A team of architects from Alabama have designed an eco-friendly mixed-use project called "Lace Hill" that would turn a plot of land part way up one of the seven hills that encircle central Yerevan into an eighth hill, with hotel and apartment terraces woven into the “hilltop,” giving it the appearance of Armenian lace knitting. The “hillside” is to be covered with native vegetation; inside the hill, openings and voids allow natural light to flood the interior. Ponds in the voids would serve as giant evaporative coolers, furnishing cool air for the semi-arid city of Yerevan in the summer.
The project is designed to take advantage of nature at every turn. Exterior and interior plantings will be irrigated by recycled gray water from the development; geothermal wells and radiant floors will provide heating and cooling for the interior spaces. The lace-like openings in the hillsides provide plenty of natural light while shading the window walls within from the most intense rays from the sun. Living spaces are arrayed along the hill’s south face, which faces the city; thus the apartments and hotel rooms will receive lots of direct sunlight and have spectacular views. Offices, which need neither, will be located along the hill’s north face.
The design by Forrest Fulton Architecture of Birmingham, Ala., is the winning entry in a design competition sponsored by the site’s owner, Avangard Motors LLC of Yerevan. Avangard, the exclusive Armenian distributor of Mercedes-Benz automobiles, announced that the aim of the competition was to provide a new signature structure for the mostly low-slung Armenian capital, which occupies a natural amphitheater at the edge of the plain leading to Mt. Ararat, a national symbol and a site that figures prominently in the Bible. A modernistic tower erected in the 1970s, when Armenia was part of the USSR, occupied the site before its demolition in the 1990s.
Armenia has become a global leader in developing green energy and promoting green living over the past few years. It leads the way in using cleaner car fuel throughout the country. A country whose citizens routinely experienced blackouts for several hours a day 15 years ago now exports energy, largely by betting on wind, solar and atomic energy. Now Armenia is betting on green eco-tourism. It is already a popular tourist destination both for summer and winter travel. Lace Hill in Yerevan is expected to be another drawing card to lure eco-tourists to the city. This year, Armenia will also unveil the ambitious The City of The World project at Shanghai Expo 2010. The proposal envisions a new city in the heart of Yerevan where each neighborhood will represent the architecture and culture of each country in the world.
Written by Sandy Smith