Man, nature and technology

30 Mar 2011

Emerging multinational practice LAVA repositions architecture at the forefront of cultural, technological and social innovation

Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA) is an emerging multinational practice that claims to reposition architecture at the forefront of cultural, technological and social innovation. LAVA combines digital workflow, nature's structural principles and the latest digital fabrication technologies with the aim of achieving MORE WITH LESS: more (architecture) with less (material/energy/time/cost).

LAVA's inspiration is man, nature and technology. The potential for naturally evolving systems such as snowflakes, spider webs and soap bubbles for new building typologies and structures informs LAVA's projects; the geometries in nature create both efficiency and beauty.

LAVA redefines the way we live through innovative solutions, efficient forms, sustainability, carbon neutrality and local contextualisation. Three recent projects highlight LAVA's commitment to originality, innovation, form and special quality, sustainability and context: Masdar city centre UAE; Tower Skin, Australia, and Future Hotel, Germany.

LAVA's innovative ‘Tower Skin' is a speculative plan to re‐purpose inefficient and outdated buildings. The ‘reskinning' facelift transforms the identity, sustainability and interior comfort of any tired icon quickly and cost-effectively. Minimal surface tension allows a membrane of lightweight, high performance, composite mesh to freely stretch around the walls, achieving maximum visual impact with minimal material effort.

A ‘micro climate' generates energy with photovoltaic cells, collects rainwater, redistributes daylight, uses available convective energy to power ventilation and is an intelligent media surface - a new hybrid typology. LAVA's Future Hotel Showcase 2009, at the Fraunhofer IAO, demonstrated that integrated systems, responsive architecture and lower energy lighting/heating are the way of the future. A curvy free‐form outer skin is the interface between cutting‐edge technology and the human body. Anti‐jet‐lag lights, a swaying ‘energy' bed, smart floors with lighting sensors, intelligent mirrors and a large, fully integrated media display showcase relaxation for guests of the future.

LAVA's competition-winning design for the city centre of Masdar, UAE incorporates giant ‘sunflower' umbrellas that adapt to provide continuous shade, store heat, close and release the heat at night. This first zero carbon, zero waste city is powered entirely by renewable energy sources and is due to be completed by 2016. The umbrellas open opportunities for outside living, even in the desert.

Masdar Plaza building façade angles offset glare; wall surfaces respond to changing temperatures; water features and lighting are triggered by passersby, and roof gardens integrate food production, energy generation, water efficiency and the reuse of organic food waste.

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