Australia delays emissions plan

The Australian government says it will push back a planned carbon emissions trading scheme by a year until 2011.

Self-Mending Concrete Bends Like Rubber, Heals Like Flesh

It can be bent into a U-shape, “heals” cracks with nothing more than rainwater, and is strong enough to build bridges from. Is Victor Li’scomposite building material really even concrete anymore?

Wave Power Electricity from Swell Fuel Could Help Revive Coral Reefs

Swell Fuel ocean wave power device could help save coral reefs.

An unlikely savior may be coming to the rescue of the planet’s beleaguered coral reefs: Chris Olson, the founder and inventor of Swell Fuelwave powered electricity generators.  Olson has been building and testing small-scale floatable energy converters for a number of years, and they may prove ideal providers of the the low-voltage charge that seems to help coral reefs regenerate.

Read more of this story »

The Hills Have Eyes

[Image: An installation of work by photographer JR on the walls of a Rio favela].

“Undercover photographer” JR – who makes “photo galleries out of our streets” by exhibiting his work in public, as posters – has taken his exhibition strategy a step further. “What is at stake here,” he writes, referring to this change in tactic, “is the assessment of the possibilities of intervention in different environments.”
Amongst these environments are the favelas of Rio de Janeiro – however, here, these “possibilities of intervention” clearly include more opportunities for his work to gain greater exposure.

[Image: Work by JR in Rio].

I have a variety of reactions to this.
My first thought upon seeing these photos was actually that it was quite an interesting visual transformation of the favela. The realization that the Cubist surfaces of a mountain subcity might be transformed, through fragmentary glimpses of representational art – these shard-like pieces of larger works that only add up from certain angles, as if in parallax – seems to be a discovery worth taking further.
However, at least two problems open up here: are you visually transforming the ghetto so that those who live in the city below no longer have to look up and see themselves surrounded by blight? They will see, instead, a hot new contemporary artist on display?
Or could you visually augment the favela in a way that positively impacts both the self-image of, and the quality of life for, the people living there while not erasing the presence of that ghetto from the visual awareness of the central city dwellers? Perhaps there could even be something that looks, I might say, just as bad from the outside, but that nonetheless benefits the people living within.
So the question is: who is this art really for?
Because there’s actually a third player involved in all of this: the international art market, where these sorts of guerrilla exhibition strategies now increase one’s chances of canonization (and coverage on blogs).
Less critically, though, I’m also curious here about the use of representational art.
So often we’ve seen the walls of favelas repainted with primary colors and such like, in an attempt to beautify or, to be more sinister about it, visually correct an otherwise offensive built environment. However, using the faceted hillsides of a favela as a kind of gemlike canvas for representational art actually seems to open up more interesting possibilities.
Could you paint, or glue a poster of, all 200,000+ frames from a new film onto the surfaces of distant buildings? And treat the city as a kind of cinematic installation, a cubist filmography in which walking around is a form of experiential editing? You could live inside a fight scene, or in the closing credits.
Or perhaps you could hike to the top of Buena Vista Park here in San Francisco and look out toward the high-rises of downtown – and see a photograph, installed anamorphically across the rooftops of different buildings, only correctly visible from this precise location (but what if that photo… is a Coke ad?).
Perhaps the future of Cubism is not in some painter’s studio somewhere but in the ten million unexplored, minor surfaces of the city.
I’m reminded here of the (admittedly abstract) work of Felice Varini – and wondering what he might do, given a hillside with ten thousand surfaces all visible from multiple angles.
Finally, though, there are the eyes: in these images, you are being looked at in return. But who is meant to identify with this? Are these the eyes of the favela dwellers looking out upon a city they cannot access, as if to shame those more privileged residents? Or, as the poor wander home at night up steep streets, are these the eyes of the world looking down at them in judgmental scrutiny?
Again, though, there is a third class of people involved here. Perhaps these eyes aren’t looking at the favela at all, and they aren’t looking down at the city below.
They are looking out at the international art market, hoping for coverage in magazines and blogs, looking for their real, intended audience: the people who will see these photographs, at home, around the world. The city is merely their blank wall and host.

(Thanks to Adrian Giddings for the tip!)

Study Shows Camelina-Derived Renewable Jet Fuel Reduces Carbon Emissions 84%

Renewable fuels company Sustainable Oils shared the results of a life-cycle analysis of jet fuel created from proprietary Camelina seeds. According to the study, renewable jet-fuel made from Camelina reduces carbon emissions by 84% percent compared to the petroleum-based counterpart.

A team at Michigan Tech University based their research on Camelina grown in Montana and then processed into bio-jet fuel using “UOP hydroprocessing technology”. Next generation biofuels are true hydrocarbons and in the molecular aspect are indistinguishable from fossil fuels, which makes Camelina oil a good candidate to quickly reduce carbon emissions produced by aviation.

Read more of this story »

New for Green Buildings: City Parks in the Sky

New for Green Buildings: City Parks in the Sky May 5, San Francisco

The Shanghai Center, due to open in 2014, won’t just be the world’s second tallest building at 632 meters. It will also be a set of neighborhoods stacked on top of each other. The building will contain eight separate neighborhoods each 14 stories tall, says Dan Winey, managing principal for the Asia Pacific office of the architectural firm Gensler, which designed the building. These neighborhoods will contain retail outlets, office space and residences…more

Ken Yeang to design Shanghai eco-city in the sea

Ken Yeang to design Shanghai eco-city in the sea May 1, Shanghai

Architect Ken Yeang has been commissioned to design a 4,000-acre eco-city in the sea off the Shanghai coast. TR Hamzah and Yeang, the Malaysian sister company of Llewelyn Davies Yeang, is leading the design of the Shanghai Beach master plan for an unnamed Malaysian client. The scheme, which is to be sited on reclaimed tidal flats, aims to create a “green community”, with offices, housing, theme parks, visitor attractions and hotels…more

New Tamayo Museum: Rojkind + BIG


Rojkind Arquitectos and BIG have teamed up to win a competition to design the New Tamayo Museum, to be built outside of Mexico City.

Sure, the project is a little bit weird in it’s crucifix-like plan / aerial view – but otherwise I’ really feelin’ it. Embedding simple volumes in the hillside like this, then cantilevering out over the slope makes for some pretty dramatic covered exterior spaces [they’ve actually used the gallery space, in the ‘box’, to shade the ‘public’ space below]. That, and I like that there’s no ’stepping’ with the hillside – that the project is instead jutting out and hanging, emphasizing it being a foreign object in the landscape. And the views from the roof look pretty sick, too. But hey – Rojkind Arquitectos and BIG? How could you expect anything but the dopeness?


Some info from the designers:

Set upon a steep hillside in Atizapan on the outskirts of Mexico’s largest metropolis will soon sit the New Tamayo Museum which will serve as a nucleus of education and culture, locally, regionally, and internationally. Named after the Oaxacan born artist Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991) The very strong and symbolic shape of the cross is a direct interpretation of the client’s preliminary program studies that defined the museums optimal functionality.


Michel Rojkind:

Understanding that contemporary art spaces pretend to be more important than the art they contain, our proposal arises from the scheme of requirements previously studied by our clients, assuring maximum functionality in each area while focusing on the development of art projects. By enhancing the program and understanding the topography, a balance between form, function and visual impact for this important space was created. Once the functional part was improved, we could give attention to details that make the space not only a culture enclosure, but also a building that understands its surroundings to distinguish itself and transform from a simple form to a powerful symbol, controversial, but ideal to lodge this new space.


Bjarke Ingels:

…museum design is often caught in a dilemma between the artists demand for functional simplicity and the museum’s (and architect’s) desire to create a landmark. The cantilevering cross is the literal materialization of the cruciform functional diagram – devoid of any artistic interpretation. MUSEO TAMAYO EX-TENSION ATIZAPAN becomes the embodiment of pure function and pure symbol at the same time.

.:images + info -> via Bustler

CBD offices need green upgrade – WA Business News (subscription)

WA Business News (subscription)

CBD offices need green upgrade
WA Business News (subscription), Australia
“We’ve been talking to the City of Perth and the government about a green building tune-ups program where the state government and councils provide incentives to property owners required to bring buildings up to green star ratings,” Mr Lenzo said.