Studio MK27 located in the chaotic city of São Paulo was founded in the late 70’s by architect Marcio Kogan and today is comprised of 56 members and various collaborators worldwide. The team, coordinated by four directors, constitutes three main squads. Diana Radomysler, Marcio’s partner since the 90s, is the author of the interior design projects and coordinates its team.
We have talked to Diana about Studio Mk27’s project Flat #6 which won the Interior Design of the Year 2023 award at the BLT Built Design Awards.
Flat #6, designed by Marcio Kogan, Diana Radomysler, Luciana Antunes, and Mariana Ruzante, is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends Brazilian vintage design and woods. The interiors feature generous windows, lace curtains, and a thoughtful integration of living spaces, fostering a joyful family experience. The project’s attention to detail is evident in every aspect, from basaltine stone flooring to ipê wood panels.
Join us on a journey into the thoughtfulness and creativity behind Studio MK27’s Flat #6.
Photo Credit: Fran Parente and Christian Møller Andersen
Can you please tell us about your background? How did design come to have such an important role in your life?
Actually, I went for architecture without being much aware of what was architecture. I liked to draw, liked maths, and thought that the only school that could interest me was architecture.
Since I was little, I’ve enjoyed walking around the city with my parents. I am an only child, and my parents were foreigners; I am the first generation born in Brazil. They would go to downtown São Paulo and tell me a bit of the city’s history, take a look at buildings that looked like the ones from the cities they used to live in Europe… I had a connection with the city, with its buildings, they were how my parents told me their story.
What’s the core concept behind Flat #6’s design, and how did Brazilian vintage vibes influence the overall aesthetic?
Our project had the premise to create integrated settings and a strong relationship between spaces and the residents. Therefore, the covered terrace that embraces the living room, mediates the dialogue between the more intimate spaces and the unobstructed view of Sao Paulo’s skyline.
We also wanted to create a warm and solemn atmosphere throughout the apartment, where the fixed furniture – specially designed for the place – was in line with classical design objects, found in antique shops or already owned by the client. Brazilian modern furniture pieces bring the richness of different national woods and the elegance of forms.
The design of Flat #6 is a combination of textures with sharp forms. What’s the meaning behind this juxtaposition?
At the beginning of our work, Studio MK27 designed several white and aseptic projects. Gama Issa House is a good example of that moment.
In 2001, a new client asked for a house that couldn’t be white. At that moment, we started to experiment with the assembly of different natural materials. This experience ended up guiding our architecture after that.
The combination of modernist architecture with organic materials brought life to our designs. And that is important.
How does light influence the design and contribute to the ambiance of the residence, especially the golden light filtered with lace curtains?
As we are from Brazil, a tropical country where heat and light can be unwelcome in some periods and extremely suitable in others, being able to “move” light has always seemed fascinating. By doing so we work with the protective side of shadows while we bring a certain dynamism to our architecture.
Developed by the owner herself, the perforated artisanal fabric of the curtains acts like a soft mashrabya, filtering the sunlight and creating shadow drawings throughout the apartment.
Drawing with shadows, using light almost as a touchable material, is part of an attempt to create an atmosphere, to highlight the tactile dimension of spaces.
Photo Credit: Fran Parente and Christian Møller Andersen
Were there any challenges you faced while designing Flat #6? How did you overcome them?
The original apartment project (delivered by the developer) was very compartmentalized and ”lost” a lot of space with residual internal circulation spaces/passageways, therefore, the main challenge was to rearrange the original plan in order to create larger spaces.
Studio Mk27 has been in the architecture field since the 70s. How has your design philosophy evolved over the years and what aspirations do you have for the studio in the coming years?
We like the idea of trying to improve and change with simplicity, gentleness, and elegance. That’s is our motto: top evolve with simplicity, and collaborative work, allowing young architects to have an active voice and a creative role; trying to invest in new research at the studio: wood structure, sustainability, etc.
Flat #6 won the “Interior Design of the Year” prize at the BLT Built Design Awards, congratulations! How does winning this award impact Studio Mk27 and its future projects?
I guess Flat #6 project exemplifies a number of mk27’s main premises: the value of detailing, the constant search for enlargement of spaces and the choice of natural and tactile materials, that bring architecture closer to our bodies. Therefore, it’s an honor to be recognized by BLT Built Design Awards with this project, it means we are on the right path.
What advice would you give to young designers aiming to make a mark in the world of interior design?
Good design is timeless. Technology will be more present, during conception and construction, but the result should aim to be timeless.
The BLT Built Design Awards, a prestigious celebration of innovation and excellence in architecture and design, took center stage at the iconic KKL Luzern, Switzerland, last Saturday, November 18th. The gala event, set against the stunning backdrop of KKL Luzern’s architectural brilliance, showcased the industry’s top talents and their remarkable contributions.
The evening commenced with an inspiring opening speech by Dominic Sturm, the President of the Swiss Design Association (SDA), setting the tone for an evening of recognition and celebration. The event featured an illustrious list of attendees, showcasing the diversity and excellence within the global design community. Among the prominent figures in attendance were: Rubén Navarro – Casas Inhaus, Oliver Schütte – A-01 (A Company / A Foundation), Mohammad Rahimizadeh – Kalbod Design Studio, John Lloyd – Studson, Yvonne Dollega – Gronych + Dollega Architekten, Mathias Haas – Kaufmann Haas & Partner Zt Kg, Marcel Eberharter – EBERHARTER Innenarchitektur & Gesamteinrichtung, Ingrid Rodrigues – |.iR 15 | arquitetura, Raulino Silva – Raulino Silva Arquitecto, Anna Chincoli – ALTER EGO Project Group and many more.
Awarded with the “Design of the Year”, the winners recipients included:
Antoine Trannoy, board member of Kebony, representing Tubmarine/Kebony, honored for the groundbreaking Tubmarine and Kebony Wood, receiving the prestigious Construction Product of the Year 2021 award.
Yi Brick by Caroline Cheng and Karl Yin of Yi Design Company Limited emerged as the triumph in the Construction Product of the Year 2022 category.
Zaha Hadid Architects claimed the spotlight with the magnificent BEEAH Headquarters, securing the Architecture of the Year 2022 award, accepted by Sergio Mutis.
The architectural marvel Haus Balma by Kengo Kuma & Associates / Truffer Ag, led by Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi, clinched the Architecture of the Year 2023 award.
In the realm of interior design, Studio MK27’s Flat 6 designed by Marcio Kogan, Diana Radomysler, Luciana Antunes, and Mariana Ruzante earned the prestigious Interior Design of the Year 2023 accolade, received by André Simas Magalhães.
Catherine Mosbach of Mosbach Paysagistes received the Landscape Architecture of the Year 2023 award for the transformative Phase Shifts Park.
Ali Yesil of RENCO USA claimed the spotlight in the Construction Product of the Year 2023 category with the groundbreaking entry Renco USA.
The Pathways to Unknown, a visionary project by Mariam Abbadi of Applied Science University, earned her the title of Emerging Architect of the Year 2021.
The Emerging Landscape Architect of the Year 2023 was awarded to Gabriel Velasco from Savannah College of Art and Design for the Octavarium.
The awards were presented by an esteemed jury panel, including Stanislas Helou, the founder of Thinking Luxury, Colleen Cocotos, Senior Lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and Anna Grichting Solder, an architect, urbanist, and musician at Bordermeetings Switzerland and graduated with a Doctor of Design in Urbanism from Harvard University.
Reflecting on the gala, Hossein Farmani, co-founder of 3C Awards, expressed, “The BLT Built Design Awards Gala was an extraordinary display of design brilliance, showcasing the dynamic nature of the industry. Witnessing these visionary designers redefine our spaces was truly inspiring. We’re privileged to be part of a celebration that pushes the boundaries of creative excellence.”
Astrid Hebert, co-founder of 3C Awards, added, “The atmosphere at the BLT Built Design Awards Gala was truly electric. Gathering the best minds in the industry under one roof was a standout moment. The entire event pulsated with the dynamic energy of the design world’s absolute best.”
Following the awards ceremonies, attendees were treated to a sumptuous cocktail dinner reception—a perfect opportunity for professionals to connect, share insights, and revel in the shared passion for innovation and creative expression. The atmosphere was truly festive, ensuring everyone had a delightful time and adding to the overall experience of the evening. As the night concluded, the excitement lingered, and the BLT Awards are already gearing up for another spectacular event. Stay tuned for updates on submission dates for 2024 at bltawards.com to be a part of the next chapter in celebrating outstanding design achievements.
With an illustrious career spanning over five decades, Mr. Thomas P. Murphy, Jr. has not only shaped the skyline of Florida but has been at the forefront of transformative projects that have redefined the very essence of construction. As the Co-Founder of RENCO, he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. Notable projects, including the Ocean Reef Club, The Surf Club/Four Seasons, and the Ritz Carlton SoBe, stand testament to his commitment to excellence.
This year, RENCO’s groundbreaking work in construction design has been recognized with the prestigious Construction Product Design of the Year. In this exclusive interview, we delve into Mr. Murphy’s remarkable journey, exploring the milestones that have shaped his career and the innovative ethos that propels RENCO to the forefront of the industry.
Join us to explore his design philosophy, strategic vision, and the driving force behind RENCO’s innovative approach to construction and design.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I started my career in construction more than 50 years ago while attending the University of Miami. I became the youngest person in Florida’s history to earn my contractor’s license at the age of 19. By the time I was 20, I started my own company, which eventually became Seaboard Construction, and sold it to Turner Construction Company almost 20 years later.
Growing restless, in 1988, I founded Coastal Construction on the principles of Best in Class Quality, Integrity and Transparency, with the goal of becoming “The Most Preferred Contractor in Florida.” Today, Coastal Construction is one of the leading general contractors in Florida, with more than $4 billion in active commercial and residential projects.
After more than five decades of being a builder, I’m now on a mission to revolutionize the construction industry. With RENCO, we are introducing a whole new way to build that’s faster, stronger, more sustainable and more affordable than traditional methods.
What was the inspiration or philosophy behind the RENCO? How did you get the idea of developing a new type of structural building system?
For the past century, the construction industry hasn’t really changed much, and I knew that innovation was lacking. Structures were only designed and built using wood, concrete, or steel. With RENCO, we were able to look at a new material that has a much smaller environmental impact, which is important to me.
As we see the industry facing historic supply chain issues, labor shortages and record-high material prices, we’re even more interested in bringing out a simpler and more sustainable way to build.
I teamed up with some of the brightest minds in the construction industry. Together, we have more than 100 years of experience and have built more than $10 billion in structures. We had a wealth of knowledge and a strong belief that we could shape the future of building.
What makes the RENCO so different from other building systems?
What makes RENCO stand out is its simplicity- basically real-life LEGOs, but they’re far stronger and more durable. The building industry hasn’t seen anything like this before.
RENCO uses a simple interlocking system, which accelerates the rate of construction. Instead of taking years to build large developments, we can now finish projects in months.
RENCO is short for “renewable composites,” and it uses a composite material that blends stone, recycled glass, recycled plastic, and resin. It performs better than traditional building materials with wind, seismic, water, and termites, and it’s a fraction of the weight.
Our building system can be customized to almost any design – top to bottom—from joists to the roof, to blocks for the walls, to decking for the floors. A small crew with no specialized training then quickly assembles the building using color-coded plans with just a mallet and glue gun.
As the construction industry faces a labor shortage of more than a half-million workers, RENCO is an innovative solution. Because it’s easy to assemble with color-coded plans, it opens us up to an entirely new labor market and can encourage more people to get into construction to offset the shortage of workers. Not only that, but its higher speed and lower cost mean developers can build more affordable housing, more quickly.
Another issue facing the construction industry is the increase of devastating storms. As a native Floridian, I’ve seen the destruction from hurricanes firsthand, and I believe we can innovate to make a difference. RENCO is a solution because it’s more durable, faster, and less expensive than concrete, wood, or steel. It’s also better for the environment; fully recyclable; and resistant to hurricanes, earthquakes, fire, pests, and mold. Because of these factors, RENCO structures are also easier to insure, which is essential as property insurance rates rise across the nation.
RENCO is currently approved to be used in Seismic Design Categories A and B, and you are currently researching further to become approved in the Seismic Design Categories C and D. What do you feel would be the next step for the RENCO Structural Building System?
We are expecting to achieve C, D, and E by the end of 2023. The next step for RENCO is also getting approvals to build up to eight stories.
Such an intricate and logistical project must come with its challenges. Can you share with us some of the biggest difficulties you’ve encountered while creating RENCO?
One of the greatest challenges facing RENCO is “change” itself and this mindset within the construction industry that we should just keep doing things the same old way. That’s why we took more than a decade to develop the system and bring it to market. It’s completed more than 400 tests in labs across the country to achieve approval for use under the International Building Code.
We believe that by changing how we build, we can make homes stronger, more affordable, and more sustainable. As natural disasters worsen and property insurance rates skyrocket, now is the time to innovate so we can create homes that can withstand storms and are easier to insure. And as America faces a housing affordability crisis, RENCO offers a solution to make building more affordable so that more people can achieve the dream of homeownership.
In which way does the RENCO system align with sustainable construction practices? What procedures did you take to minimize its environmental impact?
RENCO is an entirely new way to build apartments, offices, and homes without the massive carbon footprint of concrete. Concrete, which is bound together by cement, is a huge source of carbon emissions. In fact, more than 4 billion tons of cement were produced in 2021, contributing 8% of global CO2 emissions, according to the think tank Chatham House.
RENCO uses absolutely no concrete or cement. This is revolutionary and a breakthrough in green construction! Made of recycled materials, RENCO is a patented renewable composite material, made of stone, recycled glass, recycled plastic, and resin.
Because these materials are woven together in a mesh, it’s more flexible and extremely strong- withstanding wind tests in excess of 275 mph. To give an example, think of a bulletproof vest made of Kevlar, another type of synthetic material bonded together. Instead of trying to resist and stop a bullet, Kevlar flexes under impact, but doesn’t break, and it’s much lighter than a steel shield.
RENCO is kind of like a bulletproof vest in storms. It catches the impact but doesn’t shatter. Concrete on the other hand is rigid, and hard, so when it absorbs impact it’s more prone to cracking- especially in seismic events.
Building stronger structures will help reduce our carbon footprint by making homes that last for generations, especially as we face intensifying storms and impacts from climate change. RENCO is rated to last 100+ years, reducing the need to rebuild as often, and RENCO material can even be recycled and reused again.
The reality is that the building and construction sector sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions account for approximately 40% of global GHG emissions. The major contributors to these emissions are the materials used as well as the heating, cooling, and lighting of buildings and infrastructure. A Deloitte report found that using recyclable materials and building resilience against the environmental consequences of climate change are key steps to reducing construction’s carbon footprint. By using recycled materials and increasing building strength, RENCO accomplishes both of these sustainability goals.
What’s next for RENCO USA?
In South Florida, we are cutting the ribbon on the first RENCO housing development, a four-building, 96-unit complex in Palm Beach County. The first tenants have already moved in, and we’re proud to see its success.
We have completed scores of projects internationally and are proud to finish our first stateside project to demonstrate our many advantages over wood, concrete and steel construction, all while being respectful of our surroundings.
Our next step is opening our factory next year, so we can start producing blocks and materials for new sales orders. This will officially launch the expansion of RENCO, allowing more builders to access the technology.
Congratulations on winning the Construction Product Design of the Year prize at the BLT Awards! How does it feel to be recognized for your hard work?
Devoting more than five decades to the construction industry, my entire career has been driven by the pursuit of making a lasting impact. As a builder, I am particularly humbled and honored to receive the award for a new innovative building material. To me it’s not just about business; it’s personal. Winning this award is particularly gratifying because we are setting out to shape the future of construction to make it more sustainable and affordable. This will impact and benefit generations to come.
Which advice would you give to aspiring architects who want to make a significant impact in the field?
First and foremost, I would like to say that I have a strong appreciation for architects and I was honored to have the opportunity to name the University of Miami’s school of architecture after my father.
Architects set the vision for what we build. However, I think it’s important to know that more important than the structures you will build are the relationships you’ll make along the way. To create the best projects, you’ve got to work with the best people. Take care of your team and the people you work with. Commit to excellence and success will follow.
Welcome to an exclusive interview with Takatoku Nishi, a student at Tokyo University of the Arts, whose creative journey is deeply rooted in his fascination with the transitory yet intense beauty of the ever-changing scenes of nature. His unique approach involves capturing the atmospheric optical phenomena found in these fleeting moments and masterfully reconstructing them through the interplay of ‘materials’ and ‘structures.’
Nishi’s outstanding contributions to the field have recently been recognized with his project “Ripple” winning the prestigious Emerging Architect of the Year prize. Join us as we explore Takatoku Nishi’s creative process and influences, and discover how his artwork, including the award-winning “Ripple,” serves as a powerful medium, bringing the awe-inspiring spectacle of nature closer to our understanding and appreciation.
Can you tell us about your background? How did design come to have such an important role in your life?
I developed a strong obsession with buildings due to the influence of having moved more than ten times since childhood, and at the age of nine, he dreamt of becoming an architect. I was a crafty child who liked to make my own playthings and play in familiar natural surroundings such as forests, rice fields, and rivers. I only wanted to do what interested me, and I often rarely went to school. I would lie down on a nearby shrine’s ball fence (Tamagaki) to wait for my friends to return from school. It was then that I felt the sound of the wind blowing, the temperature, the changing sky, sunlight filtering through trees (Komorebi), the smells of the seasons, and the coldness of the stones. These sensations and experiences later became part of my design.
What’s the inspiration behind Ripple? How did you get the idea to use light and wind to create the natural phenomenon of water drops?
The inspiration for this work came from discoveries made through experiments with light. I discovered that passing light through a pipe creates an interesting optical phenomenon. The phenomenon looked exactly like a drop of water. I then started to think about whether I could realize this phenomenon with the movement of sunlight and wind. The method of completing a work by natural forces has always been a main idea for my work. This inevitably led me to this form. This time, I aimed to create a special space created by a combination of certain conditions, like a rainbow created by a natural phenomenon.
Your work is a seamless mixture of art, nature, and humanity. Can you tell us about your personal philosophy when it comes to architecture and design?
I believe that the most beautiful spaces in this world are the fleeting scenes created by nature. For example, the view at sunset always seems beautiful. I believe that humans are no match for such a scene. I just aim to create new spatial expressions that can be created by borrowing from this power. This method is deeply connected to architecture.
What were the major challenges you faced during the design and construction of Ripple? What did you learn from this project?
First of all, in the design phase, the optical phenomena discovered in the experiments were model size and the light source was LED. It took a lot of work to find a way to make this work in a real space size and using natural forces. It was particularly difficult to find a way to direct the sun’s rays into the pipes. Also, as the budget was limited and the construction was basically intended to be carried out by one person, the design of the space was divided into sections that could be carried by one person, and care was taken to avoid wastage of materials. During the construction phase, there was some fatigue due to the physical labour involved, but compared to the design phase there were no major problems. Through this project, I became more aware of the wind speed and sun angle of the environment.
Can you explain the design process behind the pipes in the ceiling? How did you determine their size, placement, and spacing to achieve the desired light phenomena?
I calculated the ratio between the LED light in the experiment and the actual sunlight, started to verify how many times the pipe could be realized, and from there, it was just a matter of experimentation. First, I experimented with several different pipe sizes in terms of length and fineness. The ceiling height of this work was 4 m, so I selected the one that showed the most phenomena when the pipes were installed from this height. The material of the pipes was also tested together at this time. The size and material that best suited the diameter and the effect on the light in the pipe was the size and material used this time. Once the pipe is selected, it is a simple matter to record several patterns of the diameter of the light phenomenon, average them, place them on the drawing, and verify them. The most pleasing overlap is then determined. In this case, the light falling into the space was intended to flow, so it is not in a straight line, but in motion. At the design stage, there was another pipe close to the entrance, but when I looked at it while actually building it, I felt that the pipe was too noisy, so I removed it in a hurry.
Ripple is located between Tokyo’s Zoo and the Tokyo University of the Arts. How did the surrounding environment influence construction and design decisions, especially considering vegetation and animal presence?
In terms of the natural environment, I tried to incorporate the forces of nature by taking data on the sun angles and wind speeds and averaging them. Also, as environmental sounds, the sounds of animals and moving plants can be heard pleasantly in this place. Therefore, I thought that the artwork could also take in a lot of outside air.
Why did you decide to undertake all the construction yourself? Did this approach give you any unique insights or advantages?
To be honest, the reason I did the whole process myself was partly due to budgetary considerations. But also because I am not able to create a space just by designing it. So I touch the materials with my own hands and complete the work in a style that is in tune with the situation. Therefore, I do all the processes myself, which allows me to better understand the characteristics of the work. It also allows me to get to know the quality of the materials and leads to new ideas.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently? Do you think you would re-use this idea in a future project?
The area that I wanted to prepare more is the floor finish. The floor was plastered over the composite because it had to be hypothetical. The original floor level was not good enough, which caused the plaster to crack. That is a frustrating part. The idea for this piece is to reuse it when the opportunity arises. However, I decided on the shape and atmosphere of this piece to suit this location, so the next one I make will have a completely different look.
Congratulations on winning the Emerging Architect of the Year prize at the BLT Built Design Awards! How do you feel being recognized for your work and how do you see this prize influencing your future?
First of all, I am very honoured to have been chosen for this award. I was very happy. As for the impact on my future, I honestly don’t know. I hope it will have a very big impact. I am looking forward to seeing how it will turn out.
Where would you like to see yourself in a decade?
It was exactly ten years ago that I won my first award for a spatial work on the theme of light. Ten years from now, I would like to devote myself to winning another major award. For that to happen, I hope that I will be able to exceed my current level of enthusiasm.
In the heart of Vals, Switzerland, Truffer AG, a pioneer in the stone industry since 1983, celebrates their recent accolade—the Architectural Design of the Year Award for Haus Balma. Employing over fifty individuals year-round, the Truffer legacy, founded by Pia and Pius Truffer, integrates tradition with visionary design.
Situated near Zervreila, their quarry, “Jossagada,” produces Vals quartzite, transformed into an array of end products. The family’s philosophy, rooted in a passion for architecture and design, has led to steady growth and global recognition as leaders in the natural stone industry. This commitment to innovation is exemplified in their latest building, a collaborative venture with renowned architecture firm Kengo Kuma & Associates.
In an exclusive interview, we explore the story behind Haus Balma’s triumph, the challenges faced, and the profound impact of their architectural passion on the global stage.
Can you tell us a bit about your company background? How did Truffer AG envision a building that harmoniously marries modernity and tradition?
Our company philosophy is characterized by a keen interest in architecture and design, a commitment to developing new processes and products, and a general openness to new and unknown possibilities. This mindset may have unconsciously led us to the right architect for our new business and residential building. In Kengo Kuma, we have found a master who allows materials to speak. He utilizes our stone in Haus Balma in an entirely innovative manner. Nevertheless, the building harmoniously blends with its surroundings, despite its distinctive shape and unique facade.
What was the inspiration and initial vision for Haus Balma? How did it evolve during your collaboration with Kengo Kuma & Associates?
Since the construction of the Thermal Spa by Peter Zumthor in 1996, the mountain village of Vals has become synonymous with excellent architecture. In addition to the Felsen Therme, other architecturally outstanding buildings have emerged, such as the ‘Dorfbrücke’ by engineers Conzett, Bronzini & Gartmann or the Hotel Alpina by architect Gion A. Caminada. With our construction, we aimed to continue this legacy. We wanted a house that showcases the stone in its most beautiful form.
Why choose Kengo Kuma & Associates as the main architect? Are there any memorable moments or insights you want to share?
The choice of the architect happened rather coincidentally: Pia and Sokrates Truffer visited a stone fair in Beijing, China, in 2011 and stayed at the Opposite House, a hotel designed by Kengo Kuma. Both were enthralled by the architecture and fascinated by the use of natural materials. Shortly after their return from Beijing, we reached out to Kengo Kuma and fortunately, we received positive news from Japan.
Haus Balma’s design is all about harmony with nature. Was this a central detail for you? Do you feel like the final design has exceeded your expectations?
As the client, we wanted to grant the architect as much freedom as possible. We knew that Kengo Kuma & Associates would take the nature and the surroundings of Vals into account. One of KKAA’s principles is to create harmony between architecture, nature, and the surroundings. That’s why, at the beginning of a project, KKAA thoroughly engages with the local conditions and the unique history and traditions of a place. To arrive at architectural design and form, they looked for an element that connects all of these aspects, and then strive to balance them correctly.
Stone is a pivotal connector between wood, metal, and glass. What is the significance behind this choice of materials, especially stone?
As previously mentioned, we provided minimal specifications. However, there was one essential requirement for us: Vals Stone had to have a prominent place in our new headquarters. The architect was granted creative freedom to determine how to integrate it. We are captivated and absolutely delighted with how our stone has been integrated into the building. Our expectations have been exceeded.
Which challenges did your company face during the construction phase, especially given some of the unique design elements of the project such as the floating stones?
The construction of the building presented significant challenges to the executing companies. As the stone producer, we were also challenged with translating KKAA’s drawings and renderings into reality. The delicate curtain wall façade, comprising approximately 900 stone panels and 500 wood panels, posed substantial challenges, and multiple mock-ups were required before achieving the concept of ‘floating stones.’ The initial samples were not very promising: the holders and fasteners for attaching the panels were too bulky, and the steel cables were too thick. Efforts to achieve a sense of lightness and translucency were in vain. However, working together, we successfully addressed the structural challenges, employed the attachment elements as discreetly as possible, and achieved the effect of the stones appearing to float.
How was the collaborative process with Kengo Kuma & Associates? Are there any memorable moments or insights you gained?
Our collaboration with Kengo Kuma & Associates extended over a 10-year period, primarily due to the lengthy planning and construction phases. Throughout this entire duration, the collaboration was exceptionally pleasant. We can imagine that KKAA greatly appreciated the ‘artistic freedom’ granted to them in this project. In return, we made every effort to accommodate their design preferences whenever feasible (provided that the building material, natural stone, allowed for it). We genuinely valued and admired KKAA’s unwavering commitment from the project’s inception to its completion. Kuma’s office scrutinized nearly every design detail. A meeting with Yuki Ikeguchi and the local project engineer is unforgettable to us, as there was an intense debate about the number and dimensions of supports required in construction. Ms. Ikeguchi’s persistence and perseverance continue to stand out in our memory.
Notably, Spreiter AG played a crucial role in the success of this project. Serving as the execution planner and on-site manager, they often acted as the link between the client and the architect.
Can you please share with us what winning the Architectural Design of the Year at the BLT Built Design Awards 2023 prize means to you? What’s next for Truffer AG?
We feel truly honored to have received this award, and we will proudly display the trophy at Haus Balma. Our house is meant to be a place of encounters, a house that is open to all. It’s a place where customers, tourists, culture enthusiasts, residents, and many more come together under one roof.
Photo Credits: Naaro, Sebastian Stumpf, Paul Clemens, Daniela Derungs
Welcome to the exclusive interview with the esteemed Catherine Mosbach, a visionary landscape architect and the founder of the Paris-based design firm mosbach paysagistes & the magazine Pages Paysages. With a remarkable career spanning diverse and innovative projects, Catherine has left an indelible mark on the world of landscape architecture.
Catherine’s key projects include the Solutre Archaeological Park in Saone-et-Loire, Walk Sluice of Saint-Denis, the Botanical Gardenof Bordeaux, the other side in Quebec City, Shan Shui in Xian & Lost in Transition inUlsan. She was the recipient of the Equerre D’argent award with Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa for the Louvre Lens Museum Park & was honoured in the Iconic Concept Award category by the German Design Council and Platine Award by INT.design15th Montreal for Phase Shifts Park in Taichung. The team is honoured Firm of the Year2021 in Landscape and Urban Design by Architecture Master Prize Los Angeles. Catherine was named a knight of the Legion of Honour proposed by the President of the Republic Francois Hollande in 2016. In the net of desires with ovvo studio explores the infinitesimal of the living by XXI Triennale de Milano 2017. Some of her latest essays are ‘emersion’,dialog Jerome Boutterin with Catherine Mosbach. Jerome Boutterin Reboot 1999-2022. (eds.) snoeck MMBOOKS BELGIQUE and ‘de passage’la couleur en questions, directe by Michel Menu, Jean-Marie Schaeffer, RomainThomas; Collection la Nature de l’oeuvre, ed Hermann. 2023.
We recently had the privilege of delving into Catherine’s creative process, her thoughts on the evolving landscape architecture industry, and her insights into the future of urban and natural environments. Join us as we explore the world of landscape architecture through the lens of a true innovator and pioneer, Catherine Mosbach.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did design come to have such an important role in your life?
I grew up in the countryside. I wanted to work in contact with nature. I didn’t have the level required to enter the Ecole d’Ingénieur des Eaux et Forêts. I decided to study the Physics and Chemistry section of the Natural Life Sciences at the University of Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg. In the guidance centers, There I discovered the Ecole Nationale Supérieure du Paysage de Versailles. The drawing took a while to mature because it wasn’t my favorite field. The biology-physics-chemistry dimension is anchored in my vision of the landscape project, a rare practice involving the exploration of living things from the perspective of a vision in real-time.
What was the inspiration or philosophy behind the design of Phase Shifts Park?
It is essential to reconcile the disciplinary polarities that at every attempt is made to set against each other in public debates. Man is as natural as a tree. Ecology is as much a cultural discipline as philosophy. This 250-hectare new urban development provides a meeting place for landscapes, and cultural events with animal, plant, and human populations, with respect for different ‘natures’. Given the humid tropical climate, people are not used to spending time outdoors. The monsoon season is, therefore, an opportunity for ‘landscapes in action’, seen as a drama-free ‘performance of the elements’.
The park was designed to be a living and breathing creature. Can you elaborate more on this concept and how it was accomplished in the design?
Two singular sensibilities and two singular itineraries, those of Philippe Rahm and myself have pooled their skills for the benefit of a public space. This should be a common ground by definition, but it’s far too rare in the professional practices of architecture, landscape, and engineering, where projects are too often lumped together without any real alliances in terms of substance. Design, on the one hand, plays with available resources, and the energies of the living, on the other, relay continuous regeneration.
You managed to uniquely combine lithosphere and atmospheric elements. What was the thought process behind this and what is its significance?
The challenge is to retain all the rainwater on a site with a slope of more than 2,7km, with the aim of replenishing the water table, which has been depleted in recent years due to shortages of drinking water. The balance of cut and fill required means that the roads can be crossed to ensure continuity of ownership, fauna-flora-inhabitants from north to south. This topographical work, macro, and micro, nourishes the soil at the same time as it cultivates water, in the sense that the volume of water rising from the ground to the sky is just as important as the volume descending from the clouds to the ground, in different forms. Fertile soil is home to a vast array of plant species, the key to ‘cultivating water’. In addition to the topography, the typologies and installations are fine-tuned according to the winds, the polluted particles from the roads, and the shadows cast by the future building fronts, so as to provide freshness and healthy air, away from the dampness of water in transit. Lithosphere and Atmosphere are inseparably linked for the common good.
What were the major challenges faced during the design and construction of Phase Shifts Park? What did you learn from designing the park?
Setting parameters down to the square centimeter on more than 67 hectares in order to achieve the expected performance is a challenge in the landscape field. This is where drawing is an invaluable tool, which the fashion of the moment tends to relegate to the background, on the pretext of ecological issues. The experience gained from past projects is not easy to pass on in a country where companies have few references in this field. The trusting relationship with the municipality helps to overcome certain obstacles, such as discovering that the teams did not understand the plans. An ambitious project owner who is courageous in the face of incomprehension and public doubt, who is wary of what he does not know, is just as essential as an enlightened project manager. One cannot exist without the other, which is the cornerstone of a long-term operation. It is in this respect that we need to nurture our clients’ appetite for ambitious projects. Awards help in this respect.
How does technology, like the Computational Fluid Dynamics simulations and the sensor mesh, contribute to the park’s sustainability and efficiency?
Technology is one of the pillars of understanding a site and the data to be mobilized for efficient performance. However, an instrument is no substitute for the mind and sensitivity. In this case, it’s a question of mobilizing all the tools simultaneously, not in a linear and deductive mode, but in an iterative mode. This is why excessive use of data is not a solution when it supplants the interpretation of competent players. Access to the data collected, and transcribed onto computers in the maintenance center, is a tool for understanding and anticipating fleet management, provided that the right staff are on hand.
What kind of interactions between visitors and the park’s features did you want to achieve when designing Phase Shifts Park?
The diversity of lands and situations according to the time of day, the seasons, and the growth of the trees is a source of inspiration for young and old alike. The places under bridges and tunnels’ crossing traffic lines offer instant freshness and a resonance chamber for the sound emitted, on par with that of a cathedral. These are ad hoc territories for all kinds of inspirations and artistic performances.
Congratulations on winning the Landscape Architecture of the Year prize! How does it feel to be recognized for your hard work?
The efforts and obstacles are considerable, but they are not superfluous in convincing elected representatives and professionals to be ambitious and to combine their efforts so that landscape, architecture, and the city evolve in good alliance. It is a universal challenge to learn to live well together and to dream together – the only way forward for humanity in the future.
Which advice would you give to aspiring landscape architects who want to make a significant impact in the field?
Cultivate an appetite for working in inter-skill synergy – architect, artist, botanist, ecologist, biologist… – to increase the potential of your work. Take care of your intuitions and your dreams and they will come true. Landscape architects have the interdisciplinary skills to offer this gift to the worlds of tomorrow.
A student at Savannah College of Art and Design, Gabriel Velasco, has been awarded the Emerging Landscape Architect of the Year at the 2023 BLT Built Design Awards for his work on Octavarium. In this interview, we’ll delve into Gabriel’s journey, tracing it from his roots in Brazil to his current studies in the United States. We also discuss Octavarium, from its sustainable design principles to the emotions it seeks to invoke in those who experience it. Gabriel’s vision is one of reflection, where visitors are guided to contemplate the fleeting nature of life.
This conversation will take you on a journey through Gabriel’s creative mind, as he redefines both landscapes and the way we view life. Join us in this interview and catch a glimpse of the bright future ahead for this rising star in landscape architecture.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and studies? How did design come to have such an important role in your life?
I grew up in Brazil, with a family-driven childhood, learning how to be honest and dedicated. Moving to Savannah, in the U.S., I started my career at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where I conquered a B.F.A. in Architecture and where I am currently pursuing an M.Arch. As an artist/athlete, the blend of two dreams became a reality, and I represent both, from classrooms to championships. Design became a lifestyle when I noticed that it is much more than completing assignments or projects, is the search for answers in your personal life. I believe that designing in the architecture field incorporates empathy in different degrees, for people, for senses and for time.
What was the inspiration or philosophy behind Octavarium? How did you choose the name?
Octavarium is a project that blends the lines of the built environment. The woonerf proposal is a study of an urban strategy for the neighborhood, the garden as a conceptual landscape exploration, the entrance renovation as the architectural language of the project, and the spheres exhibition as the step toward interior installation. The project intention started after analyzing the urban fabric of the city of Savannah, studying the layout of the squares since 1733, when the city was founded. The main cemetery, located downtown, was the first square out of the proposed layout, with the objective of celebrating death. With that, the Jonny Mercer Theater is located between the same streets, being also out of the layout, giving the contrast of celebrating life.
Octavarium focuses on the influence of time on our life experiences, which is shown using spheres as the life cycle and swings as time itself. Can you tell us more about this vision and explain the details of how you incorporated it into your design?
Since the intention is to celebrate life, to contrast against the cemetery, I started to reflect about elements that drives human existence, asking myself questions about the purpose of living. Understanding that humans are aware of death, our journey ends where it begins, we are born at some moment in time, and we experience death at some moment in time. That process is something out of our control, we can only choose our paths during our existence, arching around a sphere, until we reach the starting point, and ending where we began. The swings element represents how humans are supposed to perceive time, where to get in and out the swing must be static in the present, than swinging back and forth between future and past.
How did you incorporate sustainable design principles into Octavarium?
The project adapts sustainable communities, green plazas, and human well-being. The woonerf proposal transforms McDonough St. into a gathering plaza, with commercial and residential developments. Octavarium also serves as a connection point between downtown Savannah and the plans for west expansion of the city. The use of Elbert Square also maximizes the use of the size, proposing a renovation of the square to its original size.
What do you hope visitors will feel or experience when they interact with your creation?
Octavarium was designed to be a moment of reflection, where people would interact with each part of the project, receiving guidance and awareness about decision-making towards being present somewhere in time. Life is short, a warm moment, death is a long cold rest, we get your chance to try in a twinkling of an eye. Families, friends, and individuals will experience in peculiar ways, some spheres are bigger than others, some spheres are buried, and some spheres are over water, each sphere represents different moments in life, dictated by time.
What were the major challenges faced during the design process and what did you learn from the whole project?
When the project was introduced to me, the main challenge was to combine urban design with architectural purposes, then stretching even more towards landscaping and interior installations. I also found myself reflecting on my moment in time, my priorities, and my reasons to live. The mental challenge of this project was to organize the story I wanted to portray with an architectural language that would adapt humans to the site’s program. With that, the main lesson that I took from Octavarium is about understanding why we do things that we do, and how can we make decisions that would interfere with our future. This project also gave me an opportunity to think rationally, considering life through facts and transforming them into emotions.
Congratulations on winning the Emerging Landscape Architect of the Year prize! How does it feel to be recognized for your hard work?
It is an honor to be part of the Built Design Awards! Receiving the Emerging Landscape Architect of the Year is amazing, it is always wonderful to see hard work paying off. I learned architecture through emotions, being taught to incorporate feelings and empathy into my projects, and Octavarium has its own personality. I also feel honored for the appreciation of my work related to what the project means, to understand what is the design’s purpose.
After the success of Octavarium, what are your plans for the future? Where would you like to see yourself in a decade?
Swinging in the future, I see myself exploring the world, spreading ideas to evolve into moments fulfilled with emotions. Time passes equally in the physical world, architectural concepts and stories are immune to aging, I believe I will be studying, reflecting, and experiencing the built environment during my period in time. As I grew in this field, architecture shaped who I am, my goal is to design the moment for someone else to find their place in time.
Design is an ever-evolving field that constantly shapes people’s aesthetic perceptions and influences how they interact with the world. As the design landscape undergoes significant changes in the global context, innovation and subversion have become key drivers for the future of design. The 2023 APDC International Design Awards Gala, themed “变 颠覆 新启未来” (Innovation, Subversion, and New Enlightenment for the Future), held at Beijing’s Yi Garden&HBI Beijing Aesthetics Center, gathered prominent designers and explored the latest trends and ideas in the design industry.
The inaugural station of the International Design Awards Gala attracted a star-studded lineup of speakers, including some of the most celebrated designers from around the world. These pioneers in the field have redefined design paradigms and garnered accolades for their exceptional works, and among them were accomplished speakers who had previously been honored with the prestigious BLT Built Design Awards. Let’s take a closer look at these exceptional speakers who showcased their expertise and contributed to the grand success of the event.
Award-Winning Architect and Interior Designer Kris Lin, the founder and design director of KLID International Design, is renowned for his groundbreaking architectural and interior projects. Having previously won the BLT Built Design Award for both “Jenga Box,” a commercial building that creatively integrates architecture, interior, landscape, and lighting, and “Brich Forest,” a captivating restaurant designed to immerse guests in a serene forest-like ambiance, Kris Lin’s talent and vision have been recognized on the global stage.
Visionary Designer and Director C.R. Lin, the Director of CROX International Co., Ltd, is known for his exceptional contributions to the design industry. Having previously won the BLT Built Design Award in the Commercial category for the Nabel Technology & Culture Experience Center, Lin has showcased his expertise in architectural design with projects that exude harmony and innovation.
Esteemed Jury Member Zhiming Xie, Chief Creative and Design Director of Damu Architectural Engineering Design, and Vice Chairman of the Interior Design Branch of the Chinese Architecture Society, attended the tour as a special guest and delivered a speech. He expressed the hope that more Chinese designers can step out to participate in international awards, and at the same time, more international designers can come to China for interactive sharing.
Other speakers included Charles O. Job, the 2020 SIT Furniture Design Award winner, celebrated for his chair design SKETCH and Larry Wen, winner of the LIV Hospitality Design Awards. The 2023 APDC International Design Awards Gala in Beijing was an extraordinary event that celebrated the brilliance and creativity of designers worldwide. The presence of distinguished speakers, including BLT Built Design Award winners Kris Lin and C.R. Lin, as well as esteemed jury member Zhiming Xie, added a unique dimension to the event. Their contributions inspired the audience and exemplified the passion and dedication that drives the world of design forward. The global tour of award-winning designers at the International Design Awards Gala will continue, after the first station in Beijing, it will be staged in first-tier cities such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, forming a new “IP” with more extensive participation and professional depth.
The design community is buzzing with excitement as the highly esteemed BLT Built Design Awards Gala prepares to celebrate exceptional architectural achievements in the captivating city of Luzern. This prestigious event will take place at the iconic KKL Luzern, a stunning architectural masterpiece nestled on the picturesque shores of Lake Luzern, on Saturday, November 18, 2023.
Design professionals, thought leaders and visionary creatives from around the world are eagerly converging on Luzern, drawn by its reputation as a vibrant hub for architectural innovation and creative inspiration. With its seamless blend of historical charm and contemporary vision, Luzern provides the perfect backdrop for honoring groundbreaking design excellence.
The BLT Built Design Awards Gala will serve as a platform to recognize remarkable achievements, pioneering concepts, and unparalleled architectural talent. The event promises an evening filled with captivating moments as award-winning architects and designers take center stage, their outstanding projects showcased and celebrated in front of a distinguished audience.
The KKL Luzern, renowned for its architectural brilliance and designed by visionary architect Jean Nouvel, exemplifies Luzern’s commitment to architectural excellence. Nestled in the heart of Switzerland, along the picturesque banks of Lake Luzern, this iconic venue sets the perfect stage for an evening dedicated to celebrating architectural ingenuity.
Luzern’s design culture thrives on the principles of craftsmanship, innovation, and an unwavering appreciation for aesthetics. The city offers a nurturing environment that allows architects and designers to flourish, collaborate, and make significant contributions to the global architectural landscape. Furthermore, Luzern is home to avant-garde galleries, design studios, and firms that continuously challenge conventional norms and pioneer new design concepts. The city’s commitment to design excellence is reflected in its array of public spaces, urban planning initiatives, and sustainable architecture projects.
By hosting the BLT Built Design Awards Gala in Luzern, the event highlights the city’s integral role in shaping the design industry. The gathering of distinguished judges, influential figures, and visionary architects within the prestigious KKL Luzern further establishes Luzern’s status as a global design destination.
The Gala will provide a platform for recognition and exposure, with distinguished judges and influential figures from the design world in attendance. The event offers a unique opportunity for architects and designers to showcase their exceptional work, connect with industry leaders, and inspire the entire design community.
During the Awards ceremony, the following winners will receive a trophy:
2021 – Architectural Design of the Year: Benthem Crouwel Architects with Dutch Charity Lotteries office building
2021 – Interior Design of the Year: Foshan Topway Design with Naturalism Creates a Magic Wonderland
2021 – Project Management of the Year: Monograph with Resource by Monograph
2021 – Construction Product of the Year: Tubmarine/Kebony with Tubmarine and Kebony Wood
2021 – Emerging Architect of the Year: Mariam Abbadi with The Pathways to Unknown
2021 – Emerging Interior Designer of the Year: Lu Kuan-Ju with Innovative Chinese Paper Umbrella Store
2022 – Architectural Design of the Year: Zaha Hadid Architects with BEEAH Headquarters
2022 – Interior Design of the Year: KAMITOPEN with KAMA-ASA Shop
2022 – Project Management of the Year: Design With Frank with design with FRANK software
2022 – Construction Product of the Year: Yi Design with YiBrick
2022 – Emerging Architect of the Year: Xudong Zhu with Urban Irrigation
2022 – Emerging Interior Designer of the Year: Yue Che with Ally – A Center for Children Psychological Trauma Recovery
and 2023 winners, which will be revealed at the end of September 2023.
Prepare to be captivated, inspired, and connected with like-minded professionals who share a passion for pushing the boundaries of design and shaping the future of architecture.
The BLT Built Design Awards has announced the release of the 2nd edition of their annual book of design – the BLT Built Design Awards Book of Design 2022. This year’s catalog features the 2022 winners in Architectural Design, Interior Design, Project Management, and Construction Product Design categories and includes interviews with the winners.
The catalog is a beautiful showcase of stunning photos, with each page featuring a unique and well-designed layout. It is a comprehensive resource that offers a glimpse into the latest trends and techniques shaping the design industry today.
You can purchase your print copy of the catalog on Amazon and access the digital version for free on the BLT Awards website. By purchasing the catalog, you’ll gain access to a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from some of the most talented professionals in the field, helping you stay ahead of the curve and take your own projects to the next level.
Whether you’re an industry insider or simply an admirer of great design, the BLT Built Design Awards Book of Design 2022 is a must-have addition to your collection. It’s a celebration of creativity and innovation in design, and we’re thrilled to share it with you.
Thank you for your continued support of the BLT Built Design Awards. We can’t wait to see what incredible designs will be celebrated in the future. In the meantime, be sure to order your copy of the BLT Built Design Awards Book of Design 2022 today!
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