Architecture Monday

This office project intrigues me.  Built in Paraguay, where daytime temps often hit around 40~C under intense sun, it uses the simple yet brilliant idea of shading structures to keep the actual offices (surrounded with their own heavy mass walls, which further helps keep things cool) at a reasonable temperature.  It’s like putting the building under a tree.

Letting the breezes through is just as important as the shade, and the deep open cells of the side walls along with the gap between the hanging and office roofs let the air flow through.  To minimize its structure and to allow for the rest of the building to be made from locally available and sourced material, the parasol roof uses a tension system to string itself over the building.  The natural hanging shape also allows for rain to be collected in a central pool, which in turn is circulated via pumps onto the roof to provide for evaporative cooling when a little extra escape from the heat is needed.  It will also allow for additional plants to be grown across the site, making for a veritable little oasis.

Very cool (pun semi intended).  A building that totally responds to its context in all manner of speaking, creating a building that functions well and that is a delight to behold and be in.

Nordeste Curuguaty Offices by Mínimo Común Arquitectura

(Also reminds me of this house which uses a similar shade+mass idea!)

Architecture Monday

WOW… the beauty of these amazing bundles of bamboo, all tied together to form these delicious interlocking sets of gothic-like arches, is just gorgeously stunning! And that wonderful umbrella creates an equally wonderful space.  This is structure used to it’s fullest as a generator of form.

What amazing craftsmanship.  Local genius with local materials.  Love it.

The Vedana Restaurant by VTN Architects (who have done many incredible things with bamboo, check out their other projects).

Architecture Monday

I love how the craft is so much on display in this building.  Built by local artisans, it’s all the ways the bamboo is used on this project that stands out, whether woven into patterned screens, thatched, or, my favourite, intricately roped together to form attractive columns, beams, and diagonal supports.

The other main building material is mud, a most decidedly local and abundant building material..  Through its amorphous shape it strikes an interesting silhouette while sliding nicely into its surroundings.

The inside is airy and colourful, but the pièce de resistance has got to be the little ‘grottos’ that are carved under a ramp connecting its two levels. What a fun little retreat!

Lovely work.  Expressive, local, and another example of a mighty fine building done without needing an eye-watering budget.  Good design never need be thought of as a luxury.

The Anandaloy Center by  Studio Anna Heringer.  (Also a winner of a World Architects’ Obel Award)

Architecture Monday

Restaurang Tusen is a restaurant in a pretty remarkable location… nestled in a mountain valley at the base of a few ski slopes.  But rather than copy the typical chalet or plunk down a generic box, the design team got to work and used what was on hand:  birch trees.

As the only tree that grows at that high altitude, the resulting building is literally ringed with them, creating a conical form that is not only beautiful and iconic but also stands well to the windy snow-blown conditions on the mountain.  By taking a small pie slice out of one side, it also creates a sheltered entry area to doff your skis before going in.  The inside space lofts upward following the cone, bits of birch poking through along the edges showcasing the building’s wood frame.

Sweet little building, built with sustainability in mind and blending with the landscape with whimsy.  Nicely done.

Restaurang Tusen by Murman Arkitekter

Voices in Unison

Maybe it’s the environmental regulations that are being abandoned.  Maybe it’s the armed thugs who barged their way into an active legislature without being, at the very least, surrounded by SWAT if not arrested and hauled away.  Especially given that unarmed marginalized groups have largely suffered much worse while protesting peacefully, often while on their own land.  Maybe it’s that large corporations received huge sums of relief while small businesses continue to be shut out in the cold.  Maybe its that those same corporations have been blithely rewarding their shareholders and CEOs with record profit payouts while paying their employees poorly and, most certainly, not building a reserve to bridge this exact kind of downturn.  Maybe it’s that the tippy-top earners have seen their wealth grow by 200+ billion in the past few months while 36+ million people are suddenly unemployed and waiting for relief that may never come.  Maybe it’s the states that are purposefully ending their emergency orders in order to prevent people from collecting unemployment.  Maybe it’s the companies who call their employees ‘heroes’ but then turn around and refuse to pay them a living wage or to even give them proper protection.  Maybe it’s that trillions continue to be spent on military adventurism yet they resisted tooth and nail to spend anything to help the homefront.  Maybe it’s that there has been more domestic deaths now than there were in some of those wars (or things that started wars).

And maybe it’s just the general ineptitude, narcissistic nepotism, and the absconding of responsibility while claiming all the glory.  May you would just like leaders to be competent, thoughtful, and to, well, actually lead.

Maybe it is any of those things, and more, that have you, on some days, wanting to flip a table.  Yeah.  I feel you.  I’m there too.  This crisis has not only exacerbated the f-ed up parts of our system(s), but even more so has made them eminently visible.  It’s enough to sap one’s feeling of agency and the will to do right in the world.

But there is a salve.  While there are many conversations to be had to change the narratives we hold around these issues, it is equally and more worth remembering that these are and are held in place by systems, and specifically they are systems shaped and driven by policy.  And policy can be changed.  We have a kind of superpower we sometimes forget, and it is called the ballot box.   But, like everything else, it is only power if we use it.

If you live in the USA, please check out this YouTube channel aptly named:  How to Vote in Every State 2020.

And know that it may not be easy.  From closing polling places to misleading mailers to gerrymandered districts to limits on absentee ballots to onerous and unnecessary ID laws to dark money groups to all sorts of things, there are many forces trying to limit our voices.  And that doesn’t even count the day to day difficulty of managing work and childcare and everything else that renders our time a precious commodity, and adds to the strain of going to one of those limited voting spots and actually casting a ballot.  Democracy is being limited (and to be clear this is primarily and especially being done by right wing interests and legislators) because the less that we speak, and the less that we can speak, the easier it is for them to hold onto power.

Which is why it is important to start planning now.  Doing the work to register now so you can find what’s needed before the deadline comes.  Making plans with friends, family, co-workers now to ensure things will be covered that day such that and will you have a much higher chance to reach the poll to cast your ballot.  And maybe even to prepare some backup plans.

All so that we can get out there and get legislators and executives – nationally, stateside, and locally (All are important!  Most of what affects us on a day to day basis happens at the local level!) – to alter policy and set up the systems that work for the most good for the most people, moving the needle towards a more just, verdant, healthy, and equitable future.

Architecture Monday

Nowadays, the word factory conjures up images of big and dark voids full of machinery that is, and the workers within are, much removed from delight and the world around it.  Not that it needs to be that way!  Not in the least.  Here’s one that accomplishes everything needed within (ie, making stuff) while being mighty fine for both the workers within and its neighbors and passers-by.

While in plan the building is in a very typical (and straight-edged) L-shaped configuration, with its vertically zig-zagging walls you’d never guess it, helped even further along by the great texture striations that embellish the protruding concrete wedges.  All around, the ground rises up to follow and meet these chiseled shapes.  Similarly, up top, the roof tips down to reveal a planted surface, studded with skylights.  Besides the great energy and maintenance benefits of the roof (coupled with the insulated thermal mass of the concrete walls), it helps the building blend into the nearby pine forest, especially for those peering out of the window as their plane departs from the nearby airport.

 

Inside the spaces are large and continuous, befitting its manufacturing purpose, broken up by inviting atriums that work double time to bring light deep into the interior.  Multiple paths, gardens, and more let the atriums be amazing spaces to view and use for the surrounding offices.  (Also… let us simply marvel at the horse-lamp and the pig-table…)

Great stuff and a sweet reminder that good design that honours us as people is possible no matter what type of building.

Coffee Production Plant by Khmaladze Architects

Architecture Monday

Something a little different tonight… a nice little canopy over an EV charging centre.

There’s a lot to like here, not the least of which is the repeating star shaped columns that lend a rather elegant flair.  Intended to be modular, these tree-like columns can be arranged and attached in continuing sequences to make larger or smaller shelters.  From there, the canopy itself (continuing with the tree motif) is a playground to create patterns of open areas, letting in light and views and spaces for additional trees to grow, while also supporting a planted roof for additional greenery and green-ness.  Best of all, it’s made of wood and grass and besides being tactile and inviting it is crafted from certified forests and can easily be disassembled for re-purposing or even re-use someplace else in another guise.

Neat and nimble, a utilitarian structure given attention to become a boon and a welcome place, quiet, restful, and clean, to spend a few moments for one’s car to sup on sweet sweet electrons.  Awesome stuff, I’d totally welcome stopping there for a charge on a road trip.  And it has a swing!  A definite in the plus column, and just what we might expect from the firm who was also responsible for this amazing kindergarten

Ultra Fast Charging Stations by COBE

Strike the E and the P from their name

At this point, I’m fully expecting mustache twirling.

The EPA, under direction from the current administration, suspended its enforcement of environmental laws.

Not just some of the laws and regulations – effectively all of them.  No monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, reporting, or certification obligations.  So long as the company says that it was due to COVID-19 and provides supporting documentation to the EPA upon request.

As if the EPA would request it.  Because there’s no end date set.

Even after the fallout from COVID-19 is done, this can stay on.

Plus the EPA has clearly stated that it won’t pursue penalties if companies break the rules.

There are not even any provisions to take action should a company do something egregious or if there is immediate threat to health – at best the EPA has said they would tell “state authorities.”

This is beyond reprehensible.  They are using the cover of a crisis to cause active and ongoing harm to people, to people’s livelihoods, to the future.  There could be another Cuyahoga River incident tomorrow, and they would shrug.

This is not good.

 

(And just to be sure both sides of their moustaches gets attention, they also just dropped fuel economy standards.)

Architecture Monday

Great buildings very much aid in creating a great work environment, which then leads to great work.  And this new office definitively fits the bill.

It’s hard to miss the building, its six v-shaped pavilions creating a strong sculptural presence.  Like a series of open books, each of the thick concrete walls that nestle the office spaces open northward out towards a lake, cutting glare from the strong sun at this latitude while allowing plenty of diffuse northern light as well as parkland views to penetrate deep into the work spaces.  Each pavilion is connected via outdoor arcades, which in turn also become planted pathways connecting the rooftop gardens that also adorn each concrete V.

Cuts into and slices taken out of each V allow for small punched windows and dramatic entryways, while exterior stairs also lead to porticoes allowing access to the rooftop gardens.  Altogether the green roofs flow across the whole assemblage of pavilions, connecting them all and creating another layer of parkland.

There’s a lot to love here.  From a building that’s overall both fun and rife with greenery to the wonderful details like the pattern of cutouts that create an additional layer of sculptural articulation as well as the bold slices to create the entries.  And that green roof is wonderful, pulling double duty to keep the building cool while just being a cool space to hang out.  Great stuff.

Viettel Offsite Studio by VTN Architects