Canadian Architect


Shortlist of STEEL Designs announced to help combat global housing demands

June 28, 2007
by Canadian Architect

Eighteen shortlisted firms were announced in June from So Paulo, Brazil in Living Steels 2nd International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing. One of the largest architectural design initiatives in the world, the competition was designed by Living Steel to inspire architects to develop innovative and responsible housing designs and bring those creations to life through constructions around the world. The competition, launched on World Architecture Day and judged by an International Union of Architects-approved jury, generated tremendous interest among the worlds leading architects with more than 1,100 entrants from 88 countries having submitted Expressions of Interest this year.

The following firms have been selected to submit final designs for housing in Brazil, China and the United Kingdom. The three winning submissions will be announced in September 2007 at a series of launch events in each of the three locations.

The shortlisted firms were charged with the development of innovative approaches to sustainable building design that use steel solutions to address the economic, environmental and social aspirations of a growing world population.

Scott Chubbs, Living Steels program director said, There is an undisputed housing shortage for a population that is growing at the rate of a small city each day. The Living Steel International Architecture Competition for Sustainable Housing presents a challenge to the worlds architects to design effective and efficient housing for Brazil, China and the UK, using what we believe is the most effective material for meeting this critical need.

With a total prize fund of 300,000, the winning submission for each location will receive a 50,000 prize and a contract to complete their design for the construction of a demonstration building in the target locations. The remaining 15 shortlisted finalists will each receive a 10,000 honorarium.

The shortlist is as follows:

Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados Ltda of Brazil presented their design concept of Essential Architecture. Using pre-fabricated steel solutions, this concept has been designed to block the intense light of the sun, while admitting air circulation at all times. Cross-ventilation is guaranteed by open interiors fitted with room dividers and shutters. Open, shaded platforms have been designed in the Brazilian housing tradition. The buildings have been designed glass-free to respond to condensation issues during the more humid months in Brazil.

Brasil Arquitetura of Brazil proposed a Novo Zepelin Housing Development Living Together. The concept places four small towers of nine floors, and two horizontal volumes along the sides of the land parcel, creating a central courtyard or backyard that can be used as a communal entertainment area and childrens play area. Each dwelling unit has a terrace as a continuation of a living room and residents will have the option to create a larger terrace by expanding the module either side into the space of bedroom modules.

Collins And Turner Architects of Australia proposed a concept of apartments based on a repeating module allowing the standardization of building components and systems. Its narrow floor plates maximize cross-ventilation, generous balconies shield the building from the eastern sun and provide outdoor spaces, and steel mesh provide additional shading. A spacious residential retreat has been envisioned.

Dubosc And Landowski of France suggested sustainable houses that are hung in the wind. The concept proposes a lightweight, low-energy and low-cost design that is easy to build. In order to have few ground works, the dwellings are hung from a top structure on piles. Clusters of four apartments are accessible from a central core. Building orientation and shutters provide natural ventilation, and double roofing will provide good acoustic insulation between the modules.

Perkins + Will from the USA proposed a concept entitled Morado Recife Antigo, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. This concept has been designed to embrace the heritage and culture of Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, by drawing on the design of the local and traditional palafita houses. The design will capture breezes for natural ventilation by using operable windows with shutters and interior louvres. The apartments are raised above the flood plain on a steel frame, leaving the ground level for pedestrian paths, parking, capturing stormwater and for improved security.

Sebastian Irarrazaval Architects of Chile presented YLEGO which isdesigned around three key ideas, proposing a modular unit that maximizes cross-ventilation through a design that avoids corridors and always gives double orientation to every space. Geometric Y Lego units can be adjusted to suit different site conditions in a range of different configurations. The structural approach highlights steels qualities of lightness and high performance under tension.

Anderson Anderson of the USA suggest Wuhan Blue Sky Prototype. A highlight of the concept is its integration with the local neighbourhood. The building and site planning will be coordinated with the existing planned facilities with a great lawn leading up from the community entrance toward a community gym and shopping centre. The Blue Sky Prototype itself is planned as an open-air network of pedestrian streets and public gardens at ground level winding up to vertical floor plates. The front doors of each unit will open to wide open-air streets and the sky. The basic element of this simple structural design is a prefabricated moment frame box assembly containing all of the complicated structural connections and all of the plumbing, mechanical systems, architectural interior-exposed steel and casework. The buildings dramatic exterior is a testament to the creative potential of steel as a structural material.

Atenastudio+City Foerster from Italy and The Netherlands propose hanging gardens. The buildings primary structure consists of a central series of steel frames from which all floors are suspended. All apartment units are modular so that the configuration and aggregation of units can be adapted to market demands. The overall building is covered with steel mesh, allowing a space in between it and the building for balconies or service corridors. The steel mesh also provides a base for climbing plants, providing synthesis with an urban and natural landscape.

China Southwest Architectural Design And Research Institute (CSWADI) of China presented the Universal House. Standard materials of pre-produced steel components are used throughout the design, alongside energy-saving composite walls and steel decking. The use of these standard pre-produced components and the minimal use of concrete ensures the dwellings can be simply replicated. A range of cladding systems and balconies create enticing living spaces. This innovative concept incorporates a steel frame structure with a flexible faade.

David Knafo Tagit Klimor, Architects And Town Planners of Israel believe that their agro-housing concept allows tenants to produce their own food, reducing the need to travel for food and providing a green neighbourhood. This is achieved through combining high-rise apartments with a vertical greenhouse within the same building. The greenhouse is equipped with a drip irrigation system and natural ventilation and heating system and offers a diversity of spaces for the benefit of its inhabitants. Featuring steel faades, this light steel structure will be prefabricated and installed on site. The project has great potential for future development of sustainable communities in urban China.

nArchitects from the USA propose an environmentally responsive exterior street configuration as a relevant, sustainable model for housing in Wuhans sub-tropical climate. This strategy allows for cross-ventilation, minimizes the thermally conditioned envelope, and enfolding the building in a tempering layer that reduces heat gain to the units. Pre-fabricated structural steel components are kept smal
l for ease of transport and assembly, and the design maximizes the use of local trades and craftspeople.

IAUS School Of Architecture, Tsinghua University in China produced a staggered dwelling maisonette system, inspired by Le Corbusiers concept of linking vertical cores and a central corridor. Aimed at benefiting both the developer and home owner, the concept focuses on a staggered truss system which was chosen for its flexibility, lower construction costs, and significant design flexibility. The staggered truss system has reduced the total cost of the structure due to steels lighter frame and fewer foundations. Further savings were accrued because the building required fewer columns and less steel tonnage. The design has eliminated interior columns to create open space.

Cartwright Pickard Architects from the UK proposed volumetric steel modules constructed from a fully welded hot and cold rolled steel frame, which will be used for the sub-structure of the dwellings. The pre-fabricated modules are factory built and fully fitted out prior to delivery to the site. The proposed project places apartments in staggered, terrace arrangements. The design promotes flexibility through its modular design, and low costs through energy-saving measures, a high degree of insulation and building orientation.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects LLP, also from the UK, strove to utilize the strength of a monocoque structural approach to generate both economic manufacturing and constructional solutions whilst also generating greater three-dimensional spatial opportunities. Courtyard units which maximize use of internal and external spaces are an effective solution to high-density urban living. The design of the dwellings maximizes daylight and natural ventilation. This helps to lower electricity loads, and reduces the need for heating and cooling, which is further enhanced through good insulation, efficiency of the building form and thermal mass.

Hideto Horike And Urtopia, Inc. of Japan utilized a flexible chemical joint system and monocoque structure to ensure strength while minimizing energy consumption and construction time. In further reducing energy consumption and providing comfortable thermal environments for the occupants, the development utilizes natural energies such as solar energy, rainwater, wind, air, geothermal energy and underground water.

Icesa S.A., Costa Rica came up with FUSe, in which four basic steel elements were all prefabricated by off-site manufacture in order to optimize quality, speed of construction and efficiency, constituting the FUSe buildings skeleton. A modular construction approach allows for flexible arrangements of internal apartments. The concept buildings setback is increased in order to locate a public plaza to take advantage of sunlight during the coldest months, increasing the possibilities of its use throughout the year.

Mei Architecten En Stedenbouwers BV from The Netherlands offered the Smart Block Design. Carrying on from the firms design of a Smarthouse, the Smart Block will fit apartments with a light faade system made of the energy-saving product cast iron. The buildings interior walls will be made of galvanized steel C-profiles, coated on both sides with sheets of plasterboard between which insulation is placed. There is also a design option to use all recyclable materials. The design aims for autarkic living, which allows residents to recover their basic needs for energy and water onsite. The smart block provides an innovative solution to potential flooding issues.

And finally, Roccatelier Associati from Italy presented Dwelling in the Courtyard. The plan is characterized by the development of a modular steel structural system which minimizes construction time and promotes operational safety. This system permits the initial mounting of the structures, columns and floor panels on the ground and the erection of the structure in its final position at a later time using a crane. Bold use of colour gives the design an immediate aesthetic appeal.

Further competition details, news on demonstration buildings as construction commences, as well as case studies and other information on steel building practices are available at

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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