Stretching over one mile (1.5 kilometers), the cable car links the two thriving residential districts of Amsterdam-West and Amsterdam-Noord through a system of three slender pylons and two stations. The cable car has been designed to accommodate a future third station depending on the pattern of growth for surrounding districts.
In order to allow large ships to pass under the IJ waterway, the towers vary in height between 150, 340, and 450 feet (46, 105, and 136 meters). The towers draw inspiration from the ports and ship cranes which define Amsterdam’s industrial heritage, with a sculptural form striking a balance between playfulness and elegance.
Meanwhile, the two stations are designed to be more than transport hubs but to become destinations in their own right. The Amsterdam-West station features a vibrant urban plaza along the water with restaurants and bars, while the Amsterdam-Noord offers a viewpoint for the “blossoming cultural hotspot in the North.”
A cable car is an extremely sustainable public transport system. It is a very fast and green way of traveling, which is attractive for cyclists, commuters, students, residents, and visitors. In Amsterdam, you see a growing need for connections across the IJ, with the new metro and bridges. The city is growing enormously and such an 'air bridge' contributes to the development of the entire region. Transport by air also relieves the increasing pressure on traffic and the existing transport network on the ground. It is not only efficient but also fun. People are going to see and experience their city in a whole new way. -Ben van Berkel, Founder, UNStudio
The journey is expected to take under five minutes, traveling at an average speed of over 20 kilometers per hour. Cabins will have a capacity of between 32 and 37 passengers, with additional cycle cabins for up to six bikes.
In architecture, the act of formally critiquing design is ubiquitous. The crit, as its called, is almost a rite of passage. And while the format of this practice is universal, its objective, goals and ultimate purpose are unfixed, beyond a broad and often vague imperative to make a given design better. This is a problem, because it leaves a foundation of the profession to take the form of whatever discussion happens to arise between a designer and a critic. If the expectation of empirical evidence for design decisions were introduced as the basis of a design crit, the cumulative effects of this change could improve the credibility of the entire discipline.
Whether in a working group, a studio classroom or a client meeting, a staple of architectural design occurs when a proposal is evaluated by someone who didn’t create it. As architecture’s native and relatively unique form of peer review, this practice is useful, but also remarkable in lacking a burden of proof for the claims of designers or critics. Despite being widespread, the rigor of the design crit rests on a disconnected patchwork of participants’ personal experience, beliefs and speculation.
This lack of an empirical basis is damaging. Both an expectation of evidence and an aptitude for applying it is de rigueur in disciplines like medicine, education and law, fields with an equally fundamental impact on the public as the provision of shelter. Practitioners in these fields are frequently tasked with drawing from, and contributing to, a formalized, common body of knowledge when making decisions.
It’s been pointedoutrepeatedly that both architectural practice and education lack a consistent, widespread system of research, analysis and reporting in their work, as well as the culture to even value such a thing. Certain parts of the profession, however, have been doing this independently for some time. Architects who specialize in healthcare, workplace, and educational facilities are no strangers to the term “evidence-based design,” and regularly face clients who derive their demands from a methodical, well-informed understanding of how patients, employees or students use their spaces.
Architects in these areas of practice are frequently expected to validate the basis of many of their design decisions as completely as possible, and have thus developed their own systematic methods to reach evidence-based conclusions and report their findings back into a shared bank of knowledge for other designers to draw on in the future. What’s notable about this development is that the profession has only embraced such a system when other disciplines have demanded it for the design of their spaces. Despite existing for decades, the practice of evidence-based design has never caught on across the entire profession.
This reactive stance may be a significant force at work in the fracturing of the profession into specialized sub-disciplines that’s also occurred over the past few decades, ceding many of an architect’s traditional responsibilities to consultants. In light of this, it seems a proactive embrace of an evidence-based system of practice could substantially help architectural design retain independent value. What makes such a system difficult to implement is that it requires more than just a knowledge of designing spaces—it also requires deep knowledge, and training, in conducting structured, effective research and reporting.
Fortunately, this can be taught. Basic research methods are already a standard part of training for many other disciplines, so there are plenty of existing examples for architecture to follow. As noted by architect Barrie Evans when considering a comparable use of research in the medical field, “...evidence-based practice requires the learning of skills—of evidence finding, understanding, interpreting, evaluating and using. These skills may seem basic but they do need teaching, as they are in medicine.”
Architecture education runs into problems introducing new material, due to time constraints. Studio class schedules are already lengthy, but much of that time is spent on individual design crits while remaining students either observe or wait patiently at their desks. Watching someone else be critiqued is a worthy form of education, but considering this sort of activity can occupy the vast majority of a student’s class time with a relatively small amount of that time being spent on their own crit, it’s easy to see a point of diminishing returns in this format. It’s not hard to imagine existing studio class schedules recalibrated to include a significant, consistent amount of instruction in conducting research methods.
Where this new knowledge can be best refined is within the crit itself, which, even if the time currently devoted to it was cut in half, would still be a primary component of architectural education. With a solid base of instruction in research methods, the purpose of the design critique can be modified specifically to evaluate the use of empirical evidence in design decisions, as opposed to speculating on open-ended claims. Of course, not all design choices can be fully substantiated, but if the basis of the critique prioritized evidence-based decisions over conjectural ones, it could become a bridge between the critical thinking needed for well-structured research and the creative thinking necessary to turn that research into a design solution.
Though if it starts there, the need for this form of design crit extends beyond education. Graduates would bring the expectation of verifiable claims for design decisions with them into practice. That’s where the effectiveness of reforming this act begins to take hold, as the design critique is equally fundamental to professional practice as it is to education, even if it only occurs in five-minute bursts between two architects or in occasional client meetings. If the point of this act was modified to focus on the substantiated claims employed in making design decisions while the rest of it remains ostensibly intact, an evidence-based culture of design could quickly spread throughout the profession.
It’s precisely because the design crit is central to the practice of architecture that this change could reform the entire profession in a way that would make evidence-based design the norm. If this were the case, architectural design would necessarily become far more robust and relevant for the people it serves, putting the profession in a more valuable and trustworthy position than it is today.
Ross Brady has built a multi-faceted career spanning architectural practice, marketing and journalism. His work ranges from residential renovations to urban design proposals, to most recently marketing and communications. He maintains an architectural license in New York.
There is nothing more rational than taking advantage of natural lighting as a guarantee to improve the spatial quality of buildings, as well as saving energy. The awareness of the finitude of natural resources and the demands for reducing energy consumption has increasingly diminished the prominence of artificial lighting systems, forcing architects to seek more efficient design solutions. With this goal in mind, different operations have been adopted to capture natural light.
These systems can also guarantee excellent spatial properties if projected correctly. Below we have gathered five essential systems for zenithal lighting.
Established as horizontal openings strategically positioned on the roofs of buildings, skylights allow the direct entrance of natural light into the internal region of the construction. It commonly receives an application of translucent glass on its upper side, allowing a higher percentage of light into the space. They should be used with care, since they tend to favor the gain of thermal loads in the building, increasing the internal temperature. Therefore, they must be strategically positioned and projected regarding dimensions and sealing materials.
As an alternative to the upper sealing, they can receive a layer of laminated glass or polycarbonate to allow light to enter indirectly and reduce the light percentage. Being one of the most used zenithal lighting systems, they are recommended for less permanent spaces, such as circulation areas, halls, or bathrooms for example.
In addition, these skylights range in a large number of models and vary in design, dimension, and material, from the traditional opening on the slab to more complex tubular models.
Recurrently used in industrial buildings and warehouses that have metal roofs, this type of lucarnes are configured as devices based on the sawtooth geometry of the roofs, with inclinations strategically arranged to receive a certain amount of light. They are usually positioned in relation to the facade with less sunlight (south in the southern hemisphere and north, in the north), allowing natural light without direct sunlight. In some cases, they also contemplate openings to ventilation.
Its variations in terms of dimensions and inclinations are designed based on the luminous percentage requirement of the interior space, allowing a greater or lesser light input. In this system it is essential to close by glass frames, preventing infiltrations from the rains.
Conformed by openings that protrude in relation to the roof, they can appear as small roofs superimposed on the ridges, creating small glazed projections that receive the entrance of natural light through their two sides.
In addition to the light input, the system allows the continuous renewal of the air if mobile frames are used, allowing constant changes from the assumption that hot air tends to rise.
Domes provide a more far-reaching lighting effect compared to the previous cases. However, due to the large dimensions assumed, in most cases, they tend to generate large thermal loads inside the buildings. Therefore, they are generally used in short-term spaces, such as circulations, courtyards or central areas.
As well as skylights, atriums open directly on roofs, in most cases with pyramidal or gabled geometries, built with metal profiles and a glass closure. Contrary to the aforementioned cases, this typology is recommended for buildings with a greater number of floors, allowing the entry of a greater luminosity without generating high thermal loads.
As well as skylights, solar tubes can be installed in different types of roofs, flat or inclined. With a variety of lengths and widths, they can be flexible or rigid. The difference is that they carry light through reflections, in spaces and roofs where it is not feasible to install systems such as those above.
Internally the tubes are coated with reflective materials, generating different light intensities as a result of their dimensions and materiality, and presenting an optimal solution for industrial and commercial projects. There are also fiberglass models, marketed especially for projects with short distances between the sky and the slab, as homes or smaller buildings.
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