Thursday, February 26, 2009


There are a bunch of projects using the literal and figurative idea of mountains as a stylistic point of departure. One of the recent visuals is that of the Zira Island development in Azerbaijan by BIG Architects. Some info via Arch Daily:

"In the words of Bjarke Ingels, the proposal for Zira Island [...] is an architectural landscape based on the natural landscape of Azerbaijan. This new architecture not only recreates the iconic silhouettes of the seven peaks, but more importantly creates an autonomous ecosystem where the flow of air, water, heat and energy are channeled in almost natural ways. A mountain creates biotopes and eco-niches, it channels water and stores heat, it provides viewpoints and valleys, access and shelter. The Seven Peaks of Azerbaijan are not only metaphors, but actual living models of the mountainous ecosystems of Azerbaijan."

:: image via Arch Daily

There's more that just representation in the form of mountains used in the concept. These impact the overall form, as well as the adjacent landscape implementation. Again via Arch Daily: "The landscaping of the island is derived from wind simulations of the microclimates created by the mountains. Swirly patterns created by the wind moving its way through the Seven Peaks inform the planting of trees and the design of public spaces. Where the winds and turbulence are strongest the trees becomes denser, creating lower wind speeds and thus a comfortable outdoor leisure climate."

:: images via Arch Daily

Additional info and images via Dezeen, Designboom, and Eikongraphia.

:: additional images via Dezeen

Another related project by BIG Architects is the much lauded Mountain Dwellings. While currently under construction, it's interesting to see how this project is being realized, versus the initial renderings.


:: images via Dezeen


:: images via Arch Daily

Ok, so it's probably a question of age... easier to plan for plants in photoshop than actually getting them to grow. It's more of a urban mountain that a verdant one. I do like this interesting graphic of how the program is adapted into the form - or how to terraform the flat plains into the mountains.

:: image via Arch Daily

Another interesting post about terraforming in a non-urban setting, via InfraNet Lab, discusses the work of Ecosign. "They have certainly carved a niche in ski resort planning, or what they call “mountain design.” Obviously a misnomer, mountain design sounds inverse to what actually takes place in their design process. Through a rigorous analysis of sun angles, prevailing winds, and topography they arrive at some kind of idealized clearings for the pleasure of downhill maneuvering, the mountain proper remains untouched."

:: image via InfraNet Lab

Although not much of a skier (aside from x-country) or particularly a fan of ski resort development, I'm more enamoured of the visuals these projects produce... mountain design distilled into plan form.

:: images via InfraNet Lab

Finally, the vision of mountain as reuse, courtesy of the excellent Eikongraphia: "What do to with Tempelhof Airport? After the airfield has been closed last October the city of Berlin has asked the ‘Berliners’ just that. One of the ideas that were sent to the municipality (and directly put aside) is the idea by architect Jakob Tigges. He proposes to construct a 1,000 meter tall mountain on the former airfield."

:: images via Eikongraphia

And it's literally planned as a mountain of garbage... now that's creative landfilling. It brings to mind the ideas of rewilding through some of the urban wilderness proposals... using refuse to create topography and habitat. Looks like the beginnings of some regenerative strategies.

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