In Bjarke Ingels' traditional style, what started as a standard box of a building for Paris' Université Pierre et Marie Curie has been lifted, bent, and deformed to maximize light, sight lines, and air flow for a cramped urban site. Ingels' firm BIG and Paris-based OFF recently won won a competition to design the new multidisciplinary research center called Paris PARC to reunite the university's campus with the surrounding city including Jean Nouvel's adjacent Institut du Monde Arabe and the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral. BIG’s design calls for a specific geometry to coordinate the new building with its neighbors from varying historical periods while taking into account optimized daylight access, views, and accessibility. PARC emphasizes its axial relationship to the cathedral with large panoramic windows offering views of Notre Dame and the Parisian skyline. The exterior is slightly titled, creating a canyon-like central atrium that provides greater access to natural light and promotes visibility among laboratories and office spaces. There is also public access to the rooftop, which offers further panoramic views of the city. “As a form of urban experiment the Paris PARC is the imprint of the pressures of its urban context. Wedged into a super dense context—in terms of space, public flows and architectural history—the PARC is conceived as a chain of reactions to the various external and internal forces acting upon it," said Ingels in a statement. "Inflated to allow daylight and air to enter into the heart of the facility, compressed to ensure daylight and views for the neighboring classrooms and dormitories, lifted and decompressed to allow the public to enter from both plaza and park and finally tilted to reflect the spectacular view of the Paris skyline and the Notre Dame to the Parisians.”
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Ductal concrete technology used for the architect’s shapely “icebergs” in ParisFrank Gehry has referred to his design for the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a new home for the contemporary art collection of LVMH mogul Bernard Arnaud, as “a veritable ship amongst trees.” The project, located at the northern entrance of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne near the Jardin d’Acclimatation, hasn’t been without its share of controversy and delays, but the nearly 130,000-square-foot, 150-foot-tall building is moving ahead and is slated for completion in 2012. Though a hovering glass carapace will enshroud the museum, models of the design show the sails parting at various points to reveal concrete “icebergs” that form the building’s core. Since 2006, building material manufacturer Lafarge has been working with the building’s project team, prototype designer Cogitech Design, and precast concrete manufacturer Bonna Sabla to realize the design with Lafarge’s Ductal ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC). The Foundation’s concrete facade will require 16,000 exterior wall panels, each with its own geometry to match the curves of the nearly 97,000-square-foot glass facade. Because producing each panel individually was technically and financially unfeasible, Lafarge partnered with Cogitech and project management consortium RFR/TESS to develop a unique vacuum-casting process. The technology combines a flexible mold that can take on any curvature determined by a 3-D model with a master polystyrene template machined to the desired panel geometry. Named Moulage Sous Vide (MSV), it was patented by Lafarge in 2008 and has since won two innovation awards from the French Concrete Industry Federation. Using the MSV process, Bonna Sabla produced several prototypes, ultimately manufacturing 400 panels with identical dimensions, but completely unique curvatures, that were installed in a full-scale first run model at the building site in September 2010. The company began industrial production of the 16,000 panels this spring. “Our main challenge lay in keeping the mold sufficiently rigid, whilst retaining the suppleness needed to guarantee the exactness of the geometric forms, in conformity with the demands from the project managers,” said Patrick Mazzacane, Director of the UHPC Division at Bonna Sabla, in a release. “We optimized the vacuum molding process, in order to be able to use this during the industrial manufacturing phase.” After undergoing the MSV process, each Ductal panel is cured for 20 hours, then mapped to produce a 3-D report of its shape and ensure it is within 1 millimeter tolerance. The 35-pound segments are approximately 4.9 feet long by 1.3 feet high, and less than an inch thick. Because no two are alike, they are cast with a number and a radio frequency ID chip to ensure each can be traced throughout the installation process, which began this spring, and for maintenance in the future.
New York vs. Paris. It seems that the Big Apple and The City of Lights are forever battling over design, architecture, fashion, and film. A Parisian graphic designer decided to take matters into his own hands, creating a website to display his witty color-block graphics that juxtapose these iconic cities. Topics are eclectic, ranging from landmarks (the Empire Sate vs. the Eiffel Tower), to architecture (5th Avenue Apple Store vs. Musée du Louvre), to food (cupcakes vs. macarons), to even car parking styles (parking lot towers vs. double parked). More at the NY Times T Magazine. Oil from plastic. Energy company Vadxx has invented reactors that can transform plastic scraps that can’t be recycled into crude oil with the lowest sulfur content in the world, says Good Magazine. The first reactors are slated for a recycling plant in Akron, Ohio. However, this begs this question: will the amount of crude oil created offset the amount of energy needed for the conversion process? Basket lights. A New Zealand designer, David Trubridge, has infused his lighting with the spiritual--looking to a Maori creation myth for design inspiration, writes Contemporist. The Maori believed gods gave humans three baskets of knowledge. Trubiridge designed three corresponding teardrop ceiling “baskets”: the bamboo light represents knowledge of the natural world, the polycarbonate light symbolizes knowledge of the spiritual world, and the aluminum basket signifies knowledge of the rational world.
Farming Right Side Up. Spiegel Online reported on vertical farming research in South Korea as an innovative means of remedying food shortages on an increasingly urban planet. For the time being, agricultural scientist Choi Kyu Hong conducts his own version of Dickson Despommier’s Manhattan urban gardening project in an unexceptional 3-story industrial building, but Hong and his team have outfitted the farm with solar panels, LED lighting, and recycled water infrastructure hoping to attract enough attention to bring vertical farming to the global market and city skyscrapers. Hadid Stands Still. After touring New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid claims its permanent home in the front plaza of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, France. A Daily Dose of Architecture noted that the pavilion now features the Zaha Hadid Une Architecture exhibition, creating a thematically coherent viewing experience inside and out. Stirling Search. Bustler posted the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) shortlist for this year’s £20,000 ($32.5K) RIBA Stirling Prize. The list includes previous prize winners Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield, as well as O’Donnell + Tuomey, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Bennetts Associates Architects and Hopkins Architects Partnership for the 2012 London Olympic Park. Bored to Death. After tunneling through the subterranean rock of Midtown Manhattan for the new Grand Central Terminal train station, the 200-ton serpentine drill will be left to decompose 14 stories underneath Park Avenue. The New York Times revealed that the Spanish contractor in charge of the 4-year excavation ensured the MTA that this internment is both practically and economically preferable to dismantling the drill. Going to the Chapel. Curbed posted the two winners of a pop-up chapel competition celebrating gay marriage in New York. ICRAVE's entry calls for a pavilion of colorful ribbons while Z-A Studios design forms recycled cardboard into a curving tulip. Both designs will built in Central Park this weekend where they will host 24 weddings.
Day becomes night. Alexander Brodsky: It still amazes me that I became an architect will be open at the Architekturzentrum Wien in Vienna, Austria through October 3. Described by the gallery as a "total installation," Archidose also notes that during the exhibition "the day becomes night, the dimensions of space and time appear to slowly dissolve as one paces an archaeological chamber of wonders. Having returned to daylight, a selection of Brodsky's completed projects provides insights into his architectural oeuvre." (More images after the jump.) Steel becomes ribbon. Streetsblog reports that San Francisco metaphorically cut the ribbon, unveiling a new public space on the two-block Powell Street Promenade. The Union Square shopping district is greatly improved by the eight six-foot wide Walter Hood-designed benches, constructed to resemble delicate ribbons. Above the fray. The Westerholt E-66 Observation Wind Turbine stands out among the 40 turbines in the Holtriem Wind Park: it’s unique observation deck provides visitors with panoramic views of one Europe’s largest wind farms—for a price. Visitors must climb a 297-step spiral staircase to reach the viewing deck, according to Atlas Obscura. Under the city. Produced by Silent UK, the documentary film Beneath the Surface trails urban explorers as they descend below the cities of London and Paris, says PSFK. The explorers climb through sewers, old subway lines, reminiscent of the NY Times five-day adventure last December under New York.
YAP to the Max. MoMA PS 1 and the MAXXI open exhibits of the now-transatlantic Young Architects Program, featuring the winners (whose concepts are now installed in New York and in Rome, above) and the finalists. Made of Glass. Designer Piero Lissoni utilized Glas Italia's prime material to expand the high-end manufacturing company's headquarters in Macherio, Italy. Azure reports that the new minimalist building is completely constructed out of glass, and looks best at night when the translucent structure becomes an illuminated box. Blight on the London Skyline. The phallic silhouette of the skyscraper, which won the 2004 Sterling prize, continues to generate controversy. The Telegraph records Ken Shuttleworth, a former associate at Norman Foster & Partners and the designer widely credited for 30 St Mary Axe, a.k.a. “the Gherkin,” expressing regret for his design of the tower. French Flat Iron. Architectures completes the Ministère de la Culture’s coveted Biscornet commission: a modern residential building amid Paris’ Haussmannian stock. Architecture Lab notes that the trapezoidal-structure perfectly fits the slightly set back site on the Place de la Bastille, facing both the Gare de Lyon and the Bassin de l’Arsenal. The facade’s pleated metal panels shift to reflect the light and the time-of-day, emanating a golden shadow on the historic location.
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) shared a few images of their newly complete Tour FIRST tower in Paris, France, now the city's tallest building. Standing 760 feet tall in the city's La Défense district, the glass tower isn't completely new. It's actually a major addition on top of a 1970s structure designed by Pierre Dufau—a move the firm said makes the building more sustainable than new construction. New windows were punctured in the old structure's concrete skin and the building was opened up to surrounding public space. With Tour FIRST, New York-based KPF continues its skyscraper spree, having designed what are currently the tallest buildings in Hong Kong and London.
Tucked away in in the bohemian enclave of Montmartre in Paris, Le Café de L’Enfer—the Cafe of Hell—welcomed all who dared pass through the mouth of a giant ghoul and a doorman dressed as the devil proclaiming, "Enter and be damned!" The exterior facade appears to be molten rock surrounding misshapen windows and dripping off the building while inside, caldrons of fire and ghostly bodies of humans and beasts covered the walls and ceiling. From an account published in Morrow and Cucuel's Bohemian Paris of Today (1899):
Red-hot bars and gratings through which flaming coals gleamed appeared in the walls within the red mouth. A placard announced that should the temperature of this inferno make one thirsty, innumerable bocks might be had at sixty-five centimes each. A little red imp guarded the throat of the monster into whose mouth we had walked; he was cutting extraordinary capers, and made a great show of stirring the fires. The red imp opened the imitation heavy metal door for our passage to the interior, crying, - "Ah, ah, ah! still they come! Oh, how they will roast!"Quite a site! (In an epic battle of good and evil, another entrepreneur opened Le Ciel—"Heaven"—next door that was filled with clouds, angels, and harps.) The Café de L’Enfer operated from the late 19th through the middle of the 20th century. (Via How to be a Retronaut.)
La Vie Gigapixel. It's Paris like you've never seen it -- even if you have been there. A super-high-def 26-gigapixel photo of the city of lights (yep, that's 26 billion pixels) was stitched together by a team of photographers and a software company in France. Go ahead, pull up the full screen view and wander away the afternoon. We won't tell. (Via Notcot.) Metro Music. When Jason Mendelson moved from Tampa to Washington, D.C., the city's subway literally moved him to song. NRDC Switchboard says that he's creating a tune for every Metro stop across the system, each stylistically indicative of the station itself. Listen to his completed songs over here. Biosphere 2 at 20. Not often do we design entire mini-worlds, but then, Biosphere 2 was always unique. Now two decades old, the three-acre terrarium-in-a-desert is still helping scientists figure out life's little lessons. The AP/Yahoo News has the story. Scraps, Glass, and Stone. Curbed found a new book by Steven Guarnaccia transforming the classic Three Little Pigs story into three little starchitect pigs where Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright each build houses and the big bad wolf huffs and puffs (and critiques?) the walls down. (Guarnaccia also reimagined Goldilocks into a tale filled with chairs by Aalto, Eames, and Noguchi!)