Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Earthen Igloo

Hand-built environmental friendly earthen igloo

PAHANG: An organic vegetable farmer came with an idea of creating a home away from hubbub for his beloved wife and children one day. He then spent six months to do research online before building an "earthen igloo" with natural raw materials like red mud, wood, bamboo and thatch.
He also planned to hand make his own furniture with natural materials.

The earthen building that looked very much like an igloo with the structure of a Fujian Tulou, was 10-feet high. The diameter of its living room was 15 feet and its bedroom, 10 feet in diameter, accommodated a bed and two pieces of furniture. It was comfortable for a family of three.
An artistic bamboo-made roof in the living room.
Huang Tian Huan, 40, was from Parit Buntar, Perak. He stayed in Cameron Highlands with his wife and children and made a living by operating an organic vegetable farm about 4 acres.

During an interview with the Guang Ming Daily, Huang said that the earthen igloo, with a living room, a bed room, a wash room, a basement and an outdoor kitchen, was built on his vegetable farm. He got most of the materials for the building from his farm and nearby woods.
Flush toilet in the earthen building
An outdoor kitchen

A cozy living room
"The building is entirely hand-made with mostly natural materials and thus, the payment for the five workers accounted the largest sum of the total cost of RM25,000," Huang said.

Huang said that after searching for information online, he had a doubt about the steadiness of a vine roof. He tried on chopsticks and found that the approach was actually feasible.

Add 5% of cement for a stronger structure

Huang said that since the round building was not supported by bricks and steels, he mixed 5% of cement and cow dung into red mud for a stronger foundation.

"Waterproof cement was added to stabilise the structure while cow dung was rich in fiber and made the red mud more solid. As for the walls, I filled hemp bags with soil and a steel wire to fix their positions. I covered them with red mud by hand after the internal structure of the walls was completed for a smooth surface," Huang explained.

He continued that bamboos were used to create an artistic roof in the living room and a hole was left in the middle for sunlight penetration. The last step would be covering it with dried thatch.

Safe and environmental friendly

When being asked why he chose a round building instead of a square one, Huang said that a round building was safer for children.

In addition, he supported environmental protection movements and hoped to build a dream house with ancient methods.

As for the cooling ssytem, Huang made a 2-feet thick wall to stabilise the indoor temperature to minimise the temperature difference between day and night.

With the pleasant weather on the highlands, it would be comfortable inside the building even without a fan or an air-conditioner.

Huang said that tiny gaps on the walls which were not visible to the naked eye enabled good air circulation inside the building.

He also mentioned about a glass roof in the bed room that enabled them to lie down beneath it at night for stargazing.

An outdoor bread kiln for organic bread
An outdoor bread kiln is on the way
After the first building was completed, Huang planned to build another two or three more earthen buildings to serve as guest houses. He also planned to to build a playground for his four children.
There will be more earthen buildings to serve as guest houses
A bread kiln was built outside the building as Huang wanted to make naturally fermented organic bread and yogurt for sale. In addition to taste the home-made organic bread and yogurt, visitors might also bake pizza and meat.

As for the basement, Huang said he would use it to store wine and tea leaves. If the condition permitted, he would also make cheese and leave them at the basement for fermentation.
Staircase to the basement.
Huang, who has run an organic vegetable farm for nearly five years, was originally majored in Mechanical Engineering. He later transferred to study Physics. After finishing his master degree course, he became a photographer, lecturer and then vegetable farmer.

Huang' s wife said that she took it as a gift of love from her husband since they just had their 9th wedding anniversary not long ago.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Shard - London Bridge Tower

The Shard Tower
The Shard is one of the most enigmatic buildings to adorn the London skyline in recent years. The vision of its creator, the much lauded Italian architect Renzo Piano was for a vertical 'City in the Sky'; and the Shard at London Bridge Quarter with its mix of offices residences, hotel, restaurants and viewing platforms will herald a new era in high rise development for London and will become emblematic when all eyes look towards the city in 2012.
Increasing density in central London, particularly near major public transport nodes, is key to London's future development. Improving the efficiency of the public transport system and maximising the use of space around transport hub is essential. Given the location of The Shard above one of London's key commuter stations, bus interchange and two main underground lines, a high density development was deemed not only possible but very desirable.

At an inspiring height of 306 metres (1,016 feet) and with a total 72 occupied floors reaching skyward into a breathtaking 15 story spire, the Shard London Bridge Quarter is set to be the tallest building in Western Europe. The Shard immediately adjacent to London Bridge Station will rest elegantly on the London skyline, providing a welcome new symbol for the world financial capital.

The Shard replaces the Southwark Tower, a 1970's building located on London Bridge Street. The Shard offers high density vertical development at a transport hub and will be the UK's first truly mixed use tower, devised to interface with London on many levels. The master architect, Renzo Piano, designed the Shard as a 'vertical city' that includes a public piazza, 586,509 sq ft (54, 488 sq m) of world class office space, an exclusive collection of residential apartments which will be the highest residential apartments in the UK and will be serviced by Europe's first 5-star Shangri-La Hotel, retail space, restaurants, and a public viewing gallery. This will all ensure that it becomes the beating heart of a regenerated London Bridge Quarter.

Inspired by the spires of London's churches and the top sails of the ships that used to moor on the Thames, the Shard will be a light and elegant presence in London's skyline. The plan of The Shard is generated by the irregular nature of the site. Each facet forms a shard, a plane of glass gently inclined inwards, rising towards the top. The corners of The Shard are open and the shards do not touch, allowing the building to breathe. In turn the glass surface fragments as it rises and the tower dissolves into the sky.

photos from May 2010

photos from May 2010

photos from May 2010

photos from May 2010

photos from May 2010

photos from May 2010
Office Space at The Shard
The Shard offers 54, 488 sq m (586,509 sq ft) of flexible prime office space and is set to become the premier commercial address in London. Over 45% of the Shard has already been pre-let to Shangri La (floors 34-52) and to Transport for London (floors 4-10). The remaining available office space offers all the amenities one would expect from a desirable central London address. The highly flexible floor plates at The Shard are efficient and effective with space net internal floor area ranging from 2,790 sq m (30,032 sq ft) to 1,349 sq m (14,521 sq ft).

A key feature of The Shard office floors is the naturally ventilated winter gardens. These spaces were first devised by Renzo Piano for his acclaimed Aurora Place skyscraper in Sydney, Australia. These multifunctional areas make the most of the stunning views across the Thames and from Hyde Park in the West to Canary Wharf in the East from the Shard. The winter gardens can be used for a variety of purposes and allow occupants to enjoy natural light and air within the office.

The offices within the Shard are accessed via a dedicated entrance on the concourse level of London Bridge Quarter. The office entrance also benefits from direct access to London Bridge mainline station, the bus station and the Jubilee and Northern lines on the Underground.

The Hotel at The Shard
The first Shangri-La Hotel in the UK will occupy floors 34-52 of the Shard and will contain 195 rooms and suites. The hotel will operate on the simple yet powerful philosophy of a warm, efficient and seamless service that has made the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Group famous. The Hotel will also feature a signature Shangri-La Spa on floor 52, which is available to guests as well as the residents and workers in the Shard and London Bridge Place. The Hotel also has its own entrance on St Thomas Street with valet parking and taxi drop off point directly outside.

The Apartments at The Shard
An exclusive collection of apartments at the Shard are arranged on floors 53-65 and are the highest elevation residences in the UK. With their amazing vistas across the London skyline they will be one of the most coveted addresses in the world. The Shard apartments will be the ultimate in sophisticated and contemporary living, with each being custom designed to the resident's exact specifications. The apartments will also benefit from all the services and facilities of the Shangri-La Hotel. To ensure the maximum levels of privacy synonymous with an exclusive address, residents at the Shard will have their own private entrance on St Thomas Street.

The Public Viewing Galleries at The Shard
Uniquely, the Shard will be open to the general public who can visit the viewing platforms on floors 68-72. The Shard viewing galleries offer breathtaking 360° views across London. The viewing galleries are accessed directly from an entrance on the mezzanine level at below ground level so that visitors do not cross over with any of the other users of the building. The galleries are expected to attract over half a million visitors a year to The Shard and with visibility at 800 ft (almost double the height of the pinnacle of The London Eye) are certain to become a major tourist attraction. The Shard will be a striking new addition to the London skyline, commanding panoramic views across the capital doubling the height offered from the London Eye. The Shard will become the tallest building in London as it reaches the maximum height allowed by the Civil Aviation Authority with unobstructed views thanks to its proximity to the river.

Restaurants at The Shard
The Shard will contain an exciting mix of world class restaurants and cafes for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. With its prime location on top of a major transport interchange, the Shard is expected to become a destination in its own right with people travelling from across London and the rest of the UK to dine in one of its restaurants (located on floors 31-33) and experience the highest view in the United Kingdom.

Public Space at The Shard
The development of the Shard and the creation of London Bridge Quarter has provided the opportunity to transform the transport facilities at this major London transport interchange. London Bridge Station is one of London's busiest railway stations, with an average of over 350, 000 journeys through the station each day. In addition to a new concourse for London Bridge Station, a bigger bus station will be constructed to the north of London Bridge Place with 15 bus routes, as well as riverboat and taxi stands. The train and tube stations will be extended covering an impressive 61 underground and 247 rail destinations.

London Bridge Quarter will also include a significant new public square with ever changing art installations, cafes and places for visitors to the area to relax. By bringing the soul back into the heart of the city, London Bridge Quarter will benefit not only tenants and residents of the Shard but also the local community by becoming a vibrant public space for everyone to enjoy.

When completed in Summer 2012, the Shard London Bridge Quarter will be an awe inspiring part of the London skyline. With its hotel, restaurants, luxury residences, flexible premium office space and public viewing galleries the Shard is a welcome addition to this long overlooked area of Central London.

The Shard will form the nucleus of London Bridge Quarter, a large scale regeneration program for the area by Sellar on behalf of LBQ Ltd. This far-reaching program will improve the local district and reinforce the importance of this gateway destination for the benefit of all of London.

Sellar and LBQ Ltd are committed to a progressive improvement programme that will see a vibrant London Bridge Quarter emerge offering improved transport links and significant public space. In short the whole area around at The Shard is set to become a new destination for Londoners to work, eat, drink and relax.

The Shard London - Developers

Sellar Developments
A privately-owned UK property investment, development and management company, Sellar Developments collaborates with eminent architects and property professionals to create environments of exceptional quality and regenerate urban districts. Through an integrated investment, development and management approach, Sellar has built an Investment Portfolio of £500m and a Development Portfolio in excess of £3bn.
Current projects include The Shard and London Bridge Place designed by Renzo Piano; Portsmouth Football Stadium, Horsea Island by Herzog & de Meuron; Seal House by David Chipperfield.

LBQ Limited
LBQ ltd is an international joint venture equally owned by Qatar National Bank, QInvest, Barwa International and Sellar Property Group. LBQ Ltd brings an impressive track record of world class developments and a range of skills that ensure that the quality of the London Bridge Quarter development is of the highest quality.

The siting of tall buildings at major transport nodes (here London Bridge, a major station feeding the city from the southeast) is a sound policy. But why super tall? What end is served by this macho rush for height?

Other than the sheer bulk, the actual design appears to lack elegance - a wide base and angles well off the vertical. In some ways it is too early to judge properly - the render towards the base of this page shows a slender tip that helps carry the rest of the building below. However in eschewing a slender form the architects have taken a path less travelled, but it is less travelled for good reasons.
Adrian Welch, editor

Renzo Piano's british skyscraper is now the tallest building in the UK - at 230 metres high. Eventually The Shard will be the tallest tower in Europe, at 306 metres high. Once the light gets better in Spring we will show new photos.
The Shard photos - from 31 Jul 2011
The Shard photos - from 31 Jul 2011

The Shard photos - from 12 Apr 2011
The Shard photos - from 12 Apr 2011
The Shard photos - from 12 Apr 2011
The Shard photos from 27 Feb 2011

The Shard photos from 27 Feb 2011
Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010

Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010
Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010
Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010
Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010
Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010

Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010

Tower Photos, 12 Sep 2010

Casa LH, Jalisco

Jalisco, Mexico
Design: Di Vece Arquitectos

The architectonic concept for this residential project is to propose a composition that is achieved by the proper manipulation of “contrasts in balance”; an architecture that is generated as a response to the particularities of the site, the adequate solution for the family programmatic needs, but most important, inspired by the profound motivation for the search of the supreme wellbeing of its inhabitants.


The supreme wellbeing of the inhabitant is achieved not only by the comfort derived from the adequate solution of the client´s needs, but also by achieving a composition that is subjugated by the search for balance and the adequate manipulation of contrast; contrast among the scales of the sequence of spaces that articulate around the central courtyard, contrast in the use of light and shadow that overlap within the space in order to maximize its relationship with the exterior and contextual settings, contrast in the use of the manmade and natural materials that are confronted with natural elements scattered around the interior spaces.

Furthermore, the sense of equilibrium is noticeable at first glance by the external presence of the house by the “contrast of quantity” that is achieved by its volumetric composition. The exterior has been articulated as a solid volume where accidental insertions and protrusions are only a reflection of the programmatic needs for the interior. The mass predominates over the void only to make apparent that the insertion of natural light and the search of views toward the natural settings and urban surroundings have to be maximized in order to attain maximum comfort for its inhabitants.

This is an architecture of light and shadow; It is a composition that makes the best out of the contrast generated by the clear and the dark, by the mass and void, by the inner view complemented by the external glance at the surroundings, this is an architecture that celebrates tension when generated between the elements of contrast.

Casa LH is shortlisted for the LEAF Awards 2011

Location: Jalisco is in central, western Mexico, between Mexico City and the Pacific Ocean

Casa LH, Jalisco images / information from Di Vece Y Asociados Arquitectos

LEAF Awards 2011 : Shortlisted Buildings + Architects

Kingdom Tower Jeddah

Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Architect: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture


CHICAGO, Aug. 2, 2011—Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is pleased to announce that it is designing Kingdom Tower, to be the world’s tallest building, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.

At over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development on a 5.3 million-square-meter site in north Jeddah. The tower’s height will be at least 173 meters (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kingdom Tower will feature a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, Class A office space, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory.

Design development of the tower is under way, with construction to begin imminently. Foundation drawings are complete and the piling for the tower is currently being tendered. Kingdom Tower will cost approximately $1.2 billion to construct, while the cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be $20 billion.

AS+GG is leading an interdisciplinary design team that also includes building services engineering consultants Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) and structural engineering consultants Thornton Tomasetti. The developer of Kingdom City, Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), selected the AS+GG scheme after a lengthy competition process in which SOM, Pickard Chilton, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Pelli Clarke Pelli and Foster + Partners also participated.

“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” said Smith, whose experience in supertall tower design at SOM also includes Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago and Pearl River Tower, now in the late stages of construction in Guangzhou, China. “This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people. It represents new growth and high-performance technology fused into one powerful iconic form.”

The project was announced today by His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, which is a partner in Jeddah Economic Company along with prominent Jeddah businessmen Samaual Bakhsh and Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly and Saudi Binladin Group (SBG). SBG is also the contractor for Kingdom Tower.

“Prince Alwaleed, Mr. Bakhsh, Mr. Sharbatly and I were impressed by the boldness and simplicity of the AS+GG design,” said Talal Al Maiman, Executive Director, Development and Domestic Investments, a Board member of Kingdom Holding Company and a board member of JEC. “Kingdom Tower’s height is remarkable, obviously, but the building’s iconic status will not depend solely on that aspect. Its form is brilliantly sculpted, making it quite simply one of the most beautiful buildings in the world of any height.”

In addition to its status as an architectural landmark and economic symbol, Kingdom Tower will enjoy great cultural significance. “We envision Kingdom Tower as an iconic new marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca,” Al Maiman said. He noted that the southeast leg of Kingdom Tower’s tripedal base is on a direct line with the Ka’ba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. AS+GG’s design for Kingdom Tower is both highly technological and distinctly organic. “With its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground—a burst of new life that heralds more growth all around it,” Smith said.
The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Gordon Gill added. “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology,” he said. “We’re thrilled to be working with His Highness and Jeddah Economic Company to help define this path for the Kingdom.”

While the design is contextual to Saudi Arabia, it also represents an evolution and a refinement of an architectural continuum of skyscraper design. The three-petal footprint is ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The Kingdom Tower design embraces its architectural pedigree, taking full advantage of the proven design strategies and technological strategies of its lineage, refining and advancing them to achieve new heights.

The result is an elegant, cost-efficient and highly constructible design that is at once grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward-looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials, life-cycle considerations and energy conservation. For example, the project will feature a high-performance exterior wall system that will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. In addition, each of Kingdom Tower’s three sides features a series of notches that create pockets of shadow that shield areas of the building from the sun and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

The great height of Kingdom Tower necessitates one of the world’s most sophisticated elevator systems. The Kingdom Tower complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and five double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second in both directions.

Another unique feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter, at level 157. It is an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.

AS+GG also designed the master plan for the 23-hectare Kingdom Tower Waterfront District, which surrounds the tower and which will include residential and commercial buildings, a shopping mall, high-quality outdoor spaces and other amenities. The Waterfront District provides a cohesive and pedestrian-friendly setting for Kingdom Tower while creating a pleasant neighborhood experience along the Kingdom City lakefront.

The district encompasses a high-end shopping mall designed by AS+GG, plus additional development parcels that accommodate commercial and high-density residential uses, offices, two luxury hotels and high-quality open spaces, including the central Tower Plaza. A serene waterfront promenade connects Kingdom Tower, the various development parcels, the open space areas and the mall together. The result is an exciting mixed-use area that offers a concentrated and comprehensive experience including vibrant shopping, entertainment and open-space amenities. The Waterfront District also provides an array of connections to other areas within Kingdom City’s overall master plan, designed by HOK Architects.
About Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is dedicated to the design of high-performance architecture in a wide range of typology and scale, from low- and mid-rise residential, commercial and cultural buildings to mixed-use supertall towers and new cities. The office uses a holistic, integrated design approach that explores symbiotic relationships with the natural environment. AS+GG is currently working on projects for clients in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. The partnership was founded in 2006 by Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill and Robert Forest. For more information, please visit www.smithgill.com.

About Thornton Tomasetti

Thornton Tomasetti provides engineering services to clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity. Thornton Tomasetti is responsible for the structural design of some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, Ping An International Finance Center in China and Federation Tower in Russia. The firm is committed to creating the best structural solutions through technical ingenuity, pursuit of excellence and responsiveness to client needs. Thornton Tomasetti has offices across the United States and in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.ThorntonTomasetti.com.

About Environmental Systems Design, Inc.

Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) has provided engineering design solutions on thousands of buildings in the United States and throughout the world. With over 220 engineering and design professionals, ESD is one of the largest consulting engineering firms in the Midwest. ESD offers consulting engineering design services in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, LEED, sustainable design, commissioning, and technology. ESD supports a diverse range of markets including commercial, health and science, education, mission critical, residential, assembly, cultural, theaters, energy plants, transportation and international. For more information, please visit www.esdesign.com.