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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

ReSource

Last week I attended one of the lectures for the 2010 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers (formerly the Young Architects Prize). Winners of this year's competition, themed ReSource, are ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS, Austin+Mergold, FAR frohn&rojas, Bittertang, ESKYIU, and PEG office of landscape + architecture.

The lecture included ABRUZZO BODZIAK, ESKYIU and PEG; I've selected one project from each of the three offices and featured it below. If you are in NYC be sure to check out the exhibition of all six winners in the Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons The New School for Design, 66 Fifth Avenue (at 13th Street).

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[ArtsUnion Beacon by ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS | image source]

Working together Emily Abruzzo and Gerald Bodziak have not realized any of their designs, but they came one step closer to such a thing when their design for the ArtsUnion Beacon in Somerville, Massachusetts was selected. The project asked architects to envision a new cap for the town's old fire station (imagine the top photo without the columnar cap above the clock; that is the existing condition).

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[ArtsUnion Beacon by ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS | image source]

The architects, who admit to actually liking old architecture and finding ways to learn from it, tried to maintain the qualities of the old cap while creating something contemporary. They did a solid-void inversion, making the spaces between the columns the material pieces for their design. The resulting shells would be lined with a reflective metal to capture the sun's rays and give the cap a varied presence throughout the day and year.

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[ArtsUnion Beacon by ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS | image source]

The LED technology for lighting the shells also allows for nighttime effects, such as seasonal displays of color. Abruzzo and Bodziak went beyond the brief and created a graphic brand for the tower, visible below. It picks up on their design for the cupola, but also gives the town and Union Square a strong identity.

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[ArtsUnion Beacon by ABRUZZO BODZIAK ARCHITECTS | image source]


ESKYIU's Eric Schuldenfrei and Marisa Yiu presented a number of projects in both of their home bases: New York and Hong Kong. Urban Pastoral is set in the latter, where they proposed a vertical landscape to "incorporate more nature into our daily lives." One reason I found it so appealing was the presentation of the planter boxes on the trellis armature in front of the now HSBC Building by Norman Foster.

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[Urban Pastoral by ESKYIU | image source]

The idea of "greening" facades certainly isn't new, but the architects have tried to make their design a response to a particular condition, primarily the social and natural conditions in Hong Kong and a specific building. Foster's building has a lot of solar exposure from following feng shui in the design process, and the large atrium spaces faced with expanses of curtain wall cry out for more than a distant view of the harbor.

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[Urban Pastoral by ESKYIU | image source]

ESKYIU also looked at the underside of the building, a popular social spot on Sundays for gatherings, an unexpected result in a building focused internally. Again the incorporation of green in/onto an existing building does not tread new ground, but it shows a willingness on the part of the designers to blend ecological thinking with the recognition of social considerations.

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[Urban Pastoral by ESKYIU | image source]


PEG's winning design in last year's HB:BX Competition is certainly worthy of the prize. Instead of focusing on the bridge as a formal artifact, the admitted landscape-focused designers (they are an architecture and landscape architecture office, but now work almost solely in the latter) dealt with the bridge's history as an aqueduct and the landscape on both sides of the river. Dramatically they envisioned the bridge as an expression of its past, now porous and the end product of the cycles (described below) that clean the water, resulting in a wall of water slowly released into the river.

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[HB:BX Competition by PEG | image source | click image for expanded view]

PEG describes their proposal as "a circuit of displays, interlacing the programs of art, recreation and landscape in order to create unique or unexpected adjacencies among them." The main design features are "petals" that resemble the on- and off-ramps of highway interchanges.

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[HB:BX Competition by PEG | image source | click image for expanded view]

But instead of infrastructure for movement, these circular areas fill with water to treat it naturally while also acting as social activators. Depending on their size, location and water level, they may be play areas, reflecting pools, or even stages for performances. The renderings and drawings clearly indicate how water is the most important element of the design, something that makes their entry unique but also ever-changing.

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[HB:BX Competition by PEG | image source | click image for expanded view]

4 comments:

  1. Some lovely ideas that are leaning towards "green design". ZWCAD is a cheaper form of CAD ... download a trial and see for yourself... http://www.netskills.co.za

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  2. One problem with the Urban Pastoral concept: how are those garden boxes on the windows supposed to be tended, watered, etc.? I wish people would consider reality when they do these things.

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  3. And another thing -- how is that glass going to be cleaned? With the boxes in the way, the standard window-washing platform suspended from the roof will no longer work.

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  4. tierndog - In Hong Kong's climate, watering may not be an issue, but certainly tending them is. If they are "crops" how are they picked, for example? Good question.

    And I'm thinking that something could be integrated with the planters to handle the window washing. Maybe excess water cleansed by the dirt is sprayed onto the glass. I would hope that a green facade would outweigh the advantages of mechanized window washing.

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