Category Archives: architecture

Going Batty: Animal Architecture


It could be said that architecture is one of the most humanist pursuits, existing solely to make humans happy.

The always clever BLDGBLOG this week features the Bat Spiral, a project by UK architecture firm Friend and Company which shows that animals can get just as much enjoyment from architecture.

Based just outside of London, the Bat Spiral is designed to provide a roost (cave?) for the 17 bat species that are native to the UK.  The 45 square metre structure can house about 330 bats who are attracted to the structure for its dark spaces, and for the warmth generated from the black timber walls.

It is also surprisingly beautiful with its simple, reed-like support columns raising it above the swamp, and its graceful painted timber curves.


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Posted by on August 6, 2009 in architecture, building


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Louisiana, Denmark: Green Architecture for the Future


You’ve heard of Paris, Texas.  But Louisiana, Denmark?

This sleepy satellite suburb on the outskirts of Copenhagen is home to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, a stunning seaside building established in 1958 as a showcase for many of the world’s finest contemporary artworks and sculptures.

The museum is currently exhibiting Green Architecture for the Future, a multidisciplinary exhibition examining the pending, fundamental changes to three areas of design: The City, Climate & Comfort, and Metabolism.

The City examines the global population drift towards urban living, and various responses to this, both current and future.  It includes an ambitious Foster + Partners design for Masdar City – a purpose-built, sustainable city in the United Arab Emirates – as well as a Sarcozy-sponsored redesign for Paris by MVRDV, and the tree-like Tower of Tomorrow by William McDonough & Partners.

Climate & Comfort and Metabolism explore themes of renewal, rebirth and reappropriation, such as a building made from empty water bottles (now there’s an intelligent solution, Mr Rees).

Via Arcspace.

Masdar City




Tower of Tomorrow



United Bottle




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R3: The Noisiest Little House in California



In property, it is said, location is everything. This was put to the test in San Diego when architect Lloyd Russell and his artist wife Ame Parsley managed to buy a vacant block in San Diego’s Little Italy neighbourhood for a bargain $50,000 – not surprising considering the property is an oddly shaped wedge of land sitting between the i-5 freeway and the busiest single-runway airport in the USA, San Diego International Airport (with 600 departures and arrivals per day).

This site couldn’t be noisier – check out the Google Earth satellite photo below for proof – there is even an aeroplane on approach passing almost directly overhead (see if you can pick the site, the triangular building just north of the jumbo)

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Russell set to work designing his new home – the R3 building, a triangular gallery-cum-residence complete with triple glazing, commercial air filtration system, and walls that are stuccoed to help bounce sound waves back onto the freeway.  There is also a killer integrated sound system in case any pesky noise still sneak through.

In designing R3, Lloyd Russell has proven that the most exciting architecture is often, if not always borne from the most difficult challenges.







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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in architecture, building


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Yellow Treehouse, New Zealand


I’m normally very sceptical of marketing campaigns, especially those run by telco giants. But this clever little campaign by New Zealand’s re-branded Yellow (formerly Yellow Pages) has changed my view entirely.

The concept was to build a restaurant 10 metres up a big old redwood tree outside of Auckland. Seriously.  But there was one rule: everything had to be sourced via Yellow on mobile.

Now I don’t know if you’ve actually tried to use your mobile phone for browsing, but if your experience is anything like mine it takes hours to do what the phone book could do in seconds.  But maybe I’m just a philistine.  It seems Tracey Collins, who Yellow selected to lead the project, is far more tech-savvy than me, because she managed the entire project, and also ran the restaurant – all via her mobile phone.  And all documented on a very cool website.

If you’re keen to visit the Treehouse, unfortunately you’re out of luck. After feeding 2000 lucky diners, the venue is now only open for function hire, although there is talk about a more permanent venture opening in the near future.

Photos via LA Times.








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Elok House: It’s a Jungle Out There


10756_1_Elok House - Additional 1

Orchard Road is known for being one of the world’s finest shopping destinations.  But, deep in the urban jungle of Singapore, it is also the site of a remarkable new piece of residential architecture.

The owners of the small site gave Chang Architects one brief: to incorporate as much natural life as possible.  They wanted  home that was light, breezy and sustainable, with at least 40% landscaping.  The architect came up with clever ways to incorporate living plants and other natural elements such as waterfalls and pebbles into the home’s fabric, including a central atrium to feed light to the plants on the ground floor; a retractable roof to protect the house during Singapore’s legendary storms; and plants literally growing through the kitchen roof, reaching up to the sky above.

The house is featured in this month’s Habitus and won several gongs such as the Singapore Institute of Architects’ 2008 Design Awards (for its low cost – under $1m – construction) and the President’s Award for Design of the Year 2008 (Singapore’s highest design award).

This jungle home is a unique, site-specific and incredibly fun response to its urban setting.

Pics via World Architecture News.

10756_2_Elok House - Additional 2

10756_3_Elok House -  Additional 3

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Posted by on July 18, 2009 in architecture, building


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Relive Your Youth With Shedbuilt

Garage Studio

For many teenagers, living in the garage is a necessary and welcome rite-of-passage.  It’s the ultimate step to independence, without having to take the daunting (and expensive) step of moving out of home. It allows teens to have their friends over, eat microwave popcorn for dinner, pop tarts for breakfast, and sneak their lover in the window without disturbing mum and dad.

This remarkable garage renovation by US renovators Shedbuilt is perfect for even the most discerning teenager, or perhaps the adult who wants to relive their youth, albeit in more refined surroundings.

Despite being only 30 square metres, this garage has everything you would need.  Study nook? Check.  Book storage? Check.  Space for obligatory guitar?  Check.

And, unlike most teenage hideouts, this one replaces microwave popcorn and pop tarts with an espresso machine and two-burner stove. Very nice.

Via Remodelista.

Garage Studio

Garage Studio

Garage Studio

Garage Studio

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Posted by on July 10, 2009 in architecture, building


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Weekender by Wespi de Meuron

Czech architects Markus Wespi and Jerome de Meuron have completed a stunning low-cost weekender in the Swiss alps.  Situated on an impossibly steep block, the home was built from plywood, then painted a steely grey to blend in with the surrounding stone buildings.

Oversized, floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outside in, while the somber interiors being that certain sense of comfort and solitude – the key ingredient to a relaxing weekend.

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Posted by on July 9, 2009 in architecture, building


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