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Friday 21 October 2011

The Patient Gardener

An invitation as guest teachers by Politecnico di Milano for their week-long workshop MIAW2.
The workshop, playing with the metaphor of forests, aimed to generate new visions to explain the contemporary and immediate future ways of being in the spirit of green design, resilience, recycling, and ethical consciousness.
Our intention with the project was to construct a study retreat at the campus with patience as the main key for the design. If we can be patient with the building time we can reduce the need for transportation, waste of material and different manufacturing processes, simply by helping nature grow in a more architectonic and useful way. The final result can be enjoyed at Politecnico di Milano in about 60 years from now.

During the workshop we gave nature all the guidance and directions to help it grow into useful structures and objects.
There are different methods and tools to guide and control the growth of trees and plants; bending, twisting, pruning, grafting, braiding, weaving and to control the amount of water and light the trees get are just some examples of these.
We used almost all of these techniques in our creation, which involved creating a structural system for the building and also stairs and furnitures, all made out of trees, plants or grass.

Our structural frame for this project became ten japanese cherry trees that was planted in a circle with a diameter of eight meters with a six meter high temporary wood structure in the center that is acting as a guidance tower for the growing structure.
The trees were planted with an equal spacing from each other, except for four of them that became two pairs of stairs to the future upper level.
The cherry trees was ideal to plant at that time of year and also had great features for achieving the desired structure. Thin ropes were tied around the plants and were slightly bent towards the temporary tower.
As time passes the trees will form a dome when they reach the tower, and then designated by to change its direction so the final form will be an hourglass, a suiting shape for the project and also a very practical form as we now have two rooms with different modes in the building.

The small branches on the plants that will grow into stairs are guided with wires to each other and will hopefully be useful later on. The rest of the stairs can later be grafted in the stair trees.
On the ground level we designed furniture out of grass, trees and plants.
There are a dining group consisting of a table with four chairs.
The chairs are plum trees where one sit at the lowest fork and the branches are guided into canopies so the future visitor can sit in the chair while at the same time eating delicious fruits.

The table is made out of slender wooden pieces with strings in the structure, which forms a skeleton where hedras can grow and later take over the structure completely.
A comfortable chair made out of grass are located on the other side of the ground floor.
The grass chair is put togethe
r with the use of a custom made cardboard structure, shaped for maximal relaxation and that is painted with a protection coating and that is later filled with soil on site and draped with grass. 

A grass puff is also made and placed in the tower where the floor of the upper level will be.
The puff is a big potato bag filled with straw, soil, fertilizer and grass seed.
An organic rope is placed with a third of its length inside the bag, and the bag is later sewn together.
The rest of the rope is placed in water so the puff gets water and will later be covered in grass, so when the trees finally reaches this level and becomes the floor, it will already be furnished.

Together with the students we worked out a maintenance plan and instructions to future gardeners that is simple enough to actually work.
On the structure, we instructed that a pattern of wood will be grafted in, leaving two spaces between the trees as entries/exits and the rest is closed in ornamental patterns with branches.
On the upper level which is reached by the two staircases with exquisite handrails, is different fruit trees grafted into the cherry trees so the visitor can have a variety of fruits while relaxing in the canopy. Branches are also grafted in for security reasons between the tree trunks.
In about 80 years from now the Politecnico di Milano campus will have a fully grown building and the students will hopefully have proud grandchildren that can tell the story of the project for their friends and family.

Many thanks to our excellent students:
Rachele Albini
Giada Albonico
Jacopo Biasio
Sara Caramaschi
Elisa Carraro
Desislava Dimitrova
Cristina Gatti
Elisa Gulino
Mariya Hasamova
Nina Mikhailova
Ottavia Molatore
Joao Molinar
Azadeh Moradiasr
Mohyedin Navabzadeh Navabi
Giuseppe Maria Palermo
Riccardo Somaini
Bogdan Stojanovic

and thanks to the curators:

Oscar Bellini
Laura Daglio

and the organizers:

Luca Maria Francesco Fabris 

Efisia Cipolloni

and all the other people at Politecnico di Milano that we came in contact with during the workshop.

See you in 60 years from now.

Friday 2 September 2011

Tower Town

A Competition entry for the Taiwan Tower competition in Taichung.
tall building is simply not enough in the endeavour for an emblematic skyscraper 
in the 21st century. The sensation seeking of a high solitaire object has been the predominant show-off for the last century where the height has been limited to a combination of building technique and money. 
With growing economies all over the world and leaps in technology; the record race has become more obscure than ever with record holdings that only will last a couple of years with today’s pace. The tall lone building has been done so many times before, it doesn’t matter if you tweak it, swirl it, punctuate it, clad it with new materials; it still will more or less be the same. 
If you go up the elevators of Empire State Building, Sears Towers, Pearl Tower or any other solitaire, it is pretty much the same experience. 
To make new world wonders, new typologies must be found, making architecture and spatial experience once again the main key to success. 
With our proposed typology, we wanted to make a truly unique experience for anyone visiting, working in or living in the new tower. 
Our solution was to separate the building into over a hundred of sleek towers; this will make the complex more into a highly interactive and intimate city district than into one large building mass that has little to no interaction with its users. The narrow streetscape will offer stunning vertical views, both from a street level and in mid-air on the many footbridges that is connecting the many towers, both for structural support and for communication and observation purposes. 
The observation deck is not just from one high point, it is on many levels and in different towers to get a broad spectra of views of the surrounding city, the towers themselves, the mountainous landscape and even as far as the ocean.

Above Tower Town

Inside Tower Town

Tower Town from mid-air

Looking up in Tower Town

The Streets of Tower Town

Tower Town from Taichung city

Tower Town from the park

Tower Town from above

Conceptual drawing

Conceptual drawing 




Site plan

Sunday 30 January 2011

Spröjs House

A commission to design an extension to an old house on the Swedish countryside. The house should include a master bedroom, a room for clothing care, a work space and a space for coffee and breakfast.

The clients told us that they like typical old Swedish red houses with mullion windows (spröjs in Swedish) but found it ok to build a house without mullions since they knew that modern architects don’t like that type of houses. But an ok house for the client is simply not good enough so we started to design a house with a huge mullion window as its main feature.

The mullion window covers the front facade of the house facing the garden that slopes towards the nearby lake. Since the mullion covers the best views from the house we started to add some extra functions to it by extruding the mullion towards the inside making different types of shelves.

The shelves where then designed for different functions for a relaxed and life cherishing atmosphere; a work space, a space to hangout and enjoy a coffee or breakfast, and a lot of storage places for books, DVDs and such.

Due to the landscape the house is divided into three levels. One upper level that is more leisure oriented with a master bedroom and a coffee/breakfast shelf in the mullion. Then follows a thin middle level that has a battery of functions, including a wardrobe that can be reached from the upper and lower level and a fire place with storage for timber in the mullion, and finally a lower level that is more work related with a room for clothing care and a small home office in the mullion.

The house is connected to the main building via a glass corridor with a small stair that leads up to the main buildings dining room. Since the new house is heated with floor heating we designed the railing with the floor heating going through them for a comfortable welcoming to the new house. The glass corridor also serves as the entrance to the two outdoor areas; one towards the lake for the sunrise and one towards the back of the building for Swedish midsummer sunset.