Monday, 19 January 2015

Shopping Mall & Bank HQ in Shymkent, Kazakhstan . 2014

Project done for Benoy Architects (London) . Under Construction


The Cost Effective "Wow Factor"

















Location, Scope & Challenges . Located in the Center of Shymkent, the third biggest city in Kazakhstan, this mixed-use project was integrated in a masterplan previously designed by some Turkish architects, formed by a shopping mall, a bank HQ, an office building and an on grade carpark, which was approved by our client and we had to take it on board as our starting point. Later on along the process our client changed his mind and the initial brief and “imposed” us another masterplan, which ditched the office building but kept all the other components. Our scope (concept & schematic design) was to design these 2 buildings, “refine” the masterplan and our biggest challenge was (once again) the client and his project manager, who gave us initially little “conceptual room to maneuver” and kept changing his mind, interfering in the design process with constant requests and impositions. It was clear by then that they didn’t quite new exactly what they wanted. As the project evolved and with time he eventually relaxed, learned to trust us and things went progressively on the right direction.


















Retail Concept . Along with the masterplan the Turkish architects had come up with a retail scheme, which basically didn’t work since it forced a typical retail loop onto a very small footprint shopping mall. In alternative we proposed the mall circulation to be organized around one single atrium space and different size voids, which would change their shape all the way up, creating a dynamic an impressive space. In total the shopping mall would have 5 floors, 3 above the ground floor and 2 below. On the bottom floors it would be located an underground carpark and supermarket, on the ground floor the main anchors and events space and on the floors above, the cinemas, F&B area, foodcourt, landlord office space and a big “wedding type” restaurant.



















Brief . Shymkent is an uncharacteristic Soviet looking city and around the site, basically a 7 m deep hole in the ground, the only interesting thing is the existence of a theatre across the main 40m wide adjacent street, which from time to time is closed and used as a public space. Our client wanted a “modern classic building with simple lines” (luckily not a post modern one), the construction to be “economical” (a “low cost” project) and at the same time the building to be  the most impressive ever built in Shymkent in the past 20 years”… In short, he wanted a “Wow Factor” and spend as less money as possible, something obviously difficult to achieve, but not impossible.



















Massing Concept . Consequently, this required from us a thoughtful, pragmatic and strategic conceptual approach. Our idea consisted in creating a welcoming, embracing shopping mall entrance by recessing and aligning it with the entrance of the theatre across the street, which defined a public plaza in front of the building, the “Shymkent Plaza”. We did something similar on the back entrance and manipulated the simple massing of the upper floors by sliding 3 of the 4 building corners along a planning grid, in order to increase the visibility of the shopping mall from the main street, resulting on series of impressive cantilevers and a terrace, which overlooks the plaza below. Finally, we pared up Bank HQ floors in order to get higher and closer to the shopping mall floor to floor heights and applied a similar massing concept, enhancing the impressiveness of the overall scheme.


















Facade Concept . Concerning the facade concept, our strategy consisted in choosing “cost effective” cladding materials, which would not cost much but could potentially contribute for the desired “Wow Factor”, depending on detail and on the way they would be applied. Along these lines black powercoated perforated corrugated metal panels seemed to us like the ideal option, specially if white LED lights would be placed randomly behind them. At the same time we proposed all the cantilevers soffits to be cladded in golden perforated metal panels, which resulted in a striking contrast between vertical and horizontal surfaces. Internally we would follow similar principles and create a contrasting mainly white “industrial chick” retail environment. In the end, immediately after we presented the Concept Design document, the client just said: “There’s not one single thing in this project that I don’t like, which is very rare…”.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Riverside Shopping Mall in Bangkok, Thailand . 2013

Project done for Benoy Architects (London)

The "Chanel Bag" and the "Wai Thai"


















Location, Scope & Challenges . Located in the center of Bangkok right by Chao Phraya Riverfront, this shopping mall is integrated in a masterplan designed by Foster & Partners, which comprises 2 residential towers, 1 shopping mall, 1 observation tower and 1 riverfront plaza. Our scope was to design this 9 floors stories high shopping mall, which basically challenged the standard scale / height of these type of commercial buildings. The other challenge was the client itself, which allowed us very little “conceptual room” to maneuver, since she (a very wealthy and well travelled Thai lady) had very strong ideas concerning the design direction for which the project should go for. Consequently, the result of this project was a mix between some our of client’s very specific ideas and requests with others of our own. 


















General & Spatial Concepts The shopping mall was divided in two main areas: an exclusive riverfront facing luxury mall area, to be treated conceptually as a partially independent building and on the back a generic shopping mall area dedicated to high street retail spread vertically along 9 floors, each one of these with its own different character. The ground floor would be a modern reinterpretation of a traditional Thai market (which included water canals, as requested by the client) and the last floor would be and open rooftop terrace, which included a multipurpose auditorium, roof gardens, sports facilities and panoramic rooftop restaurants. Internally the idea was to create a fluid circulation space based on a figure of “8” by overlapping slightly different shape voids around one big central space and two “buildings within buildings”, which would be treated and cladded as such. The result was a “cathedral type space” where natural light flows from the skylights located 8 floors above creating a pretty impressive spatial retail environment.


 
Massing & Façade Concepts . As requested by the client, the main building should work as a simple backdrop for the luxury building. It should be “simple and elegant like a Chanel bag, mainly white and with golden or silver accent lines” (client’s quote). Our minimalistic approach was equally simple, objective and pragmatic. We proposed the simple rectangular massing to be cladded in diamond shape white concrete panels, which unfold along the façade towards the river like Japanese origami. The edges of these panels would form recessed 20 cm “U” shape channels cladded in golden aluminium panels, from which at night continuous LED lights would glow. The luxury building in another hand, according to the client request, was to be more impressive and based conceptually in a “Kratong”, a lotus flower shape offering that Thai people place floating down the rivers in special occasions. In alternative we offered the client a second option, which we felt was much better and appropriate for the site, since it was more abstract and not so much figurative and/or “tacky” (even) as the “Kratong”. Yet, deeply rooted in Thai culture. We called it the “Wai Thai” option and its basic inspiration was the “Wai”, the typical Thai gesture of putting two hands together as a sign of welcoming, tribute or respect. The profile or movement of the “Wai” also coincides with the shape of the traditional Thai roofs and it was this basic shape that we used and reinterpreted in a bold contemporary architectural language. The client liked it. However, unfortunately, she end up choosing the first option, which corresponded in fact to her fist, somehow, preconceived idea.



Friday, 19 July 2013

Residential Towers & Hotel in Woking, London, UK . 2013

Project done for Benoy Architects (London)


The Post-Rationalize Exercise

 


Location, Scope & Challenges . After I was transferred (on request) from Hong Kong to London this was the very first project I did for Benoy. It was a small exercise and, as requested by my Director, my task was to “audit”, help, post-rationalize and work on façade options for a scheme that was being done in the office, which had started almost a year before, a large scale an urban regeneration masterplan for the Woking town centre, a city located in the outskirts of London. This mixed-use masterplan was formed by landscaped areas, street retail, a shopping mall, low-rise and high-rise residential and a hotel. Specifically, I was supposed to work on these last 2 components.

Massing & Facade Concepts . When I came on board both massing and facade concepts were already (roughly) defined by my colleges, so what I did was simply to “fine tune” them and rationalize all structural and cladding elements in order to obtain a consistent and cohesive scheme, something that the project was somehow lacking. For the high-rise residential tower one of the options I proposed was a simple and restrained façade layout based on a square grid, formed by pre-cast concrete cladding elements and recessed glazed surfaces, in contrast with more sculptural and zigzagging balconies placed on the side elevations. For the hotel tower I proposed a more “striking” façade approach, based on a bar code layout, entirely cladded in solid and perforated aluminium golden panels… The project eventually evolved and in late 2014 it wan a prize for the Best Refurbishment / Extension (over £5 million) at BCSC Gold Awards 2014.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Sea Carnival - Street Shopping Mall in Qingdao, China . 2012

Project done for Benoy Architects (Hong Kong) 

Build First (Re) Design Later *

In China sometimes “western logic” is challenged and the right order of things gets a little twist. This project is a good example of it: even before we had time to draw the first line it had already started to be built on site…















 
 
 
 
The Starting Point . Located in the sea front of a satellite town of Qing Dao, a city located in the north of China, the starting point of this huge open air retail scheme was rather unusual. Our client had a previous project done by local Chinese architects based on a super kitsch and outdated mish mash of styles and preconceived images of old European architecture. It all went fine, construction got started but eventually one day the client changed his mind and put everything on hold... All over sudden he wanted to go in a completely different direction, this time for something “modern”. As retail specialists Benoy came on board… Just a couple of “minor details": 90% of the (previous design) structure was already built on site, the budget was tight and they wanted to restart building everything in 1 year... Welcome to China!
 
 
Existing Built Situation . The site comprises 250.000 sqm and is divided in two areas by an artificial water canal proposed by the previous architects. On the north side, we "inherited" the concrete skeleton of an organic small scale European lookalike village, strangely interesting, formed by 26 blocks of several sizes, configurations and lots of pitched roofs. On the south, half way built, the structure of a podium and 2 towers destiny to be in the future 2 Hotels and a Conference Center.


 
Architectural Concept . Due to the extreme project constrains we had to come up with a very pragmatic conceptual approach. We could not demolished everything so we rather took it as a massive “renovation project”... The goal, simple: to keep as much as possible of the existing structures, get rid of all the decorative elements already built, and recast all the facades according to contemporary architecture principles. In essence we brought the buildings back to its simple primary structure, simplified and retained its interesting skylines, namely the pitched roofs, and restarted from there. In order to test this approach and the client reaction to it we used the Block B, quite representative of the overall scheme, as our “concept sample block". We regroup the previous proposed small shops (6 m wide only) into bigger size units, applied a different material to each one of them according to a carefully chosen material pallet, extended its shop fronts and added in key locations parasite boxes and protruding elements that gave to its elevations a dynamic apparently random layout which, in fact, resulted from a rational subdivision of the grid lines into modules, resulting in a diverse kaleidoscope of facades and 13 types of material cladding… The client like it so we just applied the same principle to the remaining 25 blocks. In total we design more than 100 elevations for 70 different buildings... in 3 months.






 
 
 
 






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Urban Concept . One of the best things about the existing built scheme was the chaotic randomness of its urban structure. As western architects, with rational minds, to design such a thing it would be very difficult, almost impossible. But, somehow, the previous Chinese architects were able to do it... In that sense our goal was just to enhance this rather awkward but interesting formal diversity, first with our architecture approach and second with the urban approach. We defined 4 different pedestrian routes according to the built hierarchized urban structure and we attributed to each one of them a different pavement material according to its function and the urban atmosphere that we wanted to create. For the main urban axis we proposed a “Shopping Boulevard” cladded in granite slabs, which connects 4 different squares with different functions: a “Welcome Square” - the arrival point, a “Central Square” - the meeting point, a “ Performance Square” - where all sorts of performances take place and a “Lookout Point” - for which we designed a special hybrid building, part building / par landscape, that allows people to enjoy the privileged setting and sea view. For the narrower secondary urban axis we proposed a more intimistic “F&B Street” cladded in cobblestone, along the water canal a series of areas for tables and chairs paved in wood deck and for the north side a “Linear Park”, which works as a buffer zone between the scheme and the adjacent highway. In detail, as special features, along the main shopping street we proposed a water stream, several fountains and crisscrossing linear LED lights on the pavement which link several iconic elements, main entrances and help people to navigate through the area.



Material Palete Concept . The carefully chosen material palete aimed for a balance and contrast between cold and warm materials. The roughness of the materials chosen took into consideration both conceptual and financial aspects and a minimalistic architecture approach, giving to the overall scheme its seaside semi-industrial modern atmosphere. In that sense warm materials like corten steel, red brick and wood were extremely important to this scheme and balanced the coldness of materials like aluminium, glass and metal meshes.
 
And the Outcome . This project restarted to be built in the beginning of 2013. Everything now is in the hands of the LDI (“Local Design Institute”), the Chinese local architects, and of the contractor. Our scope was just until Detail Design (DD) so we just can hope for the best and that people come here to shop around… In an extreme consumist society like the Chinese has become I guess it shouldn’t be too difficult…

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Article about my experience in Hong Kong

Published in "P3 / Publico" (Portuguese newspaper), 12/08/2012


















On the last 12th of August an article was written in a Portuguese newspaper about a Portuguese architect living in Hong Kong (me)... This article is part of a series called "Noticias do Lado de Lá" ("News From the Other Side") and its about young portuguese nationals living abroad... Check it out (sorry, some of you will have to google translate it).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Competition for the New Macau Port Authority Building and Surrounding Area, Macau (China) . 2011

Project done for AETEC-Mo Arquitectura  -  1st Prize



Localização: Macau, China   /   Projecto: 2011

1 . CONCEITO URBANO

Esta proposta assentou em princípios de sustentabilidade ecológica e financeira ao procurar aproveitar, potenciar e integrar determinadas construções e estruturas verdes já existentes, nomeadamente o actual edifício da cantina, o muro do antigo reservatório, o «mega talude» em cimento projectado e a área arborizada localizada na Colina da Penha, para que, sem grandes alterações da morfologia do terreno, profundo respeito pelo património, com pouco impacto na paisagem e numa perspectiva de mimetização com a mesma, se produzisse um espaço publico de ambiência «Zen» que respondesse, entre outros, aos objectivos apresentados no programa de concurso, nomeadamente a valorização patrimonial do Quartel dos Mouros e a transformação desta área numa «rotula» de ligação pedonal entre os 3 pontos turísticos de interesse histórico situados na sua envolvente imediata: o Largo do Lilau / Casa do Mandarim, a Igreja da Penha e o Templo de A-Ma.

2 . CONCEITO ARQUITÉCTONICO

A ideia base para a concepção do Novo Edifício da Capitania do Portos consistiu na criação de um objecto arquitectónico de baixa volumetria, mimetizado no terreno e que menor impacto produzisse na paisagem e actuais características do local, valorizado sobretudo pela presença de uma densa e envolvente massa arbórea. Nestas circunstâncias a abordagem a este conceito teve como pressupostos:
- O aproveitamento e Integração das Construções Existentes, nomeadamente dos muros de contenção do antigo reservatório e do actual edifício da cantina
- A construção de um 1º piso até à cota do topo dos muros existentes e prolongamento da área ajardinada até à respectiva cobertura, acessivel através de uma escadaria monumental
- A valorização e integração na proposta do antigo muro do reservatório com a construção contigua de 2 pátios, incluindo espelhos e queda de água, que remetem para a memória da antiga função desta estrutura, aproveitamento do mesmo para marcação da entrada principal do edifício e construção de um bar com esplanada na cobertura ajardinada acima mencionada
- A construção de 2 pisos sobrelevados na «área de intervenção E» por forma a permitir a fluidez da circulação pedonal e o acesso através desta área à Igreja da Penha e ao templo de A-Ma
- A construção de uma 3ª cobertura ajardinada, destinada somente aos funcionários do novo edifício para vislumbre da vista panorâmica em direcção ao Porto Interior

Online Publishing Links:

Jornal Tribuna de Macau (23.05..11)  »  www.jtm.com.mo/view.asp?dT=375703003

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Family Tomb in the Açor Mountains, Portugal . 2009

Personal Project  -  Built 
  
» published on www.e-architect.co.uk  /  www.archdaily.com  /  www.dezeen.com

















“It’s a pleasing irony that the spatial void at the tomb’s heart should speak at once so clearly of absence and loss, and of the possibility of it being filled with the living.”  (Simon Cowell, Architonic)


Localização: Monte Frio (Arganil), Portugal   /   Projecto: 2006   /   Construção: 2007 - 2009

“...um jazigo é uma prisão, mas também um “monumentum”, isto é, um objecto que mantém viva a memória ou a recordação de um ausente... e só os monumentos são arquitectura... o resto dos edifícios são simples construções para seres efémeros, produtos técnicos ou artesanais, não “obras técnicas”, criações verdadeiras, iluminadas ou inspiradas...”
Adolf Loos





















Conceito: Vazio Sepulcral

O conceito por trás deste projecto consistiu na criação de um objecto arquitectónico simples, contido e de aparência minimal que, para além de conter o programa base apresentado pelo cliente (capacidade para 8 urnas), desempenhasse condignamente a sua função enquanto “objecto de tributo à memória” e se integrasse harmoniozamente no cemitério, interagindo de forma directa com a impressionante  envolvente paisagem de montanha (sem obstaculização do sistema de vistas), por enquadramento literal desta, com o intuito de aproveitar o momento de tranquilidade proporcionado pela sua contemplação como veiculo de transmissão e comunicação transcendental entre “presentes” e “ausentes”...
Na abordagem a este conceito entrou-se em linha de conta com 2 momentos específicos de utilização do jazigo: durante o cerimonial funerário, como se processará o respectivo ritual, o manuzeamento da urna, no fundo, a “despedida” e durante uma visita esporádica de um familiar ou amigo ao local, como criar as condições ideais para um confortável recolhimento espiritual?
A consequência foi a criação no próprio interior do jazigo de um espaço aberto ao exterior, acessível por todos, equipado com um banco, que tanto serve como tal, como superfície para colocação da urna durante o referido ritual funerário, no fundo, a criação de um “vazio espacial” contemplativo, que preenche o “vazio emocional” provocado por um sentimento de perca e que, em resumo, se pode traduzir neste conceito abstracto de “Vazio Sepulcral”...
Formalmente, o jazigo apresenta-se como um volume paralelipédico simples que aparenta tranquilamente levitar sobre o terreno, revestido no exterior por um ripado de pedra de granito preto amaciado e no interior, em todas as superficies, a aço inox escovado, num claro contraste e dicotomia matérica entre a respectiva “casca“ e o “conteudo“. No interior, pormenores como uma cruz rasgada no tecto e um depósito para flores incoporado no banco reforçam a evidente carga simbólica deste objecto.


Processo Construtivo

A ideia por detrás do processo de construção do jazigo consistiu na total assemblagem da respectiva estrutura metálica em fabrica, formada por perfis, tubulares e varões em aço (bem como todas as superficies em aço inox), com o objectivo de se asseguar à partida um maior rigor na sua execução. Posteriormente, esta estrutura foi colocada num camião e transportada desde a serralharia até ao cemitério, sendo de seguida implantada no local previsto (sobre um plint de betão construido in-situ) com recurso a uma grua. Por fim, esta estrutura foi betonada (lajes e paredes laterais) e o revestimento de pedra acima mencionado pode finalmente ser assente.

Online Publishing Links:

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Competition «Interventions in the City», Duque do Cadaval Square, Lisbon, Portugal . 2007

Competition promoted by the Lisbon's International Architecture Triennale 2007

Personal Project *  -  1st Prize  (published, exhibited on site and presented in conference)



















Localização: Lisboa, Portugal   /   Projecto: 2007

Enquadramento / Objectivos e Tema do Concurso

O Concurso Público de Ideias Intervenções na Cidade teve como objectivo incentivar um debate alargado sobre espaços urbanos de Lisboa com potencialidade de serem requalificados em benefício de um uso público ou de carácter colectivo e incentivou arquitectos e cidadãos a apresentar propostas para a cidade, contribuindo, deste modo, para uma reflexão participativa no âmbito do seu ordenamento. Sendo este um concurso de ideias, apesar de não ter havido qualquer compromisso relativo à concretização das propostas apresentadas, propôs-se realizar in-situ uma exposição das mesmas, enfatizando o diálogo entre arquitectos, habitantes, poder autárquico e investidores privados e uma posterior aprentação publica. Este concurso teve como tema os Vazios Urbanos – tema geral da Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa 2007. Neste contexto, entendeu-se como Vazios Urbanos, espaços a preencher ou a conquistar procurando um reflexão dualista entre construir ou destruir construindo, espaços transaccionais que, no interior da cidade, aguardam pacientemente por uma requalificação, espaços que estejam desprezados, espaços que potenciem a deriva, a descoberta, a construção de momentos capazes de alterar a rotina do quotidiano, espaços cheios, construídos, vazios de alma e sentido, expectantes por intervenção.


















Proposta Largo Duque do Cadaval, um Espaço Vazio de Referência

A proposta visa se enquadrar no Plano de Reabilitação da Baixa Pombalina, enquanto contributo para a discussão pública em torno do mesmo, em particular nos motivos pelos quais este espaço, com caracteristicas unicas na cidade, não se encontra incluido em qualquer das suas respectivas Unidades Operativas de Reabilitação (UOR)... (?)
O Largo do Duque do Cadaval, ainda que situado no coração da Baixa (na confluência de 6 importantes praças, cada uma delas com o seu edifício ou monumento referência há muito que caiu no “vazio do esquecimento”... É um espaço de transição, de passagem, desprezado, não referênciado, frequentado essencialmente por turistas que utilizam a Calçada do Duque nas suas deslocações entre o Bairro Alto e o Rossio... Praticamente niguém o conhece ou se lembra que o mesmo existe... No entanto, enquanto “espaço de opurtunidade” para o desenvolvimento de uma proposta de intervenção na cidade, o seu potêncial é enorme: Localização preveligiada no contexto da cidade, vistas unicas para o Castelo e Rossio, existência no local da Estação de Comboios do Rossio, proximidade a 2 estações de metro... A solução, contemplada nesta proposta, passa então pela colocação nesta praça de um equipamento que se afirme tanto no contexto local da Baixa como da cidade, que seja motivo de paragem, de deslocação propositada, que atraia pessoas a este espaço e que utilize o potêncial das vistas unicas sobre a cidade como “isco”... No fundo, o que este espaço necessita é de um edifício marcante que preencha no sentido metafórico este espaço Vazio de Referência...



















Neste sentido, como sujestão, o que se propôs em termos conceptuais foi um Edificio Praça, um edificio cuja cobertura seria visitavel e se transformaria numa praça com um anfiteatro ao ar livre, possibilitando, além da extenção do espaço publico do largo onde se insere até uma cota mais elevada, por forma a se tirar partido do fenomenal sistema de vistas, a realização de todo o tipo de eventos no local, imprimindo uma nova dinâmica vivêncial a este pedaço de cidade esquecido...

























Comentário do Juri do Concurso

«... o poder da arquitectura como regenerador de referências, mesmo em território ferido pelas contingências do abandono funcional. A proposta é um curioso exercício sobre as possibilidades da arquitectura como suporte ao inesperado, motivo de regeneração dos sentidos e das vivências do tecido fino que constrói a cidade.»

* Projecto em parceria com o Arquitecto Pedro Alexandre Pereira