World Architecture Festival – 2014 – Singapore Highlights

The World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2014 held in Singapore concluded in style yesterday. Over 2,000 architects, designers, clients and press had come together for the world’s largest festival and live awards competition dedicated to celebrating, and sharing architectural excellence from across the globe. The 3-day design festival, held from October 1-3, 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, highlighted “Architects and the City” as the primary theme for this year’s main conference sessions; the festival discussed in depth the contributions an architect can make to cities and how they affect – and are affected by – politics, infrastructure, planning communities and technology.

Day 1 Winners in the following Categories:
House (sponsored by Grohe)

House for Trees / Vietnam / Vo Trong Nghia Architects
Housing (sponsored by Grohe)

The Carve / Norway / A-Lab


Liberty Place / Australia / Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp

Higher Education & Research

Dalarna Media Library / Sweden / ADEPT


Te Kaitaka ‘The Cloak’ / New Zealand / Fearon Hay Architects


Chobham Academy / UK/ Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Yalikavak Marina Complex / Turkey / EAA-Emre Arolat Architects

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Are You Planning Your HVAC System Correctly?

Architects often do not place enough emphasis on HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems at designing stage; more often than not, it is just an afterthought! It is crucial to understand the importance of creating sustainable, self-sufficient structures which is incidentally possible only through an integrated approach. Good HVAC systems are not only a crucial element in a building, they also offers high returns on investments when selected wisely. Since the HVAC equipment are expensive and have a long life, it is difficult to replace an under-performing system without adding a significant amount to the operations cost.

The performance of the HVAC systems will often depend on the solar orientation of the site, design of the building, choice of roofing, facade etc. Solar gain through windows, air filtration, heat load from artificial lighting will all have considerable effect on the HVAC. There are energy modelling software and consultants with the know-how on the building performance testing industry who can ensure the optimum performance of these systems. It is very important to plan your HVAC system at design stage and even more important to invest in a good software to manage it. These investments will sooner or later be justified by the savings available from load reduction and HVAC savings.

On that note, Archh caught up with Bengaluru-based HVAC consultant and expert Ananth Kumar who shared his knowledge on general industry trends and consumer buying habits.
What is the impact of HVAC on one’s utility bills? How can one lower it?
As we know that the majority of the energy consumption in any facility is on HVAC, surprisingly it is close to 50% to 55% on the commercial developments. With lots of development on energy conservation, renewable energy is on the cards nowadays and many companies follow it as a mandate and spend huge on this regard. Keeping this as a major impact in all respects, the sustainability design, energy-efficient design is being practiced now. Even then the utility bills are high due to lots of factors pertaining to operation and maintenance of the system. This can be definitely lowered down by using the intelligent building management system installed for the equipments, proper routine maintenance of all the equipments, seasonal programming of the system operations, maintaining the logs and consistently studying the trends and operating the plant accordingly, using the sensors and automating the equipments etc.
What factors must architects consider while picking the right HVAC system?

The Beautiful Landscape Architecture of California

Archh’s most active user ‘photographer-and-cinematographer duo’ Chibi Moku has shared with us works of five extremely talented landscape architects from California. We feature them here…

Vee Horticulture (Berkeley, California)

The landscape designs by Vee Horticulture are all about connecting people to nature and to their own sense of well-being and aliveness. In their first landscape project, a sensual garden was created with a variety of plants including edibles such a lemon, a kumquat, fig, persimmon and blueberries. The key ingredient in this beautiful garden was the placement of fragrant plants in strategic areas that blooms in its full glory giving away whiffs of fresh flora at different times of the year. There is abundant forage for hummingbirds, songbirds, bees and butterflies. There is ample shade provided in all areas and the family can enjoy their morning cup of tea on a large dining table for ten that can also double as a table tennis court for family entertainment.

You can view the beautiful photos and the video of this project here

Julie Orr Design (Palo Alto, California)

Julie Orr, principal landscape designer and her client Arnie share their insight into this award-winning backyard remodel. At the heart of this design lies a strong desire to bring family together in a space that is welcoming for parents, young adults and their collective friends. Specializing in outdoor kitchen, fire and water feature design, Julie provides a collaborate atmosphere for her clients to share their goals while incorporating her expert knowledge, creativity and vision. This unique approach of planning through a series of on-site design sessions produced Arnie’s dream space: a backyard his family can use year-round, plants that have low water needs, a space that is beautiful to relax in and easy to maintain.

You can watch the behind-the scenes story of Arnie, the empty nester and the award-dinning project that culminated from it, click here

Divine Nature Landscape Design (Los Altos, California)

Johnna Brooks from Divine Nature Landscape Nature creates a space that can repair in a way that calms the ambience and at the same time restores the very ground that her clients inhabit. This new way of creating landscapes involves sound. “It helps me to create a whole surrounding scenery in your head as well as seeing it physically in the landscape,” she says. “This makes people feel calm, peaceful and stress free.”

Watch Johnna Brooks speak about the inspiration behind these lush green gardens,click here

LandStudio360 (Los Angeles, California)

When The Westerly on Lincoln, a 583-unit apartment community in Marina del Rey, California were looking to enhance their outdoors, they called in LandStudio360 for design and re-imaging. The studio developed a landscape palette that complemented the new architectural façade by KEPHART, and made detailed renovations to the pool area and interior courtyards. The highlight features include a large water wall fountain outside the leasing center as well as iconic acrylic panels lit by color changing LEDs at the project’s entry. As a result of these vast improvements, The Westerly on Lincoln was recognized by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) as the Best Conversion/Repositioning of a Multi-Family Asset in 2013.

LandStudio 360 was also called in to work on the 27 Seventy-Five Mesa Verde, an existing apartment community in Costa Mesa, California by joining distinct properties separated by extensive network of artificial streams and lakes. The studio has also created inviting outdoor spaces for shoppers at The Shops at Dos Lagos, a regional outdoor retail center off Interstate 15 in Corona, California.

Watch the hearty architects take you through their projects, click here

Elemental Design Group (Santa Cruz, California)

Seasoned landscape architect Rhadiante Van de Voorde, principal of Elemental Design Group, specializes in custom garden design. From contemporary to traditional, Rhadiante is keyed to the needs and desires of her clients and empathetically creates exterior environments that gracefully balance the elements. She sheds light on her design approach and philosophy for two unique projects set in the beautiful SF bay area. The video shows captivating footage which displays how a sculpted outdoor environment not only brings value to the home but also can provide pleasure and even inspiration.

Choose the Right Art for Your Space

Choosing an art for your home or your work space need not be a daunting task. For far too long, interior designers have had to explain to their clients the importance of incorporating art in the décor. An art ties together the entire decor, depending on its purpose it can supplement the grace and beauty of the space or be used to create a stark contrast or a bold statement. But even if you are not an art connoisseur, fret not. These simple guidelines will ease your struggle of picking the right art and tell you how to correctly display it on your walls.

Size Matters. Depending on the size of the wall, the size of the art matters. To introduce a piece of art in your habitat, it is firstly very important that you make an informed decision depending on the size of the room. You must be aware of the shape and size of art you are about to introduce in the room. If there are too many furniture, it would be nearly impossible to fit a large wall art in that décor. Factors such as the location, height at which the art must be hung, the size of the wall will help you decide on the frame size. It is advisable to tape paper cut-outs on the wall to visualize where your art will be placed. Estimating the size of your art wall is a great first step to purchasing the art for your room.

Experiment with mediums and colours. Go beyond the usual oil paints on canvas, experiment with digital print, art deco, graphite pencil sketches and murals and see what best sets the tone and matches the colour palette of your living room, bedroom, workspace. The art must complement the room palette and tone. Bold art can also be used as a statement piece in a muted décor. Or it can work the other way, try making the art an inspiration for deciding the room’s colour palette. Rather than opting for large-scale pieces, create a gallery wall of smaller prints grouped together instead. Reframe the existing artwork in your home to complement the new art to give a cohesive feel to your personal art gallery.

Follow your instincts. An art is a reflection of your personality. If you are a lively and cheerful person, then a serious artwork can dull your sheen. Choose an artwork that you’ve fallen in love with, not something that someone recommends to you. Buy that particular art only if you must. You will be looking at this artwork every single day and as stated earlier, only an art that resonates with you and your personality will make you content. Never make a purchase immediately. If you walk away from a painting thinking about it, then it is a good indication that you are ready to make this commitment.

London Design Festival 2014 Highlights

The twelfth annual London Design Festival, which took place from 13th to 21st September 2014, was indeed quite eventful. No, literally! It had something for everyone. The annual contemporary design festival celebrated designs in all forms: landmark, interiors, furniture, graphic and sculptural installations. With over 300 events held across the city, the festival showcased innovative and thoughtful designs by artists, designers from around the world. We chose to highlight some of the fun, quirky design ideas that held our attention a while longer.

A Place Called Home 

Designers Jasper Morrison, Studioilse, Patternity and Raw-Edges came together to install their interpretation of ‘A place called Home’ for Airbnb’s landmark project. 
British designer Jasper Morrison was inspired by the location and created a home for a pigeon keeper.

Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay of design studio Raw-Edges focused on a versatile living arrangement, creating a house with spaces and rooms that shift and change around a central lighting fixture.

Studioilse founder Ilse Crawford got the audience thinking about what a home meant to them 

Young British duo Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham of Patternity staged an interactive installation of oversized kaleidoscopes with repeating triangles, circles and squares.

Double Space for BMW – Precision & Poetry in Motion

Incredibly talented industrial designers Jay Barber and Edward Osgerby, together with BMW, designed Double Space, a kinetic sculpture wherein they installed reflective glass panels at V&A Museum’s Raphael Gallery in order to display the classic artwork in a distorted new light.
The Crest by Zaha Hadid

Hadid’s Crest installation is an experimental structure, commissioned by ME by Meliá Hotels International to mark the 2016 launch of their Hadid-designed ME Dubai hotel. After the event, the demountable structure is to be relocated to the Dubai Hotel.
Driverless Sleeper Car of the Future by Dominic Wilcox

London-based designer Dominic Wilcox created this life-size car with stained glass chassis. He believes that in future roads would be so safe that it would be cool to drive around in this unmanned vehicle while a person sleeps in it.


How to Decorate Small Balconies

How often have you come across homes that have a beautiful living space but dull, uninspiring balconies that are a complete eyesore? Most people use their balconies to dump storage and stack unused items but let us remind you that balconies are an extension of your living space. By investing a decent amount of time and money, you can create a cool retreat where you can unwind after a long day and enjoy the beautiful sunset. We give you five simple tips on how to decorate your balconies.

Cover the boring surfaces: Paint the wall with a lively colour and cover the floor, if necessary, with a rug, fake grass or simply paint. Pick a palette that inspires you and is an extension of not just your living room but also your personality.

Create privacy: You can opt for simple DIY for sheltering yourself from the harsh sun or the prying neighbors by hanging sheets or installing weather-proof blinds, a reed fence or simply by planting medium-sized plants along the balcony.

Seating Arrangements: Make the balcony your own personal oasis by building a small bench or buying few stackable chairs or stools that can comfortably accommodate more than two-three guests in the sit-out area.

Add green: Invest in small shrubs, herbs and perennials that will screen unsightly areas of the balcony and brighten up bare walls. Balconies with high railings will serve to support climbers like Clematis, Morning Glory and Sweet Peas that can offer privacy as well as shade from the sun.

Outdoor lighting: A space is not completely put together until you add lighting that complements the décor. Depending on the size of your balcony, you can choose from fairy lights, wall sconces, pendant lighting or small lamps.

We have a small video here from Engineer Your Space that shows you how a tiny
5 x 9 ft rental apartment balcony can be transformed into a cozy sit out area with just a DIY bench, reed fence and few planters.

Six Game-Changing Architects from Africa

These renowned architects from the continent of Africa have made a world of difference to not only architecture but also to the world beyond their homes. They have overcome prejudice, shattered glass ceilings, worked on award-winning international projects and introduced sustainable and low-cost solutions in economically distressed areas. These six African architects are lauded for their outstanding work and design acumen…
Paul Revere Williams (1894- 1980):

Paul Revere Williams has designed over 3,000 buildings in his career spanning over five decades. He was also the first African American ever to be elected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1957. The bitter irony of his situation was that he designed homes for whites in localities where blacks were barred from entering. Williams was an outstanding draftsman and had a unique ability to render drawings upside-down; it is said that he perfected the skill in order to make his white clients, who would sit opposite him, more comfortable. But despite the undercurrents of racism, he became well-known as the “Architect to Hollywood Stars.” His star clientele included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, Groucho Marx, Lauren Bacall among others.

Paul Williams and Theme Building (top left) at Los Angeles International Airport, designed along with William Pereira and the Guardian Angel Cathedral Las Vegas 
Norma Sklarek (1928- 2012):

She is the first licensed African-American female architect and the first black female fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Born in New York, Sklarek studied architecture at Columbia University. Despite being discouraged from joining a man’s profession, she was determined to work for an architecture firm. After a short stint at NYC Department of Works and Owings and Merrill, she moved to Gruen Associates in Los Angeles. At Gruen, she climbed the corporate ladder and became the firm’s director in 1966. She was also the vice president of the Welton Becket firm and is associated with landmark projects such as the Fox Plaza in San Franscisco, Terminal One of Los Angeles International Airport and the American Embassy in Tokyo.

Norma Sklarek and The Fox Plaza in San Francisco

David Adjaye (1966 – Present):

This multi-award winning ‘starchitect’ is the principal of his eponymous firm. Being born in Tanzania to a Ghanaian Diplomat, Adjaye travelled the world before finally settling down in Britain at the age of nine. He graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1993 and around the same time, bagged the RIBA Bronze Medal. His commissions include designing private residences, pavilions, major arts centers and important public buildings across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Some of the well-known projects include the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management. In 2007, the Queen conferred the OBE (Order of British Empire) title on him for his services to British Architecture. In 2009, he was selected to design the $500 million National Museum of African American History and Culture, part of Smithsonian in Washington DC, which will be completed by 2015.

David Adjaye and the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management

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