Welcome to our blog! These are our musings on design, our lives, what inspires us and what make us smile. It’s our diary, our outlet for creative expression. Enjoy!

THE B+H TEAM

Winner of Great Sustainable Ideas Competition

posted by Holly Jordan on September 04, 2012

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When the office invited staff to participate in the first Great Sustainable Ideas Competition, I was eager to pitch my thesis topic as a potential 'great idea'. Throughout my education and work experience, I have learned that, as architects and designers, we have the potential to make positive contributions to the environment by not only designing efficient new buildings, but also by improving Read More

Winner of Great Sustainable Ideas Competition

posted by Holly Jordan on September 04, 2012

Tags : Sustainable, Living Building
Topics : Sustainability
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When the office invited staff to participate in the first Great Sustainable Ideas Competition, I was eager to pitch my thesis topic as a potential 'great idea'. Throughout my education and work experience, I have learned that, as architects and designers, we have the potential to make positive contributions to the environment by not only designing efficient new buildings, but also by improving our existing building stock. With training in both engineering and architecture, I am drawn towards design solutions that are not only beautiful, but functional as well. This led me to think about applications for 'revamping' existing buildings by not only improving their energy efficiency but also thinking about them as opportunities as net producers of energy.

Much of my work experience has included renovations of existing buildings. More specifically, while working for and studying at the University of Toronto, I became intimately aware of the challenges and opportunities that a large property owner faces while managing aging buildings. Energy costs have been steadily escalating while the building themselves are becoming more and more inefficient with the wear and tear of regular use. This has provided incentives for building owners, like universities, to invest in these existing buildings, many of which possess character and quality construction that would be cost prohibitive in today's labour market.

Starting with the basics of adding insulation, replacing windows, and replacing mechanical systems; my idea was to 'inject' a productive yet renewable element. Alternative fuels have been in development for years. Of all the potential bio-fuels, algae has shown to be the highest yield energy wise with minimal land usage. Its growing cycle is short, it requires little maintenance to grow, and the oil extraction of certain strains is particularly high. This 'mega-fuel' also comes in a variety of colours and can be quite beautiful.

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My proposal takes an existing, largely concrete, bunker type building and adds on new program spaces like a 'cap' and extended a 'skirt' or wrapping around the existing building. By thickening the new skin (increasing the insulation properties) to a double-skin façade system, a warm solar-exposed zone is created which is perfect for placing an algae farm. A typical closed-loop algae farm utilizes a vast network of clear piping to house the water-suspended algae organisms. A similar system, placed vertically, is proposed for the building skin, yielding an ever-changing, dynamic building skin. The algae is then periodically harvested every 7 to 10 days and then repopulated with young organisms to start a new growing cycle. The double skin façade also functions as a typical design would, drawing warm, CO2 latent air from the occupied spaces to passively circulate air throughout the building. My vision is that the building benefits from increased envelope efficiency, net energy production, improved exterior architectural character, and a unique interior spatial experience.

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Holly Jordan – Project Manager

Holly Jordan is a Project Manager based in the Toronto Office working on the Project Design Compliance (PDC) team for the Pan American Venues, with focus on the Hamilton Soccer Stadium.

Holly has particular interest in parametric modeling and responsive architecture, and the endless possibilities they can provide in architectural design. She particularly loves to develop design code and work with Arduino boards to make fun projects like a responsive Jack-O-Lantern this Halloween (Thanks Matt Makes!).

Although predictable, the iPhone is my most treasured item for all the different things it can do from watching movies, updating facebook, emailing, playing games, and most importantly, for looking up useless information on the spot!

 

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Sitting on Spaghetti?!

posted by Rachel Glazer on July 04, 2012

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As architects and designers, we constantly search for the perfect objects to surround us in our daily lives. We spend years holding out for the one piece that perfectly encapsulates our design and speaks our language. The work of artist Pablo Reinoso takes the inner soul of an entity and breaks it out of its shell, blurring the lines between object and art. In his series “Spaghetti”, Read More

Sitting on Spaghetti?!

posted by Rachel Glazer on July 04, 2012

Tags : Furniture Design
Topics : Great Design
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As architects and designers, we constantly search for the perfect objects to surround us in our daily lives. We spend years holding out for the one piece that perfectly encapsulates our design and speaks our language. The work of artist Pablo Reinoso takes the inner soul of an entity and breaks it out of its shell, blurring the lines between object and art. In his series “Spaghetti”, this Argentinian born, French artist takes a wood bench and explores its return to its roots – literally.

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The benches appear to have awakened and explored their former lives as trees, branches and roots. This humour and sensitivity to material is continued in his subsequent series “Scribbling Benches” where a simple steel beam breaks free of its assigned geometry and explores a new world of possibility. Pablo’s work pulls an object out of its daily setting and allows us to experience it for the first time.

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Rachel Glazer – Interior Designer

Rachel Glazer is an Interior Designer based in Vancouver working mainly on hospitality design but has recently had some fantastic experience with a concept store. She is constantly on the lookout for new designs, inspiration, and the latest restaurants in the city. In her personal and professional life she has a constant need to “google” information and cannot remember how she previously survived without her iPhone.

 

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Vers Une Architecture Verte

posted by Michael Wartman on June 26, 2012

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Fig. 1 Digitally altered-page spread from Le Corbusier's 'Towards a New Architecture' - translated into English 1927 via formandwords.com For over 15 years (way before my time here) our office has helped forge a path for 'green building' to where we now have a widely accepted standard perpetuated largely by LEED and other rating systems. However, we are becoming more and more aware of the Read More

Vers Une Architecture Verte

posted by Michael Wartman on June 26, 2012

Tags : Sustainability, Green Building
Topics : Sustainability
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Fig. 1 Digitally altered-page spread from Le Corbusier's 'Towards a New Architecture' - translated into English 1927 via formandwords.com

For over 15 years (way before my time here) our office has helped forge a path for 'green building' to where we now have a widely accepted standard perpetuated largely by LEED and other rating systems. However, we are becoming more and more aware of the shortcomings of these rating systems and are feeling the need to continue to push things forward as it is now evident that the levels achieved by today’s buildings are merely a stepping stone as we move toward a green architecture.

Unlike our Modern predecessors for whom the future seemed infinite, inviting and limited only by imagination, we are practicing architecture at a time when the future seems as though it will be difficult, assiduous and largely un-inviting. And so we continue to pour ourselves into the present rather than consider a future made finite by our limited resources and soaring consumption. It appears to us as though we will lose much more than we will gain. It is a future heavily characterised by impending disaster rather than achievement. Some are preaching the need to change our lifestyle, to abandon our highly consumptive ways while others seek to mitigate change with technology and advancements in science. But there are some, I believe, who are rising to the challenge, who are fighting this dour vision of the future and embracing a largely optimistic, visionary view of what our planet, our cities, our buildings could be. I believe this is where we want to be as architects and designers. Because if we don’t paint a picture that people will love, then how can we convince them to get there?

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. Love only what we understand. Understand only what we are taught.” - Baba Dioum, 1968

So what is the way forward? What do you think the future of green architecture looks like? Hopefully this series of posts can spark our imagination and provoke discussion in the comments below.

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Michael Wartman – Intern Architect

Michael Wartman is an Intern Architect working in the Vancouver Office whose work includes Commercial, Institutional and Industrial projects of various scales. In addition to pursuing a license to practice architecture, Michael is keenly interested in how architecture can be deployed in service of the greater public and the greater good and hopes to one day run an office (or branch of an office . . . wink, wink) dedicated to this activity both at home and abroad.

JJ Bean is Michael’s favourite roasting house in Vancouver and with a location just down the road from work and just around the corner from home; he is able to stay thoroughly caffeinated 7 days a week. The recent gift of a JJ Bean mug not only keeps his coffee warm for hours it also saves him 15 cents a drink, a savings that will likely pay for a new car in just a few short years.

 

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Ordos Airport is now visible on Google Earth!

posted by Jean-Sebastian Bourdages on June 19, 2012

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What a nice surprise to see the construction of Ordos Airport now visible on Google Earth. Prepare for boarding at the latest B+H airport! Construction Photos   Vision The design process started on the premise that an airport should recall the original excitement of flying and the joy of arriving to a far-away destination; that an airport should be a welcoming gateway to a Read More

Ordos Airport is now visible on Google Earth!

posted by Jean-Sebastian Bourdages on June 19, 2012

Tags : Airport
Topics : Did you know...
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What a nice surprise to see the construction of Ordos Airport now visible on Google Earth. Prepare for boarding at the latest B+H airport!

Construction Photos

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Vision

The design process started on the premise that an airport should recall the original excitement of flying and the joy of arriving to a far-away destination; that an airport should be a welcoming gateway to a destination that gently introduces a unique sense of place with its own native landscape, culture, history and people.

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In the case of Ordos, in Inner Mongolia, the architecture of the concourse inspiration came from the horizons of rolling hills of the grasslands steppes merged with lines that recall the dynamics of flight. In contrast, as a focal point, the Mongolian yurt was the inspiration for the departure hall; a grand gathering space filled with natural daylight.

To view the e-book and read more about the project, click here. 

 

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Jean-Sebastian Bourdages – Principal

Jean is a Design Principal at B+H. With more than 10 years of professional experience, he is of a new generation that brings technology to the design process. He focuses on merging each project’s unique contexts with innovative designs and green architecture. Jean is based in Shanghai and has collaborated on projects throughout Asia, the Middle-East and North America.

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The "New Office"

posted by Kristin Bankes on June 14, 2012

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I recently attended a seminar after work at a local furniture showroom.  The one-hour presentation focused on the trends of interaction and collaboration in the “new office”.  Did you know that 50% of our time at work is spent doing individual, heads-down work; but the remainder of our time is spent being collaborative and social?  I think designers would agree with Read More

The "New Office"

posted by Kristin Bankes on June 14, 2012

Tags : Workplace, Furniture
Topics : Interior Design
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I recently attended a seminar after work at a local furniture showroom.  The one-hour presentation focused on the trends of interaction and collaboration in the “new office”. 

Did you know that 50% of our time at work is spent doing individual, heads-down work; but the remainder of our time is spent being collaborative and social?  I think designers would agree with this statement, but what about the clients we work for?

Some companies are now implementing an acronym called ROWE (results oriented work environment).  Performance is based on results, not how quickly they can get the product out.  They are also moving away from a supervised work environment to one where mentoring and coaching is key, and where teams are mobile and global.

So how do we design for this new type of workplace?

One way is to provide a number of breakout areas where casual conversation and meetings can take place, almost by accident.  A prime example of this is providing a shared copy area within the office.  How many times have you gone to pick up your copies and struck up a short conversation with someone also picking up their copies?  It’s these informal meeting points that can spark a new idea or get the juices flowing!

Furniture companies are also providing new types of furniture to suit the new work environment.  A meeting room could be one that is located in the open area of an office - that only has moveable whiteboards as walls, has chairs that are for lounging, and has places for people to lean against rather than sit (see image). 

There are many more ideas out there to help design for the new work environment.  Be open to them so that you can help your clients be open to them too.  The results are what matter, not how we get there!

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Kristin Bankes – Interior Designer

Kristin Bankes is an Interior Designer based in the Toronto office working on mainly corporate office projects, but has recently dipped her toes in the retail side. She spends some of her time volunteering for both ARIDO and NCIDQ, in an effort to advance the interior design profession (just don’t ask her for inside information about the NCIDQ exam…she is sworn to secrecy!)  In her down-time, Kristin will most often be seen with her nose in a book…or more specifically her e-Reader!

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