Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Revisited: DC6

We are torn over this project. It has been a fascinating invited competition for us in 2010, which we won but then didn't win end ended up second on the judging of the master plan but first on the judging of architecture - Unfortunately, this was a master plan competition! Left frustrated being so close to the commission of a 300,000 sqm development, we decided to shelf this project and move on by not participating in competitions any longer for more than a year. Until we won early this year Lobby +.

About DC6: Being the entrance to the city, it would mark a landmark development and represent the wealth and prosperity of this place: An old and famous weekend resort for the habitants of Ho Chi Minh City and home to the headquarters of all relevant oil companies of Vietnam.

The project is a perfect contradiction: The client asked for a super high density resort at the sea front of Vung Tau: Resort+High Density?

Our goal was to work with the contradictions and solve them by using a simple design strategy to maximize the distance between the buildings yet maintain full views to the surrounding for all units. To achieve this, we had to create a linear super building which combines different apartment typologies in a snake-like organism, that twists and turns to generate the least 'density' within the high density of the development.

There have been a good review on this project on ecofriend:

Team: Ulrich Kirchhoff, Claudia Wigger, Louise Low, Minh Le Van, Tim Mao Yiqing

Local Architect: Trinity

Model Maker: RJ Models

© 2010, ice - ideas for contemporary environments

Lobby +

Early this year we won a competition for the fit out of a 25 story office tower in the new IT district of Shenzhen (right next to QQ headquarter - the Facebook of China).

Our concept that won over others is proposing a Lobby+: A multi functional space. Instead of an empty decorated large space, we reduced the circulation space to a minimum in order to give way to introduce additional functions like a bank, business center, business lounge, cafe lounge, event space. The design uses the different functions to create very distinct identities to the specific zones.

As the building is suppose to fully handover in July this year, we handed over the design development last week.

Team: Ulrich Kirchhoff, Louise Low, Claudia Wigger, Esteban Becerril Pellon, Olgierd Nitka, Lien Thanh Gruetzmacher

© 2012, ice - ideas for contemporary environments

Friday, March 16, 2012

Construction Log March: SZXC

We have announced it before. SZXC, a 1650 sqm office fit out is finally going to construction. With some delays due to Chinese New Year and many other obstacles we cannot control, the project has been out of our heads already. Even more so, we are looking forward to the upcoming construction.

A long term client of ours is moving into a bigger location. Due to the operational specifics of the company, the layout of the office has to be compartmentalized to a very high degree. Other than an open plan office or a combination office (half open plan and cubicles), this project required 36 rooms for not more than 3-4 people each: A huge challenge in terms of orientation and clarity of the space.

The challenge of the planning lead to the design concept of only using floor finish and ceiling lighting to create an orientation system through the office - lines that connect and separate guide the user from the lift lobby through corridors into the offices.

And here we go. Construction started with a kick-off meeting on site - finally! It is less cutting edge technology construction but rather fast and furious. Therefor we are particular curious if the low tech construction approach works on a design like this.

Team: Ulrich Kirchhoff, Claudia Wigger, Louise Low, Matteo Biasolo, Esteban Becerril Pellon, Juliana Kei, Sandy Lee, Olgierd Nitka, Jackey Yp

© 2012, ice - ideas for contemporary environments

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Complexity Series 2: Urban Infrastructures

As part of our office activities, we use our academic teaching studios to explore architectural typologies, we work with professionally. The majority of our work is based on what we call 'junk-typologies': Newly emerged typologies that do not fit into the 'classical' understanding of an architectural typology. The types we mainly operate with are live-in factories, mixed-use developments and urban infrastructures.

Two years ago at the EPFL we were researching the urban potentials of high density Mixed-Use developments which resulted in the publication Radical Mix.

This year we have been looking at Urban Infrastructures (with a case study of Pont Bessieres in Lausanne, Switzerland) on which basis we developed programmatic and spatial strategies for the interstices of urban circulation systems in order to create an awareness for the students to the design challenges of such spaces. A publication is in planning.

Thanks to the hard work of all the students who participated in the studio:

Adelie Aeberhard, Cedric Scherrer, Chloe Birrer, Celine Clivaz, Claire Khawam, Derya Sancar, Geoffroy Jutzeler, Ivan Lopes Ferreira, Letitia Allemand, Lien Thanh Gruetzmacher, Morgan Hempler, Nicolas Fatio, Sevan Spiess, Simon Pracchinetti, Vincent Nadeau

Special Thanks to all the Guest critics:

Wing Cheung, Brett Davidson, Dieter Dietz, Daniel Ganz, Key Kawamura, Jeannette Kuo, Ines Lamuniere, Francisco Mangado

Sha Lo Tung - Journey to the Hong Kong's Past

We were invited to a research trip to Sha Lo Tung, and old abandon village in Hong Kong New Territories. It has been a lovely trip into the past of Hong Kong where small settlements were placed in large valleys in the mountainous and extreme topography of the region.

Left in an uncertain stage, the village rapidly decays due to the extreme weather condition in Hong Kong. Apparently the villagers sold their property to a developer in the eighties with the promise to get new houses built. As the developer faced opposition for his plans to build a golf resort he also scrapped the plans for the replacement houses for the villagers. Since then the site is doomed to a halt, all development plans are suspended as well as the situation for the original villagers.

At this point it is nature which benefits from this situation, being an important site for dragonflies and damselflies. And to be frank: It is not the worst case scenario. The nature is beautiful, a long open valley is crossed by a lot of little streams at the bottom of Cloudy Hill. It is uncommonly very quiet and scenic for Hong Kong with only a few visitors even on a Sunday.

The question remains what to do with such sites. They are too rare in Hong Kong to just be left alone to total decay.

Not that we promote conversation, yet the site offers a great opportunity to understand the roots of the Hong Kong urbanism: Other than many cities, Hong Kong has never evolved on a graphical plan but developed rather pragmatically along the topography. Urban typologies like the terraced planning have been a result, creating intermediate platforms which are neither public roads nor private terraces. They can be clearly seen in these early settlements of Sha Lo Tung already.

iceblog - x-rated by google

We have recently applied for adsense for our blog due to the large amount of visitors here.

This blog has been mainly the professional and academic research platform of our architecture office, providing information on research and theory, which has been developed in this office. To our surprise Google rejected our application due to 'unacceptable site content'.

Reading through the google ad-sense policies, we were surprised to find the rating of our blog in company with all kind of illegal activities and extreme profanity. To an extend it is amusing to see the below list in relation with our blog, reminding us of a great novel, even Kafka could have not written better:

From the Google policies:

Sites with Google ads may not include or link to:

  • Pornography, adult or mature content
  • Violent content
  • Content related to racial intolerance or advocacy against any individual, group or organisation
  • Excessive profanity
  • Hacking/cracking content
  • Gambling or casino-related content
  • Illicit drugs and drug paraphernalia content
  • Sales of beer or hard alcohol
  • Sales of tobacco or tobacco-related products
  • Sales of prescription drugs
  • Sales of weapons or ammunition (e.g. firearms, firearm components, fighting knives, stun guns)
  • Sales of products that are replicas or imitations of designer or other goods
  • Sales or distribution of coursework or student essays
  • Content regarding programs which compensate users for clicking ads or offers, performing searches, surfing websites or reading emails
  • Any other content that is illegal, promotes illegal activity or infringes on the legal rights of others
We obviously would like to know under which category we fall and there is no way to communicate with google about this ... it remains unresolved, yet funny.