Without architecture we’d probably still be stuck in caves. But without visionary architecture we’d all still be inside-the-box, which isn’t necessarily a bad place but it’s not as much fun as – well, you know. In the spirit of taking architecture to the next level, along came a group that calls itself, the Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA). Based in Sydney, Australia, they think of themselves as “the vanguard of a nonconformist and inventive new generation in architecture.” Was architecture ever conformist? One of the LAVA founders designed that fun, cute “Watercube” swimming center for the Beijing Olympics. But now they’re headed into new and glorious territory with a collection of buildings, spanning the globe – and all that good stuff. From an office tower in Abu Dhabi, to a sports resort in the United Arab Emirates to zero-energy houses in Saudi Arabia, LAVA is flowing with unusual designs. One might wonder why the oil-rich nations are involved in zero-energy houses but this is the judgment-free zone, so we won’t expend our energy on that. LAVA does have projects in Australia, Germany and China among other places though. Among their plethora of interesting and unusual projects is a zero-energy office building in Stuttgart, Germany. Instead of the popular modular, block style, this building has a centralized system around an atrium. Through clever use of materials and design that include photovoltaic elements, the building’s façade not only changes in appearance, it also generates energy. At a glance they seem to do a lot with façades, transforming a building’s appearance or performance with them. It’s definitely a futuristic approach to indoor space. And what wouldn’t we give for those zero-energy houses.