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July 2024

Yada Theatre // GOA

Project Status: Under ConstructionSize: 5000 sqft – 10,000 sqft

Text description provided by the architects.

Yangxian Xishan was born at a time when the construction of small town was turning from feverish pursuit of profits to rational development. It is a well-planned field experiment by developers and architects in the contemporary context of urbanization, and also the first town development project that is expected to realize “opening in the whole region and self-operation”.



Yada Theater is a cultural building in the town for residents and visitors.

Different from many buildings for performing arts in cities, Yada Theater located among green hills and tea fields is a true “theater in nature”. Based on the advantaged natural conditions, the design of Yada Theater, instead of adopting the “closed box” approach, interprets a unique experience blending art with nature for visitors from the perspective of “openness”.



The design draws on the cultural allusions of the literati collection in the Song Dynasty to create a contemporary cultural landmark located in nature. After completion, the theater will serve as a venue not only for performing arts activities in the town, but also for residents’ cultural life.

The central courtyard is the core of the theater, interspersed with a series of grey spaces.



To interpret “local characteristics”, architects studied local building materials, and finally selected the grayish green ceramic panels produced in Yixing as exterior wall materials, creating a simple and elegant atmosphere. The 530-seat multifunctional auditorium can realize transition between open and picture-frame stages, meeting the needs of professional performances such as concerts and dramas and adapting to the scenes of other cultural events.



A floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall is used creatively in the stage background, which makes you feel as if you are sitting in a “Song-style couch” set in tea fields and water features.

As the project adopts integrated design, the design team, apart from the architectural, interior and landscape design, reviewed the integration effect of the illumination and curtain wall design as well as the special design of the auditorium, stage, lighting and acoustics, which is a new and meaningful attempt..



Yada Theatre Gallery

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Pretty Penny: 9 Ways Copper Details Elevate Architectural Design

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Apart from being well-known for its conductive properties in electrical wiring and industrial uses, copper is also famous for its health benefits (the mineral, after all, is found in all tissues of the human body). People across the world have also been using copper utensils to store water or serve food. And while copper is commonly used in its raw state, alloys like brass and bronze have also remained popular for centuries.

In design, copper has been used in a variety of ways ranging from small lighting fixtures and vases to entire building façades. The metal’s earthy tone and malleable nature make it a very handy material in a designer’s arsenal. In addition to different scales, it also works with a variety of design styles – from rustic restaurants to sleek contemporary apartments. The following projects illustrate a few ways in which designers have incorporated copper into their designs in diverse ways.

Hotel DAS TRIEST, PORTO Bar by BEHF Architects, Vienna, Austria

Industrial Accents

One of the easiest ways to incorporate metallic finishes is by using them as accents to highlight other materials, forms and furniture. The interior of the Hotel DAS TRIEST, PORTO Bar by BEHF Architects is a good example of this technique. The studio has used the versatile material in multiple ways in the design. In addition to the cladding on the entrance, the metal is used to create minimal shelves and gridded ceiling décor that defines and warms the space. The theme is reinforced by adding a copper finish to the travertine store bar. Wooden furniture lines the interior, echoing the warm tone of the striking copper accents.

Grotta Aeris by SOFTlab, Raleigh, North Carolina

Dramatic Entrance

From windows to mirrors to shiny stone walls, people are often tempted to glance at their reflections as they walk by glossy surfaces. Reflecting this human tendency, a copper-clad entryway is bound to be a crowd stopper. With their sculptural doorway in Raleigh, North Carolina, SOFTlab proves exactly this. The grand entrance is created by putting together copper-toned composite panels to resemble crystalline forms in nature. An organic rock-like mass is created by joining 70 flat-cut black aluminum pieces and then adding the copper panels on top using high-strength magnets. Taking this a step further, LEDs are placed in the seams to breathe life into the structure as they create reflections on the metal surfaces.

Sharp by Havel Ruck Projects, Houston, Texas

Juxtaposition With Black

The warm tones of copper often appear brighter when placed next to darker colors. Pairing it with hues like black or navy blue also tones down the reflectiveness of the metal, making it more usable. Havel Ruck Projects made a house-shaped cupric void in a home in Houston, Texas. As it moves along the length of the home, the void takes a 180-degree twist to form the shape of an inverted pitch roof house on the other end. The plywood walls of the void are coated with copper foil to capture and reflect sunlight inside. Here, the black façade of the house balances this illuminated core and creates a strong visual contrast.

Copper Reception by Mizzi Studio, London, United Kingdom

Statement Furniture

Copper can be used in more than just ceiling panels and lighting fixtures. Take for example this reception area in London, designed by Mizzi Studio. The stunning space features a statement desk covered entirely in copper. The malleability of the metal allows it to be bent into a curved cocoon that acts like a cubicle. The surface of the desk was left untreated to integrate it with the exposed finishes in the entire space.

Shenzhen Bay Gallery by Studio Link-Arc, LLC, Shenzhen, China

Façade Treatment

Although less common, architects are also incorporating copper in exterior surfaces. Highly malleable copper sheets can be curved, folded or perforated to create different volumes and forms. Shenzhen Bay Gallery by Studio Link-Arc, LLC features a dramatic metallic façade with several openings and patterns. The perforations in the façade help control the amount of light that enters the building while also creating interesting shadows that dapple and define the interior space.

NOXON by On Architects Inc., Ulsan, South Korea

Scorched Surfaces

Apart from use in their natural state, metal surfaces can also be treated in different ways to create interesting effects. For example, they can be painted or chemically treated to create a weathered appearance. This effect can be a step further, as in the case of NOXON by On Architects Inc. by scorching copper elements. These plates on the external walls were beaten by hand and then fire-treated to create unique patterns, keeping in mind that copper will oxidize with time and further enhance them. The aged appearance of the building is also a nod to the historic character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Potovoltaric Pavilion Potsdam by O&O Baukunst, Potsdam, Germany

Functional Finishes

Photovoltaic panels can be more than just an energy-generating element. O&O Baukunst created the Potovoltaric Pavilion Potsdam as an experimental design that incorporates such panels. The photovoltaic panels held in steel frames make up the elevations of the pavilion. The copper backs of these panels are visible inside, standing out against the pale floor and ceiling.

Experimentarium by CEBRA, Hellerup, Denmark

Grand Staircases

A central staircase often becomes a focal point in any space. But it attracts even more attention when it is covered in gleaming orange metal. The large helix staircase in CEBRA’s design Experimentarium fills the central void in the science center, connecting its four floors. The DNA strand-shaped copper staircase hints at the scientific nature of exhibits within the space both due to its form and material.

Copper Cube Haus by DIG Architects, Mumbai, India

Sleek Kitchens

Plain metallic surfaces can add a dash of glamour and complexity to minimal or monochrome interiors with little effort. As an added bonus, these details also reflect light, making a space look cozy or spacious. In Copper Cube Haus, DIG Architects created a central kitchen block and covered it entirely in copper. This box adds warmth to the space, as it intensifies the cozy effect created by warm-toned lights, and helps separate the living area from the other functional spaces. The theme is repeated in the bathroom by using copper accents in the black and white bathroom.

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Centuries of Work: 3 Cathedrals Whose Construction Lasted Longer Than Sagrada Familia

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The star-lighting event of Sagrada Familia on Dec 8, 2021 announced the completion of one of its 18 towers, the tower of the Virgin Mary. Since the first cornerstone laid in 1882, the construction of this other-wordly church — famously attributed to Antoni Gaudí, although a number of architects have been involved in the design — has continued for 139 years already. However, the finishing date of the whole project is likely to be extended beyond the expected date of 2026, due to a loss of tourist revenue during its nine-month closure in 2020 due to the pandemic.

This is not the first crisis that Sagrada Familia has confronted, given that it also faced a prolonged pause in construction during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Apart from the financial and socio-historical factors, the complexity of the design itself has also contributed to the church’s high cost in time and money — even now, with modern construction technologies. While 139 years might sound like an unbelievably drawn out timeline in contemporary architectural contexts, the Sagrada Familia’s prolonged construction is not unprecedented in the architectural history of churches; in fact, many earlier Gothic structures took centuries longer to build. While Barcelona’s most famous structure may not serve as the bishop’s seat, this article considers three famous Gothic cathedrals that took many more centuries to build.

The south façade of Cologne Cathedral. Image by Velvet via Wikipedia.

632 Years: Cologne Cathedral (1248~1880)

Now a popular site to visit in Germany, this gargantuan gothic structure took more than 600 years to finish. At the time when the construction began, gothic architecture has just gained its popularity in medieval Europe. Cologne required an impressive, new structure to house the relics of the Three Wise Men, thus establishing the city’s importance to European Christianity. After demolishing the extant Romanesque style cathedral on the site, the construction was pushed forwards smoothly for some 200 years, with service areas including the choir finished and the structure soon in use.

The construction ceased in the 16th century due to financial roadblocks and a general decrease in enthusiasm for the gothic aesthetic. The cathedral was therefore not completed until the Gothic Revival period of the 19th century. Faithfully following the original design, construction was restored, and when the building was finally finished in 1880, it became the tallest structure in the world, with both towers exceeding 515 feet (157 meters).

St vitus cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral. Image by Alvesgaspar via Wikipedia.

585 Years: St. Vitus Cathedral (1344~1929)

Another iconically intricate piece of gothic architecture, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague also took around six centuries to build. The story of St. Vitus Cathedral holds some similarities to that of Cologne Cathedral. St. Vitus Cathedral also had a Romanesque precedent, which was considered unsuitable after the religious relics that it held acquired elevated importance. Likewise, the fashionable gothic architecture of the time was chosen to replace the older and more simple cathedral. The construction continued seamlessly for about 70 years until the Hussite Wars brought it to a halt in the early 15th century. Although it is of a considerably smaller size than Cologne Cathedral, the complexity and the expensive nature of gothic architecture meant that only half of the cathedral was complete before the wars began, including a choir, chapels and a bell tower which accommodates the largest bell in Czech.

Moreover, a fire in 1541 severely damaged the half-built structure, meaning that there was even more work to do. Unlike the Cologne Cathedral, whose gothic aesthetics was strictly preserved, as the construction continued in the following centuries, the building accumulated Renaissance and Baroque elements. This is seen, for example, in the Baroque cap on the bell tower. Mass restoration began in the late 19th century, finishing up the western part of the building in a neo-gothic style.

duomo di milano
The front façade of Milan Cathedral. Image via Duomo di Milano official site.

579 Years: The Milan Cathedral (1386~1965)

No conversation about the complexity of Gothic architecture is completed without mentioning the Duomo di Milano, whose complicated (at times dramatic) construction history is as famous as its complex aesthetics. The cathedral has 135 spires and over 3,300 statues, forming facades of visually astonishing complexity that follow an intense rhythm. Its building period spanned across the 14th century to the 20th, consuming almost the same years as St. Vitus Cathedral.

However, unlike Cologne and St. Vitus, the construction of Duomo di Milano was continuous over the six centuries, which has been extensively documented in a chronological list of the architects and engineers in charge. Different master masons held different ideas and design preferences — both in terms of aesthetics and engineering — which also reflected changing construction trends. The original Gothic style design was altered in the 16th and early 17th century, adopting Renaissance elements on both the exterior and interior to emphasize the Italian nature of the cathedral (traditional Gothic elements were increasingly associated with Northern Europe).

One obvious piece of evidence is the front façade that we see today, where the windows present a clear mixture of styles between the upper and lower layers. Apart from diverting ideas from one leading architect to the next, the choice of material also contributed to prolonged construction. Due to its soft and reactive nature, the rose-colored marble requires constant maintenance during the whole construction process and even after completion.

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Fountain Place // Sentech Architectural Systems

Project Status: BuiltYear: 2019Size: 5000 sqft – 10,000 sqftBudget: 50M – 100M

Text description provided by the architects.

Dancing Fountains, striking 2-story high lobbies with glass panels spanning almost 30′ from floor-to-ceiling and interior feature walls that capture and reflect surrounding light are just the beginning of what make the renovation of Fountain Place a timeless architectural masterpiece. The 60-story office tower was originally designed in 1986 by architect Henry Cobb of I.M.

© Sentech Architectural Systems

Pei & Partners. A signature structure and icon on the Dallas skyline, Cobb described the original design for the building as “geometry pursued with rigor”- an ode to the towers subtractive form of a glazed prism employing the diagonal of a double square.

In 2014, Atlanta-based Goddard Investment Group purchased the building and undertook one of the most ambitious rehabilitations with the goal of re-inventing the space as an integrated complex.

© Sentech Architectural Systems

Employing architectural icon Gensler and New York-based architect James Carpenter Design Associates to lead the renovation of the lobby, the plaza and the common areas of Fountain Place, the existing mezzanines were removed to vault the ceiling and maximize penetration of light. During the renovation, in an effort to increase the connection between the interior entrance lobbies and Dan Kiley’s famous outdoor water gardens, the original mezzanines were removed to make way for the new structural glass façade and lobby enclosure walls.

© Sentech Architectural Systems

The existing lobby enclosure walls were replaced with a frameless, clear span monumental glass façade that embraces the visual connection between the tower lobbies and the bubbler fountains, Texas cypress trees, waterfalls and central fountain that make up the exterior garden. Utilizing Sentech’s VetraSpan all-glass full-height façade system, the low-iron glass panels span 29′-6″ from floor-to-ceiling and over 10′ in width with no visible supporting elements or additional structure to ensure complete transparency.

© Sentech Architectural Systems

Each panel weighs over 6,400 pounds, and the exterior façade totals approximately 6,720 square feet of structural glass. To achieve a clean aesthetic with the sizes required under load conditions, panels had to be manufactured with extremely tight bow tolerances, and the perimeter support systems were designed to reduce deformation while allowing for building movement.

To add to the striking aesthetic, the elevator cores were clad in 9′-high panels of backlit cast glass, creating feature walls that draw the eye and define the space. The elevator core’s translucent glass captures and reflects the surrounding cascades of natural light. Transparent and bright, this re-defined structure captures the original design intent of its architectural masters.

The resulting monumental, 2-story high frameless glass walls create transparent and seamless views from the lobby into the garden and beyond, enabling a harmonious transition between the interior and exterior environments. Fountain Place is LEED Gold Certified, and Winner of D CEO’s 2020 Best Redevelopment/Renovation Award.Executive Architect: GenslerArchitect: James Carpenter Design AssociatesGlazing Contractor: Admiral GlassGeneral Contractor: Turner Construction CompanyPhotographer: Timothy Hursley.

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Six ticket houses at the old harbour // Yrki architects

Project Status: BuiltYear: 2020Size: 0 sqft – 1000 sqftBudget: 10K – 50K

Text description provided by the architects.

Six houses at the old harbour

Located on a wharf in the old harbour of Reykjavik, these six wooden houses were designed to replace a cluster of

run- down sheds housing ticket offices for whale watching and sightseeing enterprises.

The project is part of an urban planning effort in making the old harbour more attractive for the public as more and

© Yrki architects

© Yrki architects

more restaurants, shops and other services have settled in this area for the past years.

The inspiration for this project was an old photograph showing long gone wooden houses with the gable facing an

ancient alley in the vicinity of the old harbour.

The wooden houses are linked together by spacious verandas, with seating areas and storage units for marine

© Yrki architects

© Yrki architects


The random character of the former sheds is replaced by a disciplined scheme of repetitive structures and

designs and a limited choice of materials.

The small scale of the houses calls for a careful treatment of each detail..

© Yrki architects

© Yrki architects

Six ticket houses at the old harbour Gallery

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Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at University of Oregon // Ennead Architects

Project Status: BuiltYear: 2020Size: 100,000 sqft – 300,000 sqft

Text description provided by the architects.

How can architecture encourage a community of researchers to perform at their best?

The Knight Campus’ transformative, human-centered design supports researchers as they advance the initiative’s mission to shorten the timeline between discovery, development, and deployment of innovations with a positive societal impact. Taking inspiration from the region’s landscape and its interdisciplinary cultural ethos, the building’s architecture reinforces wellness, community, and expresses a human connection to nature.The Knight Campus was designed to allow researchers and students to perform at their very best.

© Ennead Architects

In support of this goal, the project includes a robust wellness program that focuses on occupant health, happiness, connections to nature, and promotion of a positive work-life balance. A common wellness area comprised of lockers, shower rooms, and changing areas encourages researchers to bike to work and to take advantage of the local landscape by jogging and hiking during break periods, and supporting programs like ‘run with a researcher’.

Within the building, the Knight Campus endeavors to maintain connections to nature through access to stunning views, and direct connections to intimate riparian environments including a light-filled courtyard environment where users can relax and socialize, and elevated pathways and gathering spaces along a restored campus wetland environment – ‘the millrace’.

© Ennead Architects

Locally sourced natural wood products are used throughout to reduce the project’s carbon impact. For a portion of its structure, the building utilizes sustainable cross-laminated timber (CLT), which is a beautiful and locally sourced low-carbon footprint material.

Daylight is a wellness commodity that is driven throughout the building: every regularly occupied workspace is organized to have direct access to light and views.

© Ennead Architects

Narrow floorplates and high floor-to-floor heights ensure equitable access to light and reduce the need for artificial light during daytime hours. The buildings’ double wall facade provides shade and glare control for the research spaces inside and creates immersive views into the surrounding landscape.The Knight Campus was envisioned to be uniquely Oregonian.

© Ennead Architects

Being Oregonian hearkens back to the spirit of pioneers of the Oregon Trail, to the entrepreneurial legacy of Phil and Penny Knight, and to the very landscape of this great state. The Knight Campus aspires to be equally pioneering in its science and distinctive in its physical identity.

The design achieved LEED Gold version 4 as well as 35% better performance than Oregon Energy Code, and has resulted in a projected EUI of 109 kBTU/sf/yr.

© Ennead Architects

The project is also pursuing additional certifications for building wellness, including Fitwel and WELL Building..

© Ennead Architects

Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at University of Oregon Gallery

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Animating Life: 9 Real-World Buildings Designed Like Disney Movie Sets

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Apart from swoon-worthy characters and catchy songs, Disney movies are also well known for their impeccable graphics and impressive architecture. From tiny homes in the woods to grand royal castles, these movies have always made users wish they could live in these structures, even if it is just for a day. Princess Aurora’s room from Sleeping Beauty, the candy house from Hansel and Gretel and the Cinderella Castle are just a few examples — and some architects have been taking note.

But while it might be difficult to run along with Elsa on the ice-sculpted staircase or hide with Winnie the Pooh in his treehouse, there are some real alternatives that are no less magical. Below is a list of a few structures found across the world that exhibit forms, characteristics or aesthetics that resemble some iconic Disney homes.

Rapunzel’s Tower from Tangled

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Ann Hamilton Tower by JENSEN Architects, Geyserville, California

Rapunzel’s tower has long been associated with entrapment and, of course, wishes for long golden locks. While charming and beautiful, the tall structure standing alone in the woods cannot be mistaken for anything but the home of a hermit who wishes to stay away from society.

In the Ann Hamilton Tower by JENSEN Architects, we see the sense of seclusion and detachment in its bare concrete façade and concealed fenestrations. But unlike the Disney version, this performance space features large double helix stairs that invited visitors to stand on and observe performers on the other end, allowing the two sides interact with one another (albeit at a distance).

Fa Family Home from Mulan

Qionghai Lake 17° General Hall Hotel by Beijing Puri Lighting Design Co.,LTD. Xichang, China

Mulan’s home in the 1998 animated film is laid out in a rectangular plot with a central courtyard. Just as in the layout, with its sloping roofs and red accents, the form of the building also looks to traditional Chinese residential architecture; it even comes with an adjoining stable and a serene garden with a river flowing through.

Qionghai Lake 17° General Hall Hotel in Xichang also stays true to its heritage by keeping intact the wooden structure and details that have existed on the site for over a century. Beijing Puri Lighting Design Co.,LTD. retrofitted the former residence of Liu Xiangzhi, an official in the Qing Dynasty, to create a dreamlike experience that is rooted in history. Warm white lights in the forms of dots, lines and planes are added throughout the complex to accentuate the architectural details of the hotel.

Elsa’s Castle from Frozen

IceHotel365: Dreamscape by Atmos Studio, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Whether it is due to its catchy tune or to the stunning graphics, Elsa singing “Let It Go” as she strides along a snow-capped mountain to build her icy castle is a scene that is not easily forgotten. Here, she magically produces a large castle with stunning pink and blue crystalline forms and details out of thin air.

What can’t be accomplished with magic in real life, Atmos Studio does with modern temperature control methods and actual ice. Icehotel 365 in Sweden is a space where visitors can experience art in the form of frozen water and experience living in ice suites. For this hotel, Atmos created an art suite complete with a swooping staircase and icy tentacles that partition spaces and create a mystical loft for sleeping.

Cottage of the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Shell House / The language of forest by Tono Mirai architects, Nagano Prefecture, Japan

When running away from her evil stepmother, Snow White found sanctuary in a quaint cottage in the woods. That forest home for the seven dwarfs was crafted using natural materials and rustic décor elements.

Likewise, in the Japanese Shell House, the language of forest provides the perfect hideout away from civilization. Its curved form partially encloses a kitchenette, island, dining area, bathroom and bedroom. Local wood, earth and manual construction methods all contribute to the project’s sustainability. A large opening on one side allows light enter the house, while the shingled cocoon on the other side helps it to blend with the surrounding forest.

The Beast’s Library from Beauty and the Beast

Dujiangyan Zhongshuge by X+LIVING, Dujiangyan, China

The Beast’s library has been a fantasy of many book lovers across the world. Endless stacks of books, grand spiral staircases and classic motifs and ornaments all hint at magical adventures beyond the pages of these books. A similar real-life example of a bibliophile’s paradise is the Dujiangyan Zhongshuge conceptualized by X+LIVING. Tall arches interconnect with curved shelves and dramatic staircases to create the illusion of a book-filled maze that is isolated from the outside world. The arches separate spaces and create designated pockets for different genres. Meanwhile, readers are invited to indulge their curiosity as they explore the space to find books that they love.

Pride Rock from The Lion King

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Ring House by Deca Architecture, Crete, Greece

When Simba was born, Rafiki — the mandrill who acts as advisor to the animal kingdom — trotted to the edge of the Pride Rock to introduce the future ruler to the animals of the Pride Lands. This massive rock formation creates a perch that overlooks the entire kingdom; the natural monument allows the ruling lions of the pride to observe the entirety of their land.

In a not dissimilar manner, Ring House by Deca Architecture stands alone on a hill and overlooks the endless sea on one side. The residence follows the natural contours of the hill and is a landscape preservation intervention. The house’s concrete beams provide shade while allowing natural ventilation. They are also fitted with solar panels to generate power. In addition to this, pillars covered in stone make up the external walls of the home.

Lightfoot House from Onward

The Mushroom – a wood house in the forest by ZJJZ Atelier, Jiangxi, China

In the movie Onward, Ian Lightfoot and his family live in a colorful mushroom-like house. Before their city evolved to what is a modern-day town, the creatures all lived in primitive mushroom houses in the mountains that featured wooden textures and hues.

ZJJZ Atelier’s The Mushroom is a practical and habitable version of those homes. It is a compact structure on stilts that is made of two volumes – a conical guest room with a spectacular view of the forest and a rectangular block that houses the bathing and storage facilities. There is also a loft in the cone that can be a secondary area for children. The selection of pinewood and concrete surfaces for the structure helps it become one with its surroundings, especially as these materials change tones with the weather.

King Triton’s Palace from The Little Mermaid

A Palace For Nature by sanzpont [arquitectura], Doha, Qatar

Ariel’s father’s palace in the animated movie was composed of imposing towers and organic forms. For the architectural enthusiasts watching the film, the underwater structure appears akin to the works of Antoni Gaudí.

sanzpont [arquitectura] created a similar fantasy above the ground as a competition entry; however, almost antithetical to the site of the underwater palace in the Little Mermaid, the Palace for Nature is imagined as a self-sustaining oasis in the middle of a desert. The design of the central dome is inspired by the native Sidra tree with a spiralling column anchoring it to the ground in the center. One can also see elements of Qatari architecture blended in with new-age parametric geometry. A micro-climate is created inside the structure with a mist irrigation system that uses water from the underground aquifer. Likewise, the outer skin of the dome and the roof contain photovoltaic panels to generate solar energy.

Sultan’s Palace from Aladdin

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Emirates Palace by WATG and Wimberly Interiors, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The home of Agrabah’s Sultan and his daughter Jasmine took inspiration from Indo-Islamic and Mughal architecture. Multiple minarets and exaggerated gilded domes speak of the wealth and prosperity of the Sultan.

The Emirates Palace makes a very similar statement of grandiosity. The brief was to create a large conference hotel that stayed true to the style and traditions of Abu Dhabi. Following those guidelines, the grand edifice is built using marble, granite and stone along with self-cleaning coated glass in balconies and spandrels. The firm also uses casting and etching methods to carve traditional motifs and patterns.

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Invisible Dwelling // onSITE

Project Status: ConceptSize: 0 sqft – 1000 sqft

Text description provided by the architects.

60 square meters is a small object but 15 square meters, 4 times, is an experience : a journey.The Journey begins at the entry to a tertiary wadi. In practical terms a head house provides shaded parking, fresh dates and other front-of-house services as well as back-of-house infrastructure. But in transcendental terms a head house creates a threshold : a preparation : a transformation.

© onSITE

Here, you leave all the trappings of contemporary life (cars, computers, cell phones, electric appliances, luggage, money, time pieces, etc). you shower, you change into an uniquely coutured kaftan and you ascend a wadi-wide monumental stair. This is not the entry to a building but rather the entry to a life experience.

© onSITE

The majesty of the landscape invites you to wander, to explore : the way that travelers through this place have for thousands of years. History reminds you that this is a place of shared cultural heritage. There is something universal here. As you explore you discover both sanctuary and prospect.

© onSITE

To know this place you cannot simply visit it, you must live it.In the words of Ibn Battuta “He who enters is lost; he who leaves is born.”The project resists the urge to build on the highest, the most beautiful, the most visible or the most interesting parts of the landscape and instead seeks to preserves the pristine natural beauty of those places.The site is not specific in its location but rather specific in its quality.

© onSITE

The tertiary wadis are higher and thus limited in the severity of flood danger but also, as local camel farmers demonstrate, their single or double entry points facilitate isolation and preservation. Built elements are nestled within the high ground in the inlets which feed the wadi. Here, they are above the floodway and back from rock fall.

© onSITE

These pockets are secluded places of extreme tranquility, sheltered from the wind, and silenced by the surrounding cliff walls. Here, 5 single room, single aperture instruments take place. Each born of the materials of the place. Each a rough, weathered geolith – armored from the harsh desert – shielding a carefully oriented and tuned, immersive sensual experience of a primary terrestrial element: earth, water, fire, void and sky.

The spaces are not “programmed” in the conventional contemporary sense, neither are they furnished nor decorated.

© onSITE

Rather they are “programmable”. This is to say that while the fire room is in no way a “kitchen” all the resources for food storage and preparation reside in this space. Formally, the fire room is the tallest of the elements it is an inhabitable chimney. You enter it through a tall, narrow slot, guided by a slice of light washing a wall of meticulously hand textured earthen plaster.

© onSITE

The texture both catches the light of the flickering fire and holds the aroma of charred timber. The crackling kindling is enhanced by the dense mineral surfaces. Here, the intentional suppression of the expected heightens your consciousness of the subtle, of the fundamental : this is luxury.In this arid place, water is among the most precious of commodities.

© onSITE

To survive here literally requires the mastery of hydrology. And so the vestiges cultures who have thrived on this land include brilliant examples of hydraulic infrastructure. Harvesting water in the generic sense is insufficient. The water room is thus calibrated to this equilibrium: The saltwater bath is therapeutic, the steamy hot water shower is sanitary, the cold fresh water quenches thirst, the gray water evacuates waste and the black water nourishes plantings.

Like descending into a well, the entry to the water room is a long shallow stair.

© onSITE

The entry corridor leads you onto a promontory surrounded by a pool in the center of a dome, under a single oculus. You shower in an ether of steam and light. You soak in a suspension of water and salts.Here, the intentional augmentation of the arbitrary enriches your experience of the habitual, of the necessary : this is luxury.The Nabateen were expert stone masons.

© onSITE

Their habitations for eternity : their tombs for the dead, were carved into the live rock. Their temporal habitations : their villages for the living, were erected from rubble masonry. This experience aspires to be both : timeless and light on the land. It’s structural and constructive systems emerge directly from material and constructive cultures of the place while simultaneously writing the next chapter of this shared language : digitally carved complex stone geometries, simply assembled with traditional earth mortar masonry technologies.

The earth room is entered obliquely from a bent corridor.

© onSITE

The space is initially withheld from your view. As you round the corner you remain on-grade with the adjacent land and find yourself oriented toward a naturally placed boulder. You are offered a view but the focal length is short and aperture is low. You are encouraged to approach the floor.

© onSITE

From this vantage you appreciate a textile ground-scape. While hand rendered earthen plaster has created the atmosphere, now felted wool fiber delivers intimacy. You kneel, you sit, you lay.

Here, your visual perceptions are intentionally limited to provoke your tactile perceptions, to draw you close to the earth, to rest your body : this is luxury.

At a time when globalization has drawn many people to urban centers and has diluted experience to ephemeral images – iconic non-experiences which can be captured and shared on social media, which belong to everywhere and nowhere and which fade as quickly as they rise all proport authenticity.

© onSITE

This place is about focus and memory.You enter the void room by climbing a stair. Your vantage is high, your view is long. The room is dead silent. A felted textile envelope, like a Bedouin tent absorbs visual and auditable noise. You observe the landscape but you are removed from the experience of it.

© onSITE

A central stone monolith is a place to sit, a place to write, a place to eat, a place to read.Here, the emptiness is intentional, the abstraction is real, this place is a blank canvas : this is luxury.The sky room is a boundless observatory on the stone ridge. It is accessed first by a stair carved directly into the live rock face following the natural contours, than through a vault-like enclosure and up a spiral stair to a honed stone platform.

By the time you arrive the land is becoming dark and the sky is vibrant. The only tool you need is the telescope that you discover on the axis of the stair. As you situate yourself in the cosmos night turns into dawn.Here time bends and disappears, infinity becomes measurable : this is luxury.A great teacher once said that “architecture is the marriage of art and engineering”.

From their intricately carved monolithic necropolis freed from the live sandstone outcrops to their patiently hand fashioned rubble and clay metropolis born of the earth, few civilizations -ancient or contemporary- have demonstrated this foundational relationship between creativity and ingenuity more fully than the Nabatean. To this end, the collaborative underpinning of our team is a mutual reverence for disciplinary expertise.

This is to say that we have assembled a team of architects, material scientists, landscape designers, exhibition designers, an earth plaster sculptor and a textile artist, all of whom offer specific disciplinary expertise but all with shared professional experiences, shared values and a shared investment in conceiving and realizing a coherent collaborative work of architecture: a work of engineering to which the art is indissociable and a work of art to which the engineering is indissociable.

The ambition of our team is that cultural project is equally as important as the architectural project.

This is to say that the collaborative making of the architecture is as important as the physical manifestation. As with all of our projects, a series of exhibitions, publications and training workshops will ensure that the material and human resources developed for the project transition into sustainable contributions to local culture and economy.

With the long history of domestication of sheep, goats, and camels in the Arabian Peninsula, these animals’ fibers have been used in producing various textiles and materials for clothing and shelter in the region.

An abundant natural resource, animal fibers are highly suitable for the climate in both hot and cold temperatures. Many elements of the traditional Bedouin home such as the exterior and interior walls, floors, roofs, and various furniture (mattresses, cushions, and rugs) are some form of a textile, woven using a simple floor loom.

This Bedouin loom has remained a primitive tool, which can produce very intricate weavings. The essence of this loom is preserved while exploring the evolution of this simple technology to create complex textiles which can become three-dimensional and spatial. The textile becomes ‘inhabitable space’. Sheep’s wool is an abundant and versatile fiber.

It can be used in various forms, from loose fiber for stuffing mattresses and blankets, to spun yarn for weaving into various textiles for garments, interiors, and exteriors. Wool can also be ‘molded’ through felting, which transforms the loose fibers into textiles and objects. Felting is synonymous with ancient Nabatean building processes where mountains are carved to create spaces within, producing loose rubble, which is then assembled into built structures for living.

The loose wool is sheared off the sheep’s body and then reassembled into two and three-dimensional forms – ‘inhabitable works of Art’. To be invisible means to be immersed the history of a place, to be in harmony with the spirit of a place. To be invisible means to resist the global and the virtual in favor of the local and the real, to be built from local materials rather than from imported products, to be simultaneously high-tech and low-tech, to be experiential rather than iconic, to improve rather than to degrade with age, and to enrich rather than to exploit culture.

To be invisible means to be monumentally modest: an architecture confident enough in the power of its experience to fade quietly into its setting. This is luxury..

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Siam Premium Outlets // Grimshaw Architects

Project Status: BuiltYear: 2020Size: 500,000 sqft – 1,000,000 sqft

Text description provided by the architects.

Siam Premium Outlets, completed in 2020, is a luxury premium outlet that offers an experience beyond shopping with amenities and features that make the centre an exciting community space and a relaxing shopping destination.

The project is home to international and local brands and provides an ‘oasis’ serving locals and tourists and

features an array of dining, leisure, children’s playgrounds and installations by local artists.

© Grimshaw Architects

© Grimshaw Architects

No imported materialswere used and all construction labor was local. Rain is captured across the shopping podium and the surroundinglandscape into holding ponds for irrigating of the landscape. A series of sunken spaces along the promenadesbreak up the linearity and provide shade, including a feature amphitheater and a children’s playground, which hasproven to be popular with visitors.

© Grimshaw Architects

© Grimshaw Architects

Highly visible retail frontages create an open feel and the walking distances between feature attractions assist visitors with wayfinding and orientation. The many entries are highly visible, decorated with soft landscape and overhead artistic canopies with light diffusing membranes. Other features include large food hall concepts and locally inspired art installations on the promenades, themed around sustainability, occupying the generous promenades with an ability to update and change the works over time.

© Grimshaw Architects

© Grimshaw Architects

Siam Premium Outlets Bangkok will be an economic driver for the local community, and so far has provided more than 1000 employment opportunities..

© Grimshaw Architects

© Grimshaw Architects

Siam Premium Outlets Gallery

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Structural Expressionism: Richard Rogers’ Design Theory Illustrated in 8 Projects

Get your work published internationally this year through the 10th Annual A+Awards! The Final Entry Deadline is January 28, 2022. Click here to start your entry today.

When one thinks about the works of Italian-born British architect Richard Rogers, the Pompidou Centre and Millennium Dome are some of the first structures that come to mind. Along with British architect Norman Foster, Rogers was well-known for the popularization of high-tech architecture – also known as structural expressionism. This style is best exemplified in Lloyd’s building, where the edifice’s structural and mechanical components were placed on the external surfaces instead of being hidden in the core.

Additionally, Rogers’ early ideas about sustainability and proposals for urban planning, where public spaces were a dominant feature, made him a popular name in the United Kingdom. For his revolutionary ideas and remarkable design, Rogers received several accolades like the RIBA gold medal, Praemium Imperiale, Pritzker Prize and the Minerva Medal before he retired from the firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (formerly called Richard Rogers Partnership) in 2020. Below are a selection of his firm’s less canonical works that showcase the late architect’s emblematic concepts and design details.

B&B Italia, Como, Italy

In the early 1970s, the young firm was asked to create a design with open-ended systems to assure flexibility. The solution was a streamlined structural framework comprising lightweight portal frames that were used to suspend a glazed office container. This system helps the interior remain column-free and partition-free with the services being placed in the peripheral areas.

Fleetguard, Quimper, France

This 1981 project is a manufacturing plant for air, fuel and oil filters. Along with these production facilities, it also includes storage facilities and administrative offices. The design was created keeping in mind the potential growth in the future. One of the main focal points was a minimal intrusion on the surrounding landscape, which was achieved by using excavated soil to create a landscaping scheme that segregated industrial and regular traffic.

The main structure is formed using a suspension system of prefabricated elements to reduce roof span and structural depth. This allows the easy addition of functions without disrupting the ongoing work in the building. The emerging firm’s design won a couple of awards including the Premier Award for Exceptional Steel Structure, France and the Constructa-Preis for Overall Excellence in the Field of Architecture.

Centre Commercial St Herblain, Nantes, France

Less than a decade after completing the Fleetguard factory, Rogers’ firm undertook the design of a low-cost shopping center featuring a suspended system with bright turquoise masts in 1987. A metal bridge, painted in a vibrant yellow, guides users to a double-height reception area. All the structural elements outside and services within have been kept exposed to give the building more character. The interior is organized similar to a regular mall, with stores placed on two sides and in a row in the center.

Tomigaya, Tokyo, Japan

Built during the property boom in Tokyo in the 1980s, Tomigaya is a structure on a small triangular site surrounded by low-rise buildings, a highway and a park. Due to certain floor and height constraints, the proposal uses transparency to create vertical exhibition spaces that are visible from the highway. Additionally, two steel trusses on one side of the triangle hold up a large crane that can be used to change floor heights to accommodate different exhibits.

Shanghai Masterplan, Shanghai, China

Well known for his theories on urban design, Rogers also conceptualized several masterplans for cities across the world. When Pudong was identified as the new financial district in the early 1990s, shipyards and industries occupying the area were removed. This proposal for redevelopment is a residential and commercial area that is tied together with several parks and public spaces. The plan uses a circular core with a park at its center and boulevards forming concentric rings around it. These rings are separated and divided into segments by public transport routes and nodes. This results in easy access and better connectivity.

Thames Valley University, Slough, UK

What makes this iconic 1996 structure very recognizable is the large covered dome that is connected to a rectangular block. It is equipped with internal motorized fabric blinds for solar control and is also designed to collect rainwater. The facility contains spaces for books, CDs, laptops, open working areas and seminar rooms. To ensure connectivity with the landscape outside, this curved surface also has a large opening at the base.

Hesperia Hotel, Barcelona, Spain

This large tower features a bubble-shaped restaurant on the top. Completed in 2006, the tower is broken up into two parts: the vertical arm houses all the hotel rooms whereas the horizontal block at its base contains the offices and other supporting facilities. A large atrium at the base is topped with an angled roof to create a spacious entrance space. The most striking feature is the gridded orange façade of the tower which can be spotted even from a distance. And like Lloyd’s building, the circulation block is added to the eternal surface, running along the entire height of the tower.

The Richard Rogers’ Drawing Gallery, Provence, France

For the final built project in his long and distinguished career, Rogers picked a remote, elevated site with dense vegetation. A cantilevered concept was chosen to ensure minimal disturbance to the ground below. The mostly opaque block is held up in the air using a contrasting orange structural cage which is anchored to the ground. The building was completed in 2021. Visitors can access this viewing space through a small bridge and then walk onto the other end of the building for spectacular views.

All images used are via Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. 

Get your work published internationally this year through the 10th Annual A+Awards! The Final Entry Deadline is January 28, 2022. Click here to start your entry today.

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