Architecture is changing: paving the way towards sustainability

July 25, 2016
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by juan
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Architecture is changing, developing a greater awareness towards environment. It is becoming more sensitive to the impact produced on nature, impact that is trying to minimize. In this way, the new architecture looks forward to reducing energy consumption, to create low-carbon and if possible even carbon neutral resilient buildings , capable of producing at least as much resources as they consume.

In this article, we begin by analyzing a work of the renowned Argentine architect Emilio Ambasasz, one of the pioneers of sustainable architecture, to pass then, to refer to two other more recent projects.

Through the analysis of these three works, we seek to bring out the road that sustainable architecture has already crossed, and the fact that thanks to the latest technological advances, sustainable architecture today is projected into the future with possibilities unimagined a few years ago.  Enough to think that until not so much, sustainable constructions used to be associated with some rustic constructions: from the information provided here it comes out clearly that sustainable architecture in the 21st century may involve a lot of technique and technology.

Casa de Retiro Espiritual from Emilio Ambasz on Vimeo.

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Multifunctional architecture in the 21st century

July 11, 2016
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by juan
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Multifunctional architecture was born in the 20th century with the ideas of Le Corbusier, but reaches the 21st century enriched by other contemporary trends such as minimalism, high-tech turned eco-tech, sustainable architecture in all its variants and designations, and the new invisible architecture. Architecture, as any manifestation of the human intellect, evolves along with the evolution of human needs.

We propose below some recent examples of multifunctional architecture. As its name implies, multifunctional architecture has to do with spaces hosting various functions. The existence of multifunctional architecture makes increasing sense in modern life, where distances and time of travel, explain the convenience of gathering activities.

The three selected works have in common the fact that they have been designed by architects who are starting to draw attention because of the quality of their designs and their participation in international contests. All of them are architects concerned about generating sustainable spaces, privileging public over private areas, and by not only using but also showing technique and technology in their works thus following the road  paved by architects such as Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers to mention only a few of them.

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High-Tech architecture and its evolution to the Eco-tech

July 4, 2016
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by juan
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High-tech architecture comes to light in the 60´s of the XX Century, taking its name from the book written by Suzanne Sleinn and Joan Kron, called “The Industrial Style and Source Book for The Home”.  This architectural style is also called Late Modernism by same authors as they consider high-tech style to be the mixture of Modernism and technology.

There is a general consensus that whatever we do now to change the way in which we use resources will affect the way future generations will live.  One of the most famous definitions of sustainability rightly indicates that sustainability is meant “to satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission).

The major architectural trends of the 20th century have therefore reached the 21st century incorporating the concept of sustainability and what began as an architectural trendsustainable architecture, also known as eco-architecture or green architecture – is now an underlying trend in all the current architectural trends.

Obviously high tech architecture does not escape this reality.  The basis of this architectural trend is to play creatively with spaces to produce works that evidence the use of technology and it even shows with pride the complexity of the technique used.

In its twenty-first century version, the architectural trend high-tech incorporates sustainability into its buildings.  The 1973 oil crisis makes many of the early buildings of high-tech decline by their high maintenance cost and the main architects of this movement to had to find a way to “recycle it”.

At the International Conference held in Florence in 1993, the subject of the incorporation of renewable energy in architecture and urban planning pops out and architects such as Renzo Piano, Norman Foster and Thomas Herzong, among others, come together to promote the creation of the Group READ, with the aim of studying the use of renewable energy in the construction and the creation of environmentally friendly projects.  This movement evolved to what is called today eco-tech, which is one of the branches of sustainable architecture.

We introduce three representative works of the eco-tech version of  high-tech. They have in common that they have been designed by famous architects of important architectural firms. The two first cases also share the fact that they are additions to previous  works of a different which they complement with class, but not without controversy. The third work, while it is new, is integrated masterfully to its environment, which includes a fragment of a medieval wall.

All the three works shown here appeal to the use of transparency and geometry, boast technology, are sculptural, make brilliant use of light, save energy, shock with its aesthetics, and all of them are iconic and each one on its wn own way is a “Manifesto”. Enjoy them here.

There are also many things in common between the three architects, since besides the brief partnership between Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, the three became creditors of the most famous Prize in international architecture, the Pritzker Prize.

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Invisible architecture and the chameleonic aspirations

June 20, 2016
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by juan
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Invisible architecture and the chameleonic aspirations of the most emblematic technological companies: the case of Google, Facebook and Apple

Invisible architecture as its name suggests, seeks to camouflage, to mask its buildings, which of course, remain present and in some cases are even enormous. But they happen to get veiled, to merge with the landscape in which they are located.   Some authors even understand that this architectural trend rather than aspiring to integrate its buildings into the landscape, seeks to make them go unnoticed, because for their followers, at the end, landscape is what matters. Invisible architecture then resorts to the mimicry and optical illusion and uses different techniques to make “disappear” constructions: displays, mirrors (including water mirrors and reflective surfaces in general), video cameras, etc.

The French architect Dominque Perrault -one of the most representative of this trend- says that architects use “… the disappearance so that a project does not become an obstacle.” “The architecture consisting in building walls implements a necessary act of separation, but my desire is to separate the least possible, responding to the equation of continue development without destroying the specificity of places».

It cannot be casual than the current headquarters of Facebook in San Francisco, and the future headquarters of Apple and Google in California they all use invisible constructions. At the same time it is paradoxical that at the time of requiring discrete, invisible buildings, they all have chosen for their projects, well known architects whose works always arouse public attention from the very beginning: Frank Gehry was the author of the headquarters of Facebook, Norman Foster is responsible for future ring of Apple in Cupertino and Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Hearherwick work in the future headquarters of Google. Google officially recognized this desire for discretion in: the company´s blog that describes its new headquarters as a building that “fades the difference between architecture and nature”.

But the use of invisible architecture is not the only link that all these projects have in common: they all incorporate and fuse elements from other recent architectural trends: high tech, minimalism, sustainable architecture, and even architectural elements that makes us remind the Metabolist trend of the 60’S for its commitment to the futuristic look, that so far the public has not yet seen besides star wars movies.

All these architectural spaces at the time of acting as office buildings constitute a point of visual reference, and a “manifesto” in the sense that they are projecting a corporate image associated with the future, the technology and the sustainability. But it is more than a corporate image in the traditional sense of the word: now the corporate image also goes through an emotional connection that links the company with both employees and customers.

The interesting thing about all of these projects that meld the latest architectural trends, is that they represent a change of paradigm with regard to the working environment: they all show a working atmosphere that happens to be a more horizontal space than the one we have seen before, allowing collaboration, team working and giving space to a more ludic and natural approach to work that boosts creativity and productivity, and that creates a sense of protection thanks to its sustainability.

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Sustainable Architecture

June 14, 2016
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by juan
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Sustainable architecture, also called sustainable architecture, eco-architecture, green architecture and environmentally conscious architecture

In the last two decades, architecture has accentuated its orientation towards environmentally friendly projects in an intend to help solving or at least mitigating a problem that besets us all. Sustainable architecture, also known as eco-architecture, green architecture or environmentally conscious architecture, is an evolution of the architectural trend called high tech and is a way of conceiving the architectural design that involves reducing the environmental impact and promoting the inclusion of efficient and sustainable energy sources.

In this sense, sustainable architecture values efficiency and moderation in the use of materials and keeps an eye on the management of the natural resources of the locations, considering weather conditions, hydrography and the ecosystems in order to achieve a maximum performance with the minimum impact.

It also puts special attention on the reduction of energy consumption for heating, cooling, lighting and using any other equipment, covering the unsatisfied demand with renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind generators, solar thermal energy, biomass or even geothermal energy. There is a consensus on the fact that under changing climatic and environmental conditions combining different energy sources is the way to secure energy supply all the year round.

Organizations such as Green Building Council (GBC) and the Building Research Establishment (BRE) – among others- are responsible for defining the standards of sustainable building and for evaluating and certifying the sustainability of buildings through its specific tools: LEED, BREEM, GREEN. In spite of this, and given the difference of criteria or priorities set by each organization, one of the biggest difficulties that owners, developers, technicians and builders face today with regard to the design and construction of a sustainable buildings is precisely the fact that there are no uniform parameters upon which they could base themselves to certainly determine the what order of importance should be established for the different parameters or how much emphasis should be given to each one of them. But at the end, what we all have to keep in mind is that a sustainable architecture should meet the needs of its occupants, without endangering the well-being and development of future generations.

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Multifunctional Architecture: a new kind of space for a new lifestyle

June 6, 2016
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by juan
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Multifunctional architecture as its name implies, has to do with the creation of spaces that gather several functions, but it goes far beyond, as it does not only aims at creating projects that adapted to the urban space where they are inserted but also it even aims at solving urban problems.

On top of this, multifunctional architecture seeks to create spaces that can cause an emotional impact, by strongly linking the aesthetics of the construction to elements of emotional reference for the community to which they are addressed.

This idea of multifunctionality, applied to either small complexes, districts or cities, finds roots in the ideas of Le Corbusier, particularly in “l´unité´habitation” (housing unit), where he seeks to merge the privacy of individual housing with the multiplicity of activities of a modern city.

This ideal unit consists of 400 houses inserted into a complex that holds as well shops, recreational spaces, places for physical exercises and different services.   The concept was materialized for the first time in the “unité d´habitation” de Marseille, the “Cité Radieuse” (Radiant City) project that was developed between 1947 and 1952 by the assignment of the French Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism.

Even though the so-called brutalist architecture comes from this idea, the concept of “housing unit” also evolves on the side of its multifunctional sense, and sees applications both in housing developments as the one of Marseille, and in its broader vision, in comprehensive urban developments such as the city of Brasilia in 1956.

With regards to interior decoration, multifunctional architecture proposes a discreet ornamentation, putting aside extravagances, as it picks up the teachings of an ancient Chinese tradition that suggests not to include excessive details inside houses considering that this ends up by negatively affecting the mental state of the inhabitants.

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Moscow-Multifunctional-complex-Lotus-SPEECH-ARCHITECTS

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High tech architecture: a new aesthetic that strives for improving the world using technology as an ornament, but taking advantage of its functionality

May 30, 2016
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by juan
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The architectural movement known as high tech is known for incorporating technology into the architectural space, not only as a building element, but considering its aesthetic role, even though it must be pointed out that the technical elements are used not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for functional reasons.

But high-tech architecture, does not only aim at using technology with an aesthetic role, but also exhibits it and this ostentation of technology can be seen as an act of provocation, even of rebellion. In fact, is this ostentation one of the elements that differentiate this stream from the modern movement that precedes it: the “living machine” of Le Corbusier sought efficient design but without displaying the technological components. The high tech movement reinterprets the modern style, providing it with a strong technological image that makes it survive to the present times.

High tech architecture also feeds from the metabolism, a movement of the 60`s where Japanese architects like Kenzo Tange, Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa and the Archigram group, proposed buildings with futuristic aspects, almost with a science fiction look, showcasing technology deliberately.

High tech takes its name from the book: “The Industrial Style and Source Book for The Home”, published in 1978 by Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin, where they put in evidence the attitude of rebellion of the high tech architecture and raise a discussion about its aesthetics.

High-tech architecture reflects the enthusiasm of 70´s for the space race, and in general, for the scientific and technological innovations of the time. Philosophically speaking it happens to be positive and naive at the same time: confidence in this technological progress generates in the architects of this movement the idea that through the use of technology it is possible to improve the human habitat and thus human life on the planet.

In the 80´s high tech architecture evolves in parallel to the so-called postmodern architecture to the point that it becomes difficult to differentiate one trend from the other, but at the 90´s high tech architecture, reemerges with its own identity, with the founding in 1993 of the READ Group, aiming at incorporating the use of renewable energy in architecture. With this evolution, the high tech movement ends up by adopting new names such as eco-tech movement and sustainable architecture.

High tech architects often make use of prefabricated components. Preferred materials are the walls of glass and steel structures. In what has to do with interiors, all aesthetics has to do with industry appearance.

You can read about it in less than 5 minutes …

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Minimalism in Architecture: “Less is more”

May 23, 2016
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by juan
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Minimalist architecture leitmotiv is to reduce the material expression to the essential, and is best known by the use of geometric shapes made with simplicity and precision. What defines this architectural style in a single concept is the word “clean”. For minimalism all elements must combine and form a unit: hence the minimalist precept that “everything is part of everything”.

This architectural trend emerges in New York by the end of the 60s´ and reaches its maturity in the 80s´, but its origins are anchored in Europe with the work at the German Pavilion of Barcelona´s fair of 1930 of the German architect later turned American, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. It is attributed to Van Der Rohe the phrase “less is more” which precisely reflects the minimalist concept of doing more with less.

 Minimalist architecture imposes in addition to the simplicity of the forms, the use of neutral materials employed in the purest way possible. Simple textures and monochromatic colors are used in floors, ceilings and walls (in particular the white color and all the shades given by its spectrum). At the end, the accessories are the elements that give a touch of color to the space.

The materials are a key point of minimalism. The minimalist ornamentation uses wood and rustic materials: polished cement, glass, steel and stone –mainly in its natural state, minimally manipulated-. Minimalism always seeks at creating contrast by the alternation of these materials and the use of different textures.

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Multifunctional architecture at culture’s service

April 25, 2016
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by juan
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Usually, when we talk about Multifunctional Architecture, we think about big buildings with huge structures placed on a gigantic space. While it is true that some of the best known multifunctional buildings present these characteristics, there are other constructions, also part of this architectonic tendency, perfectly integrated into their environment.

The multifunctional architecture tries to cover with its designs people’s needs, including multifunctional spaces used to accommodate libraries, exhibition halls, museums, etc. The truth is that culture is one of the main beneficiaries of the possibilities that this architectural style offers.

The most important multifunctional architects are able to masterly build new areas where design and functionality are combined, creating amazing works of art that surround us, no matter the city we live.

Multifunctional architecture at culture’s service

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Sustainable Architecture: UK raises a green flag

April 25, 2016
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by juan
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When we talk about Sustainable Architecture or Eco-Architecture, we are not only talking about planting trees and plants on urban buildings, as this architectonic trend has traditionally been conceived. The Sustainable Architecture also called Green Architecture is an architectonic trend that tries to make a difference in the construction of new buildings.

Previously in this blog, we have visited Thailand, United States, Canada and Switzerland to explore some of the most representative sustainable buildings designed thus far. Today, we want to travel to UK and take a look to some of its sustainable buildings, example of how the human development and the respect for the environment are compatible.

Sustainable Architecture: UK raises a green flag

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