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INES Innovation Center

INES Innovation Center

Pezo von Ellrichshausen
Concepción, Chile

An innovation center designed by Pezo von Ellrichshausen at the Collao Campus of University of Bío-Bío in Concepción, Chile.

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Photos: © Pezo von Ellrichshausen

When resources are scarce, intensity compensates for high performance (because there seems to be a deep gap between ingeniousness and intelligence). Any project is a reaction to its circumstances. This is an apparently simple and regular building with an unexpected and exaggerated interior. It is the world of innovation; an open space that translates the creative processes of academic practice, that sequential development of formal research or the reversible and multiple dimension of informal knowledge. The building acknowledges the need for polarizing the innovation time in at least two moments:

A creative experience based on a social, collective and integrated realm, and another individual, intimate and solitary experience. The spatial structure is based on these two conditions. On the one hand there is an open core that establishes a series of vertically interconnected halls, with a circular void that reduces its size upon ascension. On the other, private working spaces occupy the corners, in a quarter of a circle whose center pivots around every edge, growing inversely proportional to the central voids. The space promotes the dynamics of a non-categorized work (or with changing positions) between professors, students, researchers, etc.

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Helfštýn Castle

Helfštýn Castle

Atelier-R
Moravia, Czech Republic

A walk through the ruins of Helfštýn Castle that fuses past and present.

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Photos: © BoysPlayNice

Standing high above the Moravian Gate valley is Helfštýn Castle, the second largest in the Czech Republic, after Prague Castle. Helfštýn was established in the 14th century. In 2014, the ruins of the Renaissance palace were in such a state of decay that they were closed down. Olomouc Region, which owns the monument, initially planned for its reconstruction and the design of a new roof. The National Heritage Institute opposed this, insisting instead on preserving the site as a ruin, giving the green light to only a part of the roof and putting a limit to its height: no higher than the perimetral walls of the complex. The Czech office Atelier-R proposed an intervention grounded on a dialogue between the historical building and contemporary architecture, and aspiring to aesthetic lure without forgoing functionality.

To immerse visitors in an experience approaching the castle’s original essence, a path is provided through the gaps in the ruins, connecting the bottom to the upper levels. Three different materials are used, each one in a different space: glass on steel beams on the roof, placed between the ruined walls of five of the rooms so that one can see the sky; CorTen steel for the footbridges that make up the promenade; and polished concrete to shape a ground-level web of platforms and paths. The project takes pains to preserve the true character of Helfštýn. The castle now has a scenic route enabling visitors to learn the history of the place and enjoy the views.

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Alava House

Avala House

TEN Studio
Belgrade, Serbia

Architecture and artisanship in dialogue. A house on Mount Avala born out of collaboration between the owner and TEN Studio.

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© Milos Martinovic

A craftsman contacted TEN studio for the design and construction of the Avala House, which overlooks the countryside close to Belgrade, Serbia. It is presented as a case study of how sufficiency-based design can yield an optimal form for living. The owner prescribed as a condition that he be allowed an active role in the execution of the project, to which he contributed through constructional know-how and the specification of local materials. The house is organized by a grid frame measuring 16 x 16 meters, with an interior cut-out of 9.6 x 9.6 meters, and is set over sloping terrain, opening out to the landscape. In settling the matter of grade differences, the steel structure is fixed to only three points of support:

on one side directly to the ground, and at the other end to two boulder-like concrete volumes which include an outdoor garden staircase and a garden bathroom. Each side of the house is executed differently – with different surface materials (hanging net, sheet steel, pre-cast concrete, and open frame) – in order to create a variation of atmospheres with the steel structure itself and its movable elements: pivoting doors that, when adjusted, completely transform the space, which expands from 50 m2 to 156 m2 with views of the surroundings, thanks to the connection with the terraces. The interior is conceived with an unobstructed space connected to the other rooms and dividing the sleeping from the communal area by means of floor-to-ceiling curtains.

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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Relja Ivanic
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© Relja Ivanic
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© Milos Martinovic
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Maxime Delvaux
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© Relja Ivanic
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David Brownlow Theatre

David Brownlow Theatre

Jonathan Tuckey Design
Newbury, England

An auditorium, an open-air amphitheater and a large billboard in a theater built from wood and Viroc panels.

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© Nick Dearden

Jonathan Tuckey Design is a London architectural studio with an international reputation known for working with existing buildings and structures. It combines contemporary design with built heritage to explore the ways in which new and old can co-exist and benefit from each other. This theatre for Horris Hill School in Newbury, a town in the county of Berkshire, England, is built with cross laminated timber (CLT) and Viroc composite panels – with a mix of wood fibers and cement particles – whose reddish tones resemble those of the brick facades of surrounding buildings.

A result of an invitational competition held in 2016, the project encompasses 528 square meters and presents three principal elements: an auditorium seating 160, an open-air amphitheater; and a portico framing the main entrance and serving as a billboard announcing the shows. Inside, the structure is left visible to the eye, and grayish acoustic boards alternate with beechwood strips. The polished black Viroc floor is cut in a pattern that recalls the stone pavements of Renaissance churches. Outside school hours, the new theater will open to the local community.

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© Nick Dearden
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© Jim Stephenson
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© Jim Stephenson
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© Jim Stephenson
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© Nick Dearden
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© Jim Stephenson
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© Nick Dearden
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© Jim Stephenson
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Imperial Kiln Museum in Jingdezhen

Imperial Kiln Museum in Jingdezhen

Studio Zhu-Pei
Jingdezhen, China

Studio Zhu-Pei designs in Jingdezhen a composition of brick vaults based on the traditional forms of the ceramic kilns of the Chinese emperors.

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© Schran Image

Considered the cradle of pottery and porcelain, the city of Jingdezhen – in northeastern China’s Jiangxi province – has been tied to the ceramic industry since the 5th century, when the first craft workshops cropped up that would become the kilns of the emperors. A work of the Beiking practice of Zhu Pei, the museum is located close to the Imperial Kiln Ruins. The composition of brick vaults of varying size, curvature, and length takes inspiration from the traditional oven form, delicately merging with the remains, some of which were unearthed during construction. The concrete structures are clad with masonry walls where new bricks are combined with recycled ones salvaged from the triennial demolitions necessary for kilns to keep their thermal performance up to standard.

Reuse of bricks is ingrained in local building tradition. The museum’s arched forms continue below street level. This gives the building the flexibility to adapt to a complicated site and downscale in height with respect to the surrounding historical constructions. In turn, the way it is inserted into the terrain creates a series of intimate spaces in the interplay between inside and outside, lights and shadows. The different areas are laid out around five courtyards that vary in size and are based on different elements of matter (gold, wood, water, fire, and earth), reflecting ancient Chinese thought while establishing associations with techniques of making porcelain.

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©Tian Fangfang
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©Tian Fangfang
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Studio Zhu-Pei
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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© Studio Zhu-Pei
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© Zhang Qinquan
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© Schran Image
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© Schran Image
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Rec House

Rec House

Guallart Architects
Igualada, Spain

Two old buildings in an Igualada neighborhood have been emptied and refurbished with local materials to form a residence and an office.

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Photos: © Adrià Goula

The firm Guallart Architects has renovated a small old textile factory and a dwelling, two late-19th-century buildings in the Rec neighborhood of Igualada, near Barcelona. The area is currently undergoing a transition from industrial zone – revolving around its leather tanning tradition – to a creative quarter open to cultural, artistic, and gastronomic events. The facade presents different materials that reflect the historical construction phases, and incorporates a mural designed by the artist Btoy in the cultural spirit of Rec. Inside, the architects opted to remove walls, slabs, patios, and pillars through demolition, reinforcement, and recycling, with the intention of freeing up space for a home and an office.

In the residence, the space that emerges on ground level, diaphanous and executed with local materials, rises two heights and is dominated by bookshelves and a fireplace. The upper levels accommodate the rest of the private program: one for the children’s bedrooms and another for the master bedroom, with its floor made of wood recycled from demolished beams. The same procedure has been carried out in the offices of the annexed building, creating a workplace on each of the three floors and emphasizing material austerity.

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TaoCang Art Center

TaoCang Art Center

Roarc Renew
Jiaxing, China

Roarc Renew transforms two old granaries into an art center surrounded by a lotus landscape in Jiaxing, China.

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Photos: © Wen Studio

On marshland where lotus plants abound, a pair of mid-20th-century granaries that were in disuse have been brought back to life as a 2,448-square-meter art exhibition gallery, thanks to a project carried out by the Shanghai-based firm Roarc Renew. In their own words: “We do believe with great certainty that the essential feature of a renewing project compared to a newly-built project is “conforming to the original energy field of the construction”. The soul of every renewing project is to find out the hidden flow and go with it. It is as if the bright moon cannot be seen before clouds move away.

Certainly, the first thing is to identify which cloud should move away and how to move it away”. Two long corridors, added for auxiliary and circulation purposes, stretch in parallel to the existing constructions, which have not suffered internal changes, and make the gesture of converging in the central void that separates them, completing the axial composition. As in the original sheds, the facades use traditional brick masonry, while the interior shows a reinterpretation of the rhythm of structural frames, with concrete arches defining a series of continuous flexible spaces.

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Gare Maritime Brussels

Gare Maritime Brussels

Neutelings Riedijk Architects
Brussels, Belgium

A small wooden city inside Gare Maritime in Brussels, designed by Neutelings Riedijk Architecs.

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© Filip Dujardin

Gare Maritime in Brussels, once Europe’s largest station for merchandise trains, is now a covered mini-city with mixed uses: workspaces, shopping, and relaxing public space. Neutelings Riedijk Architects envisioned the complex as a city district in its own right, ‘a city where it never rains’ under an impressive steel room. The original building dates back to the early 20th century. Inside, now, are twelve pavilions that create a new urban structure of streets, boulevards, parks, and squares. The central space is freed up to provide a venue for different public events, and taking inspiration from Barcelona’s Ramblas, it connects on both sides with the boulevards.

There is room enough for ten gardens based on four themes: forest, flowers, grass, and fragrances. The Brussels artist Henri Jacobs designed the eight mosaics for the squares. Gare Maritime also stands out for its sustainable design: mainly built with cross laminated timber (this is the largest CLT work in Europe), it much reduced the quantity of cement needed, and the time required for assembly was minimized by the use of prefabricated pieces.

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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Sarah Blee
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Filip Dujardin
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© Sarah Blee
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© Filip Dujardin
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Revitalization of Prague’s Riverfront

Revitalization of Prague’s Riverfront

petrjanda/brainwork
Prague, Czech Republic

The first phase of an initiative to revitalize cultural and social activity on the banks of the Moldau River, Prague’s spine.

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Photos: © BoysPlayNice

In 2019, after ten years of work, the architecture firm Petrjanda/Brainwork finished restoring part of the banks of the Vltava River. The idea was to revive social and cultural activity in the zone, which has been in disuse, abused as a parking lot, since the 2002 floods. The riverside of the Czech capital is a symbolic area that functions as a backbone from which the city spreads, connecting it to the river on both sides. Phase one of the project, covering 4 kilometers, focused on reconstructing 20 vaulted chambers inserted within the stone wall.

These serve different purposes (bar, cafés, gallery, club, workshop, etc.) and every one of them maximizes contact with the Vltava. The interior design addresses the context of the place and follows a scheme of modular diversity: each space experiments with minimalism, distilling the original forms in pursuit of new opportunities to make the most of them, and offering a detailed base of installations with a bar that can be repositioned in many ways.

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Office in Sanno

Office in Sanno

Velocity Studio
Aichi, Japan

A curved wooden roof is the distinctive feature of an office built by Velocity Studio in the Japanese city of Okazaki.

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Photos: ©Velocity Studio

Velocity Studio has designed an office in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. The project’s distinctiveness lies in its pillars, so slender that they belie the weight they bear, and in its roof, a fine curved lamina of cypress wood that spans the entire breadth of the building, a friendly-looking construction with the dimensions of the typical one-family dwelling in a Japanese residential neighborhood. Its unique dish shape brings natural light in through height changes, and creates the right kind of space for a high-density residential area.

The curved ends envelop the user and provide a degree of privacy upstairs, a roof terrace intended as a resting area. The diaphanous interior was achieved through an exhaustive study of the flexibility of wood, the properties of which were optimized in order to obtain a curved form without the structural elements standing out. Because it was hard to calculate the resistance of the wood with precision, a greater safety coefficient was applied to each piece, resulting in a light structure that could bear the weight of 150 people, maximum, at once.

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