RIBA Announces Winners of the President’s Medals Student Awards 2009

from Bustler.net News by Vanilla Hustler

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) today announced the winners of the 2009 President’s Medals Student Awards.

RIBA has been awarding the President’s Medals since the 1850s and the awards were established in their current format in 1984. The aim of these prestigious awards is to promote excellence in the study of architecture, to reward talent and to encourage architectural debate worldwide. Students from RIBA recognized schools in the UK and overseas aspire each year to be selected by their school to enter for the medals and for the opportunity for their work to be recognized and publicly exhibited.

Two student projects, “A Defensive Architecture” and “An Augmented Ecology of Wildlife and Industry”, were awarded Medals, as well as the dissertation “The Art of Skew Bridges: The Technique and its History Explored”.

Here are the winners of 2009:

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Medal Winner 2009 – SOM Winner: “A Defensive Architecture” by Nicholas Szczepaniak (University of Westminster, London, UK)

Student Statement by Nicholas Szczepaniak on “A Defensive Architecture”:

This thesis is intended to expose unexpected readings of the built environment in the future if we don’t take more drastic steps to deal with climate change. Set in the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, the project envisages a set of militarised coastal defence towers that perform multiple functions:

1. The principle role of the towers is to act as an environmental warning device. The architecture is alive, dramatizing shifts in environmental conditions; breathing, creaking, groaning, sweating and crying when stressed. Air-bags on the face of the towers expand and contract, while hundreds of tensile trunks are sporadically activated, casting water on to the heated facades to produce steam. An empty watchtower at the top of each tower gives them the impression that the fragile landscape below is constantly being surveyed.

2. Across the estuary, a bed of salt marshes provides a natural form of flood defence and habitats for wildlife. Due to rising water levels and adverse weather conditions, the salt marshes are quickly deteriorating. The proposal suggests how megastructures can be integrated and used to encourage the growth of natural defence mechanisms against flooding in order to protect the erosion of fragile coastline areas and our most important cities. Over time, sand is collected at the base of each tower to form a spit across the mouth of the estuary, absorbing energy from the waves.

3. Internally, the towers serve as a vast repository for mankinds most valuable asset; knowledge. The architecture is a knowledge ark, which protects books from culminative and catastrophic deterioration.

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Medal Winner 2009: “An Augmented Ecology of Wildlife and Industry” by Wen Ying Teh (Architectural Association, London, UK)

Student Statement by Wen Ying Teh on “An Augmented Ecology of Wildlife and Industry”:

An existing salt mine sits as a scar on the Galapagos Landscape. Once the natural habitat of Flamingos, this salt lake has long been a desolate space ravaged by the nearby restaurant industry. The Galapagos is caught between its massive contribution to the Ecuadorian economy and its value as a historic wilderness.

This project is conceived of as a provocation and speculation on how these two demands may be hybridized as an alternative to the typical conservationist practices applied across the islands. The two traditionally mutually exclusive programs of salt farming and Flamingo habitat are re imagined as a new form of symbiotic designed ecology; a pink wonderland, built from colored bacteria and salt crystallization, dissolving and reshaping itself with seasonal and evaporative cycles. The building becomes an ecosystem in itself, completely embedded in the context that surrounds it.

Formed from fine webs of nylon fibers held in an aluminum frame, this strange string instrument allows the salt farming process to be drawn up out of the lake, returning it to the endemic flamingos whilst at the same time ensuring the continuation of a vital local industry. Using just capillary action, salt water from the lake crystallizes on the tension strings forming glistening, translucent enclosures. It encrusts the infrastructure of a flamingo observation hide and solidifies into a harvestable field ready to be scraped clean by miners.

The project has been developed through scale models that were used as host structures for an in depth series of crystallization experiments. Material erosion, spatial qualities, structurally capacity and evaporative cycles were all determined through physical testing. The architecture and its physical models grew slowly across time, emerging from the salt waters they were immersed in, to become fully developed crystalline structures.

The Galapagos is an ecology in crisis. The project is positioned as part documentary, part science fiction offering both a rigorous technical study and a speculative near future wilderness. An evolving future for the islands is imagined and it demands an evolved and mutated architecture.

Further Commendations went to:

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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High Commendation: ”(Re)making _City” by Paul Durcan (University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation – SOM Winner: “The Secret Policemen’s Saloon” by Robert Taylor (The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: “Media City-Vertical Discovery (MC-VD)” by Selvei Al-Assadi (London South Bank University, London, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: “Digital Intimacy” by Stephen Townsend (University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: “Pygmalion’s Cathedral of Cosmetic Surgery” by Biten Patel (University of Brighton, Brighton, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: “Wide Open / Land[s] in Lands” by Marcus Todd (University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Serjeant Award: “New Malacovia” by Pascal Bronner (University College London, London, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Serjeant Award: “Desert(ed) Hotel” by Anam Hasan (University of Greenwich, London, UK)

These projects are the Dissertation Winners:

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Medal Winner 2009: “The Art of Skew Bridges: The Technique and its History Explored” by Rebecca Gregory (University of Westminster, London, UK)

Student Statement by Rebecca Gregory on “The Art of Skew Bridges: The Technique and its History Explored”:

In the nineteenth century, with the advancement of the railway networks across the United Kingdom, bridges were becoming an increasingly necessary part of the industrial landscape. And despite the increased use of materials such as cast iron, many were still constructed of brick and stone.

The masonry arch bridge can be regarded as a relatively simple structure when two systems cross at ninety degrees to each other; however a question arises when the systems cross at an oblique angle. This problem was raised previously in the design of canals, but became more widespread with the railway system due to the increased regularity of its occurrence. The long sweeping curves of the railway line also add additional complexity in contrast to the predominantly straight road and canal layouts: The solution to this problem was the skew or the oblique bridge.

This may sound like a reasonably simple solution and a relatively insignificant piece of civil engineering, but when one attempts to visualise a masonry arch bridge and to consider how the stonework may be skewed to allow for the oblique angle, the complexity quickly becomes apparent. This study looks in detail at one particular solution to the nineteenth century problem of the skew bridge. It is based on a drawing, published in The Builder in 1845, to accompany an article on the construction of skew bridges. An attempt is made here to fully explain this drawing and to investigate the circumstances surrounding its publication.

Importantly, although my dissertation concentrates on one particular drawing, this serves as an example of the way knowledge of descriptive geometry, derived from French military engineering was adapted by British architects and engineers. It also looks at the way nineteenth-century civil engineering structures such as bridges were inevitably appropriated by the champions of British modernism in their search for a functionalist tradition. But also, focussed on the working relationship of two relatively unknown architects, my research also reveals something of their individual professional lives and their place in history.

Further Dissertation Commendations went to:

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: ”[Here Be Monsters]” by Jamie Williamson (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)

Winners of the President's Medals Student Awards 2009

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Commendation: “Negotiating the Spectacle: Projecting Fact, Fantasy and Fiction in Dubai” by Adam Towle (The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Images: President’s Medals Student Awards

Lotus leaf solar cells soak up more power

from New Scientist – Online News

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Peppering the cells’ surface with nanoscale domes could cut reflections and improve efficiency by as much as 25 per centmf.gif

‘Amatoya’ ATV wages war on fire with dual water cannons

from DVICE by Kevin Hall

'Amatoya' ATV wages war on fire with dual water cannons

From designer Liam Ferguson comes the “Amatoya,” a two-man, two-cannon off-road ATV that is “more military in its approach” in the war on fire. If ever made to Ferguson’s specifications, the buggy would combine maneuverability, high-tech extras to help identify the heart of the blaze, and survivability to see it through a fire. A big downside would be that it can’t hold as much water as some of the other options out there, but it’d certainly be a robust (not to mention cool-looking) way to fight big blazes.

Check out more in the gallery below.

Yanko Design, via Popular Science

steven holl architects: horizontal skyscraper – vanke center

from Designboom – Weblog


the building under construction

steven holl architects with partner li hu recently completed construction on their horizontal skyscraper –
vanke center located in shenzhen, china. situated over a tropical garden, the horizontal skyscraper
spans as long as the empire state building is long.

the building looks as if it were once floating on a higher sea which has now subsided.
the large structure floats under its 35-meter height limit propped up on eight legs. being suspended
on eight-cores, as far as 50 meters apart, the its structure is a combination of cable-stay bridge
technology merged with high-strength concrete frame – a first for a structure of its type,
with tension cables carrying a record load of 3280 tons.

the decision to develop one large hovering structure instead of several smaller floating ones,
was to create views over the lower developments of surrounding sites to the south china sea
and to generate the largest green space possibly, open to the public on the ground level.
the underside of the skyscraper becomes the main elevation from which sunken glass cubes or
‘shenzhen windows’ offer 360-degree views over a lush tropical landscape. the hybrid building
includes apartments, a hotel and offices for the headquarters for vanke real estate co. ltd.
a conference center, spa and parking lot are located under large green, tropical landscape,
characterized by mounds which contain restaurants and a 500-seat auditorium. there is also a
public path which covers the entire length of the building, connecting the hotel, apartment zones
to the office quarters together.

as a tropical strategy, the building and landscape integrate several new sustainable aspects including a
microclimate created by cooling ponds fed by a grey water system. a green roof with solar panels
has been incorporated into the design and uses local materials such as bamboo. a glass façade
protects against sun and wind via perforated lovers. the building is tsunami proof hovering piece
of architecture that creates a porous micro-climate of public open landscape. it is the first
LEED platinum rated building in southern china.


a microclimate is created through cooling ponds fed by grey water


stairways up from the ground level into the skyscraper


perforated aluminum louvers


model


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model


aerial view – model


structural breakdown


horizontal skyscraper is as long as the empire state building is high


a diagram indicating the views from the ‘shenzhen windows’

Punto Zero Is Either A Lamp Or The Power Source Of Some Future Spaceship

from Gizmodo Australia by Sean Fallon

I suppose it goes without saying, but Punto makes a fine looking lamp. The Zero is almost entirely made of glass, and it looks like the power centre of our sci-fi space future. (more…)

DawnTown Miami 2009 Publishes Competition Entries in a Flickr Gallery

from Bustler.net News by Vanilla Hustler

DawnTown, the annual international architectural competition for Downtown Miami, is scheduled to announce the winners of this year’s competition at an awards ceremony this Friday. Until then, the city of Miami has already put up a Flickr gallery for the public eye. The comments feature on the gallery will go live after the award ceremony on Friday.

This year’s competition sought creative architectural ideas for a new station for the Metromover, Downtown Miami’s elevated public transportation system. The site for this station is located at the north edge of Museum Park, next to Biscayne Bay and between the future home of Miami Art Museum and Miami Science Museum.

Bustler will keep you updated on the winners!

Here are some entries that we liked:

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 51842

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 59438

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 70842

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 81574

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 678

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 6521

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 19290

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 33547

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 34474

DawnTown Miami 2009 Entries

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DawnTown Miami 2009 Entry 45858

steven holl architects: nanjing museum of art and architecture

from Designboom – Weblog


construction phase

almost nearing completion is the nanjing museum of art and architecture by steven holl architects
is situated at the gateway to the contemporary international practical exhibition of architecture
in the green landscape of pearl spring near nanjing, china. the museum explores the shifting viewpoints,
layers of space, expanses of mist and water, which characterize the compositional spatial mysteries
of chinese painting. the museum is formed by a field of parallel perspective of spaces and garden walls
in black rammed earth over which a light ‘figure’ hovers. straight passages on the ground move into
the winding passage of the structure above. the upper gallery is suspended in the air, unwrapping into
a clockwise turning sequence and provides a view of the city of nanjing in the distance.

an upcoming exhibition entitled urbanisms: steven holl + li hu – 4 projects in china by steven holl
will track the process of nanjing museum of art and architecture, along with beijing linked hybrid,
shenzen horizontal skyscraper and chengdu sliced porosity block, three other major projects completed
by holl in china, constructed between 2003-2009. these projects will be on view in holl’s newly finished
vanke headquarter offices in the horizontal skyscraper/vanke center in dameisha, shenzen.
the opening will be held on monday, december 7 @ 6:30pm.


construction phase


stairway leading up to the gallery


stairway leading up to the gallery


model


model


aerial view – model


sliced profile of the interior


upper gallery provides a view of the city of nanjing in the distance


gallery space


gallery space


gallery space


water color sketch

New Technology Recycles Old Tires and Concrete into New Building Blocks

from Green Options by Tina Casey

PMGI/Productive Recycling is leasing equipment that turns scrap tires and waste concrete into new outdoor building blocks called T-Blocks.

Scrap tires and scrap concrete are two of the most common – and most irritating – waste materials in the world, and now a company called PMGI/Productive Recycling has found a way to recycle both at the same time. The company’s patent-pending technology compresses waste tires and concrete into building blocks.

Productive Recycling calls its product T-Blocks. They are primarily used outdoors, in landscaping. In asustainability twofer, they can be used in wetlands reconstruction, erosion control, and other projects related to natural stormwater management and wastewater control.

Read more of this story »

Uzbeks quit regional power grid

from BBC News and Sport Search: energy

Uzbekistan stops sharing energy through a Central Asian power grid, leading to likely shortages in neighbouring countries.

MAD Architects Unveil Urban Forest Skyscraper For China

from CTBUH Global News

MAD Architects Unveil Urban Forest Skyscraper For China Dec 1, China

Inspired by mountainous Chinese landscapes and the traditional villages built their hillsides, MAD Architects has unveiled plans to create a towering vertical Urban Forest. Designed for Chongqing, China, the projects consists of a stacked vertical forest set in the heart of the city, designed to bring more nature and open space in a dense and compact way…more

Shade of green for Gold Coast high rise

from CTBUH Global News

Shade of green for Gold Coast high rise Dec 1, Gold Coast

High above the Gold Coast’s concrete jungle, rooftop gardens are expected to start popping up on our high rises as the State Government moves to copy the rest of the world in tackling climate change. The State Government announced it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Singapore so they can steal their ideas for growing vegetation on high-rise buildings in a move to reduce heat and improve air quality…more

Wet Borders: Microslums and Meanders

from InfraNet Lab by mwhite

[250 fisherman and fish traders are served by 4 pubs, several brothels, and a pharmacy.][On Migingo Island, 300 fisherman and traders are served by 4 pubs, several brothels, and a pharmacy.]

Migingo Island, home to some 300 residents, sits precariously within Lake Victoria along the watery border of Uganda and Kenya. Its undetermined origins declare that either: a) two Kenyan fisherman settled there in 1991, or b) a Ugandan fisherman also claimed to have settled there in an abandoned house in 2004. Regardless, since that time, the place has really taken off – becoming what one journalist called a microslum. Each successive year that the level of Lake Victoria decreased, the originally rocky tip exposed greater landmass to occupy. So, complicating matters is Lake Victoria’s rapidly receding lake. But why here, why such a precious outpost?

[Population density in the Lake Victoria basin.][Population density in the Lake Victoria basin.]

[When wet borders meet receding waters, opportunistic land masses appear that werent there before. Recommended reading on this would be Gilles Deleuze's "Desert Islands" essay were he distingsuihes between orginiary and accidental islands.][When wet borders meet receding waters, opportunistic land masses appear that werent there before. Recommended reading on this would be Gilles Deleuze’s “Desert Islands” essay in which he distinguishes between originary and accidental islands.]

[Drawing the borders indicates that Migingo is about 500 m inside Kenya.][Drawing the borders indicates that Migingo is about 500 m inside Kenya.]

Its all about the perch, Nile perch. Fishing in Lake Victoria, one of the largest bodies of fresh water, is essential to some of the 30 million Africans that live within its reach. Nile perch was introduced here in the 1950s and has risen to become an essential part of the economy of Lake Victoria’s fishery. (The perch was so successful in rejuvenating the fishing economy here that it decimated nearly 350 native fish species to rise to the top of the chain.) This success means that in recent years the Nile perch populations have dwindled and many native species are thought to be recovering. But really the whole Nile perch story, which in a Jared Diamond-esque way utlimately leads to weapons, is epic enough to be a film in its own right.

[The Lake Victoria Nile Perch is the largest fresh water fish and can weigh in at 300lbs.][The Lake Victoria Nile Perch, Lates niloticus, is considered the largest freshwater fish and can weigh in at 300lbs.]

Fishing supports an export industry in East Africa whose value is estimated at US$250 million annually. And the convenience of Migingo Island in this tightening economy (and shrinking ecology) has placed extreme presue on the island, with Ugandan police patrolling the waters and intercepting catch from Kenyan fisherman. A claim by several locals involved in the dispute has even lobbied that the fish are Kenyan because of which side of the border they breed on. Another strange claim is that the land belongs to Kenya but the water belongs to Uganda. And the dispute continues as on the island itself Ugandans and Kenyans exist within different ‘neighborhoods’ on this tiny acre of rock. Both sides are conducting a joint border survey in an attempt to settle this – but this does not change the rapidly evolving ecology. Both countries are spending about $1.7 million to determine ownership.

[The Semliki River has randomly ceding huge chunks of land from the DEmocratic Republic of Congo to Uganda over the last half-century.][The Semliki River has randomly ceded huge chunks of land from the Dem Rep of Congo to Uganda.]

As if Uganda didn’t have its hands full already, it is also trying to assess the shifting border caused by the Semliki River, this time the dispute seems in its favor. The National Environment Management Authority’s State of the Environment Report 2008 reveals that the Semliki River changed its course in a total of 151 locations — 84 inside Uganda and 66 inside The DR Congo. This resulted in the natural ceeding of 50 square kilometrers of land from Congolese territory to Urgandan. In fact, several communities that used to be Ugandan are now Congolese and a telephone line pole which was installed by Ugandans decades ago now lies within DR Congo.

Run-off from the Rwenzori mountains is the Semliki’s major tributary, but as temperatures rise water has descended the mountain with increasingly high volume causing erosion and redirection of its course. Subsequently, the river has widened by an average of 10 meters.

The politics of climate change run deep, and in many contexts are beyond co2 emissions. They are down to complex evolving geographies within which entire ecologies and populations stand to lose or (seemingly, within short terms) gain.

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