Cactus-inspired building in Qatar

The Bangkok-based architecture firm Aesthetics Architects GO Group has taken the old adage “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” to heart to design a new building in the desert-like environment of Qatar, the emirate along the coast of the Arabian Gulf. In fact, the firm is borrowing some key ideas from a known desert-dweller, the hardy cactus plant. Drawing inspiration from the ability of cacti to flourish in the desert, Aesthetics Architects have designed a cactus-shaped concrete building in Doha, capital of Qatar, to serve as the new office complex for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture. The building will be part of a multi-billion-dollar green building project now underway in Qatar’s Energy City.

The Doha building will have sunshade panels on its windows that open and close according to its heating and cooling needs, much like the pores of the desert  cactus.
There will also be an attached ‘biodome’ structure housing a botanical garden  packed with plants, each busily converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and adding to the overall ‘green’ aesthetic.

The whole project is considered a good example of ‘biomimicry’, a discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Aesthetics Architects are known for their innovative urban design and execution of a slew of energy-saving building projects in various parts of the world.

Arena that uses simple geometry

Building work has commenced on the world’s largest indoor arena in Manila, capital of the Philippines, designed by the international architecture and design firm Populous. At a recent ground-breaking ceremony, the arena design was described as a “phenomenal structure.”

The 50,000-seat indoor stadium at Ciudad de Victoria has been commissioned by Iglesia Ni Cristo (the Church of Christ) and will be ready in time for the Church’s centennial celebrations in 2014.  Populous has designed the arena with engineers Buro Happold, and construction will be carried out by Hanwha Engineering & Construction Corp. of South Korea.

Andrew James, senior principal of Populous, said, “The building’s capacity pushes the boundary of arena design and will eventually establish itself as the world’s largest indoor arena.  The form uses simple geometry to create an elegant appearance while also giving the venue a powerful presence within its setting.”

While the arena will be used for major church gatherings, it will also function as a multi-use sports and concert venue, capable of holding a range of events – from boxing and basketball to live music performances.  The plan also provides for public buildings that will be illuminated like lanterns during the Youth Games.

Exotica: Touching new heights

Brigade Group, Bangalore’s property developer, recently announced the launch of its luxurious 35-storey apartment project - Brigade Exotica. Each apartment is a bold metaphor of contemporary design with the living and family area overlooking the large patio. The plan ensures abundant light and ventilation for every unit. Almost 90 per cent of every unit will enjoy day light. This unique apartment design lends to a striking façade for the 35 floor towers.

Brigade Exotica is pre-certified Gold by IGBC Green homes. The 10-acre site will have 80 per cent of the area set aside for green open spaces with a lifestyle clubhouse, department store and coffee shop. The Balinese themed landscaping by award winning Tropland Studio of Thailand will include theme gardens, lawns, water bodies and a heavily wooded area.

Brigade Exotica offers six apartment sizes, three-bedroom apartments of 2,640 sft to 3,140 sft and four-bedroom apartments of 3,630 sft and 3,800 sft at prices starting at Rs 100 lakh. Just nine km from the KR Puram cable stayed bridge; the site is strategically located with easy access to M G Road, Bangalore International Airport and Whitefield.
Commenting on the launch, M R Jaishankar, CMD, Brigade Group said, “These high rise towers will offer unparalleled luxury and comfort at great value. The unique villa style design will significantly improve the quality of life of each resident”.

Water recycling shower wins innovation prize

A water recycling shower has taken the top prize of 500,000 euros in a Dutch innovation contest.

The patented shower system aims to reduce water and energy use and cost by 70 per cent, without reducing the water flow or the time spent in the shower. It combines an electrical element that heats water, recirculation of warm water, and a heat exchanger that runs cooler water past hotter water.

The technology was developed by Nick Christy, a British accountant living in Australia, and Peter Brewin, managing director of Concrete Canvas Ltd., manufacturers of concrete cloth and concrete canvas shelters.

The jury of the Dutch innovation contest, officially named the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2011 and now in its fifth year, awarded a runner-up prize of 200,000 euros to Eden Full for the SunSaluter, a bamboo and metal rotator designed to boost the effectiveness of solar panels by 40 per cent by tilting them towards the sun.
The Dutch Postcode Lottery received 717 entries from more than 80 countries for this year’s Green Challenge, and six finalists competed for the prize. 

Two of the finalists were from the Netherlands, and one each from the U.K., Sweden, Canada and Australia. The finalists included Svante Bengtsson, who has created a cooling, warming and ventilation system for buildings which is designed to cut energy use by 85 per cent by transferring air between inside and out;  Andreas Zachariah, whose smartphone app ‘Carbon Diem’ detects the user’s mode of transport, calculates CO2 emissions and suggests alternatives, raising travellers’ awareness so they can change behaviour;  and Marjolein Helder, whose natural electricity generating system, ‘Plant-e’, uses electrodes to harvest continuous power from live plants grown in a bed of activated carbon and water.

Achal Narayanan

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