2 06 2011

by Vlado Kabat

Growing and expanding cities is a common phenomenon since tearing down the city walls which surrounded the settlements. Cities usually expand both vertically and horizontally.I found an interesting article about ambitious project -expanding under the ground of Amsterdam.

This project called Amfora is approved by the city council and is supposed to be started in 2018. From my own experience I can say, that the city is quite overcrowded, full of tourists and as many other metropolis, it suffer from traffic jams and its lack of parking spaces, even when the most popular means of transport is bicycle.

This very expensive project comes from Dutch studio Zwarts & Jansma. The underground city Amfora will be built 30m under the ground with 100 000m2 and 50km of tunnels. It will contains parking places (50 000), leisure and sport activities (cinema, bowling, tennis and squash courts…) and shopping areas. The aim of the project is to lighten overloaded city centre.  Developers believe that high costs of this project will be retuned and also this underground city will become a new touristic attraction of the city.

However, there are many people against this project, e.g. british teoretic of architecture Michael Hammond says that these plans are against principles or sustainability. Builders will have to solve the problems with underground water and many canals for which the city is famous. However, the project is technically possible and there is still time to solve the problems.


Play Now for a Green Tomorrow

1 06 2011

By Sarah Muscat

Browsing through a website, I was startled to read that SimCity is being used in educational curriculums! How can A GAME be considered as a good basis to the future of urban design and planning, even by universities?!

SCEPTIC about it, I started to search out for weak points in the game. Based on the realities of capitalist economies, surely it must be the environmental sector! I was wrong. The latest SimCity Societies is not just tackling the issue, but has worked with BP to provide realistic scenarios for the economic and environmental costs and benefits of different energy options… be used in THE GAME!

No wonder the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change opted for A GAME, ‘Create your MY 2050 World for the UK’, to engage people in the difficult choices that must be made for UK’s Energy Future! I DECIDED TO PLAY THE GAME! It’s fun and does highlight misconceptions and the inadequacy of certain measures to alternative options.

At the end I managed to reduce CO2 below the targeted 20%. Success means that your proposed scheme feeds into the UK’s energy debate ‘2050 Pathways Analysis’. So GO ON AND PLAY!

Create your My 2050 World for the UK

Grand Ideas at Grand Designs Live, London

4 05 2011

By Sarah Muscat


For years I have eagerly awaited and spent hours watching ‘Grand Designs’ on television. Like many designers and architecture students, I searched for inspiration and carefully observed the clever use of materials to construct some of the best examples in residential architecture. Finally I had the opportunity to experience some of the latest design and construction innovations employed in the show first hand!

The atmosphere at GRAND DESIGNS LIVE was truly inspiring, bringing garden, interiors, bathrooms and kitchens, architecture and construction, and ‘the Village’ section all in one place. Whilst being interested in all the exhibits given my architecture background, I was very curious about the Grand Designs interpretation of ‘the Village’.

As Kevin McCloud walked by, we reached ‘the Village’ to find two very distinct modular buildings.

An example of a New England Style beach home achieving code 4/5 criteria for sustainable homes was set up so people could walk in and explore the comfort achievable with an A rating in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact.

The German ‘Qube Module’ had a much more contemporary and flexible design, and visitors could witness its versatility since two modules were stacked to have a residential unit at ground floor and an office at first floor.

As we continuously seek to achieve more sustainable homes within our urban environs, ‘Grand Designs Live’ has surely managed to prove its commitment towards the environment and invites us to learn from such examples.

New England Style Beach Homes by Eco Modular Living

The ‘Qube Module’


24 03 2011


akshay varma

This article is towards the trends in architecture. I believe urban design is incomplete without architecture and even though during the study of urban design, we probably may not apply architecture that most of us have learnt.

But in today’s world where the rich is getting richer and the poor poorer, there are certain designers who work at these extreme levels. Here I am trying to showcase certain examples of architecture that might, in the future be considered a major part in urban design, and probably we will have to incorporate these.

These may be the future of temporary architecture in the urban design and thus might need consideration and acceptance by the policy makers and enforcers.


‘Room Room’ – crossing dialogues: for emergency architecture by Encore Heureux + G studio:

‘Room Room’ is a project that was conceived and developed by encore heureux + G studio for the recent ‘crossing: dialogues for emergency architecture exhibition held at NAMOC  (National Art Museum of China). The exhibition commemorated the first anniversary of the Wenchaun earthquake aiming to bring a broad range of social concern for reconstruction in the disaster affected areas, to raise awareness of disaster affected areas, to raise awareness of disaster prevention and mitigation. The United Nations development programme organized the exhibition.

For their concept encore Heureux + G studio looked for what we need more in critical moments of existence: when we are without roof, without place of residence, excluded from the society.

Imagine an ‘ally’ to accompany the people who reconstruct and remain with dignity.


Urban Homeless Cocoon by Hwang Kim:

Korean product designer and student of the Royal College of Art, Hwang Kim seeks to help the homeless population by distributing a folding portable urban shelter made from cardboard. The project entitled ‘cocoon’ is made from pre-folded single ply cardboard with plastic buttons that can be reduced to a smaller, flattened and more transport friendly shape.

The ‘cocoon’ project is a practical solution to providing a basic human need that comes from Kim’s philosophical backing in universal design: valuing people first and creating products that enable people to live a better life. The private shelter aims to give a little pleasure while facing the hash conditions of being homeless.

At the other extreme science has technology have reached a stage where the world is at our fingertips, and architecture is not been alien to these advancements. We design spaces that are made to custom fit with these new technologies, and thus the argument is whether, we are creating synthetic spaces or will the values of architecture and urban design have no physical implications in accentuating human life.

Will the humans evolve to be the slave of technology? The movie ‘Wall-E’, does give a glimpse of how the evolution would be if our architecture (if) evolves in the following manner: