Friday, December 27, 2013

Five Amazing Underwater Structures

Poseidon Resorts, Fiji
While construction has been on hold for years, Poseidon will have no trouble hooking guests if it's ever completed. Plans call for 24 undersea suites with 4-inch-thick transparent plexiglass windows to let guests take in the world under the sea. Although all the suites will be connected to a permanently fixed main corridor, they'll be detachable stand-alone modules that can resurface if necessary.

Visitors would access Poseidon's suites airlocks with carbon fiber doors. This form of entry and exit allows the resort to keep its interior at surface pressure, lessening the possibility of any physiological side effects such as decompression

Water Discus Hotel, Dubai
Dubai is no stranger to extreme feats of engineering, and its Water Discus Hotel aims to become the first underwater lodging in the emirate. The structure will include both an above-water and below-water section (both are disc-shaped like something out of Star Wars, but their actual sizes aren't yet determined). The above-water disc will be connected to a series of satellite discs housing the hotel's spa, garden, and swimming pool. The below-water disc features 21 two-person rooms, a dive center, and a bar that will let you drink with the fishes. A vertical shaft containing an elevator and a staircase will offer access between the two.

Design mechanics call for five solid legs to extend down from the lower disc and stabilize the structure on the seabed, while keeping it easily mobile in case the undersea portion needs to resurface for repairs. In the unlikely event of flooding, the hotel's satellite discs are buoyant and can be released and used as flotation devices. Additional high-tech perks include underwater internet and an upper-deck landing pad for helicopters. Oh, and the hotel rotates.
Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
Seafood takes on new meaning at Rangali Island's underwater restaurant, a 14-seat eatery located 16 feet below the water's surface. The boat-size structure is encased in a transparent acrylic tunnel offering 270-degree exterior views, so it's almost like dining in a fish tank. Visitors descend into the restaurant via a spiral staircase that's located in a thatched pavilion at the end of a jetty.

Ithaa was built in Singapore and then transported to the Maldives, where workers situated the 175-ton structure on the sea floor by filling it with 85 tons of sand ballast. They then attached the restaurant to four steel piles (each of which had been vibro-hammered approximately 15 feet into the seabed) with concrete.

Jules' Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Fla.
What began in the early '70's as La Chalupa Research Laboratory has been an undersea lodge for the past 30 years. Guests dive down to the submersed hotel and enter via a 5 x 7–foot moon pool at the bottom of the structure, 21 feet below the sea's surface. Compressed air keeps the lodge from flooding.

Despite the lodge's lack of above-water entry you don't have to be a certified diver to stay overnight. While noncertified divers once descended to the lodge by breathing air pumped through a large hose, Jules' now offers a 3-hour course to assure safe entry.

Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA), Mexico
Opened to the public in November 2009, the Cancun Underwater Museum features more than 400 life-size sculptures sitting on the sea floor in 28 feet of water. It's a museum without walls, and each work of art is made from pH neutral clay that encourages the growth of corals and attracts sea life so the sculptures will grow and change over time.

Artist Jason de Caires Taylor plans to add 63 new pieces to the museum this July, including a kinetic sculpture boasting wings made of living fan coral and The Listener, which features an underwater device that projects nearby sounds. MUSA is accessible to divers and snorkelers.
Opened to the public in November 2009, the Cancun Underwater Museum features more than 400 life-size sculptures sitting on the sea floor in 28 feet of water. It's a museum without walls, and each work of art is made from pH neutral clay that encourages the growth of corals and attracts sea life so the sculptures will grow and change over time.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Underground Structures

At the end of the 19th century, HG Wells imagined a future in which industry had been completely located underground, whilst above ground all was green and leafy.
Instead, something very different has happened to the building of structures beneath our cities...
Underground Structures
The sunlit dome of the Mansueto library. It is immediately adjacent to the Brutalist Regenstein library designed by Skidmore Owings Merrill and completed in 1970
In The Time Machine, HG Wells wrote: “there is a tendency to utilize underground space for the less ornamental purposes of civilization.” In that book, Wells imagined a future in which industry had been completely located underground, whilst above ground all was green and leafy. At the end of the 19th century, it was perhaps understandable to imagine a future where this was the case. After all, as Wells put it, referring to the working class areas of London: “Even now, does not an East-end worker live in such artificial conditions as practically to be cut off from the natural surface of the earth?”
Underground Structures
The libraries key innovation is its subterranean automated storage and retrieval system, extending 15m underground and which can hold 3.5million volumes
Something very different has happened to the building of structures beneath our cities. Certainly Wells was right to identify it as a place modern civilisation would travel to but our cities are free of industry below ground as well as above and whilst we still travel beneath the ground, at the beginning of the 21st century we are also building important cultural facilities there. The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the USA, although it is becoming increasingly common elsewhere. So why are we putting our theatres, libraries and museums beneath our feet? And how are designers and architects facilitating and making the best of this new trend?
Underground Structures
Designed by Helmut Jahn, the Library is effectively an above grade reading room with the book stored beneath. The University of Chicago wanted to keep all its books on campus
The National Law Enforcement Museum (NLEM) in Washington DC is a case in point. Having designed a memorial to the police forces of the United States in Judiciary Square in Washington DC, architect Davis Buckley was charged with subsequently finding a Museum. Wishing to create continuity with the monument, he suggested Judiciary Square itself. Judiciary Square however, is one of the most historical squares in the United States. Pierre L’Enfant, the original planner of the city fought bitterly with George Washington over the laying out of the square, with Thomas Jefferson interceding on his behalf. Abraham Lincoln held his inaugural ball on the site. It has tremendous historic worth.
Underground Structures
In architectural terms there is a strong relationship between The Museum of Law Enforcement and Law Enforcement Memorial which sits in the square. Both are designed by Davis Buckley architects
Furthermore Judiciary Square is lined with important buildings and there is only really room underground. The square is home to several specialist courts including the United States Tax Court, the Court of Appeal for the Armed Forces and several courthouses for the District of Columbia. In addition there are number of important government buildings. The square, however, is being refocused away from simply its role as the heart of the US judiciary. It is also becoming an area of museums. The former Pension building is now a museum of architecture called the Museum of Building. The NLEM fits nicely into this dual role of the square.
Underground Structures
The entrance pavilion of the Museum of Law Enforcement is set in the historical context of Judiciary Square in Washington DC
However there is no room for it to fit nicely into the square! At least, above ground. Davis Buckley’s proposal for the Museum which has just broken ground, is for two 4,000-square foot, above-ground glass-entry pavilions. These are supposed to symbolize the visibility of law enforcement but also provide an unobtrusive entrance on the historic square. The visitor then descends into the Museum, where the space will open to reveal the full expanse of the Museum. Architecturally its not dissimilar to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum albeit that the latter is a response to the ruins of a former building. Still the form is similar, a glass pavilion at ground level, a ramp down, and a vast. (Indeed the NLEM will contain a structural beam collected from Ground Zero.)
Underground Structures
Rendering of the low slung roof of the entrance pavilion for the Shanghai Cultural Plaza Theatre, is as much a part of the landscaping as a separate structure
According to architect Davis Buckley he’s had to “convince everyone from the National Capital Planning commission to the Secretary of the Interior’ that the subterranean site was the best place for the largest museum in the world dedicated to police. The real reason for submerging the NLEM though is to deal with conservation issues in a historic part of the city. As even young cities like Washington DC age, valuable space is being found underground. They are being made available by the architectural application of the engineering techniques that built what Wells called ‘the less ornamental purposes of civilisation.
Underground Structures
A rendering of the Shanghai Cultural Plaza from an aerial view. The entrance pavilion for the Theatre is part of landscape plan dominated by gentle curves
The architectural relationship between a glass pavilion and a subterranean store or vault is the primary relationship here. The former has a number of uses: it can provide a means for natural light to pass into lower levels and it can advertise the function of the subterranean structure. This is partially the case with the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago which is immediately adjacent to the Regenstein Library - an important brutalist building. The domed reading room, sits modestly next to the Skidmore Owings and Merrill building. Not only is it possible to see what the building is for through the glass structure but conversely when one is inside one can enjoy reading in the natural light. Beneath it a five-storey chamber contains 3.5m books, which are retrieved and delivered to the main desk by one of five massive cranes.
Underground Structures
The entrance canopy is a huge space-frame structure which will be colonised by plantlife
So in this new emerging typology we can see an architectural relationship between a glass pavilion which advertises the function and a lower chamber where the cultural delights are stored. We can also see the move underground as being a means of preserving particularly treasured architectural conservation areas - be that a historic downtown or a more recent university campus. We can also see that an architectural language previously reserved for metropolitan transport - small pavilion structures both signaling to and sheltering entrances underground have been expanded and become less incidental, more architectural structures with the use of full glazing. Others existing in the USA: the refurbished underground museum at Franklin Court in Philadelphia; a new underground addition by Frank Gehry to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Underground Structures
The entrance canopy is a huge space-frame structure which will be colonised by plantlife
It isn’t just the USA though were this subterranean response to sensitive sites is being seen. The Shanghai Culture Plaza is within the former French Concession on a site that previously housed a dog-racing track, then an auditorium for political and cultural events during Mao’s time and, latterly, a central flower market. Its main feature is a theatre which has 570,000 sq m of its full floor space of 650,000m sq m underground thereby making it the largest underground theatre in the world. Although anything generally goes in Shanghai with development, digging down was the only way to get around high limitations in this rare conservation area in the city.Typically for such subterranean structures a sculptural relationship is established in the underground spaces with the entrance above. Here it is a funnel of glass which introduces day light into lower levels of the theatre.
Underground Structures
Parts of the 9/11 Memorial Museum are artifacts themselves. The so-called ''slurry wall,'' was built to hold back flood waters of the Hudson.
Indeed, ornament is a feature of these expensive buildings, in contradiction to the feature of late 19th Century life that HG Wells noted. The NLEM has a budget of $80m and the Mansueto Library designed by Helmut Jahn, fresh from designing the Veer Towers in Las Vegas, cost $68m to build. These cultural buildings feature highly wrought steel forms, with full glazing in the pavilions above and beneath crowded cities, vast amounts of circulation space - a rare luxury in todays crowded cities. As we turn more of our cities into conservation areas, the underground option for new cultural institutions is becoming more and more attractive.
Underground Structures
The west chamber which will house some of the largest artifacts from the twin towers, including the “last column,” removed from the site during a funereal ceremony in 2002. The slurry wall is to the right.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The 10 Oldest Buildings In The World

10. The King’s Grave, Sweden

The King's Grave, Sweden
Constructed during the Nordic Bronze Age, this is an “unusually grand” double burial tomb from about 3,000 years ago.

9. Naveta des Tudons, Spain

Naveta des Tudons, Spain
Built 3,200 years ago and discovered in 1975, this tomb contains at least one hundred men and their prized possessions, like bronze bracelets and ceramic buttons.

8. Treasury of Atreus, Greece

Treasury of Atreus, Greece
This tomb was constructed during the Bronze Age, over 3,250 years ago. For over a thousand years it contained the tallest and widest dome in the world, until the completion of the Pantheon.

7. Caral, Peru

Caral, Peru
A large ancient settlement in Peru, currently the oldest known city in the Americas, constructed in over 4,600 years ago.

6. Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt

Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt
Built to contain Pharaoh Djoser after his death almost 4,700 years ago, the complex is the oldest stone-cut construction in the world.

5. Hulbjerg Jættestue, Denmark

Hulbjerg Jættestue, Denmark
Built 5,000 years ago, when this burial was discovered, there were forty individuals inside, one of which showed some of the earliest examples of dentistry work.

4. Newgrange, Ireland

Newgrange, Ireland
A prehistoric monument and the oldest building in Ireland, built circa 5,100 years ago.

3. Monte d’Accoddi, Italy

Monte d'Accoddi, Italy
Built somewhere in-between 5,200-4,800 years ago, this remarkably preserved building was either a temple or an altar.

2. Knap of Howar, Scotland

Knap of Howar, Scotland
Originally part of a farmstead, this is the oldest stone house in Europe, standing since 3,500-3,100BC, or up to 5,500 years ago.

1. Megalithic Temples of Malta

Megalithic Temples of Malta
These free-standing structures were all used as religious temples, and are the oldest of their kind in the world, constructed between 3,500-2,500BC, also over 5,500 years ago.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Most Expensive Buildings In The World

10. Antilla, Mumbai, India – $2.53 billion

Antilla is a building in Mumbai in India that has 27 floors and rises up to 173 meters. It was designed by Perkins & Will and was built in 2010 at an original cost of $2 billion. Believe it or not, this is not a commercial building. This is the house of Mukesh Ambani, the Chairman of Reliance Industries. The house has a full time staff of around 600 people serving the family around the clock.

9. City of Dreams, Macau, China – $2.75 billion

The City of Dreams is a casino located in Macau. Arquitectonica created and design the building that has 37 floors and rises up to 164 meters. Its original cost pre-inflation in 2009 was $2.4 billion. The building is located at the Cotai Strip in the Cotai reclamation area that the city had built. Melco Crown Entertainment owns the building, which is its second mega property in Macau.

8. The Venetian Macau, Macau, China – $2.97 billion

The Venetian Macau is a luxury hotel and casino resort. Designed by Aedas, the building has 39 floors and rises up to 225 meters. The building was completed in 2005, with its cost running at that time to $2.4 billion. It is owned by Las Vegas Sands and serves as the anchor of the seven hotels in the Cotai Strip. It covers 10.5 million square feet and is largely modeled after its sister casino in Las Vegas.

7. Wynn Resort, Las Vegas – $3.26 billion

Wynn Resort is a 45-story building that rises up to 187 meters high. Designed by Butler Ashworth Architects and Jerde Partnership, the building was completed in 2005, with its cost at that time running up to $2.7 billion. The building is considered as the flagship property of Wynn Resorts Limited. It is located on Las Vegas Boulevard directly across the Las Vegas Strip from the Fashion Show Mall.

6. One World Trade Center, New York – $3.8 billion

One World Trade Center in New York is a 104-story building that rises up to 541 meters up in the air. David Childs did the architecture while Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the building that was completed in 2012 at a cost of $3.8 billion. It is the primary building of the new World Trade Center Complex in lower Manhattan. It is currently the tallest building in New York City, surpassing the height of the Empire State Building.

5. The Shard, London, England – $3.9 billion

The Shard is an 87-story building in London that rises up to a height of 310 meters. The building forms part of the London Bridge Quarter development. It was completed in 2012, with the observation deck being opened to the public in February 2013. It is the tallest building in the European Union and the second tallest freestanding structure in the United Kingdom. Designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, the building is jointly owned by Sellar Property and the state of Qatar.

4. The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas – $4.16 billion

The Cosmopolitan is a 52-story building that rises up to 184 meters. The Friedmutter Group designed the building together with Arquitectonica.  The building was completed in 2010 at a cost of $3.9 billion. This luxury casino and resort hotel at the west side of the Las Vegas Strip actually consists of two high-rise towers. The acclaimed building has been awarded as the best hotel in the world in 2013.

3. Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi – $4.46 billion

091028a-010 International conference on ''NATO-UAE relations and the way forward in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative''
The Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi has only six floors and rises up to 72.6 meters. John Elliott did the design and architecture. The building was completed in 2005 at a cost of $3 billion at that time. It is considered a seven-star luxury hotel, with its own marina and helipad. It covers 850,000 square meters of floor space. The hotel is located on 1.3 kilometers of private beach and surrounded by 85 hectares of gardens, with 114 domes approximately 80 meters high.

2. Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore – $5.38 billion

Resorts World Sentosa was completed in 2010 at a cost at that time of $4.93 billion. It has 10 floors and rises up to 50 meters high. Michael Graves designed the building. It is basically an integrated resort in Sentosa Island off the southern coast of Singapore. It has a casino, a Marine Life Park, the largest oceanarium in the world, and Universal Studios. Genting Singapore developed the property and is considered as one of the most expensive casino properties in the world.

1. Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – $6 billion

Marina Bay Sands is a 57-storey building that rises 194 meters into the air. Moshe Safdie designed the building that was completed in 2010 at a cost of $5.5 billion at the time. It is actually an integrated resort that fronts Marina Bay in Singapore, covering 20 hectares of property. It has the world’s largest atrium casino, a 340-meter long SkyPark, and a 150-meter infinity swimming pool on top of the largest public cantilevered platform in the world. It features a mall, museum, two large theaters, seven celebrity chef restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions and an ice skating rink.