Oil Rigs Reclaimed: 7 Ways to Reuse Obsolete Platforms


[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

oil rig swimming city

Thousands of decommissioned oil rigs rotting in waters all over the globe could get a new sense of purpose as diving resorts, cruise ship port-of-calls, recreation destinations, bio-habitats or even autonomous micro-nations. Some of these concepts tow the rigs to more desirable locations – including right up to the shores of major cities. As sea levels approach catastrophic levels, some see reclaimed oil rig architecture and other floating structures as the only viable way to survive, but they’re also a great way to take advantage of beautiful oceanic settings.

Oil Rig Reclaimed As A Scuba Diving Resort
oil rig scuba resort 2

oil rig scuba resort 1

oil rig scuba resort 3

Here’s one concrete, finished example of an oil rig transformed for a new use: the Seaventures Dive Resort in the Celebes Sea between the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia offers access to a beautiful coral reef, making it a popular spot for divers. The owners purchased the rig in 1988 and towed it to its current location to take advantage of the natural attractions. The 25-room hotel retains its industrial feel, making no attempt to be luxurious, and offers package deals that include meals, dives, equipment rentals and boat transportation.

Aquatic Village Proposal

oil rig aquatic 2

oil rig aquatic 1

The minimalist approach definitely works for a small hotel, but what if we wanted to turn an old oil rig into an attractive community that rivals any found on land? This proposal uses a rig as the basis of a ‘livable hub’ powered by solar energy, wind turbines and tidal energy collectors. The general public would live in the units located above the surface, while specialized researchers like marine biologists could work in underwater labs.

The Noah Oasis: Vertical Bio-Habitats

oil rig bio habitat 1

oil rig bio habitat 3

oil rig bio habitat 2

The Noah Oasis concept reclaims disused oil rigs for three purposes: a short-term strategy of absorbing spilled oil, a medium-term strategy of providing a habitat for marine life and migrating birds, and a long-term strategy as a shelter from future disasters when sea levels rise to a disastrous degree. Floaters at the end of the oil pipes would automatically react in the event of an oil spill, rising to the surface to start cleaning it up. It also puts that crude to an interesting use: collected oil will be converted into a plastic catalyst for coral reef growth, transported back to the pipes to encourage reef growth on the surface. “The plastic will become the building material of the plastic-twig structure with the help of 3D printing and the injector.”

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Abandoned Quarry to Ice World: Pit Reclaimed as Resort

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Nautical Architectures: Electrified Reefs to Waterfall Prisons

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Sleep with the Fishes: Floating Underwater Hotel Room

Watch eerily illuminated sea creatures swim past your windows at night as you fall asleep on your own ‘private floating island,’ an underwater ... Click Here to Read More »»

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Hole in the Ground: 5 Ideas to Fill Downtown Chicago Spire Void


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

chicago spire

Designed by a world-famous architect, the Chicago Spire was set to be the second-tallest building in the world, but now that plans for its construction have been abandoned local firms are stepping up to suggest novel ways to reuse the voided project’s remnant space.

chicago spire void

Submitted to Chicago Magazine, these various schemes to replace the failed vision of Santiago Calatrava are bound to resonate with residents, created by and for the local population and context, featuring everything from underground performance spaces and wildlife sanctuaries to urban lighthouses and swimming holes.

chicago spire amphitheater

One proposal invites people to occupy the hole in the form of a seven-story underground amphitheater, allowing loud late-night events to operate freely in the subterranean space. This Underground Amphitheater scheme by SPACE Architects + Planners is likened to a headphone buried in the Earth, its emissions audible when you get up close and keep an ear to the ground.

chicago spire bird sanctuary

A radically different tactic suggests a steel aviary trellis surrounded by native vegetation. serving as a stopping point and bird-watching spot for migratory species. Dubbed Birds in Horto by designer Hoerr Schaudt, the void in this case remains inaccessible, a mystery at the center of a larger natural park space. “A 10-story spiraling trellis of steel and wood serves as armature for nesting and perching, while a surrounding thicket of native plants, such as crabapple and plum trees, offers sustenance. An elevated walkway lets you observe the warblers, cardinals, and sparrows without disturbing them.”

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Shop in a Swimming Pool: Neglected Space Turned into a Store

Until recently, this indoor swimming pool on the vacant ground floor of a 1970s apartment building in Tokyo was just an empty space, dry and disused for years. ... Click Here to Read More »»

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Mushroom Materials: DIY Kit Grows Custom Compostable Products


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mushroom lamp

Turning agricultural waste and fungal mycelium into construction materials, this do-it-yourself kit lets you grow your own compostable bio-plastic objects, from packaging furniture to surf boards and architectural building blocks.

mushroom award winning architecture

Providing a natural alternative to synthetic options, Ecovative’s Mushroom Materials line competes on cost with petroleum-based equivalents and can be shaped in all kinds of ways using custom and reusable molds.

bag of mushrooms

mushroom in a mold

Their latest creation is this home Grow It Yourself kit – they will ship you the organic components (a mixture of crop waste, like corn husks and stalks, and the vegetative part of mushroom fungus). Upon receipt, you can wait and leave things in a dry dormant state, or add water and fit the mixture into a mold to build whatever you want – nature and time take care of the rest.

mushroom as product pacakging

surfboard surf organics

So far, Mushroom Materials have been used to make everything from award-winning architectural creations (using blocks made out of organic matter) to biodegradable surf boards, flower pots, lamps and other everyday objects.

plant pot mushroom

pendant lamp mush lume

From Evocative: “We grow materials made from agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium. Mycelium is a natural, self-assembling glue, digesting crop waste to produce cost-competitive and environmentally responsible materials that perform. Our large-scale grow factories are truly revolutionary. We harness the power of nature – the cleanest technology on Earth, eliminating the pollution generated across the petroleum-based plastics supply chain.”

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Waste-Free Future: 5 Package Redesigns for Everyday Products

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10 in 1 Day: Chinese Homes 3D-Printed from Scraps Materials

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Unverpackt: Zero-Waste Grocery Store Packages No Products

The first of its kind in the country, this German supermarket strips away wasteful packaging and sells its goods in bulk to customers who bring or borrow ... Click Here to Read More »»

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Record-Breaking 57-Story Chinese Skyscraper Built in 19 Days


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sky city speed

The world’s tallest prefab building has just been constructed at a rate of 3 stories per day, showcasing the power of modular design and industrial prefabrication operating at scale. Located in Changsha, China, and designed to be part of an even larger Sky City complex, this mixed-use structure features 800 apartments and office space for 4,000 workers with a total of over 2,000,000 square feet as well as 19 giant atrium spaces.


Producing many of the component parts in advance in factories, including entire truss systems, saves time and energy on site and also reduces pollution associated with busy construction sites and cast-on-site concrete. Its builders at BSB estimate a reduction in output of carbon dioxide by 12,000 tons thanks to these techniques.

sky city interior

sky city interiors

Mini Sky City, as the tower is titled, is to be part of a larger Sky City series of interconnected skyscrapers that will include vertical farming spaces. One of the less-obvious byproducts of building at such speeds: China is able to effectively rapid-prototype urban design experiments at scale, testing novel strategies for vertical interaction and horizontal integration across structures.

sky city progress

sky city part one

If you have ever driven past a skyscraper in progress day after day, you will know from experience just how fast this assembly really is compared to industry standards around the world – the precision of parts and management of contractors involved would be staggering in a situation with less-tight coordination as well.

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The Dryline: BIG Plan Fights NYC Floods with Waterfront Park


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dryline manhattan park view

A huge infrastructure project designed to prevent future Hurricane Sandy-style devastation, the Dryline is a perfectly-named solution for a city already sporting a successful High Line and an underground Low Line currently under construction. In the wake of that devastating super-storm, over 300,000 homes were left damaged or destroyed and nearly 20 billion dollars of destruction was caused in total – the first section of the Dryline is slated to cost a few hundred million, which in contrast does not seem like so much money.



Developed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the scheme continuous to evolve with each iteration. This latest video illustrates many of the mechanisms of action through easy-to-understand sketches and diagrams. It also features interviews with New Yorkers about their vision for a greener southern tip for Manhattan.


Designed to be deployed incrementally, the grand plan involves many discrete steps, each intended to shore up the lower portion of the city – the place that takes the brunt of incoming tides. The individual interventions vary, from berms that double as parks to sliding barriers that move into position during unusually high tides. Ultimately, “the Dryline imagines a landscaped buffer stretching all the way from West 57th Street, looping down to the Battery and back up to East 42nd Street, bestowing Manhattan with a protective green cushion.”

community active space

community bike space

At the same time, the design follows classic principles of urban landscape pioneers like Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, taking this environmental challenge as an opportunity to create more park and civic space. Per The Guardian, “With a sprinkling of fairy-dust, the shoreline becomes furnished with undulating berms and protective planting, flip-down baffles and defensive kiosks, promenades and bike paths, bringing pedestrian life worthy of Lisbon or Barcelona to the gritty banks of Manhattan.”

dryline berm section

dryline green space fall

BIG is a firm known for thinking large and this project is no exception. Then again, lessons learned from the other ambitious urban projects (like NYC’s High Line) can be applied here: built it piece by piece to reduce one-time costs and provide room for adjustment, and take citizen input into account. In the end, anyone who has walked the south edge of Manhattan knows it is a disjointed and, in many places, unwelcoming space – there is a huge opportunity for a new kind of part to provide connectivity and green space from this disparate set of urban landscapes.

dryline coastal glass sections

nyc manhattan dry line

green park plan

“The Dryline consists of multiple but linked design opportunities; each on different scales of time, size and investment; each local neighborhood tailoring its own set of programs, functions, and opportunities. Small, relatively simple projects maintain the resiliency investment momentum post-Sandy, while setting in motion the longer-term solutions that will be necessary in the future.”

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Mufflers: 10 Artistic Acoustic Highway Noise Barriers


[ By Steve in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Highway Acoustic Walls 1a
These artistic acoustic highway noise barriers combine form with function, neatly blocking the sound of road traffic while looking darned good in the process.

Highway Acoustic Walls 1b

This proposal for an environmentally-friendly acoustic barrier (“Forest Corridor”) in Hong Kong was designed by Bread Studio to meet three strict conditions: masking the sight of the highway from nearby residential buildings, improving the view of the highway’s underside for people in the park below, and relieving drivers from any claustrophobic impressions as they cruise through the de facto tunnel.

Leapin’ Lizards!

Highway Acoustic Walls 2a

Highway Acoustic Walls 2b

Stretching for six miles along both sides of the Pima Freeway’s sound barrier wall in Scottsdale, AZ, “The Path Most Traveled” by artist Carolyn Braaksma evokes the essential nature of the region’s desert ecosystem.

Highway Acoustic Walls 2c

Interspersed among a mix of abstract and Native American-style motifs are prickly pear cacti standing up to 40 feet tall and enormous lizards almost 70 feet long.

Clearly Beautiful

Highway Acoustic Walls 3a

Highway Acoustic Walls 3b

Melbourne’s freeway network is the largest of any Australian city, and without sound barriers the aural impact on residential neighborhoods would be substantial. Cheap and unimaginative acoustic walls would also have a detrimental effect on drivers so a pleasing compromise was achieved that satisfied both.

Highway Acoustic Walls 3c

Tinted acrylic plastic panels set into sound walls along the EastLink Freeway maintain audio insulation while adding visual interest at a reasonable cost. Want to see the world through rose-colored sound barriers? Get your eyes to Australia!

“Sixty Seconds of Architecture”

Highway Acoustic Walls 4a

Highway Acoustic Walls 4b

Louwman Exclusive Cars is a high-end exotic automobile dealer located in Utrecht, the Netherlands, just off the A2 highway between Amsterdam and Maastricht. Instead of making do with a bland and boring sound wall, the dealership opted instead for an acoustic barrier “designed from the perspective of a flow of cars passing by with the speed of 120 km/h.” Fast company indeed.

Highway Acoustic Walls 4e

Highway Acoustic Walls 4d

Highway Acoustic Walls 4f

Highway Acoustic Walls 4c

Stretching 1.5 kilometers in length, the 5,500,000-euro barrier designed by Kas Oosterhuis widens to a 30m “cockpit” that accommodates the auto dealer’s showroom and service bays. No doubt it’s quite quiet inside as well.

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The Capital: Egypt Plans Largest From-Scratch City in History


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

egypt the capital project

Slated to be constructed in just 7 years and cost $300 billion (more than the GDP of Egypt), this ambitious design for a brand new capital city of 5 million people is unprecedented – if completed, it will be a record-setting endeavor. And it is not just a conceptual vision, or at least not entirely- the site has been selected and a 100-square-kilometer test section has already been approved by the Egyptian government.

capital in cairo

capital incubator tech hub

The new capital-replacing city is described by its proponents as “the catalyst for an Egyptian renaissance” and “a momentous endeavour to build national spirit, foster consensus and provide for the country’s sustainable long-term growth.” Inspired in part by Silicon Valley, buzzwords about in the promotional materials related to the project, tentatively titled “The Capital.” It is intended to be a “smart city” and “hub of innovation” to carry its country into the future of technology and sustainability.

capital city cairo

capital city of the future

Transportation is to be a big component of the design, both within and beyond the city – it is meant to become both a hub as well as a walkable metropolis. Lessons are being taken from extant clogged and congested urban centers, particularly Cairo. However, it is not clear through the gloss and glamour just how these innovations will manifest themselves – there are some statistics, though, that are at least superficially impressive.

cairo new capital

Environmental friendliness is also high on the list, with plans to sustainable local food, use eco-friendly modes of power generation (wind and solar) and, of course, deal with waste and recycling in a green and efficient manner, avoiding a repeat of Cairo’s infamous “Garbage City.”

capital city images

capital urban design project

Some might question whether the futuristic renderings are really representative of what is planned or if they are simply designed to impress. Critics note that the scheme seems too good to be true, and may be intentionally positioned as a Utopian project in order to draw outside investors. Building a new city from the ground up may result in that space being more efficient, but it leaves one wondering what the country has planned for its former capital. Perhaps there is room for generosity in expectations, however – lessons learned and developers deployed in this massive construction project could be turned around afterward and reassigned to fix existing cities.

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Sustainable Food in the City: 10 Smart Urban Farm Designs


[ By Steph in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

urban farming korea 3

The world’s largest indoor farm has already proven just how amazingly successful food production can be outside of standard agricultural setups, and these 10 urban farm designs and concepts take the possibilities even further by taking advantage of disused spaces, reaching high into the sky and employing modular, portable, prefabricated configurations.

Jenga-Like Urban Farming Ecosystem by OVA Studio

urban farming jenga 1 urban farming hive inn 2

The Hive-Inn City Farm is a prefabricated, modular farming structure that could brig fresh, locally grown food to busy urban districts. The structure reclaims shipping containers and stacks them in a Jenga-like configuration, with each container dedicated to a specific function from growing a certain type of food to recycling waste. The design echoes that of OVA Studio’s original Hive Inn concept, which uses the containers as individual hotel rooms.

SPARK Senior Living Center and Vertical Farm Concept

urban farming spark 1

urban farming spark 2

This concept by SPARK Architects solves two problems in one by combining housing for Singapore’s rapidly aging population with urban food production. The ‘home farm’ creates a lush, vibrant garden environment that’s pleasant to live in while also catering specifically to the needs of seniors and using a vertical system to grow edibles, offering part-time employment for residents in the gardens

Mini Harvesting Station for Forgotten City Spaces

urban farming harvesting station

urban farming harvesting station 2

On a smaller scale, various spaces around the city that aren’t being put to good use could serve as temporary locations for miniature farms. The Harvesting Station by Conceptual Devices can grow up to 200 plants within 43 square feet, and is topped with a water harvesting tower that irrigates the plants automatically.

Vertical SkyFarm for Korea

urban farming korea 1

urban farming korea 2

Downtown Seoul, South Korea could become a powerhouse food production center if concepts like Aprilli’s vertical farm are actually built, potentially sustaining a significant number of the city’s large population. The tree-shaped structure frees up space on the ground while raising ‘leaf’ platforms far above street level for access to sunlight, and serves as an iconic symbol of sustainability.

Geodesic Rooftop Greenhosue for Urban Farmers

urban farming geodesic 1

Another small-scale rooftop ming solution is the Globe (Hedron) by Conceptual Devices, a geodesic dome for flat urban rooftops that’s framed with bamboo and functions as an aquaponic system to produce both fish and vegetables. Each greenhouse can feed four families of four year-round.

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Sunny Disposition: Computer-Aided Skyscraper Casts No Shadow


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shadowless skyscraper concept design

With downtown densification usually comes a lack of light in surrounding spaces, leading one architecture firm to develop the world’s first algorithm-driven strategy to allow a tower to fully shed its shadow. Architects of NBBJ developed this set of adjacent skyscrapers that work in tandem to eliminate shade year-round in the spaces between them, proposing the pair for a prominent site in central London. As the simulation of No Shadow Tower illustrates below, considerations are made for all times of day, reflecting the passage of the sun through the sky from dawn until dusk.

computation daylight simulation

The model inputs are complex, using real sun-tracking data tied to a specific location (though easily changed) but also taking into account everything from basic physics and structural engineering to pubic spaces and programmatic functions for building users. At the same time, considerations must be made for diffusing any reflected light to avoid creating obnoxious glare or even lighting adjacent spaces, vehicles or objects on fire. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to implement a complex building shape with custom 3D-printed parts, as architects like Frank Gehry have increasingly demonstrated in recent years.

sunlight filled courtyard reflection

This proposal was inspired by the rapid growth of skyscrapers in areas like London, where 250 are currently planned or in progress, and New York City, where residents are resisting tall buildings that would cast long shadows over Central Park. Large-scale sunlight reflection can be found in built environments already, such as a mountain town in Norway found frequently or for long periods in shade during cold and dark winter months. Conversely, structures in hot climates could also be shaped to deflect sun from occupied spaces during warm summer months – shade and shadows can be shaped, in short, for different environmental conditions.

shadow free skyscraper

In this case, of course, the reflector is itself a building, which of course then casts a shadow of its own – arguably a limitation of the scheme. However, a series of structures could conceivably cancel shadows in sequence, creating multi-block solutions if designed in a coordinated fashion, the shape of each informed by the needs of the previous one in the series. Whether or not this particular pair of structures makes it past the conceptual phase, the idea behind them is powerful and the attitude could be applied more readily by light-sensitive architects down the line.

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Cantilevered Conversion: Sleek Modern Cargo Container Office


[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Offices & Commercial. ]

cargo container office design

While many intermodal freight crate transformations turn steel boxes into comfortable spaces, this project goes a step further both by taking maximum advantage of its material origins while still making the aesthetic result more than the sum of its parts.

cantilevered office design conversion

Repurposed as an office by and for architect Patrick Bradley, this 45-foot cargo container (re)creation makes use of existing openings on either end and requires as few cuts in the surface of the sides as possible (an energy- and cost-efficient approach). Each of these openings is in turn taken advantage of, in one case to create an entry sequence and, at the other end, to facilitate a lovely little balcony extension.

cantilevered shipping container office

Further, the design leverages the strength of the container to cantilever it out over a steep-sloping cliff already on the site, saving money, time and energy landscaping the lot. Simple modular cladding manages to transform the exterior appearance with ease as well.

cargo container office design

In the end, there is little about the project that screams ‘shipping container’ at first glance, yet the overall shape and structural advantages of that core element are maintained and utilized throughout – a brilliant blend of old and new.

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