Archive for the ‘Architectonic’ Category

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Giant Machines Boring Tunnels Under London (…and in many other places)

March 31, 2014

By the end of 2014, London will have added 42 km of new underground rail tunnels as part of the Crossrail project. Here’s how the eight tunnel boring machines work.

These machines, manned by a 20-person crew, are working 24 hours a day under London’s streets.

Top Image: Crossrail tunnel-boring machine Victoria lowered into the shaft next to TBM Elizabeth at the Limmo site in London’s Royal Docks area. Courtesy Crossrail.

Text and Image via SINCANADA

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Places of healing [The Library: A World History]

November 8, 2013

Mafra Palace Library in Mafra, Portugal

Tripitaka Koreana at the Haeinsa Temple in South Korea

Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena, Italy

Codrington Library at All Souls College in Oxford

Abbey of St Gall Library in St Gallen, Switzerland

George Peabody Library, Baltimore

“Will this study serve merely as a memorial to a defunct building type?” James W. P. Campbell poses this troubling question at the start of his odyssey through the library buildings of the world. Over 300 pages – and nearly 300 illustrations – later he answers his own query with cautious optimism: “humankind has created an extraordinary variety of spaces in which to read, to think, to dream and to celebrate knowledge. As long as it continues to value these activities, it will continue to build places to house them. Whether they will involve books or will still be called libraries only time will tell”.

Well, this is Thames and Hudson’s third attempt in a decade to get to grips with this theme. And it is by far the best. The first, The Most Beautiful Libraries of the World by Jacques Bosser and Guillaume de Laubier (2003), was little more than a picturebook with anecdotal captions. The coverage was primarily European and post-Renaissance: only Boston, Washington, New York and St Petersburg slipped inside the cultural fence. The second attempt – Libraries (2005) – was sadly defective: a random package of images by Candida Hofer, without text apart from a rambling preface by Umberto Eco. On every count – scholarship, production, readability – The Library: A world history is way ahead of its predecessors, particularly with regards to production and design. The photographs by Will Pryce are technically flawless, and they give point and purpose to a text which is not only informative but persuasive. The message is clear: of the making of libraries there can be no end.

The Library: A World History Hardcover
by James W. P. Campbell (Author), Will Pryce (Photographer)

Excerpt from an article written by J. MORDAUNT CROOK at TLS. Continue THERE

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Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior

October 22, 2013

It’s a postcard-perfect day on Suomenlinna Island, in Helsinki’s South Harbor. Warm for the first week of June, day trippers mix with Russian, Dutch, and Chinese tourists sporting sun shades and carrying cones of pink ice cream.

“Is this the prison?” asks a 40-something American woman wearing cargo pants and a floral sleeveless blouse.

Linda, my guide and translator, pauses beside me between the posts of an open picket fence. After six years of teaching as a volunteer inside American prisons, I’ve come from the private college where I work to investigate the Scandinavian reputation for humane prisons. It’s the end of my twelfth prison tour, and I consider the semantics of the question: If you can’t tell whether you’re in a prison, can it be a prison? I’ve never considered this in so many words. Yet I find that I know the answer, having felt it inside a prison cell in Denmark: There is no punishment so effective as punishment that nowhere announces the intention to punish. Linda is an intern working on a degree in public policy. Young and thoroughly practical, she smiles and says to the tourists, “Yes, you are here.”

Text (Doran Larson) and Image via The Atlantic. Continue THERE

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Constructing Dubai’s Enormous “The World” Artificial Archipelago

October 10, 2013

The World Islands is an artificial archipelago consisting of about 300 small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located 4.0 kilometers off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai’s shallow coastal waters. 321 million cubic meters of sand and 31 million tons of rock were used to build the islands that cover an area roughly 6 by 9 kilometers, and is surrounded by an oval-shaped breakwater island. The islands, which are named after countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, etc., themselves range from 14,000 to 42,000 square meters in area and located roughly 100 meters from each other.

The project debuted nearly 10 years ago, but work has been stalled periodically ever since due to the global recession. Two years ago, the entire project came very near to derailment when Penguine Marine, the company contracted to provide ferrying services to and from the shore, alleged that the islands were sinking into the shallow sea. Nakheel Properties Group, the property’s developer, denied these reports.

Text and Images via Amusing Planet

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Inside CERN

October 10, 2013

CERN is the European organization for Nuclear research and it’s considered the biggest particle physics experiment. it’s located at geneva and scientists, engineers and students from 113 nationalities are hosted. 29 September of 1954 was the ratification of this organization by 12 countries in Europe. Several important achievements have been made during experiments at CERN with the most important the development of World Wide Web.

A project by Anna Pantelia. See +++ HERE

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Tree in the house

October 9, 2013

This house is located in the mountains of Almaty, among the forest of fir trees. He created for that would feel more fusion with nature and give up some unnecessary conditions and things. The house has to be something that can only develop your spiritual and creative development.

Text and Images via A. Masow. A project by A. Masow.

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pseudo-aleatory 003

September 24, 2013

a.) “Druzhba Holiday Center Hall” (Yalta, Ukraine, 1984)© Frederic Chaubin
b.) Jeremy Geddes’ “Adrift”
c.) Alex Chinneck
d.) A little boy dwarfed by a supersized cabbage in Matanuska Valley, Alaska, 1959.
e.) Bennett Slater
f.) Toronto based illustrator Brian Donnelly

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80,000 Honey Bees: The world’s first nature 3D printer.

September 11, 2013

Since 3-D printing technology has become more accessible, the magic of manifesting an object before your eyes has yet to lose its luster. When Dewar’s decided to create a sculpture to mark the launch of its Highlander Honey whiskey, however, it took the concept of 3-D printing to a whole new level, employing the services of nature’s original three- dimensional crafters: bees.

Via Fast CoCreate. Continue THERE

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1972 by Noritaka Minami

September 9, 2013

In the city of Tokyo, a building stands as an anachronism in relation to the surrounding urban landscape. The building in question is the Nakagin Capsule Tower designed by Kisho Kurokawa (1934 – 2007), who was one of the leading members of an influential architectural movement in the 1960s called Metabolism. The group’s aim was to formulate flexible designs that facilitate continual growth and renewal of architecture. As the first capsule apartment in history constructed for everyday use, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is considered an example that came closest to embodying the principles of Metabolism. Kurokawa designed the building with plug-in capsules to promote exchangeability and modifications to the structure over time, theoretically improving its capacity to adjust to the rapidly changing conditions of the post-industrial society. When the building first opened in March of 1972, it was advertised in the media to signal “the dawn of the capsule age.”

The irony presented by the story of the Nakagin Capsule Tower is the fact that it became the last architecture of its kind to be completed in the world. Furthermore, the building has never undergone the process of regeneration during the forty years of existence. Not a single capsule has been replaced since 1972, even though Kurokawa intended them to sustain a lifespan of only twenty-five years. The design in reality proved to be too rigid in adapting to the unforeseen political and economic developments in the years that followed its construction. With the building’s system in stasis without fulfilling its original mission of continual growth and renewal, it stands like a monument to a future that never arrived in the 21st Century.

Due to the pressures of the city’s real estate market, plans have been discussed for the Nakagin Capsule Tower to be demolished to make way for a conventional apartment complex. Yet, the building today has coincidentally assumed a new role in the city, becoming a poignant reminder of a path ultimately not taken. This project examines “the future” as imagined by Kurokawa in 1972 and its current condition through the medium of photography. Moreover, the photographs capture scenes within the Nakagin Capsule Tower at a time when its very future is in question. With the building as an embodiment of an architectural vision that was thought possible at that moment in history, the photographs reflect on the significance of that vision potentially disappearing today from the landscape of Tokyo as a crucial form of cultural memory.

Text and Images via NORITAKA MINAMI

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Walkie-Talkie Skyscraper Beam Melts Cars and Fries Eggs

September 9, 2013

Blinding rays of light from a skyscraper in the City of London are being blamed for melting vehicles below it.

Developers of 20 Fenchurch Street, better known as the “Walkie-Talkie” because of its distinctive shape, are investigating reports of the damaging glare, and a number of nearby car parking spaces have been suspended, say reports.

Businessman Martin Lindsay said he was distraught when he returned to find his luxury Jaguar XJ saloon with warped panels along one side.

The wing mirror and badge had also melted from the heat of the reflected sunlight, he claimed.
“They’re going to have to think of something. I’m gutted. How can they let this continue?” he told City AM.

Another driver has also come forward to complain of damage to his Vauxhall Vivaro van.

Eddie Cannon, a heating and air conditioning engineer, said: “The van looks a total mess – every bit of plastic on the left hand side and everything on the dashboard has melted, including a bottle of Lucozade that looks like it has been baked.”

The 37-storey skyscraper is still under construction. On Tuesday temperatures measured in front of the building reached 33C (92F).

In a joint statement, developers Land Securities and Canary Wharf, told the newspaper: “As a precautionary measure, the City of London has agreed to suspend three parking bays in the area which may be affected.”

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The Rio 2016 Olympics: sun, sea and absolutely no swimming

September 9, 2013

The Olympic architects reveal that Rio 2016 will take over a lagoon site. But the water’s too polluted to swim – and many of the city’s communities do not fit into the glossy urban legacy plan.

One year after the London 2012 Olympics, the gates to the east London site have reopened to reveal the new Queen Elizabeth Park, the first tangible piece of the two-week sporting circus’ promised legacy. You would think the architects behind the Olympic masterplan might be able to breathe a sigh of relief: the games were deemed a success, and the “legacy communities” still remain safely on the drawing board, judgments withheld. But in the Holborn studios of Aecom, the Olympic team is as busy as ever – working on the next one.

“Rio 2016 is a whole different animal to London 2012,” says project lead Bill Hanway, who heads up the Americas section of the global giant’s 10,000-strong buildings and places division. “Brazil is still an emerging nation, and we’re having to compress what took nine years of planning for London into half that time for Rio.” Text by Oliver Wainwright. Continue at The Guardian

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The Difference Between Obsession and Delusion

September 8, 2013

Tel Aviv University researchers use a zoological method to classify symptoms of OCD and schizophrenia in humans.

Because animals can’t talk, researchers need to study their behavior patterns to make sense of their activities. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University are using these zoological methods to study people with serious mental disorders.

Prof. David Eilam of TAU’s Zoology Department at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences recorded patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder and “schizo-OCD” — which combines symptoms of schizophrenia and OCD — as they performed basic tasks. By analyzing the patients’ movements, they were able to identify similarities and differences between two frequently confused disorders.

Published in the journal CNS Spectrums, the research represents a step toward resolving a longstanding question about the nature of schizo-OCD: Is it a combination of OCD and schizophrenia, or a variation of just one of the disorders?

The researchers concluded that schizo-OCD is a combination of the two disorders. They noted that the behavioral differences identified in the study could be used to help diagnose patients with OCD and other obsessive-compulsive disorders, including schizo-OCD.

The taxonomy of mental disorders

“I realized my methodology for studying rat models could be directly applied to work with humans with mental disorders,” Prof. Eilam said. “Behavior is the ultimate output of the nervous system, and my team and I are experts in the fine-grained analysis of behavior, be it of humans or of other animals.”

The main features of OCD are, of course, obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted and cause marked distress or anxiety. In contrast, compulsions are repetitive motor behaviors, such as counting, that occur in response to obsessions and are performed according to strictly applied rules. Schizophrenia is marked by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, abnormal motor behavior, and diminished emotional expression, among other symptoms.

Eilam and graduate student Anat Gershoni of the Zoology Department and Prof. Haggai Hermesh of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine set out with Dr. Naomi Fineberg of the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in England to resolve the controversy. To this end, they recorded and compared videos of diagnosed OCD and schizo-OCD patients performing 10 different mundane tasks, like leaving home, making tea, or cleaning a table. The patients met the criteria of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

A matter of space

The researchers found that both OCD and schizo-OCD patients exhibited OCD-like behavior in performing the tasks, excessively repeating and adding actions. But schizo-OCD patients additionally acted like schizophrenics.

For a typical OCD patient in the study, the task of leaving home involved standing in one place and repeatedly checking the contents of his pockets before finally taking his keys and cell phone and going to the door. In contrast, a typical schizo-OCD patient traveled around the apartment — switching the lights in the bathroom on and off, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to scan the bedroom, then taking his keys and phone to the door, going to empty the ashtray, then taking his keys and phone to the door and so on. A typical healthy person would simply pick up his keys and phone and walk out.

Overall, the researchers found that the level of obsessive-compulsive behavior was the same in OCD and schizo-OCD patients. This suggests that both types of patients had the difficulty shifting attention from one task to another that helps define OCD. The schizo-OCD patients, though, did more divergent activity over a larger area than did OCD patients. This suggests that the schizo-OCD patients were continuously shifting attention, which happens in schizophrenia but not OCD.

“While the obsessive compulsive is obsessed with one idea; the schizophrenic’s mind is drifting,” said Eilam. “We found that this is reflected in their paths of locomotion. So instead of tracking the thoughts of the patients, we can simply trace their paths of locomotion.”

Eilam plans to conduct research comparing repetitive behavior in OCD and autism patients.

In the below video provided by the researchers, an animation describes the paths of traveling performed by an OCD patient who is about to leave his apartment (left) and by a co-morbid OCD and schizophrenia patient performing the same behavior (right). Black circles indicate the number of acts performed in each location. As shown, the COD patient is mostly stationary, while the schizo-OCD patient travels all over the apartment. All text and video via AFTAU

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Concrete Mushrooms

September 4, 2013

“Concrete Mushrooms” is a project initiated as an idea for research by two Albanian graduate students at Politecnico di Milano, and the purpose was to emphasize the appreciable assets of Albania such as bunkers which are vast in number and across all the rich and beautiful landscape of Albania. Apart all the studies done about the history of Albania, the reason of building the bunkers all over the country, how the people of Albania nowadays coexists with them, how and why do they use them, it is also thought of how the remaining bunkers can last their lives without being totally disappeared and can become the icon of a paranoid past transformed to the symbol of a bright future of the landscape of Albania. Bunkers seem to be happy of being born and living in Albania, and above all proud to be Albanians. But in fact their happiness masks an enormous sorrow of the past which would be recovered by their contribution to Albania.

Any of the “tourists” interested in adventures and nature, can enjoy natural resources of Albania by passing their nights in local at the same mobile cheap hostels without being obliged to carry their camping tents.
Cheap hostel – that’s what the future function of the bunker could be having the same commodity anywhere in Albania, there is not just one, there are supposed to be around 750 000 bunkers in Albania.

The priority of “Concrete Mushrooms” project is facing the symbol of xenophobia (bunker) with deliberate awareness for the purpose of inverting its meaning, the preservation of the memoir of a significant period of the Albanian history, giving bunkers value instead of having them as burden and as a result the promotion of an underdeveloped touristic sector such as Eco-Tourism which has an enormous potential at the same time growing the financial viability, social and environmental sustainability.
The project aims to create an institutional support for initiating the first steps of realizing it, the designed website will be a significant tool for any information related to the bunkers, to the implantation of network of transformed bunkers, the possible itineraries around them and great possibility for hunting and recording the number of the rooms of this huge hostel already built in Albania.

Production by Elian Stefa & Gyler Mydyti. Text and Images via Concrete Mushrooms

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Recover the Streets

September 4, 2013

Recover the Streets arises from the need to interconnect different European projects that work with urban art in their respective cities; the need to offer artists the possibility of interacting with other European creators, of improving their visibility and finding new expression formulas; the need to boost urban art as a regenerator of new city visions; to create participative processes that bring culture, and in this specific case, urban art, closer to population sectors that do not normally participate in cultural events.

Recover the Streets is a collaboration project between five European cities that, using urban art as a tool and common language, purport to interconnect artists and cultural agents from all these cities, promoting the exchange of artistic and social experiences; recovering, in each one of them, a debased space by means of a collaborative process that engages the social agents of the neighbourhoods where the activity takes place, and providing citizens with a new perception of urban art and its ability to activate social and cultural dynamics.
A project that will last for 8 months, which has united a total of six cities from different parts of Europe, where institutions and cultural agents have committed to promoting urban art, thus offering an open and diverse collaboration framework which has already given rise to sporadic collaborations outside the programme, among some of the cultural agents involved:

• Zaragoza (Spain): Sociedad Municipal Zaragoza Cultural
• Besançon (France): Association Juste Ici
• Toulouse (France): Mairie de Toulouse
• Colonia (Germany): Association artmx e.V / Cityleaks Festival
• Zagreb (Croatia): Association Centralna Jedinica

Know more HERE

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Zone: The Spatial Softwares of Extrastatecraft

September 4, 2013

“Today urban space has become a mobile, monetized technology, and some of the most radical changes to the globalizing world are being written, not in the language of law and diplomacy, but rather in the spatial information of infrastructure, architecture and urbanism. Massive global systems — meta-infrastructures administered by public and private cohorts, and driven by profound irrationalities — are generating de facto, undeclared forms of polity faster than any even quasi-official forms of governance can legislate them — a wilder mongrel than any storied Leviathan for which there is studied political response.

One of these meta-infrastructures is the phenomenon of the free zone — a highly contagious and globalized urban form and a vivid vessel of what I have termedextrastatecraft. A portmanteau meaning both outside of and in addition to statecraft, extrastatecraft acknowledges that multiple forces — state, non-state, military, market, non-market — have now attained the considerable power and administrative authority necessary to undertake the building of infrastructure.

The zone — a.k.a., the Free Trade Zone, Foreign Trade Zone, Special Economic Zone, Export Processing Zone, or any of the dozens of variants — is a dynamic crossroads of trade, finance, management and communication. If, in the contemporary scene, diverse spatial types demonstrate the ways in which architecture has become repeatable and infrastructural, then it is the zone that demonstrates the ways in which urbanism has become infrastructural. Though its roots are ancient, dating back to the free ports of classical antiquity, only in recent decades has the zone emerged as a powerful global form, evolving rapidly from an out-of-way district for warehousing custom-free goods to a postwar strategy for jump-starting the economies of developing countries to a paradigm for glittering world cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. [...]“

An essay by Keller Easterling featured in Places. Read it THERE

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Totem and Taboo: Grindr remembers the Holocaust

September 4, 2013

“Totem and Taboo: Grindr remembers the Holocaust” is an online archive of Grindr pics of people using another architectural icon to meet people. Running since 2011, this incredible collection of amateur shots of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin provides another insight into spatial appropriations for casual sex purposes. As they state on their website:

“In an age when ignorance is prevalent than ever, Grindr, the latest most addictive gay obsession, has wowed its members in relentlessly promoting the memory of the holocaust. While the gay community is being under scrutiny for promoting hedonism and alienation, this tribute seems all the more compelling. Totem and Taboo […] asks nothing more but to harness the vibrant blogosphere to Grindr users’ innovative manoeuvres to keep the memory alive, fresh and attractive.”

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Techné/Dance/Dechné/Tance: body+motion+computation

August 2, 2013

This is only a small selection of recent dance work and therefore is a omitting a long list of dance collectives, performance artist, and other experimental movers/thinkers who have contribute tremendously to the development of what you will see below. Thanks to all of them.

SERAPH(2010): Created by Robby Barnett, Molly Gawler, Renée Jaworski, and Itamar Kubovy in collaboration with the MIT Distributed Robotics Laboratory, directed by Prof. Daniela Rus and including current and former MIT PhD students William Selby, Brian Julian, Daniel Soltero, Andrew Marchese, and Carrick Detweiler (graduated, now assistant professor at University of Nebraska, Lincoln). Music: Schubert Trio no.2 in E Flat, Op.100. ll Andante con moto

Anarchy Dance Theatre (From the project description): The collaboration project between Anarchy Dance Theatre and Ultra Combos focused on building up a new viewer centered performance venue. In this space all movements including the dancers’ and audience’s can be detected and interact with each other through visual effect. The audience is not merely watching the show but actively participating in it. More HERE

Trinity (From the project description): a dance performance with high levels of real time interaction and close relationship between: dance, sound and visuals.

The interactive link is done through a videocamera installed above the stage and under infrared lighting. Besides positional tracking the project is focus in measuring movement qualities as: forces and directions, accelerations, stage position, velocity and body area.

The performance has been created and executed in live using the environment MAX/MSP/JITTER by Cycling74 and the computer vision library CV.JIT by Jean-Marc Pelletier. More HERE

Dance and Projection Mapping from Daito Manabe (http://www.daito.ws/#2)

Instrumental Bodies (From the project description): Researchers at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab at McGill University recently released a video documentary on the design and fabrication of “prosthetic digital instruments” for music and dance. These instruments are the culmination of a three-year long project in which the designers worked closely with dancers, musicians, composers and a choreographer. The goal of the project was to develop instruments that are visually striking, utilize advanced sensing technologies, and are rugged enough for extensive use in performance.

The complex, transparent shapes are lit from within, and include articulated spines, curved visors and ribcages. Unlike most computer music control interfaces, they function both as hand-held, manipulable controllers and as wearable, movement-tracking extensions to the body. Further, since the performers can smoothly attach and detach the objects, these new instruments deliberately blur the line between the performers’ bodies and the instrument being played. More HERE

Cadence I – IV (The artist’s description): The institution of the military is steeped in performative traditions, rituals and practices. Indeed the collective military body can be thought of as being characterised by a carefully calibrated choreography of movement.

Cadence (2013) is a series of four new-media artworks whose subject sits between war and performance. In these new video works, the figure of the Australian, US and Taliban soldier is placed within formal landscapes appropriated from pro-military cinema and military training simulators.

Rather than enacting standard military gestures or postures, the simulated soldier performs a slow and poetic dance. The usual politics of movement, discipline and posture of the military body are subverted, and instead rendered soft and expressive.

The seductive visual rhythm of cadence, camouflage and natural mimicry in these works gesture towards the dark mysticism of military history, where soldiers and psychedelics have often combined to disrupt landscapes and produce mystic escapes.

Technological backstage – Mr & Ms Dream a performance by Pietragalla Derouault Company & Dassault Systèmes: a behind-the-scenes process, showing how a dance piece that uses projection and real-time processing is put together.

Gideon Obarzaneks Digital Moves: Hailed by The Australian as the countrys best modern dance company, choreographer Gideon Obarzaneks Chunky Move dazzles audiences with its use of site-specific installations and interactive sound and light technologies. Obarzanek’s avant-garde performances explore the tensions between the rational world we live in and richness of our imagination.

Dance techne: Kinetic bodily logos and thinking in movement.

…and a beautiful composition by Ryoji Ikeda called Forest Of Memories. Taken from dumb type’s memorandum. A performance that brings their unique audiovisual architectonics to an investigation of memory.

Memorandum (Text via Epidemic): Combining elements of multimedia, dance and fragmented narrative, memorandum explores the hazy dimensions of recall that ground and disquietly erode our experience minute-by-minute.
The set is simple – almost an abstraction. A bare stage is bisected by an impenetrable but translucent wall, a screen onto which will be projected a barrage of images.
Amidst a cascade of white noise and REM-speed visual flashes, the performers break down the motions into displaced gestures in silhouette.
Penetrating deeper beneath the surface of moment, dancers drift in a slow sensual subconscious slidestep through the “forest of memory” haunted by voices and desires.

Unnoticed by waking reason, a lone witness/observer records evidence of the scene and is repeatedly eliminated.
Whereupon three figures cycle through three different accelerated subroutines of emotion, instinct and intellect, scarcely intersecting, each oblivious to the oblique “orbital” workings of the other.
Until finally, the dance emerges onto a primal oceanic frieze simultaneously flooded and exhausted of meanings.

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Think Your Office Is Soulless? Check Out This Amazon Fulfillment Center

July 14, 2013

Shining blue and bright above a subterranean labyrinth of hollow shafts, a warehouse sits upon the abandoned remains of a coal mine that once defined this working-class English town. It is as bright as the mines are dark, as vast as the shafts are claustrophobic, as clean as they are filthy. This warehouse represents a future of shopping that does to brick-and-mortar retail what it has already done to the coal mine that used to thrive in its place: Bury it without filling the hole it left behind.

This warehouse is the focus of one particular vision of retail’s future captured by Ben Roberts in Amazon Unpacked, a haunting series of photographs exposing the inner workings of Amazon’s massive fulfillment center in the English Midlands.

Text and Images via Fast Company. Continue THERE

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Tea with Burroughs and Bacon. Uncut footage from the BBC Arena archive

July 9, 2013

From The Space: ‘The BBC’s arts documentary series Arena has turned its unique archive into a hotel for The Space. It is modelled on New York’s Chelsea Hotel, a legendary haunt of the stars. / In this film from the Arena Hotel’s Tea Room, Francis Bacon makes tea for William Burroughs.’ Watch HERE

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Demographers Discover The Fundamental Law Governing the Growth of Cities

July 6, 2013

The discovery of a law governing the growth of cities means that future urban populations can now be forecast in advance. When you live in a city, you can sense its pulse, experience its pace of life and get to know its unique character. It’s almost as if a city is a living, breathing entity in its own right.

That may be little more than the fantastical imaginings of city dwellers who tend to humanise all things inanimate. And yet, there is much demographic evidence to show that cities have their own unique identity, even though they are made up of millions of seemingly independent individuals.

One test of the idea that cities are coherent entities is the ability to predict their future characteristics based on their past behaviour. Text and Image via MIT Technology Review. Continue THERE

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SKYHOUSE: One more oneiric playground penthouse for who can afford it.

June 6, 2013

SkyHouse is residence constructed within a previously unoccupied penthouse structure at the summit of one of the earliest surviving skyscrapers in New York City.

With its steep hipped roof of projecting dormers and chimneys set over a base of enormous arched windows, the exterior of the penthouse gives the impression of an ornate Beaux-Art mansion suspended midway within the iconic vertical cityscape of Lower Manhattan. But this exterior shell was essentially an ornament for the skyline; inside was a raw space with only the original riveted steel structure -among the earliest steel frame of any surviving tower in New York- providing evidence of the late 19th century when the building was built.

The enormous angel caryatids at the corners of the four-story penthouse which crowns this building serve to advertise its original role the headquarters of the American Tract Society, a publisher of religious literature which constructed this early skyscraper in 1895.

All Text and Images via http://hotson.net/

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Inorganic Flora: Macoto Murayama’s Intricate Blueprints of Flowers

May 13, 2013

The worlds of architecture and scientific illustration collided when Macoto Murayama was studying at Miyagi University in Japan. The two have a great deal in common, as far as the artist’s eye could see; both architectural plans and scientific illustrations are, as he puts it, “explanatory figures” with meticulous attention paid to detail. “An image of a thing presented with massive and various information is not just visually beautiful, it is also possible to catch an elaborate operation involved in the process of construction of this thing,” Murayama once said in an interview.

Continue at The Smithsonian HERE

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The Informal City Dialogues

May 4, 2013


The Informal City Dialogues is a year-long project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted by Forum for the Future. It homes in on six cities: Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila and Nairobi. In each of these cities, it aims to foster a conversation about the informal urban realm, and how it can be cultivated and harnessed for the benefit of all.

These informal realms, from single-chair barbershops to nine-passenger vans to sprawling settlements, are propelling the explosive growth of the urban Global South. They are the neighborhoods, economies and systems that exist beyond the reach of government: the slums, black-market industries and undocumented businesses that fuel these cities’ growth. They’re split off from the formal city, and often neglected or harassed by local authorities.

And yet the informal aspects of these places are also intricately intertwined with the formal. Indeed, many residents have one foot in both worlds: the slum dweller who commutes to her job at a major hospital, the unlicensed microbus driver who lives in a condominium highrise.

Text and Images via The Informal City Dialogues

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The Aestheticization of Everyday Life

May 3, 2013

For the next round of discussion I’d like to shift the subject to the physical environment, posing the question, Is architecture rational?

Much of the newer work we see as we walk the streets of the city whether it’s New York, Seattle, Dubai, or the newer sections of Copenhagen, is more dramatic than architecture once was: taller, swoopier, twistier, less symmetrical. Architectural language, informed by the capabilities of parametric software and computerized fabrication tools, has become more fluid and less rectilinear.

From the onlooker’s perspective, it looks a lot like style. But when you talk to an architect, you often wind up having a conversation about how utterly pragmatic the building in question is.

For instance, the Seattle Central Library by OMA, completed in 2004. The lead architect on the project, Joshua Prince-Ramus, once told me: “Style freaks us out, the very word style.” He went on to explain the strange shape of the building—it looks like a monstrous mechanical jaw—by showing a diagram made by the library’s administrators of all the functions they required in the new building. Prince-Ramus claimed the architects translated the librarians’ chart directly into architectural form. He called this method “hyperrational.”

More Info HERE

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Book-ish Territory: A manual of alternative library tactics

May 3, 2013

Book-ish Territory: A Manual of Alternative Library Tactics by architect NIkki O’Loughlin is an exciting and interesting way of conceptualizing the idea of libraries as a public space not just for the public but by the public. Read it HERE

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How to Hide Things in Public Places

April 27, 2013

Did you ever want to hide something from prying eyes, yet were afraid to do so in your home? Now you can secrete your valuables away from home, by following Dennis Fiery’s eye-opening instructions. The world around us is filled with cubbyholes and niches that can be safely employed….and this book identifies them. Illustrated with numerous photographs, and including an index of hiding places, appendices of Simplex lock combinations and appropriate vendors, and a bibliography, this is the most comprehensive and informative book ever written about public hiding spots. Eliminate the risks involved with hiding your possessions at home by utilizing the techniques described in this book. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Text and Image via Amazon.

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Spaces On Earth Where No One Can Hear You Scream

April 13, 2013

A few days ago, the European Space Agency issued a series of photographs taken in one of the agency’s anechoic chambers, in the “zone of silence” as the title of the press release says. So what is an anechoic chamber? It is an echo-free room where the walls coated with special materials absorb all reflections of sound or electromagnetic waves and insulate any noise coming from outside, thus it simulates a quiet open-space of infinite dimension, which is quite useful in the aerospace industry. Text and Images via io9. See more HERE



The ‘anechoic chamber’. Can you bear Earth’s quietest place ?

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The Bat Tower: Bats, Mosquitoes and Dollars

March 27, 2013

Before the Florida Keys meant sun, sea, and Jimmy Buffet, they were famous for mosquitoes—dense, black clouds of them that hummed and bit without pause, spread malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, and drove visitors temporarily insane with irritation.

In the 1920s, hordes of mosquitoes were the major obstacle standing between Richter Clyde Perky, a real estate developer from Denver, and the success of his fishing resort on Lower Sugarloaf Key. The construction manager Perky had hired to oversee the project complained that “in the late afternoon, you would just have to rake the bugs off your arm” and that “they’d form a black print on your hand if you put it against a screen and suck all the blood right out of it.

In his search for a solution, Perky came across a book called Bats, Mosquitoes, and Dollars by Dr. Charles Campbell. A doctor and “city bacteriologist” based in San Antonio, Texas, Campbell had been experimenting with attracting bats to artificial roosts since the turn of the century, in the belief that they were the natural predators of mosquitoes. As an article in BATS magazine explains, Campbell initially thought that the design of bat architecture would be a simple matter:

“Can bats like bees be colonized and made to multiply where we want them?” he wondered. “This would be no feat at all!…Don’t they just live in any old ramshackle building? They would be only too glad to have a little home such as we provide for our song birds…”

After a handful of expensive failures, followed by several months spent in the caves of West Texas, observing bats in their natural environment, Campbell came up with his pioneering design for a Malaria-Eradicating Guano Producing Bat Roost, “built according to plans furnished by the greatest and only infallible of all architects, Nature,” and equipped with “all the conveniences any little bat heart could possibly desire.”

Excerpt from an article via VENUE. Continue THERE

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The Great Stalacpipe Organ

March 26, 2013

Located in the Cathedral is the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument. Stalactites covering 3 1/2 acres of the surrounding caverns produce tones of symphonic quality when electronically tapped by rubber-tipped mallets. This one-of-a-kind instrument was conceived by Mr. Leland W. Sprinkle of Springfield, Virginia, a mathematician and electronics scientist at the Pentagon.

After visiting the caverns with his son and experiencing the organ-like sounds of a stalactite being tapped, Mr. Sprinkle submitted a complex plan for a stalactite-tapping instrument. It took 36 years of frustrating research, design and experimentation to bring his dream to its present state of perfection. Three years alone were spent searching the vast chambers of the caverns to select and carefully sand stalactites to precisely match the musical scale. Only two stalactites were found to be in tune naturally.

The four-keyboard console of The Great Stalacpipe Organ was constructed by the Klann Organ Supply Company of Waynesboro, Virginia, to meet the peculiar needs of this subterranean installation. Then the organ was connected to various stalactites with over five miles of wiring.

Text via Luray Caverns. Images via VENUE

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The Vatican to Vegas: A History of Special Effects

March 18, 2013

Special effects…are coup de théatres, thunderclaps that shock you: a burst; an eruption; something small, like an insect down your back; a wall dissolving suddenly.—from The Vatican to Vegas

A richly illustrated journey through five centuries of optical illusions and other wonders. A guided tour through special-effects environments from 1550 to the present, Norman Klein’s The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects demonstrates how Renaissance and early Baroque artists pioneered interactive, cinematic, and even digital environments. As in our era, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century illusion serviced a global culture and even relied on “software” of a kind: solid geometry for architecture, optics, sculpture, painting and theater. As if from a cryonic thaw, these forms have reemerged very clearly in recent decades. And to manage all this friendly disaster, modern special effects have evolved a unique grammar as precise as the rules of film, theater, and music. Klein reviews this syntax and demonstrates how special effects are not only a barometer for politics, myths of identity and economic relations, but an instructive parallel for understanding where our civilization may be headed next.

Read it HERE