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This week in Colorado, Starbucks opened a store unlike any before it. There are no leather chairs or free power outlets. In fact, there’s no space for the customer at all. Starbucks has reimagined the coffee hut as a “modern modular,” LEED-certified drive-thru and walk-up shop. The building was constructed in a factory and delivered from a truck, but its facade is clad in gorgeous old Wyoming snow fencing. As diminutive as the shop may be, its designer wants drivers to pass by and ask “What is that?” only to conclude that, oh, “it’s art.”
The Starbucks that we all know today (a European clone so effective that it’s taken a bite out of Europe’s own coffee market) had to win over America city by city in a strategic land war, so they made their way into strip malls and shopping centers, recognizing coffee as an impulsive convenience purchase to complement a trip to the grocery store or post office. Each regional strategy had to be tailored at the city level, but it always started with a convenience-based link.
Today, coffee’s grown bigger than soft drinks–and it has a two-digit market lead over those fizzy beverages. Premium coffee had become an addictive enough habit that Starbucks didn’t require the sloppy seconds of grocery stores or business complexes anymore. A frappucino alone could be worth a trip. At the same time, the local omnivore movement was taking off. Laptops no longer just browsed the Internet, they created it. Culture became about content creation and original voice. And the very definition of cool had changed. Flannel-clad rejects were out, but geeks of all types were in. Teens were wearing backpacks on two shoulders and caring about the environment.
“Once that connection to our mission statement, our soul if you will, was established, that became the go-forward design foundation for our stores, along with one additional very important element, and that is being locally relevant.”
Their new building paradigm–officially labeled a “pilot program”–is a confluence of all these various impulses. The environment. Localism. Market growth. Low-cost, low-risk expandability. And making it all come together is the responsibility of Anthony Perez, a senior concept design manager who envisioned Starbucks’s original prefab store.
Some might see this store as that last tag-on as lip service, but consider the small, modular locations, consider the LEED certification, consider the power savings of a drive-up business that doesn’t need to feed electricity to laptops all day. Starbucks might not just be designing modern modular locations that are off the normal consumer grid–they could be designing low-footprint stores that eventually go off the grid altogether.
Montpellier, France is home to the Pierres Vives Building by Zaha Hadid.
Hadid began designing Pierres Vives, which translates to “living stones,” nearly a decade ago, yet her vision has been maintained. In her designs, she placed the giant ship of the building at the center of an eponymous new urban district. The 28, 500-square-meter stone monolith houses various regional departments and facilities, including archives, a library, a sports center, and offices. On her firm’ssite, Hadid likens the form to a “‘tree of knowledge’ with three institutions unified within a single envelope.” She elaborated on the metaphor in an article published by the Le Moniteur, describing the core of the complex as a “tree trunk” from which different programmatic spaces branch.
In an abandoned warehouse on New York’s Lower East Side, a radical new kind of park is taking shape. Among the peeling paint and old neon signs advertising food, fruit, and meat, an intensive period of design development has yielded a prototype of the LowLine, an underground park whose name riffs off Chelsea’s now-famous High Line.
On April 6, the LowLine, it was merely a pie-in-the-sky pitch. Now, 600 individually rendered pieces of anodized aluminum make up a 36-foot-radius canopy suspended over a piece of cozy park.
The project is into its next and much more real phase: an exhibit of the underground park prototype, a proof of concept which will be free and open to the public until the end of this month. In partnership with Audi and Columbia University, A First Glimpse of a Future Underground, does indeed feel like just that–a peephole into what a new, green, subterranean landscape could be.
The web-like structure–designed by Edward Jacobs and Brandt Graves is an exercise in bringing a design sensibility to NASA space telescope technology. It culminated in brute strength, as the assembly was hoisted to the ceiling so as to look like it’s levitating. The exhibit is essentially a core sample of what all 60,000 square feet of the LowLine park, a stone’s throw away from the exhibit, would eventually look like–a subterranean, dreamlike space in the middle of the city.
At the heart of the project is a network of tubes, which bring sunlight where there was none before. “With the solar technology that James invented, we now have the chance to make use of space which wasn’t possible by horticultural standards before,” says Misty Gonzalez, the lead environmental designer for the project. “A lot of space exists that we don’t use well enough. We don’t need more or new.”
The technology to create a sunlit, underground, green park is complex. Using six tubes called collimators controlled by a computer and GPS system, the system channels natural sunlight 15 feet down through a series of lenses and suspended reflectors, which then bounce light back onto the anodized aluminum parabolic curve. The lens-and-curve method of light diffusion is essentially the same as that used by the James Webb Space telescope–“a large, infrared-optimized space telescope” that is being developed to observe stars forming under extreme conditions. For the LowLine’s life-size prototype, the curve shape was made entirely of flat pieces to obviate the need for tooling, the cost of which could have run into the millions of dollars. Instead, each piece was laser or water-jet cut and fabricated entirely in Brooklyn, right across the river.
In spite of the high-tech nature of the project, the team members emphasize the idea of a forest floor: “It’s like you’re walking in the forest, and you turn a corner and see a fallen tree illuminated in a shaft of light,” James analogizes. It’s that element of the unexpected that James hoped visitors to the exhibit opening last Saturday would experience. “People will turn a dark corner, be confronted with this, and just be taken aback by the magic.”
The LowLine has more exhibits, fundraisers, events, and outreach planned. Constantly engaging their stakeholders, they will be submitting a formal proposal for the former trolley site as early as next year.
The Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is not alone in having to deal with a lack of land, symptomatic of development in American cities and suburbs. Yet this condition is balanced by the growing trend of cremation and other above-ground burials, which has pointed the way for Lakewood to build a second mausoleum. Designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, the mausoleum sensitively merges itself into the cemetery’s landscape, reducing its impact on the surroundings but also creating a spiritual place, inside and out. Design principal Joan M. Soranno answered some questions about the project.
“The design and research process took its cue from Lakewood itself, a lawn-plan cemetery inspired, in part, from by Père-Lachaise in Paris.We studied the background of Lakewood Cemetery and funerary architecture through numerous resources, from published books and documents to on-site tours of historic cemeteries around the country. We focused specifically on the relationship between architecture and landscape to gain a stronger understanding of how the new Mausoleum would fit within Lakewood’s historic context and landscape.”
We spend billions of dollars a year making our homes and offices climate responsive, with details as simple as ceiling fans and as complex as motorized sun shades. Architects Steffen Reichert, Achim Menges, and Boyan Mihaylov think there’s a more intelligent way. “Nature suggests a fundamentally different, no-tech strategy,” explains Reichert. “In many biological systems the responsive capacity is quite literally ingrained in the material itself.”
It’s a simple enough concept: Organic materials are capable of adapting to climate change, and if we could harness these properties in a controlled way, we could make smarter, cheaper, lighter buildings. In practice, of course, such a theory is a kind of holy grail. But on May 2nd at the Pompidou Center, the trio unveiled proof positive of their ideas about reactive materials, in the form of an installation called HygroScope: Meteorosensitive Morphology.
Reichert spent five years developing the technology at play in HygroScope, working with a team at Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design to exert control over the reaction between wood and moisture. Commissioned by the Pompidou to build a demonstration, the team spent three months designing and fabricating a fragile wood framework of 4,000 modules that form apertures, opening and closing in response to humidity levels.
Argentinean collective DOMA constructed a real-life Iron Giant for Tecnopolis 2012, an annual art and science showcase. At nearly 148 feet tall, the reconstructed power line pylon towers over Buenos Aires’s Bicentennial Park.
The collective’s members—Mariano Barbieri, Julian Pablo Manzelli, Matias Vigliano, and Orilo Blandini—have worked together for nearly 15 years, and have remarked that they are “addicted” to seeing people’s reactions to their zany installations. With its blinking neon heart, shoulders, and facial features, “Colossus” will surely turn heads.
The easiest way for always-struggling airlines to maximize revenue is to get people sitting in their premium seats. Without buying new planes or rethinking routes, business class means that precious plane real estate can sell for more per square foot. But what do the airlines really have to work with? Space is finite. Serve them food, a glass of wine, and what else? Design the space better.
So in the late 2000s, Lufthansa invited designers to reimagine their business class seats. “Basically since Lufthansa had designed the previous seat the business class market had moved on significantly. It was necessary to introduce a fully flat bed which up to now had not been Lufthansa’s offer,” explains Luke Pearson of PearsonLloyd. But they had one big requirement: While other airlines had rotated chairs like Tetris pieces to make reclining possible, Lufthansa wanted all seats to face the direction of travel for optimal flyer comfort.
PearsonLloyd ended up winning the contract with a novel approach, by shaping the seats like a V. It sounds intimate at first, with two passengers facing in toward one another. But ultimately, this places passengers further apart. And when people actually lay down, their heads are partitioned off by their own consoles. Meanwhile, this hypotenuse-like approach buys precious leg room. The beds recline to almost 6.5 feet in length.
“This principle is not unique in aviation seating design,” Pearson admits. “However, the way in which the layout we utilised within the aircraft and the specific functions of the seat are unique to this design and Lufthansa in this case.” Indeed, it was the small details, details carved out over several years of mockups, user testing, then test flights, that didn’t just make their design as spacious as possible, but as comfortable as possible.
I asked Pearson why many of these pretty obvious improvements hadn’t been made before, why if V-shaped seating is so efficient, it wasn’t simply implemented in the first place?
“Simply because design and engineering knowledge evolves,” he responded. “People never arrive immediately at the optimum solution.” Which makes you wonder, with a few more great ideas, how wonderful could Lufthansa’s next new business class be?
11 Aug / Casa i-5 / VÉRTICE Arquitectos
Beach house in Lomas del Mar beach in Cerro Azul, designed by Vértice Arquitectos. This modern designed house is build on a rocky, sandy hill with a 180° view to the beach and the Pacific Ocean.
This house was designed in the first row, plot 5 in Lomas del Mar beach in Cerro Azul, 120Km. south of Lima. The plot is a rocky and sandy hill in a half curved shape that reaches 48 meters high above the sea level and drops steeply 8 meters in its lowest part.
The two main goals to develop the project were to fully exploit the best possible view to the ocean from the social area, as well as from the master bedroom, and to make the most of the plot of land. Two parallel volumes were designed, to accomplish the first objective, one of which leans on the other, which is 1.20 meters higher, to have the view of the sea. The volumes are joined by a main circulation axis which ends in a swimming pool overlooking the beach.
The materials used in the project have been: exposed concrete, white painting in the walls, stainless steel, tempered glass and granite stone. The latter has been used to cover the base on which the volumes rest, with the intention of separating these from the natural terrain. The pool is closed by a double face laminated glass in the external face that permits the same transparency to a view of the sea as the rest of the house.
- Graphic Design
- Industrial Design