Space Race: Dubai

Image Credit: Bjarke Ingels Group

In the desert near Dubai, a team of scientists will live inside four geometric domes for a full year in the hopes of recreating the challenge of building a city on Mars. The Mars Science City will be the largest space simulation constructed anywhere, focused on researching issues related to water, agriculture, and energy on Mars.

The domes were designed by Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels. Dubai has become synonymous in recent years with iconic architecture and landscape engineering. The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants to continue its meteoric rise by reaching and colonizing Mars by the year 2117. In spite of the UAE’s Space Agency being founded in 2014, it hopes to launch an orbiting satellite by the year 2021. 

Source: Dezeen

Copenhagen Park Designed to Promote Inclusiveness

Photo Credit: Next City

Home to both young families and criminal gang members, Nørrebro is a diverse neighborhood. Its park—Folkets Park—has been contested for decades. As a response, Danish artist Kenneth Balfelt organized a project with architects and landscape architects to improve the park, prioritizing community engagement.

Nørrebro is a densely populated neighborhood with a longstanding mistrust of local officials. When a fire destroyed a building in the neighborhood resulting in an open lot adjacent to a factory, people moved into the the factory and Folkets Park and Folkets Hus were established. Folkets Hus quickly became a community house hosting theater groups, parties, music events, and political debates. The city repeatedly attempted to demolish Folkets Hus, but in the 1990s the building finally receive official approval.

Balfelt worked with all members of the community, asking them, “What their analysis of the park and the situation was, and what they needed from the space.” While most specialists argue that well lit pathways are more safe, Balfelt listened to community members who found dark areas of the park to feel more private and secure. Balfelt argued with the city to include zone lighting to accommodate well lit areas of the park and dark zones in the park. Balfelt enlisted young members of the community to help build and paint the playground equipment for the children. Tensions with gangs in the area have increased over the years, and a shooting occurred in the park last year, pushing officials to temporarily close Folkets Hus. Given the current climate, the park has prospered since the renovation.

Source: Next City

Bicycle Super Highways

Image credit: BMW Group

As Austin cyclists know, bike commuting has its hazards, and the Texas heat is only one of them. Cycling is also an inexpensive and green way to get around a city that is struggling with traffic congestion—as is the case with Austin.

In China, BMW and Tongji University have unveiled a plan to construct a bicycle superhighway that addresses exactly that problem. In order to address a rapidly growing urban population and a need to reduce emissions, the team proposes to construct a massive system of climate controlled roadways specifically for two-wheeled transportation.

The Vision E3 Way—the three Es standing for elevated, electric and efficient—would connect commuters to transit centers, shopping hubs, and underground stations. Solar panels and water collection systems would help keep the highways cool and clean. If the climate control, ease, and convenience aren’t incentive enough, BMW also proposed a number of bike-share stations throughout the loop.

BMW has invested heavily in e-bike and electric scooters, and they clearly see smaller, emissions-free vehicles as providing the path forward in modern urban transportation. Berlin, BMW’s home country, approved a system of 13 bike “highways” in February of 2017.

Source: BMW Group

Architectural Cat Shelters

Architects for Animals and FixNation teamed up to raise funds to support FixNation’s charitable services provided to Los Angeles’ homeless cats. Thirteen local architects were selected to build creative cat shelters to raise awareness. In addition, twenty-eight cat bowls were also painted by various celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Carly Patterson, and Kristen Bell. The image above shows the disco-themed cat shelter, by CallisonRTKL, with triangulated stained glass windows inspired by cathedrals.

Source: archinect

Hemlock Hospice

David Buckley Borden has created a year-long, art-based trail, along with Aaron M. Ellison and their team of collaborators. The site-specific interpretive trail project tells the story of the endangered eastern hemlock tree. According to scientists working on the project, the hemlock tree will be extinct by 2025. The trail raises awareness about the aphids that are killing the trees, and larger issues of climate change. The trail is meant to capture the attention of artists and wider audiences, bringing consciousness to the environmental frailty of the New England forests. The Fisher Museum will hold public workshops, promoting reflection, creativity, and critical thinking, along with self-guided trail maps for the Hemlock Hospice project.

Source: World Landscape Architect

Domino Sugar Refinery: Ruin or Building?

When is a building considered a ruin? That’s the question currently being discussed between design firm PAU and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The Domino Sugar Refinery was built in the 1880s on the riverfront in Brooklyn, and has been vacant for more than a decade. When the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) revealed its plans for the Domino Sugar Refinery, their proposal planned to use the masonry facade to mask a new glass office building. They argued that the building was in fact a ruin, or “a doughnut awaiting filling.”

Users of the building would experience the historic facade from a series of metal decks between the two. The LPC instead contends that the proposal transforms an adaptable building into a ruin.

Source: Arch Daily

 

Pencils Confidential

In a digital age, photographers Alex Hammond and Mike Tinney have created a series of photographs commemorating the traditional tool of the architect: the pencil. The images feature extravagant mechanical pencils, simple knife sharpened pencils, and the tooth-marked set of yellow pencils owned by artist David Shrigley. World famous architect Thomas Heatherwick’s pencil is embedded in an ornamental metal grip.

The images have been collected in a book titled “The Secret Life of the Pencil,” available from publisher Laurence King.

Source: Dezeen

Tianjin Binhai Library

Photo Credit: Ossip van Duivenbode

MVRDV and the Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute recently completed the Tianjin Binhai Library in Tianjin, China. The library features an enormous auditorium with undulating floor-to ceiling bookcases. The layered bookshelf is a spacial device allowing for stairs and seating within the bookshelf. The concept of the design revolves around a sphere. The sphere rests in the center of the auditorium as if it has been pushed into the building creating a ripple effect. The library was designed and built in only three years. Changes were made locally against MVRDV’S advice, rending access to the upper shelves impossible. However, since its opening in early October 2017, the building has been popular serving as an urban living room to residents.

Source: Archdaily

Preserving the Art of Japanese Indigo Dyeing

Photo Credit: Photograph by Anjora Noronha, CC BY-SA 3.0 (no changes made), wikimedia

Indigo production has been a long-standing part of Japan’s history. The artisan group BUAISOU is dedicated to preserving ancient indigo dyeing techniques. Indigo dye comes from the leaves of the indigo plant, which are harvested, dried, and then fermented in a vat of ash lye, wheat bran, and calcium hydroxide to create the dye. Sukumo—the type of dye that the group uses—has properties that prevent the dye from bleeding onto other fabrics and materials.The intensity of the dye is dependent on how long the fabric is dipped into the vats of dye. The indigo color only appears when the dye is oxidized after the fabric is dipped into the vat and exposed to air.

Source: Spoon and Tamago

Architecture, Art, and Light in Marfa

Photo Credit: Mark Menjivar

Donald Judd moved to Marfa, Texas in the 1970s. Since then, Marfa has come to be known as a pilgrimage site for those interested in contemporary or minimalist art on view at Judd’s Chinati Foundation.

Artist Robert Irwin recently completed his contribution to the Chinati Foundation’s permanent collection. Irwin worked with the Chinati Foundation and the San Antonio-based architectural firm Ford, Powell & Carson for 16 years to create an architectural monument to light and space, receiving a 2017 design award from the Texas Society of Architects.

The building, a perfectly symmetrical ‘U’ shape, sits on the foundation of the ruins of a 1919 army barracks building. The artist, architects and the Chinati Foundation had hoped to accommodate Robert Irwin’s vision within the walls of the original structure, but ultimately its reinforced concrete walls proved too inflexible and unstable. Instead, Irwin’s building references the ruins that were once on site, and eye-level windows, sheer scrims, and polished interior surfaces allow the changing desert light to act as a material itself.

Source: Texas Architect Magazine and Artnet.

Animal Sculpture at the 2017 Wara Art Festival

Photo Credit: Spoon and Tamago

Northern Japan is know for rice production. After a harvest, rice straw—or wara—is recycled  to improve the soil,or it is woven into giant sculptures. For nine years Uwasekgata Park has hosted the Wara Art Festival, teaming up with creatives to create creatures from rice straw. Schools send art students to Niiigata to assist with the sculptures that remain on display well into the fall.

Source: Spoon and Tamago

Façade Controversy

Photo Credit: Dezeen

Several campaigns and protests have rallied against Snøhetta’s proposed changes to the Philip Johnson-designed AT&T Building at 550 Madison Avenue in New York; this building, with a Chippendale-inspired roof line and marble and brass finishes, played a large role in bringing Postmodern architecture to America. Unveiled in late October, Snøhetta’s plans for 550 Madison include a curved glass curtain wall over the lower portion of the skyscraper. Protesters argue that the Postmodern building should be preserved in its original state, and that New York is losing its historic masonry buildings.

Source: Dezeen