2nd floor to the 33rd floor. On the 24th floor, an immense sky garden projects 100 feet out over the park below. At night, the cantilever will act as a canvas for an LED light installation designed by artist Yann Kersale, with vines running up its supporting cables. The lower part of the cantilever will be equipped with an apparatus containing a heliostat, which will reflect sunlight down onto the surrounding gardens and naturally illuminating the building. The lush green tapestry of the structure's facade will be entwined with the foliage of the adjacent park in order to replicate the natural cliffs of the Blue Mountains, which are located in the Western part of Sydney. By using plants and natural sunlight, the design projects to reduce energy consumption and will help cut down the city's greenhouse gas emissions. One Central Park represents a shift towards a new contemporary design era; one that encapsulates all that the age of living and breathing architecture has to offer. Estimated completion date is set for January 2014. Images courtesy Atelier Jean Nouvel / Patrick Blanc / Fraser Properties. one-central-park-tower-syndey-01 one-central-park-tower-syndey-02 one-central-park-tower-syndey-03 one-central-park-tower-syndey-04 one-central-park-tower-syndey-05 one-central-park-tower-syndey-06 one-central-park-tower-syndey-07 one-central-park-tower-syndey-08 one-central-park-tower-syndey-09 one-central-park-tower-syndey-10 one-central-park-tower-syndey-11 one-central-park-tower-syndey-12   Image below: Courtesy the messiah website. one-central-park-tower-syndey-13 sydney
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Pictorial> A Nature-Dominated Office in Denver

It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it's a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday. Boulder-based architecture firm Tres Birds Workshop created the five-part installation called Natural Systems Domination in July from old office furniture covered in live plants, evoking an office—perhaps abandoned by workers who left to find nature—where nature has found a way back into the work environment. From the architects:
Domination implies taking over. If we had it our way, natural systems would dominate entirely. Natural systems operate in perfect efficiency. Humans are both part of those natural systems and also somehow separate (by choice). The further we stray from connections with nature, the more alien we become.
The installation is part of sustainability-minded Keen Footwear's "Recess Revolution Tour" and represents a collaboration with Green Roofs of Colorado and the Fabric Lab. All of the office equipment from chairs and tables to an old copy machine was purchased from second-hand stores and was donated back after the installation was complete. Plants were also reused in the community. (Via TreeHugger.) Click on a thumbnail to launch the slideshow.