French designer Maison Edouard François has presented designs for The Gardens of Anfa, a project consisting of three residential towers, a low-rise office building, and several ancillary structures all situated within a large plot of parkland in Morroco. The four largest components of the design are clad in various flowers that pour down curved, irregular facades. The peripheral buildings are rectilinear and appear largely free of the organic attire found on their taller neighbors. Washingtonia palms populate the innermost portion of the complex, a flatland bordered on four sides by the aforementioned towers. The apartments feature 360-degree balconies surrounded by fencing rendered in Arabic geometric patterning. White and jasmine bougainvilleas cover much of their exteriors in contrast to the more vibrant hues found in the vegetal coating of the office building. The latter is a squatter rendition of the same basic form of the residences. This piazza is enclosed by a ring of smaller square buildings also to act as housing. These jigsaw structures are interspersed by rectangular protrusions that lend a decidedly tetris-like quality to the facades. Geometric apertures continue the Arabesque motifs found in the high-rises. Underground parking will be tucked away beneath this Moroccan Eden. The Gardens, which are set to be completed in 2016–2017, are not Edouard François' first dalliance into the union of flora and verticality. Round up the usual vegetal towers.
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This past weekend, a jury of architects, engineers, and market experts scored Team Austria’s home entry as the winner of the United States Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, a student design competition aimed at educating and encouraging thought about the affordability and efficiency of solar homes. As AN reported, the Team Austria private residential design is environmentally sensitive and easily adaptable, chosen for its overall energy efficiency, attractiveness of design, cost, and comfortable living conditions. However, of the 19 designs by collegiate teams from the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, and Austria presented in Irvine, California, the public had a dissenting opinion about the Decathlon winner. The People’s Choice Award vote went to UrbanEden from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; this concrete and glass-based modern structure was the majority’s favorite home entry. UrbanEden is a four-room home designed for ease of indoor to outdoor flexibility. It is envisioned as existing within the urban city of Charlotte and has been designed with materials for noise reduction as well as energy efficiency. The structure is built of geopolymer cement concrete, which the team claims is “one of the first-known uses of a geopolymer mix in a building envelope.” Inside its walls are a series of tubes circulating cool water to remove heat inside the house without a compressor or refrigerant. The entire south wall is constructed of glass windows and leads to an exterior patio that can be covered, weather permitting, by a retractable photovoltaic panel roof. The patio has a vertical garden to provide greenery, privacy, and a potential food source. With these innovative technologies, the entry won third place in the Solar Decathlon Engineering Contest. However, in aesthetics, the home also makes an impression. Light-filled rooms and the easy accessibility to an outdoors terrace provide a balance of nature within an urban environment. With the beauty and comfort of its design, the DOE believes that UrbanEden earns its People’s Choice Award. Solar Decathlon comments: “UrbanEden is a house people can imagine themselves living in. A house that could easily become a home.” All Images Courtesy DOE Solar Decathlon.