King’s International College, Canterbury

Architecture firm Walters & Cohen uses weathered steel and concrete for King’s International College in Canterbury, Kent, to reference the site’s industrial heritage. The new college building for King’s School provides teaching areas and accommodation for students aged 11-16 who are entering the English school system from abroad. While the school’s main campus occupies the Canterbury Cathedral precinct, the new college occupies an ex-industrial site at the edge of the city centre. It’s the focus of a wider masterplan drawn up for the school by Walters & Cohen in 2016. King’s International College’s robust concrete base and orange steel cladding of the college were designed to echo an adjacent 19th century malt house building.

Nicholas Hare Architects recently converted this structure into a theatre. It was crucial that the new building complemented the site’s industrial heritage as well as the existing buildings surrounding it. This was achieved with a striking mix of weathered steel, concrete and glass. King’s International College faces out onto a newly created civic square. A run of tall, thin windows in its concrete base forms a colonnade-style facade. A large opening in this concrete facade leads into the college, the square plan of which is organised around a central private courtyard. This courtyard is wrapped by a glazed, cloister-like corridor that provides circulation around the school. It doubles as a bright, communal meeting space, with semi-private areas that can be isolated using sliding doors. The area masterplan also includes a new sports court and changing facilities located to the north of the college, to be used by both the local community and students.

Principal Tower, London

Principal Tower a comprehensively planned mixed-use scheme on the border of Shore ditch in the City of London. It comprises a 15-storey office building that hosts the London headquarters for Amazon, alongside one of London’s tallest residential buildings, the 50-storey Principal Tower, with six eateries that wrap around the building at street level and a light bar, creating a 360-degree active frontage that extends the vibrancy of the city towards the north. The relationship between the creative, formerly industrial east end and London’s financial center is expressed in the tower’s massing, which appears as three slim volumes.

The tower addresses the residential neighborhood of Shoreditch, it appears lower from ground level, while from the west it reflects the high-rise nature of the City. A central volume rises between the two to provide an elegant marker on the skyline. The approach was instead to create a maze of load paths, using transfer structures from level 7 of the tower down to direct loads away from the rail corridor and toward the heavy substructures.

The combined solution uses a stack of reinforced concrete walls gradually transferring loads through multiple storeys called “walking walls”. It also uses inclined concrete-encased steel columns, steel Y-frames, and 50 tonne steel girders spanning the width of the rail corridor. The out of balance lateral forces resulting from the various transfer structures are resisted by the reinforced concrete core, which is located to one side of the 8-track corridor, through flat steel plates embedded in the post-tensioned slab. This unique combination of structural solutions is what makes Principal Tower such a prime example of precision engineering.

Chicago O’Hare Airport Expansion

Studio Gang has been selected to lead the $8.5 billon O’Hare 21 International Airport expansion in Chicago. Chosen from a list of firms including BIG, Calatrava and SOM, the Studio Gang team is part of the Studio ORD partnership. They won the project for the Global Terminal and Concourse with three volumes converging in a central hub. Designed to celebrate Chicago’s history as a city shaped by lines of movement, the project represents O’Hare’s first major overhaul in 25 years. Studio ORD’s winning proposal was made to establish a vibrant new neighborhood in the heart of O’Hare’s campus. The tripartite design merges terminal and concourse into a single building. At the branches’ confluence, an Oculus welcomes visitors under a six-pointed glass skylight. Beneath the Oculus, a Central Green was created with planters, trees and street furniture.

Surrounding the Oculus is a rhythmic, pleated roof of long-span steel trusses. the pleats are spaced and oriented to maximize natural daylight and energy efficiency. When seen from above, the building’s form takes on a distinctly Chicago icon: the city’s “Y symbol,” or Municipal Device, that represents the branching Chicago River. as a flexible space for diverse programming. “City of Chicago called upon teams from across the city and around the world to lead O’Hare’s historic expansion, and Studio ORD answered that call,” said Mayor Emanuel. “During this historic competition, the world’s best architecture firms submitted their incredible visions for the world to see with each of these five world-class designs strengthening our plans to bring O’Hare into the 21st century.

A diagonal grid, or “diagrid,” of intersecting steel would form a monumental exterior that greets departing travelers with three grand arches, then morphs into a single arch a jaw-dropping 530 feet wide facing the airfield. The multi-phase O’Hare 21 project aims to break ground in 2023 with completion scheduled by 2026.

Jiangyin Greenway, China

The project will consist of four clearly identifiable segments, each with a unique response to the spirit of the place in which it is located. The north segment of the loop has already been built and passes through the dockland’s parks. It responds to the history of shipbuilding and its port function. This project, the eastern segment of the loop, leads to the Yangtze River, the river to which Jiangyin owes its existence. Consequently, this segment will respond to the significance of the Yangtze River.

The freeway is lifted off the ground for its entire length of the site. Contrary to what one would think, and thanks to this enlightened engineering decision, the freeway is not a barrier in the city. However, the park in which it sits is not as helpful in keeping the city well connected. In fact, this linear park with its emphasis on a major north-south connection becomes a frustrating barrier to east-west circulation. A careful analysis of desire lines and shortcuts can rejuvenate the park with activity, make the park safer, and make the city more efficient. The stitching paths also ensure that the green way is connected to the rest of the park and to the adjacent streets and pedestrian circulation networks.

The design of this project is a clear and legible response to this path, with: solid and transparent balustrades providing privacy or views; sound walls near the freeway for the comfort of the pedestrians; arbors to provide shade and enclosure; widenings with seating at locations overlooking lakes and canals; landmark bridges with sculptural trusses framing views for pedestrians; stairs located at street intersections to link existing pedestrian paths to the new greenway; and surprising additional programs that make the adjacent city programs work even better. It is said that place is space with memories attached and that memories can’t be attached without articulation.

Consequently the journey along this greenway is articulated with a number of variously scaled events; an Amphitheatre for performances or relaxing on; a raised plaza with permanent sound instruments for all to play; an exercise playground with nets, slides and a gentle climbing ramp for all ages, to name a few – all providing the clarity and legibility to become memorable places. The entire greenway is built in steel and utilizes prefabricated to reduce the impact on the park. A steel structure with a colored bituminous concrete screed gives the greenway both the potential for prefabrication and a durable low-maintenance, long-wearing surface.

Bitwise Headquarters, Thailand

Bitwise is a manufacturer of air conditioners, with a long track record and experience in the industry in Thailand. Their Headquarters design was realized from the conceptual organization’s image and identity. The concept of rethinking “Innovation” was applied into the form of the building. The conventional column structure was eliminated, to create a form that could correspond, not only to the required functionality but also the company’s approach toward image branding for Bitwise Headquarters. For the space of almost a 1,500 m2 capacity on the third and fourth floor to be able to cantilever 14 meters from the main structure and overhang above the drop-off area by using steel truss.

The truss structure also appears within the interior space of the third floor and these triangulated geometric patterns from structure were selected for the facade cladding pattern of the building’s exterior shell. The double-layered exterior shell for the south, and, west facade is the solution for such requirement with aluminum louvers whose forms are similar to those of ventilation fins of an air conditioner. The louvers welcome in the presence of natural light and outside surroundings. Bitwise Headquarters is an innovative experiment where architecture, engineering and construction become parts of the conceptualization and development process in which a building’s physicality and functionality are conceived, not only to represent but also innately from the owner’s identity.

Boxen, Stockholm

Boxen, the new studio gallery at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm, is a robust machine for fast-changing, experimental exhibitions. It is a structure that can be used in its entirety inside and out, from bottom to top, by both exhibitors and audience as a tactile, physically engaging experience. The blank canvas of the white-box interior contrasts with an external surface of chain-link wire mesh, designed for informal exhibition display effectively doubling the exhibitable wall space.

Built from a pre-fabricated standard section steel structure, and lined internally with birch plywood and white plasterboard, Boxen is covered by a corrugated steel roof. The primary structure, with columns at regular intervals, make up the main frame of the gallery and is exposed externally. Cantilevering from the primary structure, the ramp begins at the main opening, passing by a viewing platform at a large circular opening, and ending with a balcony that stretches the entire length of the gallery.

The roof, lifted from the walls to connect the exhibition space to the surrounding hall, allows natural daylight to enter the main interior space. The interior is a tall, symmetrical, white room accessed by three doors. The layering of materials on the outside of the structure creates a filigree expression and a visual depth that, in concert with the multitude of openings, blur the boundaries between the inner gallery space, the external exhibition surface, and the surrounding museum hall.



Twin Towers, Taipei

MVRDV, together with Nanhai development, unveils its proposal for the Taipei Twin Towers to revitalise the central station area of Taipei. The design of the towers is characterized by a ‘pile of blocks’ that generates a vertical urban neighbourhood. Each box serves as a visual expression of its program through an array of interactive media façades. The project is designed as a ‘times square for Taiwan,’ offering a vibrant and charismatic destination, that re-establishes the central station area of Taipei as the city’s premier location for retail, working, and tourism.

The site of the proposed MVRDV Taipei Twin Towers project, is currently occupied by the city’s main station. To be developed by Nan Hai Corporation, this hub services the city’s railway, airport lines, and metro networks, the new buildings will be constructed over the existing station. Several pre-existing plazas, will meanwhile be unified and redeveloped. Larger blocks complete two towers reaching 337 meters and 280 meters and make up the dominant image of the buildings when seen from afar.

These larger blocks house offices, cinemas, and two hotels. At ground level, the design proposes a sunken plaza, with an array of public interventions influenced by the history of the site. structures marking the former locations of the original station will transform the area into an ‘archaeological study,’ exhibiting the city’s heritage. An elevated walkway connecting the station will become the spine of the project.

Elbbrücken Underground Station

The new Elbbrücken Underground station was designed by architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners in cooperation with the structural engineers Schlaich Bergermann partner. Located at the Elbbrücken bridges at the end of the new HafenCity district, the Underground station with its conspicuous roof construction is a milestone in the development of HafenCity. A special feature of the new Underground station is the fact that the railway track emerges from underground and continues above ground in parallel to the Elbbrücken bridges.

The design utilizes the technical possibilities available today to continue the theme of the imposing steel constructions of the past: the sweeping steel arches of the Freihafenelbbrücken and the “fish beams” of the Neue Elbbrücken. The roof construction with its ellipsoidal arch profile is created from crossing arched steel frames. The twisted steel beams are arranged to form a diamond-shaped grid pattern in which the individual arches stabilize each other.

The structural members are outside the envelope glazing being supported on the inside thereby achieving a conspicuous presence in the cityscape, creating anesthetic response to the adjacent Elbbrücken bridges. At both ends of the structure, the roof following the diamond pattern comes forward to a point that gives the station its dynamic flair, befitting a modern infrastructure building. The different levels of the ticket hall, the platforms, and the two bridges for crossing the tracks are accessed via staircases, escalators, and elevators. The top steel bridge provides access to the skywalk that will connect the Underground station with the S-Bahn station.

Copper Double Spiral Staircase, Denmark

The 10-tonne copper spiral staircase rising through an atrium of CEBRA’s Experimentarium in Denmark, is lit from above by Velux skylights. Danish studio CEBRA refurbished the popular science attraction in Copenhagen, doubling the centre’s exhibition spaces and adding two large atriums with centrepiece staircases. Shaped like the double helix strands of DNA, the spiralling staircase in the main atrium is clad in panels of polished copper. It is made from 160 tonnes of steel and covered in 10 tonnes of copper. Light bouncing from the mirrored surfaces creates a striking visual moment for visitors as they enter the Experimentarium. Both atriums serve as easy navigational routes for them as they move between the science centre’s exhibitions.

In order to properly illuminate the atrium, and its metallic stairway, CEBRA fitted the Velux modular skylights above the atriums. Natural light fills the multi-storey space, sparkling off the burnished metal, and allowing daylight to reach the offices of the Experimentarium’s administrative staff. The light-filled central space provides a contrast to some of the 16 new exhibition areas, many of which are kept in darkness to add to the visitor experience. Using modular skylights allowed CEBRA to streamline the build process. The copper spiral staircase was lowered in from the roof, which was quickly closed with the Velux modules.

Nine Bridges, South Korea

The Pergola of The Golf Club at NINE BRIDGES is a structure built on a location that honours an old sacred tree. The Chinese hackberry, which stood for roughly 600 years, before, the present golf course was constructed, unconsciously instated a place of animism. The pergola rearranges the site in accordance with the orientation of an aged tree, and, finds its project motifs in natural algorithms. Inspired by the essential structures of natural algorithms, a ‘dual-duct system’ has been devised that integrates both the structure and the facility.

The inner duct is used for ventilation and wrapped with a 12mm thick steel frame to form the overall structure. The two ducts are covered with highly dense insulating material in between, to prevent dew condensation from indoor-outdoor temperature difference, when, operating cooling and heating systems. To control this organic form finished with double curved surfaces, 6 main structures and 19 substructures were used.

About, 160 atypical, semi-tempered pair panes of glasses, were placed on the structure and roughly 280 curved panes of glasses were applied on the flank. The 440 glass panes of differing sizes were manufactured in a factory in China, and, assembled onto a locally manufactured structure. The inner structure produced at a factory near Seoul was disassembled into 80 pieces and shipped to Jeju Island for reassembly. The structure was mainly divided into six strands, had a ventilation duct installed, with 48 duct pipes to respond to the outside air temperature, and, to maintain a consistent indoor temperature.


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