Miscellanea – On the Market

Millard House – Listing at Crosby Doe Associates For architectural sticky-beaks Architecture for Sale lists residences (primarily in the US) designed by architects just waiting for you to put down a lazy million… or four. There are some notable houses featured including (at the time of writing) the masterful Esherick House by Louis Kahn, the Desert Nomad House by Rick Joy (a steal at US$875,000) and Craig Ellwood’s Broughton House built in 1949.

My pick: The Millard House (aka La Miniatura, 1923) by FLLW. A sublime residence and gardens for only US$4.4 million! If you really are interested, delve into the real estate details, including the previous sale prices.

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Kings Cross, Old Maps & VFX

Recent miscellanea that has caught my attention…

The £547 million Concourse

Western Concourse, King's Cross StationA good critical review (unfortunately not that common these days…) from Hugh Pearman about John McAslan and Partners‘ recently opened Western Concourse at Kings Cross Station in London.

From outside the new concourse has a clamshell look: surprisingly – maybe, given all the heritage attention, deliberately – unspectacular to the point of banality. The drama is all inside.

For another opinion of the project, head over to The Guardian for Rowan Moore’s take. Or browse to McAslan + Parners’ download page and click “Rebuilding King’s Cross: All Change!”.

Old Maps Online

Screenshot of Old Maps Online showing NSWUsing Google Maps as a base, Old Maps Online enables you, via an overlay technique, to compare existing places with those in the past for historical maps dating back to 1551. Instant search results appear related to your location and a date slider bar allows you to fine tune the time period. Another handy site for your online research toolbox. [via The Verge]

Boardwalk Empire VFX

Continuing a loose interest of mine (have a look here) in digital creation of imagined places or reconstruction of historic places, comes a tidy little before/after showreel from Brainstorm Digital who created Atlantic City in the 1920s for the show “Boardwalk Empire“. I always wonder how many ex-architects – some may argue you are never an ex-architect – work in VFX creating/reconstructing these environments. Enjoy! [via The Loop]

Christoph Ingenhoven: The Future is Green

Christoph Ingenhoven: The Future is Green

Critical Visions, 2008 RAIA National Conference

Ingenhoven prefaced his keynote by stating that he believes architecture is about surviving and not fashion and so by extension in order to survive the buildings must be energy efficient. So it’s no surprise that he seeks paired down structural systems, integrates landscape elements and assesses all projects against his own environmental criteria. Many of the projects by Ingenhoven Architects presented are rational solutions that employ double skin facades, geothermal, wind, solar and passive energy principles such as natural ventilation and day lighting. Some achieve zero CO² emissions (the Dusseldorf House) and others find the optimum factor between surface and volume (the circular RWE AG Tower in Essen) to minimise material and energy wastage.

The RWE AG Tower, Essen (photo by Sandra Schmechel)
The RWE AG Tower, Essen (photo by Sandra Schmechel)

A group of projects Ingenhoven presented, that could be called the “Atria Projects”, all included a variety of atriums to act as a natural buffer between external and internal spaces. Not only do these atrias provide environmental benefits by filtering air but are also internal landscape spaces for people to view and enjoy away from the climatic extremes. The planning of these large commercial projects is based on a “village concept”, according to Ingenhoven, and the Lufthansa Aviation Centre, 1 Bligh Street (Dexus) Tower and the European Investment Bank (winner of the 2010 Emilio Ambasz Prize for Green Architecture) all take different approaches.

Lufthansa Aviation Centre, Frankfurt
Lufthansa Aviation Centre, Frankfurt
Lufthansa Aviation Centre 'floating' bamboo island atrium
Lufthansa Aviation Centre ‘floating’ bamboo island atrium

Operable facade of the European Investment Bank
Operable facade of the European Investment Bank, Luxembourg

The tower in Sydney (designed in association with Architectus) is a vertical version of the other two horizontal schemes and is an elliptical plan with a core pushed to the rear (south) of the site away from the views and best aspect. A circulation path takes you around the centre of the floor plate and creates a feeling of community as the lifts open onto the atrium. In this case, a night purge system utilises the atrium and a blackwater (sewer) system is used in cooling water for the air conditioning as only 50% natural ventilation is provided – excellent for a tower in Sydney though!

View from Sydney Harbour of the 1 Bligh Street Tower (render)
View from Sydney Harbour of the 1 Bligh Street Tower (render)
The atrium of the 1 Bligh Street Tower (render)
The atrium of the 1 Bligh Street Tower (render)

A project that stood out from the others presented was the Stuttgart Station project. With a 20 year period for realisation, the project provides the missing link in the European high-speed rail network and is the most structurally expressive of Ingenhoven’s projects – probably due in part to his collaboration with Frei Otto. The station structure is a pressure-loaded cone structure with a ring beam that morphs the columns and roof into one element. These elements are like giant eyes that provide natural day lighting and ventilation. Ingenhoven claimed the project did not emit any CO² (part of the ‘zero energy’ target) but the most impressive aspect was the concept of harnessing the (sucking) airstream from the trains to naturally ventilate the station platforms and maintain an operational temperature of between 14-27ºC.

A model section through the platforms at Stuttgart Station
View of the platforms at Stuttgart Station project (click to zoom)
Aerial view of the Stuttgart Station project
Aerial view of the Stuttgart Station project (click to zoom)
Platform view with light eyes providing 14 hours of natural daylight per day
Platform view with giant ‘light eyes’ providing 14 hours of natural daylight per day (click to zoom)

With a typical rationalist approach, Ingenhoven stated that form and design elements of his projects are not predetermined but the result of technical investigations and testing. Not sure if that’s truly the case but for me the synthesis of environmental, structural and architectural elements in Stuttgart Station project transcended this rigid process.

Projects Presented (in order)

  • RWE AG Headquarters, Essen (1997)
  • “Private House D”, Dusseldorf (2005)
  • Main Station, Stuttgart (2015)
  • Lufthansa Aviation Centre, Frankfurt (2006)
  • 1 Bligh Street (Dexus) Tower, Sydney (2011)
  • UCD Gateway, University College, Dublin (2013)
  • European Investment Bank, Luxembourg (2008)

Additional Ingenhoven Resources

Also in this series… Francine Houben, Brigitte Shim, Chris Wilkinson and Billie Tsien

Monumental Sustainability by Herzog & de Meuron [updated]

Monumental Sustainability by Herzog & de Meuron [updated]

Joining a long line of notable architectural designs emerging from previous Expos and World Fairs, Herzog & de Meuron today released their concept design master plan for the Expo Milan 2015.

Aerial view along the primary boulevard, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Aerial view along the primary boulevard, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)

With an Expo theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, the Herzog & de Meuron master plan deliberately makes a paradigm shift away from the monumental buildings (eg. Eiffel Tower, 1889) or big pointy towers (eg. Space Needle) that characterise past Expos;

To this end, we want to reverse the notion of a monumentality that is associated with physical impact and instead offer a vision of landscape that is monumental in its fragility and natural beauty. [Herzog & de Meuron, architect’s statement]

Described by the architects as a “reinterpreted urban agricultural landscape” the design reminds me of the classic Italian gardens analysed in the book “Green Architecture & The Agrarian Garden” (Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, 1988) that made such an impact on me when I studied landscape architecture. At first glance, the scheme looks like it could be for an anonymous new city in the Middle East but on closer inspection it reflects some romantic elements of Italian cities – Venetian canals and picturesque agrarian scenes in Tuscany – that sit within a rigourous urban structure.

The design is organised around a 1.4 kilometre long boulevard about the scale of the Ramblas in Barcelona or parts of the Champs Elysées in Paris. In the tradition of Roman cities, this primary axis intersects a secondary boulevard that connects the Expo site to the city fabric. A series of strips (perhaps recalling furrows in a field) covered by shade sails cut across the boulevard axis and define the building sites for all the national pavilions. By arranging these strips perpendicular to the axis, each country has an equal frontage or representation at the Expo – despite the varying lengths and topography. Water frames the site in way that recalls the waterways of Venice (check out the boats!), provides sustainability benefits (in part a constructed wetland) as well as way to move around the Expo by boat.

Canal view, Expo Milan 2015. (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Canal view, Expo Milan 2015. (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Boulevard view, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Boulevard view, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Conceptual layers diagram, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Conceptual layers diagram, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Overall aerial view, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Overall aerial view, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Close-up of the boulevard, 'strips' and shade sails, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Close-up of the boulevard, ‘strips’ and shade sails, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
A mini harbour off the canals, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
A mini harbour off the canals, Expo Milan 2015 (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)

Given the strong green theme of the Expo, Herzog & de Meuron are working with the world-renowned sustainability leaders William McDonough + Partners to develop a range of environmental processes that are guided by McDonough’s “cradle to cradle” approach. The diagram below highlights the different parts of the “nutrient system” whereby an appropriate cradle to cradle cycle is assigned to each component; Stuff (1 day to 1 month), Setting (3-30 years), Systems (7-15 years), Skin (20 years), Structure (30-300 years) and Site (eternal).

Expo nutrient system by William McDonough (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)
Expo nutrient system by William McDonough (Courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron)

Interestingly, Herzog & de Meuron’s bold concept for the 2015 Expo is not exactly their first. In fact, the origins of their de Young Museum (2005) in San Francisco stem from the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894 as the original building was severely damaged by a 1989 earthquake.

In essence, the design for Expo Milan 2015 by Herzog & de Meuron is an urban landscape design framework that provides a monumental yet sustainable approach for an event such as an Expo. Whether or not it makes a long term environmental contribution to the city of Milan, will be revealed in the fullness time as the concept has lofty aspirations;

Just like nature, the Expo will also change over time… it will have provided a foundation for flexible and sustainable development in the entire region, ultimately redefining our long-term approach to the worldwide production of foodstuffs. [Herzog & de Meuron, architect’s statement]


UPDATE 12 April 2015: As the Milan Expo is now only a few weeks from opening, it seems timely to update this 2009 article. Regrettably the “lofty aspirations” of the design team for Expo Milano 2015 remain that – aspirational. By 2011 the entire master plan team of Herzog & de Meuron, Stefano Boeri, William McDonough and Ricky Burdett left the project. Turns out that the organisers weren’t ready to accept the radical new vision of focussing on the issues and content rather than individual pavilions. Go and read the full interview with Herzog in issue no. 32 of uncube. It’s well worth your time.

Francine Houben: Dutch Mountains

Francine Houben: Dutch Mountains

Critical Visions, 2008 RAIA National Conference

With typical Dutch frankness and charm, Francine Houben delivered an interesting keynote surveying a series of Mecanoo projects. Citing her influences as Charles Eames and her background in the Dutch Delta, Houben said she stays connected to the site by “keeping her feet in the clay”. She aims for innovative, human scaled, sustainable projects integrated with the landscape.

Each of the projects presented demonstrated a similar design approach of a folded ground plane or space “carved” from a solid block.

Library light tower, Delft University of Technology (photo by muchachuco)

Continue reading “Francine Houben: Dutch Mountains”