Daily Dose: Solar City Tower

Add to TwitterAaahhh… That’s me, expressing how good it feels to be sending blog posts out into cyberspace again! Please accept my apologies for the hiatus; other aspects of my multi-faceted work took precedence these past couple of weeks. And don’t worry, I’m coming back with a bang!

The Olympic games always seem to be accompanied by bigger, better, more artfully designed facilities built especially for the occasion. Now, in keeping with the times, a concerted effort to make the Olympics sustainable has emerged. The first Olympic buildings to receive LEED certification were at the 2010 Vancouver games. In 2012, London plans to match or exceed this effort. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the host of the 2016 Olympics – is upping the ante. They are planning to host the first zero-carbon footprint Olympic games – and they’re doing it in a jaw-dropping way.

Solar City Tower; Image courtesy of RAFAA

RAFAA Architecture & Design’s Solar City Tower is a 105-meter tall solar power plant that will produce energy for Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic village in 2016. By day, the solar panels generate power. Any excess energy generated throughout the day is used to pump seawater into a storage tank within the tower. At night, this water is released to power turbines which create more energy for the city. As you might expect, a building of this size and quality also has some pretty interesting “perks.”

The most buzz-worthy aspect of the Solar City Tower is its ability to transform into an “urban waterfall.” Water can be pumped over the edge of the building on special occasions to create a massive waterfall in the city. Visitors can see the waterfall from the streets, the cafeteria area which is directly behind it, as well as a glass sky walk at its summit. For those craving adventure (I’m not at all sure I’d fall into this category), a bungee platform is available on level 90.5.

Solar City Tower; Image courtesy of RAFAA

Rafael Schmidt of RAFAA sheds some light on the idea behind the Solar City Tower. Far from creating just another pretty building, the architects at RAFAA wanted to reconsider the concept of a landmark; Solar City Tower isn’t simply an iconic form, but a machine that can actively provide energy for the city. Its 360° observation decks also make the building representative of a “collective awareness of the city towards its great surrounding landscape.” The waterfall has meaning, too; Schmidt says it is a “symbol of the forces of nature.” I think this is an ideal opportunity to broadcast worldwide the message that sustainability is valuable, is crucial as societies continue to develop. As we celebrate the peak of human physical achievement in 2016, we’ll also be able to praise the intellect, initiative and dedication that make the games sustainable and environmentally responsible.

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Sources:
http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=13747
http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/19/solar-city-tower-for-rio-olympics-giant-energy-generating-waterfall/
http://www.rafaa.ch/rafaa/rio_de_janeiro.html

Images:
http://www.rafaa.ch/rafaa/rio_de_janeiro.html

90-9-1 Rule

Add to TwitterThe Dry Facts does not often post blog entries from other sites; however, I found this to be a relevant and engaging topic as it relates to all social media communities. Read on:

A fantastic blog post was put up last week, which has lead to a number of great discussions about member traction and engagement within communities. Dr. Mike Wu, Ph.D. posted metrics based on his study of over 200 online communities here.

As he writes, “The 90-9-1 rule simply states that:

  • 90% of all users are lurkers. They read, search, navigate, and observe, but don’t contribute
  • 9% of all users contribute occasionally
  • 1% of all users participate a lot and account for most of the content in the community”

The data he present generally backs this up. The comments both there and in a related LinkedIn community explore how he defined his terms, constraints of the data, and how to encourage engagement.

Do you agree with his findings? Do you see them reflected in your Ning Networks?

I look forward to his future posts, where he promises to “dive deeper into the contribution level of the hyper-contributors, you community’s real superusers.”

What do you think, fellow bloggers and social media community members? Are you a “lurker” or a participant? Does it depend more on your personality or the network of which you are a part? Leave a comment!

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If you’re interested in seeing the original post, follow this link.

Daily Dose: Argentinian View House

Add to TwitterAs I was collecting pictures for today’s Daily Dose, I realized that the View House bears striking similarity to the Jiangsu Museum of yesterday’s post. The façades of both buildings use primarily concrete and glass, a design choice that allows them to be simultaneously imposing and weightless. Jiangsu’s thin, vertical windows give the structure a visible lift from its foundation. The View House, on the other hand, has windows that wrap around the building and guide our eyes in a more horizontal fashion. A traveling focal point along a dynamic exterior is a defining characteristic of these two very different buildings – read on to discover more specifics about the View House.

View House; Image courtesy of Diego Arraigada

View House; Image courtesy of Diego Arraigada

Located in Rosario, Argentina, the View House’s surroundings were important to its conception. Designers Diego Arraigada and Johnston Marklee wanted the home to connect with the landscape, yet retain adequate privacy for the owners. Large windows offer spectacular views from each side of the house; there is no “front” or “back” to the View House. The clean, modern interior spirals upward to a roof terrace. View House also makes use of natural light and air movement to lessen its environmental impact.

View House; Image courtesy of Diego Arraigada

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Sources:
http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/index.php?fuseaction=wanappln.projectview&upload_id=13063
http://architecturelab.net/2009/12/15/view-house-rosario-argentina-2009-by-johnston-marklee/
Images:
http://www.diegoarraigada.com/view_01.htm

Daily Dose: Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum

Add to TwitterThe Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum in Nanjing was winning awards before it was even completed, as early as 2006. More recently, it was chosen by ArchDaily as the 2009 Building of the Year. It is faced with travertine natural stone and a large glass roofed area links the two U-shaped buildings, providing a spacious and exposed entryway.

Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum; Image courtesy of KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

Jiangsu Provincial Art Museum Entryway; Image courtesy of KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

The light-colored stone and offset vertical windows lend an airiness to an otherwise solid structure. Designers KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten were also the minds behind the National Library of China in Beijing.

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Sources:
http://www.archdaily.com/52446/nanjing-art-museum-ksp-jurgen-engel-architekten/
http://www.ksp-architekten.de/
Images:
http://www.ksp-architekten.de/

Daily Dose: Out of the Box

Add to Twitter“Out of the Box” designed by Cadence architecture firm in Bangalore, India is well-named: it is indeed a box designed to keep the outside out. Exterior white, cast-concrete walls decorated with perforations (called “jali walls” in India) do permit limited light and air to enter the interior courtyard. However, the same windowless walls “shun” the unwelcome sight of the surrounding low-income neighborhood, creating a bright haven for the owner.

Out of the Box; Bangalore, India; Image courtesy of Clare Arni

Interior courtyard of Out of the Box; Image courtesy of Clare Arni

Despite the modern playfulness of Out of the Box’s jali walls, something rubs me the wrong way with this design. Building an expensive, highly exclusive home in a poorer neighborhood seems like a blatant accusation-of-sorts of those who cannot afford better. On the other hand, this building brings a spot of beauty to a run-down area. What are your views? Does the design of Out of the Box show disregard for the surrounding community or does its presence offer respite from an otherwise suffering cityscape? Leave a comment.

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Sources:
http://www.besthousedesign.com/2009/10/22/india-house-design-cool-exterior-walls-courtyard/
http://www.dezeen.com/2009/07/19/out-of-the-box-by-cadence/
Images:
http://www.clarearni.com/bio.php
http://www.besthousedesign.com/2009/10/22/india-house-design-cool-exterior-walls-courtyard/

Daily Dose: Walking House

Add to TwitterDo you ever want to pick up and move at a moment’s notice? Not necessarily across the country, but maybe just over to your neighbor’s plot or to the outskirts of town for a day? The Walking Home, designed by Dutch group N55, might be the solution! This small (3.5m H x 3.5m W x 3.72m L), mobile home stands on six legs that can carry the module at a speed of up to 60 meters per hour. Get ready to go on the road! (Or off the road, actually, since the Walking Home doesn’t require paved surfaces and can travel over a variety of terrain).

Walking House; Image courtesy of N55

“Hasn’t this problem already been solved?” you may be wondering. It’s true: mobile homes in the contemporary form of the building have been around since 1956, enabling their inhabitants to travel to new sites and set up house. However, with mobile homes, land ownership to some degree is still a requirement, and they can’t be taken just anywhere. N55 is clear about this key difference with Walking House; in fact, Walking House’s challenging of typical views of land ownership is the reason for its conception.

Living Room, Walking House; Image courtesy of N55

Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire commissioned the project to help a declining nomadic population that was being relegated to the fringes of the community. The Romani people, as nomads, had been strongly integrated into the settled culture but were losing their place in the society as they too began to remain in one place. N55 designed the Walking House based on Romani horse carriages from the 18th century with spare interiors and a compact structure. Walking House’s combination of Romani tradition and contemporary design aims to marry the the nomadic and settled cultures in a seamless way. According to N55, its ease of mobility suggests that “all land should be accessible for all persons.”

Walking House is also a sustainable unit. It features solar panels, micro windmills, rainwater collection devices, solar-heated hot water and can even be equipped with a greenhouse for growing food. Though the traditional unit can only house up to four people, the modules can be combined to form Walking Villages.

Walking Village design plan; Image courtesy of N55

Though I believe that land stewardship versus land ownership is a valuable practice, I think it will be challenging to convert our materialistic, accumulation- and specific site-based cultures to simpler, mobile societies. Many people have a desire to feel “settled” and land ownership helps develop personal identity and provide a sense of security. However, it also shuts out certain people and leads us to believe that we have a right to compartmentalize the earth as we see fit. What are your thoughts? Is land ownership vital to our culture? Do you see an alternative solution?

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Sources:
http://www.n55.dk/MANUALS/WALKINGHOUSE/walkinghouse.html
http://www.gizmag.com/walking-house-n55/11380/
Images:
http://www.n55.dk/MANUALS/WALKINGHOUSE/walkinghouse.html

Daily Dose: DomeSpace Homes

Add to TwitterDesigned in 1988 by Patrick Marsilli, DomeSpace Homes still have a futuristic look about them. As you’d expect from their name, these living structures are dome-shaped. They also rotate, following the sun for maximum exposure to the solar panels. These features, along with a few others, help make DomeSpace Homes some of the leading sustainable buildings being constructed.

Solaleya DomeSpace Home; Image courtesy of Solaleya

DomeSpace Homes were first sold in France; in the U.S. they’re marketed through the distributer Solaleya. Ninety percent of each home is built with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified wood. They’re insulated with environmentally friendly cork and the skylights in the roof allow for natural, bright lighting in the interiors. (That’s a big plus for me! Although I do wonder what it’d be like to try and change the curtains…) Like the Everingham Rotating House, DomeSpace Homes can be rotated using a remote control or preset to follow the movements of the sun.

Windows, Solaleya Home; Image courtesy of Solaleya

Though I think the open interior layout would take some getting used to (among other things, sound carries like you wouldn’t believe – it’s virtually impossible to tell where someone is in the house!), it certainly has its benefits. Air quality and circulation is improved, and heating/cooling energy is greatly reduced. DomeSpace Homes are also safe in natural disaster situations. They can withstand category 5 hurricanes and earthquakes up to a magnitude of 8.0.

*Thanks to Kathy for the Facebook tip on Solaleya!

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Sources:
http://solaleya.com
http://www.trendir.com/house-design/modern-dome-home-sustainable-solaleya-dome-design.html
Images:
http://solaleya.com
http://www.trendir.com/house-design/modern-dome-home-sustainable-solaleya-dome-design.html