Reeform wants to bridge the gap between urban architecture and ocean sustainability

Designed as a series of modular islands that can transform any waterfront into a public space, Reeform aims at supporting life on land as well as underwater. A portmanteau of the words Reef and Form, the floating island comes with a two-part design. The upper half is designed as a hexagonal floating platform crafted entirely from recycled plastic, while a lower half bio-mimics the design of corals, using 3D printed concrete and calcite. As a result, both the upper and lower halves act as areas of interest for humans and marine life alike. Humans can use the modular platforms to create social spaces on water bodies like riverfronts, lakes, or pools, while the coral-inspired lower half helps reduce ocean acidification as well as promote the growth of live corals which in turn creates its own marine ecosystem, attracting fish and other underwater animals. It’s a win-win!

The Reeform builds on an ambitious attempt to save our marine ecosystems, which are dying due to rising sea temperatures and the plastic crisis. By resorting to biomimicry, much like Volvo’s attempts to save Sydney’s shoreline, Reeform tries to spur the growth of natural corrective systems that help keep our planet in balance.

Designers: Ching-Yi Lo, Chia-Yu Lee & Ting-Hsuan Yu.

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Twisting 810 degrees, this spiral tower provides unparalleled views of nature!

With a new decade ushering in, our disconnect with nature has grown even more profound and prominent. However, there are certain designers and architects going out of their way to renew this precious connect. Amidst the mountains of Shenzhen stands a spiral staircase twisting gloriously at 810 degrees. Designed by studio Doarchi, ‘The Tower of Spiral’ intricately weaves around a compact irrigation pool used to irrigate the surrounding fields of flowers.

Designer: Studio Doarchi

More like a sculptural masterpiece, the tower resides in a high-lying area, simple yet imposing. Ascending towards the sky, visitors can access 15 meters of the tower through a series of twisting stairs.

With views of the surrounding mountains, fields, and galleries of sunflowers, the visitors feel more in tune with nature than ever.

Stick your head out and peek inwards, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the reflecting pool. The irrigation pool provides surreal reflections of the visitors and the massive sky above them.

“We need a natural place to clear up the melancholy mood in busy urban life,” said Doarchi. “The site is located in a high-lying area, with a pool reserved for irrigation.” Doarchi even went ahead to say that the tourists, tower, and earth all integrate at this location.

White PTEE film and tensioned metal mesh form the majority of the structure, coming together to form an impressive spiral. LED strip lights cover the edge of the spiral.

The top resembles a gaping mouth, being left open to allow a fresh breeze to encompass the entire structure.

Walking up peacefully to the top of the tower gives a glimpse of the beautiful nature all around, providing us with a moment of rest from our busy urban lives and solidifying our connection with nature.

Researchers create bone-inspired 3D-printed building materials

You may not think of your bones as buildings, but researchers do. A team from Cornell University, Purdue University and Case Western Reserve University believes that by studying the internal structure of bones, they may be able to 3D-print stronger c...

Inspired by a pleated skirt, this concept concert house has a connection with fashion!

Munich’s eastern neighborhood of Weksviertel, near the Ostbahnhof train station, has always been an extremely industrial area, corporate in origin. The German Federal State of Bavaria issued a competition in an attempt to integrate a bit of culture into the neighborhood and to transform it into a prospective arts center with a prime focus on music and theatre. The competition included designs for two concert halls seating 1,800 and 600 individuals respectively, a music school, a restaurant, and office spaces. Revolving majorly around the concert hall, the competition saw entries for the auditorium flying in from around the world with designers such as Cukrowicz Nachbaur Architekten, 3XN, Henning Larsen Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects, Mecanoo, Christ & Gantenbein participating. Though Cukrowicz Nachbaur Architekten’s design won, we must say Copenhagen based 3XN’s design for the Konzerthaus München caught our eye!

Designer: Kim Herforth Nielsen of 3XN

3XN’s design came in 4th place amongst 42 entries and was highly praised for it’s ‘strong aesthetic effect’ by the jury. At first glance, it looks like a piece of white cloth has been enswathed upon the structure, giving an impression of a ‘thrown cloth’. However, the architectural concept has a deeper connection with fashion. 3XN’s Konzerthaus has been inspired by ‘pleated skirts’, and indeed when you look carefully, the curving white panels comprising the structure bring to mind an image of the neat little pleats found on these types of skirts.

The Konzerthaus rises in the center like a wave, or a tiny hillock, creating an imposing entrance, encouraging the theatrics of the theater!

The wave-like aesthetic continues within the interiors, with the sinuous curves acting as seating areas/platforms for the audience.

Though 3XN’s design has a harmonious and lithe appeal to it, there were a few shortcomings that prevented it from coming in first place. Since all the three main buildings have been placed at the same level, the judges felt this would create an intense concentration of visitors in the foyer area. The positioning of the imposing entrance, which faces residential buildings and a school, also posed an issue.

A 4th runner up, 3XN’s Konzerthaus München is a design that merges architecture and fashion, to give birth to a structure that seems to flow seamlessly, while issuing a very calming effect on the eye.

Called Ghost House, this sunken home is only partially visible!

Embedded within the interiors of a quaint little village called Moreton Paddock in Warwickshire, on the grounds of a demolished country home, lies the ‘Ghost House’. Pass by it too swiftly, and you might even miss it. But then that was the entire thought behind its construction. Built by BPN Architects, the house radiates an ‘ethereal presence’ and has us intrigued!

Designer: BPN Architects

The house is embedded within the ground, with the majority of it below ground level, creating an exceedingly private space that can only be seen partially from the street. The sunken structure is devoid of any columns, with three retaining walls surrounding it.

A reflecting pool welcomes you at the entrance, with stairs leading you down to a  sleek black door, creating an aura of mystery.

Built entirely from in-situ concrete, with impressive floor-to-ceiling windows, the house consists of a living and dining room, several bedrooms, bathrooms, and an impressive cinema room as well!

The work of Tado Ando was a huge inspiration resulting in a combination of ample in-situ concrete and black detailing, to create a structure with an otherworldly presence.

“You get a glimpse of the property and get a feeling that there is far more to it than you can initially see,” explained the client. “The name also relates to the transparent beauty of the build both through its use of glass and the reflections from the pools.” And truly one look at the Ghost House and your interest will be highly piqued. You can’t help but get curious about such a symmetrical and private structure. I wouldn’t mind a Ghost House of my own, a chance to get away from the bustling city life!

A whale-inspired structure at the ocean’s edge designed to watch the majestic creatures!

185 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the tip of the island Andøya, lies the quaint little town Andenes. Venture a little more, and you’ll find Bleiksdjupa, the deep-sea valley where migrating whales pass by, qualifying the area as one of the best locations in the world for catching a glimpse of the exquisite marine mammal. Whales are one of my favorite cetaceans; big, beautiful and always minding their own business. And to “create awareness and inspire learning and conservation of whales and their environment”, the Danish studio Dorte Mandrup will be building ‘The Whale’, a new visitor attraction in northern Norway. “Rising as a soft hill on the rocky shore– as if a giant had lifted a thin layer of the crust of the earth and created a cavity underneath”, The Whale is a perfect example of the seamless integration that can take place between architectural structures and their surrounding environment.

Designer: Dorte Mandrup

Recently The Whale AS held an international competition, wherein reputed architectural firms like BIG, Reiulf Ramstad and Snohetta took part. Beating 37 teams, and surpassing four pre-qualified ones, Dorte Mandrup was hailed as the winner. Borre Beglund, CEO of The Whale AS said, “The project from Dorte Mandrup is a clear winner and meets the competition criteria in the best way. It is poetic and low-key and at the same time a very exciting and unusual building.” Amongst the hills, mountain tops and curvaceous landscapes of Andøya, The Whale will be a perfect fit.

Resembling it’s namesake, the roof of The Whale curves like the backside of a whale hurtling through the ocean. The structure merges harmoniously with it’s surrounding rugged landscape, and emerges from it to provide breathtaking views of the ocean. The curved rooftop capped with stones rises majestically into the sky, a natural extension of the landscape, allowing visitors to walk on it with unparalleled views of passing whales, the ocean, the midnight sun, and even the iconic northern lights!

Three high points on the site characterize the roof, whereas the interiors will consist of offices, exhibition spaces, a store, and a café. Parabolic in nature, the space will be completely column-free, creating an expansive and self-supporting structure. With 50,000 visitors coming to Andenes almost every year, The Whale will only attract more tourists who want to indulge in some whale watching.

“Located this far North, Andøya is a unique place and The Whale an extraordinary project. Not only will we be creating architecture in yet another remarkable landscape, but we will also take part in increasing the understanding of whales and the preservation of marine life. Right here on the edge of the ocean, we will be making a mark in a magnificent and ancient landscape. This opportunity comes with a great responsibility, which is extremely motivating and inspiring.” says Dorte Mandrup. Tasked with the responsibility of creating an organic contemporary wonder, the firm is also excited to be doing their bit for the conservation of such a magnificent marine creature. The building might be low-key and subtle, with simplicity interwoven in it’s every brick, but only such a piece could truly commemorate the graceful whale. Opening to the public in 2022, The Whale is the result of the efforts of Dorte Mandrup in collaboration with Marianne Levinsen Landscape and consultants JAC Studio, Thornton Tomasetti, Niels Øien and Anders Kold.

This luxurious house-boat hopes to help humans survive the rising-sea-level crisis

While our ultimate goal as a species is to prevent sea levels from rising and drowning civilizations, there is a slight concern about how we would survive in this dystopic impending future. Poland-based Wojciech Morsztyn designed the Ocean Community, an ocean-based domestic habitat (I’d call it a yacht, but that wouldn’t really be accurate) that lets humans essentially live and form colonies at sea.

The idea of the Ocean Community vessel is to extend a city’s coastline. By existing not more than 800 meters from the coast of a city, the dwellers of the Ocean Community can easily make their way to the city to access facilities and enjoy a normal city life before heading back to their sea-based home. “The creation of these new structures will serve as fully functional living spaces connected with existing land infrastructure so that new ocean communities become a natural extension of coastal cities”, says Morsztyn, designer of the Ocean Community concept. The vessels will also rely on the abundance of sun, water, and wind to harness energy, helping them live off the coast but also off the electric grid. With two levels and a beautiful panoramic view of the sea (as well as the coastline of the nearby city), the Ocean Community could also be an extension of hotels and resorts, wanting to offer their customers with a novel experience.

The Ocean Community is a winner of the Red Dot Design Concept Award for the year 2019.

Designer: Wojciech Morsztyn

A spiraling stack of books that houses a bridge and a museum!

Spanning 15,000 square-feet, sprawling across the beautiful Randselva river, in northern Europe’s largest sculptural park stands ‘The Twist’. Twirling through the air and combining two riverbanks, The Twist is “a hybrid spanning several traditional categories: It’s a museum, it’s a bridge, it’s an inhabitable sculpture,” says Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner & Creative Director, BIG. Situated at the Kistefos Sculpture Park in Jevnaker, Norway, the project was first proposed in 2011 by the Bjarke Ingels Group and now in 2019, it is a striking reality.

Designer: Bjarke Ingels Group

Visitors can walk across The Twist to complete their entire tour of the sculptural park, while also admiring it for the independent, one of a kind attraction it is. Bjarke Ingels said in a press release, “As a bridge it [The Twist] reconfigures the sculpture park turning the journey through the park into a continuous loop. As a museum, it connects two distinct spaces—an introverted vertical gallery and an extraverted horizontal gallery with panoramic views across the river. A third space is created through the blatant translation between these two galleries creating the namesake twist.”

With entries at both sides of the bridge, it provides endless possibilities of exploration. The varied types of daylight entering through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows create three distinctive galleries with diverse aesthetics. On the northern side, you have a naturally lit, open-spaced and breathy gallery with panoramic views of the beautiful landscape and the sculptural park. At the southern end, you enter a long, dimly-lit gallery, accessorized with artificial lighting. And in the middle, you have a sculptural space created out of straight aluminum panels, arranged ‘like a stack of books’, the reason behind the structure’s given name.

“The Twist has been an extremely complex building to construct, yet the result is simple and striking,” says David Zahle, a partner at BIG. “From an array of straight elements, the museum was constructed in an industrial manner as both a piece of infrastructure and as a building reflecting its natural surroundings. As you approach The Twist, you start to notice the museum reflecting the trees, the hills, and the water below, constantly glimmering and changing its appearance in dialogue with nature.”

Kistefos Sculpture Park showcases a variety of tremendous site-specific works by artists such as Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Fernando Botero and etc. The Twist, serving as a natural extension to the park, only adds on to the thriving artistic collection that is already present there. Possessing a futuristic, otherworldly appeal, and spiraling like a deck of cards in the air, The Twist ‘twists’ into an impossible form, providing exquisite views of the park, while being a sight to see in itself.

This zero-emission holiday cabin assembles like a puzzle!

Nowadays almost anything and everything is eco-friendly and sustainable, so why not our vacation getaways? Inspired by this ideology, Finnish designer Robin Falck created an A-frame mirrored holiday house, ‘Nolla’. Literally meaning ‘zero’ in Finnish, Nolla was designed by Falck for Finnish renewable energy company Neste’s ‘Journey to Zero’ campaign, in an effort to build a world with minimal emissions. Functioning entirely on renewable energy, the cabin is located on the Vallisaari island, near Helsinki. It has been built entirely using sustainable materials such as local plywood and pine. In an attempt to encourage visitors to maintain a ‘zero waste lifestyle’, every element has been designed with the hope of not leaving behind any carbon footprint. Covered by mirrors and supported by wooden stilts, it excludes modern commodities. Nolla is powered by emission-free solar panels, and a Wallas stove that runs on Neste’s MY renewable diesel is provided for heating and cooking purposes. There is no indoor bathroom facility, but outdoor dry toilets are available at the Vallisaari port. Fresh water is also available there!

Designer: Robin Falck

“The culture of repairing things is disappearing, and we’re quick to buy a replacement rather than fix what we already have – but that’s not a very sustainable way of living,” Falck said. “I find modern-day helplessness and the inability to make things with our own hands slightly scary, so I wanted to make the cabin easily repairable and thus give it an infinite number of life cycles.” Hence he adopted a ‘cradle to cradle structure’, wherein the mobile cabin can be assembled, disassembled and transported without the use of any heavy machinery.

Held together by screws, the cabin can be opened and put back together like a puzzle! (not to mention it’s built entirely from timber) This ensures that the cabin can be transported and erected on any terrain, without disturbing the surrounding environment, and also leaves eco-systems exactly the way they were found!

“The cottage represents an alternative lifestyle without the hassle of modern amenities,” Falck explains. “It represents an approach to living where the focus is more on what lays on the outside of a dwelling, rather than within…most importantly, the cabin enables life in the realm of nature, from which I feel people have become alienated.”

In a world where nature has been sidelined, Falck has put in his all to create a relaxing getaway, with a much-needed opportunity to connect with nature! Having lived in the cabin himself to test the structure, Falck commented “that a place the size of a tent is all we really need for living” and I couldn’t agree more! In 2019 when innovations and complexity are running the world, is it such a bad idea to take a step back and immerse ourselves in some Earthly simplicity? I think not!

The home icon comes to life in this one of a kind holiday home!

Are you tired of your usual work-filled hectic days? Are you dying for a vacation like the rest of us? Are you ready to sprint away from the hustle-bustle of the city and jump right into the cozy comforts of Mother Nature? Well, designer Alexander Nerovnya understands our hidden needs perfectly! Located on a slight incline at the edge of a forest, Nerovnya’s secluded and spacious vacation home YORK house is the ultimate get-away we have all been crossing our fingers for!

In adherence to his design philosophy, Nerovnya uses bare geometrical shapes in an unusual and unique manner, and this time he decided to make “a common gable roof” the star of the structure. Functioning as a beautiful holiday destination for huge groups of friends and family, YORK house comprises a three-storey structure, incorporating four bedrooms with individual bathrooms, that can accommodate up to eight people or more. Each bedroom provides a serene view of the stunning outdoor surroundings, amped by the fact that the house is located on an inclined edge. Waking up to rays of the sun pouring into your bedroom and the view of the forest to bid you goodnight sounds like heaven on earth to me! The panoramic glass doors and windows slide effortlessly, merging the interiors of the house with its exteriors. Not to mention the multi-leveled terraces allow you to saunter out for a breath of fresh air without actually leaving the premises of the home.

The central building structure divides the house into two solitary sections, and this is where the common gable roof comes in, functioning as a uniting factor and providing a ‘homely’ feeling to the vacation house. The white outline running throughout the framework of the house makes it look like a comical sketch or the home icon! Looking like it’s stepped right out of a children’s fairytale book, Nerovnya’s YORK house is truly the holiday home of my dreams. I’ll be packing my backpacks soon, what about you?

Designer: Alexander Nerovnya