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ArchitectureWeek No. 580 is now available on the Web, with these new design and building features, and more. This Notes edition is sponsored by Wiley:
The first Passivhaus project, in Darmstadt, Germany (1991), designed by Wolfgang Feist, marks a significant milestone in the evolution of the solar house from an exotic species, towards a new dwelling template suitable for mainstream adoption. Photo: Courtesy Passive House Institute
Evolving the Solar House
by Anthony Denzer
By the end of the 1970s, a significant discourse emerged about the solar house's aesthetic problems and potentials. In numerous cases, solar architecture was treated as a historically emergent type with a secure and inevitable future. One example from 1978:
The first steam powered vessels to cross the Atlantic looked like awkward sailing ships not steamships (just as the first automobiles looked like awkward carriages, not Model T's). They carried a full complement of sails because their reliability was well below 100%. It was not long before they achieved the reliability necessary to evolve their own form and their own structure, vastly different from the form of its progenitors.
Solar building is beginning to embark on this same sort of evolution — awkward, not able to do the job alone, working with adaptations of unsuitable existing forms. The turning point will be when we change our commitment from an add- on, booster mentality to a 100% solar sensibility. At that point evolution will be swift and irreversible. Solar devices, solar buildings and solar villages will rapidly develop appropriate forms and structures.
Such an evolution did not mature in the 1970s. In 1981, architecture critic Paul Goldberger concluded: "... architecture based on the requirements of solar energy, whether passive or active, is bringing us some very disappointing buildings... To be blunt about it, most solar houses are just plain ugly."
When President Reagan was elected in 1980, it foreshadowed the end of an era for solar energy. He immediately slashed the budgets for solar energy by two-thirds. At SERI, Denis Hayes was fired and the staff was cut from 950 to 350. In 1985, Congress allowed the solar tax credits to lapse and companies like Solaron folded.
George Löf recalled: "When they removed the subsidies the market disappeared." Some of these companies and their technologies, Thomas Friedman has noted, "ended up being bought by Japanese and European firms — helping to propel those countries' renewable industries." Finally, the Reagan staff removed the solar panels from the White House roof in 1986, even though the system was performing well.
BattersbyHowat designed the four-story, four-unit residential building at 2386 Cornwall Avenue in Vancouver, B.C., built on an infill lot with distant water views. Photo: Ivan Hunter
B.C. Apartments by BattersbyHowat
by Christopher Macdonald
In both the emergence and ensuing development of a modern architectural idiom in Canada's Pacific Northwest, designs for the detached family home have served an important role as crucibles of exploration and research.
New materials and building technologies have been allied with challenges to conventional social habit, while the rugged terrain, lush vegetation, and benign climate have provided a profound measure to the artifice of design.
The domestic projects of BattersbyHowat fully embrace this tradition and bear witness to the potential of 'patient searching' to discover experiences of uncommon poise. David Battersby and Heather Howat consistently produce compositions possessing at once clarity and suggestive potential — what might be thought of as domestic topographies.
The Vue at Kitsilano
A speculative development prominently located opposite Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, this multi-family building contains four residential units. Each suite occupies an entire floor. The long, narrow mid-block site has a north-orientated view towards the ocean and Stanley Park peninsula, but is overlooked by adjacent properties to the east and west.
The addition of this wrap-around deck to a 18th-century home provides a convenient outdoor living space while respecting the home's Federalist motif. Photo: Mick Hales
Staying Put in Style: Wrap-Around Remodel
by Duo Dickinson
An 18th-century Federal farmhouse had multiple lean-to
additions tacked onto it over its first 200 years. These
served not so much to reach out to the landscape but to
separate those within the house from it.
In addition, plantings that were once under control
began to consume not only the home's walls but also any
potential for a view from the windows that actually
caught a glimpse of a backyard pond.
The new owners removed all of the overgrown foliage and built a carefully crafted deck that celebrated its supports — rather than having apologetic pipes or spindly four-by-four-inch (10-by-10-centimeter) pressure-treated posts.
Stainless-steel cable rails provide a code-compliant barrier without blocking the view, and mahogany rails afford a nice location to rest an afternoon cocktail.
Schmidt Hammer Lassen designed a new library building for the University of Aberdeen campus in Aberdeen, Scotland. Photo: Adam Moerk
People and Places
Scottish Design Awards —
Moshe Safdie in Los Angeles —
RIBA Awards 2013 —
Foster + Partners in Munich —
SFMOMA Addition Breaks Ground —
SmithGroup JJR in Salt Lake City —
Diederendirrix Architects in Eindhoven —
Siegel & Strain Architects at UC Davis —
AIA-ALA Library Design Awards
Scottish Design Awards
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS has announced 12 winners of its RIAS Awards for 2013. In addition to winners in its main awards section, as it continues to evolve the program, RIAS also announced three new sponsored topical subcategories for use of timber, for sustainability, and for resource efficiency.
The RIAS Awards 2013 winners include:
The Sir Duncan Rice Library, Aberdeen, Scotland
Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Area: 15,500 square meters (167,000 square feet)
Client: University of Aberdeen
Dates: Construction period 2009 - 2011
Engineer: Arup & Partners Ltd
Quantity Surveyors: Davis Langdon LLP, Landscape
This is a contemporary international structure within one of Scotland's most important historic settings. Its internal arrangement cleverly challenges preconceived notions of "the library".
It's fast, easy, private, and secure.
Flexible LED Module
The GE Infusion™ LED module offers a flexible, long-lasting, energy-saving lighting solution for commercial environments. Available in a range of lumen packages with high CRI and color temperature options, the modules provide consistent, stable, dimmable white light. Easily maintained and upgraded, with a simple twist-and-lock fit.
The VMZINC app interface is easy to use, and allows the user to browse VMZINC product range, as well as panel systems. The Product Selector feature allows the user to select the characteristics they are looking for in a zinc panel, such as size, color or texture that may be important in the design process. The Product Selector feature also filters the attributes and shows panel types that meet the defined criteria..
New Language Content Packs for Autodesk Revit 2014 - BIM and Beam, 2013.0624
Revit to CAD: Nothing to Fear - BIM Aficionado, 2013.0622
Revit 2014: Options for Double Click - IMAGINiT Technologies Support Blog, 2013.0621
Purging Unwanted Linetype Bloat - CAD Panacea, 2013.0621
ArchiCAD 17 New Features: Performance - ArchiCAD SADC, 2013.0621
Why Adobe's "Cloud" Software Doesn't Work for Customers - WorldCAD Access, 2013.0621
Create a Plugin for AutoCAD - Cadalyst, 2013.0620
SketchUp Tools : PUSH / PULL - Sketchup-UR-Space, 2013.0620
Newforma Model Viewer - AECbytes, 2013.0620
Product News - New Kitchen Faucet from Dornbracht
Pivot, designed by longtime Dornbracht collaborator
Sieger Design, is the company's latest addition to its
iconic Tara Ultra series. Deck-mounted and an ideal
solution for kitchen islands, this articulated
combination faucet and pot filler has an unusually long
arm projection of 21-2/3 inches and provides hot and
cold water anywhere within the 360-degree radius where
it rotates. It means pots can conveniently go straight
from the cabinet to the stovetop without a stopover in
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When early American townships were being developed, it
was common to offer lots of various lengths along street
frontages. Depending on a person's inclinations or
financial strength they might purchase a lot of 1, 2, 3,
or 4 rods wide. How wide is a 4-rod lot?
At the time the Dirigible Dock building was first built
(1929), it was considered by some to enclose the largest
unobstructed space in the world. Each end of the
building had two doors measuring 202 feet (62 meters)
high. Each door pivoted on a single pin at the top.
Guess how these doors were designed to be pulled open.
By teams of horses, a system of weights and pulleys, or
with a locomotive?
Classic Home 069 — Tucson Mountain House, by Rick Joy Architect
"This house in the foothills near Tucson, Arizona was designed for the region's harsh weather extremes, including severe daily temperature swings and long dry periods interrupted by torrential rains. A long circulation spine separates the two long parallel wings of the house. The larger wing contains a master bedroom suite at one end and a large, open common kitchen, dining, and living space at the other, with an enclosed utility room between. A guest bedroom and large covered patio make up the second, smaller wing....
The latest architectural headlines, linking across the Web:
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