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Architecture Now: Best Works of The Past Year- II

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on September 01, 2014 at 05:09 PM

In continuation of the first part where we discussed five best architectural creations of 2013, here are a few more...! These designs are important, not only because of the challenging project briefs that they have all faced, but because they also challenge the scope of design today - to create a brighter future, and cross new parameters of architectural excellence.

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We previously spoke at length about some of the best designs the past year had to offer - from a brilliantly designed kindergarten school in Bangalore, to The Namly Home, a studio home for multigenerational living in Singapore by Chang Architects. . But fortunately, that’s not where our list of architectural marvels stops. In this second part of the series, we cover the largest aquarium in Europe designed by 3XN, the widely reputed Danish architectural firm, and the famous Knowledge Centre at St. Olav’s Hospital, known unanimously for its exquisite glass façade all over the world. These designs are important, not only because of the challenging project briefs that they have all faced, but because they also challenge the scope of design today - to create a brighter future, and cross new parameters of architectural excellence. Here’s a rundown through five more iconic architetcural outputs from 2013:

Women's Opportunity Center

The Women's Opportunity Center, located in Kayonza, in Rwanda-  the most densely populated country in Africa - is empowering a small community of women by allowing them to dedicate their days to maintaining small subsistence farms in addition to gathering wood and fuel. The site of the new Women’s Opportunity Center, located at a crossroads above a fertile valley, is an ideal arena for architecture that opens a new world of opportunity. The Architects, Sharon Davis Designs, cite  the architecture as a nod to lost Rwandan design traditions. Its circular forms radiate outward, from intimate classrooms at the center of the site to a community space, farmer’s market, and the civic realm beyond. It also supports guest lodges, demonstration farms, animal pens and training centres all set around a plaza which showcases a brilliant market where women sell the goods produced at the centre.

Blue Planet Aquarium

The new Denmark aquarium is the largest aquarium in Europe. The ocean-inspired aquarium has a whirlpool structure covered in a fish scale-like façade - which are in fact covered with small diamond-shaped aluminum plates, known as shingles, which adapt to the building's organic form.  The architects, 3XN, designed the building to have no fixed route, allowing for a more fluid experience, and hopefully, reducing lines for popular exhibitions by centralizing everything around a central foyer, letting visitors navigate themselves to different themed outlets - each representing a different part of the ocean.

Statoil Regional and International Offices

The new offices for Statoil, in Fornebu, Norway were designed to be iconic structures that reflected the company's role as an innovative organization. According to a–lab, the architectural conveyors, the main challenge of the design was to balance the size of the structure and the aesthetics, while enlivening the surrounding area. The five wings of the structure are stacked in a criss-cross pattern, with a central wing lying  on top of two pairs of office blocks spaced over two floors. The  column-free spaces of the office buildings allow for large open-functioned areas largely due to the stacking of the design in elevation (cantilevering almost 30 meters in places) and breaks the large mass into five separate entities. This deconstruction into smaller spaces optimizes the distribution of  daylight and creates a central urban plaza to promote community.

The Absolute Towers

The Chinese firm MAD intended to build a pair of towers that were organic and fluid to inspire on-lookers of a softer, less power-driven time; mostly to avoid the listless boxy buildings that dot the contemporary skyline. The curvaceously-twisted towers successfully accomplish this with their rounded oval floors that rotate on a central axis as they ascend the tower. Not only do these unique structures add variance to the Mississauga skyline in Canada, but the apartment towers boast many sustainable features. The architects don't treat architecture as a product, or an artificial volume or space; for them, it’s more of a landscape. Apart from being aerodynamic, the individual floors allow for 360-degree balconies that shade the interior from the sun, reducing air conditioning costs - revitalizing the steel concrete forest in the process.

Knowledge Center at St. Olavs Hospital

Centrally located in the heart of St. Olavs Hospital, the Knowledge Center completes the ongoing renovation of the hospital. The Knowledge Centre finds its design roots in the city of Trondheim, in Norway and has been designed by Ratio Arkitekter AS and Nordic Office of Architecture- one of the leading architectural firms in the country. Its most impressive feature is its glass printed façade which wraps around the key functions of the building - primarily, the egg shaped auditorium, the chief centre of knowledge. The white exterior glass is cladded in black print, which makes the look of the exterior change throughout the day, apart from allowing for the free placement of the fenestrations (this caters to the diverse functions that are spread out throughout the centre). The structure is built as a green building, with its average energy consumption having been reduced by almost 75 percent compared to other health buildings around the country.

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