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25 GREEN
Luciano Pia
Torino, Italy, completed 2012
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When Luciano Pia undertook to design a five-story, 63-unit residential apartment building in Turin, Italy, he sought to break from the homogenous urban development that was consuming the area. What resulted was 25 Verde, an extraordinary urban treehouse that blurs the lines been the domestic and the wild, captures a certain childlike imagination with branches rendered in steel, and whose exterior is melded with 150 trees, as well as a vast array of additional plants to which protect residents against noise pollution, and reduce air pollution in the neighborhood.

The building features a curved, varied facade that grows up along industrial steel girders, with the girders along a vertical axis are cut into playful branch-like structures. 150 tall trunks reach up around the terraces of the building, while an additional 50 trees are planted in the courtyard. The greenery is then diversified with additional large planters along the terraces, green walls, and private green-roof courtyards atop the fifth floor.

The overall effect, explains Pia, is one of creating a “flowing and smooth transition space to soften the passage from the inside to the outside where the space is always enjoyable,” as well as a space that is constantly evolving. The plants grow and change with the seasons, and species have been carefully selected to ensure year-round foliage and color.

With this immense greenery comes a significant environmental benefit. According to the architect, the trees produce 150,000 liters of oxygen each hour, while absorbing 200,000 liters of carbon dioxide an hour at night. On top of reducing air pollution for the neighborhood, the trees also provide an aesthetically pleasing, somewhat transparent barrier against the noise of the outside world.

In addition, the urban greenhouse has integrated several sustainable features; heating and cooling systems for the apartments utilize geothermal energy, while the plants aid in providing continuous insulation and protection from the sun. Rainwater is also recycled for watering the building’s greenery.

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SANCAKLAR MOSQUE
Emre Arolat Architects
İstanbul, Turkey, completed 2012
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This mosque near Istanbul by Emre Arolat Architects, which features cast concrete walls and a "cave-like" prayer hall, has been shortlisted for this year's Design of the Year award. Turkish firm Emre Arolat Architects used a combination of light grey stone and reinforced concrete to construct the Sancaklar Mosque, which is set into a plaza made up of shallow terraced steps. The 700-square-metre structure is situated in Buyukçekmece, a suburb on the outskirts of Istanbul and is separated from the surrounding gated communities by a busy highway and tall stone walls. The pared-back and unornamented structure is set into a depression in the landscape, with only the stone roof and a tall minaret visible from certain points around the perimeter.

"Sancaklar Mosque aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space," said the architects. Pieces of stone set into the sloping terrain create rows of long, earthen steps that lead down to the sunken building. Tufts of grass have sprouted around the stonework, helping to integrate the steps and roof into the landscape. A combination of concrete partitions, stone walls and tall box hedges screen areas of the gardens at the lower level, where stepping stones lead across a pool of shallow water to the entrance.

"The building blends in completely with the topography and the outside world is left behind as one moves through the landscape, down the hill and in between the walls to enter the mosque," said the team. "The project constantly plays off of the tension between manmade and natural...The contrast between the natural stone stairs following the natural slope of the landscape and the thin reinforced concrete slab spanning over six metres to form the canopy helps enhance this dual relationship," they added.

A large concrete-lined prayer hall forms the centre of the building, while auxiliary spaces including a foyer, shoe-storage room and washrooms are arranged around its periphery. Male and female worshippers are separated by a black screen in the prayer hall, meaning women are segregated into a strip along one side of the building. The perforated screen provides privacy while allowing the congregation to maintain eye contact with the pulpit. The main prayer hall features a tiered concrete floor and ceiling. Lights set beneath the steps and in crevices in the ceiling softly illuminate the space.

"The interior of the mosque, a simple cave-like space, becomes a dramatic and awe-inspiring place to pray and be alone with God," said the architects.

A ribbed concrete wall that runs along the front of the space slopes back towards a sliver of daylight provided by a skylight. Only narrow strips of concrete connect the ceiling to the Qiblah wall – which orients worshippers towards Mecca – creating a slotted lightwell. "The slits and fractures along the Qiblah enhances the directionality of the prayer space and allows daylight to filter into the prayer hall," said the team.

A flight of steps with a rounded profile creates a podium for preachers in front of a doorway. A staircase behind the door leads to the tall, oblong minaret – a typically decorative structure used to project the call to prayer. Another pulpit projects from an adjoining black wall, which separates the bathrooms from the main hall and frames a space for the resident preacher.

Sancaklar Mosque, which was completed in 2012 and won best religious building at the World Architecture Festival in 2013, has been nominated for this year's Designs of the Year, an annual award run by the Design Museum in London. An exhibition of the 76 nominated architecture and design projects will run at the museum until 23 August.

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LEARNING HUB
a project by Heatherwick Studio
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, completed 2015
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London-based Heatherwick Studio collaborated with local firm CPG Consultants on the Learning Hub, a new eight-storey teaching facility at Nanyang Technological University. To avoid creating "miles of corridors linking box-like lecture rooms", the building was designed as a cluster of tapered towers surrounding an expansive atrium. The idea was to combine learning facilities with social spaces including balconies, gardens and open-air corridors, to encourage as many opportunities for staff and student interactions as possible.

"Heatherwick Studio's first major new building in Asia has offered us an extraordinary opportunity to rethink the traditional university building," explained Thomas Heatherwick. "In the information age the most important commodity on a campus is social space to meet and bump into and learn from each other."

The 12 towers, which each taper inwards towards the base, accommodate a total of 56 oval classrooms. According to the designers, the non-hierarchal round shape – without any corners or obvious fronts or backs – will encourage more collaborative learning. Clad with curved concrete panels, the towers feature irregular horizontal stripes that were created using 10 adjustable silicone moulds. This texture lends each tower the look of a root vegetable, although the designers liken the appearance with wet clay. Balconies extend around the inside of the towers and get larger towards the top of the building, offering views into the atrium. This space is naturally ventilated, allowing air to circulate throughout.

"The Learning Hub is a collection of handmade concrete towers surrounding a central space that brings everyone together, interspersed with nooks, balconies and gardens for informal collaborative learning," added Heatherwick.

The towers are raised off the ground on 61 angled concrete columns, each featuring an undulating surface texture, and small areas of planting surround many of them. Meanwhile, the concrete walls surrounding the stair and elevator cores slotted between the towers have been embossed with over 700 drawings by illustrator Sara Fanelli, depicting images from science, art and literature.

"The new Learning Hub provides an exciting mix of learning, community and recreational spaces for NTU students, professors and researchers from various disciplines to gather and interact," said NTU Professor Kam Chan Hin. "By bringing people and their ideas together, NTU can spark future innovations and new knowledge that increasingly happen at the intersection of disciplines."

The project forms part of a wider campus redevelopment for Nanyang Technological University which, with over 33,000 students, is one of Singapore's largest public universities. 

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Arch Daily: http://goo.gl/xZ5Is4
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Designboom: http://goo.gl/Mhhw5D
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TOWER 41
a project by Alberto Kalach
Mexico City, Mexico, completed 2014
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Located in a strategic point of Mexico City, facing the majestic Chapultepec Park, Tower 41 designed by Alberto Kalach’s office TAX is displayed to the immediate context as a light sculpture at nightfall. The interior spaces were designed as a consequence of the structure of the volume, two structural concrete walls supporting steel mezzanines, reinforced by a secondary steel structure on the facade. Thus, the structural configuration generates free plans, allowing flexible spaces for any office use.

Functionally, the building has 7 floors for offices, a triple-height lobby, vertical circulation to the west and a roof garden on the top floor, which opens the dialogue and relates to the outside. The office building was designed with the intention of not integrating heating and air conditioning systems. The strategy is bio-climatic, with cross ventilation from operable windows on both sides. The apparent materiality of the place is exposed to an excellent level of detail and without extra ornaments, achieving a warm atmosphere inside. To mitigate the hostility of noise caused by traffic, TAX designed a garden, water fountains and an acoustic wall on the ground floor that absorb and counteract the noise pollution.

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EARTH HOUSE PROJECT
a project by molos group
Tirana, Albania, completed 2014
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The Earth House Project located in Tirana, Albania was designed by the Molos Group from Kosovo as an innovative contemporary structure integrated with the landscape by replacing most of the exterior walls with vegetation.

The structure is far from the urban environment of Tirana and thus the designers wanted it to be as integrated with its landscape as possible. The back side of the home expands from the pitching hill to give access to the upper floor while creating a complex geometry to link the contemporary structure with the rest of the environment through an open interior layout that provides a great view.

The entrance to the home is landscaped with a passage across a small pond continuing the raw pavement and thus setting a serene tone for the inhabitants from the moment they make their first steps into the home. The interior is very open since the remoteness of the home provides the privacy needed and there are large balconies on the two sides from where you can enjoy the outdoors.

From the Architect:
A world known architect once said: “At times walls manifest a power that borders on the violent. They have the power to divide space, transfigure place, and create new domains. Walls are the most basic elements of architecture, but they can also be the most enriching.” In this case, this project was treated in the most enriching way possible. The position of the house is in the midst of nature, far away the busy streets of Tirana. The house was projected that way, to be by all means in touch with nature, because we believe that the beauty in architecture is a reflection of the beauty of nature.

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EL BLOK
a project by FUSTER + Architects
Vieques, Puerto Rico, completed 2014
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El Blok is a boutique hotel located in Esperanza, a quiet town on the south side of the island of Vieques, located 13km off the east coast of Puerto Rico.  The hotel is situated on a small commercial lot along Esperanza’s waterfront. The compact form of the hotel houses a program of 23 guest rooms, a restaurant, a roof terrace with Jacuzzi, parking and service areas.

Conceptually the hotel is conceived as a block of coral removed from the sea; inspired by the form, density and porosity of the coral reefs located just off shore.  The exterior of the hotel is made of glass fiber reinforced concrete (GfRC) panels; whose design is derived from corals. These panels act as a continuous screen that filters natural light and fresh air into the balconies of the guest rooms. The patterns of natural light created by these panels and other building apertures act as perpetually changing ornamentation within the hotel.  Some of the exterior panels open to allow for uninterrupted views of the exterior. The curvilinear forms of El Blok also make reference to the sinuous line of the Caribbean shore line and the adjacent road.

An exposed concrete stair enters the hotel unfolding like a fan that brings you up to the second floor, which is defined by a ample open terrace where the hotel restaurant is located. This space is at once both open and closed, acting as a great threshold between the exterior world and the interior world of the hotel. The guest rooms are on the subsequent two floors and are organized radially around a center oval patio that references the Caribbean architectural vernacular.  The radial organization also serves to optimize access to the guest rooms and reduce travel distance.  The guest rooms recreate the organic and permeable world of the hotel within the microcosm of each room. The hotel culminates in a roof terrace with a bioluminescent pre-fabricated jacuzzi and prefabricated light/ventilation chimneys that also serve to house service pipes and establish a vertical counterpoint on the horizon.

The principal structure is reinforced concrete, principally exposed, offering a diverse experience in each space. The floor is covered principally in hydraulic concrete tiles designed specifically for the hotel using a pattern inspired by the building’s floor plan and using the colors of the Caribbean basin.  The woodwork is done largely using local woods. The design and compact organization help to minimize the physical and ecological footprint and the building makes maximum use of natural light and ventilation.  The roof and wall envelopes are thermally very efficient.  Additionally the roof deck collects rainwater for reuse.

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Arch Daily: http://goo.gl/9vt7Fl
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Architectural Digest: http://goo.gl/1VGtIv
Architectism: http://goo.gl/o1NqMj

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KAPSARC MOSQUE
HOK
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, completed 2014
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The spiritual center of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) community is a mosque within the linear park at the heart of the site.  Highly visible throughout the community, the sanctuary is approached through outdoor courtyards aligned with Mecca and Al Kaaba, the most sacred places in Islam.

The prayer hall is set within a reflecting pool and reached from elevated glass bridges leading to its entrances. This procession represents the transition of leaving the profane world to enter the sacred realm. The reflecting pool glows at night, giving the illusion that the entire building is floating over water. To either side of the prayer hall, curving walls screen supporting functions, including ablution spaces and imam’s office. 

The main prayer hall is designed as a 75-foot-square cube sheathed in a dynamic, layered skin. The outermost layer of glass is separated from an inner layer of stone-clad concrete by three feet. The 115-foot-tall minaret is designed to complement the mosque in its similar patterns of stone cladding and windows. 

The exteriors of both structures are designed to represent an abstracted version of a traditional Arabic pattern and create an ever-changing experience of light and shadow. During the day, the play of shadows from the complex mullion patterns on the glass travel over the inner stone façade. Similar contrasts of light and shade animate the mosque interior over the course of a day.

At night, the glass box becomes a lantern in the landscape, punctuated with points of light.  Custom, square pendants arranged in a grid pattern and suspended by cables illuminate the interior.

The main prayer hall accommodates 200 men, while a mezzanine level accommodates 100 women. Wrapping its walls and ceiling is a modern interpretation of an Arabic screen wall (mashrabiya) that glows with natural light from windows and skylights to brighten the modern space. Overlapping shapes enliven the walls, while the ceiling presents a more traditional design. 

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10CAL TOWER
a project by Supermachine Studio
Bang Saen Beach, Thailand, completed 2014
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This concrete tower of interconnecting red staircases was designed by Thai firm Supermachine Studio for an elevated game of hide and seek. The Labyrinth was designed by Bangkok-based Supermachine Studio for a spot on the edge of a park near Bang Saen Beach, a coastal resort 60 miles east of the Thai capital.

The concrete structure also has the nickname 10 Cal Tower – a reference to the number of calories expelled by a typical person ascending the stairs from base to summit. At each level, terraces and staircases diverge to connect with different branches of the structure, creating various routes to the summit but also providing nooks for children to hide in during games. Irregularly shaped concrete stems support the chunky square-sectioned staircases and add complexity to the outline.

"The project was started by questioning performances of generic playgrounds today, which are facilities for the youngsters to spend time on actively, and the adult left aside being passive," explained the designers. "Playing hide and seek in The Labyrinth is, for us, an activity that allows parents to spend more time with their kids," they added.

Aside from games of hide and seek, the structure also operates as an observation tower, offering views to the coastline and to adjacent playing fields that are used during sporting events. Small round spotlights set into the soffits and inside the balustrades illuminate the structure after dark. Over time, the designers envisage that plants will begin to grow through the voids and wells, helping to integrate the structure into the fabric of the park.

"Through time it will be camouflaged into crowns of trees, letting people travel up and down to explore their relationships with green," said the architects.

The staircase is one of three projects commissioned by Thai construction materials producer Siam Cement Group to mark the company's centenary, including a library by DBALP and a multi-purpose pavilion by DEPT. Collectively the trio of structures contribute new public spaces for the town.

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RIBBON CHAPEL
a project by NAP Architects
Hiroshima, Japan, completed 2013
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Two curving staircases encircle the exterior of this wedding chapel by Tokyo-based architect Hiroshi Nakamura, meeting at a rooftop platform that overlooks the Hiroshima coastline. The Ribbon Chapel by Hiroshi Nakamura takes its name from the pair of timber-clad staircases that wind around the exterior of the glazed wedding chapel.

The 15.4-metre-tall structure is set on a grassy hillside in the grounds of the hotel Bella Vista Sakaigahama to take in views of the Seto Inland Sea, which borders the city of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. The intertwining staircases, which cross paths at several points to provide support for each other, are designed to be symbolic of the unity that matrimony brings. The stairs are clad in vertical planks of white-painted wood, and have curving titanium zinc alloy handrests to withstand erosion from the sea breeze.

"Just as two lives go through twists and turns before uniting as one, the two spirals seamlessly connect at their 15.4-metre summit to form a single ribbon," said Nakamura.

The body of the marriage ceremony is conducted inside the glazed chapel, where a wooden aisle bracketed by two banks of seating leads to an altar. Nuptials are completed on the rooftop, where the two staircases widen and connect to unite the bride and groom who travel up separate flights. Once the vows are completed the couple can then pick one route to descend together.

Aside from the symbolic nature of the structure, the architect said the double stairs were chosen to create a stable structure. "By entwining two spiral stairways, we realised a free-standing building of unprecedented composition and architecturally embodied the act of marriage in a pure form," he said. The two staircases support each other horizontally, while steel posts with a diameter of 10-centimetres bear the vertical load to form a stable structure. These posts, designed by engineering firm Arup, were deliberately slanted at construction stage and righted into a vertical position by gravity once the supports were removed.

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l bosman's profile photoSangeetha Dhanagopal's profile photoJames Brinkhurst's profile photoNadine Spies's profile photo
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Wow, what gorgeous architecture and a gorgeous landscape. I can't believe it's a chapel!
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JELLYFISH HOUSE
a project by Wiel Arets Architects
Marbella, Spain, completed 2013
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Situated right on the coast of Spain in Marbella, the Jellyfish House, designed by Wiel Arets Architects (WAA), utilizes a cantilevered design so that when the homeowners are on the top floor the views of the ocean can always be seen. The cantilevered design holds something pretty unique – a pool on the roof with a glass bottom. The blueness of the water through the glass creates a beautiful ceiling to the outdoor space below.

Spread out over four floors, the home has two staircases set up to circulate between them – a fast and a slow set of stairs. The fast stairs, which are enclosed in glass, take you from the exterior straight up to the roof, while the slow stairs are outfitted with long treads and short risers and span the length of the house, from ground floor to the roof. The slow stairs are open to the outdoor elements but are still on the interior.

The house has five bedrooms, with two guest bedrooms on the bottom level that get their own private terrace. The structure of the home is made up of poured concrete that’s supported by one column at the rear edge of the pool, and several smaller columns near the rear dining terrace. The rest of the walls are made up of windows allowing the sun’s light to filter in.

Accordion doors open up the interiors to the outdoor space, expanding the square footage. With all staircases leading to the top, the oasis that houses the magnificent pool sits on the roof and cantilevers out 9 meters towards the southwest. The pool has an infinity edge making you feel like you’re connected to the ocean out in the distance. Those people sitting below can be voyeurs watching the people swim up above. A window on the interior also lets those in the kitchen watch the swimmers.

"Taking full advantage of the ever-present Spanish sun, the Jellyfish House is an avant-garde expression of luxurious living," said the designers. "As most of its facades can be opened and as its staircases are mainly outdoor, the house's ever shifting boundaries between inside and outside are curiously blurred."

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Arch Daily: http://goo.gl/Bmwa03
Design Milk: http://goo.gl/wmtFvD
designboom: http://goo.gl/Ic0n2n
Architect Magazine: http://goo.gl/8Xfy8I
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Fascinating ideas here +@rchitecture, although I was disappointed that the pool on the roof didn't appear to have any type of lounging space 
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CLIFF HOUSE
a project by Modscape
Victoria, Australia, 2014
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Prefabricated architecture specialists Modscape have planned a conceptual property perched above the ocean in the Australian state of Victoria. The project, which is designed for a couple exploring options for a holiday home, hangs off the cliff face in the same way that barnacles cling to the side of a ship. Envisioned as a natural extension of the landscape, the dwelling shares a direct relationship with the sea below, utilizing modular design technologies and prefabrication methods. 

The five story modular home clings to the side of a cliff in this conceptual design entitled the Cliff House. The design is a theoretical response to clients who have approached Modscape to explore design options for extreme parcels of coastal land in Australia. Inspired by the way barnacles cling to the hull of a ship, a concept was developed for a modular home to hang off the side of a cliff as opposed to sitting on top of it. The home is visualized as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean. As the design itself would make conventional construction prohibitive, the concept utilizes Modscape’s modular design and prefabrication technologies to deliver a series of stacked modules that are anchored into the cliff face using engineered steel pins. Entry to the home is through a carport on the top floor, where a lift vertically connects the user through each of the descending living spaces. Internally, the living spaces feature minimalistic furnishings to ensure that the transcendent views of the ocean and the unique spatial experience of the location remain the integral focal point of the design.

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Arch Daily: http://goo.gl/C4TwXY
designboom: http://goo.gl/zDswxg
Inhabitat: http://goo.gl/llVeJG
Gizmag: http://goo.gl/swD5Rn
The Inspiration: http://goo.gl/evQkrH
Modscape: http://goo.gl/gXDLDv


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Wow. Absolut fantastic!
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ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE
a project by Zaha Hadid Architects
Bliss, Lebanon, completed 2014
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The ‘Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs’ (IFI), designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, has been completed at the American University of Beirut as part of an on-going campus redevelopment. The facility immediately serves the school’s students and administrators, but on a larger scale is a hub for local, regional, and international academics, researchers, and politicians. The IFI comprises a rigorous educational program that the design of this building seeks to facilitate. It aims to harness, develop, and initiate research of the arab world, in order to enhance and broaden debate on public policy and international relations.

The IFI was established as a neutral, dynamic, civil, and open space where people representing all viewpoints in society cangather and discuss significant issues, anchored in a long-standing commitment to mutual understanding and high quality research. The institute aims to harness, develop and initiate research of the Arab world to enhance and broaden debate on public policy and international relations. It currently works on several programs addressing the region’s issues including the refugee crisis, climate change, food security, and water scar city, youth, social justice and development, urbanism, and the UN in the Arab world. 

In 2006, the competition jury selected ZHA’s proposal to build the new institute. The design significantly reduces the building’s footprint by ‘floating’ much of the IFI’s facilities above the entrance courtyard to preserve the existing landscape integral to the 2002 master-plan, create a new public space for the campus, and establish links from the university’s Central Oval to the Middle Campus and Mediterranean Sea to the north.

The 3,000 sq. m. Issam Fares Institute building is defined by the many routes and connections within AUB; interweaving the pathways and views within the campus to create a forum for the exchange of ideas – a centre of interaction and dialogue – at the heart of the university.

By elevating a majority of the building’s mass through a large cantilever on the structure’s west side, the building’s footprint is greatly reduced, allowing for an increase in outdoor public spaces. The surrounding landscape was given thorough attention to create fluid linkages from the campus to the interior, while also producing areas for relaxation. The two ground floor entrances seek to blur the boundary between inside and outside, and interweave at their meeting point to create a center point of circulation.

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Arch Daily: http://goo.gl/Shb2uT
designboom: http://goo.gl/MClg5c

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Great design!
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A digital archive of architecture and design from around the web.
Introduction
Here at +@rchitecture we take great pride in scouring the information superhighway for great architecture and design to showcase.  Each post consists of a collection of photos highlighting the featured project and an accompanying description.  This collection originally started as a Tumblr blog, but now we've added Google+ to the mix as a further resource for promoting architecture and design. Please visit our blog at rchitecture.co for further information.

Copyright Notice:
The majority of the photos shared on this sight were not created by @rchitecture. We make no claim that any of the images posted are ours unless stated otherwise and we make every effort to credit the source(s) where text and images were obtained. The original owner(s) retains all legal and intellectual property rights. If additional credit is needed, we will gladly update any post.