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Svart by Snøhetta: A Futuristic Circular Hotel Glows Under the Aurora Borealis

23 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

Redefining what it means to be a hotel on the water, Svart by architectural firm Snøhetta is an energy-positive circular structure hovering above the frigid fjord at the foot of Norway’s Svartisen glacier. Unusual in both its shape and positioning, the new hotel will be the world’s first ‘Powerhouse’ hotel in the Arctic circle, producing its own energy while simultaneously reducing its energy needs. ‘Powerhouse’ is a standard developed in part by Snøhetta requiring a building to generate more renewable energy over a 60-year period than it uses during its lifetime, including the construction, material production and demolition processes.

The ring-shaped building is beautiful, especially after dark, but aesthetics were only a small factor in the design process. The hotel is located in a pristine natural environment, so having a light footprint on the land is essential. The circular shape also makes the most of available solar energy, strategically placing interior spaces like guest rooms, restaurants and terraces where they’ll get the most sunlight. Svart gets its heat from geothermal wells.

The structure itself features a promenade set just beneath it so guests can walk the full circle, gazing down at the water below, and also functions as a storage space for kayaks and other equipment in the summertime, as the hotel can only be accessed by boat. The slim wooden supports taper down to the rocks beneath the surface for the smallest possible disturbance on the setting. The architects took visual inspiration from a type of local vernacular architecture known as ‘fiskehjell,’ wooden structures used for drying fish, as well as traditional seasonal housing for fishermen.

“Building in such a precious environment comes with some clear obligations in terms of preserving the natural beauty and the fauna and flora of the site,” says Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding partner of Snøhetta. “It was important for us to design a sustainable building that will leave a minimal environmental footprint on this beautiful Northern nature. Building an energy positive and low-impact hotel is an essential factor to create a sustainable tourist destination respecting the unique features of the plot.”

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[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

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Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters | Yakima, Washington, USA | Berger Partnership

23 February, 2018 - 12:15

Washington Fruit Produce Company

Washington Fruit Produce Company

The owners of Washington Fruit & Produce set out to establish a bucolic work environment to serve as an elegant representation of the company and their intrinsic connection to the land. Located in Yakima, Washington, surrounded by industrial fruit storage and processing facilities, a simple earthen berm of native plantings wraps the building and envelops employees and visitors. This calming setting provides light-filled upward views of the surrounding hills while screening the nearby industrial activities.

Washington Fruit Produce Company

Site Context
Located near the confluence of the Yakima and Naches Rivers, the site is part of a floodplain. Historic maps show the area cleared and regraded after the turn of the century for agricultural use and as part of what was then the Northern Pacific Railroad line that still passes to the east of the site as it heads through the gap in the hills created by the Yakima River.

Washington Fruit Produce Company

Washington Fruit Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Designing with Earth
As part of balancing cut and fill on the site, a major landform was designed to embrace the structure and choreograph the entry experience. The landform serves several functions including controlling views into and out of the site while providing shelter for the structure and a focus for the interior courtyard. For building occupants, the berm creates a structured microcosm of the nearby riparian corridor and evokes a sense of enclosure and security in a wide-open space.

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Connecting to the Land
Much in the way the riparian corridor and river serve as an oasis in this arid climate, the courtyard provides a cooling and calming effect on visitors and employees. A large board-form concrete wall, chosen for its similarity to the roughhewn wood clad building, bisects the northern berm and connects to the earth-sheltered lunchroom. A living roof extends from the berm over the lunchroom, providing a literal and symbolic connection to the land. The wood-planked walkway to the main entry and exit point bisects the courtyard and peels back the berm giving those leaving the site magnificent views of the distant hills and the gap through which the Yakima River passes. Floor to ceiling windows on all sides of the building flood the interior with views of either the courtyard or surrounding earthen wall ensuring everyone visual access to nature.

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Planting in an Arid Climate
Receiving on average only eight inches of rain per year, the site accommodates the sustainable use of water. All stormwater is collected and infiltrated on the site, which reduces the irrigation demand for the plant materials. All soils and stones are from onsite or nearby local sources. Irrigation water is from non-potable sources. Locally grown native plants such as basin wild rye, bluebunch wheatgrass, shrubby penstemon, and globemallow were chosen to improve habitat, add interest and color, and for their suitability to the climate. Tree planting and the agricultural shade structure reduce the heat island effect.

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Native species selected from the nearby riparian corridor and the surrounding hillsides demonstrate their beauty and their ability to adapt to a managed landscape. The layout is evocative of both natural patterns and the ordered row planting of the site’s agricultural past. Non-native but culturally significant DED-resistant American elms and sugar maples provide shade for the parking areas while serving as a reminder of some of the first ornamental trees planted in the valley.

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Agricultural Influence
Washington Fruit & Produce Company and the community in which it resides have a strong connection to agriculture. The design team sought to incorporate elements of that connection into the design. The core planting and native stones are laid out in a grid reminiscent of rows of orchards or crops. The grid dictates the layout of the building’s structural framework, and the building itself is evocative of a portion of an old barn structure. The shade structure marking the entrance and providing much-needed shade over the parking area is agricultural shade cloth stretched over a trellis typically used for growing hop vines.

This handsome and honest corporate headquarters building and landscape far surpass the industry standard and serve as proof of Washington Fruit & Produce’s longstanding commitment to its employees, which in turn fosters a highly dedicated and productive organization.

Washington Fruit & Produce Company

Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters

Design Team |
Berger Partnership (Landscape Architect): Jason Henry, Principal; Stephanie Woirol, Project Manager

Graham Baba Architects (Architect)

Interior Motiv, LLC (Interior Designer)
M.A. Wright (Structural Engineer)
Arup (MEP Engineer)
Meier Engineering (Civil Engineering)
Brian Hood Lighting (Lighting Design)
Dragonfly Irrigation (Irrigation Design)
Artisan Construction (Contractor)
Elevation Contracting (Landscape Contractor)
Stusser Woodworks (Custom Furniture)

Kevin Scott (Photographer)

The post Washington Fruit & Produce Company Headquarters | Yakima, Washington, USA | Berger Partnership appeared first on World Landscape Architecture.

Uplifting Design: Site’s Native Greenery Transplanted onto New Architecture

22 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

A lot of architectural schemes start from scratch with the assumption that everything on the building site will be razed or removed, but for this office structure, the designers saved and raised up the robust greenery already occupying the lot.

In Da Nang, Vietnam’s fourth-largest city, Ho Khue Architects saw the resilient native plants as an opportunity to inform their overall approach and reduce their eco-footprint. Pampas grass, bamboo shrubs, banana trees and other types were evaluated for optimal relocation.

Some species were uprooted and replanted indoors, to visually warm concrete spaces and provide fresh air, set in pots and hung from ceilings.

Climbing varieties were offered purchase on the structures exterior, with lattices and other textured surfaces providing opportunities for growing vines.

Other plants were relocated to the rooftop, creating an outdoor garden while also serving as a thermal barrier to cool inside floors below.

Overall, the greenery sets up a nice contrast with concrete surfaces and minimal furnishings and fixtures, and operates in tandem with various passive cooling and ventilation strategies.

Per the architects: “Working in this modern office evokes feelings reminiscent of childhood and a time when life was simpler. The air flow is fresh from the sea leading to comfortable temperature without being cold. Today’s younger generation may have had little or no time in the countryside. This office has brought the spirit and the heart of the rural areas to the workplace.” For more inside-out (or: outside-in) designs, check out this collection of ten offices that have creatively incorporated greenery.

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More Water, Less Stones – 
Regenerating Jamsil | Seoul, South Korea | Bil-kul

21 February, 2018 - 22:00


Jamsil-dong is a neighborhood replete with cultural, historical and ecological value. The advent of the Olympic Park in 1988 marked the neighborhood as well as the city, creating not only world-class sports infrastructure but also symbols of prosperity and global-ness – one of the many heralds of South Korea’s growing global significance.

Our proposal builds upon this rich history by allowing the iconic remnants of the 1988 games, most notably the Olympic Stadium, to retain their iconicity while facilitating their natural evolution and preparing them for the future. To this end, the problem lies not in making iconic form yet more iconic, but in reconstituting the landscape in which these objects sit. ‘Less Stones, More Water’ offers a solution by breaking down the vast and unyielding field of concrete upon which the stadiums sit and reassembling the landscape to allow the site to function as a rich microcosm with its own distinctive ecologies, habitats and architectures while enhancing its presence in the geography of the city and lives of its citizens.

Archipelagos are collections of islands that have deep ecological and cultural connections to one another. Similarly, the Jamsil Sports Complex and its stadiums represent a constellation of islands, each with its distinctive characteristics defined by size and use. The proposal engages the existing architecture and infrastructure tactically by building upon the extensive existing deck to create connections between the stadiums and to the rest of the site. It breaks down all four sides of the site through precisely calibrated landforms that engage with the Northern and Western riverfront and by situating the convention center and new small stadiums on the Southern and Eastern edge of the site.

The existing differentiation of the deck level with the ground level is treated as an opportunity rather than an impediment. We use this vertical separation to decouple the vast spatial needs for assembly in functioning sports venues from the intimate, rich, bio-diverse parkscape that will replace the existing ground while creating new vertical connections between these two ‘levels’ that will offer moments of intersection and contrast. We also propose a large low-profile building that will house a 20,000 sq.m. convention center and a new Aquatic Center on the South-Eastern edge of the site eminently accessible from the myriad residential developments that neighbor the Southern and Eastern sides of the site. Moreover, by ‘submerging’ this building, we create a vast, public plaza at street level — a powerful new civic space for Jamsil-dong and its residents.

Our proposal transforms the Seoul Olympics Park into exactly that – a park. We replace the ground from under the ‘feet’ of the stadiums and create a massive new park that houses world-class sports and convention facilities while at the same time providing a highly adaptable platform for multifarious uses in all seasons for a diverse population of users.

Design Firm | Bil-kul (http://bil-kul.com/) 
Collaborators: Swarnabh Ghosh, Craig Rosman and Khyati Saraf
Location | Seoul, South Korea
Images and Text Credits | Swarnabh Ghosh, Khyati Saraf and Craig Rosman

The post More Water, Less Stones – 
Regenerating Jamsil | Seoul, South Korea | Bil-kul appeared first on World Landscape Architecture.

Calyx | Sydney, Australia | McGregor Coxall

21 February, 2018 - 00:00

This project represents the role the Landscape Architect can have when involved at the early stage of the design thinking and process.  A ‘Jewel in the Garden’ the Calyx is a fusion of Art, theatre, and Flora in Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens.

Situated in one of the most important civic precincts in Sydney the Calyx is situated amongst some of Australia’s most significant institutes and cultural landscapes. Opened in June 2016 the new facility has already become an iconic landmark that serves as a horticultural display, research, and education centre. Intelligent sensitive design provides visitors with an integrated mix of indoor and outdoor areas with a regular program of events year round.

McGregor Coxall led the design thinking in terms of the relationship of the building to the gardens and it’s response to the existing building form along with the extended arching steel frame structure. This project represents the role the Landscape Architect can have when involved at the early stage of the design thinking and process. The Landscape Architecture approach was embedded in the overall design response and as a result, this important new building achieves a more integrated design outcome.

The project was awarded following a design competition in collaboration with PTW and Cockram. The team used the existing elements of the Arc, originally designed and constructed in 1994 by renowned Australian Architect, Ken Woolley. The landscape presents the Calyx as a jewel in the gardens with its elevated position and sense of arrival. Two leading radial paths provide a powerful visual and physical connection between the new built form and the wider gardens. The project establishes a framework from which the precinct can become a continuously activated cultural and civic place where people can meander, inhabit and interact.

The design of the Calyx builds on the geometry set out by Ken Woolley’s Arc. The building grafts onto the base of the Arc to create an integrated space with indoor and outdoor areas for exhibition. The name “Calyx” refers to the outer casing of a flower bud. At the centre of the building is an “Iris” podium, which features a mirror pond and can be used as a flexible space for events as well as exhibitions. The concept and orientation of linkages to the building utilises the surrounding physical and cultural context to generate a broader, more comprehensive outcome, integrating heritage and cultural life and engaging with the wider context of the park.

The Calyx features the largest interior green wall in the southern hemisphere, hosting more than 18,000 plants managed and selected by the Royal Botanical Gardens Trust. The living wall is six metres high and spans 51 metres in length.

Our comprehensive project quality plan defined the key QA, Cost and Risk parameters for the project. A precinct-wide cost plan was prepared to inform future budgets. This was supplemented by regular team collaboration throughout the detailed design, delivery, costing and site visits for the Calyx.

The Calyx

Location | The Calyx, The Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney, NSW, 2000, Australia

Design Firm | McGregor Coxall

Consultants |
Cockram Construction
PTW Architects
Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney

Image Credits | Ethan Rohloff; Lighting-Solutions; McGregor Coxall;
Text – McGregor Coxall

The post Calyx | Sydney, Australia | McGregor Coxall appeared first on World Landscape Architecture.

Dramatas Urbanae: Photographer’s 10-Year Study of a Single Public Bench

20 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Photography & Video. ]

A lone Ukrainian park bench has become the unlikely star of a decade-long drama, much more by chance than by design, thanks to a photographer’s unplanned project to document the lives of those who use it.

Yevgeniy Kotenko never meant On the Bench to be a series or body of work. He simply began to take pictures of people on and around a bench outside his parents’ window, capturing everyday scenes — people picnicking, children playing and old men sitting. He also photographed more fraught encounters —  lovers quarreling, drunks passing out and emergency service workers tending to an injured man.

“I wasn’t thinking of making a series or a project,” Kotenko told Colossal. “I didn’t select any particular time frame or set of situations to capture. Not until 2012 did my friends tell me that I should put together an exhibition of these photos.

“I never invested the photos with any particular intention or idea of what I wanted my audience to see,” Kotenko says. “They will see what they want to see. These photographs are more like a documentary.” And they document everything under the sun (and moon), showing what Kiev life is like from day to day and season to season.

In a way, the project recounts works of found or everyday-object art, or series like People of New York, where normal passersby become parts of a grander narrative about city life. Kotenko has since moved out of the neighborhood, but says that his experiences looking at the window and documenting life shaped his perspective growing up, showing him examples of who he might want to become, or not become.

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Temporary Street Art: Mobile Projector Paints Hong Kong with Modern Chinese Zodiac

20 February, 2018 - 04:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Three years after decorating Paris with smartly-dressed animals, street artist Julien Nonnon is back with a project that temporarily adorns the streets of Hong Kong with his own modern version of the Chinese Zodiac. Founding member of creative studio Le3, Nonnon walks the streets of cities around the world with a mobile projector for a series he calls ‘Street Mapping.’ Ordinary building facades and other urban surfaces light up with imagery, captivating passersby for a few brief moments before disappearing.

The traditional Chinese zodiac features twelve animals: ox, tiber, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig and rat. For this ‘Urban Safari’ series, Nonnon transformed each sign into an anthropomorphized character in contemporary clothing, each animal interpreted in various ways.

Many of the animals are holding cell phones or shopping bags, sipping coffee or gazing contemplatively out onto the city below. Some stand as high as six or seven stories, looking like phantoms wavering against the darkened facades of tall buildings. Nonnon doesn’t reveal his methods, only saying he developed his own tools to bring his work to life.

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[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

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Meta-Footwear: Sneaker Protectors, So You Can Have Shoes for Your Shoes

19 February, 2018 - 04:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

These new Shoes for Shoes combine sandals, galoshes, and, well, shoes, to create a hybrid fashion phenomenon making its way from the runways of Men’s Fashion Week in Paris to a store near you. Apparently, they heard you like shoes, so they designed some shoes for your shoes so you can put shoes on your shoes.

“They’re transformable sneakers that have an outer layer of protective sandal that you can enter Velcro into and you can strap them on or off,” says the company Sankuanz on behalf of designer Shangguan Zhe.

This Chinese fashion layer boasts the ability to protect expensive footwear at a price of $355, which sounds like a lot, until you consider that some pairs of sneakers can cost tens of thousands (or more).

“You can walk totally normal in them and it gives you an extra layer of protection and then also height,” boasts the company. There are certainly precedents for footwear that goes on over other footwear, but whether these can weather the test of time (and retail markets) remains to be seen.

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Algorithmic Art: Dynamic Display ‘Paints’ Surreal Scenes & Melting Cityscapes

17 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

Abstracting views of the city, this huge installation uses computer algorithms to deform local everyday footage on a massive 14-by-23-foot display canvas.

Ordinary wall art can get old, especially when one passes it every day. In this case, hours of film can become thousands of unique compositions, slowly deconstructed into impressionist-worthy pieces on the screen.

ESI Design developed this trippy solution for the lobby of 515 North State Street in Chicago, a structure design by Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Kenzo Tange built back in the 1990s.

As a contextual work,  it features shots of the Chicago River, city trains and waterfront amusements, all devolving dynamically. The designers created the logic and intent, but don’t actually shape the outcomes — this is done programmatically.

“Custom software analyzes each video for moving objects, so moments like a person walking, or a car driving become the ‘brushstrokes’ that slowly create each abstraction. As each video collides with the next, new compositions unfold in real time, literally creating thousands of possibilities.”

Meanwhile, the “display itself uses LED modules that are covered with a layer of vinyl diffusion, removing the harsh digital glare of bare diodes and giving the imagery a soft material quality instead. The entire display is framed with a painted metal molding, with the intention of referencing traditional canvas paintings.” Except even more so than paintings in galleries, each experience of this work is one-of-a-kind.

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The Empire Has Collapsed: Miniature Scenes Illustrate the Post-Apocalypse

16 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

Nature begins to take back New York City after all the humans are gone in this series of artfully photographed post-apocalypse miniatures. A collaboration between artists Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber, ‘Empire’ is the duo’s second series on this theme, the first focusing on interiors while the latest depicts exterior scenes. Living in New York provides all the inspiration the artists need, particularly subway rides between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and all of the architectural detail that can be appreciated if you just look up.

Nix is the architect of these tiny structures, while Gerber is the sculptor. The work is labor-intensive, with a single diorama taking anywhere from three to fifteen months to complete. They start each piece in their apartment, and then move to the outside studio when it’s close to being finished to set it up for documentation. The lighting and the tiny details are what give each one its realistic edge.

The materials used include basswood, extruded foam sheets, acrylic, polymer clay and epoxy. The most challenging aspect of the work is making those materials look like something else – for instance, turning a tiny piece of foam and wood into a leather and steel office chair.

“I don’t really have a death wish, it just seems that way,” says Nix. “For the last eight years my photographs have highlighted a fictional urban landscape ‘after’. An aquarium after a flood, a church after a fire, a beauty parlor after…who knows what. Mankind is gone and what remains are vacant fragments of buildings, a few slowly being reclaimed by nature.”

“‘The City’ imagines what New York City and Brooklyn would look like if suddenly mankind had disappeared. The exact cause for the desertion is left vague. Was it a natural disaster, a virus, global warming, war? A few images hint at the destructive history of the space – a library dome crushed by a tornado or a subway car filled with sand. To me, imagining something so globally catastrophic is both chilling and exciting. I often wonder about my own survival instincts when pondering an emptying city.”

Empire, on the other hand, “presents a world transformed by climate uncertainty and a shifting social order as it stumbles towards a new kind of frontier. These places are eerily beautiful but also unsettling in their stillness and silence. Long ago, man entered the landscape and forced nature to his will. Once grand and emblematic of strength and prosperity, these landscapes now appear abused and in decay, and it is uncertain how they will continue to (d)evolve.”

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Architecture with a Twist: Installation Artist Knots Columns & Flips Facades

15 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

In his latest work dubbed Birth, Death and Midlife Crisis, artist Alex Chinneck is back at it again, exploring the limits of seemingly solid structures (and observer imaginations). This latest work in Germany deforms a structural column, calling its conventional neighbors into question. “The columns are the prominent feature in the 450-year-old museum and this intervention took an opportunity to defy logic and distort history.”

A lot of the artist’s other work operates along similar lines, undermining our expectations for physics, engineering and built environments. “I like to give fluidity to typically inflexible things,” he explains, “transcending their material nature.” This approach can range from pealing up pavement like a giant carpet to breaking windows in an impossibly precise fashion on an abandoned building.

The idea, in part, is to achieve these effects seamlessly. In the case of his latest piece, he says: “I wanted to create the impression that we had only changed what was already physically present in the museum and the work was born through the manipulation, rather than introduction, of material. With this approach, the objective was to produce something sculpturally bold but contextually sensitive.”

Aiming to go even larger with Onward & Upward, his next plan is to install a series of tall brick chimneys in the UK, each built from 20,000 custom bricks and likewise featuring knots in the middle. For now, the above looks like an impossible rendering, but soon it will be a uniquely bizarre architectural reality.

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FELIXX + CITYFÖRSTER win New District Freiburg / Dietenbach competition

15 February, 2018 - 07:00


The team of CITYFÖRSTER architecture + urbanism and FELIXX Landscape Architects & Planners, supported by freiwurf LA and R+T Traffic Planning, is selected for the development of Dietenbach, a new urban district of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. This new district – currently one of the biggest urban developments in Germany – is located at the edge of the city center, covering an area of 100ha, supposed to house up to 14.000 inhabitants in 5.500 new dwellings.

Out of 28 high-profile international teams, 4 teams are selected and commissioned to elaborate their plans. The other selected teams are Studio Wessendorf with Atelier Loidl Landschaftsarchitekten, K9 Architekten with Latz + Partners, Hosoya Schaefer Architects with Agence Ter.

Freiburg consists out of a collection well-defined districts with a distinct identity. Many of them are surrounded and separated from each other by linear landscape structures, such as the Dreisam River or major infrastructure routes. The proposal of CITYFÖRSTER + FELIXX aims to reverse this principle in Dietenbach. Instead of adding a new independent piece of a city surrounded by green spaces, the landscape structure is pulled right through the heart of the new district. This creates various small, diverse neighborhoods, organized by powerful green corridors. Together with a new tram line and excellent bike and pedestrian routes, the green lifelines connect Dietenbach to the surrounding quarters and the center of Freiburg.

The new urban district should not be understood as a residential settlement at the outskirts of the city, but as an interconnected urban district. Therefore the plan of CITYFÖRSTER + FELIXX builds on an ambitious integrating spatial system, to create a spectacular variety of urban conditions: high and low density areas, mixed-use city blocks and landscape related housing areas, vivid mix of housing types and apartment sizes, a miniature river delta, a compacted agriculture corridor, a lush yet monumental boulevard, a collection of distinctive district squares, interconnected slow traffic networks and an integrated school campus providing shared sport- and play facilities. Condensed and superimposed, all these structures create a lively urban district. A diversity of relations between built and outdoor program generate an enormous variety of environments to live, work and recreate. Dietenbach gets very pronounced character, while deliberately integrating itself into the overall urban structure of Freiburg.

Urban design competition for the new urban district of Freiburg/Dietenbach

Location | Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Client | City of Freiburg im Breisgau
Status | won tender; in progress
Team | Cityförster architecture + urban design, felixx landscape architects & planners, R + T engineers Traffic planner, IMG+ visualizers

Images © Felixx/Cityförster/IMG+

The post FELIXX + CITYFÖRSTER win New District Freiburg / Dietenbach competition appeared first on World Landscape Architecture.

Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million from Landlord Who Destroyed Their Work

15 February, 2018 - 04:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Prior to 2013, a warehouse in Queens known as 5Pointz was a graffiti mecca packed with murals and other work by hundreds of artists, many of whom rented space inside the building. That is, until owner Gerald Wolkoff suddenly and without warning whitewashed the entire facade under a messy coat of paint. Wolkoff had been planning to tear the building down for a while, and the artists were in the process of trying to stop him under the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), which protects “works of recognized stature.”

5pointz

@ 5pointz

Jake Thomashow

The court had no time to make a decision before Wolkoff’s drastic action, and a showcase of graffiti art was instantly destroyed. Perhaps Wolkoff wasn’t expecting the judge to deem the graffiti of ‘sufficient stature’ to protect, much less grant a significant monetary value, but clearly he was wrong. In November 2017, a jury ruled in favor of the artists, and this week, a federal judge in Brooklyn delivered the final blow: Wolkoff, a real estate developer, owes 21 artists a combined $6.7 million.

5 Pointz Art

5Pointz

5 pointz

“Rathe than wait for the court’s opinion, Wolkoff destroyed almost all of the plaintiff’s paintings by whitewashing them during that eight-day interim,” said Judge Frederic Block in his 100-page decision. “The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened.”

When the Skies Came Out

5 Pointz Art

X Men

Trash or Treasure?

“Since 5Pointz was a prominent tourist attraction the public would undoubtedly have thronged to say its goodbyes during those ten months and gaze at the formidable works of aerosol art for the last time. It would have been a wonderful tribute for the artists that they richly deserved.”

Top image: iamNigelMorris/Flickr Creative Commons

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It’s in the Bag: 13 Ultra-Functional Backpacks for Busy Urban Lifestyles

14 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By SA Rogers in Design & Products & Packaging. ]

A bag is definitely not just a bag when you’re commuting in all weather conditions, biking to work, carrying a lot of expensive gear and trying to look professional and stay organized all the while. These next-level backpacks, tote bags, duffels and briefcases are full of all kinds of cool features, like built-in solar chargers, bike safety lights, crash sensors, theft-proof locks, access from virtually any angle, extra durable materials and every manner of pocket, compartment and gear tie-down you can possibly imagine.

Aster: The World’s Safest Commute Backpack

Aiming to improve visibility, reduce accidents and save lives, the Aster commuter backpack features rear, front and profile lights as well as automatic brake lights and integrated turn signals. Not only will drivers in vehicles see you from all angles, you’re less likely to end up with a door in your face, too. The backpack includes a USB-rechargeable built-in battery that powers the lights for 10-15 hours of commute time. It ships with an app called Lumos Aster for additional functionality like low battery alerts and anti-theft protection features. A crash sensor inside the bag will alert your emergency contacts if something happens to you. Plus, it’s got a helmet holder, lock strap, whistle buckle, bottle pockets, shoe compartment and a rain cover. The bag opens completely so you can grab whatever you need without pulling everything else out.

SlingFin Honey Badger Backpack and Bicycle Pannier

Wear it as a backpack or a bicycle pannier. The SlingFin Honey Badger backpack is as tough as its name suggests with a semi-rigid external skeleton made of recyclable high density polyethylene that helps carry weight more comfortably than a fabric bag. The back and straps are made of padded mesh for airflow between the wearer and the pack, and the lid is magnetic. Throw an LED light or even your phone with the flashlight on inside, and it dramatically increases your visibility at night. It comes with a 25-liter dry bag that can be used to protect your belongings inside, or alone as an ultralight pack. The exterior is as customizable as you want it to be – you can draw right on it.

12L Cargo Motorcycle Tail Bag

If you get around on a motorcycle, you need tough waterproof gear that won’t bulk up your silhouette. The 12L Cargo Tail Bag by Shaun Lee is great for both everyday use and overnight trips, compressing down to a packable size that sits low on your seat.IT’s made of waxed canvas and metal attachment hardware with a waterproof zipper, hidden pockets and a removable cargo net for outerwear and water bottles. When it’s empty, it rolls down to a quarter of its size secured with clips. Attachment straps secure the bag to your bike without a specialized rack system.

The NOMATIC Travel Bag

Designed for a 3-7 day trip, the NOMATIC combines the best features from a backpack, duffel bag and luggage in the bid to be “the most functional travel bag ever.” It fits a whole lot more than you’d imagine, especially since it comes with a vacuum compression bag for your clothes. Other features include a laundry bag, shoe compartments, an RFID safe pocket, laptop and tablet slots, water bottle pocket, roller bag sleeve, TSA-approved lock, built-in cord management, a valuables pocket, notebook pocket, easy access pocket for boarding passes and other essentials, and more. It’s also water resistant, and meets carry-on size requirements.

The Everyday Backpack, Tote and Sling

The ‘Everyday’ set by Peak Design includes a backpack, tote bag and sling packed full of features that will please both professional photographers picky about their camera bags and everyday users. Available in 20L and 30L sizes, the backpack includes easy-access side zippers, a dedicated laptop sleeve, subdivided interior side pockets, outer side pockets, built-in expansion and lots of straps for bulky items like tripods. The tote has similar pockets and external carry abilities as well as dual side access and a flex-fold interior divider system. Need something even smaller? The Everyday Sling is super compact, but has many of the same features as the other two bags.

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From Chaos to Creative Compositions: The Anamorphic Art of Bernard Pras

13 February, 2018 - 04:00
[ By SA Rogers in Art & Sculpture & Craft. ]

It takes a special kind of creative brain to sort a pile of random junk into an anamorphic arrangement that looks like complete chaos from most angles, but comes together into a work of art from the right perspective. These compositions are like visual puzzles, requiring the artist to select objects of just the right size, shape and color and place them very precisely within a three-dimensional space to get the right result. French artist Bernard Pras has mastered this unusual medium, creating found object installations that morph from messes to masterpieces.

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A painter, sculptor and photographer, Pras has spent twenty years refining his methods. He starts each project with a sketch, and then builds the outline in three dimensional space. His ability to intuitively choose which objects to place in the frame comes from all those years of practice, he says, making it almost subconscious.

“I consider that my painting work became the current form of my work,” he says in an interview with Age of Artists. “I see it as a logical development of what I was doing in painting. It is an evolution and not a change. It was a reflection and a process that brought me to it naturally. Around thirty years old, I had an insight of what I wanted to do in regard of what I was painting. I realized that what I was interested in was nearly what I was doing between two paintings. This empty space, this kind of area… This mysterious link that ties together different paintings I painted consecutively. So I looked for a way to express that in a single element. It took me around twenty years to succeed roughly in what I was looking for.”

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Pras’ most recent work includes portraits of pop culture icons like Andy Warhol, Bob Marley, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, Albert Einstein and many more.

You could easily spend hours gazing at each work, identifying all the little bits and pieces that make up a portrait subject’s facial features, hair, body and clothing – and they’re often tailored to the subject’s identity. For example, a portrait of David Bowie heavily features miniature musical instruments. These installations would be really fun to see in person.

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Raised in a Barn & Proud: 15 Farm Buildings Converted to Modern Homes

12 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Houses & Residential. ]

They could be so dilapidated they’re practically ruins, but old barns have both historical value and rural charm, and when architects dramatically rescue them, they become incredible modern homes, offices, galleries and artist studios. Even an old potato barn, or goat barn, or teeny-tiny barn, or ugly barn that got an unfortunate 1980s makeover. Not buying it? Check out these amazing barn conversions. There’s even a legit party barn!

Converted Barn in Lormes, France by Frank Minnaërt

Architect Frank Minnaërt was tasked by a Parisian couple to turn an old stone barn in Lormes, France into a country home. In addition to a dramatic new concrete-framed glass entrance, the architect transformed the interiors with rustic yet graphic and dynamic timber elements, including slatted storage and a staircase that doubles as a ramp.

Haus P by Gangoly & Kristine Architekten

An old traditional wooden barn in the mountainous landscape of southern Austria becomes a light-filled contemporary home in this renovation by Gangoly & Kristine Architekten. Many of the exterior wooden beams formerly making up the walls of the structure have been removed, leaving behind a screen-like envelope protecting large expanses of glass. Inside, the home retains its barn typology in some areas, like the bathroom, while feeling like a completely different sort of structure in others.

Party Barn Rescued from Collapse by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Who wouldn’t want a party barn? This 18th century structure in Kent, England was almost completely done for when architects Liddicoat & Goldhill were approached by a fashion designer and digital designer couple to give it new life. They wanted it to be equal parts home and gallery, with the artifacts they’ve collected integrated throughout. Two huge rotating windows replace the barn doors to open the interiors to the outside, and they can be covered by a bifold door that becomes an awning. A skylight runs along the pinnacle of the roof. Inside, a spiraling metal staircase wraps around a columnar fireplace chimney.

A Barn in the Countryside by Kwint Architecten

An existing vernacular structure on a farm south of Eelde in the Netherlands becomes a striking wood and glass home as Kwint Architecten transforms it into ‘A Barn in the Countryside.’ The horizontal wooden blinds make it easy to ventilate the new home while also shading it and framing views of the surroundings.

Old Belchers Farm in Oxford by Studio Seilern Architects

A 17th century farmhouse and its outbuildings making up ‘Old Belchers Farm’ in Oxford, England has become a contemporary art gallery that help support the upkeep of the protected historical property. Studio Seilern Architects created exhibition space, offices and a dining room wrapping around a hidden central library containing four secret doors that allow entrance to the surrounding spaces through the bookshelves.

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Creature Comforts: 12 More Animal-Shaped Buildings

11 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By Steve in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

See the creature, be the creature… live in the creature? These animal-shaped buildings take the concept of surreal estate to a newer, wetter-nosed level.

Whose necks? Youse necks! The Giraffe Childcare Center in southwestern Paris’ Boulogne-Billancourt district certainly stands out amongst the French capital’s classic architecture.

Then again, the design by Paris-based Hondelatte Laporte Architects would probably stand out just about anywhere.

The giant yellow giraffe appears to provide support to the building’s cantilevered roof while creating visual interest for students and staff who pass by its tree-trunk-sized legs as they come and go. Flickr member Inter- snapped the shots above in the summer of 2013.

See Food

Café Fish (also known as the Fish Dance Restaurant) in Kobe, Japan was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and was built in the late 1980s.

Located in Kobe’s gritty docklands district, the four-story-tall sculpture sits cheek-by-jowl (do fish have jowls?) with the actual restaurant, so don’t expect to dine Jonah-style. Flickr member Jacome (jacomejp) captured the metal-scaled eatery in November of 2013.

World’s Coilest Tower

Who knew Thailand had kaiju too? The coral-hued Wat Samphran Dragon Temple near Bangkok towers 16 stories into the sky.

The dragon is hollow and features an internal stairway. Flick member Serg Brandys visited the temple complex in late 2014.

Terrapin Stationary

The Kura Kura Ocean Park on Kartini Beach in Jepara, Indonesia opened in February of 2011. The park combines the attractions of a water park with those of an educational aquarium.

The main building is cast in the shape of an enormous sea turtle (“kura-kura” in the Bahasa Indonesia language) and is divided into two floors. Flickr member Diza Abdulloh (Diza5) visited the park in April of 2016.

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Link Rot: ‘Social Decay’ Renders Tech Media Giants as Urban Abandonments

10 February, 2018 - 20:00
[ By WebUrbanist in Abandoned Places & Architecture. ]

Physical businesses that fall on hard times often leave signs in the built environment, like the distinctive facades of deserted or adapted Pizza Huts, but what might social media sites look like in a post-apocalyptic, non-digital world?

For that matter, many giants, from Yahoo! to MySpace, have already crumbled and been replaced. But in this series, graphic artist Andrei Lacatusu imagines the still-strong and thriving leaders of the pack in a future state of disrepair.

Like abandoned offices, retail stores, gas stations or movie theaters, signs for Google, Instagram, Facebook, Tinder, Twitter and Pinterest are seen withered, cracked and eroded by the elements over time. 404 Error: Business Not Found.

The result looks like gloomy snapshots of a ghost town with boarded-up storefronts and rusted-out metal security doors. And the details are quite convincing, with faded paint, chipped light-up signs and missing signage lettering.

This photo-realistic ‘Social Decay’ series was created with a combination of Adobe Photoshop and 3D rendering programs, Autodesk 3DS Max and V-Ray.

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Could the Useless Gas Stations of the Future be Used as Gyms Instead?

8 February, 2018 - 04:00
[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The electric vehicle revolution is accelerating faster than anyone expected, with many experts predicting at least 100 million electric cars hitting the roads by 2035 – making up 85% of new car sales. That’s less than two decades away. Cheaper battery costs are set to make these cars far more affordable for the average person, so before long, they’ll be a lot more enticing to consumers than gas guzzlers that cost much more to run. That, of course, could leave us with a whole lot of empty gas stations. There are currently about 150,000 of them in the U.S., a decline from the 1994 peak of 200,000.

Within the blink of an eye, gas stations are going to seem as quaint and outdated as soda fountains and VCRs, more curiosities than anything else. But that doesn’t mean we have to knock them all down. Many of the buildings could be reused almost as-is, and research firm Gensler has teamed up with Reebok to envision what that might look like. Their ‘Get Pumped’ partnership repurposes the gas stations of the year 2030 as community fitness hubs, giving them green roofs, walking paths and workout equipment.

First of all, they explain, gas stations are usually centrally located, and the ones located alongside major highways could become dual electric car charging stations and gyms. Reebok calls them “the power grid of the future.” Some are set up as networks surrounding highway interchanges where multiple stations are usually located. ‘The Oasis’ transforms a larger station into a nutrition center with juice bars, farm-to-table restaurants, yoga and meditation. At ‘The Community Center,’ smaller local gas stations become hubs for car charging, nutrition classes, an auto repair shop, a minimart and popup workout centers run out of trucks.

“Reebok believes that we’re always training to be our best,” says Austin Malleolo, head of Reebok fitness facilities. “This design work with Gensler allows us to imagine a future where there is zero barrier to entry for an opportunity to work out and be healthy. Consumers may not need gas stations anymore, but instead of wasting them, we’re recycling them, and maximizing the space so that they become places of community.”

“We envision our cities of the future to have a network of fitness oases between home and work where you could stop and recharge more than just your car. Imagine an option to leave the traffic jam to unwind with yoga, get your Crossfit Fix, or pick up a green juice and your weekly farm share all in one place!” said Alfred Byun, designer at Gensler.

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A Guide To Smart Home Automation In 2018

7 February, 2018 - 22:57

As 2018 gets into gear, many are predicting that this year the smart home revolution will enter the stratosphere. Domestic automation has never been more advanced or more affordable, so what are some of the devices and systems that are set to define the next 12 months?

The Hubs To Watch

Fashion Swatch

Back when Apple first introduced Siri with the iPhone 4S in 2011, the idea of talking aloud to a voice-controlled virtual assistant seemed faintly preposterous. Cut to seven years later and people are much more at home with the concept, not least because the rise of smart speakers and hubs has helped to eliminate a lot of these inhibitions.

By far the most prominent product range in this niche at the moment is offered by online shopping stalwart Amazon. The Echo family of smart speakers, including the full sized model, the more compact Echo Dot and the touchscreen-toting Echo Show, have brought Alexa into millions of homes worldwide. And in doing so, expectations about what smart home hubs should offer have skyrocketed.

From allowing users to order their groceries and play tracks from Spotify to integrating controls with home cinema systems and a slew of other connected tech, Echo in combination with Alexa is giving the masses a glimpse of a smarter future. Amazon’s solution is by no means perfect, but it has the benefit of a huge public profile that could help it to steamroll the competition.

Discerning fans of home automation who are looking for a hub that goes a little deeper and leans towards the premium end of the price scale will probably turn to the Wink Hub 2 in their droves this year. It lacks the brand recognition of the Echo range, but packs a huge list of features and impressive compatibility capabilities, allowing it to work with everything from the smart light bulbs sold by Philips to the voice-controlled Home speaker championed by search giant Google.

Critics have raved not only about the Wink Hub 2’s excellence when it comes to interoperability with other devices, but also its consistency. While some hubs might suffer glitches and ticks, this is solid as a rock and the gold standard for unobtrusive operation. Furthermore its sleek looks lend themselves to being displayed in contemporary living spaces.

The Cameras to Consider

Cameras to Consider

A big part of the growing interest in smart automation has been driven by the superior security and surveillance capabilities that homeowners can access without having to splash out vast sums on complex, wired CCTV setups. Being able to monitor a property remotely via a smartphone is another asset offered by modern devices. But the upcoming crop of cameras kicks things up a notch.

Netgear is arguably ahead of the pack with its Arlo range, encompassing outdoor cameras that are built with smart home functionality in mind. The Arlo Pro 2 is the current flagship, and this is reflected in its fairly steep price point. But with a beautiful design ethos, 1080p video capture, cloud storage and compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa for streamlined voice control, it goes a long way to justifying this.

The less wallet-punishing options around today include the Secure Lynx Indoor from Tend Insights. The brand name may not carry much weight, but it more than makes up for it with its wealth of baked-in features. Impressive after-dark performance means that it is great for overnight in-home surveillance, while its extremely compact form factor makes it easy to install almost anywhere without being intrusive or unsightly.

For those who have already started out on their smart home journey by committing to the systems offered by Nest, the firm’s latest Cam IQ Outdoor may be at the top of the wish list this year. It can record video at full 4K resolutions and goes above and beyond the call of duty in terms of both security and convenience by having the ability to distinguish between humans and wildlife. This means that it is less likely to alert owners unnecessarily if the only thing intruding on their property is next door’s tabby cat.

The Quirky Outliers

Amazon Alexa

Smart home tech makes sense to most people when it comes to things like controlling the heating, providing access to entertainment and delivering remotely accessible surveillance. But as the Internet of Things continues to expand, there are some new devices on the horizon which you might not expect will be joining its ranks.

The Precision Cooker from Avona is amongst the most intriguing of these outliers, with its latest iteration offering built-in Wi-Fi connectivity so that it can be monitored and managed wherever you happen to be. Whether you are in the other room or on the other side of town, this immersion circulator lets you rustle up some succulent grub using your smartphone to check on its progress. Its boil-in-the-bag approach might not be for everyone, but its futuristic design is hard to ignore.

Even fitness is finding its way into the smart home scene, with the new QardioBase 2 connected scale system able to collect a vast amount of data on a user’s body, letting them keep tabs on their progress through a mobile app.

More than anything the QardioBase 2 manages to get its aesthetics right. It is slim, circular and subtle, seeming to float above the floor and almost begging to be left on display to be used daily, rather than tossed in a cupboard and neglected. It is just another example of how home automation is making life easier while keeping us safer and healthier in one fell swoop.