Posts tagged with "Netherlands":

For Mecanoo’s Francine Houben, observation and context deeply informs facade design

The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference, part of a conference series on innovative building envelopes, has once again touched down in New York City. This year’s morning keynote speaker, Francine Houben of Mecanoo, delved deep into the firm’s projects around the world. The Dutch architect described seven very different projects, united by technically demanding facades that all referenced the unique history of their surroundings. Houben began with the Maritime and Beachcombers Museum on the isle of Texel, The Netherlands. The 4,000-square-foot museum punches above its weight with a facade of vertically-oriented, recycled wood planks that dapple the incoming sunlight and reference the maritime history of the island. “I’m here to tell you how I work,” said Houben. “I try to observe, I try to extend the flow of the people, how they walk through the city; how can I connect these people to the building, bring them up?” That attention to observation extends to a series of contextual facades. In discussing the Palace of Justice in Córdoba, Spain, Houben referenced the city’s extreme heat and the way that residents layered terraces to block the harsh sunlight as key factors that drove the densely-layered development around courtyard recesses. The tessellating perforations in the white glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) panels passively shade the interiors and cool occupants while also referencing historic sun shading in the region. A blending of old and new design also featured prominently into Mecanoo’s work on the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Boston. The firm’s first built projects in the U.S.–in collaboration with the locally-based Sasaki Associates–involved inserting a sinuous brick building on a triangular plot with curving historical facades in each corner. The integration of the freestanding stone facades was accomplished by convincing then-mayor Thomas Menino to purchase and expand the initial site to include two other buildings beyond the original’s single-facade scope. In between the historic remnants, Mecanoo paid homage to Boston’s history of intricate brickwork by designing snaking walls built from bricks laid vertically and in a variety of other patterns. Houben described the influence as “Boston meets the Netherlands”. Infilling with sensitivity and drawing from the surrounding environment are strong hallmarks of Mecanoo’s work. But beyond the aesthetic appeal of the firm’s facades, Mecanoo makes sure that they’re also practical and contribute to the comfort of those inside. “We always try to combine the formal with the informal,” said Houben. “The inside with the outside.”

Robots are 3-D printing Joris Laarman’s steel bridge for Amsterdam

Amsterdam-based firm MX3D has completed the full span of its 3-D-printed stainless steel bridge, designed by Joris Laarman Lab, a multidisciplinary team located in the Netherlands. The bridge will cross one of the city’s oldest canals, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, and is approximately forty feet in length and over twenty feet wide. Often using digital fabrication and 3D printing, the Joris Laarman Lab has over seventy projects featured in thirty-seven museums across ten countries including MoMa and the Centre Pompidou. Utilizing software specifically designed by MX3D, the bridge was constructed by four multi-axis industrial robots. In total, it took six months for the robots to print the nearly five-ton 3-D printed bridge. While the construction process did require human input, the overall project tested the feasibility of robots printing bridges without human intervention and ultimately validated such an approach for future projects. In a collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute, the long-term management of the bridge will rely on the use of a smart sensor network that is capable of testing structural measurements, such as vibration, strain and displacement, along with air quality and temperature. Through data collection, engineers will create a ‘digital twin’ of the new bridge, a constantly adapting computer model that reflects the structures altering state. This model allows for the effective repair of the bridge and provides insights and guidance for future construction. The bridge will be subject to further structural testing as well as decking and coating. The expected installation date is October 2019.

UNStudio launches a tech startup to “revolutionize” architectural technology

Self-described “open-source architecture studioUNStudio is spinning off the tech startup UNSense, which will focus on collecting data from buildings to ultimately improve how people occupy them. UNStudio co-founder and Dutch architect Ben van Berkel has called the move integral to incorporating technology with architecture, and the first step in future-proofing potential new projects. UNStudio is no stranger to futuristic concepts or designs, having built an undulating train station for Arnhem in the Netherlands, proposed a revolutionary new urban-rural farming system, and designed a Zaha-esque cable car system for Gothenburg, Sweden. Now, even though UNSense will be run as a separate sister company, UNStudio will develop “‘hardware’ for the built environment, while UNSense, by contrast, uses very different expertise to develop ‘software’ based applications.” Citing an aim to improve the environment and health of cities through more efficient design, UNSense will focus on using sensors to cut waste, create seamless interaction between the occupants and the building systems, and track air quality. UNSense will be located in its own office at the Freedom Lab Campus tech hub in Amsterdam. While the company was only just formed, it’s hit the ground running with the launch of a power-generating “solar brick” and recommendations for planning sustainable, people-focused cities that learn from the data they’re collecting. “I see a great opportunity as an architect to create buildings and cities that are sensible and sensitive to human beings,” said van Berkel in a statement. “The digital revolution is driving change in every part of our lives, except within the built environment. Now it’s time to catch up with technology.”

Dutch parking garage receives lively unitized screen cladding

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Netherlands-based MoederscheimMoonen Architects has enlivened a utilitarian parking garage with a unique wood and steel screen assembly backed by an expressive steel structure. The project was commissioned by NS Stations, a Dutch company that manages over 400 railway stations in the Netherlands. 
  • Facade Manufacturer Foreco (wooden slats); Lace Fence (Architectural Fabric)
  • Architects MoederscheimMoonen Architects (Netherlands)
  • Facade Installer Continental Car Parks (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants Ingenieursbureau JVZ (engineering); VBI (construction)
  • Location Zutphen, the Netherlands
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System unitized wood screen on thermally galvanized steel structure with reinforced concrete floor plates
  • Products wooden slats by Foreco, custom red steel trim housing vertical LED lighting strips, galvanized steel
The design of the car park references the industrial character of its town, Zutphen, which is situated in the eastern part of the Netherlands. The architects achieved this through materiality and form. The car park—located adjacent to the town’s train station—houses 375 cars and over 600 bikes, and is structured to accommodate an extra story for future growth. Siting of the elongated building was specifically configured to facilitate pedestrian and vehicular traffic under two railway crossing points. Bookending the elongated building are two distinct formal moves. One side contains a silhouette of a gable-shaped wall that flies off the structure of the main building, referencing a traditional warehouse typology common to the area. On the opposing end, two helix-shaped ramps generate distinctive views of the building with a tiered screen wall cladding that gradually steps away from the building as cars travel up the ramp. The architects say this configuration lends the building a “markedly sculptural and dynamic appearance.” The screen wall is composed of prefabricated unitized panels composed of wooden slats arranged in two rotations and red steel bars as spaced accent pieces. In the evening, the slats reveal vertical LED lighting strips, which are used to light up the entire building.  The slats were mounted onto a steel frame in the shop, then transported to the site in batches where they were installed onto a primary steel frame which is held off the concrete floor slab structure of the parking garage. “By turning the slats in some places 90 degrees and enriching the facade with red metal strips and led lighting, a lively and playful facade with a human scale is created,” said the architects. This subtle detailing produces variations in the facade to achieve a dynamic, open surface.  As a cladding system, the slat assembly promotes passive lighting and ventilation. The screen panels are lifted above the first floor, creating a raised facade effect, and expose the canted galvanized steel structure. This also helps daylight to penetrate the ground level of the car park. The interior of the car park satisfies the most stringent requirements set by the European Standard Parking Award (ESPA), a points-based system similar to the American-based LEED system, but specific to the car park typology.

Joseph Grima appointed as creative director of Design Academy Eindhoven

The founder of Italian studio Space Caviar, Joseph Grima, has been appointed as the creative director of Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) as well as chair of the academy's executive board. Grima will begin his tenure starting from September 1 of this year. He will be in charge of the academy's curriculum and will work alongside Jurriënne Ossewold, a current board member who is director of education, research, and organization. DAE is funded by the Dutch government and is provided a yearly budget of $11.4 million. The job requirements listed by DAE noted that "a sense of humor [...] comes in handy," going on to add that "ultimately, all this is about the future of our students. No less." Grima, who is 40, will take the place of Thomas Widdershoven, who stepped down from the post in 2016. In addition to founding and running Space Caviar, Grima is also director of the New Museum Ideas City festival in New York. In 2015 he co-curated the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial with Sarah Herda. “Despite the extraordinary proliferation of design schools in recent years, there is still an acute shortage of places that actually question what design is," said Grima in a press release. "Design Academy Eindhoven isn’t a school where students simply learn design—they design design, and each day rethink the parameters through which it shapes society. I look forward to working with the Academy’s exceptional staff to help them build a place in which the future is born.” Gitta Luiten, chair of the Supervisory Board, commented on Grima's appointment: “We looked for someone with an international perspective on design and a heartfelt interest in education. Joseph Grima fits those criteria: his views on design and society and his international experience will benefit the students and the Academy,” she said.

This landscape architecture firm is bringing Dutch water expertise to the U.S.

Senior editor Matt Shaw sat down with Rotterdam- and New York–based ZUS (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) partners Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman to see what the United States can learn from the Netherlands, a country that is almost half below sea level and leads the way in water management in landscape infrastructure design.

The Architect’s Newspaper: You have a host of urban and landscape projects that are currently in the works, some of which are very large in scale. Are any of these explicitly dealing with water?

ZUS: There are five water-related projects we are working on right now. The Almere Dune is an artificial dune landscape on the original polder (a piece of low-lying land reclaimed from the sea and protected by dikes), with 3,000 houses and a mixed-use core.

We are working on the world’s largest sea lock, at IJmuiden, which means we are doing the landscape design and architecture of three control centers. A similar project we are designing is the Hoogwatergeul Veessen, a three-mile river bypass that serves as a river flood basin, with a dynamic flood-protection bridge berm. There is also the self-initiated Delta 3000 project, which is a utopia that imagines the Netherlands as a dune metropolis. We are proposing massive dunes to counter soil inclination and rising waters.

Here in the U.S., we are working together with AECOM and ORG on the execution of our winning competition entry for Rebuild by Design: New Meadowlands. It is a very exciting combination of coastal protection, green infrastructure, and public amenities.

What are some of the issues that designers and researchers are dealing with in the Netherlands today? Is climate change an important topic for designers in the Netherlands?

Yes, of course many issues are climate related, like sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and new migration patterns. We also face a more diffuse clientele, as governments are retreating and new markets and players emerge. Therefore, designers have to be more proactive to get interesting commissions.

One of the main issues is water. As half of the country is below sea level, every project has to respond to the challenges of water coming in more intensely from all sides: Sea-level rise, river floods, rain events, and groundwater.

How do you see working in the U.S. as different from working in the Netherlands? What are the differences in attitude about water and dealing with climate change?

We face many of the same issues: Climate adaptation, bureaucracy, big companies versus small offices, less and less risk-taking. In the Netherlands, there’s a long tradition of spatial planning and the culture of design, where, for decades, they were by definition incorporated into policy making. In the last few years, a corporatism is emerging, where [experimentation] is hardly possible. The good news is that, in the U.S., we feel an emerging interest in design in all fields. However, there is still a big gap between the academic world and the real world there, including governments and bureaucracy.

What do you think other countries can learn from designers in the Netherlands, in terms of designing for water and with water?

We would say to them: Take sea-level rise really seriously, and do it together. Only if all parties—governments, designers, scientists, contractors, engineers—collaborate can the challenges be faced and countered. Build with nature, meaning that we will never win against the water unless we embrace its presence and dynamics. Introduce different levels of safety, and spread risks along hard infrastructure, adaptive landscapes, and evacuation programs.

Are attitudes to waterfront development changing in the Netherlands? How do is that possible? On-site infrastructure? Off-site?

After having the top-down Delta Works (1953) for many decades, protecting the Netherlands from 10,000-year storms, our country established a rich apparatus of water boards, such as the National WaterAuthority and local governmental agencies, to think of the next big threats. The first Delta Works turned the Netherlands into one big bathtub.

In addition to sea-level rise, extreme river floods and rain events are also severe risks to the country. Therefore, Room for the River was introduced, and the new Delta Works, which directs new policies for more local adaptations. For example, Almere Dune introduces a public–private partnership for making more resilient urban districts. This means that the dunes, privately funded, are contributing to national safety. And they are also a new way to live above sea level. The IJmuiden sea lock is made for the 200-year forecast of sea-level rise, so large-scale infrastructure is made with great responsibility toward the future.

Off-site, we witness more adaptation measures, like water squares and retention basins to deal with extreme rain events. Nowadays, many of these projects come with multiple agendas with climate adaptation also taking a social responsibility.

This article was part of our Oct. 12 issue which focused on how water is shaping today’s landscape architecture and urbanism. Communities face deluges and droughts—for some, the stakes can be survival itself, but others see opportunities for decadence. To explore these stories from around the U.S. and the world, click here.

OMA’s stacked Timmerhuis project in Rotterdam edges closer to its December opening

OMA's Timmerhuis project for Rotterdam, a gleaming stack of municipal offices, will open to the public on December 11, 2015. The mixed-use building will primarily house office space taking up 262,000 square feet with residential, parking, gallery, and retail spaces occupying the rest of the building. The design for Dutch developers Ontwikkelingsbedrijf was lead by OMA partner Reinier de Graaf and associates Alex de Jong and Katrien van Dijk and will be only a stone's throw away from the firm's other, already built project in the city—the towering De Rotterdam. A modular aesthetic is created via the stratified composition of repeated units stepped back from the street and would be reminiscent to a game of architectural Tetris if it weren't for the building's glass facade that makes use of high-tech,translucent energy-efficient insulation. Adaptability was a key component to the project's program, Rem Koolhaas said in a statement. "Units can be added or even dismounted from the structure as demands on the building change over time, and can adapt to either office space or residential parameters as desired." OMA also wanted to create the possibility of having an apartment with a garden in the city center, so green terraces are featured on higher levels while overhanging modules create open spaces at street level, adding a private/public threshold between the dwellings at the city. According to Koolhaas, the design brief required Timmerhuis to be "the most sustainable building in the Netherlands." OMA achieved this via the buildings flexible program and thanks to two large atriums which essentially act as the "building's lungs." These lungs are integrated into a climate control system that retains the summer heat, releasing it in the winter. Likewise, cold air from the winter is stored to be released in the summer. "Rather than being yet another statement in Rotterdam's crowded history of revisionist planning and cacophony of architectural styles, the ambiguous mass of the Timmerhuis tries to mediate between the existing buildings surrounding it," Koolhaas said. "The axis between the existing town hall and the post office coincides with the axis of symmetry of the Timmerhuis , and the street between these two buildings continues into a passageway to the Haagseveer," he continued. "The Timmerhuis integrates with the neighbouring Stadtimmerhuis by maintaining the same floor heights, while the plinth height of 20m conforms to the character of the surrounding Laurenskwartier."  

MVRDV donates a massive collection of its early archives to Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut

Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI) is an arts institute for exhibitions, lectures, and research on architecture-and-design-based disciplines in Rotterdam. The institute's Dutch compatriots MVRDV have just signed a contract which will see the practices early work be uploaded to a new digital archive. The collection will feature MVRDV's work from 1993–2008 and both parties have agreed for the online database to be updated in the future. HNI also aims to make the collection open to the public at a later, yet-to-be-decided date. To quantify the scale of the database, it will boast 400 MVRDV projects, stored in eight terabytes. The archive hopes to illustrate the firm's architectural development over time. "We have discussed various possibilities with museums around the world, and we will also give parts of the archive to other collections," Jacob van Rijs, architect and co-founder of MVRDV, said in a statement. "But because our archive is digital, there is an opportunity to show every project book we’ve ever created at HNI. That will be a treasure trove for researchers." Some of the projects featured will include: Villa VPRO, the Silodam and the Markthal Rotterdam, as well as more theoretical projects based on data analysis, an early fascination of MVRDV: Meta City Datatown, Pig City, and 3D City Cube.

West 8 to remake a boulevard in Rotterdam into a pedestrian and cyclist–oriented thoroughfare

This month, Adriaan Visser of Rotterdam's city council and Adriaan Geuze, principal of landscape architecture firm West 8, unveiled a new plan for the municipality's 0.6 mile long Coolsingel. The streetscape aims to restore the allure of the 19th century boulevard which once defined the area. Boasting a new green esplanade with natural stone paving, the street will have a two-way bike path that is expected to liven up the space which is currently dominated by cars. Officials reiterated that West 8 in tandem with local authorities hope to make the boulevard into a place that is comfortable for both pedestrians and cyclists. They added at one day Coolsingel could become the new heart of downtown Rotterdam. West 8 described its proposal as a place for "all seasons." Utilizing a pre-existing green space, the Rotterdam- and New York–based firm calls for an environment that will be "framed by trees, terraces and pleasant seating areas." Changes to the Coolsingel are part of a wider scheme called the Binnenstad als City Lounge program (literally, the City Center as a City Lounge) that intends to kick-start developments in the city to make it "more lively and attractive." In what is becoming quite a trend, streetscape projects that aim to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists are cropping up more and more as architects and cities notice the importance of place making. Recently, six United States–based placemaking organizations were awarded $3 million each to develop their respective cities. Other pedestrian-first projects of note include Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)'s Superkilen, which added a splash of color to Copenhagen's streets with its street-turned-park-turned-museum. Like Rotterdam, Mexico City is also set for a environmental injection as Fernando Romero, principal at FR-EE, just revealed plans earlier this summer for a green street in the capital city's Avenida Chapultepec.

Rotterdam considers piloting environmentally-friendly roads made from recycled plastic bottles

Always an early adopter of innovative sustainability methods, the city of Rotterdam is considering piloting roads fabricated from recycled plastic. The creators of PlasticRoad wooed the city council with their proposal of an all-plastic road that is quicker to lay and requires less maintenance than asphalt. Construction firm VolkerWessels also claims that the material can withstand greater temperature extremes—from -40 to 176 fahrenheit—can be laid in weeks rather than months, and lasts three times as long. The Netherlands-headquartered conglomerate points out that asphalt generates 3.2 billion pounds of carbon emissions globally on an annual basis, accounting for two percent of all road transportation emissions. Lighter roads that exert less pressure on the ground are a godsend for the low-lying Netherlands, one eighth of which is already submerged below sea level. The hollow design of PlasticRoads makes it easy to install cables and utility pipelines and even channel rainwater. Sections of road can be prefabricated in a factory, reducing on-site construction and ensuing congestion caused by roadworks. “As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to try this],” Rolf Mars, director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, told The Guardian. “It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. We’re looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot – as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry. We’re thinking of the recycling sector, universities and other knowledge institutions.” Although still at the conception stage, VolkerWessels hopes to lay the first fully recycled thoroughfare within the next three years, and the city of Rotterdam is raring to host the pilot test. “We’re very positive towards developments around PlasticRoad,” said Jaap Peters from the city council engineering bureau. “Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice. We have a ‘street lab’ available where innovations like this can be tested.” The initiative should perhaps be most lauded for its potentially massive-scale, industrial use of waste materials. And while plastic bottles are already widely recycled and repurposed into garden furniture, compost bins, and more plastic bottles, the questions becomes: can used up PlasticRoads be recycled?

Crowdsourced Infrastructure: Dutch Architects ZUS Complete A Self-Initiated Footbridge

Have you ever wanted to go to the park but had a highway or rail yard in your way? Ever feel like the best parts of your city are disconnected? Do what Rotterdam- and New York–based designers Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS) did. They wanted to connect parts of Rotterdam, so they took matters into their own hands and put together a crowdfunding initiative to connect a series of three districts through public infrastructure. Luchtsingel, a 1300-foot-long bridge received support from some 5,000 people and finally opened last week. The saga started in 2011 when the city cancelled the development of an office building in Rotterdam Central District. ZUS took over what is known as the Schieblock, and turned it into a city laboratory. The space acts as an incubator for young entrepreneurs and includes a ground-floor store, bar, culinary workshop, information center, and the Dakakker, Europe’s first urban farming roof. When the Delftsehof nightlife area and two parks opened, Pompenburg Park, and the Hofplein Station Roof Park, the districts needed to be connected. As part of the 2012 Architecture Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR), co-curated by ZUS, the area was named “Test Site Rotterdam,” and included 18 interventions connected by the Luchtsingel. The crowd-funding project “I Make Rotterdam” sold over 8,000 boards inscribed with the names of those who donated, for just €25 each. Not all 18 proposals were but the Luchtsingel has now happened. The project is a unifying factor in the resurgence of Rotterdam as a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly urban area, and uses “the city's evolutionary character and existing forms as a starting point. Therefore, we have developed new instruments for design, financing, and planning" to make "a new three-dimensional cityscape," according to ZUS founders Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman.  

Bike path in pieces: Skeptics dismiss Dutch solar bike path SolaRoad as inefficient “cash grab”

Naysayers have rained criticism on Dutch Solaroad solar bike path system. In the first six months of operation, it reportedly overshot energy production expectations to the collective glee of engineers. However, self-described “scientists” are taking it down with numerical rhetoric, namely the cost and inferior production capacity relative to rooftop solar panels. Last year’s pilot test ate up $3.2 million in investor funding for a 230-foot stretch of concrete, and SolaRoad remains tightlipped on the cost per square foot. As electrical engineering vlogger Dave Jones pointed out in a short emission to his EEVBLOG YouTube channel, mounting solar cells in the same vicinity on a roof curved optimally towards the sun would yield twice the output. Writer Pete Danko demystifies the calculations in an article posted to Breaking Energy, writing: “If you were to put 1300 square feet of [solar panels] on rooftops in Amsterdam, it would add up to 16 kilowatts of capacity (based on 1kw per 80 square feet)." Danko then uses a PvWatt’s calculator by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to compute solar output in the winter months from November to April in the Netherlands versus a rooftop in sunny San Jose, California during the same period. In Amsterdam, the power capacity comes to about 4,600 kwh in lackluster sunshine, while no-quit California rays churn out 10,000 kwh for the same rooftop coverage. Does all the pooh-poohing of SolaRoad get any more intellectual than Why didn’t you put these on the roof instead? The tempered glass-coated concrete modules have been known to break due to climate. In its first month of operation, a 3.3-foot patch of the 230-foot stretch was deactivated due to breakages, although the remainder of the path remained operable. Sten de Wit, a physicist involved in the development of SolaRoad, defended the idea of a solar-powered bike path in an interview with AFP. “The idea is that we have approximately 140,000 kilometers (87,000 miles) of road, which is much bigger than all the rooftops put together. We have 25,000km (15,543 miles) of bike paths in the Netherlands,” he said. The only trouble is that bicycles and solar power don’t really have a lot in common.