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    StudioX4 designs cavernous meditation space in downtown Taipei

    A dark, canopy-like ceiling and an LED-lit oculus are among the features that are meant to enhance the experience of this meditation space in Taiwan.

    Situated on the second floor of a residential building in Taipei, the space was created by local design company StudioX4 to provide a quiet sanctuary in which urban citizens can practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
    The space can be used for meditation, yoga and mindfulness practicesThe interior consists of a semi-circular space with chamfered walls and ceiling that flow into each other, known as a Bezier surface – a term used in computer graphics to describe a curved volume that has no set central point, unlike a circle or ball.
    The structure was built using planes of plywood planks built up in layers to create a smooth, flowing surface. A  straight wall at one side of the room is a line with mirrors, which create the illusion of the space being double its actual size.
    It is characterised by its curved ceiling and wallsThe reflection is meant to symbolise a sense of balance gained in meditation, according to the studio.

    “Via mirror reflection, the interior area completes its whole entity,” said the studio. “Combining the two halves implies the meditation path of seeking balance for both sides.”
    Sliding doors lead out onto a balcony overlooking the cityDark greys and blacks were chosen for the colour palette.
    “We were thinking of finding a way to reach inner peace – as a result we chose the colour of natural rock,” Lynch Cheng, lead architect of StudioX4, told Dezeen.
    Rounded forms are found throughoutThe walls and ceiling have a subtle, dappled finish that complements the softness of the rounded edges and corners.
    Circular recessions are punched out of the surface of the ceiling to increase the emphasis on rounded forms.

    Hilarchitects completes contemplative meditation hall in eastern China

    One of these voids contains a 150-centimetre diameter oculus, which acts as a focal point for class instructors and is a bright visual anchor in the middle of the dark space.
    It is lit by cool-toned LED lights to give the illusion of being lit from above by natural light.
    The oculus is a focal point within the interiorFurther light sources include large windows that filter natural light into the space, through sliding doors leading to a balcony that overlooks the city.
    In addition to the oculus, accent lighting is present in the form of backlit skirting boards, which delineate the line between the floor and walls.
    It is lit by LED lightsThe low, smooth ceiling and integrated walls also help to create an acoustically complex environment in which users can speak and hear their voices echo.
    “Normally in acoustic design, we try to avoid reverberation. But in this case, we tried to control it so that it goes back to the origin point, so humans can talk to themselves,” said Cheng.
    Tapered edges create softnessStudioX4 drew on the Buddhist idea that “form does not differ from emptiness; therefore, emptiness does not differ from form” for the treatment of the interior.
    “This project is a meditation hideaway for urbanites to explore their minds, to enlighten self-awareness, and to undergo the practice of mindfulness.”
    Self Revealing is among five projects shortlisted in the leisure and wellness interior category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.
    Other projects in the running include a cinema that uses dramatic stage lighting by One Plus Partnership Limited and a beer spa in Belgium by WeWantMore.
    All images are courtesy of StudioX4.

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    MoreySmith turns Bristol power station into flexible workspace

    The Victorian power station that once supplied Bristol’s tram system has been transformed into a shared office space, designed by British interiors studio MoreySmith to celebrate its industrial past.

    The waterside Generator Building originally opened in 1890 to power Bristol Tramways – the electric tram system that serviced the city until it was destroyed in the second world war.
    MoreySmith was commissioned to transform the building into a flexible co-working space set over six floors, which has been shortlisted in the large workspace interior category of Dezeen Awards 2022.
    The Generator Building was renovated by MoreySmithThe new workspace includes dedicated offices, private desks and event spaces, as well as a lounge and cafe that are open to the public to ensure that the building contributes to the wider regeneration of the local neighbourhood.
    MoreySmith worked closely with Historic England to restore the once-derelict Grade II listed building, taking care to preserve original features such as the steelwork and tiled brick facade.

    The studio also retained various graphics such as the stencilling on the building’s glazed tiles and brick walls, which was used to label the four steam engines and generators housed in the power station.
    The interior references the building’s industrial pastOther aspects of the interior scheme were designed to pay homage to the building’s industrial past. This includes the aged copper cladding used on the storage lockers and quiet booths, which references the rusted metal objects found in the building during the renovation.
    A central spiral staircase is complemented with mosaic tiles, mimicking the building’s original flooring, while a bespoke lighting system that recalls industrial power generators illuminates the bar area.
    MoreySmith took care to ensure that natural light filters throughout the building’s various spaces, and that workspaces have views out across the city and waterways below.

    Weathered-steel staircase wraps plant-filled atrium at Midtown Workplace

    A double-height breakout space provides additional room for casual meetings. Flooded with natural light from a skylight above, this lofty space highlights the building’s generous proportions.
    Contemporary furnishings and an abundance of green planting were added to contrast with the raw finishes and industrial features.
    The design studio also inserted pod structures on the fifth floor to create mezzanine offices in between the building’s trusses.
    Its floors are connected by a spiral staircase”The Generator Building is a glorious example of what is possible when buildings are sensitively restored in a way that both celebrates their history while bringing new life to an existing structure,” said MoreySmith.
    Other projects shortlisted alongside the Generator Building in the large workspace interiors category of Dezeen Awards 2022 include Dyson’s global HQ inside St James Power Station in Singapore.
    Also in the running is the Midtown Workplace in Brisbane, which features a plant-filled atrium wrapped by a weathered-steel staircase.
    The photography is by Fiona Smallshaw.

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    Architecture at Home exhibition presents “human-centred” housing prototypes

    New York studio Levenbetts and Mexico City practice PPAA are among the firms that have designed sustainable and socially conscious architecture prototypes for an exhibition on housing at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas.

    Architecture at Home is an exhibition that brings together experimental housing by five architecture firms based across the Americas.
    The prototypes are positioned alongside The Fly Eye Dome by Richard Buckminster FullerThe prototypes respond to issues central to the state of today’s housing in both the USA and around the world by acknowledging the present needs of occupants and their natural surroundings, as well as reflecting on the past.
    Curated by Dylan Turk, the show takes place outside along the meandering Orchard Trail at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
    Levenbetts created a pinewood structureThe designs are positioned alongside a 50-foot prototype of the 1965 Fly’s Eye Dome by the late American architect and theorist Richard Buckminster Fuller – a prototype that encompassed his idea for the ultimate affordable, portable and self-sufficient home.

    One of the five prototypes is House of Trees: City of Trees by Levenbetts, a structure made from Arkansas southern yellow pine that is composed of two pavilions connected by walkways, which are housed under fanned slats of wood.
    Built from mass timber, the prototype was designed to offer a low-cost and sustainable solution to housing with a form that complements the contours of its surrounding landscape, according to Levenbetts.
    Translucent panels connect inside and outside spaces in PPAA’s prototypeAnother prototype that aims to connect inside and outside spaces was created by PPAA, which includes natural soil flooring.
    Formed from translucent geometric panels, the house is designed to stand alone as a single structure or can be scaled to achieve a series of linked houses that would encourage community-based co-living.
    Totem House: Histories of Negation attempts to highlight systemic racism in Arkansas and beyond”The concepts presented here offer hope for the future,” said the museum.
    “Each structure demonstrates how thoughtful design can inspire more sustainable and human-centred models of building and living.”

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    Totem House: Histories of Negation is an experimental sculpture by Studio Sumo that aims to discuss the often-suppressed histories of Black and Indigenous peoples in northwest Arkansas through architectural symbols.
    Designed as a series of totemic structures, each totem is engraved with information citing events that detail the forced migration or expulsion of these communities over many years in Arkansas and elsewhere.
    Studio: Indigenous designed a prototype that emphasises a house’s hearthThe structures take the form of an outline of a house from a distance. But up close, the shape is meant to disappear – drawing attention to the injustice and displacement endured by local communities.
    Totem House can also be expanded into a functioning structure that can be prefabricated off-site, according to its architects.
    “Each firm recognises the complexities and barriers that exist in the current housing system, from financing and established building practices to neglected histories of place,” added Crystal Bridges.
    Mutuo offered a sculpture that addresses issues surrounding home ownershipStudio: Indigenous founder Chris Cornelius offered a prototype that aims to explore how conventional housing models could be improved for Indigenous peoples.
    Cornelius designed an experimental structure with a towering steel hearth, which he described as an important place to gather inside the home.
    Compartmentalised rooms also offer internal flexibility – a hallmark of many Indigenous homes, according to Cornelius.
    Architecture at Home takes place outside at Crystal Bridges Museum of American ArtLos Angeles-based practice Mutuo used concrete, steel, clay and Mexican handcrafted wood to create a prototype that aims to explore issues surrounding homeownership inclusivity.
    Made up of rigid columns, these building blocks represent stumbling blocks that many people experience when trying to secure their own house.
    Large sections of each room in the prototype home were omitted from the design, aiming to expose the many issues within the housing industry that are not often enough acknowledged, according to Mutuo.
    Visitors can explore the works along the museum’s Orchard Trail”My goal is to prove that affordability, beauty, and diversity in housing types can coexist when designing, regulating and developing housing,” said Turk.
    Other projects that explore experimental housing concepts include a community in Mexico with homes by Frida Escobedo and Tatiana Bilbao, a pair of hill-like buildings in France by MVRDV designed for “a variety of income levels” and Hackney New Primary School and 33 Kingsland Road – Henley Halebrown’s affordable housing project in London.
    The photography is by Ironside Photography. 
    Architecture at Home takes place from 9 July to 7 November 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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    Studio MK27 creates Patina Maldives resort on new island

    Brazil-based Studio MK27 has used wood, rattan and stone textures to create the buildings for a holiday resort on the Fari Islands archipelago in the Maldives.

    Patina Maldives occupies one of the four islands that makes up the artificial archipelago, which was built over approximately 10 kilometres of reef on the northern edge of North Male Atoll.
    Patina Maldives is located within the new Fari Islands archipelagoStudio MK27 has designed architecture and interiors for buildings across the island, including an arrival pavilion, a spa, a kid’s club, and a cluster of bars and restaurants.
    Accommodation is provided by a mix of beach suites, private in-land villas and water villas that project out to sea.
    Studio MK27 designed architecture and interiors for the resort’s various buildingsNever rising above the tree canopy, the buildings are dotted around the island in an arrangement designed to create areas of vibrant social activity and spaces of complete seclusion.

    “Patina is unique in the Maldives: an opportunity to be together in isolation,” said Studio MK27 founder Marcio Kogan. “[It is] one of the most remote places on Earth and still a place designed for people to meet one another.”
    Natural materials are combined with earthy colours”Patina Maldives embraces our natural conflicts: desire for peace and party, for nature and design, technology and rusticity, self-indulgence and deep reflections,” he added.
    The materials palette throughout consists of earthy colours, matt finishes and natural textures that are intended to chime with the natural landscape.
    Water villas come with their own swimming poolsMany of Studio MK27’s own designs can be found in the furnishings, including woven lighting pendants, neatly crafted shelving units, and cabana and deck chairs co-designed with Norm Architects.
    The villas feature high-tech sliding window systems that allow the interiors to be opened up on three sides at the touch of a button, as well as custom-made blackout blinds.

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    “We escalate the textures and emotions from zero to 100, from soft shadows to overwhelming light,” said Studio MK27.
    “It’s a rhythm with contrast, pauses and transparencies. From slow dolce far niente to exuberant real vitality, it is a place for people to bond with nature and each other, for people to experience the essential with glamour.”
    There are also suites and villas inland and on the beachMany of the buildings are characterised by clever details.
    The spa centres around a shallow pool, with a skylight above offering a play of light and shadow, while the kid’s club is defined by colourful window apertures.
    The spa centres around a calming poolThe bar and restaurant area, known as the village, has its own sense of style.
    Arabesque, a restaurant serving Middle Eastern cuisine, combines patterned terracotta blockwork with copper lights, while the Brasa grill is designed as a Latin American smokehouse.
    The Village is a cluster of bars and restaurantsStudio MK27 has worked on many projects in idyllic locations, such as the beachside Vista House, or Jungle House, which is located in a rainforest.
    The studio spent five years developing designs for Patina Maldives, which officially opened in May 2021.
    Studio MK27 custom designed much of the furnitureThe hotel was longlisted for Dezeen Awards 2022 in the hospitality building category, while the spa is shortlisted in the leisure and wellness interior category.
    It is one of three resorts located on islands within the Fari Islands archipelago, along with the Ritz-Carlton Maldives and the Capella-Maldives.
    The photography is by Fernando Guerra.
    Project credits
    Architecture: Studio MK27Lead architects: Marcio Kogan, Renata FurnalettoInterior designers: Diana Radomysler, Pedro RibeiroProject team: André Sumida, Carlos Costa, Carolina Klocker, Diego Solano, Eduardo Glycerio, Elisa Friedmann, Gabriela Chow, Gustavo Ramos, Giovanni Meirelles, Julia Pinheiro, Lair Reis, Laura Guedes, Luciana Antunes, Renato Rerigo, Regiane Leão, Renata Scheliga, Ricardo Ariza, Marcio Tanaka, Mariana Ruzante, Mariana Simas, Samanta Cafardo, Suzana Glogowski, Tamara Lichtenstein, Thauan MiquelinDeveloper: Pontiac Land GroupLandscape designer: Vladimir Djurovic Landscape ArchitectsLighting design: The Flaming BeaconConstruction: Alhl PvtProject manager: Mace Group

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    Sarah Jefferys creates Passive House in Brooklyn with dramatic cedar screen

    American studio Sarah Jefferys Architecture + Interiors has renovated a slender townhouse in Brooklyn with airy rooms and a cedar screen on the facade to meet Passive House standards.

    Located in the Park Slope neighbourhood, the Passive House project involved the overhaul of a brick-faced, three-storey townhouse built in 1921 and owned by a family of four.
    Sarah Jefferys Architecture + Interiors remodelled a Brooklyn townhouse into a passive houseNew York-based Sarah Jefferys Architecture + Interiors sought to create a tranquil living atmosphere with elements that pay homage to the family’s Indian and Danish roots.
    Moreover, the team wanted the 3,000-square-foot (279-square-metre) building to align with Passive House standards for energy efficiency.
    High-quality windows were installedTo significantly reduce heating and cooling needs, the team installed triple-pane Zola windows, which are often used in passive houses. Walls were reconstructed to create an airtight envelope, which included the addition of cellulose insulation.

    The team also added an electric heat pump and an energy recovery ventilator, which helps purify the air.
    The front facade was kept intact and refurbished, while the rear wall was redesigned to add ample glazing. To provide privacy and to modulate incoming daylight, the team added an artful cedar screen that acts as both “a sculpture and a veil”.
    White oak was used to complement the bright coloursWithin the slender home, the team incorporated pops of colour and pale materials such as white oak.
    “We strategically used light hues and reflective materials, and created an airy environment to offset the narrow footprint of the townhouse,” the team said.
    The ground level has an open plan and holds the communal spaces.
    Reflective and light materials helped the studio meet environmental standardsUp front is the living room, where one finds a blue Living Divani sofa, rattan chairs from Fritz Hansen and a Muuto table.
    A wood-burning fireplace, an element not often found in passive homes, sits between the living and dining areas.
    To curb emissions from the hearth, the architects added a triple-pane glass enclosure and an extraction fan with an insulated cap. Still, because of the fireplace, the home does not fully meet the PHIUS certification requirements, the architect said.
    The all-white dining room is furnished with Ant chairs by Arne Jacobsen and a PH50 pendant by Poul Henningsen. Just beyond is the “showpiece kitchen”, which is framed with an LED light cove.
    The staircase has a skylight above”The light cove acts as a separation point – an outline – and provides an atmospheric glow throughout the kitchen,” the team said.
    In addition to the special lighting, the kitchen features slatted wooden cabinetry, yellow pendants by Louis Poulsen, and an island topped with Glassos crystallized glass.
    Part of the island consists of a live-sawn slab of white oak, which is lined with bar stools.
    The living room features a Muuto table”The beautiful juxtaposition between Glassos and white oak exemplifies the nature of the kitchen as both a practical work area and a leisurely lounge space for entertaining,” the team said.
    A sky-lit staircase leads to the upper levels. The first floor holds the main bedroom and bathroom, along with an office – all of which are arrayed along a corridor lined with frosted glass.

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    The main bedroom features a BoConcept bed, sconces by Robert Dudley Best for Bestlite and a graphic blanket by Pia Wallén for HAY. The bathroom is adorned with matte glass and penny-round tiles from Ann Sacks.
    The office is infused with a “touch of nostalgia”. Pieces include a Hans Wegner armchair, a teak Danish dresser and a 1962 copper pendant by Jo Hammerborg.
    Bright colours were used throughoutThe top level contains a den and two additional bedrooms. The house also has a cellar.
    Other Brooklyn townhouses include a house by Space4Architecture that has a skylit staircase and minimalist decor, and the family home of architects Fanny and Matthew Mueller, which features floating steps and a wood-and-steel bridge.
    The photography is by Morten Smidt.

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    Five key exhibitions at Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2022

    Lisbon Architecture Triennale has returned for its sixth edition, with exhibitions, installations and contributions by the likes of Dutch studio MVRDV and Japanese studio Tomoaki Uno Architects.

    Titled Terra, the Latin word for earth, this year’s Lisbon Architecture Triennale is a call to action centring on sustainability and forging a balance between communities, resources and processes.
    The 14-week-long event was curated by Portuguese architects and educators Cristina Veríssimo and Diogo Burnay. It takes place until 5 December 2022 and includes a number of exhibitions, book launches, conferences and fringe events across the city of Lisbon.
    Each of the exhibitions and events highlights climate change, human reliance on resources as well as social, economic and environmental injustices and how these issues are connected.
    Read on for five key exhibitions at the 2022 edition of Lisbon Architecture Triennale:

    Curated by Cityscapes Magazine co-founder Tau Tavengwa and anthropologist and writer Vyjayanthi Rao, Multiplicity is an exhibition that looks at ways architecture and design can respond better to global challenges such as inequality, climate change and conflict.
    The exhibition is organised across several of the National Museum of Contemporary Art’s minimally decorated rooms, with books, posters and other exhibits arranged on folio cabinets and plywood tables to encourage visitors to engage with them.
    It also includes case studies of architecture projects, such as Wiki House by Architecture 00, BookWorm pavilion by Nudes and Plugin House by People’s Architecture Office, which highlight architectural and design-led initiatives and solutions to social and global issues.

    Retroactive is an exhibition at Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT), curated by design studio Taller Capital founders Loreta Castro Reguera and José Pablo Ambrosi.
    It identifies ways to help communities living in “vulnerable places due to overcrowding, lack of resources and basic service infrastructure” through the use of architectural initiatives.
    “Retroactive explores the suturing tools of communities in urgent need of architectural solutions that may reconcile their sense of belonging and spatial dignity,” explained Lisbon Architecture Triennale organisers.

    At the Garagem Sul museum, Cycles highlights the circular economy of materials, presenting ways in which designers, architects and creatives can reuse waste. The exhibition was designed by local office Rar.Studio and curated by architect Pedro Ignacia Alonso with art curator Pamela Prado.
    “Cycles addresses the role of architecture within the endless processes of transformation and redistribution of matter, and showcases the possible encounter between architecture and sustainability, economy, heritage and memory,” said organisers of Lisbon Architecture Triennale.
    A focal point of the exhibition is Falca, a mound of cork piled in the rear corner of the gallery by artist Lara Almarcegui.

    Visionaries is described by its curator Anastassia Smirnova as an “invitation for action”. It is arranged within the Culturgest centre across a collection of rooms, which each shed light on radical ideas spanning different categories or themes.
    Among the visionary projects is Dutch architecture studio MVRDV’s proposal to raise Eindhoven’s cathedral by 55 metres to insert social and public functions below it, alongside an exploration into French architect Roger Anger’s utopian city Auroville in India. Other contributors include Japanese studio Tomoaki Uno Architects, Spanish architect Andrés Jaque and Spanish office Ensamble Studio.
    “Their projects, more than mere physical and spatial structures, are ambitious and controversial prescriptions for planetary strategies,” said Lisbon Architecture Triennale.
    “In many different forms, from the bedroom scale to city models, these radical prototypes are open to being productively interpreted, not just replicated, by future generations.”

    Independent Projects
    Alongside the main exhibitions, a total of 16 projects have been developed in response to the triennale’s theme of Terra. Twelve of these are exhibited at the event’s headquarters at Palacio Sinel de Cordes, while the other four are dotted across the city of Lisbon.
    Among them is After Plastics, a project by that imagines a landscape where microplastics play a vital role in a new plant growth. Meanwhile, designers Zhicheng Xu, Mengqi Moon He, Stratton Coffman, Calvin Zhong and Wuyahuang Li, are presenting Lodgers, a proposal for temporary housing for different life forms in Nevada, built from local materials.
    Lisbon Architecture Triennale takes place from 1 October to 5 December 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
    The photography is by Sara Constança.

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    Material and spatial contrasts define Barwon Heads House by Adam Kane Architects

    Australian studio Adam Kane Architects has renovated a cottage on a quiet coastal street in Barwon Heads and connected it to a barn-like extension by a glazed link.

    Named Barwon Heads House, the project was designed by Melbourne studio Adam Kane Architects as a contemporary dwelling that embodied a “relaxed, coastal lifestyle”.
    Adam Kane Architects extended and renovated a cottage in Barwon HeadsPrior to Adam Kane Architects’ renovation and extension, the neglected weatherboarded cottage was known locally as “the dump”.
    Its transformation led it to be shortlisted house interior of the year in the Dezeen Awards 2022 and win the public vote for the same category.
    Barwon Heads House is clad in woodAdopting a minimal palette of monochrome contrasts, the studio painted the existing cottage’s exterior entirely black, pairing it with a lighter extension clad in silvery-grey weathered wooden planks.

    Beneath steeply pitched black metal roofs, this play of contrasts continues to the interiors, creating a spatial journey of “compression and release” that begins in the more compartmentalised cottage containing three bedrooms and a bathroom.
    Contrasting colours and materials feature throughoutMoving through the existing cottage into the small glazed link and a dark corridor, Barwon Heads House’s extension opens up into a large living and dining space, overlooked by the main bedroom on a mezzanine above.
    Full-height windows look out to Barwon Heads House’s garden to the north, while a narrow clerestory-level window opposite draws in light above its kitchen.

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    “Access to the extension is via an enclosed corridor, lined with black mottled joinery panels on walls and ceilings, and is used to conceal doorways into the rumpus, laundry and storage areas,” said Adam Kane Architects.
    “The ‘journey’ through this dark corridor with a lower ceiling creates a sense of compression before a sense of release when walking towards the living room, where the gable opens up into the main space,” it continued.
    The extension has a deliberately simple finishExisting features were retained in the cottage, while the extension has a deliberately simple interior finished with oak panelling and exposed concrete. Slabs of travertine marble are used as countertops, coffee tables and a large dining table.
    “Heritage features are maintained through the use of the original lining board ceilings, as well as period skirting and architraves, which fit perfectly with the renewed tones,” said the studio.
    “The timber lining helps blur the threshold between inside and out, delineating zones, making spaces feel more generous and contributing to the relaxed feel of the home.”
    It is designed as a spatial journey of “compression and release”Adam Kane Architects was founded in 2015, and its previous projects include a bridal boutique in Melbourne with minimal finishes of concrete and marble.
    Alongside Barwon Heads House, other projects shortlisted in the house interior category of Dezeen Awards 2022 include a home in Melbourne with a palette of “organic” materials by Brave New Eco and the renovation of a 120-year-old townhouse in Kyoto by Td-Atelier and Endo Shojiro Design.
    The photography is by Timothy Kaye.

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    Copenhagen Architecture Festival exhibition responds to “ridiculous” big-budget building projects

    An exhibition in Copenhagen showcases work by students who were instructed to develop projects for extreme environments in order to come up with original design solutions not influenced by “castle in the sky” builds and architecture blogs.

    Named New Methods for Big Challenges: Architecture and Extreme Environments, the exhibition was commissioned for this year’s ongoing Copenhagen Architecture Festival (CAFx).
    It was curated by David Garcia, founder of local studio MAP Architects and an associate professor at the Royal Danish Academy’s architecture and technology institute, where he teaches a masters course titled Architecture and Extreme Environments.
    The exhibition is being held at Halmtorvet 27 in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking DistrictThe exhibition showcases the result of students’ work on the programme, which sees them live and work for weeks in harsh locations such as Alaska and the Gobi Desert.
    There they must seek to build and test design prototypes that benefit the communities living in these challenging environments by harnessing the resources available and collaborating with local people.

    Garcia said the aim of the course, as well as responding to climate change, is to give the students no choice but to produce original architecture – without the temptation to copy what they see online.
    “I wanted to make my students start in a very difficult place where there is no precedent, pushing them to an extreme context so they have to think anew,” he told Dezeen.
    “It’s partly based on the idea that it’s hard for students to separate themselves from the images they see on the architecture blogs. These websites have an enormous impact on students, who crave inspiration, but it can be overwhelming as there is so much readily available.”
    Garcia said the idea for the masters course was based on his time making “ridiculous” projects at a large British architecture firmHe added that his own experience working on big-budget projects for rich clients while at major British architecture firm Foster + Partners was behind the conception of the course.
    “I spent many years designing castles in the sky and that was pivotal in coming up with this programme,” he said.
    “I realised that from a resource perspective, and from the point of view of solving the world’s problems it was ridiculous. I’m extremely critical of those types of projects despite having worked on them myself in the past.”

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    The exhibition starts with blown-up versions of pamphlets produced by MAP Architects exploring concepts for architecture in places like Antarctica, Chernobyl, or the Earth’s orbit.
    For instance, one pamphlet suggests that Antarctica’s constant extreme cold be used to cool seeds in a World Seed Bank, as an alternative to the centre in the Arctic’s Svalbard where air conditioning is sometimes required due to temperature fluctuation.
    Among the projects featured in the main exhibition is a desalination device produced by a student placed with an Inuit community in the Bering Strait, where only saltwater is readily accessible.
    Projects were developed in locations like Alaska, the Gobi Desert and the Atacama DesertThe student’s research uncovered that thawing saltwater ice initially produces drinkable water, as this melts faster than saline.
    Via a series of tubes and chambers, the device takes a block of saltwater ice and transforms it into a glass of fresh water overnight that can be drunk in the morning.
    Meanwhile, the orange Inxect suit by Pavel Liepins aims to tackle issues of plastic pollution and food security in the Faroe Islands.
    It channels body heat and humidity generated by movement into an attached habitat for plastic-eating mealworms, which are non-toxic to humans and rich in protein.
    Students were encouraged to think originally about ways they could respond to the challenges of harsh environmentsSome exhibits play with materials, such as an insulation product made out of pine needles by a student placed in Alaska and a method for creating bricks from sand by a student sent to China’s Gobi Desert by Gabriele Jerosine.
    Not all the projects worked successfully, including a device intended to wrap around the stilts of houses in flood-prone Manaus, Brazil, to produce tidal energy, which proved to be overcomplicated and too fragile to function.
    “Personally I don’t care whether their experiments work or not, and I don’t have a specific aesthetic that I look for; that’s not as relevant to me, I’d like the students to explore their own aesthetics,” explained Garcia.

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    “What I care about is that the students are working with the goal of improving the environment in mind, and doing so in a way that is unique to them,” he added.
    Garcia’s own work also features, in the form of a passive heating tent developed for the Atacama Desert in Chile where temperatures get very high during the day but drop dramatically at night.
    The tent uses a self-activating piston to expose a stick of soapstone, an efficient thermal accumulation material, to the sun to be heated during the day before being withdrawn into the tent at night where it gradually radiates heat to provide warmth.
    The exhibition runs until 20 NovemberSome projects produced by students on the course – which has an intake of between 20 and 25 each year – have worked so well that they have been left for use by the community.
    One such example is a project that used urine’s electrolyte properties to power a toilet light in rural Zanzibar, to enable women to feel safe using it at night.
    New Methods for Big Challenges: Architecture and Extreme Environments is being held in CAFx’s space at Halmtorvet 27 in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District and runs until 20 November.
    Copenhagen Architecture Festival is running a series of events across Copenhagen and Aarhus, mainly between 6 and 16 October 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
    The photography is by Francesco Martello.

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