The primary focus of Dornob is on works that take form & function to the next level – that defy particular typologies, diverge from conventions and are more than merely consumable objects. In short: this is where you will find designs that might not make it into your more traditional architectural, urban and industrial design publications – from over-the-top luxury to incredible design..
Geometrically speaking, baseball is extremely unique among team sports. In many others, the playing surface is symmetrical across two axes — but a baseball field is only symmetrical across one. Plus, baseball stadiums are often romanticized for the quirky relationships they foster between their building parts and the field itself.
The architecture of older stadiums would often mirror the shape of the field, whereas contemporary ballparks allow for greater deviation from that norm. That creates extra nooks in the field where hit balls can get lost for an extra second or more, often giving runners enough time to get a whole extra base. The architecture of the new Diablos Rojos Stadium in Mexico City may mirror the field like the stadiums of old, but it still presents a refreshing departure from the standard ballpark template. The stadium was (mostly) completed in March of 2019, just in time for the start of La Liga Mexicana de Béisbol season in April.
The most obvious departure here is the design of the roof, which covers 11,500 seats and stretches outward over the exterior plaza almost to the street. Designed by the Chicago-based FGP Atelier, the roof is employed predictably to protect the fans from the sun and the rain, and also to cover the plaza. But the material of the roof, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), sets Diablos Rojos Stadium apart by only diffusing sunlight during the day rather than blocking it completely.
Anyone who’s ever been to a baseball stadium and sat under a solid roof has experienced sitting shade, which is even darker at night. By using a translucent material for the roof, the Mexico City stadium is able to cover seats without giving the fans the feeling of having a roof casting a shadow over them when the sun starts to set. On top of that, the roof also acts as a large light at night, reflecting the stadium lighting downward rather than all around.
For some people, the fun part about going to a sporting event is not the game itself, but the atmosphere. For instance, just outside of a baseball stadium prior to the first pitch is an exciting moment of activity. As lines begin to form at concession stands, families play in-stadium games for team-themed prizes, while other fans wait for their friends. The sound is that of a carnival, with the constant digital pings of tickets being scanned at the gate punctuated by hawkers peddling programs and snacks. This activity happens at all high-level sporting events, but at Diablos Rojos Stadium, it’s extra special. The presence of the roof over the plaza brings the festivities that animate the pregame moments into the stadium itself. This removes the tension that fans usually have when they attend sporting matches, as most want to take in the ambiance outside the stadium but also want to get inside the building to be ready for the start of the match. At Diablos Rojos, fans can enter the stadium without feeling like they’re missing out on the pregame party outside, because the party has already been brought inside for them.
The concessions, restrooms, shops, and other amenities are kept inside six volcanic rock pyramids, which themselves are a nod to the Pre-Columbian temples of Mesoamerica. Between the pyramids and the home plate part of the stadium is a wide pedestrian pathway that runs under the roof. Older baseball stadiums often used architectural styles of the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Even contemporary stadiums try to create a faux imitation of those styles. It’s extremely rare that the architecture of a stadium reference ancient architecture, but FGP and their stadium collaborators Taller ADG knew they wanted to give fans a deep connection to Mexico’s rich history.
What is most laudable about the Diablos Rojos Stadium is the way it uses architecture to enhance the enjoyment of the overall baseball experience. It doesn’t just focus on the enjoyment of the spectacle inside the diamond, but also on the fun that occurs outside it during pre and post-game moments.
How do you create a house with many rooms on a small stretch of land without allowing any of the spaces to feel cramped and cut off from each other? The Japanese firm Tato Architects reveals one answer to that question with “House in Hokusetsu,” featuring a clever geometric floor plan that seems to infinitely multiply the amount of available space.
Mathematical patterns are all around us — they’re just not always immediately apparent. Take a closer look, and you’ll see that everything from the petals on a wildflower to the layout of bricks in a wall have their own mathematical underpinnings. In the case of architecture, geometric patterns can make all the difference in how a space looks and feels.
Most buildings have standardized rectilinear floor plans, but that’s not always the best approach. For this house in Osaka, lead architect Yo Shimada created a tessellated geometric pattern and then splayed it out slightly to make it just a little bit irregular, shaking it up and giving it a more dynamic feeling. The result produces a multitude of spaces within the two-story house, all set at angles from each other, with the spaces between them filled in with skylights or else left open to the air to form tiny courtyards.
The clients requested a home that would allow their family to enjoy each other’s company, but also have plenty of small areas for individual activities. The architects explain that they wanted to literally think outside the box for this project — or at least subvert the way a box is typically used. By slightly turning the corners where walls intersect, they say, our spatial awareness suddenly becomes complicated, making us feel like the limited space has greatly expanded.
Math helped the architects reach this conclusion. They started by experimenting with small-scale models, taking twelve 2.895-millimeter squares and connecting them to each other with a rhombus made of two triangles. Looking at the diagram of the floor plan, you can identify these twelve squares as rooms in the home — but by gradually turning each one, the architects also introduced six interstitial spaces to the overall layout. These rhombus areas were left undefined for free use.
The team adds: “The structure is made of wood, and each square plan is simply supported by pillars, resulting in a peaceful interior despite its unique form. The design of this house has a simplicity similar to ‘a cross inside a square’ plan used in old houses. Each part, while representing a different quality, is also compatible and expandable, and there is possibility for various circulations to emerge. This house is filled with autonomous spaces that can accommodate changes in lifestyle; it is a crystalline labyrinth where the spaces are repeatedly reflected into a prismatic figure.”
Nothing turns a trip from fun to frantic faster than losing your luggage. Even if you pack your carry-on with essentials to last you a day or two, your checked luggage is essential to the success of your journey, whether it’s for business or pleasure.
According to an analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation figures gathered from 2012 to April 2018 on luggage handling, more than half a million pieces of luggage are predicted to be mishandled each year. That means being lost, damaged, or even sent to the wrong destination altogether — and that’s just for domestic flights.
Lucky for us all, British Airways recently introduced an electronic luggage tag that guarantees you’ll never again be a victim of lost luggage. It’s easy to use, doesn’t mar the surface of your bags, and can be held onto for several trips to come.
How It Works
Passengers purchase the tag from the British Airways website and then link it to the accompanying BA app on their iOS or Android smartphone. The tag is then self-loaded with the passenger’s flight information, including where their flight originates and the final destination. However, the tag only works on direct flights, and it still can’t track the movement of your luggage while it’s physically in transit.
Instead of waiting in line to check in luggage, the tag allows you to simply scan your information, deposit your bags at a designated check-in counter, and walk away assured that wherever they travel to, the information regarding their proper destination will remain well intact. The airline claims that this process reduces luggage check-in time to just around 35 seconds.
The Cost of Peace of Mind
Unfortunately, investing in one of these tags isn’t exactly cheap. Priced around $78.48 through October 2019 and $99.66 thereafter depending on the current exchange rate, the device will be most attractive to travelers who frequently fly British Airways. However, one tag is good for over 3,000 flights and is non-transferable, so for most BA customers, it’ll hardly ever be more than a one-time purchase.
The RFID label attaches to the handle of your bag like a customary address tag, but thankfully there are no stickers on it to mar the appearance of your actual luggage. There’s no hardware required and no adhesives involved, either, making the tag extremely easy to transfer between different bags as needed.
Not a New Concept
RFID luggage tagging is far from revolutionary in the airline industry. Back in 2011, Qantas airlines introduced the Q Bag Tag. Unfortunately, that tag wasn’t as upscale as the British Airways version, preventing it from ever being used more than a single time. On top of that, it’s also not currently compatible with the Qantas mobile app.
Both international and domestic airlines are expected to follow suit with their own versions of interactive electronic luggage tags in the next few years, making the old skycap experience a thing of the past. Stay tuned for more innovations in the highly-competitive airline industry, because who knows? They might just invent something as ingenious as increased legroom one of these days.
Ramen is so much more than the 25-cent package of curly noodles and powdered broth it’s often thought to be in the United States. In Japan, it’s a revered dish, often made with the highest-quality ingredients by world-class chefs despite technically being considered fast food. To properly enjoy it, you shouldn’t be afraid to slurp, which helps the noodles act as a means of carrying all the flavors in the broth into your mouth. You should also probably embrace the tradition of adding an egg to it, called “ajitama.”
A restaurant located quite far from Japan, in Lisbon, Portugal, honors these traditions in a very unusual way: through symbolic architecture. The Ajitama Ramen Bistro by JCFS Architects contains a gorgeous wooden trellis installation featuring a repeated motif of egg shapes. Located in a newly refurbished building on a block that dates back to the early 20th century, the bistro occupies a prominent position on a street corner, and the illuminated installation can be glimpsed from the doorway not long after dark.
The trellises are meant to recall the kind of complex wooden construction that’s often seen throughout Asia, commonly hand-crafted with an emphasis on the craftsmanship of the joinery. The architects explain that to them, the trellises symbolize the determination, rigor, and precision of the Japanese people. The egg shape, on the other hand, is pure comfort.
JCFS hoped to represent a duality between Eastern traditions and their Western interpretations, elegance and informality, softness and structure. The wooden framework is geometric but sculpted into ovoid shapes, sometimes stretching down vertical surfaces for a sense of continuity and envelopment. The design of the space would be serviceable enough without it, but the installation truly transforms the interiors.
The design team explains: “The Ajitama Ramen Bistro is a restaurant fruit of the dream and ambition of two friends in love with this traditional Japanese dish. After their visit to Japan, their long friendship was reinforced by this passion, the search for the most authentic ramen of Lisbon. Unlike many countries in Europe, the Ramen in Portugal was until a few years ago an unknown concept. The two friends, not being satisfied with the existing offerings, decided to venture into their own project together.”
“When JCFS was challenged to develop the [concept] for the restaurant, the egg – ‘the Ajitama,’ is present in everything that is the most beautiful, tasty, and memorable, and that we keep in memory when eating the ramen of these friends, [making it] the generator of all the construction of the idea for this place.”
“The repetition and interpretation of the egg gesture is projected in these facilities, [the] counter, [the] bathrooms … the result is a mixture of sensations in which the neons of the facade transport us to the crazy streets of Tokyo. The suspended wood, sculpted in the form of an egg, confers a lightness to the space, leaving us the sensation of having no end and in which the sky has no limit. The counter makes us remember the Japanese meal in its natural habitat, in which we visualize the chef to cook the beautiful delicacy.”
Is anyone else suddenly craving a hot bowl of fresh ramen?
Plastic pollution is a big concern nowadays. Not only does it break down into tiny pieces that litter our cities and end up in our food and water, but it’s also one of the most energy-intensive materials to produce. And as we start to reckon with our impact on the overall health of the planet, we have to think about how we can change habits like our addiction to disposable plastics.
A recent NPR feature pointed out that popular plastic alternatives like paper, canvas, and glass have worrisome carbon footprints of their own. The piece almost sounds like a public relations campaign for plastic companies, in fact, suggesting that plastics are commonly used to replace things that would do even more damage to the climate, so we might as well just find a way to live with it.
Of course, that analysis was completed by the American Chemistry Council, which isn’t exactly a neutral third party in the matter. It leaves out all sorts of possible alternatives with the potential for much lower environmental impacts all around, from production to the end of their lives.
Here’s one particularly cool example: liquid toiletries that are contained not by plastic or glass, but by solid soap. A designer and post-graduate student at Central Sant Martins Mi Zhou came up with this clever idea, reexamining the usefulness of packaging and what we should expect from it.
Developed for the Materials Future program and exhibited in the school’s degree show between June 19th and 23rd, 2019, “Soapack” is solid enough to safely house liquid contents like shampoo, hand soap, and body wash, looking a bit firmer than typical soap. While the designer doesn’t specify the exact shelf life of this material or whether it’s made from anything more complex than standard solid soap, it seems substantial enough to do the job it was meant to do and then some.
The resulting products also offer two-for-one functionality, allowing you to use the bottles like bars of soap when the liquid is gone. Plus, the packages are just plain beautiful, resembling vintage faceted glass perfume bottles. If there’s one caveat to the idea, it’s the potential for higher pricing, but soap doesn’t necessarily cost much more to produce than common packaging materials anyways.
The brilliance of this eco-friendly packaging concept lies not only in its extra value to the end user, but also in the fact that there’s ultimately nothing to dispose of. There’s not even anything the consumer needs to reuse or recycle, which is ultimately what we should be aiming for as much as possible. To that end, it calls to mind innovations like edible packaging made of seaweed or sugar, which could help eradicate the need for a lot of single-use plastics as well as cardboard and glass.
It’s true that traditional materials like paper and canvas aren’t necessarily better for the environment than plastic, especially if we’re producing far too much of them in the first place and failing to properly reclaim them when their usefulness to the consumer has ended. But all manner of fascinating materials are currently in various stages of development, including “liquid wood,” algae-based water bottles, and a number of mushroom-based concepts.
These breakthroughs tell us that plastic is no longer the material of the future, but rather something we should leave in the past and move beyond.
If you happened to be passing by a certain stretch of rural countryside just off a highway in Lebanon, you might notice what appears to be a strange black ship sitting on dry land at the crest of a hill. Strikingly unusual in its modernity, the structure is all angles and geometric shapes topped by a single canopy. It may be small in size, but it certainly makes a bold statement, and that’s just what AB Architects was going for.
“AB Workspace” is the firm’s own mobile office, designed to act as both a demonstration of their abilities and a practical space that’s accessible to three key Lebanese districts. Its rural location makes it easy to travel back and forth, and also gives it a certain level of exposure it might not have in a crowded urban setting.
The brand new studio, led by interior architect Ali Bazzi, specializes in a range of practices: architecture, interior architecture, design, landscaping, scenography, 3D visualization, set design, furniture design, and product design. You can see examples of just about all of these in the tiny 237-square-foot cabin.
Set against a backdrop of mountains and sky, the workspace has a decidedly theatrical flair. Upon entering, visitors find black and white interiors full of dynamic lines like triangular windows that make the space feel larger than it really is. The firm’s own lighting, furniture, and other details, including a metallic desk, add up to a cohesive representation of its signature aesthetics. A ladder leads to the rooftop terrace, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
But part of what makes the AB Workspace great is the fact that it doesn’t just feel like a showroom. It’s functional, it’s eye-catching, and it stands as a cool example of the tiny office trend in its own unique way.
Designed to be self-contained, the workspace includes its own rainwater collection and storage on the roof, and it’s powered entirely by solar panels. It’s also partially prefabricated and sized to be easily picked up and transported to a new location, if the firm should ever want to move it. Completed in 2018, the workspace takes full advantage of its location without being restricted by it.
The AB team explains: “This new cabin has been a totally new challenge for us at AB architects as it was all about achieving our vision, creating an innovative workspace that connects us with our diverse client base with all possible luxury, and invit[ing] people to experience good design as an investment to evolve along with our work culture.”
AB Workspace is also part of a larger trend toward small mobile workspaces, whether they’re built by and for architects or commissioned for personal use. Some, like this one, are semi-permanent, installed at a certain location with the possibility of moving elsewhere in the future. Others are truly portable, perhaps housed in campers, vans, or trailers so their owners can decide where they want to work on any given day and make it happen.
Civic architecture, more than any other kind of architecture, can be symbolic of many things. People tend to project onto these buildings the aspirations they have for modern society, and often times these aspirations clash with one another. The West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong provides us a perfect example of that tension. It’s a high-speed rail hub that services 1.5 million passengers per month, and its architecture signifies several diverging views of the world.
Whether a passenger is departing or arriving, they’re sure to be shocked by the scale of West Kowloon Station. Boasting the same grandiosity as many airport terminals in Asia, the soaring roof here twists and rises like the back of a monstrous beast: a dragon of steel and glass helping to bring influence from mainland China, sneaking its way into Hong Kong only to rise its head right in the middle of West Kowloon Cultural District.
If someone wanted to take such a nefarious view of the station, they’d probably be right. Another view of the station is that of a grand palace celebrating the triumph of advanced transportation. Then there’s the benign political view — surely in the minority in the city if recent events are any indication — that the station represents a coming together of mainland China and Hong Kong. Mixed in with all of the politically-charged symbolism around the site, there are also those who see it as just great civic architecture. But no matter what, there’s no denying that the scale of this building provokes people to consider all of these competing interpretations of its form.
Since it first opened in September of 2018, visitors to West Kowloon Station have used it, and the seven acres of public space around it, as a park. Its curtain wall is made up of over 4,000 curved glass pieces, reflecting sunlight and giving the area’s many plazas and paths an extra glow. And since the roof of the station begins from the ground on one end, visitors can gently walk up steps between its garden spaces, taking in the view of the city as they climb. Don’t worry, though — this ascent is gradual and understated. Before visitors realize it, they are right on top of the highest point of the building, some 80 feet above the ground.
Virtual tour for passengers in the West Kowloon Station - YouTube
Aedas, the international architecture firm known for its stunning large-scale projects, designed the station’s interiors to be chalk-full of memorable moments for visitors. Here, people move through a capacious public atrium framed by 8,000 tonnes of curved steel. The ceiling is a representation of the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong, in that it is hard to demystify patterns that exist elsewhere, either from the inside or the out. The fluidity between ceiling and roof, and between the station’s different ribbons of fenestration, is also difficult to predict. Columns rise from one part of the slab, seemingly curving to form a part of the roof, but then curving unexpectedly again to support another part of it. However, within that visual chaos are opportunities for sunlight to shine deep into this mainly underground station. As the bands of windows follow the form of the roof, they contort to create these moments where the arriving passengers can catch their bearings as they ascend from the trains. The flowing interchange between clerestories and skylights gives people an even greater sense of the city outside as they take their first steps back into the real world.
For departing passengers, the high-speed trains featured in West Kowloon get them faster to mainland China than ever before. Hongkongers now have easy access to 44 cities in the Chinese mainland, and they can even get to major Chinese hubs like Beijing and Shanghai in under 9 hours. The station has 15 tracks in total: nine of which are for long-haul trains, and the other six for regional ones. The overt division between those two types is another aspect of the architecture that has proved controversial in the country.
Although it takes several hours to get there, the influence of Beijing is still right there in the station thanks a co-location arrangement that allows mainland Chinese customs officers to screen passengers prior to boarding. Yes, departing passengers must first pass through Hong Kong customs, after which they enter a corridor called the Mainland Port Area. Along the way, they walk over a yellow line demarcating where the laws of Hong Kong end and the laws of mainland China begin. Once across the line, even before passing through mainland customs, passengers are no longer subject to Hong Kong law, even though they are still physically in Hong Kong.
This co-location operation creates a series of checks for passengers to navigate, and it all takes place underground out of reach from the sunlight in the atrium above. The arrangement can also be interpreted as yet another example of Beijing trying to encroach upon Hong Kong territory.
West Kowloon Station is a symbol of many things. It represents the converging of high-speed train lines from across China at a single massive hub. This convergence is also represented architecturally in the structure of the building, especially on the ceiling and roof. Last but not least, the station represents the converging of disparate world views. It is a work of architecture loaded in meaning: attractive enough to be a favorite location for selfies, but unsettling enough to start an uprising.
Within the sustainability realm, water-cooler chats have long revolved around single-use plastic straws and the damage they cause to the environment. For one thing, they’re petroleum-based and transported. Even worse is their after-effect, whereby they litter coastlines and pose a massive threat to marine life everywhere. While many businesses are beginning to source single-use water bottles as a recyclable material for a variety of products, Fab Habitat has also targeted the plastic from straws in an effort to reduce post-consumer waste and wildlife endangerment.
Fab Habitat is a company aimed at producing quality goods while maintaining a minimum carbon footprint. Husband and wife co-founders Kanan and Suchin Gupta began the company with a lifetime’s worth of experience in the manufacture of handmade rugs. Born in India and now living in New Jersey, Kanan has made rugs for decades now, sharing her husband’s beliefs in fair trade, non-child labor, and eco-friendly materials.
“You have to be constantly improving the rugs and your ethical standards,” says Suchin.
It’s true that consumers respond well to most any product made using recycled materials, but if that product doesn’t meet some kind of need, their interest in it still wanes pretty quickly. That’s why Fab Habitat created an assortment of colorful rugs that cater to all kinds of interests.
All Fab Habitat rugs can be used in or outside the home. They are available in a variety of colors to suit any decor, and also come in eight different sizes, ranging from small 2 x 3-foot rugs to full room-sized 10 x 14-foot ones.
The rugs are available in both round and rectangular designs. Every rug also has a pattern, some more subtle and others more bold. There are stripes, leaves, zig-zags, Native American-themed prints, and even full-on images available as pattern options. Plus, each Fab Habitat rug is reversible, offering two usable sides. With longevity in mind, each rug has also been UV treated to protect against fading and premature wear under the hot sun.
Plastic straws are just one of the recycled materials the company uses in their rug product line-up. For example, PET is a polyester fiber made from recycled soda and water bottles. It makes a fabric that is as soft to the touch as cotton while diverting plastic from landfills. One distinct advantage of PET products is its stain-resistance and ability to clean with just soap and water.
For fans of true cotton, the company also makes rugs from recycled cotton sourced from the manufacturing floors. In other words, they take those little scraps that would have otherwise been thrown away and turn them into rugs instead. Sustainable wool is another popular material when responsibly sourced. Finally, the product line also includes jute rugs, which perhaps provide the most back-to-earth look of the group with their natural tan and brown tones.
At first glance, the creepy-crawlies cataloged in Arthropoda Iconicus seem plausible, even if they’re a little unusual. After all, nature has plenty of strange specimens to study, like beetles with enormous horns, crickets that look like tiny aliens, moths resembling hummingbirds, and jaw-dropping examples of camouflage developed over millions of years of evolution.
But even if you momentarily marvel over a bug that bears a striking resemblance to the Creature of the Black Lagoon or Freddy Krueger, you’ll only have to look at a few more in the series before you see the pattern is impossible to miss.
Take, for instance, the family Timorpersonae:
“Timorpersonae are disparate in outward physical characteristics, but share behavioral traits rarely found in other species. These coleoptera tend to be highly aggressive, and the manner of capturing and consuming their prey is often playful and/or extended and will almost always show agonistic tendencies. Species of the family Timorpersonae have sometimes been observed displaying ritualized behavior when stalking and catching their prey and may sometimes engage in mating displays when feeding and vice versa.”
“Timorpersonae are almost always solitary and have developed hostile adaptive behaviors to counteract intrusion by other species. Being a nocturnal family of species, they nest in the darkest available areas. Their nests are often underground or in the abandoned nests of other species, and it has been noted that several species in the family Timorpersonae seem to decorate their nests with the empty husks of their prey.”
With names like Necuratu transylvestris and Daemonius sanctimonialis, these imaginary insects translate horror icons into arthropods of all kinds. Frankenstein’s monster, Stephen King’s It (as played by both Bill Skarskgaard and Tim Curry), and Dracula are displayed alongside villains like King Kong and the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park.
Timorpersonae is just the latest such series of pop culture bugs dreamed into creation by UK-based illustrator Richard Wilkinson, whose work has previously featured characters from all kinds of films and shows, including “Astromachinae”, and “Insanusmelodiae,” which you might recognize as Looney Tunes greats like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, and Wile E. Coyote. Still, some are more obscure than others. Star Wars fans might have fun trying to identify them all. It also helps to squint.
“A recognizable and perhaps most peculiar aspect of the Insanusmelodiae’s behavior is their clumsiness. They often meet their end under a falling stone or twig, or after falling from a long drop. Their wings, also vestigial, can produce enough uplift to keep them in the air for a moment or two before they fall.”
Wilkinson says the series was born “out of a fascination with collecting, cataloging, and classifying,” merging an activity most often associated with the natural world with the pursuits of modern life, like video games, comics, and films.
You can purchase individual prints to develop a collection of your own at the artist’s shop and keep up with his latest creations on Instagram.The close-up shots there are particularly worth looking at just how much detail goes into each illustration.
There are a lot of weird-looking architectural renderings on the internet, and most of them never get built — so it’s kind of fun when some of those proposals end up existing in the real world. L’Arbre Blanc Tower isn’t particularly outlandish, but it’s certainly unusual, and now that it’s complete, it serves as an interesting example of how digital concepts translate to three-dimensional structures.
Its name means “The White Tree,” and it’s easy to see why, though the result ends up looking more like a spiny cactus than branches sprouting from a narrow trunk. Sou Fujimoto Architects collaborated with Nicolas Laisné Associés, Dmitri Roussel/DREAM, and Manal Rachdi Oxo Architects to produce this mixed-use multifamily project for Montpellier, France. Its defining feature is clearly the many cantilevered balconies of varying lengths that protrude from its facade in all directions.
Winner of the 2013 “Folie Richter” competition by the Montpellier city council, which sought a blueprint for a beacon tower to enrich the city’s architectural heritage, the 17-floor L’Arbre Blanc demonstrates a novel way to give all of the inhabitants of an apartment tower access to the outdoors and gorgeous views of the city. On the ground floor is a glass-walled space full of shops and cafés, while the top floor contains a bar that’s open to the public and a common area for residents, so even those who live on the bottom floor can enjoy panoramic vistas.
The balconies act like sun shades, helping to cool the building throughout the day. The architects compare them to “leaves that fold out in search of sunlight… forming a protective veil for the facade.” In offering all of these outdoor spaces as well as access to the rooftop, they hoped to avoid the sort of “inaccessible tower syndrome” often seen in urban high-rise projects. A landscaped park at the ground level extends to the banks of the Lez River.
Unique, modular interior spaces are one of the hallmarks of the tower’s apartments, as the architects imagine a future in which freedom of choice becomes more important than ever when it comes to housing.
“The many balconies and pergolas really do promote outdoor living and enable a new type of relationship between residents,” say the architects. “Each apartment boasts an outdoor space of at least seven square meters (the largest is 35 square meters), with multiple levels of privacy and layout options; residents of the duplex apartments can move from one balcony to the other. So that all apartments have pleasing views, the architects sculpted the blueprint with a series of spatial experiments using physical 3D models.”
“The many technical innovations of L’Arbre Blanc include the terraces, whose cantilevers, which are up to 7.5 meters long, constitute a world first. These exceptional outside spaces are fully-fledged living rooms, which are connected to the dwellings in such a way as to allow residents to live inside and outside, a luxury for a city bathed in the sunshine 80 percent of the year!”
The architects also describe the tower as a cross-cultural endeavor and an interchange between two generations of architects. World-renowned Japanese firm Sou Fujimoto offers its prestige and expertise to youthful French architects while also bringing some of its own cultural aesthetics to the project.