// archives


This tag is associated with 25 posts

The 3D Plan View

From military application to building design competition, one of the latest innovations in presenting geographic and building data are 3D plans created by Zebra Imaging. A constant issue when it comes to presenting design idea`s is how to have others see them the way you do. How do you have an average person conceptualize how the design is supposed to look embedded within the city. Well there is help using new technology from Zebra Imaging.

Zebra’s holographic images are unlike anything you have ever seen. The image literally “floats” in the air. You will be tempted to reach into the image with the expectation that you will touch the object being presented. You can move around the image to view it from a wide variety of angles with no special glasses or other viewing aids. S

Visions of An Organic Future

What if we lived in a green future? Cities that didn’t just have green space, but cities that were green space. Trees and plants make up the structure of the city instead of concrete and plastics.

Luc Schuiten thinks up cities using Archiborescence – the designs are cities that are grown and tended. Prairie parks, houses that hide under leaves, and skyscraper trees.

The Vegetal City is conceived as a progression in time and space, through Luc Schuiten’s eye. It takes us on the path of this thoughts about Mother Nature’s presence as a model of a new way of building named by him “archiborescence”.

For three decades, this eco-visionary has been imagining and realizing homes, urban landscapes, cities… inspired by all he has been able to observe in natural environments.

The website opens the door to a harmonious future, possible through the modifications of our behaviours in our living environments. Nature is no longer considered as an inexhaustible manna from heaven but rather as an ally, likely to cooperate in edification of a long lasting society.

The Story Of New Songdo

The City of New Songdo or Songdo New City as it is known in Korea is the country’s bid to take city building into the future. City officials say that it will be a “compact, smart and green city,” at a press conference covered by The Korean Herald. Songdo is being built on reclaimed land in the western port city of Incheon, which is currently known more for the international airport, (which incidentally is rated one of the best in the world to fly through, and I can attest to from experience) S. New Songdo wants to change that and become known as a compact sustainable city that provides all necessary services in close proximity.

To achieve this goal the city will have facilities for business, health care, education, leisure, shopping and high tech industries all within a five kilometre radius. In the central city, residents will use bicycles or public transportation rather than cars to get around according to city officials, of course the six lane roads that form the block structure of the city and my experience with living in ‘green Ulsan’ (and its massive petrochemical complex) makes me wonder just how likely this assertion will be.

“(In the compact city,) all functions are located within the city center, unlike conventional cities which have a business complex in the center and the residential area in the suburbs,” Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo said.

New Songdo residents may work in the 68-floor Northeast Asia Trade Tower that should be completed this year, or the 151-floor Incheon Tower set to to be completed in 2014. The city has a Central Park, which is Korea’s first park to have a seawater filled canal. Student in the city will go to “Songdo Global Campus,” which will host foreign universities like North Carolina State University and the State University of New York.

Incheon University Campus Proposal

The city is being wired by Cisco and will set up to allow residents to communicate through a variety of wired and wireless portals and devices based on ubiquitous computing technologies.

“The ‘smart’ city means a city equipped with ‘ubiquitous’ infrastructure that manages and control the city’s functions automatically at an optimal time. This enables the cost-effective management of the city,” Ahn said.

To learn more about New Songdo check out the article in The Korean Herald, or if you are interested in taking a look at the housing and office space options in New Songdo Check out our article on The Prau, or on The # First World. You can also take a look at what they are doing with container architecture.

A 100 million square foot new city on 1,500 acres. S

Commercial 40 million SF
Residential 35 million SF
Retail 10 million SF
Hospitality 5 million SF
Public Space 10 million SF

The Homerizon

Looking like something out of Star Trek or some other futuristic vision the Homerizon stands 80 feet high, is off the grid and has solar panals, windmills, radiant floors, wind turbines and a cool aerodynamic shape that helps it to capture the breeze. The Homerizon is the brainchild of inventor Jean-Pierre Désmarais who sees it as a way that is easier then you think to get off the grid.  Of course at the moment that ease comes with a price tag of $3.5 to $5 million but lets not worry about that. The Homerzion.

The Urban Umbrella

Another young south Korean, Young-Hwan Choi has come up with an innovative and winning proposal for protecting pedestrians on our city streets. The last one involved plasma lasers and other high tech futurism, but this one is rather remarkable in its simplicity and immediate practicality.

Most people don’t really think of them but the wood and metal rod pedestrian sheds that protect pedestrians as we walk past construction sites are yet another part of the city. In New York contractors are legally required to keep the sidewalks clear and pedestrians safe. Most of the time these sheds are dark and unpleasant to walk through.

The city of New York wanted to do something about this so they sponsored a design competition to see who could build it better. Young-Hwan Choi built it better and now has $10,000 and a comitment from the city of New York to build a mock up and potentially take it into production.

“I tried to think, ‘What is wrong with this scaffolding?’ It’s complicated. I thought the structure should be simplified.” S


Building the Urban Network

I came across an interesting article the other day while surfing the interweb about the future of new city building in Asia, (which is one of the few places in the world where cities spring up from scratch). In this age of bundling and value add ons comes a different vision of what a city is, how to make them more efficient, how they should be built, and how a couple of companies think they should be built. Estimates put spending on global infrastructure at $35 trillion over the next two decades and the new city market itself is likely to be worth at least $500 billion in the next ten years. How’s that for a growth industry?

Fast Company

Cisco’s Big Bet on New Songdo: Creating Cities From Scratch

By: Greg LindsayFebruary 1, 2010

The world is bracing for an influx of billions of new urbanites in the coming decades, and tech companies are rushing to build new green cities to house them. Are these companies creating a smarter metropolis — or just making money?

Stan Gale is exultant. The chairman of Gale International yanks off his tie, hitches up his pants, and mops the sweat and floppy hair from his brow. He’s beaming like a proud new papa, sprung from the waiting room and handing out cigars to whoever happens by. Beckoning me to follow, he saunters across eight lanes of traffic toward his baby, delivered prematurely days before.

Ten years ago, Gale was a builder and flipper of office parks who would eventually become known for knocking down the Boston landmark Filene’s Basement and replacing it with a hole in the ground. But Gale’s fate began to change in 2001 with a phone call from South Korea. The Korean government had found his firm on the Internet and made an offer everyone else had refused. The brief: Gale would borrow $35 billion from Korea’s banks and its biggest steel company, and use the money to build from scratch a city the size of downtown Boston, only taller and denser, on a muddy man-made island in the Yellow Sea. When Gale arrived to see the site, it was miles of open water. He signed anyway.

New Songdo City won’t be finished until 2015 at least, but in August, Gale cut the ribbon on the 100-acre “Central Park” modeled, like so much of the city, on Manhattan’s. Climbing on all sides will be a mix of low-rises and sleek spires — condos, offices, even South Korea’s tallest building, the 1,001-foot Northeast Asia Trade Tower. Strolling along the park’s canal, we hear cicadas buzzing, saws whining, and pile drivers pounding down to bedrock. I ask whether he’s stocked the canal with fish yet. “It’s four days old!” he splutters, forgetting he isn’t supposed to rest until the seventh.

As far as playing God (or SimCity) goes, New Songdo is the most ambitious instant city since Brasília 50 years ago. Brasília, of course, was an instant disaster: grandiose, monstrously overscale, and immediately encircled by slums. New Songdo has to be better because there’s a lot more riding on it than whether Gale can repay his loans. It has been hailed since conception as the experimental prototype community of tomorrow. A green city, it was LEED-certified from the get-go, designed to emit a third of the greenhouse gases of a typical metropolis its size (about 300,000 people during the day). It’s an “international business district” and an “aerotropolis” — a Western-oriented city more focused on the airport and China beyond than on Seoul. And it’s supposed to be a “smart city,” studded with chips talking to one another, designated as such years before IBM found its “Smarter Planet” religion.

Being seriously ahead of the curve explains why Gale had such a hard time finding a tech partner to bring this dream to fruition. First in line was LG, one of Korea’s homegrown conglomerates. None of its ideas had made it past the prototype stage. Next up was Microsoft, which signed a deal giving it carte blanche to mold the city in its image. “Designing an entirely new city from the ground up provides a unique opportunity to create an ideal technological infrastructure,” Bill Gates boasted. But before he could even measure for drapes, Gale decided a plumber would be a better fit and threw Microsoft over for Cisco.

Last spring, the networking giant became New Songdo’s exclusive supplier of digital plumbing. More than simply installing routers and switches — or even something so banal as citywide Wi-Fi — Cisco is expected to wire every square inch of the city with synapses. From the trunk lines running beneath the streets to the filaments branching through every wall and fixture, it promises this city will “run on information.” Cisco’s control room will be New Songdo’s brain stem.

And that’s just the beginning. No longer content to sell just plumbing, the company is teaming up with Gale, 3M, United Technologies (UTC), and the architects of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) to enter the instant-city business. At a Cisco event near New Songdo last summer, Gale stunned the room by announcing plans to eventually roll out 20 new cities across China and India, using New Songdo as a template. In the spirit of Moore’s Law, he says, each will be done faster, better, cheaper, year after year.

Cisco calls this Smart+Connected Communities initiative a potential $30 billion opportunity, a number based not only on the revenues from installation of the basic infrastructure but also on selling the consumer-facing hardware as well as the services layered on top of that hardware. Picture a Cisco-built digital infrastructure wired to Cisco’s TelePresence videoconferencing screens mounted in every home and office, with engineers listening, learning, and releasing new Cisco-branded bandwidth-hungry services in exchange for modest monthly fees. You’ve heard of software as a service? Well, Cisco intends to offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities — water, power, traffic, telephony — into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.

Read More!

The Solar Roadway

Our dependence on automobiles and the miles of asphalt required for them is considered by many to be one of the greatest problems with our current way of life, but what if these roads could be changed to be part of our green future?

The Department of Transportation has awarded $100,000 to Solar Roadways to build a 12′ by 12′ prototype road section to test their proposals for a solar highway. The idea behind the solar roadway is that the miles and miles of roadways would be able to harvest energy from the sun. With embedded LEDs that will light up for the centre lane and also flash messages to motorists regarding hazards or accidents up ahead.

Solar Roadways creator Scott Brushaw suggests that if every inch of America’s 25,000 miles of roadway infrastructure then the system would generate three times as much energy as the country consumed in 2006. The roadways would replace power lines and the energy would flow straight from the streets into our homes. Embedded heating elements would keep the roads clear of snow and ice, and eliminate the need for snow clearing services.

The Solar Roadways website has a lot of information and answers a number of questions about the uses and impacts of the technology. I suggest checking them out.

From Solar Roadways,


When multiple Solar Road Panels™ are interconnected, the intelligent Solar Roadway™ is formed. These panels replace current driveways, parking lots, and all road systems, be they interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets, residential streets, or even plain dirt or gravel country roads. Panels can also be used in amusement parks, raceways, bike paths, parking garage rooftops, remote military locations, etc. Any home or business connected to the Solar Roadway™ (via a Solar Road Panel™ driveway or parking lot) receives the power and data signals that the Solar Roadway™ provides. The Solar Roadway™ becomes an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized (secure) power grid.

Road Surface Layer – translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide great traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells. It is capable of handling today’s heaviest loads under the worst of conditions. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer beneath it.

Electronics Layer – Contains a large array of cells, the bulk of which will contain solar collecting cells with LEDs for “painting” the road surface. These cells also contain the “Super” or “Ultra” caps that store the sun’s energy for later use. Since each Solar Road Panel™ manages its own electricity generation, storage, and distribution, they can heat themselves in northern climates to eliminate snow and ice accumulation. No more snow/ice removal and no more school/business closings due to inclement weather. The on-board microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a communications device every 12 feet, the Solar Roadway™ is an intelligent highway system.

Base Plate Layer – While the electronics layer collects and stores the energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes power (collected from the electronics layer) and data signals (phone, TV, internet, etc.) “downline” to all homes and businesses connected to the Solar Roadway™. The power and data signals are passed through each of the four sides of the base plate layer. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer above it.

The Lilypad

The Lilypad concept

The Lilypad concept

I have always been a fan of looking towards the future, and I especially love looking at the future, or potential future of Cities, enter the Lilypad, brainchild of  Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the Lilypad is a design for an auto-sufficient amphibious city.  The designer takes the view that we humans are not going to be able to get our act together fast enough to stop the impending Climate Crisis. According to more conservative forecasts of the GIEC (Intergovernmental group on the evolution of the climate) the ocean is likely to rise by about a meter in the 21st century, leaving approximately 50 million people to be evacuated from the low lying areas that will be affected.


Lilypad in harbour

Lilypad, a prototype of auto-sufficient amphibious city

Whereas the Netherlands and the United Arabic Emirates « fatten » their beach with billion of euros to build their short-living polders and their protective dams for a decade, the project «Lilypad» deals with a tenable solution to the water rising! Actually, facing the worldwide ecological crisis, this floating Ecopolis has the double objective not only to widen sustainabely in offshore the territories of the most developed countries such as the Monaco principality but above all to grant the housing of future climatic refugees of he next submerged ultra-marine territories such as the Polynesian atolls. New biotechnological prototype of ecologic resilience dedicated to the nomadism and the urban ecology in the sea, Lilypad travels on the water line of the oceans, from the equator to the poles following the marine streams warm ascending of the Gulf Stream or cold descending of the Labrador.

It is a true amphibian half aquatic and half terrestrial city, able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed ballasting thus the city. It enables to live in the heart of the subaquatic depths. The multifunctional programming is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated respectively to the work, the shops and the entertainments. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of the couple Human / Nature and to explore new modes of living the sea by building with fluidity collective spaces in proximity, overwhelming spaces of social inclusion suitable to the meeting of all the inhabitants – denizen or foreign-born, recent or old, young or aged people.

The floating structure in « branches » of the Ecopolis is directly inspired of the highly ribbed leave of the great lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia increased 250 times. Coming from the family of Nympheas, this aquatic plant with exceptional plasticity was discovered by the German botanist Thaddeaus Haenke and dedicated to the Queen Victoria of England in the 19th Century. The double skin is made of polyester fibres covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) like an anatase which by reacting to the ultraviolet rays enable to absorb the atmospheric pollution by photocatalytic effect. Entirely autosufficient, Lilypad takes up the four main challenges launched by the OECD in March 2008: climate, biodiversity, water and health. It reached a positive energetic balance with zero carbone emission by the integration of all the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, biomass) producing thus durably more energy that it consumes! True biotope entirely recyclable, this floating Ecopolis tends thus towards the positive eco-accountancy of the building in the oceanic ecosystems by producing and softening itself the oxygen and the electricity, by recycling the CO2 and the waste, by purifying and softening biologically the used waters and by integrating ecological niches, aquaculture fields and biotic corridors on and under its body to meet its own food needs.

To reply to the mutation of the migratory flows coming from the hydroclimatic factors, Lilypad join thus on the mode of anticipation particular to the Jules Verne’s literature, the alternative possibility of a multicultural floating Ecopolis whose metabolism would be in perfect symbiosis with the cycles of the nature. It will be one of the major challenges of the 21st Century to create an international convention inventing new special means to accommodate the environmental migrants by recognizing their rights and obligations. Political and social challenge, the urban sustainable development must more than ever enter in resonance worldly with the human sustainable development!

Green on Top: Toronto Passes Green Roof Legislation


The city of Toronto has passed the most comprehensive regulations on green roofs of any city in North America. The bylaw puts Toronto at the top of the heap in terms of legislation, though the advocacy group Green Roofs for Healthy Cities points out that Toronto doesn’t make the top ten in terms of the number of green roofs installed in 2008. That distinction goes to the city of Chicago.

“We would have liked it [the Toronto bylaw] to be more aggressive,” said Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, though he praised council for “exercising leadership” on a tool to fight climate change. s

Of course to some extent that is being picky just for the sake of being picky. Toronto may not be in the top ten of cities previous to the law going into effect, but chances are that will change under the new regulations.  Toronto City Council voted 36-2 in favor of the regulations with only councillors Rob Ford and Doug Holyday voting against. (Boo Rob and Doug!)

greenroof1The regulations will require green roofs on new residential buildings in the city starting January 31st 2010 that are more then 2,000 square meters and 20 meters or higher. Industrial construction will have an extra 12 months to prepare for the requirements. For industrial buildings they will have to reserve either 10% of the roof area or 2,000 square meters, and have the option to choose the lesser amount for sod and other greenery.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association stated that the biggest concern is how to adjust to the new requirements during a downturn. “Cost is an issue,” he said. “The market is so price-sensitive now.” While I can appreciate that the cost of a green roof is something that developers are going to have to get used too but chances are when it comes time to sell the new units  the tune will switch from being about the cost to the forward thinking and innovation that comes with your purchase of a Building Corp (TM) Condo. Heck if  developers are smart about it, they will just start selling penthouses with lawns, green roof requirement check, a penthouse that comes with a yard equals a big fat check with extra zeros for its purchase.

The campaign to institute the regulations was lead by Deputy mayor Joe Pantalone (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina), who called the new green roof regulations “an opportunity rather than a handicap.” Joe noted that 21% of the surface area of the city is in its roofs. Roofs that are little better then bare pavement and as such raise the temperature of the urban environment and increase electrical demand in the summer, whereas garden roofs, help conserve rainfall, reduce energy demand and add to the beauty of the city. After the vote Joe stated, “You will see other municipalities now looking to Toronto and emulating us for the greater good of humanity.”

greenroof2Of course one of the dissenters had a complaint; “Why do we have to be first?” Mr. Holyday asked before voting against the measure. “Who are we? We can’t even pay our bills.”

Here is a little math Mr Holyday, more green roofs equals less money spent on electricity, that means more disposable income for fancy penthouse apartments that have lawns, fancy penthouse apartments with lawns mean higher taxes, higher taxes mean more money for the city. I mean sure the math is loose but the principal holds.

Thankfully the other 36 councillors get this math and Councillor Norm Kelly (Ward 40, Scarborough-Agincourt) praised the decision as “a pretty darn good starting point…I would rather be first than last,” and I would tend to agree.

The 'Living Bridge' Over the Thames

(c) Antoine Grumbach

Would you buy property on a bridge? The city of London is examining the idea of building a new crossing to the east of Tower Bridge, which is not to be confused with London Bridge which was at one point a habitable bridge.

The idea of building a habitable bridge over the River Thames is not a new idea, the plans were originally drawn up back in the nineties, however after the Labour government came into power in 1997 the planes for this bridge were dropped. However the current mayor of London, Boris Johnson is giving the project another look. The mayor has been saying for a while now that the city needs another crossing east of the tower bridge and the habitable bridge proposal is under consideration as a link between Greenwich and Silvertown in the Royal Docks.  Part of what what is giving this proposal a more serious look is that the £80 million price tag for the bridge could theoretically be recouped from the sale of properties located on it. The original design had the bridge suspended from a pair of 35 story towers on the north side that would combine flats and residential properties.

If the bridge is built it would be the first time in 178 years that a bridge with residential and commercial properties existed in the city. The last being London Bridge before its buildings were leveled to reduce congestion on the crossing.

Engraving of London Bridge Circa 1616 by Claes Van Visscher

Would you buy property on a bridge? I have to admit its a novel idea and there is no doubt that the view would be stellar. Not to mention that you wouldn’t have to worry about another condo development springing up in front to steal your view. I think that that only thing that might concern me would be if someone else came along and decided that the properties needed to go for the sake of reducing congestion, though with this design, seeing as the apartments are in the support structure that is a little less likely. When it comes to development the sale of properties is pretty much a sure fire way to raise capital and I have no doubt that apartements in a location like this would have a pretty hefty premium for the wow factor so they might just be on to something.

Green Security

Natural Barbed Wire (c) SINNOVEG

Natural Barbed Wire (c) SINNOVEG

The problem with most security fences and barriers is that they are, to put it simply… UGLY. Barbed wire fences and concrete blast walls are not often referred to as attractive, but when it comes down to a matters of security and safety from suicide bombers, the aesthetics are rarely considered an issue.

But what if there was an alternative? What if you could have a wall of green that would repel those would be intruders and still look nice to anyone not trying to get through?

Enter ”natural defensive weaved hedges.’ French businessman Jean-Marie Zimmermann travelled to Baghdad with a modest proposal. Replacing the multitude of blast walls and barbed wire fences with green walls made with tightly woven thorny plants. Zimmermann suggests;

“Why not make the Green Zone green? This is the kind of place where we can provide protection. We can remake Baghdad as a city focused on nature, ecology and the environment, with a new concept of security,” S

Its a simple principle really; plant a row of thorny trees and bushes 80 centimetres apart and weave the branches together. As the plants grow they form a dense and razor-sharp hedge that within three years can reach a height of six metres.  Protectionist Roses anyone? For those that don’t think that the plants alone will be enough Zimmmermann says its no problem to place traditional barbed wire, tire spikes, sensors, and other metal barriers within the hedge. Extra protection that is harder to see with the green camouflage over top.

Natural Barrier At Installation with Razor Wire (c) SINNOVEG

Sinnoveg at installation

Natural barrier after (c) SINNOVEG

Natural barrier after (c) SINNOVEG

While the barrier won’t stop a tank, it will stop a truck, and the same holds true for most security barriers.

Hakim Abdel Zahra, the spokesman for the municipality, said the city was studying the concept of plant barriers ‘which was brought to us by a French investor’. ‘The idea of establishing security barriers made of plants has many benefits, both from the psychological side and for the beauty and attractiveness of the city.’

‘When you have five or six rows of thorny trees it will take at least an hour to cross, and that is more than enough time to capture the guy,’ he says.

‘Nothing is insurmountable, not even a concrete wall, but you slow down the infiltration. That’s the principle.’ Mr Zimmermann dreams big, and as he expounds on the product he starts to look beyond Baghdad and its government buildings to Iraq’s long and porous borders with its sometimes antagonistic neighbours.

‘A vegetation barrier on certain parts of the border would be perfectly compatible with sensors,’ he says, and unlike the minefields that criss-cross the Middle East it would not leave future generations with missing limbs.

And if infiltrators try to burn their way in? ‘It would take more than a blowtorch,’ he laughs. ‘These are living plants.’ S

I for one would like to see more of these green security walls. There are plenty of what would otherwise be nice city views that are ruined by the presence of a barbed wire topped chain link fence. If you would like to find out more you can also consult the SINNOVEG website.

The East Japan Railway and the Piezoelectric Effect


The Eastern Japan Railway company is taking something extra from its passengers. However this time its not a fare hike, the company is harnessing some of their Piezoelectric  energy. The Railway will be installing piezoelectric elements in the floors at its ticket gates and other high traffic areas of Tokyo Station.

This isnt’ the only place a piezoelectric floor has been used. Previously on Urban Neighbourhood we highlighted Club WATT, a nightclub in Rotterdam that uses  piezoelectric elements in its dance floor to power the light show in the club.

The panels in the floor use the piezoelectric effect; there are certain materials that when squeezed become charged and produce energy. The up and down action created by thousands of people stepping through the gate (from the floors point of view anyway) compresses cells containing piezoelectric material.  The downward pressure powers tiny generators beneath the floor which then send the electricity to batteries or back into the grid.

The Railway Company has been carrying out experiments with power generating floors since 2006. It aims to try to achieve a stable generating capacity. The total power generating area will cover about 25m2 in total, and will be installed at seven ticket gates in the Yaesu Kita exit and seven steps of a staircase inside the gate. In past experiments the panels were covered with a rubber surface but the company hopes to improve power generation by converting over to stone tiles similar to what is used on the other station surfaces. Currently the power is just being used to display the systems generating capacity, but the railway hopes to powers its ticketing systems and automatic gates in the future. S


Press Release from East Japan Railway company.

Demonstration Experiment Paper of the “Power-Generating Floor” at Tokyo Station(PDF).

The Chanel Mobile Art Gallery Ends its Run, Early

Published in the Architects Journal today it was announced that the Chanel Mobile Art Gallery, which we featured here at Urban neighbourhood in the past, has had its run cut short. The fashion house has announce that the gallery will no longer be touring due to the ‘current economic crisis.’

The gallery was a temporary touring pavillion that housed the work of 20 different up and coming artists.


Open Source Sketch Books

As the end of this year rolls around and I realise that I have only about one more semester to choose a direction for my thesis proposal I have been keeping an eye on some other projects. The first one to make mention on here was the Miniature Activism post and today brings another. While still in an embryonic state, A Stage For The City is an interesting concept for collaboration and public consultation while exploring ideas in public space.


A stage for the city
The use of urban space fused together with the access of technology. This blog is an Architectural Design Thesis for Adam Lee, Leeds Metropolitan University. The idea is that I will post my design research and development allowing Internet collaboration, acting as an “open sketch book”. This will be submitted as part of my overall research.

Ørestad College


Ørestads Boulevard 76, DK-2300 Copenhagen S

3XN has shot another bit of news our way this past week, Ørestad College has been nominated for the 2009 Mies van der Rohe Award.  The firm issued a press release explaining the purpose of the building and provides an explanation on the firm’s portfolio.

Ørestad Gymnasium (upper secondary school) creates a framework for cross-disciplinary and an extended use of IT-based learning by revolutionizing educational space in a structure without traditional classrooms With a profile of media, communication and culture studies, and providing wireless Internet and laptops for all students it soon got the knick-name “the Virtual Gymnasium.”


Four boomerang shaped storey decks rotate in relation to each other like the shutter of a camera. They form the superstructure; the overall framework of the college, and provide space for the college’s four study zones. Each zone is on one level, providing organisational flexibility, with the option of micro adjustment to create different spaces, learning environments and group sizes. The rotation of the storey decks projects a part of each deck into the high central hall. This part is the so called X-zone; a spatial expression of the colleges’ ambition to promote interdisciplinary expertise between study zones with physical and visual links.


The storey decks are open towards a central core, where a broad main staircase winds its way upwards to the roof terrace. The main staircase is the heart of college educational and social life; the primary connection up an down, but also a place to stay, watch and be seen. Three ‘mega columns’ form the primary load bearing system, supplemented by a number of smaller columns positioned according to structural requirement, not as part of a regular grid. As a result, each floor has few permanent elements and can be laid out and rearranged almost completely at will. The superstructure is supplemented by a series of newly developed ‘room furniture’, which accommodate the need for the flexible and temporary room arrangements and learning environments required by varying group sizes – from one on one to an entire cohort.


The rotated decks are mirrored in the facades. Due to their rotation, the decks create openings double- and triple high while drawing lines on the façade. As a rule, the glass is smooth with the deck fronts, but on each floor, one façade is withdrawn to create an outdoor space. These outdoor spaces are connected from ground to roof. In front of the glass facades, a series of coloured semi-transparent glass louvers can open or close to protect from the sun, while adding dashes of colour to the indoor environment.


Ørestad College was built in immediate continuation of new legislation in the Danish educational sector in 2005 and is an educational building remarkable for its complete absence of class rooms in the traditional sense. At present, the gymnasium is the most-applied-for in Denmark.


Best building i Scandinavia 2007
Nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2009
Forum AID Award 2008 for Best Architecture in the Nordic Region

The building is an intriguing take on an educational facility with its free form design and open concept. I must admit I find it a little hard to imagine what kind of classes could be held in this type of building.  I’m curious if it functions as a teaching area or if it functions as more of a study space.  As a student I would definitely enjoy studying in this type of building, but I also have to wonder whether noise from my fellow students would be an issue.  This building is a forward thinking design that reinterprets the way we look at study spaces.

If any of our readers has visited, or better yet attends Ørestad College we would love to hear what it is like to use this building! Send us an email or comment below!’