This week's international snapshot features a futuristic space lab planned for Japan, an 'origami lava' art display in Spain and a unique kindergarten being built above a historic Chinese site.

Futuristic hovering space lab designed for Japan

international architecture
Image: Clouds Architecture Office

Clouds Architecture Office has unveiled its design for a futuristic space lab that floats above a crater in Oita, Japan. Called AVATAR X LAB, the building has been designed to help advance understanding of space exploration and development. 

The multi-storey building floats 18m above the bottom of the crater, and can be accessed via bridge. According to the architect, the site was chosen for its resemblance to a lunar landscape.

“When astronauts board a spacecraft they cross a bridge; when we board a plane we walk across a jet bridge between the terminal and airplane. This is our last contact with familiar ground before taking off for someplace new. The suspended building embodies this crossing of thresholds: after passing over the bridge you are transported to a new place, the AVATAR X Lab Building, where technological innovation will change how we see the world. 

“The campus will be used as a test field for a consortium of global tech companies who have signed up to participate in developing Avatar. The campus will consist of several buildings, as well as a moon simulation terrain, which will be used to experiment with tele-operated remote semi-autonomous construction of lunar surface habitats using Avatar robots.” – Clouds Architecture Office

Dazzling ‘origami lava’ on display in Spain

international architectureImage: SP25 Arquitectura

David Oliva of SP25 Arquitectura and Anna Junca of Atelier 4 have collaborated to create a lava-inspired installation piece for the LLUERNIA festival of fire and light in Catalonia. “Origami Lava” was constructed using over 10,000 pieces of origami, along with strategically placed lights and smoke machines to emulate the feeling of a real volcano. 

The installation was directly inspired by the natural environment of Olot, a town with several dormant volcanoes. The 100sqm installation lights up an otherwise pitch black room, and is designed to be ephemeral experience. 

“Courtyard kindergarten” planned for historic Chinese site

international architectureImage: MAD Architects

Construction has commenced on the MAD Architects-designed “Courtyard Kindergarten” in Beijing. The school is being built on the site of a traditional siheyuan courtyard constructed in 1725, with the new structure designed to protect its surroundings and reinvigorate the existing unused buildings.

 “The design features a dynamic floating roof that surrounds the historic courtyard. While preserving the cultural heritage of the site, it forms a multi-layered urban narrative, where old and new co-exist. MAD envisions the rooftop of the “Courtyard Kindergarten” as a place full of magic – a playful escape for the children that is a symbol of freedom and endless imagination.

“Unfolding onto the site with a low and gentle posture, the roof transforms the limited space between the various buildings, into a colorful playground that functions as the main place for children to engage in outdoor sports and activities. On the southwest side of the roof, a subtly undulating surface of several small ‘hills’ and ‘plains’ creates a high and low terrain, forming a playful landscape.” – MAD Architects