USC architecture's futuristic design featured in French exhibition

School News

USC architecture's futuristic design featured in French exhibition

September 23, 2013

Scott Uriu, a lecturer at the USC School of Architecture, has a scale model, drawings, renderings and animation of a housing tower designed by his firm featured in the ninth annual ArchiLab exhibition at the Fonds régional d’art contemporain de la région Centre in Orleans, France. The exhibition opened to the public in mid-September.


The Naturalizing Architecture exhibition, which features projects by 40 architects from around the world that represent the cutting edge of design, will run through Feb. 14, 2014. It explores the interaction between digital architecture and the sciences as well as the design challenges of simulating the living world.


Uriu’s Los Angeles firm, Baumgartner + Uriu, a partnership with Herwig Baumgartner, designed Animated Apertures, a 20-story tower for a site in Lima, Peru. It received several awards, including a special mention last year in the Architizer A+ Awards for sustainability.


Animated Apertures was inspired by patterns, movements and colors found in nature, Uriu said. “It’s a different take on eco-building,” he said. “Often, sustainability elements are overemphasized or tack-ons that look like a strange hat a building is wearing. This is a more cohesive integration, seamless with the design that optimistically points to technology and materials of today and the future.”


The structure is a cast-in-place concrete slab and core. Each housing unit occupies three levels, giving it a double height living room that is oriented toward an urban park and has access to exterior terraces on either side.


The building’s rough textured concrete shell contrasts with the fiberglass composite windows — the apertures — that are translucent and illuminated with LEDs from within, which make the tower glow at night. The window frames are designed to be coated with a thin solar film that produces electricity for the building.


“The apertures veer away from the target of sustainability as pure efficiency and engineering, and travel into another realm of creating elements that emulate nature and provides shade, power, movement and protection,” Baumgartner said.


Uriu and Baumgartner chose to embrace incongruence, disruption and deformation rather than homogeneity and smoothness.


“What makes Animated Apertures so unique is its attempt to rethink and redesign the DNA of the window in terms of function, components, appearance and materiality,” Uriu said. “The apertures function as deep thresholds that are slightly inside and slightly outside and can respond to the sun and wind, exploiting energy exchanges between the natural and built environments.”


Both architects attended the exhibition opening in Orleans, which was presided over by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, Aurélie Filippetti.


Uriu said the opening was impressive, earning coverage from five television networks and 60 reporters. “And Minister Filippetti said she really liked Animated Apertures,” he confided.


By Allison Engel

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A rendering of the proposed housing tower in Lima, Peru (Image/courtesy of Baumgartner + Uriu (B + U))