The Almere Principles

Two weeks ago, during the special lecture of PARABOLA, I was particularly interested in the Almere Principles — being for the interest of ecologically, socially, and sustainable future of Almere 2030. thus, I took on further interest into such new town design and its growth towards a liveable and healhy city in 2030 by William McDonough + Partners.

Such design claims that it will continuously renew and transform itself — strengthening the qualities of its polycentric structure and environment. Furthermore, it brings a lot of promise to the diverse living and working aspects if the community — complimented with a beneficial abundance of open space, water, natural, and cultivated landscapes that can change over time.

However, it’s not because of a strategic plan that has been established for Almere that it becomes and seems to promising to its development and growth for the next decades. The realization of such is through the act of culture and optimistic vision towards the future. Some of the key points include

—Cultivate diversity

It’s not just about encouraging biodiversity, but about offering space to various professional and social groups as well as a stable if age groups and families. Within its plans, it constitutes in establishing a comprehensive society with schools, offices, shops, parks, recreational areas, and companies. Such will be complimented as a commuting town with a great balance and variety of modern and sustainable buildings and facilities.

—Connect place and context

A strategic advisor of the development of such city is Alex Van Oost. He has lead the integration of the A6 motorway as one of the most interesting examples of full paved roads to keep Almere very accessible. Another sustainable design strategy is the inclusion of the ‘wadis’ being shallow ditches with grass for surface water to be collected and hopefully compliment such with an ecological water purification system afterwards.

—Combine city and nature

This might be one of the most natural principles for Almere. Since 1976, it has been called the ‘blue-green’ city considering its array of green spaces and strong connections with water.Designers are continued on being invited to design buildings that make a smarts life of other species easier.

—Anticipate change

This is the most noticeable aspect of all. There are many places in the city that has no activity going on — neither with houses or offices. Therefore, such are crucial spaces for future design and construction!

Another important aspect that goes along with the latter is the involvement of local resident — especially because there are some locations that have an explicit character to themselves.

—Continue innovation

The Cascadepark in Almere Poort is a good example to take on this principle. The area is a test ground for real estate. Even though the project is barely standing on its feet, there’s some initial designs that have been submitted and their are still considered to be ‘old school’ for what’s left to come.

—Design healthy systems

According to Van OOst, the Zoneiland Almere gives a good location for the construction of 7000m2 of solar collectors — coupled with the city’s heating system | first time on-site solar generated heating will take place in the Netherlands houses. The only skeptical through is the generation of surplus solar energy in such a neighborhood for the supply energy of the surrounding neighborhoods.

—Empower people to make the city

Acknowledging citizens to be the driving force in creating, sustaining, and maintaining the city — it is through the facilitation of the possibilities of the overall design of the city that the general public is allowed to pursue their own unique potential.

Finally, the Almere Principles will only come into play through human action and by incorporating each onto a level into the design of the city of the whole.

Related Work


roadSIDE restSTOP

Road trips are fun, but the tedious part is how long the road stretches as you manage from point A to point B. Such is NOT the case in Noway though. The Norwegian government started a project in 2005 that brought great initiative to the development and framing of the Norwegian landscape. This ongoing project is knows as The National Tourist Routes in Norway. Its main aim is to open up amazing and beautiful Norwegian landscapes up to tourists through a series of reststops that have been corrupted by architectural viewpoints that enhance each’s surroundings.

The Norwegian government has made sure that the rest stop projects have something special to offer. They have worked with a variety of talented architects who seem to have a successful understanding of their surroundings and how to appreciate it them through the enhancement if their landscape for those who come to visit it. Each architectural sculpture is very distinct from the other as it begins to leave something behind as it speaks to its immediate surroundings and framing views.

18 selected stretches along the country. If you’re planning to visit, this website will be most useful for selecting your type of views!

It’s most recent project was just released in the Architizer being this Roadside Reststop Akkarvikodden

Afterall, Architecture comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes.. and in this case, form does follow function 🙂

BIG fans_BIG Ventilation

It has to be the third issue that I run through this ad about “Big Ass Fans” on Dwell Magazine.. I have to admit, the name has captured my attention and after looking at their website, I now know why..

Big Ass Fans are obviously BIG and have the highest quality and most meticulous engineering HVLS — High Volume|Low Speed — fans on the planet. This system means that they move a lot of air with their size — being up to 24-ft in diameter. They also strategically move at a low speed and therefor,e require less energy for operation = saving individuals on energy costs! So what’s the catch? they work all year round!

Summer Cooling

“Nature put us on earth with a built in air conditioner: Smart. We engineer our Big Ass Fans to make the most of it: Smarter. Thanks to a steady, gentle breeze, Big Ass Fans “cools” by increasing evaporative cooling, or, the rate at which perspiration is evaporated from the skin’s surface. In some cases, our fans make the surrounding area feel between 8 – 16ºF cooler!”

Energy efficient and cost effectiveness: Smart.
You: Smartest.

Winter Heat Distribution

It’s very common to find floor to ceiling temperatures to vary 20 degrees F during the winter in tall spaces. Big Ass Fans distribute the heat trapped at the ceiling down to the floor in a very sutil manner and reduced the heating bill by 30%

Fan Design and Engineering

Using ART to turn the World INSIDE OUT

This year’s TED Prize Winner is a photographer that started his career as he found a camera in the Subway of Paris. JR toured, photographed+tracked people’s messages that  had been left on walls in order to communicate to the world. He first gained awareness of such public art in 2001+2002 and it was not until 2003 that he began to participate and post large format pieces on the walls of Paris+Rome.

In 2006, he created his project “Portrait of a Generation” in Paris. Such consisted in huge portraits of suburban thugs from Paris’ infamous outskirts and posted them on the walls of the bourgeoisie areas in Paris — he wanted to communicate to Paris+the world.Such project, of course, was illegal. However, Paris had no choice but to recognize such as the City Hall was wrapped in JR’s photos.




-Middle East

JR creates universal art that takes over uninvited on the walls of the Middle East, buildings in Persian slums, favelas in Brazil or broken bridges in Africa. The people that live in such communities discover something beautiful and become part of making such art — “in this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.” His trademark is also to remain anonymous as he doesn’t explain his choice of the people’s portraits making faces.

“JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passerby/interpreter.” 


What JR’s been up to

Women are Heroes |

Wrinkles of the City |

Face2Face |

Unframed Project in Vevey |

TED Prize Talk |

Assignment 5_The MONK System

The Highline at NYC is a linear pedestrian park that has been re-established and runs along the lower west side of the side of the city. This site in particular is relevant to this project considering that the Highline Project has managed to have a positive impact on the environment. The Park runs on a recycling system that has greatly impacted the immediate surroundings as it has spurred the real estate development and neighborhoods around the area. This is pertinent to our class because we have been exploring various passive systems+sustainable ways of designing+constructing that result in a positive manner with the environment. Furthermore, I have applied a number of these systems into my studio project this semester — a Trappist Monastery.

The program for the Monastery I am designing houses 24 Monks. Thereafter, I have provided 24 rooms with 12 sharing bathrooms — being a private and compact space where the monks can meditate and study individually. Continuing on this realm of privacy, the Chapel and Library spaces are two of the most important components of the monastery. Such is because they provide the Monk with an experience that goes beyond the individual to the engagement with a great power — being God, knowledge+education. Furthermore, the dinning space becomes linked vertically with the kitchen space as it is a part of the Jam Factory — being the product the Monks produce+sell on site.

Considering the Site takes place in the Northeast, there are two major components that need to be taken in consideration — Sunlight and Wind! Therefore, I studied both taking into account the different times of year+day.

Going back to the first illustration — cross section through the chapel+library — these renderings also show how light penetrates both spaces throughout the course of the day both during the summer+winter.

The concept of privacy is crucial in the design of the Monastery. The only spaces that are completely open to the public are the Jam Shop and the Chapel — strategically situated at the front of the site. The rest of the spaces range in privacy levels between the monks and their rutinary activities. Thereafter, this allows light to play a great part in strategically defining+creating such spaces.

The living quarters where the monk’s rooms are situated facing directly to the highline. Considering the rooms of the monks are personal+private, I used the Double Envelope System in order to begin to set up a series of membranes protecting the rooms from being directly exposed onto the highline+general public. Thus, within the double envelope, there is a set of shared outdoor corridors connecting the rooms on all five levels and allowing the monks to regulate how much light they want to deal with on a given time of day+given time of year. Therefore, there is a dialogue going on between the circulation of the monks into and within their rooms and how they circulate to other parts of the building parallel to the public’s circulation on the highline.

Continuing on this Double Envelope System, two of its main characteristics are the maximization of natural light+buffer zones.

The maximization of natural light is obtained through the series of glazed facades which lead to optimum daylight conditions in all interior spaces, creating an nice environment to be inhabited. Most double envelopes are structured to maximize daylight and control solar gain. The screens of glass are also used as protectors from weather exposure and winds. “Double envelopes mitigate the surface temperature of the interior glass, reducing the mechanical intervention required to provide comfortable conditions under both heating and cooling modes” (Kwok+Grondzik, 44).

Buffer zones
are created through the double glass skins as they protect the sun from hitting the work spaces directly and also screens out sound from the outside chaos to come into the interior rooms. In Germany, building codes and traditions require a considerable amount of the inner glass screen to be penetrable and operable in order for the individual to control the outdoor air coming into the work space — which is something I applied to the Living Quarters through the shared outdoor corridors. 

The incorporation of cross ventilation within the building is very important as well. For the design of the rooms, I strategically placed large and main openings — such as the entry door+opposite windows+door to outdoor corridor — in order for air to flow and cool the interior of the room — increasing the comfort level+environment within the room | such ties to the passive design strategies that we have covered in class throughout the semester.

Another strategic passive design component is the use of thermal mass. Specifically for the rooms, both the ceilings+floors are made of concrete and remain uncovered. This thermal volume controls the temperature of the rooms. For example, during the summer, the ceilings are cooled through natural night ventilation and this coolness is released throughout the day and cools down the rooms. Similarly, the heat that is gained during the day can supply the rooms at night during the winter. “the room acts as a large-surface radiating heating system, increasing the feeling of well-being within the room on the whole.”

In conclusion,there is a strong parallel between the sustainable impact of the re-developed NYC Highline+the sustainable systems we have learned in systems this semester. Thus, I based my design of the Monastery along with such parallel by applying the use natural light, ventilation+passive systems in order to further reference such sustainable design+thinking.

Lights_Better On or Off?

This week we started to talk about light in class. Some of the best examples of good use of light can be found in museums. This is predictable considering museums have to tackle light both in the use of displaying art and architecture. Light is a challenging factor for buildings that house collections art because they have a damaging result on the work of art being displayed over time. Direct lighting – both natural and artificial – has a negative effect on works of art as it begins to fade away the quality of colors and the piece itself. Today, museum experts rely on a combination of natural and artificial light; the subtle changes in illumination throughout the day and night enrich the viewing experience. Thereafter, when we were exploring different exmaples of good lighting I could only think about my experience at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing by Renzo Piano.

According to Mary Louise Schumacher, who wrote a review on the opening of the Modern Wing, she described Piano’s work as turning the museum outward into a “refined structure of openness and translucency, where glass becomes a permeable membrane between art and urban landscape.”

Throughout the scheme of the Art Institute, Piano created an interchange between interior and exterior spaces in order to address the city of Chicago and tell the story through the magic of the New Wing. For example, the first-floor façade placed on Monroe Street is completely transparent, which echoes the museum as siting at the heart of the city. Throughout the upper levels, there is a double skin of glass that begins to interweave throughout, providing views of the Millennium Park, the Skyline, and the Lake.

This also begins to tie into Lam’s reading on “Perception and lighting.” Early on the reading, Lam describes how “every built environment is created to house some form of human activity.” In other words, it is necessary to pay attention to lighting as it defines important activities that can be held for visual and comfort purposes — some of these can be ranked according to frequency, relative importance, location, audience, and if its to take place simultaneously with other activities — thus designing a lighting system accordingly.

Piano adresses such by focusing on each gallery and defining the gallery’s vernacular through different use of lighting techniques — being both artificial and natural. He also allows glimpses from the galleries to the outside, allowing visitors to orient themselves both in time and space, while mingling the experience of art created inside and urban architecture created outside.

Likewise, light in architecture can be described in a similar manner as it begins to create moments and dictate different uses of space and experience throughout a building. When combining the use of light both in art+architecture, a new language begins to be established as architecture begins to use light as a tool that communicates circulation throughout the building and begins to frame specific moments and works of art to evoke a precise understanding between the viewer and the work of art. Piano addresses his design and the use of light in the Modern Wing as “art takes the center stage and everything else fades quietly into the background.”

Piano is not only successful at the blending light qualities of the design, but has really thought out the overall architectural design as being a flexible, responsive container for evolving cultures given that pieces, works of art and exhibitions are to be changing.

Additional Sources

Assignment 4_preFAB

According to the Dictionary, prefabricated means to manufacture in standardized parts or sections ready for quick assembly and erections — as for buildings.

During the summer and through this semester I have been working with reCOVER on designing modern prefabricated practices in the context of producing designs and building housing projects. This summer our group focused on such design practices to develop transitional houses for homeless people in the area of Charlottesville. The exploration of such design adapts very nicely with our Systems class this semester! Thereafter, I intend to demonstrate how we developed and incorporated our design through the use of SIPS Panels, Active Systems+Strategies tying to the community.

Starting off with SIPs Panels — Structurally Insulated Panels are composed of insulated foam core wedged between two structural pieces of OSB (oriented strand board). They are manufactured and fabricated to a standard of 4′ wide by 10′ tall that could fit almost any type of building design — being strong, energy efficient+cost effective saving on time, money+labor.

There are numerous ways in which SIPs Panels can be joined together. One of the most common ones is dimensional lumber. However, it is not as successful in keeping insulation between the panels and this creates thermal bridging. Other methods that are better insulation are composite splines, mechanical locks, overlapped OSB panels, and insulated lumber. We focused more on the mechanical locks due to their versatility in assembly. Thu, we practiced the use of a cam lock. The specific type of cam lock system that we explored was the steel Draw Latch | classified as heavy-duty+high tensile load+concealed installation.

This is a diagram from SouthCo to show how the draw latch style cam lock operates. This type of cam lock system is composed of two main components — the latch which is drawn out by the actuation tool and locked into the receptacle — locking the two pieces together. Therefore, when applying such system to the panels, there are three sets. On one side of the panel, three sets of latches are placed evenly throughout the edge of the panel. The opposing panel has three sets of receptacles arranged in a matching order to the latches. Thereafter, through the use of the actuation tool, each latch is twisted and locked into each of the matching receptacle — creating a very sturdy and tight lock between panels. Another reason why we chose this type of locking system between panels is that as easily as each latch can be locked into the receptacle, they can also be un-assembled in the same manner by the actuation tool. Thereafter, this makes it friendly to assemble and un-assemble on site!

These two are examples of the assembly of SIPs Panels and how the reCOVER’s Breathe House Group have explored such manufacturing technique — for a similar housing project in Haiti

The increase use of SIPs Panels prove how environmental awareness is becoming inevitable in the sense that there is a growing acknowledgement of the environment. SIPS have doubled since the 90’s for construction purposes. Therefore, we continued to use this method of construction to tie to our low incoming housing and green design building methods.

Last week we went down to SIPs of America in Danville, VA to see how they manufactured the SIPs Panels for the Housing Project in Haiti. One of the most interesting things was to see the house actually be assembled in less than 20 minutes!

Going up in scales, we used this SIPs Panels system in order to arrange the design of the Homeless Housing Unit for Charlottesville. Furthermore, not only did we tackle prefabricated housing through the use of SIPs Panels but we also explored Active Systems to compliment the sustainable element of such housing project.

Active Systems_ support and compliment the passive solar features which allow a greater degree of control over the internal climate and make the system overall be more precise. Energy efficient solar and ventilation systems to reduce environmental impact and enhance human comfort compared with on-site energy production in Virginia.

Solar Collectors (Heat)_convert sun’s energy into useful heat for hot water, space heating and industrial processes. Composed of a collector, a circulation system that moves the fluid from the collector to the storage tank, a storage tank, and the control system. Most common is to heat water for domestic use | flat plate collector + evacuated tube collector

Photovoltaic Panels_Produce electricity through the direct conversion of solar radiation. PV systems are on-site generated systems of electricity. They reduce the demands of the electrical grid and use renewable energy resources.

10-20% of the solar radiation striking the PV module is converted to electricity, while most of the remaining radiation is converted to heat – giving a useful application to the building. Oriented + tilted to significantly impact the system’s efficiency. Generally, PV modules are oriented to the south to maximize daily solar radiation reception – located on roof top or near the building. Even though PV systems are well capable of standing by themselves, sizing a grid-connected system is simpler than a stand-alone system. Such is considering there would no longer be a need to deal with storage or output capacity to charge storage. Thus, the utility grid would provide a place to “store” excess generation capacity – whereas a PV system cannot.

Electrical Use in Virginia_Almost all of VA electricity is generated by nonrenewable sources of electricity.  Such energy is transmitted through a grid of wires to a larger number of homes, factories, offices, etc.

Sources of Power |Coal 45%|Nuclear 35%|Gas 10%|Oil 5%|Biomass 3% |Hydro/Other 1%

There is a lack of investment in the understanding of long-term benefits of solar energy. Studies prove that Virginia could meet up to 16-19% of its electric demand with the use of PHOTOVOLTAIC power.

Therefore, this diagram demonstrates how we incorporated these different types of active systems in the design of the house and how such can be trailed back to larger systems.

Going up on a larger scale, we drew connections between our housing community to the community of Charlottesville.

Thus, we approached our design with the incorporation of a community garden for people to work on it and develop their gardening vocations which would be linked to the Charlottesville Community through the Farmer’s Market as .products — potentially selling the herbs | plants | flowers | vegetables grown in the community garden. Therefore, this project gets at a lot of the specifics that we have covered in Systems class this semester. Starting with Sustainable Design+Building | Active Systems | Photovoltaics | SIPs Panels.

Furthermore, the reason that finalized the success of buildings is their incorporation to the community. Thus, we try to accomplish that not only by the main goal of the Housing Project — being a transitional house for Homeless people. Additionally, we approached the idea of a community garden to pull this project into the community of Charlottesville through vocational skills and the Farmer’s Market 🙂

References – Flat Plate Sys