jueves, 31 de mayo de 2012

Vienna Airport Lounge / Syntax Architecture + Illichmann Architecture

14 Marzo 2012
Airport lounges are often anonymous and soul-less spaces which are perceived replaceable with any otherairpoirt lounge around the world. Easily they become non-places without a connection to the visitors’ location. To counteract this impression at Vienna International Airport, strong and distinctive characteristics bacame the main goal for the design of the new Air Lounge.
The new Air Lounge at Vienna International Airport or: reexperiencing the easiness of flying.
The sole purpose of many lounges is the issue of killing waiting time. The design incorporates five different zones, each with a unique answer for the passengers’ needs.
1. welcome desk
1. food and drink
2. business area
3. working zone
4. relaxing zone
 The intention was to seperate these zones, but keep the lounge as a whole. White sting curtain walls which also function as lighting objects generate subtle spaces without obscuring the views completely. Depending on the visitors’ position, spaces may seem to be more or less open.
Light rays break through the delicate string structure. By passing from one zone to another, the nascent breeze lets the curtains sway softly, like wind puffing against clouds, thus breaking up the dimension of a conventional interior space. Even though the room offers a perfect overview for the customer and the staff, the zoning allows for a certain intimate privacy. The further you step in and the more time you have, the more intimate the space becomes, allowing those who await a longer stay to settle in and relax.


Social Security Administration Building In Barcelona / BCQ Arquitectura

 14  Marzo 2012
Planning of the complex
The building negotiates its orientation with the urban fabric. The original planning proposal adapts to the reality of the existing urban setting. The ground floor and the basement floor are located within the boundaries of the site; upper floors, however, move and align with the street l’Om. This change frees the space in the south side of the square and creates a wider space.
Although the building divides the empty space of the urban fabric into two, the treatment of each space is the same, and the ground floor of the building is understood as an element of continuity of the surroundings. It is essential that there is transparency in the access area which is overlooking the square.
The building
The use of the building is administrative in the floors above ground, while the basement floors are destined for parking and service areas. This building is divided into three volumes, whose rotation is suggested by the geometry of the building plot. The volume of the ground floor adopts the geometry of the site. This floor establishes a continuing relationship with public space in which it is situated.
The volume of first to fourth floors regains the address of the street l’Om, and creates, with the projection originated by this shift, a large porch that frames and protects the building entrance. The third volume of the fifth and sixth floors is guided by a turn in between the two previous volumes. The fact that this third volume is smaller than the lower one, generates a terrace accessible to the users of the building from the fifth floor.
 The need for natural light which is determined by the administrative use of the building is resolved with the large windows in facade which are protected from the incidence of direct solar radiation through a continuous envelope of aluminum slats. These slats give identity to the building facades: they are arranged horizontally along the main facades of the building (longitudinal facades) and in vertical on the beams. The use of a framed structure with pillars in facade allows for open floor plans that are organized from two vertical cores, leaving the rest of the surface free. The partitioning is done through lightweight partition wall. In this way, the building allows a versatility of occupation in time.

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2012

Edmonton Airport Living Wall by Green over Grey

22 mayo 2012

Green over Grey have designed and installed a 1,420 square foot Living Wall inside the Edmonton International Airport in Alberta, Canada.


martes, 22 de mayo de 2012

Masterplan for Marseille’s Vieux Port / Foster + Partners

13 marzo 2012
Courtesy of Foster + Partners

One of the greatest Mediterranean Ports is about to be transformed. Work has begun on the Old Port of Marseille as part of a series of regeneration projects to be completed in time for the city’s inauguration as European Capital of Culture in 2013. Based on French landscape architect Michel Desvigne’s and London-based architects Foster + Partners’ competition-winning master plan, the project will reclaim the quaysides as a civic space, creating new informal venues for performances and events, while traffic is relocating traffic to a safe, semi-pedestrianised public realm.

Lord Foster stated, “I know the harbor at Marseille well and it is a truly grand space. This project is a great opportunity to enhance it using very simple means, to improve it with small, discreet pavilions for events, for markets, for special occasions. Our approach has been to work with the climate, to create shade, but at the same time to respect the space of the harbor – just making it better.”
Courtesy of Foster + Partners

In order to enlarge the space for pedestrians, the technical installations and boat houses on the quays will be replaced with new platforms and clubhouses over the water. The harbor will be landscaped with a pale-colored granite, which echoes the shade of the original limestone cobbles.
  Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Materials used are hard-wearing with a rough texture, appropriate for the port setting. Furthermore, the design eliminates curbs and changes in level to improve accessibility, as well as using removable cast iron bollards to maximize flexibility.
Courtesy of Foster + Partners

At Quai des Belges, the prominent eastern edge of the harbor, a dramatic blade of reflective stainless steel will shelter a flexible new events pavilion. Open on all sides, its 46 by 22 meter canopy is supported by slender pillars. The canopy’s polished, mirrored surface reflects the surrounding port and tapers towards the edges, minimizing its profile and reducing the structure’s visual impact.

Reference: Foster + Partners

viernes, 4 de mayo de 2012

Caring for Your Office Introvert

13 Marzo 2012

The Crystal by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects is a typically extroverted office environment.

“this open, ‘collaborative’ environment, where worker drones so nicely sit in poise out in the open while click-clacking on their computers, creates an atmosphere where people become desensitized to being on display. [...] Sitting and thinking is actually frowned upon as being a waste of productivity. Why are you just sitting there? Why are you not talking, or typing, or writing, or drawing, or multitasking?”

– Mark Genest, comment on “In Defense of Introverts” [1]

Consider the contemporary office. White floors, minimalist style, no pesky walls getting in the way – just pure, unadulterated openness.

From our assembly-line past has emerged an increasingly consumer-oriented world, in which collaboration and gregariousness are valuable commodities. As a result, offices that resemble art galleries – with the employees on display – have become the norm, and while this sociable environment is energizing for the extrovert, for the introvert, it’s crippling.

In my last article, “In Defense of Introverts,” I posited that learning modalities, which better incorporate our introverted brethren, could revolutionize classroom design. In this one, I expand the concept to that of working modalities: an answer for office design that would engender an office culture sensitive to introverted rhythms and – at last – expand the way we conceive of creativity and innovation as a purely extroverted enterprise.

Choose Your Modality

© LAVA. This design for a Classroom of the Future would easily incorporate different learning modules.

Choose Your Modality. This is the saying that inspired The School of One, a pilot program in New York City that uses an algorithm to track student progress and suggest the optimal learning style, or modality (small-group instruction, individual learning, online learning, etc.), for each student. In this type of classroom, the design must allow for space to be subdivided into areas that best serve each modality, and thus cater to both extroverted and introverted personality types.

In her brilliant TED Talk, “The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain explains how this is best attained: “extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments[...] the key then to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.” [2]

In contrast to a school, in a workplace of creative-thinking adults, an algorithm would not be necessary to determine which environment best serves the individual. And herein lies the key to a successful workplace design: the freedom to choose between introverted and extroverted environments.

Now, I would emphasize that every business requires its own particular balance of spatial arrangements for the kind of work that occurs within it, be it more collaborative or individual. However, an office that offers a variety of space gives its workers the freedom to transition between them, providing for extroverted and introverted working styles and encouraging creativity/productivity in all its forms.

Office Citizens

Vitra's Work Box provides audio-visual separation that facilitates individual work

On the forefront of introvert-inclusion is Vitra: a design company that conceives of the workplace as a living city whose workers are its citizens. In this concept, the Citizen Office is centered around the Office Forum, from which branches out different kinds of areas: the Silence Room, Debate Room, Meeting Room, Work Box, Private Box, etc.

Just from reading the names, we begin to see where each space falls within the public-private spectrum, and what’s more, within the extrovert-introvert spectrum. The Office Forum, resembling a small plaza with lots of open space and seating to facilitate the casual exchange of ideas, is quintessentially extroverted. But the Box, an enclosed, private space that limits stimulation (and provides acoustic as well as visual separation), is quintessentially introverted, providing the structure for more individual work.

The strength of Vitra’s concept is that it gives you the choice: “A Citizen Office [...] offers all possibilities for performing every task in the right place at the right time in the right way [...] In a Citizen Office the employees decide which rhythm, form and location is right for their respective activity.” From that initial space of interaction, you can verge off on your own and then – most importantly – wander back to your colleagues to share the outcome. [3]

Google City

Meeting Spaces in Google's Zurich Headquarters.

Perhaps there is no better physical manifestation of the Citizen Office concept than Google’s iconic Zurich Headquarters. The plans for the office resulted from a detailed survey of its workers – its “Zooglers” – to determine the kind of workspaces they required.  The result was an office that truly operates as a self-contained city, providing for every facet of employee life.

The survey revealed that “the optimal working environment for Zooglers needed to be diverse and at the same time harmonious whilst making it a fun and an enjoyable place to work in. The survey also showed that while personal workspace needed to be functional and more neutral, communal areas had to offer strong visual and more aesthetically enjoyable and entertaining qualities to stimulate creativity, innovation and collaboration.” [4]

While Zooglers prioritized dispersed communal spaces – you can even slide down fire poles to quickly get from one floor’s communal space to another’s – the workers demanded a diversity of space where functional and neutral workstations for the individual coexist with aesthetic and socially stimulating spaces for groups. In this varied environment, collaboration can be the focus, but the needs of the introvert are not forgotten.

A Pea in a Pod 

© Patrick Bingham-Hall. The "pods" of Bishan's Public Library provide introverted spaces.

 While Google’s exorbitant budget and playful idea of space – from giant eggs to taxi cabs – is not attainable or even desirable in most office environments, the concepts behind them – the necessity of choice and the creation of clearly defined spaces – can be accomplished in other ways.

Using Vitra as a point of reference, furniture and color can separate introverted from extroverted spaces (as in eBay’s themed office spaces, which houses “Think” rooms for individuals as well as public “Huddle” and “Project Work” spaces for collaboration).

The inclusion of introverted space could also be built into the building: the “pods” of Bishan’s public library, suspended nooks that provide private space away from a building’s interior, for example; or the dynamic three-winged offices of KBP West that have acoustically sealing folding doors and isolated meeting structures, adaptable to the creation of more introverted space within offices.
© Richard Barnes. The KBP West Offices by Jensen & Macy Architects offers a balance of extroverted and introverted elements in its design.

While these offices are not yet the norm, there does seem to be a paradigm shift, an “Introvert Revolution,” gathering steam that would necessitate such re-conceptualizations of office space. Perhaps “we have swung the pendulum too far in the extrovert direction,” but I don’t think Introverts will have to wait much longer for the pendulum to slow. With so many crises facing us, our extroverted-world needs profound, innovative ideas (and spaces conducive to producing those ideas) if we are to survive.

The Introvert is due for a glorious return.


*The title is a play off of Jonathan Rauch’s touchstone piece “Caring For Your Introvert.” The Atlantic. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/>

[1] Quirk, Vanessa. “In Defense of Introverts.” ArchDaily. <http://www.archdaily.com/215055/in-defense-of-introverts/#comment-1896225>

[2] Cain, Susan. “The Power of Introverts.” TED Talks. <http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html>

[3] “The Citizen Office.” Vitra. <http://www.vitra.com/en-gb/office/citizen-office-the-productive-office/>.

[4] Saieh , Nico . “Google EMEA Engineering Hub / Camezind Evolution” ArchDaily. <http://www.archdaily.com/41400>


Hotel Ayre / Wortmann Architects + Guillermo Bañares Arquitectos + Carlos Narvaez

13 Marzo 2012

The visible creates a work in form – the invisible defines its worth- Lao Tse

To be confronted with a building site in the shadow of the “SagradaFamilia“ a key work of the Catalan master AntoniGaudí, is an unique opportunity in the life of an architect. We were perfectly aware that the particular modernist style – to be read as a Catalan version of Art Nouveau – influenced by surrealism, the colorful ornaments reflecting organic elements taken out of nature, as well as the daring structure of the cathedral, represents for the city of Barcelona the same overwhelming attraction as the Frank Gehry`s Guggenheim Museum for Bilbao.

 © Stefan Müller

We also knew that we would not just cover some of the surfaces of the building with the “trencadis”, a patchwork of broken ceramic tiles, as a lot of bars and hotels in the city did, imitating a typical technique of Gaudí´s artisans. Our reminiscence had to be a more effective as a compromised tribute to the principles of his architectural approach, which should still be meaningful in our days. How should we do it?

© Stefan Müller

We found the answer in Gaudí´s devotion to nature as the most inspiring force to his architectural practice. Aren´t his columns bending like trees? Who had visited once his outstanding residential building “La Pedrera” at Paseo de Gracia-Avenue, knows that most of his public spaces are painted in a Symphony of colors that reminds summer and autumn, painted on woods leafs as canvas.

© Stefan Müller

One of the outstanding principles of the SagradaFamilia is its complex system of measuring modules which confers a clear order to the whole building and is the reason why, after the death of Gaudí, others could continue his legacy, even without a sufficient support of planning documents. Visionary, the master showed an apple-minded obsession with details, which is nowadays resulting as a key to the feasibility of the grandiose building completion.

“Everything big on earth always starts being small”, as Lao-tse told us.

 © Stefan Müller

Following the guide-line traced by our overpowering neighbor, we definitely accepted to integrate in our design the Fibonacci-series, which mathematically define the proportions in nature, let´s say, between trunk, branch and twig during the growing of a tree. As may be observed in the rhythm of the openings in the central courtyard, the somehow intellectual procedure of following an abstract order is not necessarily incompatible to the will of form. The lively composition shows an astonishing likeliness to the interior of the cathedral-towers.

© Stefan Müller

As a contemporary way of integrating the animated colors of nature, we attached fine stripes of LED-lightning elements edgeways to the window panes. Thanks to the computerized coordination of the LED´s, it´s even possible to reproduce a sort of “Gesamtkunstwerk”, combining sound and light effects, like Vivaldi´s “QuatroStaggioni” with the changing colors evoked by the four baroque concertos. It´s just a contemporary way to attain the all-embracing art form intended by Gaudí, humbly following the path beaten by the master.
 © Stefan Müller

Awareness of the historic context, we are acting as architects should, in our opinion, go hand in hand with modesty. In this sense, after several months of studies and model-building in the studio, finally we understood that the formal mastership and technical complexity we were trying to transfer to ours, in the way of a morphologic study from the façade of the formerly mentioned residential building “La Pedrera”, was out of our reach.

© Stefan Müller

Neither we were willing to consider the effort to adapt the uniform structural grid of an hotel to the overwhelming expressivity of an Art Nouveau Jewel inserted in the Paseo de Gracia representative but conventional facades, for a Maecenas as it was Count Güell, the promoter of the project. Nor we had the architectural power to smash to the ground the critics of such an endeavor, as Gaudí did in his time. To this extension, it is certainly a curiosity that the celebrated “Pedrera” originally obeyed to the mockery of the Barcelonese public, which depicted the building as a stone quarry.
 details 01

The initial difficulties we found in our first design attitude helped us to discipline our proposal, adopting the regular traces of the façades which are the characteristic pattern of the “Eixample”, built on the master-plan designed by the civil engineer IldefonsCerdá in 1860. Although rejected by the upcoming industrialists who were the protagonists of the technical revolution, due to its egalitarian grid which did not satisfy their idea of a city as a mirror of the new economic order, it was imposed by the Spanish Central Government of Madrid to the Municipality of Barcelona.

details 02

Nowadays, Cerdá Plan is recognized as a pioneer project, due to its effectiveness resolving actual traffic needs and to create protected residential areas inside the blocks. Barcelona inhabitants feel comfortable living within its rationally organized streets and the uniform and solid beauty of their facades fits well to the reserved character of the Catalan People.

plan 01

That is why we liked the idea of integrating the hotel into this traditional scheme, applying the local design code in an even more conservative way, respecting faithfully the proportions and distances outlined for the openings, but still we felt appealing to express the fact that inside a bourgeois body it was beating the vigorous heart of a patio filled by an inspiring symphony of colors and sounds.

In a simple but effective gesture, we broke up the stone panels between adjacent guest apartments, filling the void with thin alabaster tiles attached to laminated glass slabs, which measures were scaled by the Fibonacci Series. Opaque during the day, they become translucent at night, following the sequence of the visitors lighting their rooms. Therefore the facades become the animated showcase of the building’s activity.

plan 03

It is only another vantage for the challenge of raising up a project in the neighborhood of a world famous incunabula of international tourism that we were allowed, just adopting the section of our building to the slightly slope of the preexisting plot of land, to create a public plaza in the interior of the block, accessible from the hotel bar at the ground floor. In the counterpart of financing the investment for the public space, we were permitted to demolish the shabby and neglected two-storey constructions along the inner passage, bringing their floor area up to the top of the hotel building.

By this operation, not only a roof terrace with breathtaking views on the heights of the SagradaFamilia could be created, but yet entering the hotel mall the visitor becomes aware of the powerful presence of the monument. We wish to believe that in this precise moment volatiles sensations are transformed to an enduring experience, due to an effort of locating our building, its outfit and inner reality, in a meaningful position towards history and place.