Cotton Lab, China

‘Cotton Lab’ is an offline store created to focus on the aesthetics of life by experiencing clothes and catering consumption in the environment of new retail format. The architect chose a ‘House in House’ design strategy which aims to build a complete new-type independent structure inside the main factory building. Two high, straight and transparent chambers of the “House in House” which go parallel in north-south direction as they adopt a standard cross-section of arch shape with sharp point in the middle but completely different in construction. One chamber for clothing which uses steel structure is totally white, which appears so charming and fashionable that it is just appropriate for clothes display.

The other chamber is a combination of steel-timber structured catering space and multifunctional space featured as comfortableness presented by the architect. Neither of the newly-added chambers occupy too much in this factory building. The broken line-shaped wooden poles hanging over head adds both intimate feeling and sense of steadiness. The main factory building applies natural ventilation as the first defence for the space to form an initial environment while two newly-added structures apply new-type ventilation system to make up an independent and fully closed air-conditioning environment separately. Such system allocation does not only solve the functional problems but also emerge eventually as a complete set of visual model fully matching to the structure in the space. The entrance lobby of the building connects with the outer space directly in addition to the connection with other sites of the “Cotton Lab”.

Dendrites, Montreal

Commissioned by the City of Montréal Situated at the core of the recently developed Interna­tional Civil Aviation Organization Plaza (ICAO), Dendrites is the newest monumental public work by the artist Michel de Broin. The word dendrite refers to the branched projections of a neuron, which propagate cerebral stimulation; the term is derived from the Greek Dendron, also the word for tree. Extending, across both sides of Notre-Dame Street in the downtown core, the work is comprised of two sculptural stairways directly modelled on the neuron structure.

Construct­ed of weathering steel, the piece takes on the ochre colour of the tree trunks it references, while simultaneously alluding to the industrial past of the central urban site and its iron infrastructure. Through the natural process of oxidation, the sculpture’s steel surface undergoes a microscopic crystallization of iron particles recalling the formation of dendrites. This dynamic process creates a nuanced parallel between the form of the stairway and its underlying material and can also be read as analogous to the ever-changing form of the networked city surrounding it.

Recontextualized, in this new sculptural configuration, the underlying stairways still function as circulatory structures allowing for the movement of people while also beckoning towards an in­nate human desire for vertical ascension; the urge to reach the highest branch of a tree or peak a mountain to contemplate a new horizon. Dendrites offers such an experience, allowing the public the opportunity to climb its branches and glimpse an alternative view. Dendrites direct­ly responds to this integrated urban vision – offering passers-by the opportunity for active participation. By climbing in the branches, they animate the sculpture much like the foliage of a tree.

Shanghai Modern Art Museum, Shanghai

In order to organize better the space and minimize the damage to the existing bunker structure, the suspension structure is adopted in the design, using the top frame column left after the roof demolition to support a set of huge trusses and then to hang down layer by layer. One side of the hanging lateral slab is under the vertical stress from the upper suspension structure and the other side is connected to the original bunker structure as the vertical support. Thus, the circulation of the bunker structure exhibition space is well-organized, and, via those horizontal lines, the once-absent public connection is built up between the originally enclosed warehouse and the view of Huangpu River.

The slightly staggered lateral slabs are both space and landscapes, as if they imply the liquidity characteristics of the Huangpu River. And the v-shaped weaved slim vertical boom provide the Modern Art gallery a particular form language, and made it a very good coordination with the existing up-to-top steel truss stair channel forms. The steel suspension structure system, which used in the high walkway, is supported by the original concrete framework and works as the reinforcement of the old structure, the high walkway’s secondary structure and meanwhile the suspension structure of glass service space roof below the high walkway. Therefore, the glass structures no longer need vertical support and while the slight structure and the original rough concrete structure presenting the time tension it can achieve great visual transparency and extremely ensure the spatial feeling on the landscape level.

Sleek Tinman House, Bangkok

JunS ekino Architect & Design is a name to reckon in architecture from Thailand. His recent design of a 3-storeyed building in the heart of Bangkok which is an adaption of the Tinman from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ have caused quite a stir. Set in the centre of the city, where land is often limited, the three-storey 415-square-metre building is designed to make the most of the space available.

The significant about the structure is the maximum use of steel in the construction. Using of structural steel have helped met the deadlines of which was otherwise said to be a demanding schedule. Sekino explained the benefits of using structural steel and pointed out that it can reflect the flexibility of the construction process and represent the quality of the truth to materials. Sprung out from the idea of replicating the Tin Man from L Frank Baum’s novel the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was described by the architect as “a character that simply represents a humble, honest heart”, the house personified its name, Tinman.

Aesthetically designed, the first and second floors of the house are linked by coloured steel staircases, which echoes the steel structure, and a skylight placed above brings in additional natural light. The bedroom on the third floor is accessible by separate intricate spiral stairs. External temperatures are combated by ventilation throughout the building provided by slatted louvre windows, which echo the “minimal and elegant detailing” of the house’s steel structure. Coupled with a double wall that spans the entire area of the building’s west facade has been designed to prevent internal temperature loss.

This design specifically and majorly made of steel oozes a sleek look and required less time in the making and construction of it, thus befitting the new definition of Bangkok which is chic and bohemian. Further, the intricate installation of steel structure has not only reinforced cost-efficient housing but manifested a new style of urban living haven.

Lattice Apartment Towers, Manhattan

New York architecture studio DFA has imagined a series of latticed apartment towers for Manhattan’s Pier 40, which would be able to remain above water in the event of rising sea levels. The conceptual proposal involves constructing a complex of housing, recreational and commercial facilities on the square-shaped Pier 40. The structure extends 250 metres over the Hudson River and currently houses car parking facilities and a popular football field. The concept envisions 19 cylindrical high-rises, wrapped in golden net-shaped window frames and planting. These would house a total of 450 living units, which would be sold at price points from affordable to luxury. Ranging from 96 to 455 feet (29 to 138 metres) tall, the towers would be set in 11 clusters that the architecture firm based on analysis of the pier’s structural base comprising thousands of steel H-pile girders reinforced with concrete and sunk into the river.

The residences in the towers would be elevated 60 inches (1.5 metres) above expected storm surge levels as one of a series of ways to protect the complex from flooding caused by sea-level rise. An elevated undulating pathway would wrap around the bases of the clusters, over a series of public pavilions. These would remain open until 2050, when water levels are expected to increase between 11 and 30 inches .But 50 years later, when the tidal river could be 50 to 75 inches (1.3 to 1.9 metres) higher, the pavilions would be completely submerged by water. In this scenario, the platform above would provide the new access for the complex. Beyond 2050, as regular flooding begins to engulf the coastline as we know it, the landscape deck transforms into a floating island with new pathways built to connect the evolved wetland ecosystem to Manhattan.

US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis

America’s most popular sporting event, the Super Bowl, will take place at a new stadium in minneapolis, featuring angular protrusions, zinc cladding and a roof partly made of plastic film. Located in downtown Minneapolis, the US Bank Stadium is home to the Minnesota Vikings, a member of the National Football League (NFL). Encompassing 1.8 million square feet (167,225 square metres), the building also serves as a venue for events such as concerts, conventions and high school and college athletic games. The 66,200-seat stadium will host the 52nd Super Bowl, the most important American football game of the year.

The building occupies a prominent urban site totaling 38 acres (15 hectares). Wrapped in a faceted envelope, the steel-frame building has a sculptural form influenced by the region’s scandinavian heritage and natural topography. HKS designed the building to reflect the culture, climate and context of its city, drawing inspiration from ice formations on nearby. The exterior walls consist of dark zinc paneling set against vast sheets of glass. An angular protrusion on the western elevation has invoked references to the prow of Viking ships. One of the building’s prominent features is the legacy gate, which consists of five pivoting glass doors that range in height from 75 to 95 feet (22 to 29 metres). When opened, the gate connects the stadium to an adjacent plaza. The building is topped with a sloped roof, part of which is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the same type of plastic used for the new US embassy in London by Kieran Timberlake and for the Eden Project in the UK, designed by Grimshaw Architects.

The first objective in designing the form of the building was to get snow off the roof of the stadium as quickly and simply as possible. To reduce structural loads and minimize building costs, the architects analyzed traditional Nordic architecture, determining that a sloped roof would offer both cultural and structural precedent to the challenge of building in Minneapolis’ snowy climate. The building has many sustainable features, which enabled it to earn LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. In addition to natural illumination provided by glass walls and the plastic roof, the team incorporated LED sports lighting, which significantly reduces energy consumption.

Statoil Regional and International Office, Norway

After 20 months of construction, the Statoil regional and international offices at Fornebu outside Oslo, Norway is now complete. A-lab received the commission after winning first prize in an open competition in 2008. Statoil is a Norwegian energy producer, the 57th largest company in the world by revenue, with about 30 000 employees in 37 countries. From October 15th, 2500 of these employees will work in the new building -including Statoil’s international department.

The new office building stands on the site of the old airport’s multi-storey car park, most of the site being given over to the development of a new 5-hectare public park. One of the main goals of the Mikado inspired design has been to minimize the footprint of the building in the park, whilst creating a flexible and stimulating workspace- offering views over the fjord from most parts of the building and a spectacular view of the park, artworks and the fjord from the communal atrium space.

The project consists of five similar office modules, each 3 stories high, approx 140 meters long and 23 meters wide. Stacked on top of each other they form a climatized atrium and a multipurpose space on the ground floor. Due to the very short construction period, most of the building, including steel and concrete superstructure, facades and glazed structures, was prefabricated off-site. This lead to a high degree of precision despite the extremely fast on-site production. The steel superstructure enables the different office modules to cantilever up to 30 meters. Northern Europe’s biggest mobile crane was used for the assembly of the steel trusses.

Bicentennial Pavilion, Indianapolis

RATIO Architects recently completed the Bicentennial Pavilion, an open-air events space modeled after a lush rainforest with 11 steel-framed “tree canopies.” Built primarily from natural materials, the pavilion is a beautiful example of multifunctional and sustainable design that provides 40,000 square feet of weather-protected events space while collecting and filtering 100 per cent of its storm water runoff. RATIO Architects designed an open-air multifunctional facility that could be used year-round and replace the zoo’s former 400-person events tent tucked into the back-of-house areas. The sustainability angle came from the use of natural materials each tree-like column is built of 63 individual timber beams, while a hearth of rough-back quarry block limestone rests beneath the canopy and storm water management.

The pavilion canopy funnels rainwater down the tree-like column’s laser-cut weathered steel rain screens and into planting beds, where it then percolates through a water quality unit and is held in a 14-foot deep water detention bed designed to accommodate 100-year flood events. The angled pavilion canopy is built of translucent roofing materials to let filtered light shine through, just as in a real rainforest canopy. The Bicentennial Pavilion is split up into two main event areas, each of which accommodate up to 400 guests. The pavilion can also be converted into one large event space for up to 800 guests. The pavilion’s north side is designed for the new bird exhibition, Magnificent Macaws, with a custom-designed stage and perch to showcase the birds on their twice-daily flight through the Pavilion.

Hywind World’s first floating wind farm

With the world’s population growing and its demand for energy increasing, it’s more important than ever to explore new forms of sustainable energy. International energy company Statoil has taken note of this situation and, just off the Scottish coast, the company is building Hywind: the world’s first floating wind farm.

Statoil has adapted the same technology used for its floating oil facilities, known as spar platforms, to revolutionize the way wind farms operate. The Hywind facility places conventional wind turbines on top of floating steel cylinders, which are held in place by cables and suction anchors.

The cylinders float 78 meters below sea level and hold large pockets of air. This works to keep the turbines afloat, much like a ship’s hull. The wind farm installations are being constructed off the west coast of Norway, where the 162-metre tall turbines are loaded onto the floating steel cylinders by the world’s second largest crane vessel, the Saipem 7000. After they are assembled, the floating units are towed across the North Sea to the coast of Scotland where they will provide power to Scottish homes.

Hywind demonstrates that steel has a crucial role to play in the development of sustainable energy resources. Offshore wind farms face rough weather conditions and sturdy, safe materials are vital to their success. Hywind shows that old-fashioned reliability and strength is the key to innovation and sustainability.

The Verandah Walk, Australia

In the heart of James Cook University in Townsville, lies the new Verandah Walk – a pedestrian and cyclist link that weaves through the regional campus. Wilson Architects has completed stage one of the project, the Verandah Walk South Node, which connects Education Central and the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library across Waada Mooli Creek. The design creates a series of ‘nodal’ meeting and seating areas that encourage students to study, collaborate and socialize in an open-air landscaped setting. The Verandah Walk enhances the student experience and creates a sense of quality and permanence, previously lacking on the site.

The architects’ challenge was to design a 420m long covered walkway that sits well on its site, without overwhelming visitors with its scale and length. The deliberately-curved walkway directs attention outwards to the landscape, rather than focusing the user’s view ‘down the barrel’ of a long straight path. The curved path provides the required wayfinding cues while creating an experience of ‘journey’, instead of ‘destination’. This project embraces and responds to the unique tropical narrative of the region, by considering light, shade, humidity, breeze, scent, water/rain, and color. Increased access to daylight and fresh air circulation supports improved levels of concentration, cognitive function and mental well-being for students, staff, and visitors. Polished aluminum lines sections of the soffit, and works to reflect the landscape back out to passers-by.Two pavilions extend out from the path and operate as connected outdoor learning spaces, with power and Wi-Fi throughout. Nearby fountains provide further respite from the hot climate, by creating a cooling effect and atmospheric background noise.