1/12/2011

A101 Urban Block Competition Proposal by b4 Architects

The web magazine archdaily has published b4 architects' proposal "A101 Urban Block" for the city of Moscow, January 11. This proposal consists of housing 150,000 inhabitants for a new city near Moscow. b4 Architects have focused on a thoughtful making of spaces while being sensitive to the contact conditions of the city. We would like to go back to this proposal by detailing some aspects of its components.
This low density housing block, composed of four housing typologies, will occupy a rectangular site which size is 14 000 square meters. Two housing typologies will be implanted in the length of the site. A building with a higher density will occupy the width of this site facing a smaller volume which height is similar to those of occupying its length.
A101 Urban Block —  Model, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

b4 Architects have designed 17 variations for these housing typologies before opting for the residential block formed by architectural elements as the illustration below shows.
A101 Urban Block, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

This residential block contains apartments from one to four rooms.
A101 Urban Block, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

The master plan is based on a regular grid on plan and elevation which contain some little 'perturbations' that will generate a place where people appreciates the complexity of contemporary life as intentional and aesthetic experience. For the agency, the city is mobile world, free of known limitations. This city is based on its relationship with dwellings considered as an opening to the world.
A101 Urban Block, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Common areas and distribution result from the organisation of the block. It is designed as real public spaces in accordance with the Greek concept of 'temenos', meaning an enclosing space where implementation is possible yet that innate a sense of living of every human being. The plan below shows the articulation of the architectural elements and the openings allowing the controlled accessibility to this residential block.
A101 Urban Block — Typical floor plan, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Communication between the inhabitants, and between the buildings and the inhabitants is the key element in this proposal. The courtyard will serve as a public space, precisely a semi-public residential garden in the line with the concept of 'temenos', yet with a controlled accessibility.
This buildings block will be equipped with terraces which will host green elements. With the courtyard, these green areas become an integrated system that involves every apartment, as b4 Architects say.
A101 Urban Block, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Four accesses to the courtyard will be open to pedestrians while three accesses will be limited to emergency-car. These buildings will contain parking for 80 cars.
A101 Urban Block — Groundfloor scheme, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.

Housing apart, the residential block is also composed of commercial spaces, fitness and recreative spaces, cafe and restaurant spaces, as the groundfloor scheme shows above.
A101 Urban Block, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.
These architectural elements which form the residential block are different with the variation of various context conditions such as exposure to the sunlight as shown below.
A101 Urban Block — Exposure to the sunlight, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.
The orientation of this housing block addresses issues such as daylighting. The agency's choice conforms with the Russian climate, which appears to be the coldest country of the world. Needless to say that the long and cold winter has a profound impact on every aspect of life in Russia. The image above demonstrates how sunlight penetrates the urban block during daylight hours. This strategy is important when addressing the issue of energy efficiency in terms of housing.
b4 Architects envision low energy houses less than 30 kWh/m2a. The image below shows b4 architects' proposition for the energy housing systems.
A101 Urban Block — Energy building system, b4 Architects, Moscow, Russia, © b4 Architects. Originally appeared on archdaily.
This proposition is inscribed in the logic of a whole-house systems approach which, mostly, consider the interaction between the user, the building site, the climate and other elements or components that compose the user's home. The agency proposes a complete energy building system, such as green roofs, roofs also made out of photovoltaic panels. This residential block will contain a water drainage system which manages and improve production of water supplies. Wall insulation will be used to reduce heat flow through the walls.
This residential block will be equipped with lodges and brise-soleil for a best solar gains. Heating and cooling account for an important percentage of the energy use in a typical home. To address this issue, the residential block will be equipped with radiant cooling (summer) and heating (winter) system. For an energy saving, the radiant system appears to be better than air conditioning since air conditioning uses convection only using air distribution through ductwork while radiant system uses a combination of radiation and convection.
A storm sewer system will be installed below the surface of the courtyard that will conveys sewage such as storm water.

Who is b4 Architects?
b4 Architects are Gianluca Evels and Stefania Papitto. Based in Rome, The agency was founded as a free relationship of architects joining several knowledge. The agency's approach to any project is to involve all parties to define the objectives of the project with a balanced combination within critical readings of the local context and the "outsider" perspective of us. Urban quality doesn't depend only on single architectural objects' nature, but also on the relationships between the objects and the context. The work on pre-existent spaces and the interior design projects try to explain all the available elements in a new synthesis: the traces of the history of the building, the expectations of the client, psycho-sensorial aspects of the architecture united in a continuous spatial and visual tale. They also dedicate to further activities, like some different experiences at the university of Rome or taking part at some international workshops with the aim to be active in the debate about contemporary architecture.

Project Data
Project: A101 Urban Block
Programme: housing, commercial spaces, recreative and fitness spaces, cafe and restaurant spaces, parking, open spaces
Architect: b4 Architects
Project Team: Gianluca Evels and Stefania Papitto (b4 Architects) in collaboration with Sebiastano Maccarrone
Year: 2010
Type: Competition
Client: Masshtab Company
Area: 14,000 sqm

Credits
Renderings, plans, models, drawings all © b4 Architects.
Renderings, plans, models all originally appeared on archdaily.

Source: archdaily.

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