Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

the legacy

Industrial Revolution

Great Depression


Our greatest problem was that we were given everything. Our great-grandparents invented industry and our grandparents lived without so that it might succeed. Our parents worked hard, built the middle class, and laid a foundation of stability. We are the fruits of this labor, and we seem to be satisfied with it. Without something to fight for or rebel against, we let stand the progress. Why progress when the outcome of the past was comfort? Is what exists of this process the peak? Do we refine the product? Re-invent it? Or do we just take advantage of it's stasis and let the meaning behind the process disappear. Will we let it fall into disrepair, only for the next generation to fix? If it does, will that be our legacy, or theirs?

Monday, June 22, 2009

the problem of organic form

Green Algae. A microorganism that uses protons to produce molecular hydrogen.

"The external configuration is usually rather simple, but there is packed into the interior of an organism an amazing complexity of structures which have long been the delight of anatomists. The specific form of a plant or animal is determined not only by the genes in that organism and the cytoplasmic activities that these direct but by the interaction between genetic constitution and environment. A given gene does not control a specific trait, but a specific reaction to a specific environment."
-From The Problem of Organic Form by Edmund W. Sinnott, 1963. Seen in Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi, 1966.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

shenzhen crystal island

OMA, in collaboration with Urbanas, has recently been announced as the winner of the Shenzhen Crystal Island competition. The scheme imagines an inter-connected landscape of creativity. Located in front of the old City Hall, the development would link the creative industries of the city through connective infrastructure. Layered into the urban fabric the plan vertically stacks three zonal concepts. Underground, a network of "shortcut connectors" form the "design link", a system that physically joins the disperse creative industries of the city. A large-scale public plaza and "creative center" occupies the surface area of the site and provides 20 hectacres of parks, pavillions, and "design villages". Amidst all of this is the Shenzhen Eye. This feature is seen as the "landmark" element on site. Situated between the underground network and the above-ground landscape, the "eye" seems to defy it's own spatial existence. Located below grade, the curvalinear form of the apperature and the distorted perspective provide a "floating" glimpse of the city skyline beyond, realizing at once the spatial implications of creative design. swiped from designboom.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

asphalt spot

Asphalt spot is a bastard-hybrid parking-lot-exhibition-hall-facilities facility by Francois Roche and R&Sie(n) in Tokamashi, Japan. Whether the 300m2 folly exists to carry 20 parking spaces on it's undulating roof surface or it is that very surface that purposely hides the folly is called into question. The traditional programmatic idea of primary use and it's relation to support function is neutralized by elevating the supporting functions to prominence. No longer does the exhibit hall and rest facilities command visual and circulatory precedent. Instead, they become subject to the redfined whimsy of a traditionally ignored site element. seen on SpaceInvading

16,000 year-old concrete

photo by chris bobko
Engineer's at MIT have discovered the cause behind concrete to deform and weaken over time due to stress. called concrete creep, a rearrangement of structure at the nano-scale, professor Franz-Jozef Ulm's paper suggests that, if slowed by 2.6%, the result would increase the effective lifespan of concrete up to 16,000 years. Although I understand BLDGBLG's hesitation at a material synonnomous with parking structures being able to last for 16,000 years, there may be practical uses for this. Aside from the ecological benefit of only producing the concrete once, extended-use infrastrcutre such as bridges and foundations would require less maintanence and replacement over the material life-cycle. Also, by micro-engineering the material, a complete re-imagining of construction methods with the material is possible. Working at a nano-scale it becomes possible to engineer into the concrete certain nano-structures or formulas that would allow for easy assembly/disassembly and manipulation. If the material does indeed have such durability, the ability to re-engineer that actual piece of concrete, whether to repair or reform, could yield infinite solutions. Ironically, the material that defined 'modularity' could be re-engineered to be modular at a molecular level. Could actual 'curable' concrete be created where the atomic structure is re-energized and given a molecular tune-up? A structural member is tested and the calculations reveal it's structure has decomposed to an unsafe level. A specific electrical current is applied to the material and particles are jostled back into place and the original strength is again realized.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

destroy build destroy

Noveau rocker Andrew W.K. is hosting an upcoming television show on Cartoon Network where kids get to blow something up, inspect the wreckage, and then build a better machine, and then, I would suspect, maybe even blow it up again. The show looks to be part Double Dare, part Mythbusters -- a great combination indeed. It's actually quite interesting to tie the idea of destruction to creation and see how kids react. At best, this may teach the kids to look at ordinary objects through a critical lense and question the validity of the solution rather than just accepting the product/object. Similarly, we may see the development of the idea that all things have a lifecycle, and the future is not necessarily tied to the built creations of the past. At worst, we get to see kids firing rocket launchers. seen on gizmodo and laughing squid

flow 5.0

In the 2007 project Flow 5.0, interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde created a 10-meter long space with two parellel walls composed of hundreds of small ventilator fans linked to audio and visual sensors. The result is a "pixelated" interactive surface that responds to user and environmental stimulus. According to the Dutch artist "Flow 5.0 is an interactive landscape made out of hundreds of ventilators which reacts on your sound and motion. By walking and interacting the visitor creates an illusive landscape of transparencies and artificial wind. Moving through Flow 5.0 the visitor becomes conscious of himself as a collective body, in dynamic relation with space and technology." In his statement, Roosegaarde admits a fundamental desire to link the built landscape more dynamically with that of it's users and environment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

yggdrasil electric pole

the yggdrasil electric pole by no picnic is the recently approved design for a new high tension electricity pole at a highway entry point into stockholm, sweden. the structure both carries elevated electric lines but also functions as a large light sculpture. as a conceptual gateway into the city, it is undoubtedly a beautifully designed structure that will emit low level ambient light between the tree-like masts. unfortunately, using energy, to project light directly up into the atmosphere does not quite seem like an efficient or environmentally friendly decison. the design is named after the yggdrasil, or earth tree, of ancient norse mythology. seen on gizmodo.

Monday, June 8, 2009

metropol parasol

construction is underway for 'metropol parasol' designed by Jurgen Mayer H. The project was the winning entry in a 2004 design competition to redevelop the Plaza de la Encarnacion in Seville, Spain. the competition entry is an attempt to create a new contemporary urban center that provides an archeological site, a farmers market, public gathering space and numerous commercial venues. the structure, which, once complete, will be on of the world's largest timber-frame constructs, is scheduled to be complete in late 2009. the form itself seems to grow from the cityscape below and spreads out overhead creating a canopy that weaves it's way through the plaza. serving as both facility nodes and as vertical circulation, the large columns speak of the connection between earth and sky, historic and contemporary, past, present, and future. swiped from designboom

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lego Mania!

Ahhh, yes...LEGOS!!!!! We grew up playing with this amazing toy designed by the Dutch. Below are some fine examples by Nathan Sawaya, posted on Design Boom

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Little girl, why do you have grenade in your hand?

I thought this was a powerful one and coincidentally, so did someone else as I was taking the shot. I ended up having a good conversation with this man about the meaning of the one. We talked of innocence, puppeteer-ing, war and greed in a good 10 minute conversation. I've been trying to get a shot of this one for a while and finally got it. Rain had been getting in the way.

[Taken near Georgia Ave and Quincy streets NW, on 4/19/09]

Google Street View

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Post Industrial Revitalization ?

I looked at this image and just had to say "wow!" followed by a short breath of disgust and concern. There are huge built forms like this that are just barely holding itself up...if not structural, morally. This was once the central train station in Detroit. In its time, probably thousands of people are scrambling through the space, yelling, running, trying to find their next train. Now, absolutely nothing. It's sad... Maybe the building could be partially renovated to accomodate a new function, artist lofts, indoor mall, skate board arena....anything!??!

Another example is the Ryugyong Hotel in Taiwan. Two problems here, out of funding and poor quality concrete was used and structural failure is occuring. This one, I think the building is really freaking ugly but just another example. Following are some links of abandonment posts:
Web Urbanists - Abandoned buildings, spaces
Web Urbanists - Abandonment in Asia (inc the hotel)