Category Archives: project

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park in Chicago, Illinois, by Studio Gang Architects, 2013

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects (SGA) have been infatuated with water for some time now – metaphorically, in the rippling facade of the Aqua Tower; directly, in landscape projects like the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo; or on the large scale, in projects like Reverse Effect, which proposes re-reversing the Chicago River, among other tactics, to improve the ecosystem of Lake Michigan. A recent addition to the above water-related projects in their hometown of Chicago is the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, situated along the Chicago River about eight miles north and west of the Loop.

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Like Reverse Effect, the boathouse is envisioned as a means of remediating one of Chicago's waterways. As SGA describes it: "By creating a key public access point along the river’s edge, it supports the larger movement toward an ecological and recreational revival of the Chicago River." This building and access point will hopefully "transform the long-polluted and neglected Chicago River into its next recreational frontier." Chicago – flat and gridded – has long oriented itself toward the lake, whose length in the city is public and almost entirely recreational, be it beaches, museums and parks (one of which is being designed by SGA for the old Miegs Field). So it's no wonder that the river – reversed in the early 1900s so that pollution wouldn't flow into the lake, the source of the city's drinking water – has been neglected.

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

SGA's design separates the project into two buildings: a two-story Field House on the south and a one-story Boat Storage on the south; in between is a courtyard that aligns with the access down to the water on the west. Each building has a distinctive serrated roofline that "translates the poetic motion and rhythm of rowing into an architectural roof form, providing visual interest while also offering spatial and environmental advantages that allow the boathouse to adapt to Chicago’s distinctive seasonal changes." The main driver of the form is sunlight, such that "the roof achieves a rhythmic modulation that lets in southern light through the building’s upper clerestory."

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

The reading of the forms is aided by the muted palette of exterior materials, notably zinc and slate, which give the building a sense of solidity while also accentuating the interior spaces when lights glow from the inside in the evening. The palette inside is just as spare, with plywood used for the walls and ceilings and exposed concrete on the floors. It all adds up to an inexpensive building ($8.8 million) that hardly looks cheap.

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Site Plan/First Floor Plan

Longitudinal Section

Höhenrausch.3

Höhenrausch.3 in Linz, Austria, by Various Architects and Artists, 2013

Photographs by Otto Saxinger and Andreas Kepplinger; courtesy of Im OÖ Kulturquartier

The first time I heard about some of the rooftop structures atop the Im OÖ Kulturquartier (Im OÖ) in Linz, Austria, was in reading a monograph on Japanese architects Atelier Bow-Wow. The Linz Super Branch allowed visitors to traverse the rooftops of the buildings and gain a unique perspective on the city. Turns out that the rooftop has been updated annually since Atelier Bow-Wow's 2009 installation, per its inclusion in the catalog S AM 11 / Lookout, which accompanies an exhibition at Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel, Switzerland. The catalog attributes the concept to Raoul Bunschoten, while Im OÖ attributes the urban/artistic consultancy to him and his firm CHORA. Whatever the case, the most recent additions go vertical, adding a contemporary twist to the historical skyline.

Most visible from the surrounding streets, especially at night when it's awash in color, is Wen-Chih Wang's "Bamboo Cupola." Im OÖ describes it as such: "Transformations of space are at the heart of the installations by the Taiwanese artist Wen-Chih Wang. He expands given architectural structures with fantastic constructions of bamboo and rattan. Thus a 15-meter-high tower made of woven bamboo grows out of the Höhenrausch.3 rooftop walkways, so that a light-flooded space emerges that invites lingering. The bamboo tower is illuminated from the inside at night, thus becoming an unusual object in urban space in the dark, too."

A bit less artistic, but a construction that can be climbed to gain even higher views of Linz, is the "Upper Austria Tower." Im OÖ describes this addition as such: "The Upper Austrian Tower rises 31 meters into the sky on the highest point of the parking garage building. The local tower of the Höhenrausch.3 tower quartet is a copy of the lookout tower Alpenblick along the Czech border in Ulrichsberg. The functional architecture of the "rural" lookout tower made of fir wood becomes a new, temporary landmark of the city of Linz. In contrast to these urban surroundings, it displays the material of wood.Through the climb up over seven levels, the urban space opens up like a theatrical staging."

One last rooftop element worth mentioning is a slender white piece that looks like an antenna but is Lang/Baumann's "Diving Platform." Again, Im OÖ's statement: "An about 13-meter-high Diving Platform rises up from the central platform of the Höhenrausch.3 rooftop landscape, but no one can dive from here. Intermediated between a functional object and a sculpture, this work involves a kind of mental acrobatics, the idea of what it could be like to climb up and enjoy the view. Lang/Baumann refer often in their works to functionality, design or architecture and enrich existing situations or spaces by the dimension of poetry and imagination."

Vaulted Cork Pavilion

Vaulted Cork Pavilion in Porto, Portugal, by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Joao Morgado and the architects.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

The Vaulted Cork Pavilion was built for Amorim Isolamentos Lda., to demonstrate its cork building materials at Concreta 2013, a biennial building fair held at Exponor, Porto.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

This architecture and research project was developed by Pedro de Azambuja Varela, Maria João de Oliveira and Emmanuel Novo, while studying in the Digital Architecture Advanced Studies Course (CEAAD), a joint venture between ISCTE-IULisboa and FAUPorto. All the fabrication was carried out at VFABLAB-IUL, and the coordination was carried out by Professors Alexandra Paio and José Pedro Sousa.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

This construction started out as challenge to materialize concepts and investigation developed within CEAAD during 2012 and 2013, all related with expanded cork agglomerate. These concepts are: the possibility to span vaults with cork alone; a compound translucent cork material; and a system for radiation and acoustic optimization. All these concepts ought to be shown within the pavilion in a symbiotic relation formalized by the continuous and metamorphic shape.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Architectonic space lies within an interrelationship between inner and outer space, promoting dynamic fluxes and circulation all around the construction. The outside provides circulation and rest areas, where people can relax in benches or wavy forms. The inside is a tunnel like space that has a continuous bench and an exhibition space, where people can find shelter from the trade fair's harsh noise and lights. All this was formalized as a shape that grows from the floor creating a smooth transition between the floor and vaulted roof.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Cork characteristics were a main driving force in the space's conception. The floor and walls are smooth and soft, and the smell is very particular. Inside the space, one has the feeling of being inside another environment, such is the effect of changing light, sound, smell and touch. The grass on the exterior - showing the possibility of using cork on living roofs - creates a symbiosis of living plants and cork bark while responding to the client's wish of showing a construction system of cork insulated green roof.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

The construction approach for this project dealt mainly with time constraints. Following the research developed the year before the pavilion construction system would be that of a compression only vault. This means the supporting structure would be built out of blocks that should efficiently transmit the load forces downwards through a stereotomic fit. The apex of stereotomic thinking created such complex polysurfaced blocks that even a new science was born with it: Descriptive Geometry. These kinds of blocks were carved with a CNC milling machine, but their 3D nature makes the process very slow as it needs many passes. Straight down 2D cutting, creating silhouette type shapes, is much faster, as the drill may plunge down and carve most of the material in a few passes. This led to rethinking of the structure as a 2D process, leading to the design of arches that would be fixed together as in a barrel vault.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Although the parametric nature of this built form hints at its digital genesis, the first approaches were sketch driven. The project was developed with its group members separated by distance, relying in the digitized hand drawn sketches, online meetings and many different proposals. This is how the main hypotheses were laid out, which were to be translated into pure geometry language so that the computer would be able to calculate a final shape. The variables were created so that the various aspects of the pavilion would take shape: the sinuous curve which defines one arm of the catenary arches, the bulging longitudinal shape, the height of the exterior bench and its conformity with the sweeping vault curve. All these variables were put together as parameters of a complex algorithm that resolved all the geometry needed to draw the 120 individual cross-sections.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Once the shape was agreed upon, another algorithm was crafted to automatically create the geometry of the hundreds of unique blocks that were to be CNC cut at the VFABLAB. All the blocks were labeled with a meaningful system, easing the work of the Amorim team while assembling the various pieces. These were pre-mounted in chunks of three arches, so that final assembly in the trade fair would be easier and error-free. Its final assembly was a success; the cork blocks were very efficient as a stereotomic system. The acoustic cork was key in decorating the interior and translucent cork provided light in the interior and a glimpse of mystery from the outside, effectively working as stained glass windows.

Photo: Joao Morgado – Architecture Photography

Drawing courtesy of the architects

Drawing courtesy of the architects

A House for Pink Floyd

A House for Pink Floyd by arqbauraum, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Susana dos Santos, José Pedro Azevedo and Nuno Cabanal (arqbauraum) for  their entry in the ICARCH Competition "A House for Pink Floyd."

Exterior view. Image courtesy of arqbauraum

“How would the painter or poet express anything other than his encounter with the world” - Maurice Merleau Ponty

“Much of the modern movement has drawn the intellect and the sight, but left aside the human body and its sensations […] – but also left the memories and the dreams dislodged.” - Juhani Pallasmaa

The work is based on Man meeting with himself and does so through the senses.

Exterior detail. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Actual architecture has the ease of technological advances that everyday flood the offices with new materials. However all these amenities have achieved are for buildings to be deprived of presence, making them the fruit of unbridled consumption, of the ostentation and many times from the creator's Ego. Today architecture is endowed with a star system that dictates the trends as the world finds itself grappling with political crises and austerity. All these components have assembled an explosive cocktail when we look at the landscape of cities only to realize that the concept of "inhabit" is degraded.

Concept. Image courtesy arqbauraum

With this work we aim to give back to Man, in any place of the World – squares, gardens, glades, parking lots from big malls, etc. – the right to inhabit the planet without stratifications of any kind.

We have done it by going back to the children's imaginary to the age of dreams and curiosity, and in a simple and pure way we have created a multitude of spaces that enable each one, in a singular way, to be and to think.

Program. Image courtesy arqbauraum

To the image of the ordinary house we subtract its mass as an allegory to the present and to the reality we now live in; because both rely on the way we gaze and feel them. It's also a symbol of change because the absence of mass gives it a building-site character and also a lightness that emerges to oppose the image of concrete boxes.

Initiation Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Within the space of the house we've laid out five boxes made of white concrete in the exterior and black in the interior to keep the game of oppositions.

We wander through a synesthetic route that begins from north and ends at Nascent. Through it we primarily find the purification volume that intends to raise our vision and auditory senses.

Revelation Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

In the following box we find the shadows that symbolize the air. Its aim is for the individual to question the visually perceptible truth and also for the visual experience to assume tactile characteristics – feeling with the hand the form is "observed."

Purification Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Through the pathways between the boxes we are in the constant presence of the soil, the nature, the use of the sense of smell that refers to memories and the quest of Man through glades that were created from the subtraction of the total volume.

In a third moment the visitor is confronted with the light that symbolizes fire and the sense of feeling through the skin.

Knowledge Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

After reestablishing the equilibrium of the senses and the opening of the soul and the mind, we find the last two spaces. One is a space with books and the other with dialog, music and exchange for the house of Pink Floyd is what each and every one of us wants it to be.

With this project we wish to return to Man a place for him to pulse with the World, a space that appealed to solidarity and to the strength of the use of words.

Reflection Room. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Plan. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Section A. Image courtesy arqbauraum

Section B. Image courtesy arqbauraum

V’ House

V' House in Maastricht, Netherlands, by Wiel Arets Architects, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Wiel Arets Architects (WAA).

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

V’ House was constructed for a couple that collects vintage cars, and is stitched within the medieval tapestry of Maastricht. The city dictates all new structures remain within the envelope of pre-existing buildings, and so a cut was created in the house’s front façade to generate a triangulated surface, which leads from one neighbor’s sloped roof to the opposite neighbor’s vertical bearing wall. As the house’s site is long and narrow, voids were cut into the maximum permitted volume to ensure that natural light spills throughout the interior. The ground floor is both open to the exterior elements and sunken to the rear of the site, which makes possible the maximum two-story height allowance. A covered portion of this exterior space serves as an outdoor parking garage for the owners’ collection of Aston Martins.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

As the house finds refuge between two historical buildings, it is a burst of modernity within this currently gentrifying neighborhood of Maastricht. The house is enormous, totaling 530 m2, and is entered through two oversized sliding glass doors that perforate its front façade. These doors serve as the house’s main entry and open to either their left or right for entry by foot, and both simultaneously retract to allow the entry of automobiles. Due to safety and privacy concerns, these glass entry doors have no handles or keyholes and are instead are remotely opened from any iPhone, from anywhere in the world. For further privacy the house’s front façade was fritted with a gradient pattern of dots, which disperse in placement as the house rises towards the sky and focus at a distance to compose an image of curtains fluttering in the wind. Actual curtains align the interior of the front façade to afford additional privacy.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Circulation throughout the house occurs via two paths. A 'slow' stair leads from the ground floor to the expansive living room, which is connected to the partially raised kitchen and dining areas by a small ramp. A 'fast' stairwell traverses the entire height of the house and, together with the platform elevator, allows for direct vertical shortcuts to all levels of living. Thus this house, with its multiple circulation interventions, such as its living room ramp and ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ paths, is organized not around the traditional notion of stacked floors and is instead organized around its circulatory section. At the apex of this 'fast' route is the entrance to an expansive roof terrace that’s also the most public space of the house, as it offers panoramic views over the spired roofline of Maastricht.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

The living room has been suspended from two I-beams that span two masonry bearing walls that surround the rear of the site. Steel tension rods measuring 5x10 cm extend from these I-beams into the almost fully glazed façade of the living room, which allows its volume to float above the Aston Martins below. For privacy reasons, this glazing was treated with a highly reflective coating that casts a hue of chartreuse or amber depending on the season and angle of the sun. Only when inhabiting the master bedroom is this hanging of the living room apparent, as the I-beams are visible from the master bedroom, which opens onto the living room's roof, which functions as a private terrace for the owners.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Heating and cooling is provided via a concrete core activation system concealed within the floors and ceilings of the house, while all storage is built into the circulatory areas in order to divide spaces and define rooms. These custom designed storage units also outfit the office space, where they conceal a bed that can be lowered to accommodate temporary visitors, such as the owners' now grown children. All storage areas recede in prominence due to their fluid integration, which allows the house's interior to remain flexible and open for ephemeral definition. The one-piece custom designed kitchen was constructed in stainless steel, and the dining table, which is connected to it, cantilevers 3.5 m toward the front façade. The custom furnishings and storage spaces, together with the in-situ concrete and multiple roof terraces, make the V’ house an expression of free space in a regulated heritage context.

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Photograph by Jan Bitter, courtesy of WAA

Floor plans courtesy of WAA

Floor plans courtesy of WAA

Building sections courtesy of WAA

Three Cusps Chalet

Three Cusps Chalet in Sé de Braga, Portugal, by Tiago do Vale Architects, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy Tiago do Vale Architects.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

In the second half of the 19th century Portugal saw the return of a large number of emigrants from Brazil. While returning to their northern roots, specially in the Douro and Minho regions, they brought with them sizable fortunes made in trade and industry, born of the economic boom and cultural melting pot of the 19th century Brazil. With them came a culture and cosmopolitanism that was quite unheard of in the Portugal of the eighteen-hundreds.

That combination of Brazilian capital and taste sprinkled the cities of northern Portugal with examples of rich, quality architecture, that was singular in its urban context and frequently informed by the best that was being done in both Europe and Brazil.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

BUILT CONTEXT

The "Three Cusps Chalet" is a clear example of the Brazilian influence over Portuguese architecture during the 19th century, though it's also a singular case in this particular context.

Right as the Dom Frei Caetano Brandão Street was opened, a small palace was being built in the corner with the Cathedral's square and thanks to large amounts of Brazilian money. It boasted high-ceilings, rich frescos, complex stonework, stucco reliefs and exotic timber carpentry. In deference to such noble spaces, the kitchen, laundry, larders and personnel quarters, which were usually hidden away in basements and attics, were now placed within one contiguous building, of spartan, common construction.

Built according to the devised model of an alpine chalet, so popular in 19th century Brazil (with narrow proportions, tall windows, pitched roofs and decorated eaves), the "Three Cusps Chalet" was that one building. Due to the confluence of such particular circumstances it's quite likely the only example of a common, spartan, 19th century building of Brazilian ancestry in Portugal.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Sitting at the heart of both the Roman and medieval walls of Braga, a stone's throw away from Braga's Cathedral (one of the most historically significant of the Iberian Peninsula) this is a particularly sunny building with two fronts, one facing the street at West and another one, facing a delightful, qualified block interior plaza at East, enjoying natural light all day long.

At the time of our survey, its plan is organized by the staircase (brightened by a skylight), placed at the center of the house and defining two spaces of equal size, East and West,  on each of the floors. The nature of each floor changes from public to private as we climb from the store at the street level to a living room (West) and kitchen (East) at the first floor,  with the sleeping quarters on top. Materials-wise, all of the stonework and the peripheral supportive walls are built with local yellow granite, while the floors and roof are executed with wooden beams with hardwood flooring.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

ARCHITECTURAL PROJECT

Confronted by both its degrading state and degree of adulteration, and by the interest of its story and typology, the design team took as their mission the recovery the building's identity, which had been lost in 120 years of small unqualified interventions. The intention was to clarify the building's spaces and functions while simultaneously making it fit for today's way of living.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The program asked for the cohabitation of a work studio and a home program. Given the reduced area of the building, the original strategy of hierarchizing spaces by floor was followed. The degree of privacy grows as one climbs the staircase. The stairs also get narrower with each flight of steps, informing the changing nature of the spaces it connects.

A willingness to ensure the utmost transparency throughout the building, allowing light to cross it from front to front and from top to bottom, defined all of the organizational and partitioning strategies resulting in a solution related to a vertical loft.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The design team took advantage of a 1,5 m height difference between the street and the block's interior plaza to place the working area on the ground level, turing it westward and relating it to the street. Meanwhile, the domestic program relates with the interior plaza and the morning light via a platform that solves the transition between kitchen and exterior. This allows for both spaces to immediately assert quite different personalities and light, even though they are separated by just two flights of stairs.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

The staircase geometry, previously closed in 3 of its sides, efficiently filters the visual relations between both programs while still allowing for natural light to seep down from the upper levels and illuminate the working studio.

The second floor was kept for the social program of the house. Refusing the natural tendency for compartmentalizing, the staircase was allowed to define the perimeters of the kitchen and living room, creating an open floor with natural light all day long. Light enters from the kitchen in the morning, from the staircase's skylight and from the living room in the afternoon.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Climbing the last and narrow flights of stairs we reach the sleeping quarters where the protagonist is the roof, whose structure was kept apparent, though painted white. On the other side of the staircase, which is the organizing element on every floor, there's a clothing room, backed by a bathroom.

If the visual theme of the house is the white color, methodically repeated on walls, ceilings, carpentry and marble, the clothing room is the surprise at the top of the path towards the private areas of the house. Both the floor and roof structure appear in their natural colors surrounded by closet doors constructed in the same material. It reads as a small wooden box, a counterpoint to the home's white box and being itself counterpointed by the marble box of the bathroom.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

MATERIALS

Fitting with the strategy of maximizing light and the explicitness of the spaces, the material and finish choices used in this project were intentionally limited. White color was used for the walls, ceilings and carpentry due to its spacial qualities and lightness. Wood in its natural color is used for the hardwood floors and clothing room due to its warmth and comfort. Portuguese white Estremoz marble, which covers the ground floor, countertops and on the bathrooms and laundry walls and floors, was chosen for its texture, reflectivity and color.

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

ll of the original wood window frames of the main façade were recovered, the roof was remade with the original Marseille tiles over a pine structure and the decorated eave restored to its original glory. The hardwood floors were remade with southern yellow pine over the original structure and all the surfaces that required waterproofing covered with Portuguese Estremoz marble. Ground floor window frames were remade in iron, as per the original, but redesigned in order to maximize natural illumination (as on the east façade).

Photo by João Morgado, courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Floor plans courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Building sections courtesy of Tiago do Vale Architects

Taipei Sales Center

Taipei Sales Center in Taipei, Taiwan, by Oyler Wu Collaborative, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Often the unusual circumstances surrounding the design of a project leads to the most unusual results. In the case of this temporary sales center in Taipei by Oyler Wu Collaborative, the convergence of a set of ongoing architectural interests converged with an unusual site, timeline, program, and developer to create an unexpected outcome.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

The existing building is really a conglomeration of different buildings, built over several decades. The outcome is a five-story volume pierced (quite literally) and interconnected by an intricate ribbon of rope, steel, and fabric. The renovation creates an entirely new identity and is suggestive of the modern intervention that will soon occupy the site.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Located on the future site of a new 16-story residential tower (also designed by Oyler Wu Collaborative), the developers were interested in renovating the existing corner building to become the sales center for that future building. The program includes meeting and exhibition rooms as well as a model home. Interestingly, the program called for only half of the square footage of the existing building. With the most desirable spaces being on the upper floors, the second and third floors were left unprogrammed.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

The initial design brief called for a new “skin” with a thickness of no more than 7 inches to work within. The limited programmatic needs created the potential for an intervention that somehow made use of those spaces. With the desire to create a “spatial ribbon” that flowed between facades and into the building, one of the primary features of the building is a torqued void that cuts through the southern facade of the building and then re-emerges on the eastern facade. In the spirit of Gordon Matta-Clark, this void offers unusual views of the city through, out of, and deep into the heart of the building.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

With much of building acting as a simple volume, the intricacy of the detail in the facade creates a visual and spatial connector between the openings. Beginning at an oculus at the ground floor, the ribbon flows up through the voids and spreads across the facade eventually linking up with windows, wrapping into adjacent facades.

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Photograph courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Project Team:
Dwayne Oyler, Jenny Wu, Huy Le, Sanjay Sukie, Mike Piscitello, Zhao Ji Luo

Client:
JUT Land Development

Drawing courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Drawing courtesy of Oyler Wu Collaborative

Metalsa Center for Manufacturing Innovation

Metalsa Center for Manufacturing Innovation in Monterrey, Mexico, by Brooks + Scarpa, 2013

The following text and images are courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Site: A 100,000 square foot vacant parcel located within a new Research and Technology Innovation Park developed by the Mexican government. The site is also adjacent to the Monterrey, Mexico airport and adjoins a natural habitat area.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Program: A 55,000 square foot research lab, office and industrial testing facility serving an automotive industry client who designs and manufactures automotive and heavy truck chassis. The first phase encompasses a total of 15,500 square feet, including 5,500 square feet of office space and 11,000 square feet of research labs and warehouse space for testing and developing prototypes. The second phase consists of an additional 5,500 square feet of office space and 34,000 square feet of research labs and warehouse space.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Solution: Industrial buildings are rarely a place that anyone is happy to visit or work. They are typically a direct, and often nefarious programmatic response to the function inside with little consideration for the occupants needs. The approach to this project was to preserve the integrity of a high bay industrial facility and program, while providing a model environment for the users and visitors.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

A saw-toothed roof draws from the geometry of old factories and the surrounding Monterrey Mountains. The angled elements of the roof provide abundant natural daylight to the spaces below at the building’s northernmost elevations. By modulating space and light thru a fractured roof geometry, the building is able to maintain a rational plan to meet the rigorous requirements of the program, while providing a strong connection to the landscape both visually and metaphorically.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

The second major feature of the building is the perforated metal skin that clads the entire façade. Manufactured by the client in their auto manufacturing facility nearby, the custom aluminum skin is both perforated and etched. It incorporates interplay of solid and void, orchestrating areas of both light and shadow, while limiting views into the research areas, necessary to protect proprietary trade secrets. Thus, the industrial program has been transformed from a black box environment to a light filled space with a strong visual connection to the outside.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Each of these strategies and materials, exploit the potential for performance and sensibility while achieving a rich and interesting sensory and aesthetic experience.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Programmatically, the building is divided into two volumes – warehouse/labs and offices functions. The upper story of the offices cantilever over the lower story to the west and is clad in a highly perforated metal skin and is the main entry facade. The lower story is mainly glazed and open to reveal portions of the research laboratory, machine room and other industrial functions not requiring visually security. From the exterior, the warehouse appears to float lightly over the mechanical and intellectual heart of the program, reversing the notion that an industrial building should be solid and protected. Rather, the building seems very open and is intended to feel vulnerable revealing parts of its inner program to public view.

Photo courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

The main entry of the building is located at the northwest corner under the cantilevered volume. It is flanked by a sunken garden to the north, which is overlooked by the surrounding offices. The garden is a natural bioswale that connects to the adjacent water reclamation wetland for the entire PITT campus. A large industrial overhead door located off the entry in the main public space opens to the garden outside.

Drawing courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Drawing courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Drawing courtesy of Brooks + Scarpa Architects

Clifftop House

Clifftop House in Maui, Hawaii, by Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti, 2011

The following text and images are courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Maui's south coast is gentle and works for indulging all-inclusive holidays, whereas its north coast is a rough surfer’s paradise with strong winds and most important perfect waves. Windsurf sail designer Robert Stroj moved from Europe to Maui to lead the design research studio of Neil Pryde in Kahului, Maui. While exploring the island with his wife, they soon fell in love with the area of West Maui Mountains on the north coast; a very unpopulated area with high cliffs at the cost, fresh onshore breezes and unobstructed views to the ocean.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

After finding the perfect spot it took them three years to buy the land and several more to finish the house. Now they live there with their two sons and a dog. The home in such an environment becomes crucially important. Besides being just a home, this house works also as a social venue for the owners. The evening events are culinary blasts, where every guest realizes that cooking is not just necessity but more an obsession. Therefore the kitchen and the dining form the center of the house.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Perfect ocean view, beautiful cliffs, strong winds and unspoiled rough landscape—Is there any space for a house? It was a very unusual task for us European architects usually dealing with quite dense urban environment. It was hard to understand before its first visit and easy to respond after some days spent there.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The concept defines several "houses" under a common roof. Each separate "mini house" is a U-shaped volume in order to open up and frame the perfect ocean view. The houses are self-contained private units combining bedroom and bathroom as en-suite double room. A fluid public space between enclosed private volumes serves for cooking, eating, lounging, etc.

Sketches courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The ensured privacy within the separate houses allows for a home without hallways, and furthermore for a continuous social and typological change: the four-person family home can be easily transformed into a mini hotel for 3 couples or 3 families with small children. The spatial concept even allowed the transformation of both "service houses" into a workspace: the garage into a sail loft - workshop for sail prototypes and the utility into Robert’s ocean view design studio.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

The roof concept is strongly related to the rough climate with plenty of sun and strong ocean winds. The area of the roof is twice the size of the house, so the size of the covered outdoor space equals the size of the indoor space. The house needs no air-conditioning, since it is cross ventilated throughout. The folded roof is carefully attached to the walls of the U-shaped volumes and defines specific spaces. It also serves as a folded wooden deck for contemplating, playing or releasing the radio controlled flying wings, with the aim to materially and topologically integrate the house with the landscape.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Local materials are used for the finishing of the house. The walls are rendered with the specific plaster using beach sand inside and outside and furthermore emphasize the smooth indoor-outdoor relationship. The same Ipe wood is used for the floor, terrace, ceiling and even the roof. On the other hand the house is for U.S. standards typically constructed out of concrete blocks, which just reflects the European origin of the owner.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

We like to believe the architecture is done on site with a strong control of the construction process. Here we were not able to visit the site while in process as often as we would want to, but all the essential supervision and site-coordination work was carefully done by the owner, an industrial designer mind who was always in touch online. The owners’ true passion for this house was stretched to the level that the last seven years they largely helped with most of the physical work from roof cladding to stucco or furniture. Within this extensive process they have already built a long-lasting relationship with this house, now their home.

Photo: Cristobal Palma, courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Floor plan courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Diagram courtesy of Dekleva Gregorič Arhitekti

Jean-Claude Carrière Theatre

Jean-Claude Carrière Theatre in Montpellier, France, by A+ Architecture, 2013

All photographs by Marie Caroline Lucat, courtesy of A+ Architects

Given the 21st-century goal of reducing carbon emissions in everything from manufacturing and transportation to food production and building, architects and engineers are looking to timber structures as a means of reducing the demand for carbon-intensive concrete and energy-intensive steel. Most of the attention is being given to research aimed at high-rise timber structures, some up to 42 stories tall. But this theater at Domaine d'O in Montpellier, France, designed by A+ Architecture, illustrates the potential in smaller structures in wood.

Wood is immediately visible on the exterior of Jean-Claude Carrière Theatre as a diamond-shaped lattice that is variable across the solid facades of the theater. But the use of wood goes well beyond this applied pattern—the exterior walls (tilt-up construction), floors, roof framing, interior walls, glass framing, as well as the facade are all made from wood. The architects put the quantity of wood in the building at 1000 cubic meters (35,300 cubic feet). In concert with the decision to use wood for its low-carbon and low-energy environmental benefits, the project was conceived and built in only 12 months.

Other benefits that the architects give to the decision to build almost entirely in wood include easy prefabrication, a clean construction site (dry, instead of wet), and that 90% of the project can be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere. This last part is important, given the fact that the carbon captured in trees stays there only as long as the material is in use; only until it is burned in a fire, for example. This does point to one concern with timber structures, but "advocates for wooden buildings say mass timber does not ignite easily and forms a layer of char that slows burning," according to a New York Times article on high-rises framed in wood.

Yet even with all of these benefits and the widespread use of wood (visible and not) in the Jean-Claude Carrière Theatre, it's the diamond lattice that commands the most attention, partly because it can be found throughout the whole project. This pattern comes into the lobby through the glass framing; the pattern is more regular here but it is particularly striking, owing to the transparency of the wall. In some places the lattice of the facade extends in front of the diamond openings, creating a layering that recalls the Prairie designs of Frank Lloyd Wright. Lastly, the wood lattice can be found inside the theater itself, where it stands out in front of a black background. From outside to inside, from front door to theater, the project stresses the environmental benefits of wood by making rich and enjoyable spaces where wood predominates.