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design strategies + innovative technologies that promote a sustainable built environment
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BIG's Smithsonian Plan is the Latest Museum Design to Go Underground

BIG's Smithsonian Plan is the Latest Museum Design to Go Underground | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) plan for the Smithsonian follows a current trend in museum design to put things underground. The strategy makes sense on several levels. First, it preserves public open space. Second, it avoids making monuments that can make art precincts seem forbidding and inaccessible, as well as sidestepping approval processes in which authorities or neighbors might object to new buildings. Third, it lets institutions connect spaces below ground, and then pop up objects to catch light and signal the museum's presence. Finally, it makes a certain amount of sense from a sustainability standpoint to reuse the land by placing functions underneath public space and using the earth for insulation.

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Metz Museum by Shigeru Ban

Metz Museum by Shigeru Ban | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Shigeru Ban says that in designing the idiosyncratic new construction, he was inspired by the “architecture” of traditional Chinese hats woven from rice straw.

The offices, with their large, smooth windows, were accommodated in the angular transoms of Centre Pompidou in Metz, and appear to have been pushed into the hat. These white cubes were highlighted by the flatness of the Alucobond® elements in pure white. The new 10,000- square metre centre for the arts in north eastern France does not exhibit any collection of its own but makes use of works stored at the Paris centre, which, with more than 65,000 works, owns the largest collection of contemporary and modern art in Europe.

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Aspen Art Museum, Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects

Aspen Art Museum, Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

The Aspen Art Museum, Shigeru Ban's first museum in the U.S., is designed to be part–environmental center, part–ski lift.

The $45 million structure, currently under construction in downtown Aspen, is emblematic of post-recession restraint. “Museums have to be very practical,” Ban says. “They can’t just be sculpture.” And in keeping with that ethos, the architect has delivered a simple three-story structure free of tight angles, ovoid shapes, or curving walls. This includes half a dozen galleries, an artist residency area, education spaces, and conservation studios, all told occupying a total 33,000 square feet. The galleries are large and column-free, with flexible partition walls capable of accommodating large-scale sculpture and installation. The rooftop garden functions as entrance hall, public gathering area, and outdoor projection space. “The program was so precise,” Ban says. “There was no space to waste.”

More details at the link.

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The Kimbell’s Stylish, Sustainable New Addition

The Kimbell’s Stylish, Sustainable New Addition | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it
The Kimbell Art Museum’s new addition, the Renzo Piano Pavilion, bears the name of its architect and demonstrates the happy coexistence of sustainability and physical beauty.

The $135 million Piano Pavilion was commissioned to serve one of the most revered museum buildings in the country, designed by architect Louis Kahn, and Mr. Piano’s pavilion design aims to complement Kahn’s monumental modernist aesthetic, his fondness for concrete and emphasis on light. What Mr. Piano’s pavilion adds to the conversation is a stress on contemporary sustainability practices.

“The Kahn building is famous for its natural light,” Mr. Piano said. “But that was a natural lighting system designed in the late ’60s and ’70s. Technologies have advanced considerably since then. We needed to capitalize on the new technologies and make a design that is more flexible and responsive to the issues of today, like sustainability.”


“Designing for energy savings is not an ‘add on,’ ” Mr. Piano said in an October Kimbell Art Museum publicity release, “but, rather, the proper way to build.”

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Green Rooftop Spruces Up ‘Museum Of Art’ In Seoul

Green Rooftop Spruces Up ‘Museum Of Art’ In Seoul | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

It is hard to find a green space in a big city, so the firm SAMOO Architects and Engineers decided to incorporate a rooftop garden into the Buk Seoul Museum of Art. 

The environmentally friendly, geometric rooftops filter rainwater and insulate the museum, while its quirky shapes invite people to experience art on the rooftop gardens. 

Visit the link to take a closer look at this eco-friendly museum. 

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Duane Craig's curator insight, July 26, 2013 9:18 AM

They also become a sort of oasis in a sea of concrete and asphalt.

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Ecology and Planning Museum by Steven Holl in Tianjin, China's New Eco-City

Ecology and Planning Museum by Steven Holl in Tianjin, China's New Eco-City | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Steven Holl Architects has been commissioned to design the Ecology and Planning Museum in Tianjin,China – the new Eco-City is planned the to be the home to population of 500,000 when completed in 2020. 60,000 square meters in total, the museum structure will be the first in the cultural district.


Marking the entrance to the Planning Museum, shared public plaza gathers the visitors around the large model of the eco-city and a temporary display area, further directed to the exquisite space experience of great interiors and program sequences. The top storey facilitates the green architecture, landscape and water resources exhibits and the access to the vegetative rooftop, offering panoramic views to the future city.

Interconnected by underground service zone area and further connected to the central business district of Eco-City by a high speed tram, this museum development represents the initial space experience of the cultural district of this “poster-city for state-of-the-art sustainable aspects”, rising from the Bohai Bay...

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Daylighting + Innovative Facade Technology at the Nantong Museum by Henn Architekten

Daylighting + Innovative Facade Technology at the Nantong Museum by Henn Architekten | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

As part of the master plan designed by HENN, the new Nantong Urban Planning Museum is located prominently along the central river.

The museum is characterized as a floating volume, resting on a glass pedestal, with space for special exhibitions, a café and bookstore. The overall dominant form which cantilevers above the glass entry contains the primary exhibition space, offices, and conference rooms.
Its distinctive façade is composed of two layers: the inner thermally seals the building envelope, and the outer is a reticulated metal structure with varied panels. The façade’s diamond-shaped grid is comprised of seven different panels that allow for varying degrees of opening from 9%-60%. This provides for the controlled regulation of sunlight in fine increments, to accommodate the needs of the interior program. The exhibition spaces are therefore, characterized by a predominantly closed façade with minimal openings, and the offices with maximum levels of natural daylight...

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San Francisco's new Exploratoruim science museum seeks net-zero energy goal

San Francisco's new Exploratoruim science museum seeks net-zero energy goal | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

When the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco relocates next spring to a new $220-million waterside home, visitors no doubt will marvel first at the spectacular views of San Francisco Bay from the building's perch on Piers 15 and 17.


Less noticeable is the network of heating, cooling, water-use and other systems that assist in achieving the goal of net-zero energy use—a lofty target for a major museum.

The new 422,166-sq-ft Exploratorium will be nearly three times larger than the museum's current facility at the landmark Palace of Fine Arts.

The new building also could be the largest net-zero energy museum in the world, according to Nibbi Brothers, San Francisco, the project's general contractor.


Stop by the link to learn more about the city's new Exploratorium and how the project team plans on achieving the high energy-efficiency goals through green design strategies, innovative technologies and renewable energy systems...

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Natural History Museum of Utah / Ennead Architects

Natural History Museum of Utah / Ennead Architects | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

The design for the new Natural History Museum of Utah embodies the Museum’s mission to illuminate the natural world through scientific inquiry, educational outreach, mutual cultural experience and human engagement of the present, past and future of the region and the world. Positioned literally and figuratively at the threshold of nature and culture, the building is a trailhead to the region and a trailhead to science. Utah’s singular landscape and the ways in which humans have engaged its varied character over time are the touchstone for an architecture that expresses the State’s cultural and natural contexts. Together with the interpretive exhibit program and landscape design, the architecture is intended to create an inspirational visitor experience and sponsor curiosity and inquiry.

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The New Dali Museum: Sustainable, Beautiful & Designed to Withstand the Elements

The New Dali Museum: Sustainable, Beautiful & Designed to Withstand the Elements | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it
Visitors have always traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to experience the Dali Museum since it opened in 1980. In January of this year, 2011, the New Dali Museum opened and is receiving an exceptional response.
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'Low Rise Waves': Science Hills Komatsu by Mari Ito

'Low Rise Waves':  Science Hills Komatsu by Mari Ito | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

On the former site of the Komatsu construction and mining equipment factory in Komatsu city, Ishikawa, Japan, Mari Ito / UAO has created the Science Hills science museum and communication center, a complex of four “low-rise waves”.

“The complex itself is constructed of four low-rise waves blending into the surrounding relatively low-rise buildings, and also into the backdrop of faraway grand peaks.” say the architects. “The Science Museum is located under the waves and consists of a 3D dome theater, a science experience learning center, a local industrial promotion center, and an incubation center.”

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Sengukan Museum, Japan by A. Kuryu Architect & Lighting Planners Associates

Sengukan Museum, Japan by A. Kuryu Architect & Lighting Planners Associates | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Tokyo architect Akira Kuryu designed an Ise Shrine Sengu museum where, for the first time, visitors are able to view large-scale models of and artifacts salvaged from the buildings. Because he needed good lighting to accentuate the displays, Kuryu turned to the Tokyo-based Lighting Planners Associates (LPA).

LPA developed an illumination plan that creates a series of contrasting light and dark spaces. “Merging natural and artificial light was the most important consideration,” says lighting designer Kaoru Mende. Blending the two enabled the museum to rely on daylight during its hours of operation (it closes at 4 p.m., except on special holidays), so visitors are able to view the displays as if in the shrine's natural setting.

By paying close attention to the sun's daily cycle, keeping the installed lighting elements to a minimum building-wide and fine-tuning the intensity of each one, LPA makes it seem as if there are barely any lights at all.

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Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust by Belzberg Architects

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust by Belzberg Architects | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

From the architect. 

The new building for the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) is located within a public park, adjacent to the existing Los Angeles Holocaust Memorial.  Paramount to the design strategy is the integration of the building into the surrounding open, park landscape. The museum is submerged into the ground allowing the park’s landscape to continue over the roof of the structure.  Existing park pathways are used as connective elements to integrate the pedestrian flow of the park with the new circulation for museum visitors.

By maintaining the material pallet of the park and extending it onto the museum, the hues and textures of concrete and vegetation blend with the existing material palette of Pan Pacific Park. Designed and constructed with sustainable systems and materials, the LAMOTH building is on track to receive a LEED Gold Certification from the US Green Building Council.

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Lola Ripollés's curator insight, January 19, 4:26 AM

Interior/exterior, un edificio que se posa con delicadeza en el parque que lo acoge. Si te gusta el exterior, te encantará el interior. Con formas rotundas y limpias, y unas sorprendentes ventanas, un edificio que nos devuelve a el "paseo arquitectónico" del Corbu. Además un edificio que ha recibido la medalla de oro LEED.

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'Integrated into the Landscape' - BIG Set to Build Blåvand Bunker Museum

'Integrated into the Landscape' - BIG Set to Build Blåvand Bunker Museum | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Set to transform a former German WWII bunker carved into the banks of Blåvand, Denmark, BIG’s Blåvand Bunker Museum is a 2,500 square meter museum that will include four independent institutions: a bunker museum, an amber museum, a history museum and a special exhibitions gallery.

“Contrary to the existing closed concrete lump, the new museum will, in its architecture, function as an open heart integrated into the landscape,” Bjarke Ingels described. “The museum is in every way the opposite of the militant history with its more closed, dark and heavy features.”

“Organized around an open central square, the galleries allow much light and will give magnificent views to the surrounding countryside,” he continued. “The bunker is a war machine without holes for doors and windows and rejects all humanity. In contrast, the museum is integrated into the landscape and invites visitors inside.”

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New York Library / TEN Arquitectos

New York Library / TEN Arquitectos | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

In a neighborhood of high-end retail and luxury residences, this new branch library will fulfill a much needed role as a public space and touchstone for the local community and visiting tourists across from the Museum of Modern Art. 

Despite the library’s site being predominantly below grade and set at the base of a new 40-story hotel, this design proposal transforms the dark, subterranean space into an inviting, open and light-filled civic landscape in the heart of Manhattan...

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Becky Poisson's curator insight, May 20, 2013 12:10 PM

Don't know if it is practical to retrofit but it is a clever use of space and creates accessibility at a somewhat non-technical level.

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Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Perot Museum of Nature and Science | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Museums, armatures for collective societal experience and cultural expression, present new ways of interpreting the world.


As our global environment faces ever more critical challenges, a broader understanding of the interdependence of natural systems is becoming more essential to our survival and evolution. Museums dedicated to nature and science play a key role in expanding our understanding of these complex systems.

The new Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Victory Park will create a distinct identity for the Museum, enhance the institution’s prominence in Dallas and enrich the city’s evolving cultural fabric. Designed to engage a broad audience, invigorate young minds, and inspire wonder and curiosity in the daily lives of its visitors, the Museum will cultivate a memorable experience that will persist in the minds of its visitors and that will ultimately broaden indi- viduals’ and society’s understanding of nature and science.


The Museum will strive to achieve the highest standards of sustainability possible for a building of its type. High performance design and incorporation of state of the art technologies will yield a new building that will minimize its impact on the environment.

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Sustainable Technology at the National Museum of Art, Architecture & Design in Oslo, Norawy

Sustainable Technology at the National Museum of Art, Architecture & Design in Oslo, Norawy | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

The new Museum of Modern Art needed to address the role and function of art in Oslo's city center, as a place for the interpretation of both the historical and contemporary reality. The museum uses twisted geometry standing on a massive footing to introduce series of event spaces, from landscape to interior exhibition to roofscape.

Facing the water front the massing rises and pedestrians are invited into the area through multiple accesses on the landscape, leading to the radial center of the museum lobby. The volume creates a protected plaza, or canopy for temporary outside exhibitions.


Sustainability: The technology came in the form of self-compacting concrete in which chemical additives are introduced into the concrete mix, significantly increasing its workability without any resultant loss in strength. The project is conceived like a bridge. Sustainable design integrates environmental, economic, and social issues of sustainability together with users’ goals and needs. The NMAAD Museum employs sustainable design to reduce energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage water conservation, and provide high indoor environmental quality.

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Montreal’s Biosphere Environmental Museum Resides Inside Massive Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome

Montreal’s Biosphere Environmental Museum Resides Inside Massive Buckminster Fuller Geodesic Dome | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it
Looking like Epcot Center in Disney World, Montreal’s Biosphere is a museum dedicated to the environment. Originally built as the United States pavilion for the 1967 World Fair Expo, the dome was repurposed into the museum in 1990.

The interactive museum initially showcased the water ecosystem of the Great Lakes region, but has since expanded to encompasses environmental issues such as climate change, air, eco-technologies and sustainable development.

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Brooks + Scarpa’s Contemporary Art Museum Canopy in Raleigh

Brooks + Scarpa’s Contemporary Art Museum Canopy in Raleigh | sustainable architecture | Scoop.it

Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum chose its new home in the city’s Depot District carefully. Located in a former produce warehouse, the project calls attention to the city’s history of railroad transportation and red brick architecture while emphasizing its commitment to sustainability and adaptive reuse. Led by Brooks + Scarpa Architects, the project included renovation of the existing 21,000-square-foot structure and the addition of a 900-square-foot entry pavilion. The glass-enclosed lobby reinterprets the location of the original building’s loading dock with an expanded and folded canopy that announces the building’s new purpose and balances the effect of daylight on its interiors.

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