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Architecture Monday

August 29, 2016

This is a factory.

Yes,  a factory.  Of the industrial sort.  It’s even an extension of an existing, “conventional” factory.

But it’s a factory that harnesses the power of wind, sunlight, rainwater, and vegetation to harness the power of the workers within.  It’s a factory built to honour those who work within, and show that efficiency and production doesn’t have to be isolated and insular.  Quite the opposite.

There’s so much greatness here I hardly know where to begin.  Check out that green roof, one you ascend by that bridge that hovers just inches above the rich plane of water.  The green roof that covers the whole project, protecting it from the harsh sun, creating a thermal mass, filtering rainwater, and keeping rather than eliminating at least some of the vegetation that once covered the site.

A place for the workers.

Inside, light wells bring, well, light, deep within the complex, courtyards that anchor not only break areas and exhibition rooms, but chunks of the factory floor as well.  Elsewhere on the factory, oculi (yep, that’s the plural!) pull light into production areas, diffused  by expressive metal roses.  Concrete hexagonal column caps further carry the expressiveness of the structure, lending articulation to the spaces.

The tower, shielded and surrounded by vines to control both glare and heat gain, also acts as a convection chimney for the whole complex, allowing hot air to rise out and escape while drawing in fresh air.  A passive air system that also happens to provide stunningly beautiful spaces for amenities, as well as a rooftop patio.

I’m truly excited for this building.  It’s a factory that honours its workers.  Beautiful and thrilling.  It’s an example of how good design can be, and deserves to be, everywhere.  Reminiscent of William McDonough‘s work at Herman Miller, I’ll bet retention rates and productivity here enjoys similar boosts.  Architecture is about quality of the living experience.  This is a workplace.  It’s about earning a living.  But there’s no reason it can’t also be about living period, and about being enlivened while we work.

Factory in the Earth by Ryuichi Ashizawa Architect & Associates, in Malaysia.

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