After delays, new D.C. streetcar line hopes to open in November

After missing its 2013 deadline, Washington D.C.’s streetcar could possibly open this fall—that’s according to a source involved with the project. The in-the-know individual told American University’s radio station, WAMU, that the H Street-Benning Road line could be up and running the first week of November. But, according to WNYC, a lot has to get done for the […]

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US ABI Shows Continued Growth in June

The US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) continued showing significant improvement in June, jumping to 53.5 from 52.6 in May, and hitting new records in the Projects Inquiry and Design Contracts indexes.

As the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports, the new Projects Inquiry Index surged to 66.4, its highest level in the year to date. In addition, the AIA’s new Design Contracts Index hit 55.7 – its highest mark since the indictor starting being measured in October 2010.

“The recent surge in both design contracts and general inquiries for new projects by prospective clients is indicative of a sustainable strengthening across the construction marketplace,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “With the first positive reading since last summer in billings at institutional firms, it appears that design activity for all major segments of the building industry is growing.  The challenge now for architecture firms seems to be finding the right balance for staffing needs to meet increasing demand.”

A breakdown of regional highlights, after the break…

Regional Averages:

Midwest (56.3)
South (53.9)
Northeast (51.1)
West (48.7)

Sector Index Breakdown:

Multi-family residential (57.7)
Mixed Practice (53.8)
Commercial/industrial (53.1)
Institutional (50.2)

Key June ABI Highlights:

Project inquiries index: 66.4
Design contracts index: 55.7

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. Regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers. Any score above 50 reflects an increase in design services. 

News via the AIA.

US ABI Shows Continued Growth in June originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects + Richard Hopkinson Architects

Architects: Platform 5 Architects + Richard Hopkinson Architects
Location: London, UK
Area: 3,000 sqm
Photographs: Alan Williams Photography

From the architect. Phase 1

The £3 million project opens up the existing landmark 1930s building to create a new series of formal and informal education and meeting areas, which work as set of interacting horizontal and vertical layered spaces. The intervention of a suspended glazed seminar box within the central learning space, accessed by a slender oak-lined staircase, is the project’s most striking feature.

Our team have transformed the previously austere and run-down main spaces in the college to create a welcoming, inclusive and contemporary environment for students, staff and other building users. This project marks the first phase in the delivery of a strategic masterplan. The success of the project has led to a further commission to carry out the second stage of the masterplan with a £4.9M project.

Phase 2

This £4.9 million development, which marks the second phase of our work for Waltham Forest College in collaboration with Richard Hopkinson Architects, continues to upgrade routes and maximise the use of previously underused or redundant spaces.

Above the entrance lobby a new student zone offers a place for relaxation and extracurricular activities alongside a mezzanine floor dedicated to the Students Union.

On the ground floor, the large unused area beneath the main entrance steps has been refurbished to create a 70-seater lecture theatre and an innovative Market Place incorporating a butchery, a bakery, a reprographics and stationary centre and a start-up business incubator.

The 1970s Lowery Centre has been re-clad and the fashion department’s workshops renovated to produce bright modern workspaces.

The scheme also includes a Young Persons Learning Centre incorporating a workshop, a life skills classroom, a light craft room and flexible teaching space. The Centre will have direct access to a landscaped courtyard.

Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography
Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects  + Richard Hopkinson Architects © Alan Williams Photography

Waltham Forest College / Platform 5 Architects + Richard Hopkinson Architects originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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Urban Think Tank Responds to the Forced Eviction of Torre David Residents

Following yesterday’s news story about the forced eviction of the thousands of inhabitants living in Venezuela’s Torre de David (Tower of David), the world’s tallest vertical slum, Urban-Think Tank has issued a statement. The group, which spent two years researching the remarkable urban space for their Golden Lion-winning Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2012, has spoken with residents and hopes to provoke the architectural/design communities by adding their voice to the debate. Read the full statement, after the break. 

THE FUTURE OF TORRE DAVID

We at U-TT have been closely following recent news coverage regarding Torre David’s redevelopment. As reported in both local and international press, the Venezuelan government has struck an agreement with Chinese investors to restore the complex of buildings to their original purposes – a commercial center and office tower. With surprising speed, the government initiated the eviction process of residents two days ago and have declared their intention to relocate all 1,200 families to a new social housing project by September.

From 2011-2012, our research and design team was heavily engaged in Torre David. We saw it as a misunderstood and important place within the physical and social geography of not just Caracas or Venezuela, but Latin America and perhaps even the urban planet as a whole.

When dealing with informal settlements, infusions of money for major public works and other approaches that involve large-scale rapid change – such as the razing of slums and relocation of poor populations – have generally failed in the complex setting of the city. The commercial housing market simply does not supply enough homes. There are too few units of social housing, and the majority of these are far beyond the reach of low-income families. The dire asymmetries of capital in the global south do little to help; yet various forms of structural neglect have not always diminished great entrepreneurial vigor. Shunned by governments and the formal private sector, city dwellers, like those in Torre David, have devised and employed tactics to improvise shelter and housing.

In Latin American cities, most urban space is already built up, or over built. There is limited room for new buildings, and existing buildings are at times partially occupied or inefficiently used. We believe that the solution lies not in demolishing buildings and building anew, but in making a more efficient, strategic and appropriate use of what already exists to meet ever-changing needs. This can be through reusing and recycling, or providing agency and visibility to inhabitants already engaged in such processes.

After months of documentation, analysis, discussions with residents, and design proposals at Torre David, we publicized our work through a variety of means – exhibitions, a book, a short film, and lectures. We strove to focus greater attention on the story and situation of Torre David because we believed that there was something valuable to learn from what the residents created in seven years of extra-legal occupation. What we found was neither a den of criminality nor a romantic utopia. Torre David is a building that has the complexity of a city. It merges formal structure and informal adaptation to provide urgently needed solutions, and shows us how bottom-up resourcefulness has the ability to address prevailing urban scarcities.

Now, two months after the government of Nicolas Maduro announced its intention to work with the community of Torre David to improve living conditions, it has begun a process of transformation that begins with eviction. We are holding our breaths, like many of the residents, as they wait to see the precise results of the government’s scheme. Our concerns do not arise from a desire to see Torre David remain as it is, but because the details that have emerged do not necessarily suggest a positive outcome for those affected.

What we do know is that of the nearly 100 families that have already been removed from Torre David, all are being sent to government-built housing in a small city over 50 km from Caracas. We hope that the same mistakes of slum eradication made by governments around the world for the past 60 years are being heeded. Not only with regards to residents receiving humane treatment and being provided with appropriate opportunities to raise their families in safe and secure environments, but also in ensuring authorities prevent the dislocation of established social networks and livelihoods linked to employment opportunities in adjacent areas. Past failures have consistently perpetuated or exacerbated systemic poverty.

Moreover, we hope that whatever redevelopment plan the government and investors formulate, they strive to turn Torre David into a site for social – not just economic – change within Caracas. We saw the potential of the monumental structure, its geographic location, and creative re-programming, as an opportunity for innovative and inclusive development. Ernesto Viellgas, the Minister of State for the Revolutionary Transformation of Greater Caracas, announced that the government’s actions are not motivated by commercial interest, but rather by humanitarian concerns. For the sake of Caracas, we hope this to be the case.

Urban Think Tank Responds to the Forced Eviction of Torre David Residents originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy

The Rhode Island School Of Design, Brown University and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany collaborated on a passive “fabric” house for the 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe (which just wrapped up this month – see the winners here). In the following article, originally published on Metropolis Magazine, Martin Pedersen reviews the remarkable house.

This summer’s 2014 Solar Decathlon Europe is well underway in France, where a solar-powered village of twenty sustainable homes designed and built by college students from all over the country, has emerged on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Brown University, and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt, Germany, have teamed up for Techstyle Haus, an 800-square-foot house that’s not only a model of energy efficiency but an elegant piece of design as well.

The structure—which successfully attains the Passive House Standard by using 90% less energy for heating and cooling than a traditional building—is the product of an 18-month-long cross-disciplinary, cross-continental collaboration. “Overall, through classes, workshops and seminars, more than 150 people have touched the project at some point,” says RISD student and team member Allison Chen. “Workshops were held in both Erfurt and Providence, where we designed prototypes. Once construction began we delved deeper into our respective roles—engineering, for example, or architecture or interior design—but we all continued to build the house together.“

The house gets its Bauhaus-inflected name from the high-performance textile shell, which is stretched over the structure, and then covered with a flexible fiberglass material called Sheerfill II Architectural Membrane. This in turn is layered with an EverClean Photocatalytic Topcoat. (An extremely slick and well-produced video explains the process.) According to RISD, this is the first time the material has been used for residential application.

“The difference between the U.S. Solar Decathlon and the European competition is that the European decathlon includes an innovation award,” Chen says. “That really struck our interest, and we began exploring ideas like using algae or having moving parts, and finally someone suggested a fabric house.”

The house was originally constructed in Providence and then disassembled, placed in crates, and shipped to France for relatively easy re-assembly at Versailles. When the competition ends in mid-July, Techstyle Haus will be shipped to Domaine de Boisbuchet, the site of an annual art and design workshop, where it will serve as a living laboratory and teaching tool as well as student housing.

Interested in learning about more Materials? Check out our new US product catalog, ArchDaily Materials. 

Techstyle Haus: An 800 Square Foot Fabric House That Uses 90% Less Energy originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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Single-family House in Groharjevo / 3biro

Architects: 3biro
Location: Groharjevo naselje, Škofja Loka, Slovenia
Area: 33 sqm
Year: 2009
Photographs: Miran Kambič

From the architect. The clients were a usual young family, a couple with small children. They bought the plot in package with standard house plans with a building permit. They came to our office if we could move some windows for them, however we introduced them our vision of their house and of course they were fascinated since it was tailored to them.

The 3 floors are layers of different use: the top floor is most private with sleeping units, in the middle on the groundfloor is a big open living area and kitchen, and below is the lowest floor where working and living is combined – the client is a engineer and has his office and showroom here. When the kids come from school they occupy this area, over the large overhang they can play outside no matter the weather.

Based on the specifics of the given site – its sloping terrain and the dense settlement surroundings, and the desire for as much outside area as possible our biggest challenge was how to make the building with the smallest footprint and leaving the most of the plot green, open. With two overhangs the result is 180m2 house with a 33m2 footprint.

It seems that the house only slightly touches the sloping terrain. Two covered outside areas are created. One as an extension of the basement, protected from the street and oriented towards nature. The other on street level, as a covered entrance and parking area. The vertical diversity of the object continues on the inside – the living room rises in double height, with large windows on both sides.

The next challenge was to combine the form with the structural material – this was accomplished by working with top wood engineering experts with contemporary wood high-tech knowledge. The building construction is made of reinforced concrete in the basement and a combination of timber frames and cross-laminated timber above.

The decision to use wood as the structural material was because of the speed and cleanliness of construction as well as sustainable reasons – Slovenia is rich with woods and living in a wooden house is pleasant. The north and south facades have large windows towards beautiful views. They are clad with wood and speak about the structural material of the house. Facades on the east and west are as closed as possible, the material (corrugated fibre-cement sheets) is the same as the roof and it protects from the neighboring houses.

And last but not least, such architecturally and structurally outstanding design requires consistant colaboration with the conductor and the building constructor, from beginning to the end.

Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro © Miran Kambič
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro Basement Floor Plan
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro Ground Floor Plan
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro First Floor Plan
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro Section 01
Single-family house in Groharjevo / 3biro Section 02

Single-family House in Groharjevo / 3biro originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK

architecture runners house ar design studio Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UKLocated in the outskirts of Winchester, United Kingdom, Kilham House was once a common looking building with a confusing layout. AR Design Studio came up with the idea for a modern extension that gives the crib (now entitled “The Runners House“) a distinctive look and feel: “A grand, double-height entrance guides you into the building, immediately bringing you into the heart of the home which has now been become the main living space for the family. A large expanse of sliding glazing gives views into the garden, allowing the three children to run wild whilst the parents can relax in the central space and still keep a watchful eye”.

design runners house ar design studio Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK The central timber form connects the two wings of the project, while ensuring an interesting access path towards the garden. A large concrete plinth that steps down to the courtyard creates a place to relax and dine outdoors. The interiors are minimalist, yet welcoming, exuding a powerful connection to the outdoors. A central staircase with eye-catching steel wires around it separates the space between the kitchen, dining and living areas. Foscarini’s Gregg pendant lights add up to the to overall feeling of space. [Photography: Martin Gardner]
exterior runners house ar design studio Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 1 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 2 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 3 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 4 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 5 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 6 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK runners house ar design studio 7 Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK

The post Modern Extension Reshaping a Confusing Home Layout in Winchester, UK appeared first on Freshome.com.

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Reviving Vacant Buildings: A Tale of Two Cities

A former treasure in Louisville is now nothing more than a storage facility, while a dilapidated office building in Paris has sat empty for months on end. Both of these cities are taking proactive, but wildly different, measures to help the valuable vacant buildings and lots in their jurisdictions find new life. To learn more about each city’s potential solution to this global problem, keep reading after the break.

The city of Louisville, Kentucky has become the first to team up with OpportunitySpace, an online resource that makes information about under-valued properties, such as vacant lots and brownfields, readily accessible to citizens and developers interested in potential investment opportunities. The website streamlines the process of accessing relevant information about these properties, such as local market trends, land use parameters, and financial information, which is often difficult to track down.

The company also builds detailed profiles of what they call “legacy properties.” One such property is the Louisville Gardens, formerly known as the Jefferson County Armory. Since opening in 1905, the building has hosted college and professional basketball games, speakers like Martin Luther King and Harry Truman, and musical acts such as Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley. In 1980, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but has become all but invisible to the city’s residents after remaining vacant for years. Properties such as the Louisville Gardens require unique investors, often from elsewhere in the country, which is why promoting them on an online platform such as OpportunitySpace is useful.

Paris, on the other hand, is taking a radically different approach to revamping its disused and deteriorating buildings. The city is making multiple – rather drastic – moves to create more residences. Starting in January of 2015, for example, landlords will be fined about 20 percent of the property’s rental value in the first year of vacancy, 30 percent in the second year, and 40 percent in the third. At the moment, somewhere between six and seven percent of offices spaces are vacant. The city hopes that by imposing fines, landlords will chose to convert their vacant offices spaces into homes, ultimately resulting in an additional 200,000 square meters of living space.

To aid the process, new laws are being put into place to reduce the redevelopment costs of converting. For example, height restrictions have been lowered on the periphery of the city and new homes will no longer require parking spaces. On top of all of this, landlords will get an incentive to rent to financially riskier lower-income tenants in the future.

Despite the efforts, however, the plan has some potentially dangerous loop-holes. Some landlords might choose to rent out their offices for a reduced fee in order to avoid fines, while others might be forced to sell their properties because they cannot afford to convert them into apartments. However, the city insists that the fines should have the intended effect: ensuring valuable real-estate is not wasted.

Story via CityLab (Link 1, Link 2) and WDRB

Reviving Vacant Buildings: A Tale of Two Cities originally appeared on ArchDaily, the most visited architecture website on 23 Jul 2014.

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