Archive for August, 2012

skylight house




When restoring this traditional Victorian terrace house — now known as the Skylight House — in Sydney, Australia, the architects and designers at Chenchow Little had to leave the street façade intact because the house is part of a conservation streetscape

But the ornate, white exterior now hides a beautiful, minimalist dwelling that includes three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a new kitchen.

Flipping the typical Victorian terrace-house floor plan around, the designers placed the secondary bedrooms on the ground floor and the living rooms on the top floor. The living areas gained access to natural light via the new series of south-facing skylights, and to views across Parramatta River thanks to strategically placed windows.

Right beside the stairs leading from the relocated living room to the new kitchen, is a new central courtyard that encircles an existing mature banksia tree.The materials and colours are minimalist and pure: raw concrete, glass, white walls and spotted gum hardwood.The interior design by Janice Chenchow of Chenchow Little, veers toward mid-century modernist with several Scandinavian and Italian pieces including a Woodnotes’ hand-tufted wool “Sammal” carpet (Finnish for “moss”) carpet in the colour “Ice.” We also love the lighting choices, especially “Parentesi” designed by Achille Castiglioni & Pio Manzuʻ for FLOS.










city lounge




by carlos martinez

Architectural Photographers Thomas Mayer (18) City Lounge St.Galle, Switzerland 2006, Carlos Martinez and Pipilotti Rist © Thomas Mayer

City Lounge is an outdoor space in the center of St. Gallen, Switzerland, that has been designed by Carlos Martinez in collaboration with Pipilotti Rist, as a result of a design competition to create a public living room.

A red carpet flows all around the buildings, recreating places to relax, places to converse, places to park, fountains, even fake cars you can climb on.

It’s an amazing project that brings life to the city.






Heatherwick Studio





Hearst Tower

The 46-story Hearst Tower is an energy-efficient, structurally strong, environmentally sound addition to New York City’s skyline. And if we may say so ourselves, it looks pretty cool, too.

Rising among the staid rectangular buildings of midtown Manhattan is an anomaly in the urban landscape: a sleek, faceted skyscraper glittering above a squat, ornate plinth. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger calls the new Hearst Tower the most beautiful addition to the city skyline in 40 years. But accolades extend beyond the curtain wall: Cutting-edge engineering makes it a model of sustainable design.

Victor Ganzi, president and CEO of PM’s parent company, Hearst, approved the tower just one month after 9/11, committing to keep its headquarters and 2000 local employees in New York. The project posed a unique challenge for British architect Norman Foster, internationally acclaimed for graceful, modernist designs. The contemporary skyscraper was to sit atop the original Hearst building, a six-story 1928 art deco landmark.

Foster’s solution was to leave the limestone facade intact, but to carve out the building’s center to create a vast atrium, and then lift the new tower above it with huge steel-and-concrete beams. The resulting nine-story interior, with its 30-ft.-high waterfall and clerestory windows, promises to be one of the most dramatic spaces in New York. “The concept,” Foster says, “was to create an ‘urban living room.'”

The tower’s distinctive framework is a “diagrid” of interlinked triangles, so structurally efficient that the building uses 20 percent less steel than conventional designs require. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast light on 95 percent of the occupied space.

Thanks to dozens of energy-saving features, from motion sensors to high-efficiency ventilation equipment, the total energy consumption of the building will be 22 percent less than that of a typical skyscraper of comparable size-a savings of 2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.

Elements throughout the building reduce the use of resources: Carpets, ceiling tiles and furnishings were made with recycled materials; rainwater collected in 14,000-gal. tanks will humidify the atrium. The tower is on track to become the first commercial skyscraper in New York to receive a “gold” rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s program for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

For two years now, from offices a few blocks away, the Popular Mechanics staff has watched the tower take shape. We think it’s fitting that our new home will be one of the world’s most magnificently engineered buildings.

Engineers tested the design of the lobby’s 30-ft.-high waterfall using a model (above). The full-scale version flanks both sides of the escalator, contributing to aesthetics and important building functions. Replenished by rainwater collected on the roof, the water feature helps maintain an ideal relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent, depending on the season, and cuts the atrium’s summer air-conditioning load by 5 percent. Water circulating through polyethylene pipes embedded in the atrium floor provides radiant heating and cooling (below). In winter, this system warms the granite floor to 78 F, supplying 36 percent of the atrium’s heating. During the summer, it chills the floor to 72 F, supplying 10 percent of the atrium’s cooling.

An escalator will lead employees from the street-level entrance to the third-floor atrium level. Manufactured in one piece, the 56-ft.-long escalator had to be hoisted into the gutted interior of the 1928 building while the roof was off. It sat protected by plywood for more than a year before it was installed.

The diagrid pattern intrinsic to the tower’s basic construction is traced on the exterior by stainless steel cladding (above). “By expressing the structure in a sculptural way and casing it in reflective stainless steel, it becomes the identity of the tower,” Foster says, “especially from a distance.” Installing the cladding required a custom-built, double-tier monorail scaffold system that could move side to side as well as up and down. Because of the building’s shape, the installation of windows proved tricky, too. “On any given floor you can have as many as 30 different window configurations,” says Syed Alkarimi, the architectural coordinator in charge of the facade. The double-pane glass has a low-E coating to let visible light through while reflecting heat-causing wavelengths. Laminate on the inner pane is twice as thick as is typical; it should remain intact in the event of a disaster, while the outer pane is designed to shatter.

The 46-story edifice incorporates the original Hearst building, finished in 1928, which was intended to support a tower that was never built. “The challenge was to respond, at some 70 years’ remove, to the original vision of the building,” Foster says. He did so by creating a transition zone of clerestory glass that floods the atrium with daylight. “By lifting the tower up 10 floors, we achieved a separation from the original building, and the tower appears to float above it.” Because there are no columns on the perimeter, the corners instead form eight-story-high “bird’s mouths.” Cleaning them requires a custom-built scaffold. The system has a raised track on the roof and articulating arms to move the platforms in and out with the glass. “It’s like a ride at Disneyland,” Borland says. Adds Alkarimi, “It’s a little scarier than that.”

enjoy it :
hearst11 © Chuck Choihearst10 © Chuck Choihearst3 © Chuck Choihearst9 © Chuck Choihearst8 © Chuck Choihearst7 © Chuck Choihearst15 Courtesy of Foster and Partnershearst16 Courtesy of Foster and Partnershearst14 Courtesy of Foster and Partnershearst12 Courtesy of Foster and Partners

popular mechanic

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Courtyard House by Studio Junction

Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction1The Courtyard House was inspired by an ancient form of architecture and a new form of North American urban thinking – infill housing as an alternative urban typology. By converting a contractor warehouse in a mixed-use industrial neighbourhood, the ambition was to create a modern, affordable home and studio for a family.The design of the house is generated by an emphasis on the views and activities of the interior courtyards, where all the windows look inwards.Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction3Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction4Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction5Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction6Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction7Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction8Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction9Courtyard_House_Studio_Junction10


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