A brief selection of short and long stay architectural showpieces.
OPA finds backer for cliffside residence sunken into Lebanese mountain
Jessica Mairs | 5 May 2016 ● Dezeen
Open Platform for Architecture (OPA) is moving forward with plans to build a subterranean residence that will slice into a mountain near Beirut and feature a glass swimming pool for a roof. OPA originally released plans for Casa Brutale in July 2015, with no site, client or budget to build it. But the viral success of the renderings has now brought forward a backer with a plot of land on Faqra mountain near Beirut and a budget of $2.5 million (£1.7 million).
The project is expected to break ground this summer and its owner will be Alex Demirdjian, the chief executive of Lebanese real estate agent Demco Properties. The buried dwelling will be bracketed by three board-marked concrete slabs, while a fourth glazed wall will allow views of the valley to take centre stage. A glass-bottomed pool will allow light to shine into the earth-encased living spaces.
Renderings: Terpsichori Latsi (LOOM Design)
Tiny camping pods by Andrea Zittel serve as a creative refuge in the California desert
Jenna McKnight | 19 August 2016 ● Dezeen
Artists and writers wanting to play out a “desert fantasy” can rent a tiny sleeping pod at a remote campsite in southern California, which looks like a scene from a sci-fi film. Called the Wagon Station Encampment, the experimental project was conceived by US artist Andrea Zittel, who is known for her explorations into self-sufficient and sustainable living systems. The site consists of 10 sleeping pods, called wagon stations, as well as a communal outdoor kitchen, open-air showers and composting toilets. “It’s sort of a cross between a retreat and a residency and a normal campground,” said Zittel. The encampment – described as having a sci-fi aesthetic – is located on a 35-acre (14-hectare) site near Joshua Tree National Park, which is dotted with unusual rock formations rising up from a vast expanse of desert.
The metal-and-wood shelters are meant to evoke the classic family station wagons often found in suburbia, along with the covered, horse-drawn wagons that were common in old Wild West. While the pods do not have wheels, they can be easily collapsed, moved and reassembled. Guests enter their pod by unlocking and lifting up the front panel, which can be propped up and left open. The panel has a transparent strip that enables occupants to view the surrounding landscape and sky while lying on their bed. Inside, the enclosure contains a mattress, clothing hooks and a small door for ventilation. Artists can bring their own decor, such as rugs and paintings, to personalise the pod. The campsite is part of a larger property known as A-Z West, which was established in 2000. It contains Zittel’s primary residence, a studio and shop facility and a collection of shipping containers converted into apartments. Other camp shelters include the recently unveiled Autonomous Tent, which is a sculptural enclosure with a wooden porch, and portable micro cabins designed by Harvard students for stressed-out city dwellers.
Photography: Lance Brewer
Eight concrete boxes form a “moveable” vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard
James Brillon | 20 August 2016 ● Dezeen
A cluster of eight interconnected concrete volumes make up this Martha’s Vineyard residence, which is designed to be moved in the event of site erosion. The single-family East House was created by Canadian architect Peter Rose in the town of Chilmark. Serious concerns about the site’s ability to support the 4,000 square foot (372 sq m) residence led the architects to devise a system that allegedly allows the house to be moved if necessary.
The home’s living spaces were designed as eight individual cast-in-place concrete boxes. They are connected via interstitial corridors, which were built using lightweight timber construction. According to the architects, this makes them structurally independent from one another, which in turn allows them to be moved more easily. “The solution was to cast the floors in concrete, making each box a single structural unit that can be individually lifted and moved to a location far from the bluff in case of erosion.”
Photography: Chuck Choi
Luxury campsite in Antarctica offers tiny domed pods for sleeping and dining
Jenna McKnight | 31 August 2016 ● Dezeen
This remote “glamping” site in Antarctica features a series of igloo-like enclosures fitted with upscale decor like fur-covered chairs and bamboo headboards. White Desert – billed as the “only luxury camp in the interior of Antarctica” – consists of heated, spherical pods made of fibreglass. Six are designated for sleeping, with each designed to accommodate two guests. Additional pods house a kitchen, a dining room, a lounge and a library. The domed shelters rest atop wooden platforms and are secured to the ground with metal cables.
Photography courtesy of White Desert
BIG stacks shipping containers to create floating student housing in Copenhagen harbour
Jessica Mairs | 22 September 2016 ● Dezeen
Shipping containers are stacked on a floating platform to create these buoyant student halls of residence designed by Bjarke Ingels’ firm (BIG) for Copenhagen harbour. The project named Urban Rigger aims to provide low-cost housing for students in the centre of the Copenhagen, docked in the harbour.
BIG’s scheme comprises nine shipping containers stacked and arranged on a floating base, to create 15 studio residences over two levels. The blocks are angled with their ends overlapping to frame a shared garden in the centre of the mobile platform – also intended to protect the housing from the threat of rising sea levels. The flat roofs of the three containers forming the upper floor each have a different function. One provides a terrace, another hosts solar panels and the final roof is covered in grass. Urban Rigger is the latest addition to a string of proposals considering shipping containers as a model for affordable housing. Copenhagen’s harbour area is currently undergoing significant redevelopment.
Photography: Laurent de Carniere
Baca Architects moors modular floating home on Chichester Canal
Eleanor Gibson | 23 October 2016 ● Dezeen
Baca Architects – the studio behind the UK’s first amphibious house – has completed a boxy floating home on Chichester Canal in southern England. The London-based architects developed the floating house as a prototype with British company Floating Homes. The replicable design named Chichester won an ideas competition seeking solutions to London’s housing crisis earlier this year.
Baca Architects referenced the design of canal boats when drawing up plans for the house, but increased the scale and included plenty of windows to create a more spacious and luxurious home on the water. The architects played with the traditional rectangular shape of house boats to create a split-level design. A white staircase leads from the lounge up to a terrace carved into the flat roof of the house and surrounded by glazed balustrades. Simple finishes like white-painted walls and pale floorboards keep the space light and open.
Photography courtesy of Floating Homes Ltd
Precarious Alpine cabin by OFIS offers shelter to Slovenian climbers
Jessica Mairs | 10 November 2016 ● Dezeen
This tiny aluminium-clad cabin by Slovenian studio OFIS Arhitekti cantilevers over the edge of a mountain on the Slovenian-Italian border. OFIS Arhitekti worked with local structural engineers CBD to develop the Kanin Winter Cabin, which is designed to resist extreme weather conditions on its exposed site on Mount Kanin. “This particular site was chosen because of its 360-degree views over Slovenia and Italy, and spectacular views to Triglav, Soca Valley and Adriatic sea,” said the studio.
This tiny 9.7-square-metre cabin has a narrow floor plan containing three shelf-like floors, and has dimensions of just 2.4 by 4.9 metres. It is made from a combination of cross-laminated timber, glass and aluminium panels. “The interior design dictates modesty, subordinate to the function, providing accommodation for up to nine mountaineers.”
Photography: Janez Martincic
Flat-packed cabin concept allows tiny houses to be assembled like IKEA furniture
James Brillon | 20 November 2016 ● Dezeen
A Vancouver-based startup’s conceptual design for flat-packed recreational cabins would allow users to build for themselves, making the wilderness more readily accessible. The Backcountry Hut Company is an offshoot of interdisciplinary design firm Leckie Studio. Its goal is to facilitate the process of building cabins for a variety of uses. The huts are provided in pieces that can be efficiently packed flat and assembled on site. Rather than being built by professional craftspeople, the cabins can be put together by a small group working together. The simple geometrical cabins encompass two floors. The ground level contains public areas that vary according to individual preferences. Sleeping quarters are located above, and are accessed using a ladder. The metal-clad huts are part of a larger trend towards building small, modular dwellings.
Images courtesy of Backcountry Hut Company
Antarctic research centre to be towed inland to escape dangerous ice crack
Amy Frearson | 13 December 2016 ● Dezeen
The world’s first mobile research centre on the floating Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica is going to be moved to a new location for the first time, due to fears it could be trapped on an iceberg.
Photo: British Antarctic Survey
Photo: Hugh Broughton Architects
Designed by Hugh Broughton Architects for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station has only been operational since 2013, but now needs to be towed 23 kilometres to a new location. This is because a chasm that had previously been dormant for approximately 35 years started to grow just after the station was installed, putting it at risk of separating from the ice shelf. The £25.8 million research station is built to withstand extreme winter weather. Made up of seven interlinking blue modules, the structure is raised on hydraulically elevated feet to stay above the many metres of expected snowfall.
These ski-like feet also make it possible to tow each of the modules over a prepared ice track. But the team did not expect to have to move the building less than five years after the facility opened.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
This post is offered in the public interest.