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Not your traditional tree house
March 30, 2014 9:17 PM   Subscribe

“Just as leaves in a tree are naturally arranged to get the maximum sun, we’ve mathematically arranged these balconies and cantilevers to catch and shade the sun.”
posted by bswinburn (29 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a great project. It's about time the tools available to architects begin to be used for real innovation— Aqua Tower was among a few that set a trend.

In many ways it's driven by the clients' understanding and acceptance of potentially groundbreaking design versus conservative but proven ideas, especially on projects of that scale.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:39 PM on March 30


Also naturally arranged to give everyone the maximum view of everyone else's business.

Snark aside, though, this is neat. I could dig an apartment with nearly 50% of its space outside. Just not in Seattle.
posted by ctmf at 9:46 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Even in Seattle it would be nice, as long as some of the outdoor space had a glass roof to keep off the rain while letting in light.

The building is gorgeous. I wonder how much the apartments cost?
posted by Dip Flash at 9:51 PM on March 30


Pretty. But pretty concept renderings get published all the time. This looks like late schematic design, early design development stage work.

What are the odds of it actually getting built?
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:14 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see it during a rain. I bet the water cascading would be a visual treat.
posted by surplus at 12:03 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


mathematically arranged

Oh I'd love to see the math behind this - I bet it's all mathematical and stuff, and they probably even used a computer to do it, maybe thrown in a couple of Fibonacci numbers or golden ratios for good measure.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:37 AM on March 31 [9 favorites]


Nice, beautiful, but gaps in deck too big. You see treehouse, I see this.
posted by vapidave at 1:09 AM on March 31


Nice idea, but I wonder how it would fare in high wind? Leaves on trees are flexible. Checking Wunderground shows that in Montpellier wind can gust up to 80km/h in the winter and 70km/h in the summer. As it is close to the coast there is a lot of air movement. They would do well to employ wind power generation.

"building also uses passive cooling strategies to reduce the amount of power needed"

Anybody who is building anything anywhere that doesn't take advantage of the locality and aspect, materials and up to date knowledge is a fool IMHO. So many things are built in spite of locality, aspect and materials.
posted by asok at 2:33 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It looks like it's been planned for a very specific site to take advantage of the local resources. ArchDaily has a more detailed round-up and it seems like ti is actually going to be built.
posted by viggorlijah at 3:32 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


Cool idea, and I'd love to see it in real life whenever (if?) it gets built.
As an aside...I'd be a horrible client for these architects. Once I saw this image, I'd become fixated on how dumb these guys are for putting a book case outside on a patio. Or does it never rain in this location?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:18 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Oh I'd love to see the math behind this - I bet it's all mathematical and stuff, and they probably even used a computer to do it, maybe thrown in a couple of Fibonacci numbers or golden ratios for good measure.

It's not exactly succinct, but Vi Hart's "Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being A Plant" video series demonstrates the mathematics behind this in Vihartian fashion: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (Spoiler: It totally is the Golden Ratio.)
posted by neckro23 at 5:54 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Looks like a vertical cafeteria buffet for Godzilla.

I don't mean that in a snarky way, I mean it in the little boy inside me would love to see Godzilla attack this building way.
posted by valkane at 6:08 AM on March 31 [3 favorites]


I want to go to there!

There’s even a balcony in the bedroom with enough room to sleep on when the weather’s warm.

Don't you need screen on a sleeping porch? Or are bugs not a problem in that particular climate?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:39 AM on March 31


Don't you need screen on a sleeping porch? Or are bugs not a problem in that particular climate?

Bugs tend to stick pretty close to the ground; even a second- or third-story balcony would put you out of range of the annoying ones.
posted by ook at 6:46 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Looks like it'll be hell to work on. Imagine if someone needs to access the underside of your balcony, or change out a glass panel on the main building. Are they going to set up a stepladder on the balcony below you?

Freaking architects. Poor maintenance people.
posted by anthill at 6:52 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


It looks like it's been planned for a very specific site to take advantage of the local resources. ArchDaily has a more detailed round-up and it seems like ti is actually going to be built.

You should check out the winning plan for the new wtc tower, and how much it differs from what was actually built. You see stuff like this all the time get chosen by committees and all of the cool stuff ends up getting tossed out because of various regulations and budgetary concerns.
posted by empath at 7:07 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


The inevitable scene of James Bond chasing the hired thug of a Russian robber baron up and down this building will be well worth whatever it costs to build in the first place.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:11 AM on March 31 [7 favorites]


Bugs tend to stick pretty close to the ground; even a second- or third-story balcony would put you out of range of the annoying ones.

I have a roof top tent for exactly this reason. So much nicer being off the ground a few feet.

Back on topic, I want to like the design of this building, but it feels so chaotic and discombobulated that it actually have sort of a visceral "DO NOT WANT" reaction to it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:24 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


A lot of this generative design is being done with Grasshopper. Don't know about this particular project.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:38 AM on March 31


Does anyone know how they are planning to deal with the thermal bridges created by the cantilevered balconies?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:28 AM on March 31


Bugs tend to stick pretty close to the ground; even a second- or third-story balcony would put you out of range of the annoying ones.

I guess it depends on the location and the type of insect, but there were plenty of flies (not mosquitoes that I can remember) in my 16th floor apartment in Calgary when I was lazy and left the screen door to the balcony open.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:55 AM on March 31


Oh I'd love to see the math behind this - I bet it's all mathematical and stuff, and they probably even used a computer to do it, maybe thrown in a couple of Fibonacci numbers or golden ratios for good measure.

A lot of this generative design is being done with Grasshopper.

I'm about 99.9% sure that this is done in Grasshopper. And it's more computationally arranged, than mathematically arranged.

Essentially you have a software/computation platform that, when given a time of day, returns the sun position. It can also cast shadows onto the building, or onto itself, so you know that which balconies get which shadows. Using a plugin, you can measure the heat gain onto the building. You can then pipe this all into a genetic algorithm, with some other factors to control for aesthetics, so that over thousands of iterations, it will organize into a relatively optimal solution.

And this is all possible to do within a day, if you know what you're doing. Here's a typical example.
posted by suedehead at 9:31 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


And this is all possible to do within a day, if you know what you're doing.

Oh - and I say this not to diminish the work of the architects! I'm just pointing out that the world of computation and architecture is super exciting and enabling, for the purposes of enabling interesting + functional architecture.
posted by suedehead at 9:37 AM on March 31


It's cool to see NBBJ using Rhino and Grasshopper- about $1,000/seat. I remember visiting there many decades ago and they were very proud of their custom mainframe or mini-computer based CAD system (can't recall the brand) which must have been more like $100k/seat.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:44 AM on March 31 [1 favorite]


Bugs tend to stick pretty close to the ground; even a second- or third-story balcony would put you out of range of the annoying ones.

That hasn't been my experience, but then again, I've lived in some pretty buggy areas.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:51 AM on March 31


Without some very expensive, exotic builidng materials I am not sure at all that this is buildable from a structural engineering perspective. Cantilevers are really tough to build out this far, and then you add in furniture and people loads...well those balconies are going to move and sway more than a little. Then you add in wind and/or seismic loading (often the same thing in the final analysis)...it is going to be tough. I

f you do manage to find a way to build them, it is going to be really, really, really expensive. What would work much better is the same concept but put in a steel I beam exoskeleton lattice on the thing that connect the balconies but the slenderness of the beams would present minor obstructions to view/light and would also allow for easy shade/rain protection...If you wanted something dramatic/unusual/gaudy you could even do it in a truss fashion for that steampunk feel or use wood gluelam beams for a ski lodge effect or stainless/chrome/silver paint for the ultramodern/blinding effect.

(I beams are slender with flanges narrower than the web, W beams are wide with flanges wider than the web).
posted by bartonlong at 10:07 AM on March 31


Without some very expensive, exotic building materials I am not sure at all that this is constructable from a structural engineering perspective. Cantilevers are really tough to build out this far, and then you add in furniture and people loads...well those balconies are going to move and sway more than a little.

My thought exactly. There is no practical way to make the balconies as thin as they appear in the rendering. The typical architect's math for cantilevers is 1/3 span = 2/3 backspan. There is no way this works. But beyond the structural issues....it's just plain bad design.

This is obviously laid out by someone who has never designed or built a multi-family project. Multi-family is my architectural area of expertise and I see some major flaws.

1) Waterpoofing: The design does not take into affect the cascading water effect from one balcony to another. Water dropping onto an adjacent balcony will ultimately make the structure of the balcony fail, not to mention destroy all of your neighbors stuff. That is a liability nightmare for owners.

2) Privacy: Giving residents the ability to hop down onto a neighbor's balcony and steal stuff or perving out is another major liability issue.

3) Aesthetics: This is totally subjective, but this design has no balance. It is a giant mashup of pieces that do not contribute to the overall whole. The design is all over the place.

4) Soundproofing: The absolute biggest complaint in Multi-family design is sound control. With this much unit variation and rotation, the design is allowing multiple sound paths through the structure. Another major liability and resident complaint issue.

5) Plumbing systems: Non-stacking units are nearly impossible or cost effective to build because of the sewer and domestic water lines. This design would essentially triple the amount of plumbing piping and leak potential would be another major liability.

I am sure there are other problems, but off the top of my head, a developer would be crazy to go with this design with so many major liability issues.
posted by Benway at 11:46 AM on March 31 [4 favorites]


Waterproofing - What if the balconies were drained like internal roof drains? That would minimize the dripping. Plus, it looks like Montpeilier has a pretty hot and dry mediterranean climate In the summer/spring, when the balconies would be most in use.

Soundproofing & Plumbing - If you look at the plans, the units are stacking, like a typical building; the balconies are cleverly offset to give the impression that they're not. The plumbing lines would be all aligned. There would be no more sound paths through the structure than a similar building without balconies.

Structural - Well, yes, the balconies seem impossibly thin. That's probably the architect doing some sleight-of-hand with the renderings. But looking at the plans, the backspan for the structural steel could extend all the way into the buildings. The balconies would probably be substantially thicker, though.
posted by suedehead at 1:37 PM on March 31 [3 favorites]


anthill: "Looks like it'll be hell to work on. Imagine if someone needs to access the underside of your balcony, or change out a glass panel on the main building. Are they going to set up a stepladder on the balcony below you?"

The building is only 17 stories; at 10' per level this boom lift would get you wherever you need to go.

Or a swing stage.

Benway: "1) Waterpoofing: The design does not take into affect the cascading water effect from one balcony to another. Water dropping onto an adjacent balcony will ultimately make the structure of the balcony fail, not to mention destroy all of your neighbors stuff. That is a liability nightmare for owners."

You could either grade the balconies to an internal central drain or incorporate edge gutters.
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 PM on March 31


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