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Architecture History: Skyscrapers Of The Past

Humanities incessant fascination with defying gravity is nothing new. It has existed throughout time and man has been in a constant battle with himself in the pursuit of building higher and higher skyscrapers. It has been a non-stop cycle wand this has led to the definition of skyscrapers to be continuously redefined through the passage of time.

Advancement in technology has enabled man to redefine the skyscraper benchmark over and over again. But if you stop for a moment to consider that skyscrapers have existed in form or another throughout history and that it is something that we share with our predecessors.

Let’s take a trip down the memory lane and let’s look at some of the skyscrapers from the history of civilizations.

 

La Venta Pyramid, La Venta

900 BC | Height: 34m-110ft

Today, if you visit the city of La Venta, located in Tabasco, Mexico, it will seem like any other city. But this is no ordinary city, it was once the capital of the great Olmec civilization and the pyramid of La Venta was truly a wonder of its time. It was the central building of the city that stood in all its might leaving spectators spell bounded.

The most interesting fact is that the pyramid of La Venta was actually a rectangular pyramid with inset corners and stepped sides. This great building was made entirely of clay and such had been its might that it has withstood 2500 years worth of corrosion.

 

La Danta Temple, El-Mirador

300 BC | Height: 72m-236 ft

If you are asked to sum up the Mayan Empire in a few words, you can safely answer – La Danta Temple.

A stone building constructed with stone-age tools, this iconic temple speaks volumes about the greatness of Mayan Empire. In its glory days, it was the pride of the city of Mirador, towering over the central Acropolis and main city plaza.

 

Pyramid of the sun, Teotihuacan, Mexico.

100 AD | Height: 71m-233ft

The third skyscraper on the list is another pyramid, which isn’t a surprise as pyramids were the structure of choice in the past.

The Pyramid is situated in the ancient city of Teotihuacán, Mexico and is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world. It is amongst the best tourist attractions in Mexico City, leaving visitors in awe because of its sheer size.

It is a common misconception that the Pyramid of the sun is an Aztec temple. However, this is incorrect as this masterpiece was constructed by the Teotihuacans, which existed at a much earlier time. Unfortunately, not much is known about the Teotihuacans and hence, the purpose for which the Pyramid of the Sun was built has been a subject of a lot of debate.

 

Step pyramid, Saqqara

2650 BC | Height: 62m-203 ft

Though pyramids have been constructed by civilizations across the globe, however, when it comes to these structures, the country that comes to mind instantly is Egypt. It can be safely said that pyramids are the most famous structures of Egypt and in this regards, let’s take at look at one of the most prestigious pyramid.

Commonly known as Step Pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser is considered to be the first Egyptian pyramid. It isn’t a surprise that the appearance of this pyramid is quite different from the pyramids built later.

Located in the Saqqara necropolis, the Step pyramid was built during the Third dynasty for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser. It is considered as the earliest large-scale cut stone construction. The pyramid stood 62 meters tall, with a base of 109 m × 125 m and was clad in polished white limestone.

The construction of the step pyramid was a pivotal step in the history of Egypt as it led to the ambitious pyramid construction program that ultimately led to the construction of Great Pyramids at Giza.

 

Colosseum, Rome

80 AD | Height: 49m-160 ft

Moving on from pyramids, let’s take a look at an architectural wonder that is regarded as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world – The Colosseum.

It is without a doubt that the Colosseum is the most recognizable classical building in Rome. It was constructed 2,000 years ago and has been subject to a lot of damage over the years. Despite the fact that this structure has been affected by excessive damage like being abandoned, pillaged for building materials, destroyed in numerous earthquakes, this structure has survived the test of time and still stands today.

The actual name of the Colosseum is Flavian amphitheater. However, it became to be known as the Colosseum as it gained immense fame because of the colossal statue of Nero. When it was built, it was the first permanent and the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire. It measured around 620 by 513 feet (190 by 155 meters) and could accommodate 60,000 seated and 10,000 standing spectators.

The distinctive feature of the Colosseum was that it consisted of a freestanding structure composed of concrete and stone. This was unique as amphitheaters were traditionally dug into the hillsides in order to provide the required support. Furthermore, the structure consisted of around 80 entrances, which means that even when fully packed, all the people inside the Colosseum could easily leave in a matter of minutes.

 

Lighthouse of Alexandria

280 BC-1323 AD | Height : 137m-450 ft

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, also called the Pharos of Alexandria, is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a ground-breaking technological achievement and become the model for on which all lighthouses have been built ever since.

The lighthouse of Alexandria was constructed in the 3rd century BC and was more than 350 feet high, making it one of the tallest man-made structures for many centuries.

Unfortunately, the lighthouse of Alexandria was damaged significantly during the 14th century when the region was hit by major earthquakes.

 

Article by HL Architects Durham

Earth-friendly Homes

Choosing Green Products & Materials For Earth-friendly and Adaptive Homes

In this day and age, everyone has become very aware of green products that are earth-friendly and good for the environment. These green products are now reaching the building of new homes or when homeowners decide to renovate. Architects, builders, and designers are opting for earth-friendly, adaptive materials that will make homes a healthier environment. With the constant changes in the needs of people, it’s time to understand the economic and health factors for designing safer homes.

Read on to understand the terms Earth-friendly and Adaptive homes.

Earth-friendly home

Earth-friendly Homes

Designing earth-friendly homes have come to light through the efforts of several countries for providing a cleaner environment, creating sustainable living, and improving health. Designers and builders have advanced and developed better skills in order to meet the new demands of their clients. When talking about environmentally friendly homes, this includes the materials used to either renovate or build a new home. Many architects and builders are turning to biodegradable materials for a home’s interior. This is a very interesting concept that actually takes ideas from ancient times when materials for homes came from nature.

For the construction of an earth-friendly home, even the paint products must be eco-friendly. Not only for safer walls but also the health and well-being of the occupants. Another concept being applied is the creation of outdoor rooms. Outdoor rooms use only natural light and air, cutting back on the cost energy. Along with eco-friendly homes, having eco-friendly products will lead to a healthier and environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

 

Adaptive Homes

Adaptive home designs consist of two major factors:

• The ability of a home to adapt to a changing lifestyle of the residents
• The ability of a home to adapt while withstanding many environmental changes.

These designs should create a sustainable lifestyle that provides the home with a better longevity and the occupants enjoying a safer lifestyle.

The Wind Engineering Research Center has stated that using stronger lumber and concrete, good quality insulated panels, and domed ceilings will help homes withstand severe weather. These conditions include storms, tornadoes, and possibly earthquakes. With the rise in serious weather conditions hitting the country, yearly, it only makes common sense to use better quality materials for building homes.

These homes should also have adaptive spaces such as sliding doors and even secret rooms. These are concepts are being used by builders and interior designers for superior designs in limited floor areas while still providing a good deal of space for a growing family. It is also important to choose a design that will be much easier to renovate when there is a need to expand. This is the concept that architects have named Adaptive Home Designs.

An Additional Note: Consider purchasing space-saver items and multipurpose furniture.

 

Formaldehyde flooring

Hidden Unhealthy Chemicals

Designers know that the planning process must incorporate the needs of their clients both emotionally and psychologically. They must also take into consideration the materials being applied to products through treatments and processing during manufacturing.

Unfortunately, many products are manufactured using a dangerous chemical called Formaldehyde. These products include, but not limited to, synthetic carpeting and underlays, insulation, paints, particleboard, adhesives, foam cushions, and plywood. Formaldehyde is also commonly found in many cosmetics, for better absorbency in paper towels, and fabric softeners! Wrap around this thought: Formaldehyde is a chemical used in the embalming process!

Research has proven that formaldehyde gives off gases that cause allergic reactions, triggers asthma attacks, and is an eye irritation. Although problems can be alleviated when changes are made to the home’s environment, there can be many other issues such as migraines, MCS or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities causing chronic candida infection (also known as a yeast infection), and heavy metal poisoning from certain products such as paint. If you or a family member are suffering from any sudden reactions or symptoms it is important to contact a health care professional who is knowledgeable in environmental illnesses.

 

Natural & Healthy Choices

Moving away from chemically treated products and using natural products instead for an eco-friendly home environment seems to be the wiser choice. You can make small changes within your home that are natural, cost-efficient, and good for you. Instead of running out to the store and purchasing an electric air purifier, buy plants instead! Plants can remove pollutants from the air giving you cleaner, healthier surroundings and are decorator friendly!

That said, how can you know which plants will work the best and what toxins are present in your environment? Interior designers have discovered NASA’s list of the best plants that are the most effective. Some of the most popular and effective plants include the Spider Plant, Dragon Lily, and Date Palm. With careful planning, a designer can choose the right plants and flowers to add a wonderful touch to their client’s décor. They will choose plants that are easy to maintain and yet are highly productive at cleaning the air.

Whether your environment is a large business, small shop, your office, or your home, you need to plan carefully to create what you are looking for. Whether you are a client or a Do It Yourself enthusiast, there will be many questions that an interior decorator or designer can help you out with. In general, they know the building codes that comply with the acceptable materials vs harmful materials. Living a healthy lifestyle goes far beyond the removal of diseases, it’s an interior that provides a sense of well-being and toxin-free surroundings.

Chemicals have been used in products for way too long and have proven to lead to a large range of health issues. Read the labels of household products and find out what the heck is in the products. Comprehensive research online can help sift through many common products and discover what you should stay away from. Even though many homes are now being constructed using natural, safe materials, you can still change your home’s environment into something that you will feel so much better about. Talk with environmentally knowledgeable designers for interior alternatives. If you are an interior designer, provide your clients with healthy, safe, choices when renovating or redesigning their homeses.

 

Save Dunelm House in Durham

Commonly known as the Durham Students’ Union, Dunelm House in Durham UK is facing a very bleak future. The Dept. for Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) told the Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been approached to issue a Certificate of Immunity from Listing (COI). This is a campaign to save the building.

Durham University has applied for a COI in April of last year. They have also launched a competition for redesigning the concrete structure. Last December, Bradley avoided calls from Historic England to award the Brutalist 51-year-old building a Grade II listing status.

The university contends that restoring Dunelm House would be far too expensive, running an estimated $18-million.

Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that was popular from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. It descended from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. Peter and Alison Smithson met while studying architecture at Durham University and noted this style of architecture has very deep roots in Durham.

Since the time of its opening, Dunelm House has won the 1966 RIBA Bronze Medal and the Civic Trust Award. The Dept. for Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) announced that through consideration, it has decided that Dunelm House does not meet the historic or special architectural interest required for listing.

Dunelm House was designed by Architects’ Co-Partnership and engineered by Ove Arup. The materials and form used, complimented Arup’s Grade I Kingsgate Bridge which was also completed in 1966. The Kingsgate Bridge has odd details such as chains attached to the concrete for tying the structure down.

The slopes are in harmony with the terrain of the site which dramatically veers down to the River Wear’s banks. There are also incredible views of the 937-year-old Durham Cathedral which rises to incredible heights above trees that form the landscape integrated with the Kingsgate Bridge.

Historic England has stated this building should be listed due to its superb example of the 1960s university architecture. The university’s argument that it would be too expensive to restore falls short of the simple fact that it would be twice as expensive to replace it with anything meaningful. No one seems able to follow the reasoning behind the DCMS overturning the advice of Historic England. Their statement does absolutely nothing to answer questions and concerns.

Dunelm House is an exceptional piece of modern architecture. It’s boldness and originality speaks volumes of the rich culture of the great architectures of its time. The university’s belief that they can construct something, even half as good, at a lower cost than repairing Dunelm House is living in a total fantasy! It’s a significant building that works with and complements its surroundings. It’s aggressive, captures your attention, and is an important part of the River Wear. It offers a peaceful place and the more time one spends there, it evokes something so very friendly.

Why This Building Is So Important
Dunelm House was completed in 1966 by the Architects’ Co-Partnership and engineered by Ove Arup. Arup was born in Heaton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and was considered one of the greatest engineers of the 20th century. He played an important role in pioneering engineering projects worldwide. He was the designer and supervisor of the Kingsgate Bridge and as the design engineer for the world famous Sydney Opera House.

An Honorary Geordie, Arup believed Kingsgate Bridge was one of the most important projects in his career. He requested his ashes be scattered from the bridge upon his death in 1988.

Dunelm House and Kingsgate are connected as a union of structures that depend on each other. They are the two most significant structures in the United Kingdom if not all of Europe or the entire world. They are at the doorway of Durham so why would anyone want to lose or damage these treasures?

It Is Old, Ugly, Dirty Concrete
It’s concrete and therefore needs to be cleaned. If your home wasn’t cleaned for 50 + years, it wouldn’t look too nice either. The building does need work but the university calculates it will cost £14.7m to restore. Although that might seem like a great deal of money, it’s no more than renovations to other university buildings. Keep in mind what it will cost to demolish it, bury it in a landfill and then rebuild on top of it. Would the land even be sustainable?

The Building Can Not Accommodate New Users
This is simply a statement by the university to justify their master plan to put another building in its place. Of course, there would be a significant investment but their master plan is not justifiable with their existing building plans. Wouldn’t it be wiser to adjust the master plan instead of trying to put a round peg into a square hole?

Demolition is highly unsustainable, wasteful, and very costly both environmentally and financially. That should be the very last resort when everything else fails. The building is not falling down, it’s a testimonial to one of the greatest engineers of the 20th century!

The Roof Leaks
All roofs leak at some point in time. Your modern roofs are only guaranteed for 20 years. Dunelm House’s roof is over 50-years old. It needs a new roof just like so many other buildings! The university has been aware of this condition for well over 10 years and now it’s time to fix it!

It Costs Too Much To Repair
Durham University has estimated redesign and repairs would cost at least £14.7m. With an interior of 3,980 sqm, it is estimated the cost would reach £3600 per sqm. Although that might seem steep, the cost for the Durham University’s new Ogden Center for Fundamental Physics costs £11.5m per sqm, that was a staggering £4,640 per sqm!

A completely new building on top of Dunelm House will cost millions more due to demolition , disposal of Dunelm House into a landfill, numerous complexities of the site due to terrain, retaining walls, structural requirements, and access issues that will make the project very complex and very costly. Refurbishing the current building will be a great deal cheaper than a new building.

A New Building Will Make Durham A World Class City
Durham is already a world class university city! Its diverse architecture over the past millennium includes the 20th century. The university is a huge patron of modern architecture, especially during the 60s. Why fix something that is not broken? Why undo great architecture and lose it forever?

Look at very successful refurbishments to modernist buildings such as Park Hil in Sheffield (Hawkins Brown) or the Barbican in London (AHMM) completed just 10 years ago. Both are successful projects, prestigious, award-winning, high profile, world class buildings that have celebrated the value of the Twentieth Century Architecture. New is not always better! Keep Durham on the world class stage. New and modern will not work but will simply remove Durham from its current position!

A petition to help save the building is available online and naturally, there is a Save Dunelm House Twitter page.

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-dunelm-house