Bjarke Ingels might be using his talents to embellish another European power plant. With his ski slope-topped waste-to-energy plant underway in Copenhagen, the Danish designer has unveiled plans for a biomass cogeneration plant in Uppsala, Sweden. DesignBoom reported that city officials asked Ingels to design the facility that would supplement the region's energy infrastructure during the winter. Since the building will not be used during the summer, BIG opted to create a colorful public amenity. That meant topping the plant in a geodesic rainbow dome which gives the whole thing a very funkadelic greenhouse-y feel.
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As the world of 3-D printing advances, it's becoming possible to create more and more complex shapes and systems. Now, the technology is making waves in the music world. Olaf Diegel, a professor of product development at Lund University in Sweden, recently produced the first ever 3-D printed saxophone. The saxophone isn't Diegel's first foray into musical printing—the professor has created other instruments including a guitar and drums—but this prototype appears to be the most ambitious yet. He believes the technology has great potential in creating customized instruments tailored to the individual needs or aesthetic choices of each musician. The prototype of Diegel's 3D printed alto saxophone, which he can actually play, took about six months to create using 3D modeling software. "I first designed the saxophone in 3D CAD software. Then, I sent the model to the 3D printer which sliced it up into very thin slices, and then 'printed' each slice, one on top of the other until the whole sax was printed," Diegel said in a statement. "In this case, it 'printed' each slice by spreading a very thin layer of plastic powder, and a laser then scanned the shape of the sax for that layer. After that, it spread another layer of powder on top of the first, and repeated the process again and again until the whole sax was done." The 3D printed saxophone is comprised of 41 different parts (not including springs and screws) and is a quarter the weight of a traditional metal sax. He admitted that a few notes on the instrument are out of tune due to air leaking between the parts, a flaw he is aiming to correct in future versions. For instance, the prototype was designed essentially as a clone of a traditional sax, but Diegel said a future version designed specifically for the digital manufacturing process might look different. "The next version will be even better looking, as 3D printing allows me to create shapes that would be impossible to make with traditional manufacturing," he said. A new version is expected later this year.
Slate-clad addition to the American Swedish Institute evokes contemporary Scandinavian design.Minneapolis-based architecture, engineering, and planning firm HGA faced a tall order when the American Swedish Institute asked them to design an addition to the building known locally as "The Castle." The turreted Turnblad Mansion, constructed in Minneapolis' Phillips West neighborhood in 1908 and home of ASI since 1929, lacked the kinds of multi-purpose spaces required by ASI's cultural and educational programming—and was suffering wear and tear from a steady stream of visitors. "The project was about creating a front door that was more welcoming and inviting than the existing building, that can help protect the mansion and allow it to be used as a house museum," said project architect Andy Weyenberg. At the same time, "the mansion remained the focal point," he explained. "It will always be the identity of ASI. Everything we did, we wanted to respect the mansion and keep it as a centerpiece." HGA's intervention honors the primacy of the Turnblad Mansion while updating ASI's image with a contemporary facade inspired by Swedish building methods and materials. "The mansion doesn't relate well to the Swedish identity: it's a French Chateau," said Weyenberg. "ASI wanted to use the addition to reinforce their identity as a Swedish institution, but they were interested in doing that in a modern way, relating it more to modern Swedish design and architecture." Positioned across a courtyard, or gård (a traditional typology found in both rural and urban buildings), from the Turnblad Mansion, the new Nelson Cultural Center is clad primarily in slate shingles. "Slate is a common building material in Scandinavia, especially dark slate like that," explained Weyenberg, who says that it is primarily used as a roofing material, but that he has seen examples of slate cladding since working on ASI's expansion. The slate also matches that on the Turnblad Mansion's roof. "We're using material that's sympathetic to the mansion, but using it in a different way. It's clearly a new piece of architecture," said Weyenberg. He points out that although there's nothing particularly high-tech about how the cladding was installed—it is hung like a roof system—it promises environmental benefits in terms of durability and longevity. "The roof on the mansion has been in place 100 years," observed Weyenberg. The entrance to Nelson Cultural Center is lined with panes of blue textured glass, another nod to Swedish design. Sweden is known for its glassmaking, having produced art glass firms including Orrefors and Kosta Boda. ASI's collection also includes a number of significant glass pieces. "That was another way of tying the design back to Sweden, and creating a reference to the ASI's collection, while also creating a bold element at the entry," said Weyenberg. HGA worked with Louisville, Kentucky, glassmakers Architectural Glass Art (AGA) to combine layers of commercially available textured glass and resin to create the translucent panels. "There's not a strong reference in terms of its construction to Swedish glassmaking," said Weyenberg, "but there was a process in terms of working with AGA as a craftsman to come to a quality we all liked. We wanted something subtle in texture but with an organic quality that relates well to the slate." HGA took advantage of a consulting program sponsored by local energy provider Xcel Energy to locate windows and curtain walls to frame views of the mansion and maximize daylighting while minimizing energy loss. Other features contributing to Nelson Cultural Center's LEED Gold status include a vegetated roof over the gallery and event spaces. "Green roofs are a really common form of building in Sweden," said Weyenberg. "They've been building sod roofs on farm buildings forever." Nelson Cultural Center's contemporary design reflects ASI's commitment to celebrating the Swedish influence on the Twin Cities while connecting with Minneapolis' next generation of newcomers—including, in the Phillips West neighborhood, young Somali immigrants. "As part of this expansion, they were really trying to update their identity and keep themselves current," said Weyenberg. "Their core constituency is aging. They were looking for a way to keep themselves relevant, and to reach out to new audiences."
The Traneberg Bridge in Stockholm once possessed the world's largest concrete bridge vaults. That was in 1934 following it's completion based on a design from Swedish Modernist Paul Hedqvist. With its size record long surpassed, Swedish firm Visiondivision are calling for alterations to the structure that would garner another wave of notoriety for the bridge some 80 years later. Spanning the Tranebergssund River, the bridge connects a central island of Stockholm city, Kungsholmen, to an outer suburb. Since the 30s the bridge has grown in size to accommodate increased vehicular traffic. The expansions, however, have served to alienate pedestrians using the crossing. Seeking a creative alternative to walking beside a busy highway, Visiondivision is proposing the space beneath the bridge be used as passage for those traversing the river on foot. Such a re-purposing would require minor changes to the extant structure with stairs, fencing, and proper lighting rendering the underbelly usable. The pillars of the Traneberg come ready-made with a hole that would allow for uninterrupted passage along the vault. In the eyes of Visiondivision, the site's potential goes beyond simply creating a more pleasant pedestrian circulation. Renderings show red concrete stairs doubling as seating for films or art to be projected or displayed on the surfaces of the bridge's pillars, though noise and pollution from the road above could have an impact on such activities. The new foot-traffic could also justify the presence of small commercial kiosks, the designers added, to be located on the flat portions of the underside abutting both ends of the vault. How the project will account for the trolls known to frequent bridges in the area remains unclear.
The Nobel Foundation has officially launched an international design competition for the creation of a Nobel Center Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. An architectural idea in existence since the 1990s, the Center will serve as a venue for the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, as a space for exhibition, public education, and meetings, and as a symbol of the honorable achievements of Nobel Laureates. Previously, the Foundation released its list of twelve architectural concept winners. These anonymous entries were judged on general building design, structural relationship with the waterfront site on the Blasieholmen peninsula, and shaping the urban context for the proposed functions of the Nobel Center. Now, three firms’ proposals have been shortlisted in a second round, as possibilities for the overall winner. David Chipperfield Architects, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor, and Wingårdh Arkitektkontor are required to submit more detailed design plans for further jury deliberation. The final decision is to be announced in 2014 and the Nobel Center hopes for a grand opening in 2018. Nobelhuset David Chipperfield and Christoph Felger, David Chipperfield Architects - Berlin, Germany The jury comments: The proposed building conveys dignity and has an identity that feels well balanced for the Nobel Center. The limited footprint of the building allows room for a valuable park facing the eastern portions of the site, with plenty of space for a waterfront promenade along the quay. The façade surfaces will also reflect light from the sky down into the street or open space on Hovslagargatan. A Room and a Half Johan Celsing, Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: The proposal is a coherent, classically proportioned building that connects to the surrounding cityscape. Because the building is placed at an angle to Hovslagargatan, this creates an attractive open space near the entrance. The proposal also leaves ample room for a waterside promenade and outdoor public areas. In many ways, its materials and appearance are well adapted to the purposes of the building. A P(a)lace to Enjoy Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB - Sweden The jury comments: One of the foremost qualities of the building is the openness of its entrance level. Its glass façade is inviting and creates close contact between outdoors and indoors and between urban life and the activities in the Nobel Center. The grand stairway is a classic element that can give the building a dignity that fits the identity of the Nobel Center.
Empty Spaces. Searching for a place to exhibit her work as an art student in 2003, an artist from the rural mining town Malmberget, Sweden, organized a program titled Tomma Rum (Empty Spaces) that converts empty lots into artist studios and gallery spaces. As described in an interview with Polis, the program has morphed into a traveling summer artist-in-residence, where global artists have displayed their pieces on fences to streets in various towns. Town and Country. Is city life or country life better for your health? The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing debate between the quality of life in urban versus rural areas. Each have their benefits and drawbacks. Studies indicate that in urban areas, there are less obese children but also higher crime rates. In the country, there are larger numbers of fatal driving accidents but lower incidences of allergies. Big Box Redux. In Seattle, empty malls are attracting new tenants. A fitness center owner is converting empty mall space into a new climbing gym, while grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and sporting goods stores such as Sports Authority are taking over retail vacancies, The Seattle Times reports. Taxing Gas. A study conducted by the multi-partisan Leadership Initiative on Transportation Solvency, part of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, may have found a better way to increase funds for transportation infrastructure through a more effective gas tax system. In their report, DC Streets Blog highlights, that taxing gas when the price lowers and a more efficient program with a focus on design with economic performance are key.