Writing Blog

November 17, 2009

Songjiang Hotel

Filed under: Environment,LifeStyle,Travel — Rafael Minuesa @ 1:34 AM
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This is one of a series of articles I posted for Guy.com.
You can view the original version at:
* http://www.guy.com/2009/11/12/songjiang-hotel-a-paradise-set-into-an-abandoned-quarry/

Songjiang Hotel

What can you do with an old quarry when it stops being productive, apart from being left with a huge hole in the earth that can’t be used for anything?.

That was actually the dilemma for the owners of that wasted real estate in Sonjiang, China, near Shanghai, who decided to set up a contest for ideas to develop some useful compound inside the abandoned quarry. The Songjiang district is a natural beauty spot close to Shanghai and an increasingly popular weekend and holiday destination for Shanghai residents and other visitors.

Atkins Architects came up with a brilliant idea complemented with a wonderful visual presentation shown here and won the contest to design a 5-star, 400-bed luxury resort hotel on those premises. Bristol-based Martin Jochman, who led the design team, said,

“We drew our inspiration from the quarry setting itself, adopting the image of a green hill cascading down the natural rock face as a series of terraced landscaped hanging gardens. In the center, we have created a transparent glass ‘waterfall’ from a central vertical circulation atrium connecting the quarry base with the ground level. This replicates the natural waterfalls on the existing quarry face.”

By having the quarry partially filled with water, the lower part of the hotel will be underwater, offering spectacular aquarium views to guests in the restaurants, fitness areas, and lower story guestrooms.  The hill will be transformed in roof-gardens with terraces with a waterfall at the center and at the top of the hotel, rising above the quarry, guests can enjoy an extreme sports center with activities like rock climbing and bungee jumping.

Water World

And to top it off, the hotel will be totally eco-friendly.  Not only by the fact that is being built in an abandoned quarry, but the Songjiang Hotel will feature green roofing, natural lighting, and geothermal energy, making sustainability an important feature in the design of the Hotel.

October 13, 2008

The Integrator

Filed under: Computers,Software — Rafael Minuesa @ 2:31 PM
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Integration of Visual Studio and Expression Blend through XAML

Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML)

XAML or Extensible Application Markup Language (pronounced zammel [ˈzæmɫ̩]) is a declarative XML-based language created by Microsoft which is used to initialize structured values and objects.

XAML is used extensively in .NET Framework 3.0 technologies, particularly Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Windows Workflow Foundation (WF).
In WPF, XAML is used as a user interface markup language to define UI elements, data binding, eventing, and other features. In WF, workflows can be defined using XAML.

XAML elements map directly to Common Language Runtime object instances, while XAML attributes map to Common Language Runtime properties and events on those objects.

XAML files can be created and edited with visual design tools such as Microsoft Expression Blend, Microsoft Visual Studio, and the hostable Windows Workflow Foundation visual designer.
They can also be created and edited with a standard text editor, a code editor such as XAMLPad, or a graphical editor such as Vector Architect.

XAML represents a bridge between the designer and developer teams.
A new role has emerged as the result of this fusion, that Paul Alexander, a technical program manager with IdentityMine, calls the integrator:

“The Integrator understands the needs of the developer while also supporting the needs of the designer to assure that the app’s UI is as compelling as it was designed, while also validating that the concepts can be realized in code from the developer.”

The integrator deals mostly with XAML code and provides an interface between the developer and designer, by structuring and modularizing the XAML.

Therefore, the ideal integrator must posess strong design skills and a thorough understanding of XAML and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) concepts such as inheritance, styles, and resource lookup.

The Designer<->Integrator<->Developer Model allows the design team to leave the XAML unattended and focus on having their assets effectively integrated into the project.
Designers can work with tools such as Expression Design, Inkscape or Adobe Illustrator and output the results as XAML.
The integrator then integrates the XAML into the project and passes it on to the developers, who need not to be concerned with design issues.
Obviously, this model also works perfectly well the other way around, and in some cases it is advisable to have the developer team establish the foundations of the project.
Expression Blend, by Microsoft, makes this transition even easier, by accepting and generating XAML code that can be directly imported/exported from/to Visual Studio.

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