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Getting better with age



Part of our design philosophy is designing contemporary spaces that not only look beautiful and are functional, but also possess a long architectural lifespan and continue to adapt and grow with their surrounding contexts. This month, we revisit two Modscape favourites which were installed many years ago — the Merricks Beach and Point Leo holiday houses — as an exercise in demonstrating how the implementation of passive design principles, the utilisation of modular construction, and the practice of quality material selection improves the longevity of our buildings over time, with little maintenance required. If you are interested in a comparative study, the original images of the Merricks Beach and Point Leo houses can be viewed on their respective project pages on our website.
















Building a new Lego experience



Fans of toy brand Lego will be pleased to know that construction of the proposed LEGO House – an experience centre that will show the past, present and future of the LEGO idea — has recently broken ground in Billund, Denmark. Six foundation blocks embodying the toy brand’s values were laid to commemorate construction last month, which is due for completion in 2016. Designed by Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the centre is a true visualization of the systematic creativity that is at the core of LEGO and is expected to attract over 250,000 devotees annually. Composed as an arrangement of stacked rectangular volumes reminiscent of the famous plastic bricks, the LEGO House will feature exhibition areas, a café, a public square and a unique LEGO store — offering future visitors hours of active fun while at the same time engaging in an educational and inspirational experience. With an interior floor plan of 12,000 square metres, the house features a giant LEGO-shaped apex at the top of the building which, according to BIG founder Bjarke Ingels, will be seen from Google Earth when lit. For an animation of the LEGO house and how it all comes together check out BIG’s Vimeo channel.

Things we love: Roomscan


Image via Apple

If you’ve ever had the need to measure a room or draw an entire floor plan, you’ll know that the good old-fashioned way is a tedious task that involves using a tape measure to calculate the total area. For those of you with an iPhone, you might want to ditch the the tape measure all together and try Roomscan. While not a new app, Roomscan has been gaining some serious online traction lately for it’s simple albeit impressive ability to draw floorplans in minutes. What’s great about it is that the app draws the floorplan itself – all you need to do is tap your device to the walls and let it do the rest. The iPhone’s internal sensors recognises a sequence of flat vertical surfaces, measuring the distance in between. Claiming that measurements are accurate within 10cm, this app will deliver a basic floorplan which you can fine-tune before adding it to your design plans. You can also export the drawing as either a PDF or DXF for AutoCAD or SketchUp. We’ve tried it and, while it won’t be replacing our AutoCAD software, we think it’s a quick and handy alternative to the tape measure. Roomscan is available in a free standard version or a Pro version for a small app fee.

Cliff House by Modscape Concept

© Modscape

A five storey modular home clings to the side of a cliff in this conceptual design by Modscape. Entitled the Cliff House, the design is a theoretical response to clients who have approached Modscape to explore design options for extreme parcels of coastal land in Australia. Inspired by the way barnacles cling to the hull of a ship, a concept was developed for a modular home to hang off the side of a cliff as opposed to sitting on top of it. The home is visualised as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean. As the design itself would make conventional construction prohibitive, the concept utilises Modscape’s modular design and prefabrication technologies to deliver a series of stacked modules that are anchored into the cliff face using engineered steel pins. Entry to the home is through a carport on the top floor, where a lift vertically connects the user through each of the descending living spaces. Internally, the living spaces feature minimalistic furnishings to ensure that the transcendent views of the ocean and the unique spatial experience of the location remain the integral focal point of the design.


© Modscape


© Modscape

© Modscape






Project Wantirna


The Wantirna Education Precinct is a collaborative partnership between Eastern Health and Deakin and Monash universities that aims to create a supportive and inspirational learning environment for medical, nursing and allied health professionals in Melbourne’s east.

Modscape worked closely with Eastern Health to deliver a new education facility that provides expanded teaching and training spaces to meet the growing requirements of Wantirna Health’s current operations.

With a combined module space of 418 sqm, the design comprises a 7-module building that connects to the hospital via a central corridor.

As the precinct is sited at the front entry of the hospital and connects internally with the existing training facilities, the façade of the new modular building utilises a series of Alucobond boxes to create a heavily articulated, three-dimensional reinterpretation of the existing precast façade, which has been used as one wall of the corridor to visually consolidate the hospital and the precinct.

Krystall clear: Waterstudio’s snowflake hotel

Image via Waterstudio

Imagine watching the Northern Lights through the roof of a floating glass snowflake. It’s not as fantastical as you might think, with Dutch firm Waterstudio recently unveiling plans to install a floating snowflake-shaped hotel off the coast of Tromsø, Norway. The design for the Krystall Hotel visualises a simple glass building that will allow guests to receive unobstructed views of the Northern Lights from their room. According to the project’s architects, the structure’s large basis and unique shape provide adequate stability but additional technology with ‘dampers, springs and cables is used to take away any acceleration.’ What is equally impressive is that the entire building will be prefabricated in sections before being assembled on location, thereby reducing the environmental impact in what the firm calls a ‘scarless development’.  Consisting of 86 rooms, the Krystall will offer the same look and feel as a luxury hotel on land, complete with a wellness centre, spa and conference rooms. While the final location won’t be revealed until a full environmental impact assessment has been completed, the developers have confirmed that the hotel will be open before the end of 2016.

Aesop interiors

Image via Dezeen

There are two things we love about skincare heavyweight Aesop: their trademark pharmaceutical-style products and their propensity for incredible store design. Both have enabled the Melbourne-born company to carve out a covetable brand career, but it’s their ‘no two stores are the same’ design philosophy – consistently expressed in their meticulously detailed interior schemes – that has created a somewhat cult following among design aficionados and appreciators alike. Rather than work within the confines of a standard store model, each Aesop store is a direct response to the local streetscapes and vocabulary as a way of contextualising the brand. Given that the company now operates over 70 stores world-wide, it is amazing to think of the many ways in which the brand is articulated. Behind the variations in textures, colour palettes and facades exists customer accessibility and understated minimalism, two signature elements that are realised in every store, regardless of the architect or location. From one designer to another, these are things we can certainly appreciate. As a testament to the whimsical and inspiring spaces Aesop designs, international design magazine Dezeen has developed an archive of Aesop stores for design fans. However, if you’re after a real life Aesop fix, then we recommend popping into one of their local stores and experiencing it for yourself.

Powerhouse Brattørkaia by Snøhetta


image via snohetta

It seems that everywhere we look online these days there is a design or architecture website dedicating their virtual print space to a Snohetta project, and rightly so. It has nothing to do with hype and everything to do with Snohetta’s ability to design unbelieveable spaces that reflect a strong relationship between architecture and landscape. You can understand our surprise when we discovered that the soon-to-be-completed Powerhouse Brattørkaia had received relatively little press until now. Spearheaded by the Powerhouse Alliance and designed by Snohetta, Powerhouse Brattørkaia is the first office building in Norway that produces more energy than it uses, making it the world’s northern-most energy-positive building. Solar energy harvesting is the major design driver for this project which includes a variety of solar, hydro and heat technology to produce energy for the building and heating and cooling systems. The building rises from the fjord towards the north creating a unique south-facing sloping roof – an optimal condition for solar energy production. Passive design principles, including optimisation of solar cells and window locations in the façade, minimise overall energy consumption and maximise use of solar energy. Construction isn’t expected to be completed until 2015, so for now you might want to check out some of Snohetta’s other designs to tide you over including the Opera Hotel we featured in March.

Connect four: Melbourne Indesign


Image via Melbourne Indesign

Arguably, the city of Melbourne is the ultimate purveyor of style – from design, and architecture to food, fashion and art.  It’s no secret that we love our city for its pop-up design markets, festivals and trade events, and Melbourne Indesign further strengthens this. Melbourne Indesign forms part of the larger Indesign: The Event umbrella – a concept distinguished by the coming together of international and regional commercial design houses and leading creative figures from the architecture and design industry. Regarded as the most anticipated design event on the calendar, the event unites the design precincts of Collingwood, Fitzroy, Melbourne CBD and Richmond through a host of design workshops, seminars, showrooms, installations and pop-up spaces across the four locations. What’s better (apart from the fact that it’s free) are the Indesign shuttle buses running regularly each day, connecting the four precincts like a boutique design trail. The prospect of being driven across the city to rub shoulders with some amazing international and local design talent sounds perfectly Melbourne to us. To register for your access-all-areas pass or for more information, check out the Melbourne Indesign website.

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