Retractable Motor Driven Sun Sails by SunSquare

For over twenty years the Austrian company SunSquare Kautzky has been creating shades for buildings and green spaces. One of their favorite challenges is the shading of complex glass structures. SunSquare works together with architects from an early stage on to find special solutions for integrating shading constructions into the structures of buildings.

The “Schauhaus” of the botanic garden in Grüningen, Switzerland, in 2012 was one of their most noteworthy projects. The IdA-Architects Stephan Buehrer and Martina Wuest supplemented the surrounding trees with a supporting structure of trunks and treetops made of steel, based on the Voronoi principle. The reduced shading system covers the tilted roof planes with a barely visible membrane and can be retracted when not needed.

Other interesting projects by Sun Square are presented in their corporate video.

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Superkilen: Copenhagen Park Project awarded

The district of Nørrebro is a multiethnic society in the northwest of the Danish capital Copenhagen. It is a vibrant place where many different cultures live peacefully next to each other. This quarter got the attention of architects, landscape designers and city planners all around the world: Its artistic refurbishment was awarded with the 2013 Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design by the American Institute of Architects.

Superkilen is a spectacular park project which was realized by the two architect companies BIG and Topotek 1 together with the artist group Superflex. The district has been divided into three zones, each with its own theme and color scheme. The square for markets, culture and sports is completely covered in shades of red. Streets, open spaces and house walls are shining in bright tones of pink, orange and crimson, turning a grey area into a lively dynamic spot. The zone with the most living areas is colored black with white lines winding through the streets. The largest part of the district is the green park area where hills and playgrounds invite families to spend their time.

There are one hundred different urban elements from over fifty countries placed throughout the whole district, for example a bench from Ethiopia, pipes from Israel and soil from Palestine. These everyday and free to use items are turned into exhibition pieces and represent the many different cultural heritages of the inhabitants.

The Jury of the American Institute of Architects commented on the award: “This project is a joy! This is not only original, but stunning to behold. It is noteworthy for its aesthetic approach, which is straightforwardly artificial rather than pretending to be natural.”

Superkilen is a city project which changed the looks of an otherwise very dull place into a vibrant and lighthearted area. It is cost effective and relatively easy to realize. The idea could be used as a model for other cities. 

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Green Buildings, Tropical Gardens

The exhibition ‘Green Buildings, Tropical Gardens’ in Berlins’s ifa Gallery focusses on South-East Asia, in particular Indonesia and Malaysia. In recent years, highly advanced and sophisticated projects have been built there, which are far from being architecture tied to investors’ interests. They show a new and innovative approach towards sustainable and landscape architecture. The presented architects, landscape architects and activists have each given their individual answer to the requirements of future-oriented buildings either in tropical rainforest or metropolitan areas.

The star architect Ken Yeang has a reputation as a pioneer in eco-architecture. He investigated in traditional Malaysian building typology in the early 1970s to develop his approach to sustainable architecture. Yeang set new standards for eco-architecture with his bioclimatic tower. The renowned landscape architect Ng Seksan is planning parks, gardens and public spaces that subtly merge with untouched, natural areas. The founders of the Green School in Bali, Indonesia, not only work with natural building materials, but with a holistic idea in mind – the concept of the harmony of ideas and practice with nature.

The exhibition will run from February 18, 2012 until March 10, 2013 in the ifa Gallery Berlin, Germany.

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Building Industry: Euroconstruct anticipates no growth – German Architects Optimistic

The international credit crunch has taken an increasing toll of the building industry, for which reason the European Building Industry’s trade association Euroconstruct has downsized its forecast for the coming months. For 2012 the association has reduced the growth forecast by –0.3 to –2.1 percent. The German building industry has likewise reduced its growth forecast from +1.8 percent to +0.4 percent. Industry activity is not set to grow again until 2014, but then by 1.7 percent. Even so, it will take several years for growth to exceed the level of 2008.

The Euroconstruct figures indicate that the only two countries whose building industry output has increased by more than two percent are Denmark and Norway, while Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK are all below two percent. But there is good news for German architects, who are generally in a positive mood. The regular survey of independent architects undertaken by the Ifo-Institut for the first quarter of this year indicates that their business is clearly improving. The last time the mood was this good was in the mid-1990s – in the final phase of Germany’s reunification boom.

The responding architects indicated that their current level of business was now considerably better than in the previous quarters. In particular, the number of architects who described their current position as ‘good’ had increased from 26 percent in the last quarter of 2011 to 45 percent in the first quarter of 2012. The Ifo Institut says this is a uniquely high quotient. At the same time, only one fifth of respondents described their current business levels as ‘bad’ (previous quarter 23 percent).

Even so, respondents said the anticipated level of business had hardly changed from one quarter to the next. The number of architects with an optimistic view declined by three percent from 17 to 14 percent – but at the same time the number of sceptical architects declined by two percent to 13 percent.

New Opening: Twixt Boulders and Mexican Vineyards — the ‘Endémico’

Breathtaking location: the first Design Hotels establishment was opened in late June and is located at the heart of Mexico’s Baja California region, nestling on the slope of a secluded hillside in the leading national wine district. The design of the Endémico — taken from the Spanish ‘endemic’ — is highly appropriate for the beauty of the surrounding unspoiled landscape: the emptiness and seclusion of the desert, and luxuriant vineyard slopes.

The exciting outcome was 20 luxury residential cubes blending seamlessly into their natural surroundings; with private terraces having an unobstructed view of the Valle de Guadalupe. At night, guests may warm themselves in front of a traditional Kivas clay hearth, imbibe the local wine and gaze at the stars. In the swimming pool, guests soak up the seclusion while drinking in the view.

The tasteful interior design of the residential cubes was inspired by the rustic bareness of the immediate surroundings. Furniture is simple, yet elegant; in addition to the minimalist fittings and furnishings, but not at the expense of modern comforts and luxury.

Mexico’s Hotelgruppe Grupo Habita is operated by hotelier partners Carlos Couturier and Moisés Micha, both active supporters of the environment, society, business and culture in the regions in which they build hotels. For example, the environmentally friendly residential Endémico cubes are held clear of the ground on stilts, minimising their impact on the soil and landscape. The cubes are made of Corten steel and wood, so structures weather as time goes by, and were erected by a team of regional craftsmen, in cooperation with Gracia Studio.

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