Tag Archives: Architects news

Architecture News Update

Here at Q-CAD architectural drafting services, we like to stay apprised of interesting news in the world of architecture. Here are some recent stories that piqued our interest, and which show some exciting developments in the architecture around the world.

Tijuana Architecture School Hopes to Reshape City

When most Americans hear “Tijuana,” they don’t usually think about institutions of higher learning. The city is famous both north and south of the border for being a hot spot of tourism and general debauchery, its name a shorthand for shady activities and less than reputable people. Of course, there is much more to the city than its questionable reputation would imply. In fact, one three-story building in the heart of the city’s red light district is providing something entirely different: an education in architecture.

The school, known as the Escuela Libre de Arquitectura, accepted its first class in the fall of 2014. According to architect and founder Jorge Gracia, the intention behind the school is to train locals in the ways of building and design, with the hope that they will then stay in the area and apply their knowledge to the eventual transformation of the city.

As Tijuana has become an important stop on North American trade routes, the city’s culture has flourished, leading it to become a hotbed of Mexican artistic innovation. According to Gracia, however, the city’s cultural development has been sadly lacking when it comes to architecture. As the city has grown, new expansions have been haphazardly added to the city’s outskirts, contrasting with what Gracia calls the local context. By teaching locals the hands-on skills they will need to become builders of their own, the school aims to empower Tijuana residents with the ability to reshape their own city while still preserving its unique flavor and identity.[i]

2015 United States Artists Fellowship Winners Include 2 Architects

Since 2006, the United States Artists (USA) organization has awarded $50,000 fellowships to artists and designers across multiple disciplines, including visual arts, theater, dance, and design. Among this year’s list of 37 new fellows are two architects, Jonathan Muecke and Chat Travieso.

Muecke is a graduate of Iowa State University who gained attention for his work with the firm Design Miami. He specializes in contemporary design, with an emphasis on reimagining furniture. The other architect to receive the award, Travieso, focusses on the design of public spaces.[ii]

United States Artists was founded in 2006 through funding by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations, with a mission to alleviate the lack of unrestricted funding available to artists in the U.S. According to the selection criteria, fellows are chosen through a rigorous screening process that identifies artists and designers who display originality in their work and represent the diverse spectrum of artistic practices in the United States.[iii]

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  1. http://curbed.com/archives/2015/11/16/tijuana-architecture-school-jorge-gracia-escuela-libre-de-arquitectura.php
  2. http://www.archdaily.com/776993/2-architects-among-recipients-of-50000-dollars-united-states-artists-fellowship
  3. http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/about-2/

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Architecture Firm Creates Apartments from Shipping Containers

Architects have long experimented with using different materials to build houses. Even in that light, however, a recent building project by architectural firm StarkJames Architecture is a surprising one. Using 16 decommissioned shipping containers, architect Brian Stark has created a complex of eight apartments in Phoenix, Arizona, complete with all the expected modern amenities. Measuring 740 square feet, these unexpected apartments rent for $1,000 a month, and have a wait list at least 150 names long.

A Solid Foundation

While some people might reflexively balk at the idea of living in a discarded shipping container, the idea isn’t as questionable as it seems. According to architect Brian Stark, the outer shell of the containers is much stronger than a typical housing construction. Thanks to their sturdy construction, these shipping containers provide a higher default level of protection than standard house building materials. In fact, Stark says that shipping containers have already found use as housing spaces in Europe; his is simply the first instance of their being converted to apartments in the U.S.

Aside from that, the interiors of the apartments are hardly lacking compared to modern expectations for what a livable housing space should include. Aside from the bathrooms, which are contained in an attached structure to allow for easier plumbing installation, each apartment is formed from two shipping containers, the thick walls of which provide a level of insulation beyond that found in a typical house.

An Affordable Housing Solution?

According to Stark, his plans did cause some puzzlement and trepidation at the City of Phoenix Development Services before the plans were finally approved. Now that they’ve been installed, however, these offbeat housing units have met with approval from both city mayor Greg Stanton and local residents who are now neighbors with people living in shipping containers. Additionally, StarkJames Architecture has already begun drafting plans to build another similar structure even larger than the current one.

Now that the idea has proven usable, the idea of using existing shipping containers to construct affordable housing units may gain more traction. According to official reports, port cities across the country house hundreds of thousands of decommissioned shipping containers. If every set of two of those containers were combined to create a new apartment like has been done in Phoenix, it could create thousands upon thousands of new housing units, each of which could be installed with less work and resources than building a new structure from scratch.

Is Phoenix’s new shipping container apartment complex a part of a trend, or just an architectural curiosity? Only time will tell. Even if the idea never catches on, however, it still presents an intriguing look at how a little ingenuity can lead to creative advances in architectural thinking.

Q-CAD is an architectural firm specializing in the use of CAD architectural drafting. Contact us today at 800-700-3305 for more information on our methods and how we can help you bring your projects to life.



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Architects news

School Uses Architecture to Improve Student Health

There has been lots of talk in recent years about the childhood obesity epidemic (the number of obese children is three times larger today than it was in the 1980s), and how schools can do more to promote healthy habits in kids. In response to the problem, some schools have focused on increased physical education and more mandatory exercise, while others have made moves to alter school menus and do more to encourage healthy eating. One school, however, is using another tool – architecture – to fight back against subpar childhood nutrition.

With the help of a team of public health researchers, a rural Virginia elementary school has redesigned much of its dining area, with all the changes meant to subtly promote more healthy eating habits in kids and turn them away from junk food and poor dietary choices. Changes included adding a teaching kitchen where kids can learn to prepare healthy meals, adding storage space for local fresh fruit and vegetables, creating a school garden, making the kitchen visible to kids so they can watch their meals being prepared, and even a change as simple as redesigning the checkout line so that the children’s line of vision would fall on healthier food options.

Other changes include adding more walking paths and staircases, removing deep fryers, and flexible furniture that allows for more movement when sitting. By making these changes, the school hopes that alterations in the environment kids spend their days in can make a change to many of the unconscious and unconsidered behaviors that lead to childhood health problems.

The Subtle Effect of Environment on Behavior

When planning the changes, the school and its team of public health specialists consulted many studies on architecture, behavior, and the interaction between the two to find as many ways as possible that building design can be used to affect behavior. According to Matt Towbridge, an associate professor at the University of Virginia who helped with the designs, these effects should not be underestimated – the design of a building can do as much toward promoting healthy behavior in children as PE class. When a building is designed to promote healthy behavior, it instills good habits and promotes an active lifestyle, often without the people involved even noticing. Many lifelong habits are picked up in childhood, so using building design to influence those habits positively at a young age is especially effective. In the words of Towbridge, “It’s so much better to help prevent children from becoming obese than to try to help adults lose weight.”

Given the known effect that architecture and landscape design can have on behavior (and that adults are just as affected by America’s obesity problem as children), will other organizations aside from school districts begin experimenting in using building design to encourage positive behavior? While the extent of this movement toward attitude adjustment via aesthetic design is far from mainstream, it may only be a matter of time before more businesses, building firms, and other organizations start using this Virginia school’s example of how it can use space and layout to encourage better habits.

Q-Cad’s team of architecture and 3D drafting experts are waiting for your call! Contact us today at 800-700-3305.


  • http://www.fastcoexist.com/3049572/how-smarter-school-architecture-can-help-kids-eat-healthier-food

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