Thursday, May 21, 2009

evol : spotlight on

evol, a street artist from germany is known for installations that call into question our relationship with the urban environment. frequently pointing out the failures of 'modernist utopia schemes' and the oft overlooked corners of the city, evol's work draws attention to grand schemes and the scale of misunderstanding. for some of his recent installations evol has taken the repetitive and often senseless facades of public housing projects and applied them to small city objects, thus forcing the viewer to re-evaluate the scale of the idea. see more at fabrik project and spaceinvading.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

electronic paper display

from e ink:
"An Electronic Paper Display is a display that possess a paper-like high contrast appearance, ultra-low power consumption, and a thin, light form. It gives the viewer the experience of reading from paper, while having the power of updatable information."

see more at xconomy here

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

gas stations and rocket ships

Tramway Gas Station / 2901 North Palm Canyon Drive by frey and chambers. 1963.

you can't explore space if you run out of gas. but cars and planes and rockets all carry their own fuel supplies. so, at best, only relatively short trips are possible. how far could you drive your car if there were no gas stations within driving distance. you would always have to return to that fuel station to make any travel possible. thus, as an organism, a space ship does not thrive in it's environment, it merely exists in it. it can make limited trips in and out but that's the extent. satellites and space stations only hang there, balanced perfectly, in a pre-set orbit, yet no free movement is possible. instead of carry-and-consume, the ship should produce-and-transform as it travels. if the craft can harness and utilize naturally encountered energies, it could travel and exist indefinitely. imagine limitless travel where time is the only constraint on distance (both being af function of each other anyway...)! but a vessel might use passive energy such as solar or transform it's internal bio-processes into energy (poop=power). who knows, maybe sans-gravity, a perpetual motion apparatus may finally be realized and the resultant emmision is propulsion?

Monday, May 18, 2009

magnetic termite mounds

the termite has long been known as highly social insects that live in large colonies with a very specific social order. however, the 'mounds' that they construct are quickly being identified as sophisticated structures. the compass termite of australia orients it's mound along a north-south access to utilize the process of thermoregulation to maintain the interior temperature even as the outside air may vary from hot to cold. with it's largest elevations facing east and west, the mound collects the warm sun in the morning and evening, as the center stays cool. however, once night falls, the heat captured by the exterior is transferred to the interior. mounds also use the stack effect to cool and ventilate the interior of the structure. warm air is drawn up through the network of tunnels that are similar to capillaries in the human skin and the warm gaseous air is exchanged at the structure's surface. read more at environmental grafitti and at the national. images by neil liddle.

Friday, May 15, 2009

grey goo

grey goo is the name given to the hypothesized scenario which envisions the world being taken over by self-replicating nano-technology. giacomo costa is a digital artist who imagines the world post-infiltration. the forms that begin to arise in the decimated landscape seem to grow organically, yet mimic the vertical growth patterns of urban density. calling to mind the singularity, where the rate of technology expands so rapidly that a super-intelligent 'being' is created, these images imagine a new phase in evolution; one created by humans, but not controlled by them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

of google maps and robots

just as it is difficult to imagine getting work done without email, finding your way around town without google maps is risky, at best. the old-fashioned way of navigation, interaction with the urban fabric and local populace, has been relegated to several mouse-clicks and a printed screen-shot. asking for directions is for old people. and robots. old people and robots.
a team of german scientists at the technical university of munich have programmed a robot to navigate an urban area to a destination one and a half kilometers away through human interaction. nicknamed ACE, for Autonomous City Explorer, the robot approaches a human target and subsequently displays a message on it's screen asking the human if it would like to help. If the passer-by chooses to help, the robot vocalizes it's current position and destination, and asks for directions to it's endpoint. the robot is programmed to scan the stance of the human target and recognize pointing and gestures. continuing it's data collection, the robot requests wayfinding tips through identification of landmarks and map input. as ACE continues to collect and analyze the data in it's system, the robot and generates a 3-dimensional real-time map of information.

data collected from New Scientist

liquid signage

WATER LOGO, by the hara design institute and atelier omoya, is fabric structured at the nano-level to repel drops of water larger than a certain size. These droplets are moved off of the textured surface passively, by gravity, and only drops of a specific size remain. the structure is constantly re-supplied with water, so control over the droplets is possible. seen via designboom

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

of bricks and robots

Louis Khan was famously quoted as saying " 'What do you want Brick?' And the Brick says to you, 'I like an arch.'..." Much of Khan's work was rooted in the honesty of heavy materials such as concrete and brick. His comment, moreover, belies his belief that all materials contain certain physical characteristics that define their usage. Brick was invented as load-bearing unit masonry and for much of it's history was used as such. However, in recent years, the meaning of brick has become convoluted in modern buildings. No longer used as a load bearing unit, brick has become a skin applied to the surface of structure. Ironically, it is the meaning of 'brick' that sustains it's usage. Technologically, brick does not function well as building skin. The units themselves are small, heavy, and require internal structure to carry their weight. However, brick is still used as skin in modern buildings because of the meaning and familiarity behind it. A brick wall recalls the idea of permanence and strength. It is a material of comfort in spite of the fact that today, unbeknownst to the user, the system is literally hanging over them.
However, the very properties that make brick a perverse choice for skin, may also enable a renaissance in it's usage. Capitalizing on the very fact that it is a small, unitized system, new technologies are revolutionizing the three dimensional capabilities of it's stacking. Using digitally defined algorythms and computer controlled robotic stacking devices, complex forms are able to be generated. At the 2008 Venice Bienale Fabio Gramazio and Matthias Kohler constructed an installation entitled 'Structural Oscillations' that consisted of 14,961 individually rotated bricks in a 100 meter-long wall (pictured above). Here, the modern technology used to create this wall redefines the idea of the 'brick wall', while using the very properties of traditional brick. The individual units are rotated in space, creating spatial surfaces yet still rely on their load-bearing capacity for support.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dematerialization of Brick

Another example of creative using brick to articulate a facade treatment. Here rather than having actual spaced openings, the brick units are rotated incrementally. As the spacing between gets too wide, it naturally lends itself in being an opening. Pretty cool.

Image is from Archidose Porous Masonry Posting

Friday, May 8, 2009

favela eyes

for his latest 'intervention', street artist and photographer JR has tagged the walls of this favela in Rio de Janeiro with the oversized portraits of his subjects. viewed from a distance, and at such a large scale, the human faces and eyes turn the stacked structures of the favela into a crowd of silent observers. perversely the very favelas which are generally looked upon with distrust, are transformed into the watchers. the personification of the structure is a reminder of the humanity that inhabits them.
Seen via BLDG BLOG

Thursday, May 7, 2009

'phyte' tower

'phyte' tower, the winning entry in a competition sponsored by the Foundation Societe Tour Eiffel, is a 380 meter tall mobile-communications tower that bends and flexes with the wind. Designed by Nicolas Mouret, the structure is a combination of structural members and cables operating both in tension and compression, allowing it to move freely with the elements.
Acting as a dynamic counterpart to the static iconography of the Eiffel Tower, Phyte Tower re-interprets the spirit of technology and progressive design that made the former possible. As it's structure bends and sways, internal mechanisms generate sufficient energy to power it's lighting.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

morpho butterfly

The wings of the morpho butterfly remain bright and shiny throughout the butterfly's entire lifespan. The vibrant color is created by light refraction rather than pigment. The tiny scales that make up the wing membrane are made of layers of protein that refract light in many different ways, so the color seen is that of reflected light.
According to Ask Nature, an advanced fiber company Tenjin Fibers Limited has begun to manufacture fibers mimicking this structure. The resultant fibers require no pigments and resist fade. The color shades and brightness are created by the thickness and frequency of structural layering.

Friday, May 1, 2009

suburb eating robot

The large, colorful robot is so big it could be a building. But it's not. Not really. It looks like it could be an AT-AT's distant, cheery relative that chases houses instead of Ewoks. There are people inside of it, probably. Either working for it, operating it's movements, or maybe inhabiting it, just enjoying the view. It happily chomps through house after house. Walking spirally ever forward, it leaves nothing behind it but great trails of green. Trees. Grass. Maybe a picnic or two.
Andrew Maynard's Suburb Eating Robot is an attempt to imagine a building, albeit mostly robot, contest a built environment deemed unacceptable. That Maynard is an architect in Melbourne, Australia, where suburbs have recently begun to expand into the surrounding areas, might come as no surprise. And whether one is fighting sprawl with giant, colorful robots, generating energy to return to the grid, or just plotting to take over the world, the signs are clear! Buildings can be more than just building. Technology, research, and
advanced (and simple) construction techniques allow today's buidings to confront today's problems.