Just last week, DesignBoom brought us news of this cactus-inspired design for the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Agriculture building in Doha, Qatar. It's a fascinating example of biomimicry — the skin of one of the hardiest plants of the desert is applied to the design of the facade of a desert building — with hundreds of smart shades that open and close depending on the strength of the sun.
A competition for a community plan in China recently declared a winning entry entitled "The Tree of Light." The local government of Miyi County was looking for a way to create a landmark body of architecture to serve as a foundation for further development in the area. From the banks of the Anning River rises a comprehensive master plan addressing needs for education, environmental restoration, and community identity.
Wow, isn't this home striking? It's a green house and a house meant to act like a true greenhouse — the steel-framed structure is enveloped in alternating layers of insulated transparent glass and translucent polycarbonate plates, so when the sun comes through the glass and heats up the interior, the insulation in the glass keeps the heat inside. The insulation and translucent materials also provide a level of privacy, particularly on the first level, whereas the glass is featured prominently in the more public areas of the home.
If you've ever been to Taiwan, you'll probably agree that this design for Chinatrust Bank's headquarters is spot on for the region. Taiwan is so lush and green — the extensive allowance for green roofs, vertical courtyards, and open space in the central plaza likely blends right in to the terrain. Designed by the LA office of NBBJ, with the assistance of local firm Fei & Cheng Associates, the development includes a 30-story headquarters building, 21-story commercial office building, 10-story hotel, and four-level retail center. The development just broke ground earlier this month and will end up with 2.5 million square feet by about 2012.
It looks like the 100k House idea has migrated overseas because a similar prototype just popped up in Italy last year. Mario Cucinella Architects has conceived Casa 100k, which is a prototype home for Є100,000 that prioritizes three main elements: style, sustainability, and affordability. It's billed as a low-cost, dream home with zero bills and zero emissions. And as you can see from available renderings, the method of accomplishing such goals is primarily through prefabrication and passive and active design strategies.
We've seen some interesting living walls and green roofs, but this goes beyond these applications and into the realm of being a complete living house. Referred to as the Lost in Paris House, the structure took five years to complete and was designed by R&Sie architects. The unique living envelope comprises 1200 ferns (or Dryopteris filix-mas) in a hydroponic system – the plants are not sustained by soil but by a chemical mixture of bacteria, nutrients, and rainwater.