May 22, 2012

Building the Future: Top Degree Programs in Sustainable Architecture and Design

guest post by Lauren Bailey

The term "sustainability" has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Sustainability, as an environmental issue, means that we as a society find ways to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As issues of climate change and global waste become more and more pertinent within our society, ecological sustainability has become a priority throughout the world. Institutions of higher learning have always been the main platform for forward-thinking and passionate individuals to create new methods and techniques for improving the way in which we live. It is through education and academia that a truly sustainable future can be harvested—new programs in sustainability are cropping up within numerous schools throughout the United States. These three universities in the US provide some of the best and most unique architecture and design programs available.

Boston Architectural College- The Sustainable Design Institute
With every course focused on sustainable design, Boston Architectural College (BAC) is a wonderful choice for students devoted to sustainability and awareness. Offering courses in Sustainable Design, Sustainable Community Planning and Design, Sustainable Residential Design, and Sustainable Building Design, BAC provides a fairly diverse array of programs. The college contains a School of Architecture, School of Interior Design, School of Landscape Architecture, and a School of Design Studies. With both distance and online education opportunities, SAC provides for a more flexible educational option than many other design and architectural programs.

One interesting and unique thing that Boston Architectural College offers is its Summer Academy for high school design exploration. This program encourages high school age students to engage in a four-week design studio. Students will "build fundamental architectural design skills through hands-on projects" and will have the opportunity to collaborate with studio leaders and fellows students to address design problems including structure, form, sustainability, beauty, and utility. This program is a wonderful way for school aged students to approach concept of sustainability in a more practical and approachable manner.

University California Berkeley- Environmental Design
UC Berkeley is known for its academics in many different departments and areas. The school's College of Environmental Design (CED) is no exception. Founded in 1959, the CED has emphasized environmental design as an ethical practice, co-produced through dynamic engagements with diverse communities, workers, businesses, and policy-makers. This approach to sustainable design is an important one. By placing the responsibility not solely on the architect, designer, builder, etc., we have a better chance of really addressing issues of sustainability in urban planning and development. UC Berkeley was one of the first institutions to conceptualize environmental design as something that is inseparable from its social, political- economic, and cultural contexts. This realization and practice is essential.

UC Berkeley's Department of City and Regional Planning provides a wonderful example of combining both the social and design elements of sustainable design into one degree program. This department offers degrees such as a Bachelor's in Urban Studies, a Master's of City Planning, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning. These programs are spread throughout the areas of Architecture, International and Area Studies, Public Health, Landscape Architecture, and Transportation Engineering. Truly an interdisciplinary program, this department offers a variety of options for individuals interested in city planning, architecture, sustainability, and sociology.

University of Oregon- Department of Architecture
It's not much of a surprise that this Pacific Northwest University holds some of the top spots for sustainable degree programs across the board. The UO Department of Architecture holds two locations in both Eugene and Portland, providing a diverse environment for study with both a big-time city and a small town structure. The department offers a few degree options including, Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Architecture in Portland. The architecture program that is specifically interested in urban issues in Portland provides a unique learning experience for students. This program focuses on the influence of urban design and planning on building design, using Portland itself as a living laboratory for urban architecture. Students can also gain experience from UO's International Programs in Architecture. Providing a "deep understanding of how the design of buildings interacts with the physical and cultural contexts of human traditions, landscapes, settlements, cities, and suburbs," students can study abroad to explore architecture. These programs abroad offer degree requirements at the intermediate level design studios in Rome, Italy, Copenhagen, and Vancouver. There is also a program in Landscape architecture offered in Kyoto, Japan.


This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for She welcomes your comments at her email: blauren99

May 19, 2012

Slideshow: Knoll Ridge Cafe - designed by Harris Butt Architecture

View more presentations from Photographer Simon Devitt

Knoll Ridge Café
Whakapapa Ski Field, Mt Ruapehu

With the destruction of the original Knoll Ridge Chalet in February 2009, an ambitious design/construction programme was initiated to create temporary replacement facilities (café, toilets) for the 2009 winter season followed by the design and construction of a new café for the 2010 winter season. The simple lean-too structure of the temporary café building tested the construction process and the selection of materials facilitating the adoption of a similar methodology and material selection for the new café.

The new café is located approximately 50m down the mountain from the original café site, with the main café floor at approximately 2010m ASL. The eastern face of the building is located on the edge of the drop off to the Te Heuheu Valley. The north face looks back down the mountain whilst to the west is the chair lift and ski area. The new building accommodates café seating for approximately 400 people with servery, kitchen and support facilities all on one level. At this same level, a deck area for approximately 200 people is provided. The main public toilet area, staff facilities and storage are on the level below with separate access from the outside as well connection to the café via an internal stair.

A major consideration in the design of the building was the issue of the remote location. The building was to be constructed during the summer with limited access – all materials had to either be delivered by helicopter or on the near by chair lift – no road access. Alternatively, materials could be delivered over snow in the preceding winter season. The entire building, from foundation beams/floor panels to roof sections and windows was broken down into a modular panelized system, which allowed for delivery, placement and erection by helicopter and on site plant.

The form of the building reflects the strong geological features of the mountain. The “gull wing” roof was to appear to “cradle” the mountains peak. On a practical level is used to manage the snow. The building is designed to cover with up 3.0m of snow. Timber has been used extensively inside and out to create the warm “feeling” of the “traditional” mountain chalet without adopting the traditional form. The glass exterior (particularly to the east wall) is the other feature of the building – allowing full exposure to the magnificence view to the Pinnacle Ridge.

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Photography by Simon Devitt

May 18, 2012

Architectural Photography from New Zealand by Simon Devitt

I've recently been in conversation with an architectural photographer from New Zealand who is partnering with to bring us images of some of the incredible architecture being created on the island nation. Starting tomorrow Simon Devitt will be sending along slideshows of some of the projects he has recently photographed. The concept for his photography series is to showcase a new project every few weeks. We will curate the projects to bring some of the most creative project and beautiful designs that New Zealand has to offer. I look forward to our collaboration.

More about Simon and his Photography:Auckland Photographer Simon Devitt brings a unique view to photography of Architecture. While this genre appears quite specific, it offers me the broadest possible view on the world; landscapes, the built environment and people are all treated with the same democratic eye. I have not trained in architecture, and I taught myself photography. I capture what I see not only as 'an outsider looking in' but as an outsider 'exposing' beauty in situations where inherent beauty might be present but not articulated as a dramatic moment, or series of dramatic moments. Translating reality to two dimensions produces a medium of pure perception. Beauty to me is infinite in its complexities and exquisite in its simplicity. Two of the complexities I love are decisive moments and decay. Decay to me offers the most compelling aspect of beauty; time has to have played out, a space has to have been lived in, or used to a degree that the original intention of the design becomes a part of the person or people, and vice versa. Mostly the appetite in the magazine world is for newness and a fresh perspective on design, which reveals other aspects of beauty. I'd love to revisit some of these places in ten years to see how they look.

May 16, 2012

Invest. Engage. Inspire | McGregor Community Centre Lounge

Invest. Engage. Inspire
This project was part of the City of Toronto’s commitment to investing in 13 priority neighborhoods over a 4-year period to fund new youth-focused recreational facilities. Located in downtown Toronto, the McGregor Community Centre Lounge creates a new street façade that extends out toward Lawrence Ave.E. The new Lounge includes meeting space, computer areas, an office, kitchen, ample storage and an outdoor courtyard.  

Bold Design Infuses Lounge with Color and Light
Bortolotto’s bold design for this project was conceived of a horizontal split box. The lower portion is comprised of solid brick and block allowing for visual privacy and a safe and secure environment on the inside as the users had requested. The upper portion is made of glass panels that create a lantern allowing natural light to spill into the space.  The glass panels in various colors wrap the upper portion of the addition toward the main entry to the building resulting in an energetic focal point of the community centre.

Meet. Learn. Play
McGregor Community Centre Lounge was the result of an intensive public consultation process, that engaged the local community and gave youth the opportunity to experience first-hand about the design and construction industry. The final result is a bright, open, lofty gathering space. Designed to be a safe, secure and inspiring meeting place, this Lounge has fast become a city jewel and community landmark where youth, seniors and families meet, play and learn.

May 15, 2012

Video: A light Haven by Brullon-Trolio-Marinot Architects

Untitled from light haven on Vimeo.

“A Light Haven” - by Brullon-Trolio-Marinot architects
In between two strata. Under the railroad, in levitation above the street, A Light Haven takes place in an urban cavity, affirming an identity based on duality, and synergy with the place’s architecture. Natural fiber against industrial steel, lightness against heaviness, curves against straight lines, light against darkness, and weightlessness against gravity: A Light Haven finds its own identity through the contrasts. The project unrolls a network of ropes on the whole area. While the original deepness of the space is kept, a path emerges, making the place special. Above, underneath, through the enveloping forms, the visitor perceives the space in its entirety. He walks around and gets information behind the frail fiber cocoons and, at last, penetrates the intimacy of the exhibited works of art. The structure’s lightness and its slow beat contrasts with the urban activity around. Materiality, light, sound: all the elements play a part. A Light Haven quivers with the breeze; the light intensity is synchronized with the sound of the wind rustling through the ropes, providing a soothing distraction from the urban noise. Like the High Line, A Light Haven offers, in its own way, an alternative to the urban environment. The counterparts form a unity in their duality, eventually constituting one single architecture."

May 14, 2012

Simple Design Elegance - Blümen

by Pierce Atkinson,

I recently visited my Nations Capital, to catchup with an old friend. Ottawa, Ontario is an amazing city with much to offer and great developments. It is the second largest city in the Province of Ontario and the fourth largest city in the country, and boasts some of the most iconic architecture of Canada. Although the government buildings attract most of the tourism and high profile architecture, it is the smaller scale design that caught my eye.

While visiting my friend she introduced me to a great little gem in the Hintonburg neighbourhood of Ottawa, Blümen Studio. Blümen became a reality a little over a year for owners Kat and Nathan. I got in touch with Kat to ask a few questions about the space and how it evolved into an amazing Floral Design boutique and Café.

When she first took over the space Kat explained that it was originally an old fashioned variety store with minimal updates having been done over the years. Today she has transformed the boutique into a 21st century variety store; "...we still offer a whole variety of things just with a little twist." says Kat.

The renovations took ten weeks with no hired help. " was a lot of work. This place was run down BAD." reflects Kat. As mentioned, no designers or contractors were hired for the job leaving Kat to conceptualize all design elements and layouts herself. Her partner Nathan helped with all the labour and detailing, the space reflects what a great team they make; "Nathan is gold. He asks me what I want, I tell him, and he gets on it and does it and here we have the finished product."

Kat used very simple and elegant materials throughout the space. Her work area is made up of simple stainless steel counter tops freestanding in the middle of the room. White walls and white subway tiles on the café counter contrast beautifully with the reclaimed wood flooring - my favourite part of the space. The rough wood has been maintained, complete with glue from the previous flooring in the old variety store, and offers a beautiful aged warmth. Kat and Nathan finished it nicely leaving the floor as is and just sealing it with a high gloss varnish. "We like to recycle and make old new again. Make it look fab but keep it simple. Thats the key, SIMPLE." Kat says of the space. The lines, materials and vintage furniture Kat has placed in the store all tie in together so well, making the space incredibly inviting and captivating.

When asked where she came up with the concept for the space Kat explained that her mother owned several flower stores in Germany after the wall came down. "This idea has always been on my mind. I grew up in the flower industry, I grew up practically surrounded by flowers. A florist for almost 18 years myself, I always knew it has to be a flower store cafe and here we are. I love it."

I look forward to visiting Kat and Nathan at Blümen Studio in the future to see what other exciting finds they've brought in. I strongly recommend dropping in to see the space and the unique and tasty treats Kat has to offer along with her stunning floral compositions.

Video: Ma Yansong from MAD

The Chinese architect Ma Yansong from MAD architects at the Universidad Europea de Madrid-Architecture School. Studio Banana TV had the pleasure of interviewing him. Interview realised with the sponsorship of the European University of Madrid.

Beijing-born architect Ma Yansong is recognized as an important voice in a new generation of architects. Since the founding of MAD in 2004, his works in architecture and art have been widely published and exhibited. He graduated from the Beijing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture. Ma attended Yale University after receiving the American Institute of Architects Scholarship for Advanced Architecture Research in 2001 and holds a masters degree in Architecture from Yale. He has since taught architecture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.

Ma Yansong was awarded the 2006 Architecture League Young Architects Award. In 2008 he was selected as one of the twenty most influential Young Architects today by ICON magazine and Fast Company named him one of the ten most creative people in architecture in 2009. In 2010 he became the first architect from China to receive a RIBA fellowship.
Created by Studio Banana TV

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