Thursday, April 11, 2013

Loft Living

Recently I encountered an discussion about loft apartment interior design and was intrigued by what it had to offer. While it was hardly a full article, including basically just a photo with a short blurb above, it got me thinking about what it's like to live in a loft-style apartment.

In my search for a place to live while I attend the University of Oregon for the next two years earning my Master's in Architecture, I've come across a few loft apartments. It is my understanding that the term "loft" can be taken one of two ways, or even a combination of the two. The first is that it is simply the last thing in the building before you hit the roof. This usually means you are either in a finished attic, usually have higher ceilings, and of course have some great views (assuming that the building is a moderate number of stories tall).

Then there is the other viewpoint, which is the one I think of when I hear the term "loft". This would be a one story apartment with a two story ceiling, where a part of the first story is covered by a lofted space. The whole concept of this is awesome to me. You give a person the best of both worlds; a semi-private second floor that is your bed space, in addition to comfortable living spaces. However, your sleeping area is not in a secluded box, but rather still lets in the ambiance and light from the public space.

If I ever get the opportunity to design my own house, I would love to put in an office loft; something that is my own personal design space that is entirely my own. While it's likely that this won't happen for quite some time (if at all, eh?), a guy can still dream, right?

What are your thoughts on lofts?


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sustainable AND Beautiful!?

Sustainability, to too many, means sticking trees on top of the roofs and balconies in renderings. But sustainability doesn't have to be ugly at all, and it can still be incredibly successful! Toyo Ito, the marvel  from Japan known for his conceptual architecture, exemplifies the proof. With an ability that seems to transcend the laws of physics and structure, Toyo Ito is able to design architecture that is beautiful, sustainable, and functional.

Kaohsiung National Stadium, which is sited in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is a perfect example of harnessing sustainable resources to create a structure with absolute net-zero energy usage. With the help of 8,844 photovoltaic panels, the stadium is able to operate without using any additional electricity. And yes, that  means the lights are on and the jumbo screens are operational.

Designing a stadium is no small feat, as you have to take into account egress for the masses, creating a good viewing point for all visitors, and coverage from the elements all while taking into account safety, comfort, and structural integrity. Put all those things together and you've got one massive project on your hands. With a 14,155 square meter roof, Ito was able to fit enough photovoltaic panels to harvest so much energy that the stadium's lights will be on in six minutes.

To boot, the place is gorgeous. Often referred to as the "Dragon Stadium", Kaohsiung National looks like a dragon's back that comes out of the ground. All the photovoltaic panels look like scales, and as the seats wind their way around the playing surface, it is obvious that it is no simple semicircle, but rather the curving and winding pattern of a dragon.

In the true spirit of sustainable and enjoyable spaces, there is of course plenty of room for public spaces outside around the stadium. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a picture with the completed project, but nonetheless, very cool!


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