SticKs: A Kindergarten in the Park

Appropriately titled “SticKs”, this modern wooden modular structure is French architectural design firm Djuric Tardio’s vision of a miniature kindergarten. Shaped like a modern rendition of the tipi, the designs are meant to be installed in parks throughout the Parisian metropolis. “Why build kindergartens in city parks?”, you might ask. Djuric Tardio created the design in response to a lack of quality kindergartens in Paris, a problem compounded by the city’s prohibitive permitting requirements. Djuric Tardio have proposed building a series of similar three-story low-impact “nurseries,” as the studio refers to them, that will each support the care of up to twelve children.

Each SticK will be built in a park, taking advantage of a public space that is generally unused during the weekday, when the rest of the city is at work. According to the studio’s design, each nursery will include bio-climatic technologies to promote energy efficient climate control. The large windows and spacious rooms will take advantage of natural lighting. The first story of each structure is primarily a reception and kitchen area. The second is used for teaching and play-space. The top of the structure is an open-air terrace for people to enjoy. The simple, low-impact design is intended for easy, low-cost mass-production, and you can certainly argue that the structure would be quite interesting to see tucked away in a city park. On a more poetic note, urban children will be given the opportunity to make some of their earliest memories among these pockets of nature.

Djuric Tardio via Inhabitat

Lugo History Museum: A Collusion of Nature, Industry, and Design

When the minds from Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos imagined the landscape of the Lugo History Museum in Spain, they did not want to see a sprawling parking lot. In fact, they did not want to see a behemoth building either. The designers wanted to achieve a unique and energy efficient structure that would celebrate the landscape while still functioning as a museum. The solution was to go underground.


The museum’s parking lot, along with most of the museum itself, is buried beneath the grassy landscape.  According to the architects themselves, “It may well seem awkward to assimilate architecture into landscape, but this is one of the cases in which we would like to think that the relationship between the two is more than a set phrase. We propose a museum-park or a park-museum, which will be linked to the sequence of green areas in the city, hiding the parking areas underground and emerging in a constellation of cylindrical lanterns scattered throughout a continuous green field.” This approach prevents cars from littering the surrounding views and greatly improves the energy efficiency of the Lugo Museum.

And just because much of the building is underground does not mean the designers are going to let you forget that it is even there: weathered steel structures cylinders contrast the rolling green to create a dramatic site. The steel buildings are reached using a spiral staircase that takes you beneath the ground as far as the subterranean parking lot.

The museum’s Visitor Center is situated on a single floor that is illuminated by the large circular courtyards into which it looks. The museum’s outdoor exhibits are wrapped in a thin metal mesh that can be fashion with solar panels and nighttime lighting. The potential for renewable energy along with the energy efficient construction makes the Lugo Museum a model for green design. It is hard to imaging that the site was one a bustling industrial zone.

All images credited to Fernando Alda. More photographs of this project can be found on his website.



All images credited to Fernando Alda. More photographs of this project can be found on his website.

Via dezeen

Villa Welpeloo: A Salvaged Home

There is more to this ultra-modern home than first meets the eye.  Named the Villa Welpeloo, this eco-home is located in Enschede, The Netherlands. The home’s creators went to great lengths to assure that the project made a clear statement of utility and sustainability. While the beautiful design and natural look are sure to catch the eye of passersby, the most significant characteristic of this home is that it is constructed from almost entirely salvaged materials. To decrease the carbon footprint even more, all the materials were sourced within a nine mile radius of where the home now stands. Through a process the architects call recyclicity (rather than the more commonly used term of salvaging), 60% of the exterior and nearly 90% of the interior are composed of reused and repurposed materials. For the construction industry, that is an incredible accomplishment made possible only by the environmentally conscious minds of its creators.

In many ways, the designing and building of Villa Welpeloo was done backwards. The architects started off with a giant heap of scrap materials from local factories and warehouses and then went about building a structure that best utilized the resources. The team also used maps from Google Earth to locate any abandoned lots or building near the build site in the hopes of finding reusable materials. The efforts paid off and Villa Welpeloo’s exterior is covered with wooden boards salvaged from 600 cable reels that were heat-treated to better weatherize them and maintain their integrity. The home’s framing is comprised of steel taken from abandoned machinery in an old textile mill; turning old into new again.

The interior design certainly lives up to the goal of sustainability and repurposing by turning old advertising signs into cabinets and broken umbrella spokes into low-voltage lighting. Sunlight provides most of the buildings lighting and walkout decks invite occupants to live both inside and outside of the home. The villa is a beautiful achievement and a perfect example of how reusing building materials can reduce the waste in landfills and our demand for natural resources. Personality and creativity can turn the abandoned buildings of the past into the structures of the future.

2012Architects via Inhabitat

Shipping Container Architecture: Contentainer

Old shipping containers are becoming a more and more popular feature in modern architecture. I cannot confidently say whether this is done in the spirit of reuse and recycling, if the containers offer a cheap building material, or if they simply make for good attention grabbers. The Indonesian firm dpavilion architects has certainly put their supply of shipping containers to good and creative use. The building shown is titled Contertainer, and is “an amalgam of two words: container and entertainer. From its outer look, at a glance one can see an architectural form made of several brightly painted containers–red, yellow, blue and light green–in attractive position and composition, thus forming a contertainer.” You get the idea pretty quickly that the people at pdavilion are trying to make a statement with their work. The firm’s manifesto begins with a strong but simple statement: “Architecture is Dead.”

The Contentainer, located in Batu, East Java Province of Indonesia, is meant to be a place of social gathering and contains a clinic and library. The architects describe the driving motivation behind their project on dpavilion blog:

“Along with the development of Indonesian towns and cities, aside from the rise of wealth, there is also a widening gap between the haves and the have nots. The have nots get more and more marginalized, their access to educational and health care services becomes more obscure, due to the increase of related fees. Such is an effect of global economy system, which mechanism is akin to the law of the jungle. This contertainer is a social attempt to entertain lower class people through free library access and health care service, so they would be able to have a better living quality amidst the fast-moving world.”

The message of the blog begins with the very practical and meaningful discussion that I would expect from a professional company, but very quickly it changes to the abstract kind of description that I always find interesting yet often nonsensical:

“A container has dynamic nature, it moves and shifts, yet it also transformed into static, unshifting architectural being. To force a container to remain still, is seemingly against its dynamic nature. Yet the designers celebrate its dynamic form through a twisted, non-linear composition. This is enhanced with supporting columns placed uncongruently, making the contertainer enjoys its dynamism.”

“The contertainer is also a parody, the dichotomy of architecture as a place for activities (which considers human scale) and as expression (expressing emotion and  the will of artist), the contertainer exhibits containers of goods as containing human beings. We may ponder upon this: how important is human being for architecture? How un-important is human being for architecture?”

If I were to design a building that looked like this and was asked to explain why I chose to do things as I did, I’m sure I would disappoint many in the architectural design community by responding that “I though it looked cool that way.”

dpavilion via TreeHugger