Environment Reigns in Young Architects Forum

Event: Young Architects Forum: Resonance
Location: The Urban Center, 05.08.08
Speakers: Xu Tiantian — Principal, DnA_Design and Architecture (Beijing, China & Issaquah, WA); Geoffrey Thün & Kathy Velikov — Principals, RVTR (Toronto)
Organizers: The Architectural League of New York

Pampas House, Buenos Aires by RVTR (left) will maintain zero-carbon emissions. The Visitor Center in Changbai Mountain by DnA_Design and Architecture (right) incorporates unusual sight lines to govern circulation and diminish the barrier between public and private spaces.

Courtesy Velikov + Thün/RVTR (left), DnA_Design and Architecture (right); courtesy The Architectural League of New York

“Resonance,” was this year’s theme of The Architectural League of New York’s Young Architects Forum. It tackled the question: are architects developing productive ways to engage with today’s global priorities? Beijing- and Issaquah (WA)-based DnA_Design and Architecture attempts to blur the boundaries between the natural and built environment, while Toronto-based RVTR uses a process they call “collective intelligence” to produce zero-emission projects.

DnA_Design and Architecture uses context to mold and form space to create interior landscapes. The Ordos Art Museum in Inner Mongolia creates a circulation pattern that both highlights the works on display and carries the visitor through a series of panoramas and planned interior gardens. Locally quarried stone cladding echoes the forms of the surrounding rocky dunes. As centerpiece of a massive new city in Inner Mongolia, featuring hundreds of thousands of square feet of new housing, studio, and educational spaces built in a vast desert, the museum will feature contemporary Chinese artists and designers. Ordos city is being developed by more than 100 young firms from 27 countries, made possible by a local tycoon.

RVTR works through communication and networking to create architecture that contextualizes ecological awareness. Stressing a creative process that integrates mixed media and video, principals Geoffrey Thün and Kathy Velikov argue that they are able to provide a product that responds intimately to client’s desires while reducing its ecological impact. In the Buenos Aires Pampas House, RVTR designed an international recreational retreat for a globetrotting client that maintains zero-carbon emissions. The complex offers open spaces interspersed with organically-shaped penetrating and extending chambers for specialized functions, ranging from outdoor sport viewing stations to interior chambers where sommeliers may cultivate their palates.

Highlighting their ecological concern, Thün and Velikov presented their Venice Lagoon competition entry. What they call “buoyant aquacology,” RVTR proposed a way to save Venice from rising sea levels by building on the lagoon itself. Floating barges contain algae that create food and fuel for their inhabitants. The vessels attempt to provide life in a world where humans coexist with nature rather than subjugate it.