STEEL APPLICATION

Refugia Hotel, Chile

The architecture of the hotel seeks to plant a light footprint on the topography of the landscape. In the manner of a bridge, a linear arrangement of rooms, suspended on four concrete pillars, is designed to be a structural composition perched on a hilltop, rather than an opaque edifice growing out of it, maximizing light, space, sky, and perspective.

The island’s climate is both enchanting and fickle, and at times, extreme. In just one hour there might be wind, sun and/or rain. An effort was made to capture the splendour of this variability with extensive glass facades and wooden-clad ceilings of larch in the central spaces as well as exterior sheltered spaces, encouraging contact with an environment that is the unique experience of visiting Chiloé.


One of the design challenges of the project was to reconcile the fact that the views from the hotel were predominantly southward while capturing or dissipating the heat from the sun coming from the north (remember this is the Southern Hemisphere) in the predominantly cold and rainy weather of Chiloé. To do this, passive design strategies that optimize the use of energy were employed, including harnessing the sun’s heat trapped in concrete floors, promoting radiant heat cross ventilation to keep cool and to ventilate common spaces, and using eaves to prevent the entry of the sun during the summer. Other considerations included calculating the effect of driving rainwater, carefully designing the orientation and configuration of openings and windows to take advantage of natural light and to maintain heat control and employing skylights at crucial points. These strategies were combined with highly efficient mechanical systems in conjunction with an insulated and ventilated skin designed to ensure the lowest possible heat loss and cooling efficiency.

The use of geometry and the application of wood in the design of the skin of the structure, as well as the interior partitions, were central to the overall architectural concept. Using parametric design technology to predict the optimal shape of each larch shingle and its positioning, complemented with artisanal labour to craft and install them, was an innovative architectural and building technique that proved highly successful – the complementary melding of technology and manual skills.

Cuboseia & Steel Garden, Brazil

The main intention is the people’s interaction with the space through a literal entrance into the poetry’s text, a six-part poem cast on each side of the cube. In this proposed performance the visitors will admire the light, the shadows, the mountainous landscape of the surroundings and the nocturnal projections of the letters on the lawn.

The six faces of the cube invite the reader to discover the Portuguese text (with a free English translation): HOJE AQUI TUDO MUDA (today here all changes) CADA HORA BIDA NOVA (each hour new life) CUBO OUVE TODA FALA (cube hears all talks) LOGO CABE ALGO RARO (so something rare fits) TATO PURO LEVA ALÉM (pure touch takes beyond) ESSE POVO QUER VOAR (this people wants to fly).

Inside the cube there is a soundtrack, composed and performed by the architects, which proposes several pulsations and speeches reinforcing the sensorial experience of the visit. Surrounding this metal cube is the STEEL GARDEN which is a modularly folded rebar installation in three sizes which, interacting with the local vegetation, suggests that the metal is also an element of nature.

This paradox signals that this material from mining and steel industry, in this composition, denounces ecological neglect and environmental demagogy.

In this garden, the loose letters on the lawn invite people to assemble their words in an interactive attitude. In this area it is proposed a place of permanence from which one can appreciate the whole installation. The gesture of using those letters from the cube’s face cut outs, as if they were spontaneous garden plants, suggests an ecological design attitude of not generating waste. Another sustainable aspect of this proposal is its possibility of disassembly allowing it to be re-presented several times in different places.

Xián, China

Xi’an Eco-Park is part of the ecological park located in the Chongwen Jing River region of Xixian New Area. The project includes an eco-restaurant and a design hotel. The design is triggered by the desire of building, a dialogue between the landscape and its architecture.

Such identity, however, instead of relying on iconoclastic imaginary, finds its articulation in its placing within the site, stretching its boundaries onto the ground and producing a woven linkage with the landscape through elongated transitions – both spatial and functionally, it (re)defines its context and creates a new environment.

Morphologically speaking, the building grows from the topography at the north, evolving into a sinuous body that splits creating a gap for natural light and a vertiginous volumetric drop at the entrance plaza. Toward the south, it sits onto an artificial higher elevation, hence allowing for a series of interior spaces (children playground and greenhouse) that play with the slopes through some slanted surfaces, among which we locate the main access ramp to the upper floor.

As we introduce part of the terrain into the interior space, the indoor “hill” has become the focus the design. According to the passageway hidden under the hill, the diners can entry the interior space and experience an exploratory while visiting the park. After passing through the semi-underground path, it suddenly becomes spacious and then turns to enter the indoor activity space.
Diagrammatically speaking, the building is a major arc with both of its end points at the lowest elevation (+0.00m) and its middle point at the highest elevation (+4.80m). The three-dimensional spatial distribution resembles an ascendant spiral movement which is actualized by a membrane that more than covering/enclosing the internal area of this arc, augments the rich plasticity of the diagram as such. On the north side, 5 curves run along various elevations, working as a veritable extension of the ground to the roof of the building showcasing striations and depressions—topographic features in themselves. At the south side, at the other end point, two of the controlling curves of the roof drop dramatically reaching the ground, the green space flowing out with the bottom reflects the ecological nature of the project.

Vibo Tværvej House, Denmark

Valbæk Brørup Architects has topped a wooden summer house in Denmark with a vaulted steel roof. It is in a forest site 200 meters from the seashore of Kattegat, the eye-catching residence features an extruded tube shape with a roof of rolled steel plates. The interior is entirely made of pine, while its different spaces are characterised by a distinctive rhythm created by the eight arched steel beams of the construction.

The Vibo Tværvej House has been built in the style of a traditional wooden cabin that brings in the smell, sound and atmosphere of its forest surroundings. The tube-shaped residence is complete with large windows, both along and at the ends of its perimeter, which offer views stretching from one end to the other.

These openings invite the exterior landscape inside, allowing daylight and wind to float through the house. Past the entrance, the all-pine interior recalls the atmosphere of a traditional cabin, where nothing is white and where wooden tones prevail. These tones are complemented by a dark blue kitchen, Bordeaux cabinets in the corridor, and ocher bathroom tiles.

The summer residence encloses three bedrooms and a bathroom with outdoor bathing facilities. The main social space is defined by the vaulted roof and hight ceiling with views to the treetops and the sky.

The Dubai Creek Harbour Central Footbridge

IJP Architects and structural engineers AKT II unveil their concept design for a new 230m Dubai Creek Harbour Central Footbridge. Commissioned by Emaar, the project will connect the soon to be world’s tallest tower, the Dubai Creek Tower and Dubai Creek Harbour. Marking the second collaboration between AKT II and IJP Architects, after the 2008 Henderson Waves Footbridge in Singapore, the pedestrian bridge, spanning the man-made canal in the center of the new town, is currently in the conceptual phase.

Blending modernity and tradition of Dubai, the project puts in place “a three-dimensional web of steel to produce a lightweight, cloud-like structure that floats over the canal”. The Dubai Creek Harbour Central Footbridge is about modernity and tradition. The dispersal of forces through a three-dimensional web of steel produces a lightweight, cloud-like structure with legible geometric patterns.

In this sense, DCH Central Footbridge expresses a state of harmony between the new and the traditional, between technology, art history, and Islamic culture. The underside provides shading from the heat of the sun for pedestrians whilst the upper deck level creates a travel route for golf carts and cyclists.

The striking architectural geometry mixes many features like technology, art history, and Islamic culture. Inspired by Islamic art, the project creates a double-height footbridge that paves a way-through for citizens. The bridge connects the quayside and the promenade, linking the city, the harbour and Dubai Creek Tower.

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles

The steel frame of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is beginning to take shape in Los Angeles. Designed by MAD Architects, the project takes its name from Star Wars creator George Lucas and will stand at the gateway to the city’s Exposition Park. The landmark project will be MAD’s first museum built in the United States. Four cranes are on site as the building’s steel framework begins to rise above ground. Envisioned like a cloud or spaceship floating over the city, the project creates a canopy that shades the park below, exploring the relationship between nature and the built urban environment. The museum is comprised of gallery spaces, cinema theaters, a library, café and restaurants, along with an expansive landscaped rooftop that brings the greenery from the surrounding park up over the architecture.

MAD originally provided three unique designs for the museum scheme, each responding to three proposed site locations. Having originally unveiled a MAD-designed scheme in Chicago in 2014, Lucas abandoned the plans following concerns over the placement of a private museum on a public lakefront. In 2016, MAD unveiled two similar proposals, one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, with the Los Angeles scheme ultimately gaining approval in 2017. The five-story museum will house an expansive collection of narrative art, comprising more than 10,000 pieces that include comics, illustrations, paintings, photographs, moving images, sculptures, and other works of art and memorabilia linked to movies. The Lucas Museum broke ground in March 2018, and completion is scheduled for 2021.

OPPO’s New Headquarters, Shenzhen

Zaha Hadid Architects has been selected to build the new headquarters for OPPO, a Chinese mobile brand, in Shenzhen, China. China’s leading smartphone manufacturer has seen a rapid success ever since it has launched its first phone back in 2008. With over 40,000 employees in more than 40 countries, OPPO’s new headquarters will accommodate its growth, and will follow the company’s “commitment to connectivity through design”.

The 185,000 square meter project consists of four interconnected towers, reaching maximum heights of 200m with 42 floors, generating large civic spaces at street level. The first two towers offer “flexible, open-plan spaces linked by a 20-story vertical lobby, and two external service towers providing vertical circulation”. Shifting the service core to the exterior allows a more versatile space and encourages interaction between employees. Planned to be completed in early 2025, the winning proposal creates a new civic space for the city, including publicly accessible amenities like a landscaped plaza, art gallery, shops, restaurants and a direct link to the adjacent station of Shenzhen’s subway network. Moreover, the rooftop is also reachable by the public, offering panoramic views of the city. Once complete, the OPPO headquarters will also contain publicly accessible dining, leisure and entertainment facilities on the 10th floor, and a public viewpoint at roof level.

Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center, China

The mixed-use development, totaling over 560,000 square meters of building area, will host commercial, hotel, office, and residential functions. The development “seeks to restore the spiritual harmony between humanity and nature” through integrating contemplative spaces that merge nature with the demands of modern living.

A series of low-rise buildings and footbridges allow the scheme to unfold onto the city, with curving, ascending corridors and elevated pathways weaving through commercial buildings. The routes are activated by public gardens and social spaces, to “create a spiritual and poetic retreat in the middle of the city.

White glass louvres create the evocative forms of the towers, which are designed to look as if they have been shaped by wind and water over millennia. Mountains were also the inspiration for Nanjing’s NBBJ-designed exhibition centre. Along the site’s perimeter, mountain-like towers appear “carved out by wind and water.” White curved glass louvers “flow” like waterfalls, merging with ponds, waterfalls, and brooks to echo Nanjing’s surrounding mountains and rivers. Nature has a deliberate presence in the complex, with ponds, rivers, waterfalls and pools integrated into the masterplan. Trees and entire structures covered in greenery break up the futuristic forms of the cityscape. Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Centre seeks to restore the spiritual harmony between humanity and nature through the integration of contemplative spaces that, while immersing inhabitants in nature, still meets the conveniences of modern day living. The development has entered its third and final stage of construction and is due to complete in 2020.

GDA Plaza China

A new high-rise building makes its impact on the skyline of Hangzhou, the Chinese metropolis with 9 million inhabitants. The 130-meter-high tower is part of the extension and redesign of the GDA Plaza, a business center in the traditional business quarter of the city, which includes a shopping mall and hotel. Architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), who had previously won the competition, oversaw the design and implementation.

West Lake is considered a focal point and special attraction of the old, traditional city of Hangzhou. Its exemplary cultivated landscape is an outstanding feature of this 9-million-person metropolis to the south-west of Shanghai and, in 2011, was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. At Wulin Square, in the midst of the flourishing business center not far from the lake, the GDA Plaza Hotel and Business Center was reopened. As part of a redesign and extension, the existing complex with hotel and shopping mall was recreated and made into a completely new unit.

The architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp), who had previously won the competition in 2007, oversaw the design and implementation. At one corner, the GDA Plaza was substantially extended by a new 28-story building with a gross floor area of 57,500 square meters, whilst the existing main building was retained as far as possible but completely reorganized. This has created additional offices and commercial premises, as well as new leisure facilities such as cinemas and restaurants.

S Pellegrino Flagship factory, Italy

Scheduled to open in 2022, the new production plant will showcase high levels of innovation, technological advancements, and social sustainability. The existing factory form is shrouded in a stainless-steel mesh that adapts to the contours of the buildings. The buildings take on a new form as edges are blurred. Depending on the viewing angle the mesh can appear closed and reflective or open and transparent, often at the same time.

Enhancing the touristic aspect of the Lombardy region in Italy, and strengthening its status as a global hub, the project, which involves the territories of San Pellegrino Terme and Zogno, has a design that will blend with the surrounding landscape, creating a building for its personnel, the local community and the international touristic scene. The “Factory of the Future”, promotes the territory and improves the quality of the produce. The production plant’s concept will put in place an immersive experience that will welcome visitors from all over the world. In fact, new accesses and infrastructural systems were drafted, with the creation of an entrance bridge to the facility, in order to reduce heavy vehicle traffic through the inhabited center.

Regarding the innovative design of the plant, BIG created a series of exposed architectural concrete arches that will frame the factory, and offer a view of the Orobie Alps. The facade of the project will be covered by a glass surface that will be symbolically reminiscent of the various physical states of water. Offices and changing rooms will undergo a complete renovation, and a new company cafeteria, break area, and fitness center will be added. Sustainability, part of the company’s policy is achieved through photovoltaic panels, high energy efficiency systems, and water recovery systems for rational consumption of water resources.

On another hand, the production plant will require a total investment of €90 million in civil works, systems for the production and logistics department, as well as for expending the project and creating the 2,800 square meters of new spaces dedicated to production operations, that will ensure the ability of the company to handle the increased production predicted for the coming years.