After a busy semester, I took a slight break from my former posting habits.  Now, in my interest in recording my graduate school experience and challenging my own understanding of architecture and construction, I am going to be blogging regularly, typically about projects I have viewed and have formed an opinion on.

The most recent project I came across that seems to be generating some media buzz is the new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, designed by Foster+Partners.   Where I find this project interesting is its platonic form; a simple circular plan forming an interior courtyard.  Not only is this extremely iconic – as are any of Apple’s products – such an architectural form responds to the large highway  blazing my to its south.  What is surprising, however, is that its scale, as shown in the plan is rather deceiving.  The building is only four stories tall, and thus its plan view does not actually communicate how it might nestle into its surroundings.  It some senses, I believe the design plays off of the energy or the unconscious realization that such a form lends itself to that of a stadium, a great gathering of people.  Given it will hold over 12,000 people, it very much is stadium like.  Even the paths, collectors of people, provide views to the stadium much like that of the Alliance Munich stadium outside of Munich.

What is also interesting about this project is that it speaks to the growing trend of combining landscape and buildings.  Its as if the ground has become a new material by which to explore new architectural possibilities.  Other notable projects include Morphosis’ Shanghai campus which blurs the distinction between what is land and what is building. As students, I have seen a proliferation of projects that incorporate the ground plane as a architectural element.  What is rather challenging about manipulation of the ground plane is its difficulty of use for activities that are not for leisure or are not suited for inclined viewing.  What we have also seen is the proliferation of green roofs, which really are more of a surface treatment than a place of leisure or recreation.   A green roof for environment and storm water management is completely different from a surface that may hold activity.  Another example of this manipulation of plane is that of the Olso opera house by Sanaa.  Until this turn of interest, they remained few parts of architecture that had not been turned, shaped, or twisted, as facades have long been taken from their completely vertical orientation.   What has enabled this to happen is the improved digital tools allowing for making complex forms constructable.  Coupled with an interest in promoting green design, this has brought about the success of such a strategy.