Shortly after our Bicycle Shelter project was complete, we had a workshop week at the architectural school, in which three different architects, from Denmark, Sweden and Norway respectivly, were invited to give us three different types of assignments, all focusing on our speciality: Sustainable architecture. All five education years (bachelors and masters) participated in the workshop week, and we were divided into three greater groups - one for each architect. Once in our groups, we were furthermore scattered into six minor groups, each focusing on different assignments within the main assignment. Our assignment leading architect was Cord Siegel from Hauschild-Siegel Architects.

The greater theme of our project, was to create an agriculturally productive building, that also includes 12 apartments for agriculturally interested citydwellers (urbanfarmers). The six different groups were given different assignments based on different types of agriculture. My group was given a rather different type of production, that is usually not very common amongst urban agricultural structures - An urban apiary and honey production building. Our group quickly learned the frightening facts of the amounts of plants needed to produce but the slightest amounts of honey (it takes several hundreds of thousands of flowers to produce less than 30kg of honey pr. season!), and therefore we decided to furthermore divide ourselves into yet two smaller groups. The idea of this, was that one of the groups would focus on a realistic production of honey and bee's wax, placing large apiary systems amongst living quarters in areas with vast ecological areas, while the other group would place no more than a single beehive, and create a structure that exhibits the ridicilous amounts of plants needed to support honey and bee's wax production in just a single hive!

In order to fit the 100.000's of needed plants and flowers, the easiest solution for us, was to plant them in a vertical direction, where the entire exterior facade is covered in vegetation. Amongst the 50 meter high vegetational tower, are 12 prefab apartment units of the size 120 square meters, placed between the vegetational planes, and sticking out from the structure. The irony of our structure, is that despite focusing on sustainable design, our tower can be said to be quite the opposite! In order to just water the plants, we have had to use just about every possible technology of water purification to be able to reuse water, so that ridicilous amounts of watering water is nulified. Our structure gathers rainwater, reuses all of the structure's water usuage - even graywater, and last but not least, it even gathers the plants' dew and evaporation! All these methods are used, so the building's bees have enough plantation to be able to produce no more than 35kgs of honey pr. year!

We have furthermore fixed an elevator and staircase system within the vegetational skyscraper, that allows the inhabitants to move freely through the structure in bee-free isolated areas. Each apartment floor furthermore has its own garden area, which is also isolated from the bees, and where the dwellers have direct access to bridge systems that follow the buildings facade, where the inhibatants can take care of the plants, and also admire the many bees  (just about 10 bees pr. square meter) that roam trough the un-isolated areas (assuming it's a structure for beekeepers, we believe that the inhabitants would have interest in observing the bees).

To sum things up, our project was, well, in many ways rather extreme. Our sister group that focused on a realistic honey production, that fortunately create a functional structure that managed to create several tons of honey and bee's wax pr. year, so perhaps it is a realistic productional concept. Our group however, intentionally aimed at failing a realistic production, since our focus was rather to illustrate to the public, how much vegetation is actually required for mere 35kgs of honey! As a matter of fact, our bee hive stands at the floor level of the building, in a way that it stands almost as a sacred relic, illustrating how much bees actually work, to produce so little. Of course, such a structure is ridicilously unpractical, and far from realistic, but the challenge of making such a project function in a "sustainable" manner, was the greatest lesson to be learned!

- Andy Minchev


Before proceeding to read this post, I would advise you to read the first
part of it first, if you haven't read it, that is.

After a long process and several minor projects in between the major bicycle shelter project, it is finally finished! The result may seem rather similar to that of the previous post, but most of the changes lie in the interior, and also in the exterior materials. Below is the final presentational poster: (Click on it for full size)

The changes in this final version of my project lie, as earlier mentioned, in the interior and material. First of all, I was adviced to rethink the interior, so it is more dynamic than the previous one, while somehow also keeping the building's simplicity. What I did was add a vertical floating staircase on one side of the building, that leads up to a sleeping platform - one that is cosier than the previous staircase sleeping elements. On the exterior, I only slightly changed the shape to an even more simple one, and also changed the material to concrete, in order to create an even more mystical and displaced structure in the natural landscape, while also allowing more flexible construction systems, such as the floating stairs and the sleeping platform.

As you may remember, my whole idea with designing this rather weird and simple box-shaped shelter, was to create a mystical and weird effect in the landscape, and despite great enthusiasm from the professors' side, the project was critiquely contently accepted due to its far too simple shape and also due to my Donald Judd prefrences. I too was very sceptical with the whole concept and at times even hated the box I created, but I sticked with it to the very end, experimenting with what the outcome of such a design would provoke. Below is also the final rendering of the building. Once again, the landscape is not that of the Southern Italian coast, but unlike my previous render background, this one at least depicts a coastal landscape, and also a natural landscape that is more common to that of the one that is originally present at the actual site of the project.

So to sum things up, the results of this project are rather mixed - and that for a good reason as well. Being my first project, it will always haunt me, both in negative and positive ways. Also, despite the result, it has thought me many lessons on how to work on such a project, that I have no doubt will be rather useful to me from now on. Some of these are first of all, that I shouldn't hurry to conclude to the design of my project before trying various different designs and functions. That is perhaps the most important lesson. Also, I have experienced that having different teachers judge your project, quickly ends up in a huge mess of different people's opinions, which results in you having to decide which advices are the best to integrate in your designs - And as we all know, there is no exact right or wrong in the architectural universe, so that can be quite challenging! Besides these lessons, I have learned many other minor ones, but those I won't mention here, but rather illustrate in my future designs! The first step has been taken, let's see where the next one will lead.  

- Andy Minchev


As you might have noticed, I haven't written in the blog for quite a while. So today I'll be suming all the latest works up in different posts, all in chronological order. This first one is a short two-day group project we had, in which we as groups, were given to different areas in Copenhagen, in which we were to study and analyze the local lightning, acoustic, climatic and other conditions, while also comparing the similarities and differences in the two areas. In our group, we were to study the huge greenhouse in Copenhagen's botanical garden and a new parking "green" parking building in the outskirt of the city centre. What you see below is our first page from a total of four A3 presentational pages, containing diagrams and photos of the sites (two of the girls from the group took the amazing pictures).

The first of the two sites - the botanical garden - was a rather interesting space. Due to its artificial rainforest-like climate, the change from interior to exterior is extremely dramatic. At the moment of entry, you are quickly soaked up in the moist, misty air of the area and also rather quickly made uncomfortable by the sudden dramatic change of temperature. Despite the sudden climatic change, which one can describe as rather uncomfortable, the climate is rather pleasant after one spends some time in the room. Naturally, natural lighting is abundant in the greenhouse due to obvious reasons, but an interesting element, was the rooms acoustics. Even though the room in itself is pretty spacious, the acoustics were in a way mysterious. This is amongst different facts, the fact that the mist and the plants in the room limit your line of sight, leaving you to wonder where sounds and voices are actually coming from. As a matter of fact, the mist in the room was at times so thick, that you couldn't see to the other end of the room! This effect was in its way surreal and rather amazing. (This effect is furthermore illustrated in our above photos of the room.) A diagram was also made by us to illustrate the way the building functions, but it was made in hand, so unfortunately I can't upload it here on the blog.


The above picture shows photos of our second location - The green parking house. As you may quickly notice, it has been nicknamed the "green" parking house, due to the vegetational growth on the building's exterior. Even with the building's green features, it is not one that one usually notices, due to its rather basic function, but we were left impressed after studying the building. Unlike many other carparking buildings, this one had an almost completely open facade, allowing the building to be almost entirely lit by natural lighting - A feature we found rather impressive. And despite its rough concrete look, the interior of the building was as a matter of fact rather pleasant, especially based on the fact that it is a mere parking building. This was mostly due to the building's living, breathing, green facade, which surprisingly effectivly integrates the rough concrete interior and exterior with the elegance of natural vegetation. Below is the third and last uploaded presentational page, which includes diagrams that illustrate how the building functions. I believe the illustrations should be clear enough, so I won't comment on the details.

To sum things up, this short project was rather effective, despite its rather short length. One can say that this was our first practical step to truely understanding a space in the city, and understanding how a space functions, no matter if it is interior or exterior. It may not have completely altered our understandings of spaces and rooms, but the process has thought us to notice details that we haven't thought of before - Some of which are most important to understanding architecture and the urban environment.

- Andy Minchev