China's first carbon-neutral hotel, the hip 26-room URBN Hotel Shanghai, will officially open this spring. Conceived by owners Scott Barrack and Jules Kwan, URBN promises to be the start of a new boutique hotel empire.
No strangers to luxury developments or to China where they have lived for 10 years, the two plan to open another 20 URBN hotels in China in the next three years, starting with Beijing, Hangzhou, Dalian and Suzhou. The hoteliers will go as green as possible by rehabilitating existing structures, using recycled materials, maximizing green space and introducing eco-friendly solutions.
Beyond co-founding boutique real estate investment and development company Space Development with Kwan, the California native Barrack has established several property companies in China, including Space International specializing in luxury French Concession district properties, and Inn Shangha, the city's first serviced boutique apartment complex. Sydney, Australia-born and raised Kwan is an alternative media and property development expert.
The partners have a unique, personal perspective on what works and what doesn't for a luxury traveler in China. To give visitors a true Shanghainese urban experience - something they felt was missing - they invited international Shanghai-based collaborators with similar sensibilities to convert a 1970s post office building to the stylish URBN Hotel Shanghai. The result is an impressive fusion of contemporary and Chinese design.
URBN's spatial concept, interior and facade design are by A00 Architecture, a partnership of three Canadian architects, best known for conversions of Shanghai's historic houses into unique residences. The hotel's interior designer is Brazil native architect, Tais Cabral, known for her commercial, cultural, residential and retail work in Paris, as well as her furniture design. By Tuija Seipell
Escaping the big city used to mean keeping warm beside a fireplace in aquaint little wood cabin tucked away in the wilderness. But now we allknow impressive design can be found virtually anywhere, even in themost remote areas. At just over 200 square metres, the Steel House in New Yorkï¿½s Hudson Valley provides an ideal weekend retreat.
From a distance the length of the narrow house looks like a metallicscreen rising out of the surrounding meadow. The house opens to thelandscape on the narrow east and west facades. One end features adouble-height entry with a stairway leading up to two bedrooms on thefirst level. The bedrooms above overlook a small, private lake by wayof an enclosed balcony whilst below, the living and dining area openout to a screened patio.
Striving to remain economical, high priority was giving to theselection of materials and finished both inside and out. Allinterior walls, floors and ceiling as well as custom furniture andcabinetry were constructed of durable maple plywood. Specialconsideration was also given to the use and placement of glazing andskylights that allow for natural ventilation.
Exterior floating stainless steel panels run the length of the house.Besides obvious aesthetic considerations, these perforated exteriorscreens protect the house from seasonal weather variations. Theyprovide much needed shade from the summer sun, and buffer the home fromstrong winter winds.
At just under 150 kilometres from New York City, the Steel House ishardly at the end of the earth, however, the siting and design of theweekend retreat allows its guests a welcoming break from the urbanchaos. By Andrew J Wiener
See also Camouflage House
A print campaign by NSW Police in Australia to raise awareness of the number of teenagers dying as a result of listening to iPods while they cross the road is beginning to reach epidemic proportions. Who knew!
Ask a child what their favorite subject is at school, and chances are they’ll say recess. It’s the one time during the day when they are almost absolutely free to make decisions for themselves — from who to play with, what to play, and where to play. And as children grow, the social dynamics of who can play where shifts and an age-based pecking order ensues.
The Netherlands-based design team at Carve integrate architectural expression into their playground design thereby generating unique play experiences for children of all ages. Don’t let the kids know, however that the Carve team strives to encourage a cognitive process — even during free time. This new equipment and play structures stimulate decision-making, group and continuous play (use of the same equipment in varying way) encouraging children to climb, hang, swing, skate, slide, run, jump, vault, hide.
One of Crave’s creation in particular, the wall-holla, has received special notoriety as it was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards in 2006. Thirty children at once can climb, crawl, roll and maneuver through the large fence-like structure. Older children are able to scale the climbing wall or just relax and look out over the domain they’ve waited countless years to control. By Andrew J Wiener.
Mobile living might not be for everyone - but those adventurous enough to give it a shot. Living Is.be has crafted a fully-functional living space within the bed or a truck.
Two hatch skylights provide natural ventilation and allow sun to illuminate the interior. A double bed was installed at the rear of the truck allowing two adults to sleep comfortably. Running water is not only used in a functioning sink, but is also used in a sunken shower that was placed directly behind the cab of the truck. A kitchen stove ensures meals can be prepared - whether driving through an urban area or traversing rugged terrain. By Andrew J Wiener.
See Also -THE WOLTHAHELLIZAT
DOUBLE DECKER LIVING
Whoever said that reading was a religious experience was right, especially when taking a visit to Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Having just won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007, this newest addition to the Selexyz book chain is well worth the visit to this medieval city if you are ever in the area.
Erected inside a former 800 year old Dominican church, this bookstore is said to hold the largest stock of books in English in Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the country.
It was always going to be a challenging task for Amsterdam based architects Merkx + Girod who designed the space, to stay true to the original character and charm of the church, whilst also achieving a desirable amount of commercial space (there was only an available floor area of 750 m2, with a proposed retail space of 1200 m2). Taking advantage of the massive ceiling, both have been achieved through the construction of a multi-storey steel structure which houses the majority of the books. This is one giant bookshelf, with stairs and elevators taking shoppers and visitors alike, up to the heavens (mind the pun), to roof of the church.
To maintain a sense of symmetrical balance in the space, lower tables of best sellers and latest releases have been added to either side, and of course a small cafe at the back for readers to relax and enjoy a hot drink.
Overall a great example of how with clever thinking, spatial solutions can both achieve a suitable retail presence, whilst still respecting and remaining true to the original structure. By Brendan Mc Knight
See also Pontificial Lateral University Library
LIBRARIES - CANDIDA-HOFFER
Kids Republic Bookstore
In a world where conservation and efficiency are becoming the standard, a greater number of companies are doing anything and everything they can to continue keeping awareness in the consciousness of the consumer. In this billboard for Philips, a consistent leader in corporate sustainability, the image of their globe is printed in ink that glows in the dark. The energy saving poster eliminates the need for artificial lighting. By Andrew J Wiener