Posts tagged with "Synthesis Design + Architecture":

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Highlights from L.A.’s socially-driven Facades+ conference

The Facades+ Los Angeles conference took place last week in Downtown Los Angeles, bringing together technical innovators, socially-driven practitioners, and visionary academics to discuss some of the most resonant topics facing architecture today. Here are some highlights from the event’s first day. The conference opened with remarks from City of Los Angeles Chief Deputy City Engineer Deborah Weintraub, who elaborated on the city's ongoing public improvement projects. Weintraub’s office is involved with many key regional projects, including the First and Broadway Park and the restoration of the Los Angeles River. Many of the day’s discussions straddled architects’ multi-faceted approach to addressing the region’s ongoing housing crisis. Opening keynote speaker Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects motioned toward the crisis in his opening keynote, which touched on the frustrating state of affairs relative to building high-density infill housing in apartment-starved cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nevertheless, Saitowitz vowed to push forward with his desire to provide “freedom of occupation” for city inhabitants through new apartment dwellings. The architect explained that he pursues this vision via an emphasis on the open plan and integrated service cores in his projects. The resulting unit arrangements allow for occupants to enjoy “better flooring, nicer kitchens, and more glass” in each apartment, Saitowitz explained. The architect chronicled several of his office’s most controversial high-rises, including the Palladium Towers in Los Angeles and several San Francisco– and Chicago-based projects. It is no coincidence that as rents and property values have skyrocketed across the region, more and more people are finding themselves homeless. Luckily, architects are leading housing justice discussions, especially those working with organizations like nonprofit housing developer Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT) to develop affordable, well-designed social housing. The Architect’s Newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief William Menking led a panel discussion with Mike Alvidrez of the SRHT, Angela Brooks of Brooks+Scarpa, and Nathan Bishop of Koning Eizenberg Architecture (KEA) that discussed architects’ efforts at crafting thoughtful and impactful supportive housing projects. During the discussion, Alvidrez explained that SRHT’s projects were widely used to promote a recent ballot initiative aimed at raising taxes to fund more housing development and assistance. By pursuing a “housing-first” model that focuses social services on re-housing individuals first and foremost, SRHT has been able to spread design quality to over 1,800 inhabitants in projects as varied as Brooks+Scarpa's The Six and Michael Maltzan Architecture’s Crest Apartments. During the talk, Brooks described the social mission of the project as being focused on shared spaces, economy of structure, and sustainability. The discussion was a precursor for the afternoon keynote, which featured KEA principals Julie Eizenberg and Nathan Bishop discussing L.A.’s vernacular apartment types. Their discussion covered the quirks of apartment design in Los Angeles, which is guided predominantly by density restrictions and car parking requirements. The talk sought to situate the firm’s work amid a backdrop of increasing urbanization and density, especially the firm’s 500 Broadway project, which features 249 market-rate residences and is organized as a group of four buildings structured by prefabricated steel moment frames that allow for greater flexibility in placing interior partitions. These socially-driven discussions were bookended by a technically-driven examination of SOM’s new Los Angeles United States District Courthouse by Jose Luis Palacios, Keith Boswell, and Garth Ramsey of SOM. The project utilizes a dynamic, accordion-fold facade to maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain while also formally projecting democratic ideals regarding the nature of public space, justice, and building craft. The presenters focused on the beneficial aspects of the design-build nature of the project, a process with fostered conceptual and material innovation with regards to the building envelope and the architects’ overall seismic strategies. Later in the day, the Scholars and Skins discussion with Doris Sung of DO-SU Studio, Satoru Sugihara of ATLV, and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design and Architecture covered myriad new developments in dynamic, technologically-focused material and formal innovation. Sung described her firm’s work with layered metal sheets that self-assemble and move into various shapes with the use of heat and sunlight. Sugihara focused his discussion on his firm’s facade work with high-technology and sustainability-focused firms like Morphosis. Huang detailed designs for a pavilion his firm designed for car manufacturer Volvo that utilizes a curving skin to create space and shelter. Huang described his treatment of the project's skin as “a canvas—everything has joints and patterning. There is no such thing as a monolithic surface.” The day’s events closed out with a talk by Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects (JFAK) that focused on the potential for so-called “selfie-architecture” to impact urban spaces. Kimm explained that as cities like Los Angeles grow, their reach will be buoyed by the proliferation of the images created by inhabitants and visitors of its streets and iconic structures. Missed the Los Angeles Facades+ conference? Meet The Architect's Newspaper in Seattle December 8th for the next conference installment. See the Facades+ website for more information.
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Facades+ L.A. will bring together designers from west coast’s most innovative projects

On October 19th and 20th,  the Facades+ conference held by The Architect’s Newspaper will head to the L.A. Hotel Downtown in Los Angeles, bringing with it a series of insightful panel discussions centered around the west coast’s most innovative buildings and projects.   The conference panels will convene design leaders representing several of the region’s boundary-pushing practices and projects. Project types under consideration will include civic buildings, social housing complexes, architectural skins, and sports stadiums. The conference’s first panel will focus on the recently-completed Los Angeles Federal Courthouse building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The energy-efficient project is designed with a ruffled perimeter glass curtain wall assembly outfitted with special baffles that dramatically cut heating and cooling loads for the structure. José Luis Palacios, Design Director of SOM’s L.A. office, and Keith Boswell, technical partner at SOM, will come together in a panel to discuss how the courthouse project came together. See AN’s review of the courthouse here. Many of the region’s most successful practices are socially- and culturally-driven, a dynamic that has resulted in a growing number of design-forward social housing projects across the region. Local efforts to address California’s homelessness crisis are spearheaded by the Los Angeles-based Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit supportive housing developer that focuses on design quality as an integral component of the re-housing process. The organization is helmed by executive director Mike Alvidrez, who will come together for a panel with architects Angela Brooks of Los Angeles-based Brooks + Scarpa and Nathan Bishop of Santa Monica-based Koning Eizenberg Architects to discuss attractive residential and community spaces that challenge the perception of supportive housing in L.A. AN recently reviewed Brooks + Scarpa’s The Six, a 56-unit supportive housing project developed by SRHT. The region is also home to a critical mass of young, digitally-driven design and architecture practices that are utilizing computer generated forms to push the limits of fabrication and construction. A third panel will bring together Doris Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), and Satoru Sugihara, principal of ATLV, to discuss the relationship between architectural research and highly-specific skin assemblies. SDA recently completed work on the IBM Watson Experience Center in San Francisco, a project that utilized a CNC-milled aluminum panel system manufactured by Arktura to depict an abstracted "data narrative." The conference’s final panel will showcase California’s growing collection of contemporary sporting facilities, many of which are wrapped with provocative enclosures made from building components that highlight some of the advances in building envelope design and construction. The conversation will bring together Ron Turner, sports practice area leader and principal at Gensler, Sanjeev Tankha, principal at engineering firm Walter P Moore, and Lance Evans, senior designer at HKS, to discuss HKS’s City of Champions development for the Los Angeles Rams and Gensler’s Banc of California Stadium for the Los Angeles Football Club, among other projects. For more information on Facades+, see the conference website.
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Synthesis Design + Architecture translates data into an expressive, CNC-milled wall for IBM Watson

Los Angeles–based Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) recently completed work on a 1,100-square-foot sheath for the IBM Watson Experience Center immersion room in San Francisco. The interpretive wrapper—fabricated by Arktura in Los Angeles and executed in conjunction with an overall interior design by Gensler’s San Francisco office—is designed to express data visualizations generated by IBM Watson’s computing powers while also concealing the 350-square-foot sales space from view.

For the project, the design team interpreted and translated data maps depicting the volume of digital sales on mobile devices between 2013 and 2015 in order to derive an expressive moiré-patterned cocoon made out of dual-layered, curvilinear CNC-milled aluminum plates. The plates, backed by bright white lights, can be read by Watson Center docents in order to express a so-called “data narrative” in which Big Data—data sets so complex or vast that conventional data processing can’t process them—plays the titular role charting the growing influence of mobile-based sales.

Describing the project, Alvin Huang, principal at SDA, said, “The kinetic moiré effect that is produced as visitors move around the immersion room breathes some life into the static pattern, which speaks to the fact that data is live and constantly changing—even though the installation itself is static.” IBM Watson Experience Center 505 Howard Street San Francisco Tel: (800) 426-4968 Architects: Synthesis Design + Architecture; Gensler

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How Synthesis Design + Architecture and Formlabs crafted this year’s Best of Design Awards Grand Prize

At this year’s Best of Design Awards, winners were selected from 27 categories and each will take home a bespoke AN awards 3-D-printed trophy designed by Los Angeles studio Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) and fabricated by Somerville, Massachusetts–based printers Formlabs.

Founder and design principal of SDA and an assistant professor at the USC School of Architecture, Alvin Huang and his team settled on a final design after initially drafting up more than 20 ideas.

“We wanted to create an intricate, detailed form—something that would be impossible to do without a 3-D printer,” Huang said. To produce the design, Formlabs used transparent resin to reveal the design’s inner complexities. As part of his design process, Huang devised numerous iterations. “Parametric modeling makes everything smoother,” continued Huang.

The original design intent explored three-dimensional line drawings using modeling software such as Rhino and Grasshopper. However, after a number of tests, Huang ruled out this technique because of the laborious quantities of support material that were required to print. Instead, he employed a process that explored the variable scaling and extrusion of 2-D text to create a cloud of 3-D forms.

“It was important due to the time constraints that we revise the design of the trophy to match the constraints of the printing process of the machine. The change in direction allowed us to drastically reduce the amount of waste material printed (in the form of support structure) as well as the printing and post-production time,” Huang said.

The technique capitalized on the vertical movement of the material through the 3-D printer, enabling the detailed, intricate geometries of the individual letters to collectively form the trophy. The variable parameters that drove the model were the height of the extrusions, the scaling of the letters, and the density of the underlying matrix.

Huang was also pleased to work with Formlabs, which will be producing the physical award. The studio’s high-resolution 3-D printers made Huang’s design, in his words, “easy to achieve” and “smoothed out the processing of the designs.”

Zach Frew of Formlabs said, “We wanted to push the limits of 3-D printing with Synthesis’s design. This means that we started with the highest level of complexity and iterated downward—evaluating any changes needed in the design after each print. 3-D printing allowed us to rapidly develop prototypes and progress towards the final design.”

Frew continued, explaining that Formlabs’ high-resolution printers allowed Huang creative freedom. “Traditional manufacturing techniques are restricted in the level of complexity and detail they can achieve. Older subtractive technologies like CNC tooling are unable to resolve intricate details or create complex internal structures.”

“Because 3-D printing is an additive technology that produces one layer at a time with precision, more complex geometries can be created,” he said. “Synthesis’s design takes advantage of this. The Form 2 [printer] offers a very high level of detail and precision that makes relational designs easier and more reliable to produce. The machine typically produces parts with less than 200 microns of deviation from the original model. This means that designers can be confident that their models will function and relate as designed. SLA printed parts are also much easier to sand and post-process so modifications can quickly be made.”

Despite its prowess in the niche field, Formlabs prints more than just trophies. “3-D printing excels at creating rapid prototypes and visualizations,” added Frew. “Architects are able to produce scale models of their designs and ensure that each of the parts interact as desired. Printing tangible models that previously only existed within design software is an invaluable tool for helping architects to evaluate and iterate on their designs.”

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Nested, CNC-milled fins produce moire effects

Inspired by lenticular effects and moire patterns, Synthesis Design has produced an engaging facade installation on a large commercial shopping center at Central Plaza Rayong. The system incorporates CNC-milled aluminum composite “fins,” with custom attachment details to produce two “fields” of surfaces that ripple along a precast concrete facade. Color applied to one side of the fins differentiates the to fields from one another. “This is something we’ve been interested in awhile: lenticular effects – visual effects dependent upon view orientation. We are interested in trying to increase the level of visual interactivity through the way people engage the project.” says Alvin Huang, founder of Synthesis Design. To achieve this, Huang and his team leveraged geometry from iterative digital study models. Utilizing scripts built in Grasshopper for Rhino, the team developed a series of surfaces defined by attractor curves that create ripples. Then, through a strategy of mirroring, a secondary field is created, utilizing off-cuts of the first field. The process results in two sets of seemingly unique undulating profiles that nest into one another.
  • Facade Manufacturer PK Aluminium Company
  • Architects Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA Team: Alvin Huang (Principle), Chia-Ching, Filipa Valente, Joseph Sarafian, Kais Al-Rawi, Yuan Yao, & Alex Chan)
  • Facade Installer PK Aluminium Company
  • Facade Consultants Facade Associates Co. LTD
  • Location Rayong, Thailand
  • Date of Completion 2015
  • System 2D CNC plasma cut aluminum profiles with custom clip system on precast concrete
  • Products Aluminum composite material by ALPOLIC Materials of Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America, Inc.
The surfaces start fixed against the building facade. As the surface peels away from the precast facade, steel framework springs from a primary structural tube to cantilever the fin panels. Where the surface attaches to the precast facade, the team incorporated undulations into the profile geometry, allowing for specifically designed points of attachment to the building envelope. This reduces weight of the assembly, but more importantly helps mitigate wind loads on the fins, reducing design loads on the attachment points. “That was a significant issue in the design, because we were essentially creating a series of flags, so anything that can be done to reduce the amount of lateral force on the system helps.” In parallel to the design process, the architects worked with physical models in the office, while the fabricator developed 1:1 scale mockups testing installation details and structural performance of the cantilevered fins. The depth of the fins was optimized to be greatest in the middle where there is continuous support from a primary steel structure, and taper as they extend outward. Huang’s team produced design development drawings, and provided raw geometry for the fabrication team to develop cut sheets representing each individual fin profile. The process is evolutionary to other work being done in the office, says Huang: “We are interested in the Rayong project as an extension of other projects in the office that are three-dimensional products made from flat CNC-milled sheets, assembled to produce form.” What’s next from here? Huang says the office will continue to explore nesting and the attitude of trying to get more from less. “Through these projects, we are getting really interested in this notion of nesting – of trying to significantly reduce or even eliminate waste. Huang calls this “performative patterning” – a focus on how pattern, repetition, and variation promote a visual language of adaptive and varied geometry. “How can we get variation with a finite number of parts, rather than, as in Ryong – all of the profiles are unique – how can we achieve a similar effect with 6 or 7 profiles?”
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Synthesis Design + Architecture’s sophisticated addition to one of the world’s largest malls

The facade and roof serve as a the graphic identity for the 20,000 sq. ft. building while acting as a veil which reveals and conceals views.

The Groove provides an extension to CentralWorld, the third largest mall in the world. At 6,000,000 sq. ft., the mall is comprised of three towers: an office tower, a lifestyle tower (including a gym, dentist and doctors offices, schools, etc.), and a hotel tower. The main shopping center includes four department stores and a convention center. Sited at an existing entry plaza to the office tower, which feeds an underground parking garage, the project came to Synthesis’ office with several structural design constraints. The weight of the addition was limited, causing the design team to incorporate a specific steel frame with a grid coordinated to the bay spacing of the parking garage immediately below grade. Alvin Huang, Founder and Design Principal of Synthesis Design, says this helped save time at the start of the design process. At 20,000 sq. ft., the project, jokes Huang, is “the punctuation on the paragraph.” The design team approached the project with a concept aimed at providing an intermediary space – an “intimate atmosphere” – within Bangkok’s predominant shopping district. Their strategy was to depart from a traditional single monolithic building (more of the same), developing instead an indoor/outdoor atrium space to link a series of buildings inspired by the Bangkok "soi" (Thai for side-streets) for their comfortable café-like pedestrian atmosphere.
  • Facade Manufacturer Reynobond
  • Architects Synthesis Design + Architecture; A49 Architects (Thailand); Foundry of Space (Thailand)
  • Facade Installer Qbic Engineers & Architects Co.,Ltd., KYS Company Limited
  • Facade Consultants Doctor Kulsiri Chandrangsu - Ferrand (structural engineer)
  • Location Bangkok, Thailand
  • Date of Completion 2013
  • System custom rainscreen with integrated lighting
  • Products CNC-milled aluminum composite panels & timber soffits, LED backlighting system
The building envelope of the Groove peels open to organically reveal openings rather than incorporating typical punched openings. An aluminum composite panel rainscreen system incorporates gradient patterning and integrated lighting to produce an exterior that is “intense, active, and slick” according to Huang. “The skin replicates the intensity of a specular effect of continually pulsating lights along Ponchet Road.” A warm interior spills out to the exterior via CNC-milled timber soffits, whose geometry peels outward, overlapping openings as a sort of exaggerated detailing found in an airplane window trim. The rainscreen panels were CNC milled by a local fabricator who utilized geometry from Huang’s office to produce a custom perforation pattern. “We didn’t want the architecture and the identity to be two different things,” says Huang. “The signage appears and disappears – a gradient that pulses and draws your eye toward openings.” Huang says as an office, Synthesis is generally interested in the relationship between the digital and the hand made. “We are highly digital in our design process. but in Thailand, most construction components are hand made and ultimately assembled by a labor force of limited experience, requiring simplification, not complexity.” Synthesis’ design office focuses on "digital craft" with a body of work that is driven by the relationship between fabrication and the act of making as part of the design process, says Huang. “What we are not interested in is designing, and then figuring out how you are going to make it.” The Groove is one of 37 projects currently nominated for "Building of the Year 2015," a poll open to the public through the end of January, 2016.
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Kenneth Caldwell on designer chatter at the Monterey Design Conference

This year’s Monterey Design Conference could have been titled the "Monterey Design Short Video Clip Festival." For as long as I can remember, most of the presentations at the conference have followed the same formula: show slides of recent work and explain them. But now most of the speakers are trying to tell a more nuanced story, informed by our mobile-app/social-media/you-are-never-offline age. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I checked in with attendees to get their impressions. Architect Clive Wilkinson was the first speaker. Some hardcore architects didn’t like the idea of an interiors presentation opening the event. But given the amount of interiors work that technology has generated, I thought it made sense. But Clive’s text slides didn’t fit the image slides. I loved the lecture that architect Rand Elliot gave because he linked growing up in Oklahoma to the work he does there, showing how the cars, gas, and big skies of his home state influence his approach to place. Some folks I talked to were snobbish about his presentation, but I thought an Eamesian sense of hospitality pervaded his entire presentation, including a broadsheet of his poetry that he gave to everybody. Attendee and architect George Bradley said that it was his favorite lecture: “His demeanor, his work, ethos, and pursuit for catching light are inspiring. I actually got goosebumps about architecture all over again. He also had the best video, and I wish his was the only video we saw over the weekend.” Merrill Elam of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects seemed to have more videos than anybody else. About half the people I spoke to loved her lecture and mentioned how it revealed her process. The other half was left unimpressed. As Mallory Cusenbery of Ross Drulis Cusenbery told me, “I think Merrill Elam should get an award in the category, ‘Best Presentation That Nobody Understood.’” Video is here to stay, but it was hard to see what scenes from the film Apocalypse Now had to with anything. Most folks that I chatted with agreed that the stars of the show were Spanish architect Carme Pinós and Japan’s Junya Ishigami. Pinós wandered all over the stage, gesturing and ending almost every sentence with “No?” As designer Addison Strong said, “And Carme Pinós....ah well, I have a huge crush on her! I found myself hanging on her every word and image. Her plan sketches become something ‘other’ as they morph into three dimensions and get extruded first into models and then buildings. You get the feeling she is constantly exploring, even when the project is under construction.” Ishigami was less daring in his presentation style, but his work stunned the crowd. Architect Cary Bernstein mentioned him and Pinós as the two standouts, as did others. “Junya Ishigami's near-fantastical structures perfectly complemented Carme's tectonic approach,” Bernstein said. Strong added, “His work was more than a little odd, but each project represented a true investigation of something that was of personal interest to him that he hoped would also have meaning for the users. I found him incredibly optimistic, and we can never have enough of that in architecture.” Speaking of optimism, I always find the “Emerging Talents” session of the conference worth attending. Everybody I talked to agreed that architect Casper Mork-Ulnes and Alvin Huang of Synthesis Design + Architecture were highlights. Mork-Ulnes had a clear message that linked his Norwegian roots and his experience in the West. Huang and his firm embrace all kinds of design exploration. As Strong said, “I particularly liked the work of Casper Mork-Ulnes on the first day and Alvin Huang on the last….they represented polar opposites—the analog vs. digital processes of design that demonstrate that either process is valid when done with care.” Every year the conference presents a “tribal elder.” As he often has in years past, architect and historian Pierluigi Serraino introduced the sage. This year, the elder was Claude Stoller. Serraino, who could be Dick Cavett, Italian and California Modern Division, must have known he would be unable to keep Stoller on track, so he began the “conversation” with a brief summary of the work and its significance. Later Michelle Huber, a principal at Studio Bondy Architecture, told me that this session was her favorite. “I felt like I was witnessing modern architectural history before my eyes. “ When I asked folks about why they came, the most repeated words were “inspiration” and “camaraderie.” People told of connecting with old friends from work or school and meeting architects they have long admired. The presentations that resonate the most tell a fresh, authentic, and coherent story—around a campfire, real or imagined. A little bit of wine doesn’t hurt either. Hint: bring your own.
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Monterey Becomes Eclectic: Lessons from the Monterey Design Conference

A weekend at the 2015 Monterey Design Conference (MDC) held at Asilomar leads to a wealth and variety of insights about architecture and design. Including a lesson in "uglyful," says Guy Horton. I learned some new things at the 2015 Monterey Design Festival. Wait. I meant to write “conference.” Monterey Design Conference. That was a true slip. Everybody knows it’s the Monterey Design Conference. Sorry. But to me it was more like a design festival. And is it just me or did MDC seem edgy and on edge this time around? It seemed to pull the 800+ crowd—the conference sold out for the first time in its history—along for a wild ride. This was in no small measure due to the natural and off-the-cuff tone set by Reed Kroloff, who emceed the whole affair. It was, to mention just a few of the many highlights, a whirlwind of poetry, Jimi Hendrix, hot rods, and light by self-styled “stray dog” Rand Elliott. It was video of Liz Taylor applying makeup, Apocalypse Now, Jimi Hendrix again, and the sublime and sometimes frightening world of the “uglyful” by Atlanta dame Merrill Elam. With her, we all went down the rabbit hole. Feel free to dig deeper into this. Later, back on solid ground, came the precision of Bernard Tschumi’s words and drawings, pulled from the codex of his experience; the urgent, sometimes funny, and always intricate art of Pae White; and Junya Ishigami’s disappearing architecture, which took the wind out of anything that tries too hard or uses too much building material. The “emerging talent” definitely emerged. Doris Kim Sung, principal of DOSU Studio Architecture, pretty much mapped out how she owns the territory of thermobiometals and it will be everybody else’s job to catch up. Using his 15 minutes to the max, Alvin Huang, principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture, posed a series of questions as design propositions that will keep him, and others working in the digital realm, busy for at least the next 15 years. The whole thing was like a carnival, with bonfires and architects in black drinking the local Syrah on Monterey's powdery white sand. I know for a fact that at least one architect went surfing every morning. There was a nice left just off the Asilomar grounds. On the beach I bumped into Takashi Yanai and Patricia Rhee (both in black) from Ehrlich Architects. The entire firm was at MDC to be honored as the 2015 AIA Firm Award winner. “It really makes you think differently,” said Rhee when asked what the conference means to her. “It’s definitely out there,” said Yanai. “It’s like being in school again.” “What was most significant to me was hearing a range of mature, truly individual voices ringing out with specificity and confidence. The individual voice in architecture is something that takes years and years and decades to establish, and for many it never solidifies, never gels,” says MDC conference chair Alice Kimm of John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects. The voices were indeed individual and, like Elam’s “uglyful,” had the power to take us outside ourselves, even if only for a weekend. And it worked. It’s all a little hard to pin down in 500 words. Just look at the relentless, blow-by-blow @mdc_conf Twitter feed and you’ll get the idea. “I recommend that everyone experience MDC at least once,” said Kimm. “It has a weird but magical combination of gravitas, levity, and inspiration that stays with you for a long time.”
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Synthesis Design+Architecture Takes Electric Car Power To Go

Los Angeles-based firm Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA) has won the "Switch to Pure Volvo" competition to design a portable pavilion showing off the Swedish car company's V60 plug-in electric hybrid. The 13-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide project's sinuous form is composed of a moiré-patterned, vinyl-coated polyster fabric imbedded with flexible photovoltaic panels tensioned over CNC-bent aluminum rods. The display's  three sections echo the three modes of the car—hybrid, gas, and all-electric—and its curving form is also practical—its torqued compression between frame and skin enables the structure to stand without any extra support. The bendy solar panels will power the car while it's on display, and the whole installation can be broken down into small parts for transport. The fabric gets folded up and the aluminum tubes shrink down like tent poles. The first stop is Rome this September, then Milan, and SDA principal Alvin Huang said Volvo is considering traveling the display worldwide. The idea of a movable power source could really catch on, said Huang, especially if such structures can be broken down into small parts. "With electric cars you now have to go to a power source instead of you bringing your own power source," said Huang. Maybe that's beginning to change?
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Synthesis Wins Shanghai Competition With “Urban Canyon” Concept

Los Angeles-based Synthesis Design & Architecture (SDA) in association with Shenzhen General Institute of Architectural Design and Research have won an invited competition to design the 1.9 million-square-foot, mixed-use Shanghai Wuzhou International Plaza in Shanghai. Their slick “Urban Canyon” concept summons images of a magnificent gorge cutting through the city with its two nested cliff-like structures that have been carved from the landscape by staggered, pebble-looking buildings. The facades’ and roofs’ grooved titanium-zinc cladding adds to the metaphor while mimicking the energy and vibrancy of the city. Divided into two blocks, the northern area houses luxury retail shops and developer Hong Kong Wuzhou International Group’s corporate offices. The southern section is a retail, lifestyle and entertainment complex anchored by two office towers. Sky bridges connect the buildings and outside, plazas, landscaping, seating areas, and dynamic lighting are integrated. Practical details are still being finalized.