As sustainability continues to enter the fore in design decisions, there has been an increased push to make photovoltaic technology more aesthetically adaptable, moving away from just the standard array of blue solar panels installed on rooftops. Tesla’s troubled Solarglass Roof has promised to look just like standard shingles and UNSense, the tech spinoff of UNStudio, has been hard at work on a Solar Visuals project that allows for solar-power-generating cladding to come in many colors and patterns. Now another Dutch company, MyEnergySkin, has unveiled a new attempt at making solar power more appealing, with a collaboration with Dutch designers Kiki and Joost. “Design is usually thought of as a discipline based on aesthetics, but it has the power to be more than that,” the eponymous design duo of Kiki van Eijk and Joost van Bleiswijk explained over email. “This is especially true when you work on a project like solar panels. Treating the project as if they were “creating a new material, rather than just patterns,” Kiki and Joost designed eight tiles for the company, two for roofs and six for facades, with visuals inspired by the natural and designed world. The roof tile solar panels resemble something like etched, mottled metals—iron and copper—with a reflective finish. The tiles for facades, on the other hand, derive their aesthetics from a range of sources; one looks like abstract falling leaves, another like thick globs of brushed paint, and another like stone segmented into bricks. “The facade tiles are exciting because building facades with solar tiles is unspoiled territory,” the pair said. “Thanks to new printing techniques the potential is big.” They say that they hope that solar tiles would become just as common as brick or wood on the sides of buildings in the future. Their goal as designers, they reported, was in part asking “how can we make something so beautiful that every building surface would use it?” The panels are made of tempered glass and can generate 120 watts of energy per square meter, putting their output just below a standard rooftop mass-market solution. “It was a long and physical process,” Kiki and Joost said of designing the printed panels, “but we are very satisfied by the result and the promising future in developing clean energy.”
Posts tagged with "UNStudio":
Five heavy-hitting international teams have been shortlisted in a competition to design a master plan for a network of new islands off the coast of Penang, Malaysia. Foster + Partners, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), and MVRDV are among those left in the running out of 124 initial entries. Organized by the Malaysian Institute of Architects Northern Chapter and the Penang Government, the project will result in the construction of a 4,500-acre site made from reclaimed earth—split into three islands—located just south of the Penang International Airport. Known as the Penang South Islands Project (PSI), the positioning of the future islands is key as the government aims to spur economic development in the area ahead of 2030, while also easing traffic congestion in Penang. The new islands will also serve as spaces for industrial manufacturing and technological growth, incorporating smart city and smart park features, according to The Star. Each of the following teams will be given an honorarium of $125,000 for their design work. Competition organizers are expected to select a final winner in early February. - BIG and Hijjas Architects + Planners with Rambøll and Ernst and Young; - Foster + Partners and GDP Architects with WSP (U.K.), Grant Associates, Urban DNA, and Pragma; - MVRDV and Alm Architects with Mobility in Chain, Deltares, Transsolar, and Rebel Group; - Tekuma Frenchman and Eowon Architects with Level Agency for Instructure, The Pearl River Hydraulic Research Institute, and Skymind AI Berhad - UNStudio and Architects 61 with Strelka KB, schlaich bergermann partner, and more.
The Blagoveshchensk–Heihe Cable Car, designed by Dutch-firm UNstudio, will be the first-ever cross-border cable car. The project will be built across the Amur River allowing passengers to easily move between Russia and China. The Blagoveshchensk–Heihe Cable Car includes two international lines and four cabins, and each car will have the capacity to carry 60 passengers plus luggage. The total trip will take approximately seven-and-a-half minutes total, while actual travel time from station-to-station will be three-and-a-half minutes. The project is backed by Strelka KB, a Russian-based urban-planning and strategy consultancy. Following a vision round involving 12 practices, UNstudio was selected as the winning team from a competition to design the cross-border cable car. Strelka KB was also responsible for developing the economic and functional model of the cable car terminal. UNstudio has also designed the terminal station in the city of Blagoveshchensk, Russia while the architect of the station in Heihe, China has yet to be announced. The terminal is designed to reference the historic connection between the two cities that are separated by the Amur River. When the river ices over in the winter, it has historically become a link that supports trade, commerce, and social relationships between the otherwise unconnected areas. The building will feature views of both cities, as a “beacon” for joint prosperity. The public roof terrace will overlook the river towards Heihe, and framed views of Blagoveshchensk greet passengers at the arrival platform. Likening the design to an “air bridge,” Ben van Berkel, founder and principal architect of UNStudio, stated "This context provided rich inspiration for the Blagoveshchensk terminal station, which not only responds to its immediate urban location, but also becomes an expression of cultural identity and a podium for the intermingling of cultures." Cable cars have recently become more popular as a transportation solution. Van Berkel believes that these systems, “provide a new form of public transport that is sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient.” In Oakland, BIG has proposed gondola-like cars to connect the Oakland A’s stadium to public transportation. Before winning the Blagoveshchensk–Heihe competition, UNstudio proposed two other designs for cable car systems in Gothenburg and Amsterdam.
The phrase “bring a project to life” is thrown around casually by creative types of all creeds, from industrial designers to conceptual painters—people whose daily lives involve intense engagement with communication tools that allow the ideas in their heads to exist in the physical world. Emerging technologies from 3D software to VR goggles have revolutionized the way that clients can experience a designer’s vision, and now, Hyperform, a new collaborative and data-driven design tool, allows the design industry to literally immerse themselves—digitally—within a working project, blown up via augmented reality technology to 1:1 scale. Hyperform comes from a Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) collaboration with Squint/Opera, a creative digital studio, and UNStudio. These big-name studios believe that their immersive software will enable designers to make the best decisions for the project and the client much faster, as the interactive elements are closer to complete project visualization than anything we’ve seen yet. Jan Bunge, managing director at Squint/Opera, said, “Hyperform marks the first time we can feel and sense a spatial condition before it gets built.” Client and designer can walk around a project, experiencing its massing, spatial qualities, and materiality, and simply use hand gestures to edit, delete, and alter this type of digital file in real time before it’s too late or too expensive to make a change. In a concept film, the Hyperform user is depicted as a disembodied hand, the viewer’s own, pushing at virtual buttons suspended in space and scrolling through horizontal libraries of architectural drawings, 3D models, and plans. Selecting a model and blowing it up with verbal cues to immersive size, the user shares it with a life-size colleague who materializes in a pixelated form before our eyes, calling in and “ready to join the meeting.” BIG has debuted this new tool at its curated exhibition, FORMGIVING – An Architectural Future History from Big Bang to Singularity, at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen. Amid the exhibition of 71 BIG projects currently on the drawing boards, representing the firm’s active proposals for the future, Hyperform exists towards the end of the exhibition's “timeline”—near the top of the staircase near “singularity”—as the software represents the step beyond perceiving mere reality, going beyond into creating new realities—digital ones.
UNStudio has spun off its own startup, UNSense, to focus on architectural technology and large-scale design problems. “UNSense is completely dedicated to sensory and speculative design,” UNStudio cofounder Caroline Bos told the British publication CLAD, “It’s quite exploratory.” UNSense, according to the company’s website, “combines design thinking and data technology" to create solutions at the scales of buildings, neighborhoods, and cities. The firm has currently organized UNSense into two service sections: “Design\Strategies” and “Arch Tech Solutions.” UNSense’s Design\Strategies services are intended to help municipalities realize themselves as smart cities. “Sensorial technologies afford us the opportunity to fully understand how people use the city while living, relaxing, working, and commuting. Such data-based insights into human behavior can be used as a foundation to continuously improve and equip the city according to the needs of its users,” the company explained. Not merely speculative, it's already at work with a number of Dutch cities, including Amsterdam, as well as abroad in Milan, Osaka, and Bangalore. Other projects include feasibility studies to create a “living lab” out of a 100-house smart district in the Netherlands and tech-forward transformations around the Amsterdam Arena. The Arch Tech Solutions are projects sometimes produced in collaboration with tech companies. Projects include UNSense's recent Solar Visuals product, a photovoltaic cladding system developed as part of the Dutch Solar Design consortium and which won the Clean Energy Challenge put on by What Design Can Do this spring. Like UNStudio, UNSense is conceived as interdisciplinary, and its staff and collaborators includes everyone from architects and urban designers to data scientists and philosophers. “At UNSense we don’t believe in technology for the sake of technology,” its website says. “We think the combination of data and design creates a powerful force to improve the living conditions for people, and to ultimately create buildings and cities that are more humane, healthy, clean, safe, sustainable, and benefiting the environment.”
What does it mean for architecture publishing when everyone publishes? PLANE—SITE invited AMO/OMA and UNStudio to talk about how they see the role of social media in architecture and the relationships between image, object, and experience in their new short video “Building Images,” created for the World Architectural Festival 2018. The two firms and their representatives propose an array of different fears, hopes, uses, and possibilities of social media. AMO/OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli is curious about what we capture and how we look—our desire to get at an “authenticity” of real life that instead might just suspend us in a state of “permanent voyeurism.” Of photographing and witnessing so many plural photographs of buildings, he says that there is “an obsession to unveil what are the mechanics behind the project…not just the final output.” UNStudio’s founder Ben van Berkel takes particular interest in the resonances and oscillations between the instantaneousness and ephemerality promoted by social platforms like Instagram and how these timescales relate to architecture, which he points out, is generally meant to last; it’s slow to come up and slow to come down. In this case, AMO/OMA architect Giacomo Ardesio suggests, it is even more important to have a gluttonous stream of images. It makes a building last beyond an individual moment of embodied experience—which is especially important for many of the more temporary works AMO designs—and also documents people’s own intimate experiences, as well as their social ones, with the space. Instagram photos can show how the buildings might be “engaging visitors beyond the program it is meant to solve.” Instagram gives architects and everyone “a more complete view,” says AMO’s Giulio Margheri. He means this both in comparison to a pre-social media era but also against the more “refined” photos of architecture magazines and shelter publications that used to be the only insight into a building short of being in it. But, van Berkel says, all this focus on social media might make some run the risk of being “one-off architects.” It also, like much of the internet, can flatten things: people flock to the same places to take the same photos, overrunning streets and turning them into photo ops. And so often Instagram photos aren’t really of buildings (though some certainly are); a building is just background, or so it seems. But what if we consider a building a background with its own agency? This is a theoretically interesting question, but one that also has a practical side that UNSudio explores by using Instagram and other social media as part of their post-occupancy analysis, in addition to measurements, sensor data, and interviews. It lets them ask, urban designer Dana Behrman says, “how do [people] actually appropriate the spaces?” This question often leads to surprising answers, and she cites the ways that the Arnhem Central Station UNStudio designed has been used as a site for performances. And even the desire to get behind things that Laparelli seemed cautious of could be a good thing according to some. “Everyone produces images, the whole landscape has democratized,” says Machteld Kors, communications director of UNStudio. “People want to see where things come from, and how things are made. The storytelling in projects is becoming more and more important.” What "Building Images" shows is that perhaps it is architects who are trying to get behind the operations of things, asking why people show themselves in a certain building in certain ways.
UNStudio recently unveiled plans for a series of flexible and modular “Stations of the Future” that would service a massive hyperloop railway network throughout Europe. The Dutch architecture firm, founded by Ben van Berkel, proposed a concept station made from “tessellating” modules that can flex, adapt, and expand to fit into various locations, such as a crowded city center, the edge of a town, or the inside of an existing airport. Stations have open and flexible layouts, and they can greatly differ in size. This makes it easier for the hyperloop system to provide each city with access to a mode of transportation that can travel at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. According to UNStudio, the gentle curves necessary to accommodate the vast speed of the hyperloop vehicles would give the buildings “an inviting organic form to soften the geometry of the module." In addition to the adaptable platforms and semi-transparent, curvilinear roofs, each station’s public level would contain luggage check-in modules, bicycle docks, daycare centers, and pocket parks. “Existing cities mean existing parameters, and UNStudio envisages a symbiotic relationship with its local environment: an integrated piece of an urban composition,” said the studio. One proposed hyperloop line would run from Amsterdam to Frankfurt in 53 minutes, surpassing airplanes that typically take over an hour to travel between the two destinations. Using solar-powered technology, the hyperloop would produce no sound or environmental emissions and could harness enough energy to power not only itself but also surrounding public amenities and modes of transportation. The firm has extensive experience designing rail stations, including the Arnhem Central Station in the Netherlands and the forthcoming Qatar Integrated Railway Project. UNStudio designed the station for HyperSummit, which took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and was organized by Hardt Hyperloop, a European technology and transportation company that seeks to revolutionize modern travel.
University College Dublin (UCD) revealed the latest design proposals from the six shortlisted teams for Future Campus—University College Dublin International Design Competition. Six teams were chosen from the 98 firms that submitted proposals earlier this year, and the latest renderings reveal competing visions for the university's future. Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York) John Ronan Architects (Chicago) O’Donnell + Tuomey (Dublin) Steven Holl Architects (New York) Studio Libeskind (New York) UNStudio (Amsterdam) The design competition consists of two design initiatives—one is a sixty-acre Entrance Precinct master plan and another is the Centre for Creative Design, a new building to house a maker space and a “living learning lab.” UCD, Ireland’s "Global University", is one of Ireland’s largest universities with more than 30,000 students. The university moved to its current 330-acre Belfield campus in 1963, which was masterplanned by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert through another competition. The current campus consists of a collection of estates, including period houses and four- to five-story Brutalist structures within a landscaped setting. The master plan is envisioned to be “a highly-visible and welcoming entrance precinct” to introduce placemaking and establish an identity for the university. The new masterplan will house the 90,000 square foot Centre for Creative Design, which is meant to be an emblem of UCD’s creative identity. Another aspect of the masterplan is to increase the permeability of the campus boundary, potentially by introducing a new vehicular entrance and working with planned public transportation connections and other transport modes. “We are seeking an integrated design proposal that improves the experience of our campus for its users and that better connects us to our surroundings, orientating us outwards to the world and inviting our communities to engage with us,” said Professor Hugh Campell, professor of architecture at UCD and member of the competition jury. The university is now seeking comments on the design proposals from the UCD community, whose feedback will be fed to the jury. The winner will be announced in August 2018.
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and Midtown Detroit Inc. (MDI) have selected eight finalists for the “DIA Plaza and Midtown Cultural Connections” design competition. The competition seeks to improve the exterior campus of the DIA and refine the spatial relationship between other museums in Midtown, as well as educational institutions like Wayne State University and cultural stalwarts like the Scarab Club. “The overall quality and depth of the submissions far exceeded our expectations,” said Salvador Salort-Pons, DIA director and Chair of the competition jury in a press release. “This is testimony to the exciting challenge of transforming Detroit’s arts and cultural district, which represents more than 12 important cultural institutions in the city and benefits all the residents in the region.” The competition strives for a plan that provides the DIA and Midtown’s stakeholder institutions with a cohesive campus that has the flexibility to support events and public art, attracting both the local visitor and world traveler. The competition also aims to make the campus more accessible and user-friendly, considering ways in which people enter and exit each building while addressing parking and driveway issues. The eight firms will each make public presentations in the DIA’s Danto Lecture Hall on June 13 and 14. The eight finalists are local and global. They include Agence Ter (Paris), Hood Design Studio (Oakland, CA), Mikoung Kim Design (Boston), Spackman Mossop Michaels (Detroit), Stoss Landscape Urbanism (Boston), UNStudio (Amsterdam), Ten x Ten (Minneapolis) and WXY architecture + urban design (New York). Midtown, anchored by Woodward Avenue, has seen significant population and business growth in the last five years, attracted by institutions like the DIA. Yet the area struggles to resolve how to make surrounding streets and public spaces walkable while being bound geographically by freeways.
Self-described “open-source architecture studio” UNStudio 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.”
In the works for two decades, the new UNStudio-designed train station for Arnhem, Netherlands—the city’s largest post-war development—has finally opened to the public. The 234,000-square-foot transfer hall, which features undulating steel forms reminiscent of Eero Saarinen’s futuristic TWA Terminal design, is a vibrant nexus and a core component of the Arnhem Central Masterplan. The project began in 1996 when UNStudio won a design competition to replace a mid–20th century train station. The building, designed in collaboration with engineering firm Arup, comprises facilities and waiting areas for trains, trolley buses and a bus station, as well as shops, restaurants and a conference center. Two underground levels serve as bicycle storage and car parking. With its unique design, founder and principal architect of UNStudio Ben van Berkel said in a statement that the aim was to "blur distinctions between inside and outside by continuing the urban landscape into the interior of the transfer hall, where ceilings, walls and floors all seamlessly transition into one another.” Skylights make for a space that is infused with natural light, further emphasizing the connection to the outside. The building's curving structure required a departure from typical construction methods and materials. Lightweight steel was employed using boat-building techniques on a scale never before attempted, resulting in a column-free space with a fluid expression. This seamlessness is translated into a complex network of ramps that move people around the station with ease and elegance. Additionally, purposeful lighting was designed to aid wayfinding. According to Van Berkel, the transfer hall “directs and determines how people use and move around the building.” The new station serves as a link between the city center, the Coehoorn area, and a nearby office plaza, and is designed to accommodate a daily flow of 110,000 commuters by 2020, establishing itself as not just a train station, but as a vital nucleus for Arnhem and for the Netherlands.
Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX will design the approximately 80,000 square foot Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (PAC). The PAC will produce and show theater, music, musical theater, dance, film, and opera. The commission was previously given to Frank Gehry over a decade ago. “We are honored to design such a meaningful project on a site imbued with deep significance for the people of New York,” Joshua Prince-Ramus, REX's principal, said in a statement. “I am confident that our collaboration with PAC's exceptional team will help create a building that embodies and inspires the many dimensions of creative expression." REX topped a shortlist comprised of Copenhagen's Henning Larsen and Amsterdam's UNStudio. PAC Chairman John Zuccotti and President/Director Maggie Boepple selected the Brooklyn-based firm to design the project, although designs have yet to be released. Last week, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) released $10 million of a pledged $99 million for the construction of the new venue. The project may cost more, but the difference will be made up through private donations. REX will collaborate with Davis Brody Bond (designers of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum), theater consultants Charcoalblue, and project managers DBI on the project. The PAC has gone through a few design selection cycles. In 2013, Frank Gehry was selected to build the center, but his proposal was downsized, and ultimately scrapped. The new venue is slated to open in 2019.