Monday, March 14, 2011

UAE Federal National Council

New home for UAE Federal National Council blends traditional local heritage with 'global contemporary aspirations'

California-based Ehrlich Architects has beaten off stiff competition from fellow shortlisters Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects and Massimiliano Fukas Architects to secure first place in an international architectural competition to design the United Arab Emirates Federal National Council’s (FNC) New Parliament Building Complex.

Located on the waterfront on processional boulevard Abu Dhabi Corniche, the striking facility will be visible for miles across the water shared by six of the seven Emirates. A vast dome dubbed the ‘flower of the desert’ forms the key focus of the New Parliament Building Complex at 100m in diameter. At nightfall this arching structure will be lit from the inside, creating a shining beacon to the neighbouring Emirates as it reflects across the water. During the day, the shelter will form its own shaded micro-climate, casting Islamic patterns of dappled light onto the white marble Assembly Hall.

Flanking this dome are multiple Parliamentary buildings which house the bulk of the office and administrative services, meeting halls and visitors’ programme, richly toned in hues inspired by the surrounding natural elements – namely the desert sand. Ehrlich Architects’ Design Principal, Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, RIBA explains: “The New Parliament Building Complex will balance Islamic Heritage with U.A.E.’s global contemporary aspirations, where modernity and tradition are in harmonious balance. The architecture for the FNC’s new home will communicate its increasingly vital role in the lives of all United Arab Emirates citizens.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fishers Island, New York, United States - Box within a box

Garden pavilion for Fishers Island residence doubles as home for private artworks

Caught in a private spread of manicured foliage on Fishers Island, New York stands a delicately transparent pavilion. Its light-filtering trellis - a horizontal tracery of slender aluminum rods extending the roof plane - aligns with the canopy of trees before it. Architecture of subtlety, this quasi weightless structure is carefully planted between two existing wooded plains.

The pavilion's interior floor plane - fully visible through the glassy, Miesian shell - continues outward, its surface of bonised bamboo transformed into an exterior plinth of Indian black granite. The entry axis penetrates the pavilion's simple 4,600 sq ft volume, notching into its far side and emerging as a long, shallow reflecting pool.

A perimeter path lines the structure's transparent shell. Freestanding in parallel alignment, the interior walls never meet the enclosure. Instead, they form a virtual box within a box, an implied inner volume.

A one-bedroom retreat for a former museum director and his wife, this crystal pavilion is also home to a plethora of 20th century paintings, sculptures, and glassware. The artwork always figures into view out, even if only peripherally. Conversely, from the gardens, this colourful indoor collection projects a presence outdoors.

An arcing swath of vibrant yellow sedum in the garden resonates with the golden footbridge in a Chinese screen inside; a mossy rock garden projects into the pavilion's simple volume, while the bedroom nestles into a private apse of garden vegetation.