The connectivity concept resonates way beyond the mobile device and the digital screen; it transcends all kind of environments: body, home, city, industry and the environment. If we chose, the connectivity phenomenon could take us to a far more interesting place: connected spaces.
Consider everything that can be connected in a space: it’s far more than connecting wearable devices and phones to a few gadgets or screens. It is about a fundamental change in the information flow direction. Most of us have some kind of device, most of them with some level of connectivity capability. Environments can detect our devices and react to them on many different levels. The more connected spaces are, the more information is available, and so devices can react better, faster and more accurately.
The beauty about this fundamentally different way of thinking about connectivity, is that it makes our environments, our urban spaces, work harder for us. It can power completely new ways to interact with our environment; interactions that go beyond the screen, wearables and simple connected “things”.
Connected spaces can truly change the way we interact with our world. As the intersection between the digital and the physical continues to blur, our environments could really start to create more accurate, engaging and useful experiences. Buildings detecting our presence, querying our phones for details we want to publicly share, tapping into public services and welcoming us with the right information. Stores could completely change the way they serve their customers. Restaurants could provide the correct menus to people according to their diet preferences or known allergies.
Here is where the power of information and data will make a real difference. Adaptive environments will be able to retrieve and use contextual, relevant, timely and accurate information to interact with us. Spaces will adapt to people, from groups to individuals, contextually and appropriately. The experience a brand can provide to their consumers from this angle exceeds anything that we currently have through the digital screen and the mobile device. A good example of this approach is 2014 Coachella Music Festival, where Spotify partnered with organizers to create connected space experience with the #WeWereThere campaign.
Connected spaces will rely on a myriad of connectivity protocols, platforms and technologies. Native applications, web experiences, lighting, sound, environment, architecture – all will be a part of the connected experience. As a result, agencies and brands will need to diversify and work with interdisciplinary teams across different environments, platforms and technologies.
Sources & References:
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Thank you for all the support and encouragement over the years. Here are some of our favorite blog posts about technology and innovation related to the field of Architecture:
- High Performance Building Design
- 3-D Printing
- Connected Spaces
- Benefits of Using Digital Twins for Construction
- Digital Twins
- Drone Technology
- Artificial Intelligence
- Immersive Experience in Architecture
- Smart Cities
- Big Data in Architecture
- Creating High Performance Buildings through Integrative Design Process
- Forget Blueprints, Now You Can Print the Building
- The 7 Dimensions of Building Information Modeling
- Parametric Architecture and Generative Design System
- Architecture Robots
- Internet of Spaces
- Sustainable Design Elements to Consider While Designing a Project
- What is a High Performance School?
- What is BIM? Should Your Firm Upgrade? by @FrankCunhaIII
- Renewable Wave Power Energy
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
What Will Higher Education Look Like 5, 10 or 20 Years From Now? Some Ways Colleges Can Reinvent Themselves #iLMA #eMBA #Innovation #Technology #Planning #Design #HigherEducation #HigherEd2030 #University #ArchitectPosted: April 16, 2019
Change is a natural and expected part of running a successful organization. Whether big or small, strategic pivots need to be carefully planned and well-timed. But, how do you know when your organization is ready to evolve to its next phase? Anyone that listens, watches, or reads the news knows about the rising cost of higher education and the increasing debt that education is putting on students and alumni and their families.
At a time when education is most important to keep up with increasing technological changes, institutions need to pivot or face imminent doom in an ever increasing competitive environment. Competition can come from startups or external factors in the higher education market therefore it is increasingly necessary for institutions of higher learning to take a different approach to their business operations.
This post will focus on:
- Current Trends
- Demographic Shifts
- Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)
- Changing Assumptions
- Implications for the Physical Campus
- Changing Trajectory
- More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)
- Driving Technologies
- External Forces
- Online education[i] has become an increasingly accepted option, especially when “stackable” into degrees.
- Competency-based education lowers costs and reduces completion time for students.
- Income Share Agreements[ii] help students reduce the risk associated with student loans.
- Online Program Manager organizations benefit both universities and nontraditional, working-adult students.
- Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers.
- Pathway programs facilitate increasing transnational education[iii], which serves as an additional revenue stream for universities.
According to data from the National Clearinghouse and the Department of Education[iv]:
- The Average Age of a College/University Student Hovers Around Twenty-Seven (Though That Is Decreasing as The Economy Heats Up)
- 38% of Students Who Enrolled In 2011 Transferred Credits Between Different Institutions At Least Once Within Six Years.
- 38% of Students Are Enrolled Part-Time.
- 64% of Students Are Working Either Full-Time or Part-Time.
- 28% of Students Have Children of Their Own or Care For Dependent Family Members.
- 32% of Students Are from Low-Income Families.
- The Secondary Education Experience Has an Increasingly High Variation, Resulting In Students Whose Preparation For College-Level Work Varies Greatly.
Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)
The future of higher education depends on innovation.
University leaders who would risk dual transformation are required to exercise full commitment to multiple, potentially conflicting visions of the future. They undoubtedly confront skepticism, resistance, and inertia, which may sway them from pursuing overdue reforms.[v]
Change is upon us.
“All universities are very much struggling to answer the question of: What does [digitization[vi]] mean, and as technology rapidly changes, how can we leverage it?” . . . . Colleges afraid of asking that question do so at their own peril.”[vii]James Soto Antony, the director of the higher-education program at Harvard’s graduate school of education.
Until recently the need for a physical campus was based on several assumptions:
- Physical Class Time Was Required
- Meaningful Exchanges Occurred Face to Face
- The Value of an Institution Was Tied to a Specific Geography
- Books Were on Paper
- An Undergraduate Degree Required Eight Semesters
- Research Required Specialized Locations
- Interactions Among Students and Faculty Were Synchronous
Implications for the Physical Campus
- Learning – Course by course, pedagogy is being rethought to exploit the flexibility and placelessness of digital formats while maximizing the value of class time.
- Libraries – Libraries are finding the need to provide more usable space for students and faculty. Whether engaged in study, research or course projects, the campus community continues to migrate back to the library.
- Offices – While the rest of North America has moved to mobile devices and shared workspaces, academic organizations tend to be locked into the private, fixed office arrangement of an earlier era – little changed from a time without web browsers and cell phones.
- Digital Visible – From an institutional perspective, many of the implications of digital transformation are difficult to see, lost in a thicket of business issues presenting themselves with increasing urgency.
University presidents and provosts are always faced with the choice of staying the course or modifying the trajectory of their institutions. Due to failing business models, rapidly evolving digital competition and declining public support, the stakes are rising. All should be asking how they should think about the campus built for the 21st century.[viii] J. Michael Haggans[ix] makes the following recommendations:
- Build no net additional square feet
- Upgrade the best; get rid of the rest
- Manage space and time; rethink capacity
- Right-size the whole
- Take sustainable action
- Make campus matter
More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)
- The Rise of The Mega-University[x]
- ; Public Private Partnerships (P3’s) Procurement Procedures Will Become More Prevalent
- More Colleges Will Adopt Test-Optional Admissions
- Social Mobility Will Matter More in College Rankings
- Urban Colleges Will Expand[xi] — But Carefully
- Financial Crunches Will Force More Colleges to Merge
- The Traditional Textbook Will Be Hard to Find; Free and Open Textbooks
- More Unbundling and Micro-Credentials
- Continued Focus on Accelerating Mobile Apps
- Re-Imagining Physical Campus Space in Response to New Teaching Delivery Methods
- Transforming the Campus into A Strategic Asset with Technology
- Education Facilities Become Environmental Innovators
- Ethics and Inclusion: Designing for The AI Future We Want to Live In
- Visibility (Transparency) And Connectedness
- Sustainability from Multiple Perspectives
- Better Customer Experiences with The Digital Supply Chain
- Individualized Learning Design, Personalized Adaptive Learning
- Stackable Learning Accreditation
- Increased Personalization: More Competency-Based Education They’ll Allow Students to Master A Skill or Competency at Their Own Pace.
- Adaptation to Workplace Needs They’ll Adapt Coursework to Meet Employer Needs for Workforce Expertise
- Greater Affordability and Accessibility They’ll Position Educational Programs to Support Greater Availability.
- More Hybrid Degrees[xii]
- More Certificates and Badges, For Example: Micro-Certificates, Offer Shorter, More Compact Programs to Provide Needed Knowledge and Skills Fast[xiii]
- Increased Sustainable Facilities – Environmental Issues Will Become Even More Important Due to Regulations and Social Awareness; Reduced Energy Costs, Water Conservation, Less Waste
- Health & Wellness – Physical, Spiritual and Metal Wellbeing
- Diversity and Inclusion Will Increase
- Rise of The Micro-Campus[xiv] And Shared Campuses[xv]
- E-Advising to Help Students Graduate
- Evidence-Based Pedagogy
- The Decline of The Lone-Eagle Teaching Approach (More Collaboration)
- Optimized Class Time (70% Online, 30% Face to Face)
- Easier Educational Transitions
- Fewer Large Lecture Classes
- Increased Competency-Based and Prior-Learning Credits (Credit for Moocs or From “Real World” Experience)[xvi]
- Data-Driven Instruction
- Aggressive Pursuit of New Revenue
- Online and Low-Residency Degrees at Flagships
- Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education[xvii]
- The Architecture of The Residential Campus Will Evolve to Support the Future.
- Spaces Will Be Upgraded to Try to Keep Up with Changes That Would Build In Heavy Online Usage.
- Spaces Will Be Transformed and Likely Resemble Large Centralized, Integrated Laboratory Type Spaces.
- Living-Learning Spaces in Combination Will Grow, But On Some Campuses, Perhaps Not In The Traditional Way That We Have Thought About Living-Learning To Date.
- Emerging Technologies – Such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, And Artificial Intelligence – Will Eventually Shape What the Physical Campus Of The Future Will Look Like, But Not Replace It.[xviii]
- Mobile Digital Transformation[xix]
- Smart Buildings and Smart Cities[xx]
- Internet of Things
- Artificial Intelligence (AI), Including Natural Language Processing
- Automation (Maintenance and Transportation Vehicles, Instructors, What Else?)
- Virtual Experience Labs, Including: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality Learning, And Robotic Telepresence
- More Technology Instruction and Curricula Will Feature Digital Tools and Media Even More Prominently
- New Frontiers For E-Learning, For Example, Blurred Modalities (Expect Online and Traditional Face-To-Face Learning to Merge)[xxi]
- Blending the Traditional; The Internet Will Play Bigger Role in Learning
- Big Data: Colleges Will Hone Data Use to Improve Outcomes
- [xxii]: Corporate Learning Is A Freshly Lucrative Market
- Students and Families Will Focus More on College Return On Investment, Affordability And Student Loan Debt
- Greater Accountability; Schools will be more accountable to students and graduates
- Labor Market Shifts and the Rise of Automation
- Economic Shifts and Moves Toward Emerging Markets
- Growing Disconnect Between Employer Demands and College Experience
- The Growth in Urbanization and A Shift Toward Cities
- Restricted Immigration Policies and Student Mobility
- Lack of Supply but Growth in Demand
- The Rise in Non-Traditional Students
- Dwindling Budgets for Institutions[xxiv]
- Complex Thinking Required Will Seek to Be Vehicles of Societal Transformation, Preparing Students to Solve Complex Global Issues
[i] Online education is a flexible instructional delivery system that encompasses any kind of learning that takes place via the Internet. The quantity of distance learning and online degrees in most disciplines is large and increasing rapidly.
[ii] An Income Share Agreement (or ISA) is a financial structure in which an individual or organization provides something of value (often a fixed amount of money) to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed number of years.
[iii] Transnational education (TNE) is education delivered in a country other than the country in which the awarding institution is based, i.e., students based in country Y studying for a degree from a university in country Z.
[iv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/3/changing-demographics-and-digital-transformation
[v]Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/design_thinking_for_higher_education
[vi] Digitization is the process of changing from analog to digital form.
[vii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://qz.com/1070119/the-future-of-the-university-is-in-the-air-and-in-the-cloud
[viii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: http://c21u.gatech.edu/blog/future-campus-digital-world
[ix] Michael Haggans is a Visiting Scholar in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and Visiting Professor in the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a licensed architect with a Masters of Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has led architectural practices serving campuses in the US and Canada, and was University Architect for the University of Missouri System and University of Arizona.
[x] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/Trend19-MegaU-Main
[xi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.lincolninst.edu/sites/default/files/pubfiles/1285_wiewel_final.pdf
[xii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/this-is-the-future-of-college
[xiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.govtech.com/education/higher-ed/Why-Micro-Credentials-Universities.html
[xv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/global_learning/a-new-global-model-the-micro-campus
[xvi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Future-Is-Now-15/140479
[xvii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/market_opportunities/looking-to-2040-anticipating-the-future-of-higher-education
[xviii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.eypae.com/publication/2017/future-college-campus
[xix] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/02/digital-transformation-quest-rethink-campus-operations
[xxi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/04/college-online-degree-blended-learning/557642
[xxii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://qz.com/1191619/amazon-is-becoming-its-own-university
[xxiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3029109/5-bold-predictions-for-the-future-of-higher-education
[xxiv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/state-funding-a-race-to-the-bottom.aspx
We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
The Architect’s Role in Sustainable Design (and How to Use Technology and Innovation to Advance Building Performance) #ilmaBlog #green #design #architecture #greenbuildingsPosted: November 27, 2018
In the design and construction field, there are two major categories of resources: renewable and non-renewable. As opposed to non-renewable resources, which are depleted with their constant use, renewable resources are not. If not managed properly Non-renewable resources might become non-existent when the rate at which they are used is much higher than the rate at which they are replaced. Renewable resources include water, geothermal energy and wind energy. Non-renewable resources include coal, natural gas and oil. The demand for new construction is on the rise as the world’s population increases and the demand for newer, more efficient modern buildings also increase.
Because buildings account for so much energy to build and maintain, architects and designers have become very conscious about our role in minimizing our environmental footprint when we design buildings. The American Institute of Architects, the largest organization of architects world-wide has a committee called the Committee on the Environment (COTE), which works to advance, disseminate, and advocate—to the profession, the building industry, the academy, and the public—design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design and building science and performance.
In green construction processes, there is an emphasis on the use of renewable resources. In many cases, this natural source becomes depleted much faster than it is able to replenish itself, therefore, it has become important that buildings make use of alternative water sources for heating, hot water and sewerage disposal throughout their life cycles, to reduce use and conserve water supplies.
Architects and designers specify rapidly renewable materials are those that regenerate more quickly than their level of demand. Our goal is to reduce the use and depletion of finite raw materials and long-cycle renewable materials by replacing them with rapidly renewable ones. Some commonly specified rapidly renewable materials include cork, bamboo, cotton batt insulation, linoleum flooring, sunflower seed board panels, wheat-board cabinetry, wool carpeting, cork flooring, bio-based paints, geotextile fabrics such as coir and jute, soy-based insulation and form-release agent and straw bales. Some green building materials products are made of a merger of rapidly renewable materials and recycled content such as newsprint, cotton, soy-based materials, seed husks, etc.
Check out this ILMA article about “Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design” for more information on this topic.
Responsibility of Architects
Architects and designers who align with AIA’s COTE objectives, (1) recognize the value of their role in environmental leadership to advance the importance of sustainable design to the general public while incorporating sustainable design into their daily practice, (2) influence the direction of architectural education to place more emphasis on ecological literacy, sustainable design and building science, (3) communicate the AIA’s environmental and energy-related concerns to the public and private sectors and influence the decisions of the public, professionals, clients, and public officials on the impact of their environmental and energy-related decisions, (4) educate other architects on regulatory, performance, technical and building science issues and how those issues influence architecture, (5) educate the architectural profession on programming, designing, and managing building performance, (6) investigate and disseminate information regarding building performance best practices, criteria, measurement methods, planning tools, occupant-comfort, heat/air/moisture interfaces between the interior and exterior of buildings, (7) promote a more integrated practice in order to achieve environmentally and economically efficient buildings. One of the tools we will plan to promote to achieve this integration is Building Information Technology (BIM).
The Role of Technology & Innovation – A Case Study (“The Edge”)
PLP Architecture and the Developer OVG Real Estate, built “The Edge” is a 430,556 SF (40,000m²) office building in the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam. It was designed for the global financial firm and main tenant, Deloitte. The project aimed to consolidate Deloitte’s employees from multiple buildings throughout the city into a single environment, and to create a ‘smart building’ to act as a catalyst for Deloitte’s transition into the digital age.
They key features of this building include the following innovations which address the environmental impact of building such a large edifice:
- Each facade is uniquely detailed according to its orientation and purpose.
- Load bearing walls to the south, east and west have smaller openings to provide thermal mass and shading, and solid openable panels for ventilation.
- Louvers on the south facades are designed according to sun angles and provide additional shading for the office spaces, reducing solar heat gain.
- Solar panels on the south facade provide enough sustainable electricity to power all smartphones, laptops and electric cars.
- The North facades are highly transparent and use thicker glass to dampen noise from the motorway.
- The Atrium façade is totally transparent, allowing views out over the dyke, and steady north light in.
- The building’s Ethernet-powered LED lighting system is integrated with 30,000 sensors to continuously measure occupancy, movement, lighting levels, humidity and temperature, allowing it to automatically adjust energy use.
- 65,000 SF of solar panels are located on the facades and roof, and remotely on the roofs of buildings of the University of Amsterdam – thereby making use of neighborhood level energy sourcing.
- The atrium acts as a buffer between the workspace and the external environment. Excess ventilation air from the offices is used again to air condition the atrium space. The air is then ventilated back out through the top of the atrium where it passes through a heat exchanger to make use of any warmth.
- Rain water is collected on the roof and used to flush toilets and irrigate the green terraces in the atrium and other garden areas surrounding the building.
- Two thermal energy wells reach down to an aquifer, allowing thermal energy differentials to be stored deep underground.
- In The Edge a new LED-lighting system has been co-developed with Philips. The Light over Ethernet (LoE) LED system is powered by Ethernet and 100% IP based. This makes the system (i.e. each luminaire individually) computer controllable, so that changes can be implemented quickly and easily without opening suspended ceilings. The luminaires are furthermore equipped with Philips’ ‘coded-light’ system allowing for a highly precise localization via smartphone down to 8 inches (20 cm) accuracy, much more precise than known WiFi or beacon systems.
- Around 6,000 of these luminaires were placed in The Edge with every second luminaire being equipped with an additional multi-sensor to detect movement, light, infrared and temperature.
- The Philips LoE LED system was used in all office spaces to reduce the energy requirement by around 50% compared to conventional TL-5 Lighting. Via the LoE system daily building use can be monitored. This data is fed to facility managers via the BMS allowing:
- Remote insight into the presence of people in the building (anonymous). Heating, cooling, fresh air and lighting are fully IoT (Internet of Things) integrated and BMS controlled per 200 sqft based on occupancy – with zero occupancy there is next-to-zero energy use.
- Predictions of occupancy at lunchtime based on real time historical data and traffic and weather information to avoid food-waste.
- Unused rooms to be skipped for cleaning.
- Managers to be alerted to lights that need replacing.
- Notification of printers needing paper.
- Every employee is connected to the building via an app on their smartphone. Using the app they can find parking spaces, free desks or other colleagues, report issues to the facilities team, or even navigate within the building.
- Employees can customize the temperature and light levels anywhere they choose to work in the building via the mobile app. The app remembers how they like their coffee, and tracks their energy use so they’re aware of it.
- The vast amount of data generated by the building’s digital systems and the mobile app on everything from energy use to working patterns, has huge potential for informing not only Deloitte’s own operations, but also our understanding of working environments as a whole. Discussions are currently ongoing regarding the future of this data and its use for research and knowledge transfer.
- The green space that separates the building from the nearby motorway acts as an ecological corridor, allowing animals and insects cross the site safely.
Because buildings account for nearly 40 percent of global energy consumption, architects and designers have been working to impact the built environment in a positive way. Although not every project can be as green as The Edge, by selecting materials that are renewable while reducing energy are two big contributions we can make to help ease the increasing demand for construction.
Technology can play a big part in our role to design more sustainable buildings through the use of building information modeling, energy management software, building management software, online sustainability calculators, energy modeling software, new lighting innovations, new techniques to capture and deliver energy and clean water while reducing waste, and mobile applications utilizing IoT.
- COTE https://network.aia.org/committeeontheenvironment/home/new-item2
- The Edge https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building
We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends.
Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center
The nickname for the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is the Grass Building, and it perfectly captures its spirit. It’s a structure so thoughtfully designed it’s almost as energy-efficient and low impact as the greenery that surrounds it.
The Maryland building is part of an educational farm on the Potomac River Watershed that the Alice Ferguson Foundation used to teach people about the natural world. This new building—which became the 13th in the world to receive full Living Building Challenge certification in June 2017—is an educational facility designed to blur the lines between indoors and out, while still providing shelter as needed. “Part of the intent of the building is to be in the landscape and still have a bathroom to use,” says Scott Kelly, principal-in-charge at Re:Vision, a Philadelphia-based architecture and design studio.
Brock Environmental Center
Drawing thousands of students, the Brock Environmental Center is a regional hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, supporting its education and wetlands restoration initiatives. A connection to nature defines the building’s siting, which provides sweeping views of the marsh and also anticipates sea-level rise and storm surges with its raised design. Parts were sourced from salvage: Its maple floors once belonged to a local gymnasium while school bleachers, complete with graffiti, were used for interior wood trim. The center was recognized for its positive footprint: It has composting toilets, captures and treats rainfall for use as drinking water, and produces 80 percent more energy than it uses, selling the excess to the grid.
Discovery Elementary School
Students have three distinct, age-appropriate playgrounds—with natural elements such as rocks and fallen trees—at Arlington, Virginia’s Discovery Elementary School. The name honors astronaut John Glenn, who returned to space on the Discovery shuttle and once lived in the neighborhood. Exploration is a theme at the school, whose interior focuses on forests, oceans, atmosphere, and the solar system. The largest zero-energy school in the country, it offers “hands-on learning around energy efficiency and generation,” jurors noted. The school maximizes natural light and provides views to the outside in all classrooms.
Bristol Community College
A laboratory is an energy-intensive enterprise, with specialized lighting and ventilation needs. That’s why jurors praised the airy health and science building at Bristol Community College, in Fall River, Massachusetts, for its net-zero energy achievement, “a difficult feat,” they noted, “in a cold climate like New England’s.” The move saves $103,000 in annual operating costs and allows the college, which offers a suite of courses in sustainability and energy, to practice what it teaches. Part of a holistic campus redesign, the new building’s location increases the density—and thus walkability—of campus for students.
Central Energy Facility
Orange and red pipes flaunt their role in “heat recovery” at Stanford University’s Central Energy Facility. The center for powering the California campus—more than a thousand buildings—the facility was transformed from an aging gas-fired plant to one fueled mostly by an off-site solar farm, fulfilling a goal of carbon neutrality and reducing energy use by a third. With large health care and research buildings, the campus needs as much heating as cooling; now a unique recovery system taps heat created in cooling processes to supply 93 percent of the heating and hot water required for campus buildings. The plant reduces Stanford emissions by 68 percent and potable water usage by 18 percent, potentially saving millions of dollars and one of the state’s scarce resources.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Like other buildings in Singapore, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital incorporates parks, green roofs, and vertical plantings throughout its campus. But the city-state’s hospitals haven’t traditionally offered direct access to fresh air, light, and outdoor views. This hospital marks a dramatic change, optimizing each for patients. About 70 percent of the facility is naturally ventilated and cooled by fans, cross-ventilation, and exterior shading, saving on precious water resources. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical hospital in the area.
Eden Hall Farm, Chatham University
After receiving the donation of 388-acre Eden Hall Farm, 20 miles north, Pittsburgh’s Chatham University created a satellite campus centered around a sustainable living experiment. The university views the landscape—an agricultural area adjacent to an urban center—as critical to supporting cities of the future. The original buildings are complemented by new facilities for 250 residential students (and eventually 1,200), including a dormitory, greenhouse, dining commons, and classrooms. Students get hands-on experience in renewable energy systems—the campus generates more than it uses—sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste treatment, and water management. Now home to the Falk School of Sustainability, the farm is producing the next generation of environmental stewards, who follow in the footsteps of alum Rachel Carson.
Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
At George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, located in the nation’s capital, design embodies well-being. Built around an atrium that admits light and air, the structure encourages physical activity with a staircase that spans its eight levels. A green roof reduces storm runoff; rainwater is collected and stored for plumbing, resulting in a 41 percent reduction in toilet fixtures’ water use. Limestone panels (left) were salvaged from the previous building on the site. Materials used throughout the building contain recycled content.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center
Located at the heart of Pearl Harbor, on Oahu’s Ford Island, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center repurposed two airplane hangars—which narrowly escaped destruction in the 1941 attack—linking them with a new steel and glass building (right). The research and office facility for 800 employees was raised to guard it from rising sea levels. Given the size of the hangars, daylight illuminated only a small fraction of the space, so specially crafted lanterns reflect sunlight further into their interiors. Necessity required invention: Due to anti-terrorism regulations, no operable windows were allowed in the space. Through a passive downdraft system that taps prevailing sea breezes, the building is completely naturally ventilated. The adjacent waterfront was returned to a more natural state with native vegetation.
R.W. Kern Center
Serving as the gateway to Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the multipurpose R.W. Kern Center holds classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space—and is the place where prospective students are introduced to campus. The school converted what was once an oval driveway into a wildflower meadow, now encouraging a pedestrian approach (seen above). The center is self-sustaining, generating its own energy through a rooftop solar array, harvesting its water from rainfall, and processing its own waste. Its gray water treatment system is in a pilot program for the state, and may pave the way for others.
Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage & Salt Shed
Two buildings belonging to New York City’s sanitation department redefine municipal architecture. Resembling a grain of salt, the cubist form of the Spring Street Salt Shed holds 5,000 tons for clearing icy streets. The Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage (background), whose floors are color-coded for each of the three districts, is home to 150 vehicles, wash and repair facilities, and space for 250 workers. The garage is wrapped in 2,600 aluminum “fins,” shading devices that pivot with the sun’s rays, reducing heat gain and glare through the glazed walls while still allowing views to the outside. Municipal steam heats and cools the building, so no fuels are burned. A 1.5-acre green roof reduces heat-island effect and filters rainwater. A condensate by-product of the steam is also captured, and, along with the rainwater, used for toilets and the truck wash. Combined with low-flow fixtures, the process reduced water consumption by 77 percent.
Starbucks Hillsboro, Oregon
Starbucks has been a leader in the development and implementation of a scalable green building program for over a decade .Starbucks joined the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) in 2001 and collaborated with them to develop the LEED® for Retail program, an effort to adapt LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to new construction and commercial interior strategies for retail businesses. In 2008,Starbucks challenged themselves to use LEED certification not just for flagship stores and larger buildings, but for all new, company-operated stores. Many people, even internally, were skeptical, especially with Starbucks growth across the globe. But by collaborating with USGBC and other like-minded organizations, we have been able to integrate green building design not only into new stores but also into our existing store portfolio. Starbucks has also succeeded in providing a practical certification option for retailers of all sizes.
The Edge, Deloitte
The Edge, located in Amsterdam, is a model of sustainability.is billed as the world’s most sustainable office building and has the certification to prove it. But, it’s more than that. The place is, well, fun. And interesting. And inviting. So much so that professionals are actually applying for employment with Deloitte Netherlands because they want to work in the building. That it has become a recruiting tool is a satisfying side effect of a project designed to both redefine efficiency and change the way people work. “We wanted to ensure that our building not only had the right sustainability credentials, but was also a real innovative and inspiring place for our employees,” says Deloitte Netherlands CEO Peter Bommel.
Smart cities use data and technology to create efficiencies, improve sustainability,
create economic development, and enhance quality of life factors for people living and
working in the city. It also means that the city has a smarter energy infrastructure.
- Emerging trends such as automation, machine learning and the internet of things
(IoT) are driving smart city adoption.
- Smart transit companies are able to coordinate services and fulfill riders' needs in real time, improving efficiency and rider satisfaction. Ride-sharing and bike-sharing are also common services in a smart city.
- Energy conservation and efficiency are major focuses of smart cities. Using smart sensors, smart streetlights dim when there aren't cars or pedestrians on
the roadways. Smart grid technology can be used to improve operations, maintenance and planning, and to supply power on demand and monitor energy
- Using sensors to measure water parameters and guarantee the quality of
drinking water at the front end of the system, with proper wastewater removal
and drainage at the back end.
- Smart city technology is increasingly being used to improve public safety, from
monitoring areas of high crime to improving emergency preparedness with sensors. For example, smart sensors can be critical components of an early warning system before droughts, floods, landslides or hurricanes.
- Smart buildings are also often part of a smart city project. Legacy infrastructure can be retrofitted and new buildings constructed with sensors to not only provide real-time space management and ensure public safety, but also to monitor the structural health of buildings.
- Smart technology will help cities sustain growth and improve efficiency for citizen
welfare and government efficiency in urban areas in the years to come.
Water meters and manhole covers are just a couple of the other city components
monitored by smart sensors. Free and/or publicly available Wi-Fi is another perk smart cities often include.
- San Diego installed 3,200 smart sensors in early 2017 to optimize traffic and parking
and enhance public safety, environmental awareness and overall livability for its
residents. Solar-to-electric charging stations are available to empower electric vehicle use, and connected cameras help monitor traffic and pinpoint crime.
- Often considered the gold standard of smart cities, the city-state of Singapore uses
sensors and IoT-enabled cameras to monitor the cleanliness of public spaces, crowd
density and the movement of locally registered vehicles. Its smart technologies help
companies and residents monitor energy use, waste production and water use in real time. Singapore is also testing autonomous vehicles, including full-size robotic buses, as well as an elderly monitoring system to ensure the health and well-being of its senior citizens.
- In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, smart city technology is used for traffic routing, parking, infrastructure planning and transportation. The city also uses telemedicine and smart healthcare, as well as smart buildings, smart utilities, smart education and smart tourism.
- The Barcelona, Spain, smart transportation system and smart bus systems are complemented by smart bus stops that provide free Wi-Fi, USB charging stations and bus schedule updates for riders. A bike-sharing program and smart parking app that includes online payment options are also available. The city also uses sensors to monitor temperature, pollution and noise, as well as monitor humidity and rain levels.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Significant Architecture : 2012
By Frank Cunha III, AIA
There is so much going on in the world of Architecture around us today and so many interesting projects that to only select 10 significant projects proves difficult if not impossible. I hope that the following offers a glimpse to what I have been exposed to recently. I also want to apologize in advance for the scores of projects I missed but I hope are immortalized here with their counterparts.
Architectural Revival – United Nations Headquarters
Whenever we as Architects think of our projects we seldom think of them as “temporary.” Afterall, one of the things we strive for as Architects is immortality. Our desire is that our souls live on in the buildings and spaces that we create. That is why I wanted to select recent project that incorporated the revitalization of a masterful work of architecture. Here is an example of what is possible when a project is revisited and enhanced to meet the needs of its occupants. I also wanted to show case this building because of what is stands for and as an example of how far Architecture is able to reach people across the globe and able to unite us as a family of human beings.
International Style – Revival of an Icon: The United Nations renovation team brings back the long-faded luster of the Secretariat while satisfying ambitious performance goals.
The following was originally published in an Observer article “U.N. Architects Back to the Drawing Board; Pritzker Winner Still on Board” by Matt Chaban:
“The United Nations has a long tradition of employing the world’s finest architects.
The original Secretariat complex was the work of Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, two of the most revered designers ever to pick up a T-square. DC-1 and DC-2, the 1976 expansion of the campus better known as U.N. Plaza, was designed by Kevin Roche, builder of many New York towers and heir to the throne of Eero Saarinen.
In 2002, when it came time to plan for a new tower to house this globetrotting workforce, the United Nations Development Corporation, the city agency that handles all U.N. property, held a competition. It was open only to Pritzker Prize winners, and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki was selected in 2004. Not long after, the project ran into political hurdles and was put on hold, but earlier this month Albany, the city and the U.N. reached a deal so the project can move forward. Almost as soon as the ink had dried on the land swap, Mr. Maki and his local partners, FXFowle, unrolled their blueprints and got back to work.”
The following was originally published in the September 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:
“The original design-team members were not oblivious to the problems associated with their orientation choice, however, Le Corbusier argued for an envelope solution that included external shading devices, such as the brise-soleil that had been installed on his 1933 Salvation Army project in Paris several years after its completion. Harrison, meanwhile, advocated the use of insulated glazing, a new technology consisting of two layers of glass with a sealed air space in between. The U.N. originally chose insulated glazing based on a cost study by the mechanical-engineering firm Syska Hennessy (which, coincidentally, is also the mechanical engineer for the U.N. renovation). The study showed that the new glazing technology would be less expensive and easier to maintain than the combination of conventional glazing and an external shading system. However, the insulated glass was also eventually eliminated from the specifications, not only due to its cost premium over single glazing but also because the layered glass was too heavy for the double-hung sashes. Its international design team notwithstanding, the Secretariat “fell victim to that uniquely American practice affectionately known as ‘value engineering,’ ” says Heintges.
Architecture Under Construction – One World Trade Center
Probably one of the most significant projects currently under construction is the new tower located at One WTC. Apart from exemplifying that un-built Architecture (as one of my college professor put it) is merely masturbation which is part of the reason it was selected. More importantly One WTC was picked because it shows how the forces of a people come together to construct a symbolic structure that radiates meaning to everyone who sees it. Both as an object and as a place to be occupied One WTC, once completed, will serve as a symbol of the city it inhabits.
Gross square footage: 3,500,000 square feet
Total construction cost: $3.19 billion
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
The following was originally published in the September 2011 issue of the Architectural Record:
There is no denying that One World Trade Center (WTC), the 104-story tower now rising at the northern end of the Ground Zero site, is a tremendously ambitious commercial real estate venture. The building, owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with the developer Durst Organization holding a 10 percent stake, will contain 3.1 million square feet of office space when completed in late 2013. Below grade, connected to the WTC site’s vast underground transportation infrastructure, there will be 55,000 square feet of retail, and near the top, the tower will include a two-level observation deck and a restaurant. But when the designers of the $3.19 billion project describe the building, they generally focus first on its potential as a symbol: “It will serve as the marker of the 9/11 memorial on the skyline,” says David Childs, consulting design partner to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
A Return to “Modern” – The Barnes Foundation
This “Retro” project is an example of how Architects study the Architecture that came before them and build on it accumulated knowledge. All Architecture, no matter how innovating, stands on the shoulders of the ones who came before it. In this example, the Architects draw clues from a few of the greats: Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, and Edward Larrabee Barnes—masters of the late-Modern museum to create their very own masterpiece.
Completion Date: May 2012
Gross square footage: 93,000 GSF
Total Project cost: $150M
Architect: Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
The following was originally published in the June 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:
“Taking cues from the designs of Louis Kahn, Carlo Scarpa, and Edward Larrabee Barnes—masters of the late-Modern museum—the new Barnes shows its architects (who are best known for their modestly sized, now closed American Folk Art Museum in New York City) working at a high level. Most impressive of all is the thoughtful sense of procession that carries visitors through the $150 million complex, first from the outside in and then from the museum’s airy common spaces almost inexorably toward the smaller-scaled galleries.”
Curvalicious Architecture – Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center
Love or hate ‘em—the Starkitects also define the direction of Architecture. Ever since I first laid my eyes on Zaha’s sketches back in Architecture School I have been a sucker of her work. The trends of post-modernism culled with a dash of the post-PM millennium design prevalent in Rem Koolhaus, Morphosis, Peter Eisenman, and Zaha Hadid’s work is one that will shape our landscape forever. This kind of design shows how Architects are able to reshape nature, albeit on a temporary basis, to alter the surfaces, forms, and materials that we are able to enjoy as we move through the spaces – inside and outside.
The Cultural Center houses a conference hall with three auditoriums, a library and a museum. The project is intended to play an integral role in the intellectual life of the city. Located close to the city center, the site plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of Baku. The site neighbouring the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center is designated for residential, offices, a hotel and commercial center, whilst the land between the Cultural Center and the city’s main thoroughfare will become the Cultural Plaza – an outdoor piazza for the Cultural Center as well as a welcoming space for the visitors.
The Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center represents a fluid form which emerges by the folding of the landscape’s natural topography and by the wrapping of individual functions of the Center. All functions of the Center, together with entrances, are represented by folds in a single continuous surface. This fluid form gives an opportunity to connect the various cultural spaces whilst, at the same time, providing each element of the Center with its own identity and privacy. As it folds inside, the skin erodes away to become an element of the interior landscape of the Cultural Center.
Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center had an official soft-opening ceremony on 10 May 2012 held by current president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. As of today, works on the interiors are still ongoing and the building is not open to the public yet.
Religious – St. Nicholas Eastern Orthodox Church
Architecture, for me, is spiritual. It is a divine connection between the creator, the occupant, and the spiritual world. This simple church demonstrates how function can follow form. It is simple and economically feasible for the patrons. It is sleek and modern and addresses the needs of the client and the occupants. The bright red cross offers a clear symbol indicating the use of the building.
Gross square footage: 3,600 sq.ft.
Completion date: December 2009
Architect Marlon Blackwell Architect
The following was originally published in the November 2011 issue of the Architectural Record:
“The congregation couldn’t afford to build a brand new church. They may in about seven years, when the current mortgage is paid off and membership grows from 120 to a projected 200 parishioners. In the meantime, Jonathan Boelkins, project manager, says he and his team thought about tearing down the shed. “But it had structure and it had a roof, and so we thought, well, we’ll see what we can do with it,” he says. Boelkins and Blackwell wanted to give the building a presence from the road and, as Blackwell says, “give spirit form in the present.” They studied the history of Orthodox churches and found that their designs vary widely in the world: Each takes on a regional identity, rooted in its time, and St. Nicholas would be no different.
Blackwell and his team kept the roof, the structure, and the original skin on all but the western elevation and other, select areas. But they wrapped the building in new box-ribbed metal panels, keeping the western elevation white and the rest a dark bronze. “The panels are just exquisite,” says Blackwell. “They turn the building into corduroy.”
The shed’s long axis ran north-south, but the Orthodox like to pray facing east. The architects added a narrow addition to the western elevation to create the narthex. They moved the front entrance to the western elevation and marked the interior entry to the sanctuary with a steeple. Focus in the sanctuary is on the iconostasis in front of the altar, where Father John Atchison, parish priest, performs the rituals of the service under a slot window that allows morning light to filter in.”
Architecture as Sculpture – Wendy at MoMA PS1
All Architecture has the ability to function as art in some capacity. In this case Architecture can be displayed, looked at, and occupied. It is also important to think about Architecture as something that can transform, be put up, taken down, and reinstalled someplace else. Various applications and variations on this theme exist. What is also exciting about this project is that the Architects gave this object a name, which makes the Architecture itself a personified character with it’s own personality.
The following was originally published on MoMA PS1’s website:
“The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 announce HWKN (Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner, New York) as the winner of th annual Young Architects Program (YAP) in New York. Now in its 13th edition, the Young Architects Program at MoMA and MoMA PS1 has been committed to offering emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects, challenging each year’s winners to develop creative designs for a temporary, outdoor installation at MoMA PS1 that provides shade, seating, and water. The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling. HWKN, drawn from among five finalists, will design a temporary urban landscape for the 2012 Warm Up summer music series in MoMA PS1’s outdoor courtyard.”
Architecture Fun – Playing with Barcodes
Architecture can be playful. There are many examples of this throughout history. This project incorporates emerging technology with playfulness.
The following was originally published by the Curators of the Russian Pavilion by Sergei Tchoban and Sergey Kuznetsov of SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov
“Every surface inside the top floor of the Russian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is covered in QR codes, which visitors decode using tablet computers to explore ideas for a new Russian city dedicated to science.
In our pavilion we have tried to find an architecture metaphor for connecting the real and the virtual. People today live at the intersection of on- and off-line; ‘our common ground’ is becoming a cipher for infinite mental spaces.”
Transportation Architecture – Kaohsiung Port and Cruise Service Center
Architecture plays an important role as a connector. One example where Architecture engages a site and its occupants is this waterfront terminal. The building’s occupants are surrounded by fluid forms, shapes and materials.
The following was originally published on ArchDaily’s website on December 14, 2010:
“Check out Reiser + Umemoto’s latest win for the Kaohsiung Port and Cruise Service Center in southern Taiwan. Working with Taipei-based Fei and Cheng and Associates, New York-based Ysrael A. Seinuk, PC and Hong-Kong based Arup, the new development exploits its waterfront placement as tumbling organic wave-like volumes cascade out toward the waves.
The port terminal is an experiment of “dynamic 3-dimensional urbanism” which amplifies the flow of pedestrian traffic through an elevated and activated boardwalk which runs continuously along the water. Meanwhile, beneath this level of public promenade, cruise and ferry functions are located just below. In this way, the layers create a dense range of programs, yet separating the cruises and ferries help maintain secure areas for departing/arriving passengers.
Structurally, the building’s skin is a system of nested, long-span shells. The shells are composed of an underlying steel pipe space frame which is sandwiched by cladding panels to create a useable cavity space. “Overall an experience of directed yet funactionally separated flows will lend an aura of energy to the point terminal space,” explained the architects.
The project is scheduled for construction in 2012 and expected to be in operation by 2014, with a construction budget of approximately $85,000,000 USD. The competition is sponsored by the Kaohsiung Harbor Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Taiwan, ROC.”
Architecture as Public Space
We look to Architecture for meaning. On this project an Artist and Architect team up to create this fantastic object in the landscape. Architecture can exist without a roof or walls.
Completion Date: June 2012
Artist: James Turrell
Thomas Phifer and Partners
180 Varick Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10014
The following was originally published in the July 2012 issue of the Architectural Record:
Anchoring the western end of Rice University’s main quad in Houston, James Turrell’s new 118-foot-square Skyspace emerges from the earth (or lands from the heavens, depending on how you see it) in front of the monolithic Shepherd School of Music. “This is architecture that light and space makes,” explains the artist. When the sun illuminates the atmosphere, you can’t see through it to view the stars that are there, he points out. “Light not only reveals, it also obscures—so you can actually build a space with it. I use light and architecture in that way: to limit space and to reveal it, either way.”
Turrell started his series of Skyspaces—enclosed rooms with an aperture open to the sky—in the 1970s, and to date he has created 73 across the world. In the early days, he would often make his works by cutting through existing buildings, such as his Meeting at New York’s MoMA PS1. But, to avoid irritating architects, as he says (and perhaps being irritated by them as well), he graduated to creating autonomous structures: buildings with holes designed in them, and no real function, much like a folly or gazebo.
Dubbed Twilight Epiphany, Turrell’s piece at Rice is composed of a 12-foot-8-inch-high grass berm that rises against the backdrop of the campus’s neo-Byzantine brick academic quads. The truncated pyramid form, which employs a concrete structure below and steel columns above, is topped with a 72-foot-square conventional membrane roof with a steel-plate knife-edge and a 14-foot-square aperture at its center. A lower-level seating area accommodates 44 people and features the artist’s trademark benches, made of Texas pink granite. Precast-concrete seating for 76 occupies the upper viewing area, where LEDs are installed for the two daily light shows programmed to correspond with sunrise and sunset. Made possible by a gift from Rice trustee and alumna Suzanne Deal Booth, who suggested the university work with Turrell, the Skyspace is the artist’s first engineered for sound (he worked with the music school to develop the concept), and it will host a variety of performances, some specially created for the space.
“We took James’s drawings and we turned them into something,” says Phifer, who has worked with numerous artists over the years and was happy to add Turrell to the roster. Not surprisingly, Turrell was very particular about the dimensions and scale of the room, the height the roof rose above the berm, the exact size of the opening, and the precision of the knife-edge, says the architect. “All of those details he’s been doing for most of his life—it’s a huge part of this work. The result is hypnotic. You’re taken to another place.”
“Though my work may not inform architecture, it can inform an architect about how we perceive,” says Turrell. “My interest is working in this space that we inhabit, which is not always the physical space that we have built.”
During the day, Twilight Epiphany gleams, a beautiful object offering an intriguing pause against the columned facade of the aggressively Postmodern Ricardo Bofill music school. As night falls, the colors projected on the levitating white canopy shift in juxtaposition to those in the sky. The frame brings passing objects into surreal focus—a cloud, a plane, a bug—and the walls dissipate, leaving you to consider the multitude of possibilities beyond.
The Architecture of Giving – Designing With a Purpose
Last but not least is this place holder for the Architecture of giving. There are so many exciting and interesting projects taking place around the world around us. Architects (like Doctors Without Borders) give back to the communities they serve and the global community. After disasters Architects and their counterparts (Engineers, designers, contractors, etc), help in the cleanup and rebuilding process. It is important to remember that all these projects make a difference in the lives of the people that they impact. Although they do not always wind up in a book or magazine, these projects are still examples of what it means to be a great Architect by providing design expertise in adverse conditions.
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Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook
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Belém Tower (in Portuguese Torre de Belém, or the Tower of St Vincent is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém in the municipality of Lisbon, Portugal. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
The tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other Architectural styles. The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and the 30 meter (100 foot), four story tower. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.
Its plan is composed of a rectangular tower and an irregular, hexagonal bastion, with elongated flanks, that projects south into the river. It is basically a large articulated vertical space resting on a horizontal mass/slab, covered by exterior enclosures. On the north-east angle of the structure, protected by a protective wall with bartizans, there is a drawbridge to access the bulwark, decorated in plant motifs, surmounted by the Royal coat of arms and flanked by small columns, complimented with armillary spheres. The Manueline armillary spheres appear at the tower’s entrance, symbolizing Portugal’s nautical explorations, and were used on King Manuel I’s personal banner to represent Portuguese discoveries during his rule. The decorative carved, twisted rope and elegant knots also point to Portugal’s nautical history and are common in the Manueline style.
On the outside of the lower bastion, the walls have spaces for 17 canons with portholes open to the river and an ocular in the north. The upper tier of the bastion is crowned by a small wall with bartizans in strategic places, decorated by rounded shields with the cross of the Order of Christ that circle the platform. King Manuel I was a member of the Order of Christ and the cross of the Order of Christ is repeatedly used numerous times on the parapets. These were a symbol of Manuel’s military power, as the knights of the Order of Christ contributed to numerous military conquests in that era. The bartizans, cylindrical watchtowers in the corners are cover in zoomorphic corbels and domes covered with buds. The corners of this platform have turrets (guerites) topped by Moorish-looking cupolas. The base of the turrets have images of beasts, including a rhinoceros. This rhinoceros is considered to be the first sculpture of such an animal in Western European artand probably depicts the rhinoceros that Manuel I sent to Pope Leo X in 1515 (which was caged in the tower at one time).
While the tower is prominently Manueline, it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. The tower was built by the military architect Francisco de Arruda, who had already built several fortresses in Portuguese territories in Morocco. The influence of Moorish architecture manifests itself in the delicate decorations, the arched windows, the balconies, and the ribbed cupolas of the watchtowers.
The Tower has four storeys, with fenestrations and battlements, with the ground floor occupied by a vaulted cistern. On the first floor, there is a south-facing rectangular door, with arched windows in the east and north, and bartizans in the north-east and north-west corners. The southern part of the second floor is taken-over by a covered veranda with matacães (or loggia), constituted by an arcade of seven arches, resting on largecorbels with balusters. It is covered by a lace stonework to form a porch, and its sloped roof ends in a sculpted twisted rope. The eastern, northern and western walls are occupied by double-arch enclosures, with the north-east and north-west corners occupied by statutes of Saint Vincent of Saragossa and the archangel Michael in niches. The third floor has twin-windows in the north, east and west façades, with balusters, interspersed by two armillary spheres and large relief with the Royal coat of arms. The final floor is encircled by a terrace with shields of the Order of Christ, and a northern arched door and eastern arched window. The terrace is circled by a low wall with colonnaded pyramidal merlins with bartizans in the four corners. A similar terrace above this floor offers a view of the surrounding landscape.
The interior part of the bastion cave, with a circular staircase in the north, has two contiguous halls with vaulted ceilings supported by masonry arches, with four lockers and sanitary installations. On the ground-floor bunker, the floor is inclined towards the outside, while the ceilings are supported by masonry pilasters and vaulted spines. Gothic rib vaulting is evident in this casemate, the rooms of the tower and the cupolas of the watchtowers on the bastion terrace. Peripheral compartments on the edges of the bunker, allow the individual canons to occupy their own space, with the ceiling designed with several asymmetrical domes of various heights. The ancillary storerooms were later used as prisons.
Two archways open to the main cloister in the north and south, while six broken arches stretch along the eastern and western parts of the cloister, interspersed with square pillars in the bastion cave, with gargoyle facets. The open cloister above the casemate, although decorative, was designed to dispel cannon smoke. The upper level is connected by a railing decorated with crosses of the Order of Christ, while at the terrace the space is guarded by columns topped by armillary spheres. This space could also be used for light-caliber infantry. This was the first Portuguese fortification with a two-level gun emplacement and it marks a new development in military architecture. Some of the decoration dates from the renovation of the 1840s and is neo-Manueline, like the decoration of the small cloister on the bastion.
On the southern portion of the cloister terrace is an image of Virgin and Child. The statue of the virgin of Belém, also referred to as Nossa Senhora de Bom Successo (Our Lady of Good Success), Nossa Senhora das Uvas (Our Lady of the Grapes) or the Virgem da Boa Viagem (Virgin of Safe Homecoming) is depicted holding a child in her right hand and a bunch of grapes in her left.
The tower is about 12 metres (39 ft) wide and 30 metres (98 ft) tall. On the first floor interior of the Tower is the Sala do Governador (Governors Hall), an octagonal space that opens into the cistern, while in the north-east and north-west corners there are corridors that link to the bartizans. A small door provides access via a spiral staircase to the subsequent floors. On the second floor, the Sala dos Reis (King’s Hall) opens to the loggia (to overlook the river), while a small corner fireplace extends from this floor to the third floor fireplace in the Sala das Audiências (Audience Hall). All three floor ceilings are covered in hollow concrete slabs. The fourth floor chapel is covered in a vaulted rib ceiling with niches emblematic of the Manueline style, supported by carved corbels.
Photography: Iwan Baan