August 26, 2012

Unbuilt Buildings: 5 Architectural Dreams That Never Came True

Guest Post by Louise Blake 

Crafting iconic monumental buildings is no easy task - architects and funders go to great lengths to develop the new Gherkin, Shard or Eiffel Tower - but what about all the buildings that didn’t quite make it? Some incredible designs have been crafted throughout history that failed to be realized for many reasons.

The Great architect Christopher Wren, once said ‘Architecture aims at Eternity’. But sadly, these five potentially fabulous buildings missed their shot at the blue moon.

Image by Tatlin
1. Tatlin’s Tower  
Tatlin’s Tower was the brain child of Russian artist and architect Vladimir Tatlin. It was meant to be a towering tribute to both Tatlin himself and modern architecture. The plans show that it would be much larger than France’s Eiffel tower and would have been the tallest structure in the world at the time of completion. The building would have used rotating parts and a large projector on the roof to project messages onto the sky. This tower could have been awe-inspiring, but alas, it couldn’t realistically be built or funded. Russia was having a rough ride financially at the time so it was impractical to spend lots of government money on a structure that required such a huge amount of steel, especially when there were concerns that it may not even architecturally work. However, it’s the sheer scope, ambition and architectural revolution it would have represented that lands the tower a place in this list.

Image by Karora
2. McCaig’s Tower  
McCaig’s tower overlooks Oban in Argyll, Scotland. The main aim of the tower was to create a lasting monument to architect John McCaig’s family. The coliseum cost the grand total of five thousand pounds in 1897 and remains unfinished. McCaig was going to fill the building with statues of himself and his family, but it was his untimely death that stopped the project from continuing. Despite him leaving money and strict instructions to have the tower completed, his sister went against his wishes, causing much relief from the local people because McCaig planned to forbid public access. This pure vanity project will almost certainly remain half finished forever, and currently acts as a garden... for the public.


3. The Volkshalle  
The Volkshalle (“People’s Hall”) would have been a monumental building in Berlin, Germany. Planned by Adolf Hitler and his architect Albert Speer, the aim of the building was to create a breath-taking centre piece for the country’s capital. Planned models showed the great scale that the building would have taken. There are also images showing that the Nazi eagle figure on a pedestal would be included in the heart of the building. Rumour has it that at a certain time of year, when the light fell right, the eagle and pedestal would cast a shadow of Hitler’s face. Terrifying. The great domed building never entered construction following the outbreak of the war.

Image by Share Alike
4. Guggenheim Guadalajara  
This impressive Guggenheim in Guadalajara, Mexico would have been the most expensive Guggenheim Museum on record. Designed by architect Enrique Norten, it should have been completed by 2011 and its 24-storeys would have been constructed with mainly ecological materials. Disappointingly, funding was pulled and poured into the other Guggenheims in New York and across Europe instead.

Image by Share Alike
5. Plaza Rakyat  
Based in Kuala Lumpur in the heart of Malaysia, this building was started in the 1990s but is still unfinished. Again, financial crisis for the developer has been the cause for stalling of the project. The building, designed by American architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, remains half-baked with concrete, fascia and steel structuring hanging in the wings of the Malaysian capital. This building was meant to be a 79-storey office tower with a 46-storey condominium, a 24-storey hotel and a seven-storey shopping centre.  Who knows what will happen in the future with this one. It’s still officially on hold and has been since 1997.

 The sheer number of unfinished buildings across the globe is huge. A range of reasons can halt construction, from natural disasters to financial problems, architect death to planning issues. If you think you know of an unbuilt building that should be on this list – let us know in the comments below...

This guest post was written by Louise Blake, a writer with a passion for architecture and design, who blogs for Eurocell.

August 23, 2012

Slideshow: Ngati Hine Childcare Center - by Phil Smith Architects



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This design is an early childhood building for a Maori tribe (Ngāti Hine) in Kawakawa, New Zealand. The brief called for a building which would not only accommodate the tribes new mokopuna (generation) but teach them about their culture and customs on a daily basis whilst having a minimal impact on the environment.

Our concept for the building is based on the Maori tradition that all life is born from the womb of Papatūānuku (earth mother), under the sea: the word for land (whenua) in Maori also means placenta.
Our design is conceived by shaping the land into a womb-like form, with the building forming just like a baby within: the building literally grows out of the land. The only opening to the building is along the north facade, and reads as a cut in the earth. This cut symbolically represents the caesarian birth through which all of the tribe take their lineage: their ancestor Hine ā Maru was the first recorded Maori woman to deliver a child by caesarian section and survive the procedure about 600 years ago. It is from this opening that the children symbolically enter the ‘world of light’, where they play.

The building is located on marshy ground, with the ‘womb-like form’ appearing as an island, relating back to the tradition that all land is born from under the sea. A bridge is formed to give access to the island, which is symbolically shaped into the tribal waka (canoe) Ngātokimatawhaorua,representing the journey of the tribes forefathers from Hawaiki to Aotearoa (NZ).

The earth that mounds up over the building makes reference to Ngāti Hine-pukerau (Ngāti Hine of a hundred hills – a local name derived from the landscape). The interior, below the earth, represents the nearby Waiomio caves where the ancestors lay buried and the Ruapekapeka pā (fortification) where the ancestor Kawiti cleverly used underground shelters as defence from attack. The circular plan form of the design also draws inspiration from traditional pā, as does the pallisade fencing.

According to ‘kaitiakitanga’, sustainability is an integrated concept in Maori culture, so all ‘symbolic’features in this design have many passive environmental purposes: all glazing (double) is oriented to the north for maximum solar gain, whilst the super insulated earth roof results in minimal heat loss, which is further assisted by the unheated circulation space placed to the south. For maximum internal comfort, exposed concrete construction and natural ventilation allows the building to be passively cooled in summer, with minimal heating in winter provided by a solar hot water underfloor system. All classrooms are naturally daylit and need no additional electrical lighting. All rainwater that falls on paved surfaces is retained and used for toilet flushing. All wastewater is treated on site and used for irrigation of the green roof and earth bank. The building has been submitted for a Green Star rating and is expected to achieve a high 5 star / 6 star rating (Greenstar ratings are 4-6 star).

Phil Smith Architect (UK) RIBA NZ GSAP
phil@philsmith.co.nz 
www.philsmitharchitects.com

Green and Gorgeous: Wake Technical College's New Green Campus

guest post by Jessica Verde 

I am passionate about everything green, especially when it comes to our built environment. It is frustrating to hear people talk about green building features as though they have to be ugly or, at the very least, uninteresting and plain. There are so many attractive ways to share this planet, and architecture is one of the most fascinating and challenging. When we surround ourselves with beauty, we feel good. Yet when we do it in a way that doesn’t hurt the planet, we feel great.

There are two fundamental ways to create green buildings. The first involves existing buildings and requires replacing things like out-of-date plumbing and electrical equipment, adding insulation, replacing or enhancing windows, adding solar panels and other upgrades that improve the efficiency of the building. The second is to build a new building with all these features incorporated in the design.

Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina has taken this concept one huge step further. They have created an entire campus, the 121-acre Northern Wake Campus, that has gone green – and it is gorgeous. It has been certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) which means that the design and construction of every building has met their strict requirements. There are many positive aspects to this approach for building.

  • Many institutions of higher learning are public facilities. That means taxpayers are footing the bills including energy consumption. Well-constructed buildings can last for decades and longer. Even though it may be slightly more expensive to conform to LEED requirements, as energy costs continue to rise, the payoff year will be reached quickly.

  • As more campuses report success with the use of green construction, more people will be encouraged to go green themselves. As more buildings take advantage of this approach to building, these materials and techniques will become even more cost-effective as the price of green construction comes down.

  • There are many who suffer from environmentally sensitive diseases like asthma. Green buildings are designed to reduce mold and mildew as well as greenhouse gas emissions. This means that not only are the buildings healthier, the air on these campuses is better to breathe. Students should see their health improve because of the improved air quality.

  • When people attend college, they will spend several of their formative years in buildings that are environmentally friendly. They can see for themselves how comfortable and attractive these structures are. When they graduate and purchase a home, a natural question will be how can they make their homes energy efficient because of the benefits they have personally witnessed.

College campuses have, traditionally, provided the leadership of the future. Their move toward green construction is just one more example of their leading the way in efforts to reduce our negative impact on the environment. As the numbers come in and demonstrate reduced costs and an improved environment, people will be moved to act. As the results of our abuse of the environment become more apparent and destructive, universities will provide a shining example of how we can reduce our carbon footprint and improve our quality of life at the same time.


Jessica Verde is an online instructor for The College City which can be found at www.TheCollegeCity.com . Gardening is her passion, and she says she can feed her family and neighbors tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce, corn, beans and peppers from her garden.

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