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Smart buildings are not only about saving energy and being sustainable – it’s about improving people’s lives


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or centuries, mankind has made do with finding shelter between walls and under a roof. Ostensibly, for all of the advances in stability, height and – thanks to computer-aided designs of late – flashiness, buildings have retained fundamentally the same purpose since. But now, some suggest, an architectural revolution is afoot, as different disciplines come together to make buildings “smart” or “intelligent”.

“Building owners are having to adapt to technology that wasn’t available just five years ago,” says Jim Sinopoli, architect and founder of Smart Buildings, a Texas-based leading practice in this new field. “And that’s going to change the way we approach building. The question will be how design engineers and architects respond. Making buildings smart will be disruptive. But it’s inevitable.”


Indeed, while smart or intelligent buildings have yet to settle on one definition – it encompasses using technology to improve control and communications, and to maximise performance and efficiency – according to industry analysts IDC Energy Insights, worldwide companies spent US$5.5 billion on such buildings, new or retrofitted, in 2012. By 2017, that figure is projected to top US$18.1 billion, with other reports citing much higher estimates.

China now has its own annual Smart Home and Intelligent Building Expo. Certainly, much as other elements of our environment – from our personal devices to our home interiors and vehicles – are becoming more intuitive and automated, so can we expect the same from buildings, from how they are run to how they are built. And, as with our hi-tech gadgets, cars and the like, in part this is simply a response to buildings’ growing complexity, such that, as Sinopoli puts it, “every aspect of building is increasingly being penetrated by IT”.


The human element is a key factor behind the drive to innovate and improve. As Sinopoli says, “while smart architecture is about making buildings cheaper and greener, it’s important to recognise that it’s also about making them better for their occupants” – in terms of lighting, ventilation, sense of space and safety.

For example, a smart building might shut off gas lines, close down computers and notify occupiers in the event of an earthquake. And Deloitte’s new corporate headquarters in Amsterdam, called The Edge, has 28,000 sensors micromanaging humidity, light and temperature to make employees feel as though they are outside on a pleasant day.

Even neuroscience is being brought into the mix in a bid to understand how the brain reacts to certain environments, and then using that feedback to help determine building design. Studies have shown that brain function is improved by visual access to natural light and vistas of the sky, trees and landscape; positive feelings have also been measured in response to curves over straight lines.


“You need to steer the question of intelligent building more towards how it can have a positive impact on the people who use that building,” says Betsey Dougherty, co-founder of Dougherty + Dougherty Architects in California, an executive member of the pioneering Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture and an expert in using smart architecture in schools.

“Something as subtle as the colour of the walls, the acoustics and reverberation, glare – all these affect the quality of life inside a building. A smart building should allow you to get better faster if it’s a hospital, learn more if it’s a school, be more creative if it’s an office. Of course, buildings will get generally smarter as cellphones do – that’s to be expected. But we have to raise the bar on the idea that a building is essentially a box.”

The technological advances are staggering. Analytic systems that allow continuous data mining from wireless sensor systems, for example, not only help faults to be found, but also decide which ones should be fixed first – optimising their functionality and reducing energy wastage and running costs. They also provide insight into what the energy usage and costs are in immediate detail, so building owners don’t have to wait for the bill to arrive.


Sinopoli cites the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington, with 200 hectares encompassing 30,000 pieces of mechanical equipment and requiring seven building management systems. Smart buildings integrated the lot into one database. Bluetooth-based indoor positioning systems can identify how many people are in a building and where they are, again allowing for adjustments that save energy.

The technology has moved to exteriors in recent years, with progress in the development of “smart façades”. Chemical company Alcoa has developed titanium dioxide tiles that filter the surrounding air and destroy pollutants – they’ve been used to create a skin around the Torres de Especialidades, a new Mexico City hospital. Bloom is a thermal bi-metal shade that curls in reaction to a certain heat level, allowing more air to pass through it, and closing again when the temperature cools. And building engineering giant Arup is testing a façade impregnated with millions of microscopic algae plants that absorb sunlight to heat water, which can then be harvested for use in the building.

Combinations of various materials technologies also advance the idea of tomorrow’s smarter building – for office blocks and specialised facilities at first, and later for residential ones. Photovoltaic cells, for instance, can now be embedded into glass without any noticeable effect on transparency, and they can also be incorporated into concrete. The result is a building that can generate its own power, with little loss through transmission.


Nano materials – having escaped the realm of the shape-shifting buildings envisioned in a more sci-fi future – will soon offer the benefits of being super-light but super-strong, leading to thinner, perhaps transparent façades that could rewrite our conception of the inside/outside divide. A nano composite steel – three times stronger than conventional steel – is already on the market, as is nano-based self-cleaning glass and smog-eating concrete.

The fact that such technologies are coming into the market now is why “we can expect this sort of idea to become more prevalent”, Sinopoli says. “If you have to put in a curtain wall and can put in a photovoltaic one for not much more money, building owners will demand it.”

While smart building is still getting off to a slow start, designers are satisfied that they have proof of its value, which will eventually drive high demand for the technology.


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The eco-friendly tower blocks that produce MORE energy than they use: ‘Hyperion’ designs feature 1,000 homes, gyms and farms



  • The towering ‘Hyperion’ buildings will be built in New Delhi, India and are expected to be completed by 2020
  • The complex will be 36 storeys high with 1,000 homes, offices, gyms, restaurants and swimming pools
  • Vincent Callebaut has designed 420ft (128m) tall tower blocks complete with dairy farms and covered with gardens 
  • The Hyperion, found in Northern California, is the tallest tree in the world reaching 380ft (115 metres)


In the future, we could all work and living in buildings with their very own ecosystems, designed to generate more energy than they use.

Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has designed eco-friendly tower blocks measuring a staggering 420ft (128m), complete with dairy farms and gardens that generate energy in a variety of ways.

The designer has now released spectacular images giving a glimpse into what could be this new era of eco-friendly buildings could look like.

An aerial view of the green roof and greenhouses. The environmentally-friendly complex designed by Vincent Callebaut is 36 storeys high and features 1,000 homes, offices and working spaces, gyms, restaurants and swimming pools


Paris- based Callebaut has a vision that these ‘Hyperion’ buildings will be built in New Delhi, India. ‘Delivery is expected for 2020,’ Callebaut told MailOnline.

He said he was inspired by a particular type of tree to create the cross laminated timber towers.

The Hyperion, found in Northern California, is the tallest tree in the world, reaching 380ft (115 metres).

The complex will be 36 storeys high and feature 1,000 homes, offices and working spaces, gyms, restaurants and swimming pools.

ind-5A view from the agroforest towards the tree-towers. The Hyperion, the tallest tree in the world,  inspired the cross laminated timber towers. The buildings will be dotted with urban farms and small animal farms producing eggs and dairy


An aerial view of the tower blocks. ‘Cereal crops, with legumes such as beans and squash, reduce nitrogen inputs, while maintaining healthy protein levels. Because the ecosystems are rebalanced, it will also make diseases and weeds less frequent,’ said Callebaut

Quickset hedges replace barbed wire and fences. Groves and tree rows reinvest fields where millet, wheat or corn crops are rotated,’ said Callebaut. ‘Cereal crops, together with legumes such as beans and squash, reduce nitrogen inputs, while maintaining healthy protein levels. Because the ecosystems are rebalanced, it will also make diseases, weeds and insect damage less frequent.

‘Phyto-purification ponds and lagoons merge with the garden towers,’ Callebaut added, along with ‘orchards devoted to spices such as camphor laurels, bergamot trees and other cinnamon plants.

Pictured: The view of the solar facades on the  state-of-the-art tower blocks. An architect has revealed designs for state-of-the-art tower blocks which are so environmentally friendly they produce more energy than they consume. The extraordinary eco-conscious towers, which are almost as tall as the London Eye, are capable of holding thousands of people who live and work inside of them. The environmentally friendly complex is 36 storeys high and features 1,000 homes, offices and working spaces, gyms, restaurants and swimming pools. Architect Vincent Callebaut has designed the 420ft-tall 'Hyperions' in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint. SEE OUR COPY FOR MORE DETAILS.  Please byline: Vincent Callebaut Architectures/Solent News © Vincent Callebaut Architectures/Solent News  & Photo Agency UK +44 (0) 2380 458800

The buildings will be dotted with urban farms and small animal farms producing eggs and dairy.

‘Agricultural by-products are turned into methane that generates energy, which is then re-injected into homes in real time.

‘Earthworms re-oxygenate the soil, and beetles and bees buzz again while pollinating flowers.’


 A model of the wooden and timber framed structures. Agricultural by-products will be turned into methane that generates energy, which is then re-injected into homes in real time. Earthworms will re-oxygenate the soil, and beetles and bees buzz while pollinating flowers


 The view from a sky footbridge. Callebaut said quickset hedges will replace barbed wire and fences. While groves and rows of trees will be used for millet, wheat or corn crops that will be rotated throughout the year

The treetop tower blocks are not the first of Callebaut’s futuristic energy-saving building designs.


At the end of last year, he also revealed designs for self-sufficient oceanscrapers as a viable place for humans to live to reduce the carbon footprint on the planet.

The eco-friendly structures don’t require dangerous fossil fuels as they produce their own energy and heat.


Each oceanscraper has a jellyfish-like structure, the entrance and docks are found at the surface and then the structure spirals down up to depths of 1,000 metres (0.6 miles).

The left-hand image shows a typical view of a living room in the state-of-the-art tower blocks. The view from a greehouse on the sky garden is pictured in the right-hand image


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Architects unveil plans for London’s first skyscraper made entirely of wood…and at 1,000ft tall it will be the capital’s second tallest after the Shard



  • Oakwood Tower will have 1,000 homes including terraced housing on-site
  • If plans go ahead 80-storey tower will be world’s tallest wooden structure
  • Building will be constructed alongside the Barbican in the City of London

A team of leading architects has unveiled plans for London’s first ever wooden skyscraper. The group from Cambridge University want to build a 1,000ft structure off the edge of the Barbican, in the City of London, and the designers hope that 1,000 homes can be created across its 80-storeys.

The Oakwood Tower would have a completely timber frame and its 93,000sqm floor plan would also include terraced housing.


The concept was put to London mayor Boris Johnson and if it goes ahead it will be London’s second tallest building after The Shard – and the tallest wooden structure in the world.

Michael Romage, director of Cambridge’s Centre for Natural Material Innovation, said: ‘The Barbican was designed in the middle of the last century to bring residential living into the city of London and was successful.

 ‘If London is going to survive it needs to increasingly densify and one way is with taller buildings. We believe people have a greater affinity for taller buildings in natural materials rather than steel and concrete towers.’


Timber has been used to make homes for more than 2,000 years and it is being heralded as a lightweight and sustainable substitute for traditional construction materials.

The sky scraper would certainly catch the eye on London’s ever-changing skyline, but while it would be unique in our capital – there are others like it in cities around the world.


The tallest existing wooden building is a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway, but several more are planned in France and Sweden.

Last month, French architect Jean Paul Viguier revealed his competition-winning proposal for a trio of timber towers in Bordeaux that will rise to 57 metres, and Swedish studio Tham & Videgrd Arkitekter has drawn up plans for a row of wooden apartment blocks in Stockholm. 


Discussing the idea of wooden buildings in London, PLP Architecture partner Kevin Flanagan said: ‘The use of timber could transform the way we build in this city.


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5 Must-See New Architecture Projects For 2016


Architects are pushing design boundaries more than ever and 2016 is no exception. Here we’ve listed some amazing projects that we’ll be seeing this year.

1. Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall, Germany


A 2017 opening date has finally been set for the £617 million concert hall, which has been in the construction process for almost 10 years. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the hall is being built on top of a former warehouse beside Hamburg’s Elbe River and will comprise a 2,150-seat main auditorium. The architects are also building a new 4,000 square metre plaza that will be elevated 30 metres above the ground. The public will be welcome to view the hall in November 2016.

2. Ark Encounter, USA


A biblical theme park is nearing completion in Kentucky. Just as the name would indicate, the centrepiece of the theme park will be an enormous ship, designed by architecture firm Troyer Group. Located near sister attraction the Creation Museum, the park and museum are both run by Christian fundamentalist organisation Answers in Genesis who raised over $24.5 million of the project’s entire $86 million construction cost. The ark itself is being built by Amish carpenters, with the majority of the wood coming from areas damaged by plagues of beetles or from sustainable forests. The arc will be the biggest wooden structure in the US when it opens for 40 days and 40 nights from July 7, 2016.

3. Louvre, Abu Dhabi


Set to open at the end of 2016, the Louvre Abu Dhabi is designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel. When complete the museum will house 9,200 square metres of art galleries including both permanent and temporary collections.


The project cost is reportedly nearing $650 million. Located on the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, the museum was designed as a seemingly floating dome structure, with its web-patterned dome allowing sunlight to stream through.

4. Zinc Mine Museum, Norway


Built within the former zinc mines in Allmannajuvet in Sauda, Ryfylke, the Zinc Mine Museum was created by Pritzker Prize laureate Peter Zumthor. Set to open towards the middle of 2016, the rustic museum has been over a decade in the making, now forming part of Norway’s National Tourist Routes. Dedicated to the mining that took place in the area from 1881 to 1899, Zumthor’s minimalist designs against the ageing mines have made for a striking project.

5. Taipei Performing Arts Centre, Taiwan


Commencing construction in 2012, renowned architecture firm OMA was announced as the winners of a two-stage international competition to design the arts centre. Led by Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, the main theatre seats 1,500 people and is located on the exterior as a large sphere while two smaller theatres are each able to seat around 800 people each.


Two of the three theatres can be combined into one super theatre with a 60-metre long stage for experimental new forms of performance. Completion is expected in 2016 with the estimated construction costs to be around 5.4 billion Taiwan dollars (€140 million).

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Automobile Driving Museum show offers electric-car history retrospective


The first modern electric cars to go on sale in large numbers were the Nissan Leaf and first-generation Chevrolet Volt, both of which arrived in showrooms in December 2010. But the history of electric cars stretches back much further than that—more than a century back, in fact.

Electric cars achieved notable popularity at the turn of the 20th century before fading into the background, and there were numerous attempts to revive them in the ensuing decades. An exhibit open now at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California, looks at a slice of that history. Titled “The Electric Car: Fad or Future?”, the exhibit runs through July 31. And it’s fitting that the show is offered in California, given that state’s half-century of pioneering regulation to limit auto emissions and move vehicles in the state toward zero emissions.

While it displays many examples of vintage electric cars from different historical periods, this exhibit focuses most intently on the 1960s and 1970s, and features more modern electric cars as well.


Vintage vehicles on display include a Taylor Dunn Trident, an Electric King, and an Autoette.

All three are probably closer to today’s low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles than true electric cars like the Leaf or the Tesla Model S.

They’re displayed alongside a Honda Fit EV and a Toyota eCom, as well as the Tesla Model S convertible built by an aftermarket firm.

honda-fit_100394481_m (1)The Fit EV was an all-electric version of the second-generation Fit subcompact built primarily as a “compliance car” to meet California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate.

It was offered for lease from model years 2012 through 2014, and Honda only built the 1,100 copies required to satisfy the California mandate.

Honda’s next electric car will be a variant of the Clarity, which launches first in the U.S. with a fuel-cell powertrain.


This Clarity Electric version will likely go on sale as a 2018 model, and could sell in more markets than the Fit EV.

The Toyota eCom is a two-seat city car that first appeared at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show.

Only a handful were built, and the model was used for some demonstrations in the U.S.


Toyota also had a battery-electric compliance car, the RAV4 EV offered with a powertrain built by Tesla Motors, but the world’s largest automaker is now focusing solely on zero-emission vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood of El Segundo, California, consider checking out this uncommon look at the history of electric cars.

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Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma Denies Copying Zaha Hadid’s Toyko Stadium Design


Zaha Hadid is alleging that the new design for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium has borrowed elements from her original, which was scrapped last year amid much controversy.

The starchitect spoke out following the unveiling of the new design by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma before Christmas. Hadid revealed that her company had rejected an offer from the Japan Sports Council to purchase the copyright of her designs in return for payment of services rendered.


Hadid’s office sent a report to the Japan Sports Council pointing out the similarities in “the structure, layout, and numerous elements” between her and Kuma’s design and is threatening legal action if they do not receive payment or answers regarding their issues regarding the new design, according to the Guardian.

Kuma is denying any accusations of copyright violation and cites the strict guidelines of the original brief from the Japan Sports Council for any superficial similarities between the designs.


“In the design, I would like to say there are no similarities at all,” Kuma said at a press conference last week, reported by the Scotsman. “The conditions set for the competition mean that automatically some similarities emerge,” Kuma explained, adding that “the concept is completely different, so it is absolutely a different building, despite the similarities.”

This is just the latest in a long sequence of problems with the design for the stadium, due for completion in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, which began with Hadid winning the bid for the stadium in 2014, thus beating many Japanese architects in the competition for the coveted project.


When her design was publicly unveiled in December 2014  a group of architects, led by older statesman of Japanese architecture Arata Isozaki, released a statement likening her design to a bike helmet and complained that the trademark sweeping curves of Hadid’s design were too futuristic for the area of downtown Tokyo where it was due to be built.

At the time, Isozaki cattily described Hadid’s design as being “a dull, slow form, like a turtle waiting for Japan to sink so that it can swim away.”


Hadid hit back by saying she felt that the Japanese architecture community didn’t like the fact that the contract had been awarded to a foreigner, despite the fact that they themselves frequently work abroad.

The $2.8 billion design was then scrapped by the Japanese Government—citing costs—and a new cap on any future designs of $1.5 billion was put in place. Hadid then joined forces with Japanese architects Nikken Sekkei in an effort to restart the project in July 2015 but the effort was short lived, with Hadid scrapping the renewed bid within days.


Kengo Kuma & Associates were then awarded the new contract and worked with companies who had worked with Hadid on the previous design.

While defending his design last week, Kuma added that he felt that Japan needed to adjust its working practices to make it easier for foreigners to work there.


“I don’t know, as I’ve never worked as a foreigner here,” Kuma stated as reported in the Scotsman. “But from my personal point of view, communicating and holding meetings might be difficult.”

The official design for the logo for the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo was also subject to plagiarism claims and was subsequently scrapped.

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12 Tips For Making an Outstanding Architecture Portfolio


Getting a job or internship at an architecture firm doesn’t only depend on your skills as an architect (or student). The way you present your skills plays an essential role. At a time of great professional competitiveness and with resumes becoming more globalized, assembling a portfolio may seem like a chore and often very involving: Which projects do I list? What personal information do I add? Should I include my academic papers in professional portfolios?

Brazilian architect Gabriel Kogan has shared with us a list of twelve tips on how to build a good architectural portfolio, ranging from graphic design to the type of personal information and content that should be included in your resume. Read his guidelines after the break, and if you have any other tips share them with us in the comments section.

1. Just Say “No” to Stand Alone Resumes


Never (ever EVER) just send your resume without a portfolio of your work. That’s rule number one, without a doubt. Plain text resumes are rarely looked at and won’t stand out when compared to others. Where you graduated from is much less important than your actual ability in the profession.

2. Your Portfolio’s Presentation is Just as Important as Its Content


Visual composition can make or break your portfolio. This shows your grasp of an essential skill: graphic design. Even portfolios with amazing projects tend to be overlooked or become invisible when compared to ones with more attractive presentation. Very cluttered pages can hide content. The images need to breathe. Do not overload your portfolio with a lot of information to make it look more full: the more concise and attractive the layout, the better. Usually the people looking over these documents  can tell what information is relevant and what is just filler. The font, margins, structure and proportion of a page say a lot about your ability as an architect as well.

 3. Include Lots of Personal Information


An architect’s work is multidisciplinary. For virtually every practicing architect it is important to have general knowledge that transcends the technical design or building project. Personality is critical to the job. If your poems are good, if your drawings are cool, if you write well, if you like art, if you take great photos; there is no reason to hide any of that in your architecture portfolio. Offices almost always seek architects who think for themselves. In addition, this information can make the portfolio more fun. They should also appear visually. Your photo ID or a selfie of a group of friends on the beach aren’t really appropriate, but a photo – even abstract – that shows your personality and how you present yourself  or represent your interests may add a nice touch: images that reflect, most importantly, your personality and your interests.

4. A Long Portfolio Isn’t Better Than a Short One


On the contrary. Some offices receive dozens of resumes a day and so it is important to be short and sweet; straight to the point. Portfolios with lots of pages are rarely looked at fully.  Put your best projects first. Close with something attractive too, but the first impression is the one that counts. If you have many projects that you think are good, don’t put them all; only the best of the best. Mediocre projects – ones you aren’t proud of or have any  doubts about – leave out, they may have mattered to you, but don’t hang on. It’s better to have two excellent projects than 10 average ones. It’s better to have two excellent projects than two excellent ones plus 8 mediocre ones. There is no rule for the number of pages, but a 40 page document already seems too long. Remember: at first the document will be looked at for no more than one minute before being passed on.

 5. Choose Projects that Work with the Office’s Profile

Black and White Building Members, coworking, hot desking, shoredtich

You need to make slightly different portfolios for each place you’re applying to. Certain designs, for example, may suit some offices, but would get thrown out of another. Study the company, get to know little of their philosophy and create something unique for them. This doesn’t  mean that you shouldn’t include “unusual” projects. On the contrary, offices are usually very open to new architecture styles, as long as they are well-founded. Be careful not to mirror projects of the office where you’re trying to work. Few things are more annoying to an office to than to see a copy of a project or their “style”  in a portfolio they receive. Being original and thinking for yourself are fundamental characteristics.

6. Attach a PDF With a Maximum of 15 Mb


Online platform portfolios are not cool. Again, online platform portfolios are not cool. They’re always very slow and with interfaces that are difficult to navigate. It is important for the office keep the file on their server because in the future they may be interested in something that there was no opportunity for in the past. A PDF makes it easy to search your portfolio. Sites with their own domain and architectural visual programming can be very well received, but do not replace the old PDF. Google Drive and large file sending platforms should be avoided.

7. Make Your CV Page Appealing


Despite its limited importance compared to the works and images, the CV page should contain clear data. Which city do you live in? What languages do you speak? What software do you use? This information can be placed in an exciting fashion, with infographics, for example. Your ID number, Social Security Number, marital status, home address and the like are irrelevant data and therefore don’t need to be included in an initial contact. But be sure to put information about foreign language! This is often a necessary skill for offices doing work abroad, and its absence could make your portfolio immediately eliminated.

8. Theoretical Projects


Nothing shows an architect’s potential better than theoretical and academic projects. University is the time to create the start of a portfolio and these works are worth a lot. Worth as much as real projects, by the way. Research on architectural history or the like, when fully developed, demonstrates fundamental knowledge for day-to-day projects. Demonstrate the intellect behind a process and more sophisticated analytical capabilities. Architecture is becoming more and more about research, therefore  a mastery of theory is crucial. It should be evident – obviously and succinctly – in the presentation of your work.

9. The Inclusion of Technical Drawings Can Help, but Can Also Distract


Submitting a portfolio isn’t that same as submitting construction drawings. You don’t need to explain everything thoroughly, with plans for all the floors and dozens of sections. But it’s important to get the general idea of the project (the concept) and to show your skills. If you are called for an interview, then take something more detailed. Including many drawings, and particularly, many technical drawings, can only hold your portfolio back; It takes up valuable space. It can be charming, however, to include a 1: 1 or 1: 2 architectural detail that shows your attention to the construction and the precision of the design, but without exaggeration.

 10. Duties for Each Project

Portrait Of Happy Businessman Cheering At Workplace

Be clear and truthful about your contributions in each project. The real contributions! Even if you were an intern, put what you’ve really done, “detailing frames,” “preliminary project concepts,” “compatibility”, “supervisory work”, etc. This will show your actual experience. Architectural design is always a collective work and therefore, even on work of your own jobs, you probably didn’t do it alone. Be honest.

11. Cover Letters


The text in the body of the email is important. It should be brief and attractive. No big speeches. In any case, this is also an area to be a little less impersonal.  Honest and poetic letters are better than very formal letters. In fact, nothing sounds worse than formal letters. Unless you are trying to get into an office with hundreds or thousands of employees (in this case, all of the recommendations in this article don’t seem to work well in general). The famous letters of recommendation from other architects are falling out of favor. They’re almost always written by the architect himself  and just signed by the architect making the recommendation. These letters should only be included if the office asks for them within the process. Also, be careful not to forward the same e-mail to all offices that you intend to look for a job at. E-mails with “fwd” in the title or an open list of addresses are usually deleted before the process even begins.

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Jaipur is India’s pink jewel of history, architecture and sophisticated culture


Jaipur’s forts, palaces and temples are some of the most exciting tourist attractions in India

If you love history and old buildings, you must visit Jaipur, the state capital of Rajasthan, in northwest India. Established in the late-1700s by the ruler of the Amber Kingdom, Sawai Jai Singh, Jaipur was India’s first planned city.


Also nicknamed the “Pink City” for the colour of much of its architecture, Jaipur completes India’s “Golden Triangle” of must-see tourist destinations, along with Delhi and Agra.

The Amber Fort is well worth a visit during the spring or summer as its pastel-yellow architecture looks so striking in the greenness of the Aravalli Range valley it surveys. Built in 1592, about 11km from Jaipur, this Hindu- and Muslim-styled stronghold-palace complex is one of the region’s important attractions. Visitors traditionally reach the hilltop complex on an elephant, and then see the structure’s four distinct areas – each with its own quaint, leafy courtyard.


The fort’s highlights include the spectacular hall, the Sheesh Mahal, which is covered in vivid inlaid panels and thousands of tiny glass mirrors, and Shila Devi Temple, which has exquisite silver doors that are a confection of repoussé (raised relief) work. There are two other majestic, age-old castles in this vicinity: Jaigarh, with red walls, grassy quads and world-record-sized cannon (Jaivana); and Nahargarh, which is celebrated for housing the fading splendour of the Madhavendra Bhawan palace.


One can imagine that this part of India was almost like a maharajas’ playground in the past. Other opulent edifices include the early 18th-century, multistoreyed City Palace complex, which is still used as a royal residence; and the mirage-like Jal Mahal, which means “Water Palace” – a composite of Rajput and Mughal architectural styles in the middle of the aquamarine-calm of Man Sagar Lake.


There are also plenty of ancient temples in Jaipur, from the hallowed surrounds of Govind Dev Ji, Moti Dungri or Galtaji, to the remarkable Unesco World Heritage-listed, Jantar Mantar, which was built in the 1720s as an observatory. This structure of weird stone fabrications also displays sophisticated instruments that were designed to quantify time, track stars, and calculate the arrival of eclipses.


For an unmissable excursion, take the Agra Road to Chand Baori, in the sleepy village of Abhaneri, 95km from Jaipur.  Built in the 10th-century, this landmark might seem to be a mathematical puzzle, but it is actually an illustration of Indian engineering ingenuity: a stepwell. One of the oldest and deepest (30 metres) of its kind in the whole of Asia, the point of this zigzagging, stairway-wonder was to conserve water – the temperature at the bottom of the structure where the liquid is kept, is 5 to 6 degrees cooler than at the surface.


The similarly-aged Harshat Mata Temple is nearby, and named after the Hindu goddess of joy and happiness. This domed building is adorned with deep-relief, orange-tinged sandstone sculptures. Having seen this region’s astonishing sights, visitors might find it hard to argue with the writer Mark Twain’s view of India: “The most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his round. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.”

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4 Creative Women Taking the Lead in Design & Architecture


According to the International Interior Design Association, 69 percent of the 87,000 design practitioners in the United States are women, but only 25 percent of firm leaders are female. W.T.F.

While famous women such as Zaha Hadid, Odile Decq and Jennifer Siegal are paving the road to the very top, the Bay Area is also full of talented female designers and architects who are making a name for themselves in San Francisco and beyond. We chatted with four creatives who have opened their own studios in the city, established their reputations nationally and internationally, and overcome every challenge along the way. It’s time we give these women the attention they deserve.

Nicole Hollis, Principal and Creative Director of NICOLEHOLLIS


What does it mean to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?

I ignore gender and drive through the work. I believe that by the end of a project, the entire team will have forgotten about it too.

What are the main challenges?

I’ve always been fortunate enough to work with architects that have focused on the work itself and not questioned my ability based on sex. Working on construction sites can occasionally be challenging. They stop calling me “sweetheart” once they realize that I have an extremely high level of expertise and that I will send them back to the drawing board until they get it right. Also, getting out of my office and working together on site, rather than via email or phone, generates a lot of mutual respect.

What are the opportunities for women in your industry?

I believe that women have the same opportunities as men. Often having quiet determination and hanging in there during the tough times can be more of a factor than gender.

Lisa Bottom, Design Principal at Gensler San Francisco


What does it mean to be a woman in a male-dominated industry?

I never felt inadequate because I am a woman. Today, the profession is far more egalitarian. The era of improper behavior towards women is long gone thankfully. I am happy to report that both the design and construction professions have many more women in powerful positions and a woman’s ability to multi-task and see the big picture while following up on small details is seen as a valuable set of skills. I no longer feel that I have to be “better than the guys,” I simply want to be the best I can be, do work that matters, and teach young professionals (regardless of gender) how to reach their own full potential.

What are the main challenges?

I learned early on that my proclivity for hard work would serve me well. I had to work harder than most of the men and ensure that all my delivered product was the best I could produce. Up until about 1990 I could always count on being singled out by cat calls and whistles while on a job site, or by being referred to as “honey.” I developed a pretty thick skin, cut my hair short and learned how to make decisions and give orders in a manner that was no-nonsense and to the point, without wavering. One mechanical sub-contractor dismissively nicknamed me “Little Missy” when I made him pull out an entire mechanical system that was improperly built. However, I was right and the client stood behind me. The name “Little Missy” stuck with me for years, but I was never challenged again after that.

What are the opportunities for women in your industry?

The sky’s the limit today. The Co-CEO of Gensler, Diane Hoskins, is a woman. Our most recent Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Gensler, Robin Klehr-Avia, is a woman, and the Managing Directors of many of the Gensler offices are women. Gender is no longer the determining factor for success in a design career. Instead, designers are asked to be creators and visionaries, always moving to the vanguard of what is possible. Designers are asked to be dreamers as well as problem solvers. Fortunately for all of us, this transcends gender completely.

Anne Fougeron, Principal of Fougeron Architecture

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What does it mean to be a woman in a male-dominated industries?

Being a minority is always a challenge. You have to be extra vigilant and work harder as you are being tested and judged more quickly that your male counterparts.

What are the main challenges?

The challenge is to convince people that you are as capable as your male colleagues. There seems to be an underlying assumption that men understand and know more about construction than women! I am often asked if I am the interior designer. “We are slow to believe in women architects, we were slow in an effort to try to educate them; had we been more enlightened we might have had as many architects as we have milliners and dressmakers. They can build a house as well as a bonnet.” This is a quote taken from an article published in the New York Times on June 5, 1895. What has changed?

What are the opportunities for women in your industry?

I think women are primed to take over and be the new emerging voice in the field of architecture .We just need to keep pushing down the barriers of sexism. We must remember to always ask for what is rightfully ours.

Kendall Wilkinson, Principal of Kendall Wilkinson Design


What does it mean to be a woman in a male-dominated industries?

I wouldn’t actually characterize our industry as male dominated. Certainly, there are many well-known female interior designers. While the percentage of female principals in architectural firms is much lower, many of them are incredibly celebrated, such as the late Zaha Hadid. Bringing a female perspective to industries with a heavy male concentration (architects, builders, etc.) can be a benefit as it may be quite different in terms of flow, usage of space and even conflict resolution. Ideally, it is about the collaboration of talent and creativity and life experience.

What are the main challenges?

I think that because my mother was such a strong role model, in addition to being a fabulous designer, she taught me how to approach life from a different perspective. I never thought about being less or more because of my gender, I always knew that I had something to bring to any table, regardless of the audience.

What are the opportunities for women in your industry?

Doors are opening in so many areas related to design now. More and more, you are seeing women in construction be it electricians, project managers, or even general contractors. Female designers are well celebrated and the opportunities in interior design are becoming more expansive, our industry is undergoing disruption which I think will lead to interesting new paths for both women and men.