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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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When I write about projects and people that I find interesting, I often wonder "Why the heck don't more people know about these projects/people?" You can say that I see it as my duty to spread the word, to inform people about the things going on out there, and make sure that you don't miss out on all the awesomeness that is to be found in various places, and within people... which is a long way of introducing Communitere.

The Beginning

When disaster hit Haiti back in 2010, Sam Bloch was working on a custom-made lighting system for a weekend cabin up in the mountains. He had finished work for the day and was sitting in a bar, drinking a well-deserved beer, when he saw the news about the earthquake. Right then and there (because it sounds more dramatic that way), he decided that he needed to be there. He packed his big backpack with as few private things as possible and filled the rest up with tools. About a week later, he was standing in the middle of the disaster area with the feeling that he had made the right choice and was in the exact place that he needed to be. And although that moment marked the beginning of Communitere, Sam had already been working in disaster relief for about six years.

The name itself, Communitere—which I first thought was French—stands for Communities United In Response, Relief & Renewal.

What works, and what doesn't

With quite a few years within the field, Sam had gathered a fair share of insight into what worked and what didn't work. One of the problems he had identified was the lack of innovation within the global aid industry. Where there's no margin to fail, there's no margin for innovation, at the same time as it's easy to argue that this lack of innovation is failure in itself.

This lack of innovation is the problem that Communitere took to heart and decided to make into its main focus. By creating Resource Centers, spaces that also know as "Spaces of Safe Failure," they have established big workshops where the locals inhabitants can learn how to build their own homes; use the tools provided in the workshops; use the space to work on new ideas; and collaborae with visitors on prototypes and projects to solve a specific problem.

As Bloch says, "You can't empower people, the only thing you can do is give them the tools to empower themselves."

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"Focus on solving the problems that others are not"

It's one thing to think that you know what the people you want to help want, but actually knowing what they want may be a whole 'nother thing. There's also a difference between knowing what they want and what they truly need. Needs can be tricky in the sense that sometimes what you need the most is something that you didn't even know existed—a problem that might be so ingrained in your day-to-day life to that you don't even see it as a problem, but rather you take it for granted.

One of the problems you encounter in the world of aid is oftentimes many organizations focusing on solving the same problem without communicating with one another what they are up to, at what time, where, and so on and so forth. This results in redundant efforts, resources going to waste, as well as other areas being neglected when it comes to support, products or medicine.

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Posted by Ray  |  10 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The short story of the Caochangdi artist's village is that Ai Weiwei more or less singlehandedly established a creative community in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Beijing. The experiment worked, and CCD is now home to dozens of artists and designers, as well as galleries and studios, and is rightfully among the primary sites of Beijing Design Week. Although it's mostly concentrated in a self-contained cluster of austere buildings in the heart of the neighborhood, there is a sense in which Ai's Red Brick complex endures as a vital hub for Chinese design.

"It's a strange area—it's a village on the edge of the city; it hasn't been the subject of regeneration or development or top-down beautification," says Ben Hughes, who curated the exhibition for this year's weeklong celebration of design. "All of the galleries here are entrepreneurial and sort of grassroots. It's a working village—it has its rough edges."

BJDW2014-CCD-ext.jpgA major thoroughfare in Caochangdi—the main horizontal street in the map below—with the Red Brick complex at left (and Zaha Hadid's Wangjing SOHO in the distance)

Hughes would know, having embedded himself in a live/work space shortly after he relocated to Beijing from London, where he taught at Central Saint Martins, in 2011; he currently works with his partner Alex Chien as A4 Studios. Despite the camaraderie between most everyone who has set up shop there, he notes that the Red Brick complex can be quite desolate at times, the interlocking planes of red and light gray that cast long shadows across the interstitial plazas and alleyways. (The locale is dramatized in Jason Wishnow's recently released dystopian short film Sand Storm, starring none other than Ai himself.)

"In China, design is quite often portrayed as highbrow [or] elitist—something that you need to be quite wealthy to take part in or enjoy," explains Hughes. "For Design Week, the message we're trying to [convey] is that design is accessible... that design is more about everyday things that everyone can get involved with. In the courtyards here—which are normally very brutal, very stark—we've tried to create more like a fair, a village fête kind of atmosphere." To that end, he set out to engage the locals by expressly fostering participation, namely through 'Plug-In Stations': "Things you can take part in, things you can make, things you can draw, things you can produce and take home."

BJDW2014-CCD-map.jpgA4 Studios designed the map, which incorporates street-level sights as landmarks; see the full version here

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   7 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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When I first started writing for this wonderful blog, the one you are on right now, I started off by writing about co-creative processes in relation to education and learning spaces. One of the offices that contacted me in relation to these articles was STL architects, a Spanish architecture studio based in Chicago. I arranged a Skype call with the two directors of the office, Luis Collado and Jose Luis de la Fuente, and we ended up talking for over an hour as shared our previous projects, work methods, processes and personal experiences.

In this interview you will be able to read about their way of working, the strategies when entering a project and their latest project, developing a 20-year master plan expansion for Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, which started working on in the beginning ofJjune this year.

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Background Info

The Wilbur Wright College is one of seven Chicago City Colleges, designed by Bertrand Goldberg architect studio back in 1986, all of which are currently undergoing a major remodeling. At the moment, the college hosts students from the age of 18 and up. It is divided into three different programs:
- Credit programs
- Continuing education
- Adult education
Course offerings range from African American Studies to Zoology.

The goal for the central authority of the Chicago City Colleges is to create a 20-year master-plan expansion, while the end goal with the expansion plan for STL is to "create spaces that promote learning."

A 20-year master-plan expansion

STL's mission is to create a 20-year master plan expansion for Wright College, which includes taking the university through a major transformation from the inside of the organization to the outdoor lawns. One of these changes is transforming Wright College from being one of seven city colleges—which allow the students the possibility of studying almost anything between heaven and earth—to focusing on IT, making it the IT hub of the Chicago universities.

In order to be able to handle this big change, STL had to dig their teeth into more than just the exterior and interior of the building—they had to study the existing structure of the organization to get a true understanding of how to create, and be a part of, a lasting change.

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Based on previous experience, STL had prepared themselves for a rather stubborn, and difficult-to-please client, similar to the ones they had encountered in the past. But to their great surprise, that wasn't the case this time around. The client, which in this case consists of administrators, stakeholders, students and the central authority of City Colleges, completely broke this perception by giving STL loads of encouragement and support.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Down by the Centre Street courthouses in lower Manhattan, where I walk my dogs in the morning, I saw them re-installing one of those anti-terrorist pylons. All government buildings downtown became ringed with them after September 11, 2001. I was impressed to see that the pylon is at least twice as long as you'd think it is, as its metal core is inserted deep into the ground, presumably into some type of concrete mounting block. This is reassuring, as I'd often wondered if those little four-foot-tall cylinders could really stop a dump truck loaded up with explosives.

Hopefully we'll never have to find out—but the U.S. State Department isn't taking any chances. Since 2001 they've been working with Texas A&M's Transportation Institute, and the latter organization's Crashworthy Structures Program is responsible for designing barriers, including the kind that ring government buildlings. They've recently tested a U-shaped steel kind designed to stop a truck dead in its tracks, even with a 50 m.p.h. headway. Take a look at this:

Insane, no? And impressively, according to The Texas Tribune, the 24-foot-wide barrier is only buried 18 inches deep. (The concrete pylons I saw being re-installed appeared to go a lot deeper than that.)

The Crashworthy Structures Program, by the way, designs at least two variants of barrier. Some are "highway safety appurtenances" while others are "perimeter security devices" like the one in the video. And obviously the design considerations with the latter are quite different. "The focus [with perimeter security devices] is on keeping a terrorist from breaching the barrier," TTI's Dean Alberson told the Tribune.

"The ability of a driver to survive such a crash," the article concludes, "is not a primary concern."

Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   1 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Founded by Ian Hall, Arkitrek works to the create socially and environmentally sustainable buildings in Malaysia. I have been following them for several years now, just looking for a reason to contact them other than to just say "Hi! I like what you do. Keep up the good work," and now I have one, so here we go.

Core77: Can you give us a short outline to what Arkitrek is about?

Ian Hall: We are architects and we're motivated use design to solve environmental problems. Problems, like resource consumption, pollution and energy use. To solve these problems usually involves working with people, so we are highly socially minded in the way that we work, but I'm a nature lover foremost and love of wild places and nature is what inspires me

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What lead you to start Arkitrek?

Haha. Long story...

One thing led to another. I always knew that I did not want to follow a 'conventional' architecture career. After completing my Part III and getting solid commercial experience, I decided to look for alternatives and I joined an expedition with Raleigh International to Borneo. They asked me to lead a team of young volunteers to do a feasibility study for a jungle research station in Borneo. That was a dream job. I swapped designing shiny urban hotels and started work on primitive huts in the jungle. I joke that 'the people I worked with were primitive too': gap year students mostly. The Raleigh ethos is empowering young people by giving them responsibility for delivering project work in challenging places. After some initial resistance, I embraced this philosophy.

After my Raleigh expedition in 2004, I volunteered to work for The Sabah Foundation, Raleigh's local partner in Sabah, Borneo. The Sabah Foundation manages three rainforest conservation areas and I went on to volunteer for them as an architect, designing jungle camps, staff quarters and research facilities on and off for two years.

I funded this with contract work in London. Six months in London would fund four months in Sabah. During this time, I met the people who would become my first paying clients in Sabah. That's how Arkitrek started.

The name, Arkitrek, was coined by my mate Andy Lo. Andy is a Londoner whose parents are from Sabah. We worked together in London and he came out to visit his family in Sabah and then joined me for a month long design and trekking stint in Sabah's Maliau Basin Conservation Area.

I worked in the most awesome and wild and beautiful places.

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What was the main foundation when you started Arkitrek?

During that time with Sabah Foundation I was very concerned with two questions:
1. Should we build anything here? [in this wild and beautiful place]
2. If we do build, what kind of building is appropriate?

A little later, when I was no longer supported by high paying London contract work a third question came into play...
3. How can I keep saying yes to designing small buildings in beautiful places for worthy clients, who can't pay professional fees?

I think that my 'ground pillars' are those three questions.

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  22 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The young Danish designer Mikkel Mikkelsen first caught my attention when I saw a series of experiments he had created with wood, aluminum and acrylic/plexi. A dining table with the same honesty as the original experiment captures the lessons learned.

Ever since I first saw the experiment, I've enjoyed following his progress as a designer, and a few months ago, one of his latest endeavors caught my attention once again. This time around, it was due to a duck. I know it sounds a bit odd, but this little character with a metal beak is a remarkable duck, one that you fall in love in a heartbeat, part of a grander book project created by Aviendo Fairytales. Seeing how far Mikkel has come since the first time I saw his work, how true he has been towards himself, his design and the people he come into contact with, I figured it was about time you all got a proper introduction to his work.

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Core77: How did you get into the field of design?

Mikkel Mikkelsen: Before I started in the school of architecture, I was working in construction while I was doing business school. I was working in building high-end private homes in a company where my dad was a constructing architect. So the interest for architecture started there I guess—my dad also had his own studio before this, so drawing houses has always been in my life. It was like it was meant to be.

I think after architecture school, I was looking for a way to keep working on mikkelmikkel because I was, and am not very interested in a 9-to-5 job in one of the big companies. I tried this a couple of times but I always end up feeling stuck behind a computer and very detached from the projects. I think it has something to do with the scale of the projects in the big companies. I have always preferred the smaller scale that relates more directly to the basic needs of human beings.

To me, the interaction with clients are what drives the projects. A new project is always kind of a journey where you get up close and personal with the people you work for, which I find very interesting. Half of the journey is identifying and understanding the needs and challenges in a project before solving them.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)

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This amazing footage of an Amish barn raising has been making the blog rounds. As fascinating as it is, the things about this activity that you cannot see in the video are of equal interest. But before we get to that, let's see the vid:

Ohio-based non-Amishman Scott Miller secured permission to record the activity, likely because he pitched in to help on the ten-hour job. And while all you see in the video are men, an Amish barn-raising is actually an all-hands-on-deck affair. Attendance is mandatory in the community, though the Amish don't view "mandatory" as the pejorative we selfish Americans do: "We enjoy barn raisings," an Amish farmer told writer Gene Logsdon in 1983. "So many come to work that no one has to work very hard. And we get in a good visit."

0amishbarnraising-005.jpgPhoto by Eliza Waters

That's because to the Amish, a barn-raising falls into the category of activity known as a "frolic," a combination of group labor and social mixing, which builds and solidifies the community as surely as it does the barn. All able-bodied members of the settlement are in attendance, meaning there can be more than a hundred families on hand, and with Amish families averaging eight children each, you can do the math. It's not difficult to see that what might take a conventional construction crew armed with cranes a month or more to complete this task, start to finish, is performed by the Amish in a week or so.

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   1 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Open Air Neighborhood (OAN) started off as a collaboration between KaosPilot Theis Reibke and architect Louise Heeboell, back in 2011. At first, the idea was simply to develop "Building Playgrounds" through co-creative processes with the users, as a way to develop the city itself. They applied for and received grants from both the EU and RealDania, and started working on the project. After meeting Ellen O'Gara at a conference in 2012, the project has since been a collaboration between Heeboell and O'Gara.

The main focus for OAN has always been on creating a strong connection with the users by making them a vital part of the processes. Here they share some insights into what made them decide to work together, what brought them onto the path of co-creative processes and what they have learned throughout the various projects

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Core77: Let's start off with a little bit of history about each of you.

Ellen O'Gara: Architecture seemed like an interesting thing to study because it combined books and creativity. I liked that combination and I still do. While I studied I really liked that everyone could participate in a discussion on architecture because it is something that is relevant for all. And in some ways we are all experts.

Louise Heeboell: I was both creative and good at math and physics. Good at drawing. I thought I was going to be an engineer. But I figured that the mix of engineering and being creative was being an architect. Besides from that, I had no clue, what being an architect was about. I'm happy about my choice now. Years before Open Air Neighborhood, I worked as a 'normal' architect. But I found that there was a conflict in the way architects work and the way the city develops. I had been looking for a way to work differently, open and with the users as a central part of the development—and still be an architect.

Louise, why was this so important to you?

Because I found that the urban space that was built as a direct result of the architects drawings had no life. (And I'd been drawing some myself, so I felt bad about it!) I was interested in finding out what created the places in the city that are filled with life and where people liked to stay.

Ellen, what brought you onto the path of co-creative processes?

Ellen: I studied at the school of architecture in Copenhagen. At the beginning of every year we went abroad for two weeks to do field work. In Sarajevo, Porto, Lisbon, ... Here we were free to find something that interested us. I would walk around and talk to people. Ask them what was important to them. This would always lead to something interesting. A topic would emerge, a need, a potential. I would gather all the information I could, measurements, conversations... the rest of the year, I and all the other students would develop each our project. I find this way of working very interesting. Looking at the needs and the resources and developing a program from that. It results in some very interesting synergies and very relevant programs. It is bottom-up development.

Of course you can't always just wander around and hope to run into something interesting when a developer wants something built but it is an approach I find very valuable. So what I mean to say is that my education has very directly led me to what I am working on today.

So, when did you two start collaborating?

Ellen: We met at a conference in august of 2012 hosted by the city. We each presented projects we had worked on for the previous months. It was clear that we had the same interests and some of the same ambitions for urban planning. The conference was about a project called Skab din By. Very interesting and experimental project by the municipality.

Louise: After that, we had a coffee and I think I asked if Ellen wanted to take part in the talk, that Open Air Neighborhood was going to give at the Think Space conference in September that year.

Ellen: Yes, and from then we started building OAN together. By January, we were working full time. Doing projects for the city and housing organizations.

During the Think Space conference you each presented a project. What were these projects about?

Ellen & Louise: We presented several projects where you could see that we had some common ideas for how to develop differently, our approach to urban planning and the process by which the city is and should be made. These ideas were about including the users in developing their own urban spaces. We were both very interested in processes where the citizens take a more central part of the development, and we both had experienced first hand that this kind of process can have some good social benefits.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Animal Planet calls Anthony Archer-Willis "the best in the world for what he does—designing and delivering the ultimate swimming experience." That's why they gave Archer-Willis, a British landscape architect with a specialization in swimming pool and water garden design, his own show. In "The Poolmaster," he designs dream swimming pools for a handful of lucky clients.

While the TV show will reveal Archer-Willis' own creations, in the following video he shows you his appreciation for another pool designer's work. An unnamed family in Utah commissioned this absolutely insane, mammoth $2-million-dollar swimming pool, which was designed to look all-natural. With five waterfalls, a grotto, a waterslide, hidden passageways, an integrated indoor kitchen/bathroom/showering facility, a scuba diving practice area and more, this is not the average swimming pool that most of us Americans will be hitting up this holiday weekend. Watch and be amazed:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   7 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Zoos have a horrific history. Roman emperors imported "exotic" animals by the hundreds and forced them to fight each other to the death to entertain arenas packed with crowds. Monarchs amassed collections of animals from far-reaching places to display their power. In the 19th Century there was a movement towards forming zoos in the name of scientific research, but their function quickly devolved into public spectacle. The 20th Century was perhaps the most appalling, with the Bronx Zoo "exhibiting" a human being, the African Pygmy Ota Benga, in the Monkey House.

What will the 21st Century bring? Zoos are unlikely to be abolished, as proponents argue that modern-day zoos educate children and spread awareness of the importance of conservation. So Bjarke Ingels' BIG is at least attempting to improve their condition with a little design.

BIG's "Zootopia" project aims to redesign Denmark's Givskud Zoo by at least visually masking human visitors from the animals. Under the plan, the animals will roam in three separate wild-looking enclosures—"Africa," "Asia" and "America"—while the humans observe surreptitiously. "Instead of copying the architecture from the various continents by doing vernacular architecture," BIG writes, "we propose to integrate and hide the buildings as much as possible in the landscape."

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After first entering a large staging area, obscured from the animals' view via a surrounding berm, visitors travel to camouflaged vantage points via underground tunnels.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

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You really have to feel sorry for rich kids living in cities. Because even if their parents own an incredibly rare Ferrari 250GT, it will be parked in the underground garage beneath their luxury building, and their children will never achieve spiritual growth by sending the car over a precipice like Cameron did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The car would have to be parked somewhere on an upper story, preferably on the same level as their tony apartment, in order for the kids to experience this kind of gravity-based emotional catharsis.

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Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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You've gotta love a house that comes with instructions. The newest project from Iranian design group nextoffice scales up the the space-saving technique behind the Murphy bed and enhances it with a bit of Hogwarts-like whimsy. Their work on the three-floor Sharifi-Ha house in Tehran incorporates a series of semi-mobile rooms, which can be oriented to allow for extra space and sunlight.

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As any city dweller knows, you don't have a lot of square footage to work with in urban hotspots. This design addresses this issue a stack of three rectangular rooms that can either be aligned flush against the façade of the home or rotated perpendicular to the outer wall—creating weather-friendly options for both a winter and summer living space.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Jul 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Something you see a lot of in New York is workers assembling or disassembling a metal scaffold, but you almost never see them made out of new-looking pipes. The banged-up metal is a testament to how much use they see over their lifetimes. In contrast, you'll also see workers assembling and disassembling temporary facades out of 2x4s and CDX, but the difference is, the wood all goes into a garbage dumpster at the end, riddled as they are with screws and screw holes. They don't live to see another day, unlike the metal scaffolding.

Beijing-based architecture firm Penda has made a similar observation by looking at Native American tipis. When it's time to move on, the nomadic owners untied the rope bindings for the pole structure, bundled it together for transport, then put it up somewhere else. The lack of penetrating fasteners means the poles can be re-used indefinitely.

Thus Penda's "One With the Birds" project, which takes the local-to-China material of bamboo and binds it together with rope in a triangular matrix pattern that can then be built out.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

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No Brazilian can be happy with their national team suffering two crushing defeats in a row, and now the country is dotted with brand-new stadiums that can only serve as a painful reminder. But now that the World Cup is over, perhaps those stadiums, so expensive and controversial to build, can be put to more enduring use.

Architects Axel de Stampe and Sylvain Macaux have put forth a proposal called Casa Futebol, whereby the twelve stadiums would be reappropriated for housing. The concept calls for the design of prefabricated apartment modules of 105 square meters that could be inserted into the periphery of each stadium's shape, along with "colonizing the outside facade" to give them a different look.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   7 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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More steps forward, and upward, for our robotic overlords: architectural 3D printing gets practical with a little teamwork. A group at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia has developed a 3-robot skeleton crew capable of laying down architecturally relevant shapes and material. Using the most basic tools (off-the-shelf electronics and Erector Set parts), their team based design solves the key problem of large scale additive printing: size of the printer. To date, most "printed" architecture requires a massive external framework, supporting the large single printer in an absurdly scaled-up version of desktop machines. In order for the technology to become more than a gimmicky gesture—that architecture is, in fact, paying attention to trends—that needs to change.

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The first robot team member is equipped with a sensor that follows an initial marked path. It lays the first several centimeters of synthetic marble in a coiled foundation. The second robot fits onto the foundation, gripping the sides tightly with rollers. It continues squeezing out coils of marble, smoothing and shooting it with nearly 200° air. The head of the second team member is also mobile, allowing the form to take on curved surfaces as the coiled "building" advances. The third robot is my favorite: Breaking from the horizontal coil-pot method, it uses suction cups and pressurized air to crawl vertically up the structure. Its job is to reinforce the weaknesses of a structure built with all materials laid in the same direction. This is the biggest drawback to a coil-printed design, as anyone vaguely familiar with shear strength can imagine. (Just think about how easy it would be to squish in the side of that coil pot.) By letting this mountain-climbing robot squirt on reinforcing "beams" of marble, it can add rigidity as needed.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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As a society, we've more or less got the design of gas stations figured out. Outside is a row of pumps (ground-mounted in most of the world but ceiling-mounted in space-tight countries like Japan), a roof to keep the elements off, a sprinkler system in case Gus decides to light up a Pall Mall. Inside there's snacks, cold drinks and a bathroom where you can cut and bleach your hair when you've been wrongly framed for murder and are on the run from the cops.

But in the early part of the 20th Century, gas stations were neither commonplace nor figured out in terms of design. There was no standard. The few folks that owned cars might be able to find a "filling station," or they drove to hardware stores to buy gasoline over-the-counter. So Frank Lloyd Wright's 1927 design for a filling station must've seemed very radical indeed.

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Wright's vision featured two cantilevered roof wings, each of which supported overhead gas pumps made from glass, for chrissakes, ringed with copper. And speaking of copper the entire roof was shod with it. (Impossible to imagine today given the cost of metal, but back then copper was so cheap that there was a huge statue entirely made out of the stuff in New York City, and we'd gotten the whole thing for free less than fifty years earlier.) Two towering "totems," as Wright called them, would have a sign conspicuously suspended between them.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

01lostart-002.jpgPhoto by Christopher Schwarz & John Hoffman's Lost Art Press

Behind the Berrybrook School in Duxbury, Massachusetts, stands an old beat-up shed. Teachers were using it for overflow storage in 2012 when Michael Burrey, a restoration carpenter working on a project at the school, came across the building. Inside, looking past the scattered toys and tricycles, he recognized the space for what it was: A woodworking shop. An extremely old one that predated electricity, judging by the "1789" painted on a roof beam and the remains of a treadle-powered lathe.

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03jeffklee-002.jpgPhoto by Jeffrey E. Klee, Architectural Historian of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

"All the benches were there," Burrey told The Boston Globe. More giveaways as to the structure's purpose: "The way the benches are in relation to the windows, how the light comes in to light an area, the location of the tool racks on the walls."

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  17 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

haikyo1.jpgVia

It's a safe bet that if you live a networked and urbanized life, you're at least a little intrigued by abandoned places. Chalk it up to our species' contrary nature, physical and psychic thrill-seeking, an innate fascination with death, or desire to experience The Inhuman. The interest exists across cultures and ages and class. Abandoned homes, decommissioned factories, old military bunkers, most of Detroit, never-realized retrofuturism, decrepit malls—regardless of previous use they are each remnants of lives we can't quite imagine. They're physical embodiments of stories about when things stop and sobering glimpses of what the world would be like without us. For those of you who appreciate the peaceful (or terrifying) draw of abandoned places, do yourself a solid and add "Haikyo" to your search terms for cool stuff.

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Haikyo are Japanese ruins or abandoned places. The word has also come to describe the act of seeking them out. Whether you do your own exploring or appreciate others' adventures from the warm and unhaunted confines of your computer, these spaces are bound to inspire. Second-hand, haikyo seem more lovely than other urban exploration finds. Though possibly due to the added intrigue of foreignness, I'd argue that these sites have additional appeal because of Japan's history of subdued and tasteful architectural design, and a strikingly intimate relationship with surrounding forests. Some speculators claim the prevalence of Japanese ruins is a combination of old culture and very recent economic booms and busts that resulted in unneeded or unaffordable physical development.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Jun 2014  |  Comments (4)

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Former banker Jay Dweck enjoys swimming, collecting violins and being rich. After earning his fortune on the Street, the former Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley exec decided to splash out on a pool that would combine these passions.

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Dweck contacted award-winning landscape architecture and masonry firm Cipriano Landscape Design, a New-Jersey-based outfit that recently added custom-designed swimming pools to their repertoire. The "exact replica in scale of a 1700s era Stradivarius violin with all of its detail and intricacies" that they came up with, in accordance with Dweck's wishes, is just nuts; the firm describes it as "one of the most complex pool designs and installations within the whole design and build industry."

First off, look at the amount of detail and AutoCADding that went into just the tiles, which are translucent glass and number nearly 500,000:

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Posted by core jr  |   8 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The Community. Design. Initiative. is a project located in one of Canada's most at-risk and diverse neighborhoods, facilitating a conversation about architecture's responsibility to engage across not only physical, but economic, social, cultural, and environmental environments. In short, it's kids building buildings—under the watchful mentorship of a few brave social work and design professionals. In Canada, it is pushing the envelope around truly participatory architectural processes.

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The project itself is unique collaboration project between a social service delivery hub (East Scarborough Storefront), an architectural think tank (archiTEXT), and an architecture firm (SUSTAINABLE.TO). Based in the priority neighborhood (a neighborhood defined as at-risk) of Kingston Galloway Orton Park in East Scarborough, the building project has engaged youth to design an 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the social service delivery hub, the East Scarborough Storefront. Over the last three years, local youth have been engaged with architects, landscape architects, planners, designers, etc.—over 45 professionals involved in the conception, design, fundraising, approval process, and construction of the building. The complexity of this building process' eco-system continues to engage all ranges of stakeholders, with the youth-led participatory process demonstrating broad reaching positive impacts on the community (and at-risk neighborhoods at large).

Both social workers and designers want to help to improve people's lives, yet they use entirely different words, tools and processes. The Community. Design. Initiative. has allowed (or made it necessary for) the two groups to learn to work together, to share their words, tools and processes.

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Posted by erika rae  |  30 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

Paddle8-Lead.jpgPablo Castro's Sanhe Kindergarden

The second best thing to having a home designed by your favorite architect has got to be hanging original work from said architect on your walls. From May 1-9, you'll have a chance to get your hands on sketches from your favorite modern-day architects. The Drawing Center is teaming up with Paddle8 to host an auction titled "Architectural Drawings" featuring names like Thom Mayne, Michael Bell, Steven Holl, Stan Allen, Neil Denari and Eric Owen Moss (among others). A small preview of the curated collection is available online here.

Paddle8-Geo.jpgThom Mayne, Kim Groves and Nenad Bozek's Sixth Street Fragment F,O: 3, 12 Small Heavy Metal

Paddle8-OLHouse.jpgNeil Denari's P.L. House

The funds raised will go toward supporting future architectural exhibitions and programs at The Drawing Center. Other featured architects include Brad Cloepfil, Michael Maltzan, Annabelle Selldorf, OBRA and James Newton Wines. The auction opens up at 10am EST on Thursday, May 1, so make sure to get your bids in!

For more information, check out the the auction on Paddle8.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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While China had their Industrial Revolution rather late in the global game, their production might and speed means they'll likely advance new digital fabrication techniques before the rest of the world does. For example, it's been ten years since the American outfit Contour Crafting first proposed 3D printing houses, but aside from a brief surge of TED-Talk-inspired press in 2012, they've been mostly quiet. In that time, meanwhile, China has begun developing their 3D-printed-house-erecting capabilities in earnest.

The Shanghai-based WinSun Decoration Design Engineering company recently printed ten sample structures of 200 square meters each. What's amazing is that they produced the entire lot in less than 24 hours, and that the cost of each house is less than US $5,000. The concrete-like building material comes "entirely out of recycled materials [and is] a mixture of construction and industrial waste" which the company claims is environmentally friendly (although they don't provide specifics on the material).

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Posted by erika rae  |  23 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The Roomba has made all of our lives easier from cleaning up after us to serving up some much-needed laughs moonlighting as "DJ Roomba." Someday soon you may be seeing a similar looking robot make an appearance in the world of architecture. Designer Han Seok Nam is looking to cut down on labor costs and up efficiency with his design, Archibot. The mobile printer works with in-room sensors to print uploaded CAD files that signify different construction points and plans right onto the floor of a work area.

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The recently patented Archibot has been designed to recognize where building elements such as doors and walls need to be built. The printed plans can be compared to larger print-outs, making them easy to interpret and cross-check for both architects and contractors. Check out the video to see how it all comes together:

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Posted by erika rae  |   4 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Barcelona-based architect Federico Babina has commemorated 33 well-known architects—among the honored are Charles Eames, Norman Foster, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rem Koolhaus—in illustrated portrait series titled "Archiportrait." The illustrations present themselves as mini puzzles featuring famed staircases, window panes, support structures, entire buildings and more. In short, any renowned architectural form you can think of is hidden with these faces. While we've cracked (parts of) nine portraits for you, there are still 24 left open for your own interpretations.

Archiportraits-EnricMiralles.jpgThe colorful, tiled roof of the Santa Caterina Market in Barcelona is re-imagined as the facial hair of the architect

Arichiportraits-LeCorbusier.jpgCorbusier's portrait features The Palace of Justice in Chandigarh, India (top) and Church of Saint-Pierre in Firminy, France (bottom)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Apr 2014  |  Comments (8)

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I bet you didn't realize this, but your front door sucks. Yes, it does. It's made out of steel or wood or even worse, steel disguised to look like wood. It offers little thermal insulation, your neighbors can hear you arguing through it, and burglars can easily kick it in. Even worse, it's just plain ugly.

The 85mm-thick doors by Slovenia-based Inotherm, on the other hand, don't suck at all. They're made out of 3mm-thick sheets of folded aluminum with polyurethane sealed inside to offer a winning blend of both thermal and sound insulation. The escutcheons are made of stainless steel and designed to protect against drilling and turning. And most importantly, they're way better-looking than your lousy door.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  11 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

balancinghouse2.jpgVilla Kogelhof

Are you opinionated about architecture? For once the world wants to hear about it: vote for your top picks in the Architizer A+ Awards! Public voting is open until March 21, and there are plenty of categories (and even more subcategories) of beautifully built and rendered work. Not opinionated about architecture? Cast votes for your dream home, office, airport, and garden. Here are some of my top picks.


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In the Residential Interiors category, I loved RoominaRoom by Atmos Studio. Located in London, the redesign is a room "grown" within another in response to the building's residents' committee blocking a loft project. Sneaky.


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In one of the Landscape categories, the Hans-Wilsdorf Bridge, a scribbly tube spanning the 280 feet of Switzerland's Arve river.

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