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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Minimalism: a timeless architectural trend

June 27, 2016
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by juan
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Minimalism: a timeless architectural trend

When we make reference to the minimalist trend in architecture, we are talking about a style that can be described as timeless. Paraphrasing its first representative. the great architect and industrial designer Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe: “architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space”. And since its emergence in the 60’s, passing by its maturity in the 80´s and arriving to our days, the minimalist trend has never lost validity: continues to represent the will of our epoch.

One of the greatest achievements of minimalism is, according to the British industrial designer Jonathan Ive, “to inspire spaces and products that are durable, and that lack the fragile appearance of throwaway programmed obsolescence”.

Although this architectural trend emerged in United States in the 60´s, its European roots can be traced by the end of the 1930´s in the first ideas of the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who elaborated his thoughts while acting as Director of the School of Arts and Design of the Bauhaus in Germany. Shortly after, and due to the second world war, he emigrated to the United States taking advantage of the fact that he was already well known as designer and architect there, and thus, he adopted the American citizenship. During the mid 60´s he participated in the movement of the minimum in geometric and visual arts in New York where his version of rationalism and later of functionalism, become model for other designers.

Minimalism is to achieve the most with the least and express as much as possible, with the greatest economy of resources. This austerity, this economy of ornaments, does not imply that the works of this trend aren´t moving: good design is always moving.

Van der Rohe seeks to prove that the essentially good needs no ornaments or formalisms, that from the point of view of architecture harmony happens when it is not necessary to add or remove anything. Also, and thinking about architectural practice, for him, anything that is hardly functional cannot be called beautiful. That’s why the work of van der Rohe is notable for the absence of ornaments, but this does not mean it does not have a subtle elegance given by the use of perfect shapes and noble materials.

Without a doubt, the fact of having been the son of a sculptor, and having assisted his father with his workshop from an early age, taught him to handle both the volumes and its spatiality, and to respect the stone and marble that would in the coming years provide unique presence and elegance to many of his works. It is said that together with Adolf Loos, van der Rohe was of the few architects of his time able to use marble surfaces with absolute naturalness (e.g. murals of the German Pavilion for the Barcelona Exhibition of 1929 and the interior of the Tughendat House in Brno built between 1928 and 1930).

 

MInimalismo-tendencia-arquitectónica-mies-van-der-rohe

 

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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.

You can read or listen in around 4:00 minutes …

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