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Architecture

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2018

The idea of coffee table books with thick pages and attractive glossy covers is accessibility, they are reachable and readily readable. Henry Miller said in his book 'The Books in My Life' (1969), 'A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition.' But this may not be the case with coffee table books as they hardly lie idle. Moreover, Susan Sontag defined her library as 'an archive of longings'. Here are coffee table books on design that stand out in 2018 - (1) Andrew Martin Interior Design Review (Volume 22): With over 500 pages of the latest interior styles and trends, marks out the World's 100 greatest interior designers and showcases their projects on an international level. A must-have for interior designers and design professionals. Martin Weller, founder of Andrew Martin, says that the 22nd edition of the review 'honours alterity', due to the 'astonishing breadth and variety of work' involved. (2) Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease (Giles Kime): The book features a biographical essay that runs alongside images of lofty rooms with fabric-matched armchairs, tablecloths and curtains, antique occasional pieces and wallpapered wall panelling, each of which is punctuated with the finest upholstered furniture. (3) Shelfie: Clutter-clearing Ideas for Stylish Shelf Art (Martha Roberts): The idea of 'shelfie' started with Marie Kondo's de-cluttering trend, followed-closely by a surge in the popularity of open shelving. #Shelfie became a hot trend on social media with creatives and interior designers showcasing their shelfs. Martha Roberts brings the social media into the pages of the book. Her shelfie digest demonstrates a fusion of great design, an unapologetic display of personality and a deep sense of relevance to the digitally engaged generation of aesthetes. Read on...

The Independent: Best design coffee table books of 2018
Author: Anya Cooklin-Lofting


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018

Regional elements in home and bulding design make them unique. They represent sense and sensibilities of the culture and environment they are part of. India is no different and its multicultural and diverse regions have specific design aspects. Interior designers from Livspace provide city-centric home design ideas and tips - (1) Rajvi Jhaveri (Mumbai): 'Of late, Mumbai has been leaning towards a global, Scandinavian aesthetic. However, most Mumbai homes are small, so it's an interesting challenge to create a clean, clutter-free look, while incorporating all the necessary furniture and Vaastu considerations.' Tips - Camouflage storage; Work with material palettes. (2) Saswati Mukherjee (Bengaluru): 'Bangaloreans are big fans of the form-follows-function school of thought. A pared down look that is chic, clean and cost-effective is in high demand. On the flip side, if this is not done right, this style will lack personality.' Tips - Limit your colour palette; Accent furniture; Infuse personality with artwork and plants. (3) Nehaa Rakyaan (Delhi): 'The Delhi homeowner is very conscious of aesthetics and well-informed about the latest trends. The main concern here is tempering style with practical considerations without going overboard.' Tips - Prioritize your lifestyle and personal tastes over trends; Leave some breathing room; Embrace modular furniture. (4) Priyanka Pawar Sirigiri (Hyderabad): 'Homeowners in Hyderabad are well-travelled and familiar with design trends around the world. At the same time, they are well-connected to their roots and love traditional interiors.' Tips: Mix traditional and contemporary styles; Greenery. Read on...

Vogue: Four designers across four cities reveal interior secrets
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018

There are many components of exterior and landscape design for buildings. One such component is the retaining wall with the basic purpose of holding back earth. In addition to functionality, they also expand the usable surface area. Aesthetics of these walls is also an important aspect. There are mainly two things to be kept in mind while designing retaining walls. One is the type of material to be used and the other is the use of the land. Traditional materials used were railroad ties, found stone and treated landscape timber. But nowadays bricks, concrete blocks, poured concrete and steel are added to the list. Environmental friendliness is also important while choosing materials. Aesthetics and functionality should go hand in hand. Design of the front of the wall should be in line with the overall exterior design of the building and land should be effectively and beautifully used with each element appropriately fitted. Garden wall, also called screen wall, is a type of retaining wall used to enclose a garden. It is often used to created a tiered or terraced garden. There are multipe ways in which a garden wall can be designed to provide an elegant addition to home design - wall of flowers and shrubbery, next to a pool or patio, outside a home's garden window etc. Read on...

myAJC: Choosing the right retaining wall for your landscape
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018

Collaborative partnerships between local government, community, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses can do wonders to enhance the various aspects of localities, cities and regions. An old factory site being rehabilitated as a business park in Lackawanna (New York, USA) is an example of sustainable redevelopment and the impact a local government can have on climate change. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Deputy Executive Maria Whyte and others officials visited Conrnell Universuty campus and discussed the redevelopment project with faculty and shared county initiatives focused on sustainability and economic growth, quality of life and building strong communities. Mr. Poloncarz says, 'Strong partnerships and sustainable practices are essential to progress, giving more people a say in their community and making responsible use of our resources to effect change that benefits generations yet to come.' Basil Safi, Executive Director of the Office of Engagement Initiatives at Cornell, says, 'The event was organized as a launching point to further community-engaged research and learning collaborations with Erie County', seeding ideas for potential projects involving Cornell students and faculty.' Initiatives for a Smart Economy (I4SE) is an economic development strategy Erie County enacted in 2013 and updated last year as I4SE 2.0. It contains 71 initiatives and is focused on inclusion and creating shared opportunities for all residents, to address persistent poverty and underemployment. Max Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, says, 'I can envision that students team up with community partners to address specific challenges they are facing.' Rebecca Brenner, a lecturer at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, began a project in spring 2017 in Buffalo (NY) on improving communications during an emergency for that city's diverse, multilingual refugee population, and creating an emergency notification plan with nonprofit resettlement agencies as community partners. Erie County has about 300 current strategic initiatives led by county departments with community partners. They include fostering hiring of disadvantaged residents in high-poverty areas for construction jobs amid Buffalo's building boom; exploring the feasibility of a new convention center to spur tourism; creating an agribusiness park in rural southern Erie County; supporting health and human services agencies and energy programs targeting low-income households; and infrastructure and environmental remediation in county parks. Shorna Allred, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, says, 'I was quite impressed and intrigued by what they are doing in Buffalo...We are similarly trying to bring together a partnership of people to work on sustainability issues across the city...' Read on...

Cornell Chronicle: Sustainable economic strategies spur engaged research interest
Author: Daniel Aloi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2018

For the betterment and growth of any local industry, it is imperative that global best practices should be emulated and, modified and customized based on the local needs. Pratyush Sarup, interior designer based in Dubai (UAE), provides key insights from Milan Design Week 2018 for Middle East region - (1) The Power Of Simplicity: Prefer clean lines and minimal materiality in design. An installation by American artist Phillip K. Smith III portrays simplicity principle with use of only one material - glass. Applied along clean angles and a humble curve, the reflective surface offered a kaleidoscopic play on light, form and structure. (2) Divine Expression: History, culture, folk tales, nature etc can be inspiration for design. A collection of chairs by designer Lara Bohinc sought inspiration from the skies above. Aptly titled 'Since the World is Round', the spherical form that characterises the collection is derived from gravitationally curved trajectories of planetary and lunar orbits. Dubai-based designer Talin Hazbar has previously turned to 'Kahf al Baba', a folk tale that originates from villages between Khor Fakan and Fujairah for a lighting collection. (3) The Circular Life Of Design: Understanding sustainability is necesssary for the continued growth of design market. Innovative waste management solutions to waste generated by the textile design industry is at the heart of 'Really', a Danish company. They debuted their latest invention, the 'Solid' textile board. Developed from upcycled end-of-life fabrics from the fashion and textile industries, it's potential was showcased via a range of products created by top designers such as Benjamin Hubert, Christien Meindertsma, Front (Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren) and Raw-Edges (Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay). Designers can think about finding ways to repurpose waste into contemporary living solutions. (4) Join Forces: Collaboration is key to better outcomes. New York designer Lindsey Adelman and wallpaper maestro Calico (Rachel Cope and Nick Cope), as they were both working with similar surface techniques, decided to work together and presented a joint show 'Beyond the Deep' that explored the corrosive natural chemicals, like salt, to alter the appearance of surfaces. Coming together of diverse thought processes and creative expressions can fast-track creative economies. (5) Have Some Fun: Many top tier brands stepped away from their typical business-oriented presentations to explore alternative out-of-the-box ideas. Czech glass brand Lasvit took over Teatro Gerolamo, a 19th-century puppet theatre to present Monster Cabaret, its latest collection of accessories centred on mythical beasts, fantastical creatures and outcasts. Read on...

Gulf News: Milan Design Week - 5 takeaways for the region
Author: Pratyush Sarup


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2018

Every nation had architects and designers at different periods of time that have influenced these creative fields and inspired the work of others after them. Following is the list of 10 select architets of the modern era - (1) Frank Lloyd Wright (USA): Inspired by buildings in American prairies, he created the simple and practical 'Prairie House' style as a reaction to the over-embellished Victorian aesthetic. (2) Norman Foster (UK): A disciple of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, he worked with Buckminster Fuller and made geodesic designs on his buildings facades as his trademark style. (3) Antoni Gaudi (Spain): Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Spain) is his most famous creation. It has a style that is a mix of Baroque, Gothic, Moorish and Victorian elements. He also derived influence from nature. (4) Daniel Libeskind (Poland): Notable works include Berlin's Jewish Museum, Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and Imperial War Museum in England. (5) Renzo Piano (Italy): Has many unique and varied styles that range from the Neo-Brutalism of his Whitney Museum of American Art in New York's Meatpacking District, to the elegant Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. (6) Ben van Berkel (Netherlands): Notable works include Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Theatre Agora and the Mercedes-Benz Museum. (7) Santiago Calatrava (Spain; Switzerland): Termed as sci-fi baroque architect by some, he has designed buildings that resembled the ribcages of dinosaurs. One of his recent creation is the Transit Hub for the World Trade Center. (8) Philip Johnson (USA): His modern architectural work includes Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. He is founding director of MoMA's (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Department of Architecture. (9) Eero Sarinen (Finland; USA): He is noted for his neo-futuristic style, later known as the Bauhaus's straight-line philosophy. This became the aesthetic for business and government office buildings around the world. (10) Frank Gehry (Canada; USA): His billowing forms quite literally seem to defy gravity. Design of the Guggenheim Museum branch in Bilbao (Spain) is one of the finest example of his style. Read on...

Architecture & Design: Our top 10 architects of the modern era
Author: Branko Miletic


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2018

Architecture and design of living spaces has to adapt to the changing behaviors and lifestyles of people, changing climate and environmental patterns, evolving social and cultural landscape etc. Following are architectural trends for 2018 - (1) Understanding how millennials occupy and use space (Piedad Rojas): Behavior and habits of millennials point to their inclinations for minimal spaces that are highly flexible. They seek small, modern, multifunctional and minimalist apartments. (2) Architects facing the construction of their own work - the urgency of being on site (José Tomás Franco): To attain knowledge, understanding and training about materials and construction processes is a growing trend. To reconnect with the materialization of projects and work in multidsciplinary collaboration with others is key to better architecture. (3) The challenge of current architecture to approach the rural context (Fernanda Amaro): Rem Koolhaas said in 2016, 'The current challenge of architecture is to understand the rural world'. He appeals to architects that the future is in intervening in 'bare, semi-abandoned, sparsely populated, sometimes badly connected spaces', since this is where architects are seeing accelerated processes of change, and must take the lead. The trend is now emerging that understands the need to go to these areas and get to know these communities in order to incorporate, from a contemporary perspective, their ways of living, materials, traditional techniques and vernacular forms to guide the architect to make friendlier, more respectful and harmonious decisions with the natural and social environment in which they are inserted. (4) Social architecture faces the return of the pendulum (Nicolás Valencia): The trend visualizes and values informal architecture, vernacular techniques and commitment to those who have been left behind in society. The selection of Alejandro Aravena as the Director of the XV Biennial of Architecture of Venice and winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2016, signifies this trend. (5) The post-digital era enters the graphic representation timeline in architecture (Karina Zatarain): By merging the available digital tools with the representative intention of collage, some contemporary architecture firms have chosen to move away from the dominant hyperrealism, instead creating a new trend - post-digital representation. This is just the beginning of a new stage of negotiation between the cold precision of technology and the expressive quality inherent in architecture. (6) Political Architecture - creativity faces the regulations and the future of cities (Fabián Dejtiar): Spanish architect Andrés Jaque mentioned in the XX Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism of Chile 2017, by default 'all architects are politicians' and the real question is what forms of policy architects are willing to defend. In this regard, political action is a tool to enhance, incorporate or transform creativity. The process of balancing creativity in the framework of regulations will influence the future of cities. (7) The revenge of women in architecture (Camila Marín, Pola Mora): This year, the Venice Biennial of Architecture will be directed by two women architects - Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara - and the list of curators in charge of the national pavilions already has a much higher female participation than in previous years. Architectural discipline will see concrete actions taken to empower women and bring them in more powerful and prominent position. (8) Learning from Bamboo to reinforce our sensitivity and efficiency (José Tomás Franco): Bamboo is a multifaceted material and has more than 1500 documented uses. In construction, its current use is related to resistance, versatility and efficiency, and is linked to the beauty of the organic and innate respect for the environment. (9) A glimpse of the direction of post-earthquake architecture (Karina Zatarain): Architecture plays an important role in response to the reconstruction needs after different types of natural disasters. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize in 2014 and is known for his experimental and innovative use of materials such as paper and cardboard in buildings, and for his efforts to help homeless people after natural disasters or in refugee situations. Team of architects from Hong Kong was awarded in World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Berlin for their post-earthquake reconstruction project. They developed a new and economical compacted earth construction technique that will be more resistant to seismic activity. Topics like seismic resistance of different local materials and self-construction are part of architectural discussions. Read on...

ArchDaily: The 9 Architecture Topics You Need To Know About in 2018
Authors: Marina Gosselin, Piedad Rojas, José Tomás Franco, Fernanda Amaro, Nicolás Valencia, Karina Zatarain, Fabián Dejtiar, Camila Marín, Pola Mora


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 dec 2017

According to the website tate.org.uk, 'Emotional architecture is a style of modernist architecture conceived in the 1950s that embraced space, colour and light, creating buildings that encouraged meditation and reflection. It was conceived by the Mexican architect Luis Barragán and the sculptor and painter Mathias Goéritz who were frustrated by the cold functionalism of modernism. In 1954 Barragán and Goéritz published 'The Emotional Architecture Manifesto' in which they argued that architecture needs to be spiritually uplifting.' Emotional architecture emphasises and respects human wants and needs. Researchers Ann Sussman (architect), Janice M. Ward (designer) and Justin B. Hollander (academic at Tufts University), are developing a scientific approach to this strategy, gleaning useful insights on how people look at structures and spaces. According to them the best way to understand what factors catch the eye is to literally study its movements through biometrics. Researchers used the same eye-tracking and facial-expression analysis software used by advertisers, software developers, and automotive designers to study our near-subconscious reactions to what we see. Ms. Sussman says, 'At the moment, biometrics are predominantly used to get people to purchase things. We'd like to use them to improve public welfare, health, and well-being. We want to promote better place-making in the world and ease of walkability.' Read on...

Architectural Digest: Is Biometric Scanning the Future of Architecture Planning?
Author: Tim Nelson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2017

EDIT (The Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology), the 10 day event held in Toronto (Canada) showcased art, installations and projects, focused on innovation and design to build a sustainable future for the world. It included talks from David Suzuki, Ian Campeau (A Tribe Called Red), among others. Here are 5 selected ideas and innovations - (1) Prosperity For All: Curated by Canadian designer Bruce Mau, the main exhibit juxtaposed Paolo Pellegrin's photos of devastation throughout world, with people and inventions that are helping to combat issues such as famine, refugee crisis, smog and more. It highlighted Smog Free Project (Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde's smog free bike that works to purify the air around you while you ride), The Ocean Cleanup (Boyan Slat's creation that intend to remove 50% of the trash found in Great Pacific Garbage patch in just 5 years) and many more. (2) Art With Purpose: Dennis Kavelman, an artist and tech investor, collaborated with the Digital Futures team at OCAD University (Canada) to create a piece of work inspired by Andy Warhol. Expiry Dates works in two phases - It compiles answers from an online questionnaire, measuring your life expectancy against a myriad of points such as your fitness level, whether you smoke, if you're married and more. Then you sit for a self-portrait, which you attach to a QR Code with all your data. In a few minutes your heartbeat appears on the big screen, taken from a reading from your eye, and then your portrait appears along with your predicted date of expiry. Another piece of the installation, titled That's Not Very Many, uses a magnetized digital board to break down those days in months. (3) The New Housing: Living sustainably means looking at where we live and providing affordable housing for all. Exhibit included Mickey Mouse's Home of the Future that was a fully functional shipping container created by students at OCAD. The One House Many Nations home was created by grassroots organization Idle No More, that seeks to provide affordable housing based on traditional indigenous ideas, and consists of two modules that link together, one dubbed shelter and the other service, that can be pieced together based on the family or individual's needs as well as the landscape in which they live. (4) The Future Of Fashion: Fashion Takes Action's Design Forward award was given to a sustainable fashion label Peggy Sue Collection (founded by Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks), a line of eco-friendly cotton and denim. (5) Waste No More: Keeping in mind the concept of feeding many with minimal impact, Waterfarmers created an on-site aquaponics exhibit to show how fish waste can be used to fertilizer food. The idea is to utilize water that is housing fish to then fertilize plants, providing protein and vegetables in a sustainable manner. Read on...

CBC.ca: 5 design innovations that just might change the world
Author: Michelle Bilodeau


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 oct 2017

Design conscious renters and buyers seek well designed interiors when searching for living spaces, in addition to location, price and amenities. Mary Cook, founder and principal at Mary Cook Associates (MCA), explains the fundamentals of design that should be kept in mind for successful interiors. Moreover, answering the following questions focused on the end user is key to achieve best results - who is my client, where do they live and what does that mean to how they live? Design basics she suggests are - (1) Scale and Proportion: Balancing the scale and proportion of the elements of the interior (like furniture etc) with the overall space is key to achieving comfort. Also keep in mind the target market and adjust the elements accordingly. (2) Function and Livability: Effective design is achieved by understanding the various functions that take place in the living space. Also understand the requirements of those who are expected to occupy it. Designers should consider how the target market will experience and utilize the various spaces within the unit before implementation of their ideas. (3) Lighting: Lighting design is essential and proper balance need to be achieved. It is one of the often overlooked element of interior design. Comprehensive lighting plans that fulfil the needs of those who will occupy the space makes it attractive. Layered lighting is the key to achieving optimal illimination. A combination of natural lighting, foundational lighting and task-centered lighting brings the necessary balance and efficiency. Read on...

Multi-Housing News: 3 Common Design Mistakes That Keep Renters at Bay
Author: Mary Cook


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017

Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...

Atlas Obscura: Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2017

Students often take part in initiatives outside of the structured academic curriculum and pursue their independent learning interests. They create common interest clubs, publish magazines, develop websites etc. Architectural education is an area that demands continuous stream of ideas and creativity. Digital world of collaboration and speed sharing, and reaching out to wider audience is giving new meaning to student-driven platforms. KoozA/rch, Bartlett's Lobby, AA Files (Architectural Association's Journal), Yale School of Achitecture's Perspecta are some examples. Sabrina Syed, Co-founder of Volume64, shares the story of their design platform (Volume64) that evolved out of conversations among students. She explains, 'We test different micro-typologies and challenge architectural norms through our drawing experiments: isometric cubes of 4x4x4 meters - coined the CubeLab. In one season, around 50-70 drawings are produced by a constantly changing team of contributors. Our collaborators write, curate, and edit briefs which our team of contributors (regular and visiting) respond to in drawings that get released in 2-week installments, with 5-6 briefs marking a season...The idea of Volume64 was sparked when our co-founder Lloyd Lee attended a workshop on diagrams during his first term at the Architectural Association.' Mr. Lee says, 'What can we do without the decades of practical experience and necessary compromises in architecture? Can there be a space dedicated purely to the experiments and drawings resulting from this line of questioning? Volume64 finally came to light as we continued our conversations from these questions.' Ms. Syed further explains, 'Challenging everyday spaces, and thus questioning the perception of architecture, became the motivation behind Volume64. The idea of a platform developed: To express these small exercises that could challenge existing rules without the limitations of academic or professional submissions...Volume64 is run by a group of students in their final years of architecture education. Currently, our team members are from the Architectural Association, the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Edinburgh School of Architecture (ESALA). Collaboration is at the heart of the platform.' Jonathan Wren, Bartlett School of Architecture M.Arch, says, 'Cross-school collaboration has encouraged very different takes on similar briefs. [It creates] a lot of cross--fertilization of ideas, approaches, and methods that go beyond speaking with friends at other schools, reading about others' work or visiting degree shows.' Henry Schofield, Bartlett School of Architecture M.Arch, says, 'Volume64 is an essential tool for architecture students to not only exercise their ability to think and question but also to share and engage in a dialogue with their fellow contributors, in order to produce productive architectural content that contributes to the critical discourse of the platform...' Read on...

ArchDaily: This Student-Run Website Is Experimenting With Architecture Through Cubes
Author: Sabrina Syed


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2017

Balancing tradition and modernity can be one of the effective approaches in architecture and design. Architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi explores and explains how use of natural materials can empower the designer to create ideas rooted in tradition, yet retain the freedom to interpret modernity in form and preception. In today's world, reducing environmental degradation through sustainable approaches is a challenge acknowledged by all. Although availability of natural materials is less as compared to manufactured materials, but a balanced hybrid approach to design that gels well with local environment and surroundings along with utilizing traditional techniques can be an effective solution. Mr. Varanashi shares an example of recent architectural installation at Kochi Biennale (India) where the architect Tony Joseph has designed an auditorium, built largely with natural materials such as mud, arecanut, jute and coloured fabric, it also juxtaposes with steel trusses with sheets as wall panel and roof. Mr. Varanashi concludes, 'Given all this, why are the natural materials losing out against manufactured materials? It may not be only because modern materials have greater potential in some respects, but also because we are forgetting certain design fundamentals which would enable us to mix and match the local material to create excellence. Design has to do more with designing than a blind application of a technology or a material.' Read on...

The Hindu: Mix and match in designing
Author: Sathya Prakash Varanashi


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2017

Society continues to face challenges to construct affordable, high-quality, innovative and future-focused built environments. Many building processes are sub-standard and obsolete, with sustainability concerns. Current research on integration of digital technologies within architectural and construction processes promises substantial contributions to sustainability and productivity. Research connections between diverse fields like architecture, structural design, computer science, materials science, control systems engineering, and robotics are required. Researchers during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2017 reveal latest developments in digital fabrication in architecture at 1:1 building scale. They explain successful integration of digital technologies in design, planning, and building processes to transform the building industry. (1) On Site Digital Fabrication for Architecture: Prof. Jonas Buchli, Agile and Dexterous Robotics at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), proposes a radical focus on domain specific robotic technology enabling the use of digital fabrication directly on construction sites and in large scale prefabrication. (2) The New Mathematics of Making: Prof. Jane Burry, Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), explores how these opportunities (Digital computation; Linking of design attributes to extraneous factors; Mathematical design models etc) for automation, optimization, variation, mass-customisation, and quality control can be fully realised in the built environment within full scale construction. (3) Building Materials for 3D Printing: Prof. Ronald Rael, Architecture at University of California at Berkeley (USA), reveals the development of new materials that can overcome the challenges of scale and costs of 3D printing on 1:1 construction scale. He demonstrates that viable solutions for 3D printing in architecture involve a material supply from sustainable resources, culled from waste streams or consideration of the efficiency of a building product's digital materiality. Read on...

ETH Zurich Global News: Digital Fabrication in Architecture - The Challenge to Transform the Building Industry
Author: Rahel Byland Skvarc


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 dec 2016

10 biggest architecture trends of 2016 - (1) Minimalist interiors finished with cool-toned marble, uniform woodwork and block coloured walls (2) Prefabricated houses for long-term housing (3) Co-living and co-working spaces, largely targeting millennials (4) Shingles (Concept is broadly utilized with a huge variety of materials and scales demonstrating the versatility of the cladding) (5) Charred timber (Japanese wood-preservation technique known as shou sugi ban has been used to blacken the cladding of hotels, houses, pavilions and studios the world over) (6) London house extension boom resulting from inclination towards contemporary design (7) Sustainability (8) Backyard and garden studios are constructed by architects, designers, writers and artists as they seek to maximize limited inner city space (9) Skinny skyscrapers (10) Carbon fibre is tipped as building tool of the future. Experts suggest that when the material is combined with robotic construction techniques is paving the way for a fourth industrial revolution. Read on...

Dezeen: Dezeen's 10 biggest architecture trends of 2016
Author: Jessica Mairs


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2016

Local climate conditions and natural environment defines the efficiency, effectiveness and aesthetics of landscape design. Arizona's (USA) climate is charecterized by abundance of sunlight throughout the year with warm days, refreshing night and dry air. Therefore, outdoor living spaces are given extra importance by residents. To cater to this requirement, and provide comfort and functionality, architects and landscape designers are giving special emphasis to trends observed by CreativeEnvironments.com - (1) Sustainability: Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) considers sustainability as one of the leading trends of 2016; Water-starved state like Arizona, with twenty year of draught, has more relevance; Xeriscaping; Use of native, draught-tolerant, desert-adaptive plants; Grouping plants based on their water consumption; Rainwater harvesting; Use of rain barrels to capture water flowing off the roof; Designs can include contours like depressions, berms, or basins that collect rainwater; Edible gardens with native plants. (2) Indoor Comforts: Extending the comforts of indoors to backyards; Outdoor living spaces like kitchens, seating areas, fireplaces etc; Use of technology like WiFi, TV sets, irrigation controlling advanced systems; Energy-efficient LED lighting. (3) Modern Design: Modern landscape design includes a minimalist approach to planting, as well as geometric pools and patios that are defined by straight lines and right angles. These are a natural match for desert environment that is generally admired for stark beauty, simplicity, and clean lines. The austerity of modern design allows nature to take center stage, accentuating rather than distracting from the beauty of the surroundings. Read on...

AZ Big Media: Top landscape design trends harness the beauty of Arizona
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jun 2016

Women are more prominently visible in some professions, but not in all. According to the International Interior Design Association, 69% of the 87,000 design practitioners in the United States are women. But the dismal stat is that, only 25% of firm leaders are female. Although Zaha Hadid, Odile Decq and Jennifer Siegal have reached the top and inspired other women to walk in their footsteps, but there are challenges that women face to get there. Here are views of the four creatives that have worked hard to be leaders in design and architecture - (1) Nicole Hollis, Principal and Creative Director of NICOLEHOLLIS: CHALLENGES - 'Working on construction sites can occasionally be challenging...Also, getting out of my office and working together on site, rather than via email or phone, generates a lot of mutual respect.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'I believe that women have the same opportunities as men. Often having quiet determination and hanging in there during the tough times can be more of a factor than gender.' (2) Lisa Bottom, Design Principal at Gensler San Francisco: CHALLENGES - 'I learned early on that my proclivity for hard work would serve me well. I had to work harder than most of the men and ensure that all my delivered product was the best I could produce.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'The Co-CEO of Gensler, Diane Hoskins, is a woman. Our most recent Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Gensler, Robin Klehr-Avia, is a woman, and the Managing Directors of many of the Gensler offices are women. Gender is no longer the determining factor for success in a design career.' (3) Anne Fougeron, Principal of Fougeron Architecture: CHALLENGES - The challenge is to convince people that you are as capable as your male colleagues. There seems to be an underlying assumption that men understand and know more about construction than women!' OPPORTUNITIES - 'I think women are primed to take over and be the new emerging voice in the field of architecture...We must remember to always ask for what is rightfully ours.' (4) Kendall Wilkinson, Principal of Kendall Wilkinson Design: CHALLENGES - I never thought about being less or more because of my gender, I always knew that I had something to bring to any table, regardless of the audience.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'Doors are opening in so many areas related to design now. More and more, you are seeing women in construction be it electricians, project managers, or even general contractors...our industry is undergoing disruption which I think will lead to interesting new paths for both women and men.' Read on...

7x7: 4 Creative Women Taking the Lead in Design & Architecture
Author: Anna Volpicelli


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2016

As the need for intensive and intermediate care increases, the hospitals must have spaces that can fulfil the requirement. The multi-organizational collaborative EVICURES project at Seinäjoki Central Hospital in Finland was undertaken to develop a new design model for future intensive and intermediate care needs. The result of research conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on evidence-based design (EBD) and user orientation were applied to design work. Currently, there are no ICUs with single patient rooms in Finland. According to Kari Saarinen, Project Manager of the EVICURES project and Chief Physician at ICU of Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, 'The international trend is that the need for intermediate care in particular is increasing. More and more demanding methods are being used for treating patients, and the share of elderly patients is increasing.' Regarding the project, he adds, 'The operations will be more cost-efficient and of higher quality, when the equipment and nursing staff are concentrated into one place. We also expect the solution to have remarkable effects on patient healing.' The hospital staff, management, patients and their families, the hospital district, and other cooperation partners participated in the design work. Tiina Yli-Karhu, Design Coordinator at Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, says, 'A user-oriented approach was an essential foundation for the whole project. This way we can all together make the major change about to happen easier, when the nursing staff is moving from facilities for multiple patients to working alone in single rooms.' Using the Human Thermal Model tool, VTT performed questionnaire studies and measurements to evaluate the individual thermal sensation and comfort of both the staff and patients, that were utilized in HVAC design. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences used CAD methods to model a virtual space in accordance with the architectural drawing, which VTT utilised for improving user-friendliness. From this 3D model, VTT developed a Unity3D game for computer and tablet, allowing the staff to move around in the ICU facilities virtually and to experience realistic interactive care situations in the new working area in advance. Finland's first single-patient intensive and intermediate care and cardiac unit designed in accordance with this model will become operational in 2018. Read on...

VTT Research News: A new treatment room design model for future hospitals
Author: Nykänen Esa


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2016

A number of studies have strengthened the common belief that being around trees and close to nature improves one's mental and physical well-being. Research by Prof. Bin Jiang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (now at University of Hong Kong) and his team, further emboldens the belief regarding the soothing aspects of green environment on stress levels and blood pressure. The study was undertaken to determine the dose-response curve between tree cover density and stress recovery. It included 158 volunteers in mildly stressful situations. The experiment utilized virtual reality headset to view 360-degree videos of an urban space with varying amounts of tree canopy visible. Results obtained from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self reported recovery from stress. Prof. Jiang comments, 'These finding suggest that viewing a tree canopy in communities can aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.' Researchers found that regardless of age, gender, and baseline stress levels the greater the exposure to trees, the less stress the subject felt. Read on...

Total Landscape Care: University study - Stress falls as exposure to trees increases
Author: Jill Odom


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 mar 2016

Instances like female architect Denise Scott Brown getting the AIA Gold Medal and women heading some of the best architecture schools in US, may show that architecture profession is making efforts towards gender equality. But Architectural Review's fifth annual 2016 Women in Architecture Survey of 1152 female practitioners (68% based in UK), tells a different story. According to the survey - One in five women worldwide say they would not encourage a women to start a career in architecture; About 40% (in UK) and over 40% (in other countries) thought that they would be paid more if they were male; 72% say they have experienced sexual discrimination, harassment, or victimization on the job; 67% believed that the building industry does not accept female authority. Read on...

Fast Company: Survey - 72% Of Female Architects Have Experienced Harassment Or Discrimination
Author: Diana Budds


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 mar 2016

According to American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of 803 US-based landscape architects, people are overwhelmingly concerned with water conservation. Some of the highlights of the survey include the following top 5 trends - (1) 88% reported that clients seemed most interested in rainwater or graywater harvesting elements. (2) Native plants. (3) Native or adaptive drought tolerant plants. (4) Low-maintenance landscapes. (5) Permeable landscapes. Nancy Somerville, CEO of ASLA, says, 'It does reflect a much greater awareness from the population as a whole, about critical issues like water conservation and energy efficiency, as well as water efficiency, and stormwater issues.' James Brown, Governor of California, considering the expected 5th consecutive year of drought, in addition to other measures also ordered that 50-million square feet of state-owned lawns be replaced with drought tolerant landscaping. According to Prof. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, 'People are starting to think about how their house and property fits into the broader urban landscape context, and how they might contribute to more sustainable built environments than we've had in the past.' The survey also observed that the creative shift towards water conservation is already visible. Lush, maximalist gardens and fountains, are being replaced by cool, sculptured minimalism. Prof. Pavao-Zuckerman adds, 'There are non-profits springing up devoted to teaching homeowners how to install water-saving elements themselves.' Read on...

WIRED: Saving Water Is So Hot Right Now in Landscape Design
Author: Margaret Rhodes


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2016

As digital get seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of life, it will not remain anything extraordinary. In future, advancements in digital technologies will converge to enhance physical experiences that involve our bodies, feelings, emotions, actions and reactions. Auro Trini Castelli, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at gyro, explains how the 'Physical Revolution' will be driven by the following five trends - (1) Sensors will be the new devices (Virtual Reality; Motion and Gesture Recognition Technologies; Haptic Technology). (2) Surfaces will be the new screens (Interactive digital screens on walls, floors, ceilings, walkways etc). (3) Smart cities will make us smart citizens (Interactive city systems and digital environments). (4) Only meaningful interactions will survive (Well-integrated interfaces that get activated when required; Focus on human experience). (5) The world will be printed (3D printing for mass customization; Laser cutting; Computer modeling). In this experiential world, architects, designers, engineers, technologists, marketers, advertisers etc have to increasingly think and create with focus on providing solutions that appeal to all five human senses. The success will depend on how invisibly the digital will become part of the physical and improves every aspect of human interactions and experiences. Read on...

AdvertisingAge: The New Revolution Will Be Physical, Not Digital
Author: Auro Trini Castelli


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 feb 2016

There is an established relationship between built environment and human health. It is important to understand how architectural design, interior design, building technologies and materials etc, interact with external natural environment. Health-centric design approaches are now being utilized for built environments like hospitals, schools, office spaces, homes etc. Urbanization is another aspect that has public health related consequences. According to the study, 'Walls talk: Microbial biogeography of homes spanning urbanization' (by Jean F. Ruiz-Calderon, Humberto Cavallin, Se Jin Song, Atila Novoselac, Luis R. Pericchi, Jean N. Hernandez, Rafael Rios, Oralee H. Branch, Henrique Pereira, Luciana C. Paulino, Martin J. Blaser, Rob Knight, and Maria G. Dominguez-Bello) published in journal Science, certain aspects of a house's design could have an influence on the types of microbes found inside, with more urban homes separating humans from the outdoors and keeping out the environmental microbes we once evolved to coexist with. Researchers speculate that these changes may be having impact on public health. The study focused on four communities of Amazon Basin with similar climates and outside environment, but with different levels of urbanization. Prof. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of NYU School of Medicine, 'We humans build the environments we live in and spend most of our time (in), and these may be very different to the natural environments. Very little is known about microbes of the built environment.' According to Prof. Graham Rook of University College London, who was not part of the study, 'There is increasing evidence that exposure to microbial biodiversity from the natural environment is important for health.' Prof. Humberto Cavallin of University of Puerto Rico's School of Architecture, comments, 'As we move from rural to urban...houses become more isolated from the outside environment and also become more internally compartmentalized according to the function of the spaces.' Prof. Jean Ruiz-Calderon, a biologist at University of Puerto Rico and lead author of the study, says, 'The results of the study reveal that microbes from house walls and floors differ across habitations. With increasing urbanization, houses contain a higher proportion of human-associated bacteria...and decreasing proportions of environmental bacteria...walls become reservoirs of bacteria that come from different sources depending on the use of the spaces.' Prof. Dominguez-Bello adds, 'We are in environments that are highly humanized, and therefore a lack of ventilation and high concentrations of human bacteria may...facilitate human-to-human transmission of microbes.' Prof. Ruiz-Calderon warns, 'As we alter our built environments in ways that diverge from the natural exposures we evolve with, we need to be aware of the possible consequences.' Read on...

The Washington Post: The hidden health consequences of how we design our homes
Author: Chelsea Harvey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jan 2016

Home interior design concepts continue to evolve with both designers and customers seeking new ways to update and upgrade the living environment. Following are the 25 latest design trends that include materials, strategies and concepts for modern homes in 2016 - (1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets (2) Outdoor fabric used indoors (3) Colored stainless steel appliances (Black stainless steel is one of the preferred color) (4) Extra-large-format tile (5) Separate bidet unit in bathroom (6) Deep kitchen drawers (7) Formal dining rooms (8) Niche appliances in kitchen (Steam ovens, warming drawers, induction cooktops, kimchi refrigerators etc) (9) Heated entryway floors (10) Workhorse islands (Becoming central features in modern kitchens with deep storage, prep sinks, room for sitting etc) (11) Statement mirrors in bathrooms (12) Barely there kitchens (13) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family (14) Kitchens that embrace openness and raw materials (15) Surprising backsplash and countertop pairings (16) Fully decorated living rooms that don't go overboard (17) Special kitchen features (18) Sunrooms (19) Punched-up white kitchens (20) Bold powder room wall coverings (Use of dazzling prints, textures and custom graphics) (21) Mixing modern materials, finishes and colors in the kitchen (22) Attention-seeking bedrooms (23) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces (Use of graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces etc) (24) Fireplaces and fire features (25) Farmhouse entryways. Read on...

Houzz: 25 Design Trends Coming to Homes Near You in 2016
Author: Mitchell Parker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jan 2016

Concerned authorities try to provide affordable housing to their marginalized communities. In regions with extreme climate conditions it becomes even more challenging to manage costs related to energy consumption. Nanaimo Aboriginal Center (British Columbia, Canada) in partnership with the city administration is planning to build an affordable housing complex that will abide by the energy efficiency standards. The project will use passive housing design, that is more economical and is an alternative to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). According to Chris Beaton, Executive Director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Center, 'You build your building so it's oriented to the sun and during the winter, you're allowing in the heat of the sun to warm the interior of the building. You put in robust insulation...then you vapour barrier it so no cold air is coming in and you're not losing heat during the winter.' Read on...

Nanaimo News Bulletin: Affordable housing project aims to use passive house design
Author: Karl Yu


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jan 2016

According to a recent study by business psychologists at OPP, based on an online survey of over 300 people (71% female and with average age of 47 years) Modern features such as shared space and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extroverted workers and made introverts uncomfortable. The study explains that modern features like shared space and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extroverted workers and made introverts uncomfortable. John Hackston, Chartered Psychologist and Head of Research at OPP, says 'Despite changes in technology many people still work in an office. Understanding how personality interacts with the office environment is key to improving job satisfaction and productivity.' He suggests some of the simple changes that can be made - Allowing staff more storage for personal items when hot desking; Creating smaller neighbourhoods within open-plan offices; Not overdoing clear desk policies as clearing away all personal items can be demotivating to some people; Providing quiet zones for people to work in when needed. Read on...

Workplace Insight: Modern office design principles favour extroverts, study claims
Author: Mark Eltringham


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 dec 2015

Design education promises to inculcate and enhance creativity within students and equip them with skills to build and develop products, services, spaces and environments in diverse industries. Given below is the select list of America's top design academics and educators from the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture, that was created with inputs from design professionals, academic department heads and students - Amale Andraos (Architecture, Planning & Preservation at Columbia University); Alan DeFrees (Architecture at University of Notre Dame); Dawn Finley (Architecture at Rice University); Steve French (Architecture at Georgia Tech); Geraldine Forbes Isais (Architecture & Planning at University of New Mexico); Charles Graham (Architecture at University of Oklahoma); Aki Ishida (Architecture & Design at Virginia Tech); Kent Kleinman (Architecture & Interior Design at Cornell University); Sharon Kuska (Architecture & Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska); Alison Kwok (Architecture at University of Oregon); Mohsen Mostafavi (Architecture & Design at Harvard University); Daniel Nadenicek (Planning & Landscape at University of Georgia); Guy Nordenson (Architecture & Structural Engineering at Princeton University); Juhani Pallasmaa (Architect & Lecturer from Helsinki. Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); James Rose (Architecture & Design at University of Tennessee); Hashim Sarkis (Architecture & Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Jeff Shannon (Architecture at University of Arkansas); Robert Shibley (Architecture & Planning at SUNY Buffalo); Christine Theodoropoulos (Architecture & Environment Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo); James Timberlake (Architecture at University of Pennsylvania); Ada Tremonte (Architecture & Interior Design at Drexel University); Rod Underwood (Architecture &' Planning at Ball State University); Adam Wells (Architecture at University of Houston); Jim West (Architecture, Art, & Design at Mississippi State University); Keith Wiley (Architecture & Environmental Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). Read on...

DesignIntelligence: 25 Most Admired Educators for 2016
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 dec 2015

Although government of UK states that the creative industries in the country now equal £76.9 billion per year, and the design sector seeing the biggest growth. But there is another debate brewing in UK regarding the condition of design and creative education. According to John Sorrell, founder of London Design Festival and Creative Industries Federation, 'Schools in UK saw a 50% decrease in students taking design and technology GSEC (General Certificate of Secondary Education) subjects in the 10 years leading upto 2013, and 25% drop in other craft-related GCSEs between 2007 and 2013.' He says that the government is reducing investments in creative education that would eventually lead to inadequate development of the next generation of creative talent. He explains, 'It is the government's calling card everywhere in the world...it's this amazing work we're part of which makes Britain so loved by the rest of the world - our creativity.' He further adds, 'If we can get our act together and work together we can take advantage of the opportunities in international development that certainly China is going to be doing in the next 20 years.' Similar sentiments were recently voiced by this year's London Design Medal winners, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who said 'UK government doesn't value the role of creativity.' Another angle to this debate was provided by inventor James Dyson, who criticized the UK government's steps regarding the foreign students to return home after completing their education. This immigration plan will threaten UK's status as a global design and architecture center. Read on...

dezeen: Design education in the UK is being "marginalised" says John Sorrell
Author: Dan Howarth


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2015

Healthcare systems in US are taking initiatives to achieve sustainable designs in their buildings. They are targeting high levels of energy efficiency as part of their new facility design. They are trying to balance both sustainability and bottom line and seek to positively impact their communities. They consider sustainability design as a continuously evolving process so that they can adjust, tweak, and redesign, and achieve higher standards. Alan Eber of Gundersen Health System, one of the industry's green leaders, says 'Our goal was to achieve 115 kBtu per square foot per year. The average for hospitals in our region is about 250 kBtu so it was well below half of what the average hospital uses.' Mr. Eber adds, 'One of the biggest design lessons on the project was the potential to reduce energy use with the geothermal heat pump. The system takes excess heat in the hospital and puts it back into the system so burning fossil fuels isn't required to heat the hospital, resulting in a huge energy savings.' Another health organization, Ascension Health, adopted new design standards and achieved an Energy Star rating of 97 for its new facility, through a combination of technologies such as energy recovery air handling units and a variable air volume turndown in non-critical spaces to minimize fan, cooling, and reheat energy. According to Gerry Kaiser of Ascension Health, 'We use a lifecycle approach to justify what might be a slight upfront premium to put in the kind of systems and equipment that it does. Once the hospital is open, it's very difficult to get money spent on upgrading equipment, whether it's five or 20 years old. We try to design our hospitals to last and to perform knowing that no one wants to spend money on the unglamorous things in the future.' Palomar Medical Center (PMC), for which the work started in 2002 and got completed in 2012, utilized the latest concepts, best practices and technologies available at that time. Building Information Management (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and sustainable design were at the initial stages of their development. Thomas Chessum of CO Architects says, 'PMC took advantage of the technology of the time, such as passive shading systems, heat-load reduction, and daylighting, to reduce its energy consumption, since LED lighting was still cost-prohibitive and active building programs like chilled beam systems weren't yet mainstream.' PMC had two main directives in their design process - (1) Create an environment that promotes health and healing. (2) Reduce the impact on the natural environment in construction and operations. Healthcare systems around the world have to effectively merge sustainability into their design processes and collaboratively work with the architects, engineers, designers, and their stakeholders like health staff and patients, and community at large, to provide better health solutions with reduced ecological footprint. Read on...

Healthcare Design: Hitting The Mark In Sustainable Design
Author: Anne DiNardo


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 dec 2015

US-based Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) while describing the goals of architectural education explains, 'As a professional discipline, architecture spans both the arts and the sciences. Students must have an understanding of the arts and humanities, as well as a basic technical understanding of structures and construction. Skills in communication, both visual and verbal, are essential. While knowledge and skills must be developed, design is ultimately a process of critical thinking, analysis, and creative activity.' Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, Director of Rizvi College of Architecture (Mumbai, India) and founder president of International Association for Humane Habitat (IAHH), provides architectural students his views, discusses various aspects of architectural education and suggests what the education system should look for to create professionals who can work cohesively and sustainably for the future. ON CURRICULUM AND CLASSROOM LEARNING: 'Each student is encouraged to find his or her own expression through creative exploration...several electives are included which provides colleges with opportunities to experiment, explore and evolve their distinctive philosophy. Here at Rizvi, we are concerned with issues of sustainable architecture, affordable housing, appropriate and innovative technology and humane habitat.' ON ACADEMICS AND STUDENTS: 'You are likely to find the dreamers and the rebels. The dreamers create new kinds of environments. The rebels are the ones who want to change the world and look at every aspect of academics accordingly...since students in architecture are generally stressed with creativity, they are more involved in the process of self discovery over marks.' ON SOFT SKILLS: 'These are integrated within the curriculum...It is imperative for students of architecture to learn to express themselves through different mediums, including model making, photography, design, films, and so on.' ON CHALLENGES FACED BY STUDENTS: 'For those getting into first year, the environment change is huge...They need to unlearn those old methods at every step and adopt a new approach which is much more creative and open-ended...Due to emphasis on creativity, almost every student struggles initially to find his or her own expression. And students soon realise that this becomes a lifelong struggle.' ON BALANCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND CLIENT'S NEEDS: 'Creating something for a client is a two-way process and every student should try and develop solutions for spaces...Students should think about the environment, sustainability, and aesthetic expression so that their architecture contributes a pride-level in society.' ON FINDING INSPIRATION: 'Nature itself is a great source of inspiration. Students can also look upon the great role models, architects like Charles Correa, Achyut Kanvinde, Christopher Benninger and Laurie Baker...At institutional level, they can approach architecture societies, associations and networks for advice, consultation and guidance.' Read on...

The Free Press Journal: "To create and innovate, you can't rely on copy and paste!" - Prof. Akhtar Chauhan
Author: Shraddha Kamdar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 dec 2015

According to Wikipedia, 'Employee Experience' is defined as 'What an employee received during their interaction with careers' elements (e.g. firms, supervisors, coworkers, customer, environment, etc.) that affect their cognition and affection and leads to their particular behaviors.' Professor Kaveh Abhari of University of Hawaii at Manoa conceptualized 'Employee Experience Management' (EEM) as 'An approach to deliver excellent experience to employees, which leads to the positive customer experience by emphasizing on their experiential needs.' Successful and future-focused organizations are both customer- and employee-centric, and they shift away from thinking of work as just a utility and emphasise on creating 'beautiful experiences', a term used by Pat Wadors (Chief Human Resource Officer of Linkedin). Jacob Morgan, entrepreneur and author of 'The Future of Work', defines three employee experience environments that all organizations must focus on - physical, cultural and technological. Here he explains the nature of physical environment and its impact on employee experience. Physical environment includes - Demographics; Workplace Perks; Workplace Layout; Workplace Creative. There is a strong correlation between employee well-being and employee productivity and performance, and physical workspace is one of the largest factor for well-being. Mr. Morgan's suggestions regarding the physical aspects of work environment include - (1) Focus on multiple ways of working: According to Gensler employees need spaces to focus, collaborate, learn, and socialize. Organizations need to shift away from having a single floor plan to integrating and incorporating multiple floor plans. (2) Make the space reflect the culture: Organizations should make efforts to build an environment that reflect their values and culture. (3) Look at how employees work: Engage with employees and ask what they value and care about at work and make investments in those areas. (4) Treat physical space like software: Just the way software is continuously iterated, upgraded and evolves, organizations should use the same process to bring necessary transformations in the work space. Read on...

Forbes: How The Physical Workspace Impacts The Employee Experience
Author: Jacob Morgan


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2015

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 'Nearly 170 million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the United States in 2003.' Although C&D waste has potential for recycling and re-use but considering its high volume and accumulation leading to adverse impact on environment, builders and developers continue to seek ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency. This need for eco-friendy materials is bringing wood back as a sustainable construction material in the designs of architects and engineers. Developers are utilizing prefabricated wall technology in their constructions and utilizing other environment-friendly materials and processes to show their commitment to greener and better environment and get LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification granted by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Alex Knecht, President at Pacific Wall Systems says, 'One of the greatest advantages to using prefabricated wall panels is simultaneous construction. While your grading and foundation crews are working, so are we.' Mr. Knecht adds, 'Assembling the frame components in a controlled environment allows us to deliver a superior product on the client's production schedule. As real estate becomes more valuable and building continues to go vertical, on-site lumber storage is practically non-existent. Having your wall panels delivered just in time is very attractive, especially on tight job sites.' Prefabricated wall panels result in 90% reduction of waste on average and saving of 50% on framing labor alone for developers. According to Norm Dowty, Vice Presidentl at R&H Construction, 'I think it is a trend and as you have more congested urban sites, prefab and panelization can really expedite things...other thing that makes it more viable is computerized drawings. They can do the prefab planning digitally, execute it off-site and bring the panels on-site.' Read on...

Multi-Housing News: Developers' Eco-Friendly Solution for More-Efficient Construction
Author: Andie Lowenstein


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2015

Architects often espouse some philosophical concepts while designing and creating their projects apart from imbibing what their clients want. Architect Mona Doctor Pingel of Studio Naqshbandi in Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India), considers building as not merely a functional structure but a space that effectively addresses the five senses. She is influenced by writer-philosopher-artist Hugo Kukelhaus who considered various aspects of modern architecture as 'inhuman'. Ms. Pingel focuses on creating healthy living and work spaces. She thoroughly studies the impact of built environment on human health before embarking on projects. According to her, 'Starting from location and climate to the materials selected, and the interiors, all add up to prevent the sick building syndrome. A building should bring into perspective all the five senses, thereby giving a three-dimensional angle to the structure. Like the sight of greenery, sound of water, feel of natural stone under the feet, the smell of trees, flowers, and fresh mud, the taste of a charming yet sensitive design, all the five senses need to be addressed by a building.' She uses natural materials in her projects like stone, terracotta blocks, bricks alongwith seamlessly blending greenery into the environment. She believes that architects have to be envoronmentally responsible in their designs and advocates practices of resource efficiency and recycling. She says, 'The scale in which cities are growing is not sustainable. Villages need revival through awareness, education and commitment brought into design.' Read on...

The Hindu: Architecture of the senses
Author: Nandhini Sundar

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