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STAGE OF FOREST
The Stage of Forest at Songhua Lake Resort of Jilin, China, is situated on a hillside between the forest and the slope.
The site is surrounded by luscious greenery in summer and covered by an overwhelming white snow in winter. As is a delicate site for a “Land(scape) Mark”, one whose indefinite programming demands a careful degree of deliberation. The location and triangle shape of the “stage” was only determined after precise examination and deduction of the site condition, to minimize the impact for the existing vegetation and to maximize the view on the platform. While sitting on the hill, it is facing the Songhua lake at a distance, who is famous for the rime in its surrounding areas.

As one descends from the mountain top, the “Stage” rises slowly above the undulating landscape, in a way like a piece of leaf floating on the water. Positioned with the 2 side-line along the approaching eyesight of the visitors from two routes: the trail in the woods and the ski-slope. Not only it doesn’t obstruct the view to the lake and mountains, it even enhances the experience by inducing ever-changing tension between the cantilever and the surrounding landscape. The entire “stage” is like growing out from the mongolian oak forest, and cantilevering on top of the ski-slope. Because the orientation of the distant view (horizontal unfolding lake), and the close view (vertical extending slope) is at a different angle, the building results in a twisted gesture between the wood “stage” and the concrete “base”.

The building combined rough materiality with its sensuous form. Seen from afar, the “stage” is a dark, free-floating monolith in the landscape, with a heavy concrete “base”. Come closer, the reflection on the charred cedar shingles (Shou-Sugi-Ban) becomes faintly perceptible – even turns silvery with the changing angle of sunlight. After one meandering through the forest boardwalk and finally arriving in front of it, the chapped surface of the shingles and the wood texture of the cast concrete become tangible.

The interior is choreographed through a carefully plotted experience. Upon entering the concrete vestibule, in the moment your eye adjusts to the dimmed light, a vertical view along the stretching slope will catch you first, then a narrow staircase hints the only way of elevating. When you arrive at the platform level and turn around, what suddenly opens up to you is a great panoramic view of the Songhua lake, winding in-between the hills, clear or hazed by with the ever-changing mist, an exceptional vista that is breathtakingly beautiful and magical.

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SEE THE DAZZLING ICE ARCHITECTURE AT SWEDEN’S ICEHOTEL
Located in the small village of Jukkasjärvi 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, Sweden’s ICEHOTEL is the world’s largest ice structure, constructed each year from over 4000 tonnes of ice and snow.With winter now officially underway in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2017-2018 version of the ICEHOTEL is now open. In addition to a new permanent section of the hotel kept cool year round by solar energy, for this year’s iteration, the hotel invited 36 artists from 17 countries to design the structure’s main spaces and guest rooms, including new surreal “art suites” that truly transport visitors into a otherworldly winter wonderland.
Check out some of the wildest ones below.
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House in Apulo

On the outskirts of Bogota and other cities and towns in Colombia, particularly in temperate zones, more and more houses are rising as holiday or second homes for city dwellers. This represents an interesting opportunity for architects but, above all, a challenge because these constructions have an important impact on the rural landscape and on local culture.
With this in mind, the concept of this project is to return to the values ​​of local vernacular building techniques and architectural typologies. The House in Apulo -following the principles of the constructions of the region-, has a double cover: the first one in concrete slabs to close the rooms and to protect from bats and insects and the second, as a shell for living, dining and cooking areas.The roof structure to shape the entire interior space is in laminated pine wood with bamboo shoots and locally obtained Palma Amarga or Calicá palm. The beautiful “Apretado” (Tightened) type ofinstallation of palm leaves is resistant to hard winds, isolates from heat and can easily be replaced every 15 to 20 years when needed.Next to each one of the dormitories there is bathroom, with an open-air shower overlooking the garden. There is also a mezzanine, above the dormitories, which is accessed by a steep steal sculpture-stair.
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Chongqing Sunac One Central Mansion Sales Pavillion
We are trying to find a way to engage new technology, materials, ideas to excavate the essence of Chinese architectural culture, to create a new form of Chinese architecture adapting to the development of modern era, to return the value of Chinese culture. We hope to use design to regain the essence of Chinese culture and reshape our cultural self-confidence.SUNAC as one of the largest developers in China will develop a luxury apartment project in Chongqing located on Huxie Road. We are committed to design their sales office. Based on the regulation, the sales office will be converted into a kindergarten after the use as a sales office.The difficulty of the project is that two different functions have completely different requirements for space.The difficulty of the project is that two different functions have completely different requirements for space, form and appearance. The strategy we adopted is to add another layer of removable green skin, the metal mesh, outside the building for sustainable and imagery purpose.This layer of skin creates an unique facade of the sales office which is conveyed by the core concept of Chinese architecture from the artistic conception of the expression. Different from the western architecture which are based on stone masonry construction system, ancient Chinese architecture does not use geometric form as the basis of architectural performance, in contrary, the Chinese-style wood structure emphasis more on the expression of architectural logic following the natural law.Structural components such as pillars, beams, brackets, rafters, Purlin and so on are all exposed, all comply with the natural mechanics of the law, so it will appear without affectation, especially the roof of the arc. The overhangs of the eaves forms the gray space and it creates a vague zone merging the nature and building into one to achieve the symbiotic state of man and nature. The concept of the sales office is in the inheritance of such a concept.The use of metal fabric as the secondary skin forms a sustainable curtain to protect the building from direct sunlight for energy saving. Also the internal and external space are linked visually and spatially in an elegant transition. Translucent materials presented by the looming visual blur convey a rich level of the depth in space.At the same time, the graceful arc of metal fabric formed by natural mechanical logic salutes the Chinese architecture which conforms to the logic of natural structure. The elegant modern steel structure are exposed. The translucency together with elegant landscape creates a poetic zen space. Although the architectural form and the material are modern, but the core idea is the same as Chinese architecture philosophy. The Tao Nature, formless is the ultimate sophistication.
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Stay in Gladstone’s Library
This would be a dream come true for us at Plan Magazine!
Falling asleep in a library is typically the hallmark of an overstressed student, slumped over a desk piled with books in a fit of exam-induced exhaustion. But at this library in a small Welsh village, sleeping among the books is part of the appeal.Gladstone Library is the only residential library in the United Kingdom. After browsing the more than 150,000 items in its collection and spending the day snuggled atop the plush chairs, stayover guests can retire to one of the 26 boutique bedrooms on site.Guests have access to the reading rooms until 10 p.m., a full five hours after they close to the public. They can even bring a book back to their room with them (except for those in the Gladstone Foundation Collection) for a bit of bedside reading.The library houses the collection of its founder, former four-time Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, who wanted to ensure his 32,000 books remained in Wales after his death instead of going to Oxford or somewhere in London. He particularly wanted to make sure those who were less financially fortunate had access to his collection.While in his eighties, Gladstone himself (with the help of his valet and one of his daughters) wheeled over 20,000 of his books to the library that would become their new home. He then stocked the shelves using his own catalogue system. Many of the pages of his thousands of books, which are available for visitors to browse, contain his thoughts and annotations scrawled in the margins.After his death, Gladstone’s family continued to turn his vision of transforming his personal collection into something the public could enjoy into reality. The residential wing opened in 1906, and guest have been cozying up among the books in the century since.www.atlasobscura.com___________________________________________________________________________________________
Twisted Farmhouse in Pennsylvania
Self-taught designer Tom Givone has extended a white house in rural America with a warped metal-clad addition that starkly contrasts the traditional architecture.Originally built in the 1850s in the Pennsylvania countryside, Twisted Farmhouse now includes a two-storey extension wrapped in a silvery exterior.Givone teamed up with JRA Architects in nearby Scranton to design the five curving columns that make the structure’s undulating walls possible.The addition is clad in strips of anodised aluminium, laid horizontally, which both echoes and contrasts the farmhouse’s original white clapboard siding.The owner grew up in an old farmhouse across the street with seven siblings, and one of her brothers still lives there today. The extension’s unusual shape is intended to sculpturally express this dynamic.I imagined this family bond as a physical force, like a gravitational field between the two homes, acting on the addition and ‘pulling’ it towards the original farmhouse across the street,” said Givone.Steel used in the construction was sourced from a company in Chicago, which specialises in designing rollercoaster tracks.A porch was enlarged, with new railings made from thin stainless steel cables. The airy, metallic material helps visually link to the silvery addition, while opening up views a large backyard to interior spaces.Upon entering the house is an open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. A small bedroom and bathroom complete the ground-floor layout.The entire home has white, light-filled interiors, with original wide-plank floors that were restored by the architect himself, after discovering them beneath layers of linoleum and plywood.The curvy addition houses the dining area, with angular windows and a double-height wall to define space.In the nearby kitchen, countertops and a custom apron sink are made from the same slab of white Carrara marble.A staircase leads up to the open-air sitting room, with glazed half walls that look down on the eating area below. Original wall planks were re-used to construct the steps on the stairs.On the second level are three bedrooms and one bathroom, which features a turquoise locker found in a barn in upstate New York, and a refurbished 1920s schoolhouse sink.

Hand-hewn beams were salvaged and left exposed on the ceilings above, with structural elements also incorporated into the white-walled renovation of the original interior.

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Future Expansion installs “choir-like” mirrored tubes outside New York’s Flatiron Building
A cluster of hollow reflective pipes forms this installation by Brooklyn architecture and design firm Future Expansion, which is on display in front of the Flatiron Building in New York City.Titled Flatiron Reflection, the design comprises a set of vertical metal tubes that together create a horseshoe shape in plan and a fluted perimeter.Around the outer edge, their bottoms are cut away at an angle and the lower half is painted white. Overall, the sculpture is evocative of grand organ pipes.At night, the shiny tubes are illuminated from within and their outer surfaces reflect the surroundings.”The glistening materials and choir-like sculptural formation prompt passersby to engage with the art,” said Wendy Feuer, assistant commissioner of design, art and wayfinding at the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT).The horseshoe layout creates a more secluded space at the centre, which then opens out towards a public space adjacent to Madison Square Park.The piece is located in front of the Flatiron Building – the iconic beaux-arts building completed by architects Daniel Burnham and Frederick P Dinkelberg in 1902. The building became famous – and gained its name – for its unusual triangular shape, created by the site at intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street.Flatiron Reflection is designed to interact with the area’s heavy foot and car traffic, and reflect and refract light from the sun during the day, and passing vehicles and street lights at night.”The installation is designed for three scales of experience: the deeply creased exterior makes spaces for individuals; the interior room offers an intimate panorama for small groups; and the north-facing wedge presents a platform toward the plaza,” said Deirdre and Nicholas McDermott, the principals of Future Expansion.The design was installed as the winner of the Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition, organised for the fourth year running by Van Alen Institute and Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership, in tandem with the New York City DOT Art.
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Spy Glass
The idea for the ‘Spy Glass’ was to build a structure that has all the nostalgia of an original beach hut with a new physical form that would pay homage to the classic beach hut – an iconic symbol of the British seaside.The Spy Glass is built on a recessed turntable allowing the transparent ‘picture window’ of the hut to be turned like traditional slot binoculars – this can be rotated in a 180-degree direction, via remote control, to face the sun, seascape or the bright lights of Eastbourne Pier, ‘reacting’ to daily life around it.At the promenade end of the hut, there is a timber clad entrance door with an overhang formed by the cantilevered daybed inside. This cantilever has 2 porthole windows and an external shower head. The adaptability of the Spy Glass allows the hut can be used as a private beach hut.JaK Studio set about designing the beach hut using a combination of robust nautical materials. The hut sits on a heavy-duty vehicle turntable which enables it to rotate from east to west. The Spy Glass measurements are based on a traditional beach hut, with typical dimensions of 2 meters wide x 3 meters long x 3 meters high.
www.archdaily.com
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The Vault House
Seoul studio OBBA has completed a house in South Korea’s Hadong county, featuring brick walls that wrap around small gardens to create private outdoor spaces connected to the living areas.Three brothers, who were born and raised on the rural site but now live in the city, asked OBBA to design a compact new house for their elderly mother in place of their old home.The Vault House is located on the edge of an urban area and is surrounded by farmland. A railway line passes along its southeast perimeter and a main road extends along one of the other sides.The house’s proximity to infrastructure and the adjacent fields meant the architects needed to create a distinct boundary between public and private space, while attempting to retain views towards the nearby forests.Rather than introducing a high screening wall around the perimeter of the site, the studio integrated the function of this “fence wall” into the 82-square-metre home’s red-brick facades.The masonry surfaces create a solid barrier that wraps around the building to provide the necessary privacy, as well as protection from the noise of the road and railway.In places, the walls extend outwards and curve around to enclose secluded gardens. These intermediary spaces between indoors and outdoors increase the building’s plan and accentuate its connection with the surrounding land.”By designing the fence wall, which is more commonly treated as an entity independent from the building, the house could be more functional and acquire a more flexible form,” said OBBA.“Furthermore, the transitory spaces created by extended curvy walls allow richer spatial experience and add character to the moment where they meet with public space.”The curving walls lend the house an ambiguity that makes it difficult to discern which is the main facade or where the entrance is located.In fact, the front door is accessed through a full-height opening in one of the brick surfaces. Paving slabs set into the gravel-covered yard lead up to the simple black door.The house is arranged around a central living area, flanked at either end by sliding glass doors that open onto compact gardens enveloped by curving walls.A vaulted ceiling enhances the sense of light and space within the living room, which is connected by a corridor to a master bedroom and two guest rooms facing east.The wall that wraps around the north-facing garden swoops down to allow a view of the mountains of Bipa-ri island in the distance. The brick cladding continues around a corner of the living space to accentuate the connection between indoors and outdoors.On the opposite side of the living area, a similar brick surface helps to reduce wind and noise from the railway. This curving plane incorporates a large arched opening that leads out onto a private rear yard.A further semi-circular wall encloses a small garden adjacent to the guest room at the eastern end of the building. An opening at this base of this wall allows local cats and dogs to wander through.One of the walls lining the master bedroom also extends out from the building to shield the room from unwanted overlooking, while a storage area adjoining the kitchen is sheltered behind another curving surface.
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Winners of Pape Bird Observation Tower Competition
Bee Breeders have selected the winners for the Pape Bird Observation Tower competition, which saw participants submitting designs for a new bird observation station located in the Nica and Rucava Municipalities in the South Western region of Latvia. The competition is the first in a series organized by Bee Breeders in collaboration with Pasaules Dabas Fonds, Latvia’s leading nature conservation fund. The competition asked for proposals for a tower that would replace a previous tower that was struck by lightening.
   
The winning schemes were selected based on their environmental sensitivity to the unique and varied parklands surrounding the scheme, their functionality, and their potential to become a landmark. The tower will be used primarily to record annual migratory habits of birds, but will also allow visitors to the park the opportunity to engage with the park and its resources.
The winning scheme wraps rope around a timber structure to create a woven enclosure with varied porosity and light effects. The project aims to blur the boundaries between the observer within built space and the landscape itself, generating a unique and dynamic experience. The judges were particularly impressed by the structural system of timber and rope, believing it to be achievable, adaptable, sustainable and economical. Being one of the more daring entries of the competition, it’s no wonder this unique project stood out as a winner.
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Giant pivoting door connects to secluded rear courtyard
A frameless glass roof panel connects with a window to allow natural light to flood this extension added to the rear of a Victorian house in east London by The D*Haus Company.The house is located on Columbia Road, which hosts a famous weekly flower market in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.Local studio The D*Haus Company was tasked with upgrading the existing ground floor and adding an extension that makes optimal use of the available space and light at the rear of the property.The reconfigured spaces accommodate an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area, which extends outwards into an yard bounded on one side by a curved brick wall that separates the house from the street.The clients stipulated that intrusions into the courtyard should be minimised, but a void between the end wall and the boundary wall that had previously been used to house a bike shed and barbecue was incorporated into the plan.”By knocking through the rear wall and taking the floor to the extent of the site, we maximised floor area and created a portal to the sky,” said the studio.The process got off to a difficult start, when early excavations revealed a old bakery oven almost as large as the existing yard. This had to be covered and made structurally sound using a reinforced concrete slab.The existing floor was levelled off to create a single level across the entire ground floor, which helps the to enhance the sense of space.A polished-concrete floor was added to provide a seamless surface that extends through the interior and into the courtyard.The continuity of the flooring helps to minimise the threshold between the indoor and outdoor spaces, which can be connected to form a single room by opening the huge pivoting steel-framed door.A large steel beam was installed to allow an existing kitchen wall to be removed. This creates space for a dining table big enough to seat eight people beneath a skylight set into the ceiling.The new kitchen extends all the way to the edge of the site and follows the curve of the boundary wall.The former void is filled in with frameless self-cleaning glazing that extends vertically and across the roof to enhance the connection with the outdoors and the sky.The rest of the interior features white surfaces that provide a neutral backdrop and focus attention on the textures of the floor and the brick walls surrounding the courtyard.The D*Haus Company is an experimental multidisciplinary practice founded by Daniel Woolfson and David Ben Grunberg, which applies mathematical principles to architecture, furniture and lighting design.The studio is best known for designing a shape-shifting house called the Dynamic D*Haus, which features angular sections that open and close in response to the time of day, seasons and weather conditions.It has also developed a table based on the same formula for changing the shape of a square into an equilateral triangle.
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