Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slidding House

A New House for a Rural Site under A Big Sky...

The brief was a self-bulid house to retire to in order to grow food, entertain and enjoy the landscape. The site offered a combination of rolling England and agricultural Holland, restrained by stringent local plannning parameters for rural development. A genuine appreciation of vernacular farm buildings shared by architect and client led to a manipulation of the local timber framed and clad shed idiom.

The outcome is three conventional building forms with unconventional detailing, radical performance, and a big surprise. A linear building of apparaent simplicity is sliced into three programmes; house, garage and annexe. THe garage is pulled off axis to create a courtyard between the three. The composition is further defined by material and colour; red rubber membrane and glass, red and black stained larch.

The surprise: the separated forms can be transformed by a 20 ton mobile roof'wall enclosure which traverses the site, creting combinations of enclousre, openo-air living and framing of views according to position. this is an sutonomous structure; steel, timber, insulation and unstained larch spanning recessed railway tracks. Movement is powered by hidden electric motors on wheels integrated into the wall thickness. the tracks can be extended in the future should the client wish to build a swimming pool, which may need occasional shelter.

Sliding House offers radically variable spaces, extent of shelter, sunlight and insulation. The dynamic change is a physical phenomenon difficult to describe in words or images. It is about the ability to vary the overall buildign composition and characeter according to eason, weather, or a remote-controlled desire to delight.

Architect: dRMM; Alex de Rijke, Joana Pestana Lages Goncalves
Client : Private Clint

Headquater of China Insurance Group

Jury for the “Shenzhen 4 Tower in 1” choose Coop Himmelb(l)au design

The jury for the “Shenzhen 4 Tower in 1” Competition chaired by Mr. Arata Isozaki, selected Coop Himmelb(l)au's design for Tower C, the new “Headquarter of China Insurance Group” as the winning scheme. Other participants include Morphosis, Steven Holl Architects, Hans Hollein, MVRDV and FCJZ Atelier.

The new “Headquarter of China Insurance Group” will be part of a lively business quarter in the heart of the Central District of Shenzhen made up of a carefully composed ensemble of unique, individual towers creating a landmark silhouette.

The project is a high-rise structure with a height of approximately 200 m with 49 storeys. The footprint area has the size of 40 by 40 m. The required program is distributed vertically. A clear separation of public and private functions is given. All public functions are organized in the base building while the office program is situated in the tower. Semi public program like meeting rooms, conference center, recreation areas and gardens are concentrated in the middle of the building. This zone is designed to create a pattern of meeting facilities, gardens and recreation areas for all employees and become spaces for an exchange of knowledge and creativity and a synergy of form and function.

The “Headquarter of China Insurance Group” is not only recognizable by its significant form but also by its façade. The design of the façade is driven by generation of energy. The second skin of the façade is shaped by climate conditions and inner functions. This skin includes photovoltaic cells to generate electricity and also cells to reduce excessive wind pressure, shade the sun and create multi media displays. Strategies employing the form of the building to assist natural ventilation together with the use of renewable energy sources (wind and solar power) assure an energy efficient design and reduce energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuel energy sources.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mushroom Cities: Tropical Urban Rainforests

As the urban population increases the challenges facing urban life also increases. A limited amount of land has to cater for all the high demands on the human needs and desire. Our verdict by 2030, Earth would suffer to resist all this rapid development in urban areas. Hazardous air pollution emitted by vehicle in abundance in the city and uncontrolled usage of natural resource freely contributes to global warming.
Cities become more prevalent as a social illness center, effected by poor quality of living and lack of consideration of human beings needs of socializing and recreation. Ironically greenery and open space are still eaten up by this fast development only to respond to humankind’s most basics need which are: shelter/security.

TROPICOOL @KL: SYMBIOTIC TROPICAL MUSHROOM is the core answer of a new urban city in the future. Our aim is to propose a housing scheme for a conducive tropical living environment. Quoted from http.www.mongabay.com

“An estimated 70-90 percent of life in the rainforest exists in the trees, above the shaded forest floor. Primary tropical rainforest is vertically divided into at least five layers: the overstory, the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer, and the forest floor. Each layer has its own unique plant and animal species interacting with the ecosystem around them. The overstory refers to the crowns of emergent trees which soar 20-100 feet above the rest of the canopy. The canopy is the dense ceiling of closely spaced trees and their branches, while the understory is the term for more widely spaced, smaller tree species and juvenile individuals that form a broken layer below the canopy……………………………… The billions of leaves of the canopy, acting as miniature solar panels, provide the source of power for the forest by converting sunlight to energy through photosynthesis. Since the rate of photosynthesis of canopy trees is so high, these plants have a higher yield of fruits, seeds, flowers, and leaves which attract and support a wide diversity of animal life. Besides attracting a broad array of wildlife, the canopy plays an important role in regulating regional and global climate because it is the principal site of the interchange of heat, water vapor, and atmospheric gases. In addition to collecting solar energy and regulating the climate, the canopy shields the under story from harsh and intense sunlight, drying winds, and heavy rainfall, and retains the moisture of the forest below. Light levels are diffuse and subdued, the humidity is higher and more constant, and there is very little direct sunlight in the lower canopy”

Achieving the resemblance of equatorial rainforest, big canopy trees shading the ground still allowing penetrating rays of sunlight; generate ideas to create a distinctive structure ‘ A mushroom’, resembling urban rainforest trees which populate the whole city. The leaves act as a solar canopy, the branches accommodating homes to human beings and serving interaction areas at each of the community colonies for recreation and socializing, with energy funneling through its trunk and the small footprint preserves and promotes the ground greenery and supports sustainable lifestyles for the occupants below.
The proposed design also echoes the Malaysian vernacular house lifestyle which is always situated with the rural fabrics; in harmony with the natural richness and surrounded by trees. These spaces offer natural, passive cooling with the presence of the trees giving us the parameters for designing the cities within the trees.
Technically, the urban mushroom would be implementing integrated building systems and enhance of the use of natural energy sources to generate power in the future city by rainwater harvesting and bio-mass as the main support for the city living. Self-reliance, a friendly environment and symbiotic buildings are the main themes of the new cityscape of the future city. It is our small contribution as Malaysians as part of the overall in battle against global warming.


The site is located at Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. This area has been developed originally as a train depot community. It is now developing an urban area. City was clustered with residential, commercial, offices, and green area which are sandwiched in the middle of the city. The adjacent area is littered with a variety of heritage buildings, horizontal and vertical residential, public and commercial buildings.

With the population of 445,000 in Sentul-Manjalara district of Kuala Lumpur the residents will be increase by another 50,000 people by 2009, and by 2030 the existing public housing at Sentul will be congested as more and more people in rural areas move to the city. With the existing planning of the Sentul cityscape as a Green Urban Park city, it is essential to ensure future development would not eliminate all the green areas.

Thus our proposal of, TROPICOOL @KL: SYMBIOTIC TROPICAL MUSHROOM is a concept to retain and sustain the green area and to develop green urban parks without destroying and losing the meaning of the existing green urban lung.

With all the related issues which would arise in the future, there is an urgent need to begin in developing the new urban park city in 2030 would be like, the new URBAN CITY PARK of Sentul called for design proposals to address the following issues and ideas:

>>The aim of the major planning objectives are; promoting flexibility of uses; emphasizing built form; protecting the environment and promoting the usage of alternative energy sources.

>>To establish a vertical dwelling design that can cope and accommodates the over population at the city but still emphasizing on the life quality, security, community value, and suited to the Malaysia climate.

>>The final design: incorporates building integrated systems: transparent solar panels to make use of free solar energy and natural daylight while optimizing heat losses. Our proposal aims is for new mixed-use buildings aiming at zero conventional energy use.

>>The footprints of the urban park housing are minimized in order to maximize the introduction of landscaping elements, water and vegetation on ground which helps in reducing the green house gasses. In addition, to preserve the existing building heritage on the ground.

>>Minimizing of air and noise pollution by reduce road traffic and setting up a centralized transportation core at the underground subway .On the ground will be 90% used by pedestrian with green parks, free from any individual transportation, still accommodating a public share car concept. A public share car can be utilized in the whole city and it will function like a taxi, but without a driver.

>>Designing the habitat in each colony to strengthen the community and introducing communal space in each community colony to develop a community spirit.

>>Centralized sewer and sanitation on each urban mushroom structure to generate bio-mass energy, which would be channeled to each colony on the mushroom; supplying electricity. Even water resources are provided independently on the urban mushroom supply by rain harvesting on top of the hub. Accordingly, each mushroom is independent and self sustaining and reacts as powered generator to its habitable units.