(King Abdullah University)
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The characteristic oval shape and the almost scale-like facade – made of the twisting ribbons that form the balconies – makes the new InterContinental Hotel in Davos, Switzerland, designed by Munich-based architecture office Oikos Architekten, a striking landmark. Like a giant, shimmering pinecone amidst snow-clad pine trees of the Swiss Alps.
Although the small mountain town of Davos is not short on luxury resorts, theInterContinental Hotel with its shiny metal façade that seems to be flowing above ground stands out from the rest. The hotel’s undulating envelope wraps around the structure, creating an interplay between open and closed surfaces which appears different from every angle. The name of the parcel of land on which the hotel stands is “In der Stilli” (meaning “in the quite” in Swiss German) – reflecting the tranquil and peaceful surroundings of the new hotel.
The Arcus Center’s mission is to develop emerging leaders and sustain existing leaders in the field of social justice. Their center at Kalamazoo College is primarily a site for education and conversation, bringing together leaders, scholars, students and the public to initiate positive social change. The architecture of the new center, designed by Chicago and New York based firm Studio Gang, nourishes and invigorates this work of the Arcus Center. Studio Gang questioned how space could encourage discussion, public participation and bring social justice issues into visibility.
At a modest 930 square metres, the building provides an intimate setting for the activities of the Arcus Center. The axial plan is made up of three wings housing open workrooms, seminar space as well as smaller more intimate study areas, creating varied spaces for different kinds of discussion and gathering.
These three wings meet at an informal social space dubbed ‘the hearth’, a sunken pit skirted by a continuous bench surrounding a central fire and neighboured by a small kitchen. Here Studio Gang have employed traditional, even ancient motifs of social gathering recurrent across generations and cultures, evoking the familiar image of coming together over a cooked meal or around a burning fire. It is these spaces of casualness and intimacy that encourage participatory democracy.
We thought that introducing the domestic elements of the kitchen, fireplace, and hearth into the centre of the space would help people feel comfortable so they could more easily have conversations about difficult issues.”/Jeanne Gang, Studio Founder
Sited between the neighbourhood, the campus and the forest the building sensitively embraces it’s diverse context. Each wing stretches out to one of these environments, framing them through large glazed openings at their termination. The transparency of the building brings the community, landscape and campus within the interior and also renders the work of the Arcus Centre visible to the surrounding community.
Throughout the design process, Studio Gang continuously considered how they could use their agency as architects to address issues of social justice themselves. Design decisions were made to ensure social inclusion and equality, sustainable use of materials and sensitive response to the physical, social and historical context.
There are no gendered toilets in the center, acknowledging that gender identity often doesn’t fit within the male-female binary prescribed by almost all bathroom spaces, eliminating individuals from having to make unwanted gender declarations in order to simply use a toilet. The building also has high levels of accessibility when mostly only the bare minimum to meet building codes is provided. The external cladding of the building revived a forgotten vernacular construction technique of timber masonry, with the logs sourced locally from northern Michigan. The facade is also highly sustainable as the unprocessed wood sequesters carbon.
Beyond the design, the Arcus Center and Studio Gang fostered a collaborative process from the initial design stages through to construction, consulting with the local community and students. Through the tendering process it was ensured that sub-contractors engaged were diverse, including individuals across cultures, genders and sexuality.
It’s a less visible part of the building at the end of the day but there really was attention to detail of who is building, how the community is involved and how the students can have a say on what the final building will be.”/Jeanne Gang, Studio Founder
The Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership embodies the organisations social purpose in every way, from the spaces it creates, to how and who built it, to what it is built from.
I think this building brings a real nobility to social justice work… it’s a very proud and noble space.”/Jon Stryker, Founder and President, Arcus Foundation
Located on historic Third Street, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus, the Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum.
The primary concept of the Speed’s re-design is “Acupuncture Architecture,” a blend of careful and precise interventions that will reinvigorate the entire campus and user experience.
I recall being in Japan and thinking about a unique approach to the museum’s need to expand. Rather than create a stand-alone expansion, we wanted to activate the original building from multiple points in order to heal the whole. We called it “Acupuncture Architecture.”/Kulapat Yantrasast, Founder & creative director of wHY
The expansion and renovation included a new North and South Building, a cinema, art park and a public piazza.
The new North Building doubles the overall square footage and nearly triple the gallery space from the existing building.
On the other side, the new South Pavilion provides additional galleries, an outdoor sculpture garden and a state-of-the-art, 142-seat cinema for a new film program called “Speed Cinema.”
Upon entering the new North Pavilion from the public piazza visitors encounter a free-flowing ground-level including the entry hall, an auditorium with indoor-outdoor capabilities and a double-height, light-filled lobby which features a suspended 675-pound steel sculpture by lauded artist Spencer Finch. The overall sense is one of openness and transparency, the interior energized by views to the surrounding landscape, outdoor piazzas and the University campus.
Making a mark in the building’s form and fritted-glass facade, a wide stair ascends to the second and third level galleries, which represent the museum’s first-ever dedicated spaces for showing modern and contemporary art. The walls are a mix between traditional white and textured concrete carried from the exterior to the inside. The sumptuous, warm material palette was achieved with a significant economy of means and breaks from the monotony of white-walled museums.
The North intervention not only offers a new lobby, galleries and multi-purpose spaces with great visual access to the city, it also connects and improves access to existing underutilized and inaccessible areas of the old buildings.
The connection between the old and the new is made via a suspended bridge leading to the grand galleries in the 1927 Original building, but traversing over a newly excavated atrium which expands and gives inspiring access to the popular Speed’s education program, once located in hard-to-get-to basement area.
The South Pavilion expands the 1954 building to the south to improve the connectivity for the museum and the surrounding University of Louisville campus, as well as to enhance the function and access of the existing galleries in the 1927 and 1954 buildings.
Once inside the 1927 Beaux-Arts building, a sensitive yet contemporary renovation enlivens the experience. Several galleries showcase many of the Speed Art Museum’s most important works from the permanent collection, with a focus on Western art from antiquity to the present day, on colored walls and in carefully-detailed caseworks. The galleries in the 1954 building are refreshed with flexibility and a clean-line aesthetic.
A new Grand Staircase opens up the intersection between the 1927 and 1954 buildings in order to provide inspiring visual and physical access to the upper and lower levels of all galleries. The new gallery experience enhances all of the old buildings’ spaces and provides a rich and uplifting environment for a seamless flow of art throughout.
wHY was commissioned in 2009 to imagine the museum’s original 1927 neoclassical building, designed by Louisville architect Arthur Loomis, as well as to develop and execute a comprehensive strategy for physical, curatorial and programmatic growth and expansion.
The new Speed respects and enhances its historical roots and legacy, while repositioning the museum as an open, accessible cultural hub where people encounter the arts of past and the present, and incubate the arts for the future.
The Speed Art Museum opened to the public on Saturday, March 12 with a 30-hour celebration that was free and open to the public around the clock.
Designed by Italian-born, Australian-based architect Luigi Rosselli, these truly unique residences embody the landscape and vernacular of the Australian outback.
Embedded in an undulating 230 metre rammed earth wall in an arid, remote enclave in Western Australia, The Great Wall of W.A. harks back to the frugal material pragmatism of opal miners’ subterranean dwellings in Coober Pedy, South Australia, or even further afield to some of the vernacular forms first celebrated by Bernard Rudofsky, in his ground-breaking Architecture Without Architects exhibition at MoMA.
Informed by genuine humanist and environmental principles, Rosselli cut his teeth studying with and working for some of the most influential architects of the late twentieth-century, including Alvaro Siza and Mario Botta. The award of the new Australian Parliament House commission to New York firm Mitchell, Giurgola and Thorp Architects in 1981, saw Rosselli move to Australia as part of the design team. Since then, he has designed hundreds of program and site-responsive projects around Australia, as principal of Luigi Rosselli Architects, Sydney.
The Great Wall of W.A. consists of twelve earth-covered residences, providing short-term accommodation during the cattle-mustering season. Monolithic earth walls of 450mm thickness and rear wall/roofs of sand dune and desert foliage are endowed with an abundance of natural thermal mass, creating interior spaces perfectly suited to the harsh, sub-tropical climatic conditions. Extreme diurnal fluctuations in temperature, characteristic of the region, are mitigated by the slow release of coolth and warmth from the natural materials.
The rich and vivid tones of the rammed earth facade is created by a sandy clay, with a high iron content, dug from the site, aggregate sourced from a nearby river, and water sourced from a local bore. Alongside the twelve residences, the complex also contains a multi-functional hub, meeting room and chapel. The close attention-to-detail and material relationship to the natural surroundings is continued right throughout all built forms, with the aggregate from the local river evident in the reddish-tinge of the polished concrete slab. Interior spaces, designed by Sarah Foletta, continue the material dialogue of the architecture, creating restrained and naturally elegant spaces.
Amidst the earthy palette and contours, there is one unexpected and conspicuous design element: a golden anodised aluminium clad ceiling, within the obliquely conical roof structure of the chapel. Lit from a skylight at the apex, this creates a striking aesthetic contrast, enhancing the chapel’s relationship to the attending rammed earth walls and arid terroir.
Of his design methodology, Rosselli maintains that his approach is “humanist, where people and environment take precedence over pre-conceived design dogmas.” This ‘humanism’ is evident in the way the forms and materiality of the rammed earth structures reconsider and frame the inhabitants’ relationship to the immediate natural environment. These are dwellings in and of the earth, evocative of masterworks steeped in the phenomenological tradition, like those of Peter Zumthor, but also of the critical regionalism popularised by Kenneth Frampton in the 1980’s.
The Great Wall of WA was selected as a finalist in the Australian Institute of Architects – Western Australia Architecture Awards.
Kristina Sahlestrom, Edward Birch, David Mitchell
Japan-based Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory has created a new thermoplastic carbon fiber composite called CABKOMA Strand Rod. The Strand Rod is a carbon fiber composite which is covered in both synthetic and inorganic fibers and finished with a thermoplastic resin. The material has been used on the exterior of Komatsu Seitenâ€™s head office.
The carbon fiber strands have many advantageous features. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also is the lightest seismic reinforcement in the world. It has high tensile strength with a â€œdelicate but strong structural body.â€
World renowned architect, Kengo KumaÂ was the first to use this reinforcement material with his design ofKomatsu Seirenâ€™s head office. The use of textiles, along with the carbon fiber composites was also considered, including the â€œâ€™greenbizâ€™ ultrafine porous spongy ceramic base, which is an eco-friendly building material.â€ The completed building is not known as the â€œfa-boâ€ fabric laboratory.
A 160 meter-long roll of CABKOMA Strand Rod weighs only 12kg, and is easily transportable. For comparison, metal wire of the same strength is approximately five times heavier.