September 21, 2009
July 17, 2009
manhattan based firm axis mundi has unveiled a conceptual alternative design for MoMA tower.
founder of the firm john beckmann sees this as the time to rethink the tall buildings
that have become synonymous with new york city’s identity.
‘instead of disguising the rich potential of towers that have a mix of uses, we looked
for a way to express that diversity,’ beckmann noted. the firm used parametric computer
modeling software to test a wide range of possibilities. out of this iterative process they
proposes a new way to organize and express tall buildings: the vertical neighborhood.
June 26, 2009
May 29, 2009
General Motors started building the first pre-production Chevrolet Volt electric vehicles today. The significant milestone marks the first time engineers are assembling a vehicle that looks like the car slated to start rolling off an assembly line next year.
These cars, known as integration vehicles, are key to the Volt’s development because they are used to refine things like driving dynamics. They also get shaken down and beaten up to ensure the range-extended EV is road-ready. So far all we’ve seen are prototypes and test mules based on the Malibu and Cruze like the one we drove last month. The cars GM started building today at its technical center outside Detroit are the real deal.
“The purpose for the integration vehicle builds is two-fold,” GM spokesman Rob Peterson told Wired.com. “First, they validate our production design, vehicle safety and performance capabilities. Just as important, the build activity provides valuable insight into the final vehicle assembly process to ensure a high-level of build quality and manufacturing efficiency when production begins in November 2010.”
Engineers will assemble the first of the integration vehicles by hand, a process that will take about two weeks. Production will ramp up to a rate of 10 a week by mid-July, and Peterson says GM plans to have 80 cars on the road by fall. Early next year, GM will begin building “several hundred” more pre-production vehicles at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant that will produce the Volt we’ll see in showrooms by the end of 2010.
Photo: General Motors
[Times Square Billboards. Creative Commons photo by Matt Mendoza]
With pedestrian traffic in Times Square up over 200% from 1980, the area was as riddled with people jams as it was with traffic jams. City officials think that re-routing auto traffic to Sixth and Seventh Avenues will open the area up, ease air pollution, and help businesses.
With General Motors shuttering umpteen dealerships and Chrysler shutting umpteen more, we’re about to see a lot of idle real estate out there. Parcels of land with big, expansive buildings and acres of asphalt will be up for grabs.
It raises an interesting question. Namely, what should we do with that land?
We’re talking about vast expanses of real estate. Check out the Google Map The New York Times put togetherand you’ll see what we mean. The folks over at Planetizen wondered what should be done with it all and came up with five ideas:
Those are all nifty ideas. But we know our fearless readers here at Autopia can do better. What would you do with that land? Build an indoor electric go-kart track? Set up an EV dealership to cash in on the coming craze? Establish re-education camps for sub-prime mortgage lenders? Or maybe you’d follow one of Planetizen’s ideas. Let us know.
Use the Reddit Widget below to let us know what to do with all this soon-to-be-vacant real estate and garage space.
Photo: Flickr / thomas.merton
For the first time, a study proved that using polycarbonate plastic increases your blood levels of bisphenol-A. And not just a little bit, either. After a week of using these materials for beverages, study participants had a 60 percent increase in the level of BPA in their blood.
Bisphenol-A has been linked to early onset of puberty, low sperm count and infertility, and its carcinogenic effects may include breast cancer. It has also been linked to heart disease and diabetes. You’ve heard all of this, I’m sure.
But how ’bout this? Bisphenol-A was first developed as a synthetic hormone. It’s an endocrine disruptor. It affects our children. It affects our adults. And the FDA still refuses to require removal from food contact materials?!
With 400 hp and a top speed of 171 mph, the electric race car concept pushes 1,475 lb-ft of torque up to 100 mph then drops it to 590 lb-ft for high-speed traction. All this and it’s powered by two 30kW lithium-ion batteries charged by flexcell photovoltaic solar panels.
Last week, at the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit in Seoul, Autodesk, Inc., a world leader in 2D and 3D design and engineering software, announced that it will collaborate with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the Microsoft Corporation, to provide visualization technology for Project Two Degrees. Project Two Degrees is an Internet-based application that provides cities with a set of tools to measure, compare, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a local level.
Autodesk joins forces with the Clinton Foundation to build sustainable cities
Autodesk will provide the technology, initially based on Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise, that will act as the model-based visualization environment used to view, evaluate and compare the results of analysis and monitoring in the C40 city. Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise software is a powerful mapping solution for delivering information more quickly, easily, and cost-effectively via the web.
Green Building Elements had a chance to speak with Brett Smith of Autodesk and Olivia Ross of the Clinton Foundation. Here is what they had to say.
GBE: How does the software track emissions?
Brett Smith (Autodesk): The Project 2° Emissions Tracker is designed to measure as many municipal and corporate activities as possible. Users enter data on emission producing activities such as fuel and electricity consumption, vehicle traffic, waste production, industrial processes and air and sea vessel fuel use. The software then converts the data into greenhouse gases, including tons of CO2 equivalent, taking into consideration the source and type of activity.
As the Economist wages the largest debate about bio-fuels in memory, another market opportunity appears to be showing itself in the bio production space as well. Bio plastics have been sprouting up in various applications, but a recent study puts the total market of green packaging at $43.9Billion by 2013. The highest growth gains in this market will be in bio plastics for reasons of price stability and increased capacity the report said. Bio plastics will, it is reported, preform at an annual growth rate of thirteen percent. This spells big news for an industry which currently holds only about .1% percent market share.
Part of the reason for this growth will be due to policy changes which restrict the use of some of the most environmentally damaging materials, but the largest effect seems to be coming from packaging producers themselves. Corporate social responsibility leader Coca Cola has developed a new bottle which is composed of around thirty percent bio plastics with the intended goal of developing a one hundred percent renewable option in the future. Likewise, Wal-Mart has begun sourcing toys and children’s goods made from bio plastics.
The draw is that decomposition coupled with less petroleum based material seems to be better environmentally, but some counter this analysis. According to the Guardian Newspaper, foods producers in the UK such as Innocent Drinks have chosen to stop using bio plastics due to lack of recycling options for the products at present. Likewise there have been claims that bio plastics can be environmentally damaging on par with their petroleum based counterparts. Recent innovations have made it so less energy is needed to create bio plastics and thus it seems the growth of the sector makes environmental sense. Followers of Bill McDonough’s cradle to cradle concept often tout the re-usability and closed-loop life cycle of these products, while others derided their historically slow decomposition rates. Some applications in the burgeoning bio plastics space are:
Think of Ansel Adams and his influence on early 20th Century government leaders in the United States; he helped demonstrate the value of nature and the need for national parks.
Now, think of DOUBLEXPOSURE, and the work of two photographers who are pairing work that “brings the viewer into panoramas of glaciers once grand but now receding. The compelling comparisons put into stark view the fact of melting glaciers.”
I’m sure that many of you saw this earlier this month – but the “Euro Condom”, designed by Ingo Maurer, was just brought to my attention this morning and I HAD to pot it on AMNP. Long story short: new European guidelines have banned frosted incandescent bulbs, because the frosted bulbs give off less light [which is absurd]. In response, designer Ingo Maurer has developed the “Euro Condom”, an opaque silicon “condom” that you stretch over a clear incandescent bulb to give it the frosted effect.
The Euro Condom consists of a thin, heat-resistant silicone cover that turns a clear bulb into a frosted one. Frosted bulbs will be banned by the new EU guideline on light sources beginning September 2009, because they are said give off less light than clear bulbs.
But according to the specifications of various manufacturers the difference, measured in lumens, is negligible or not existing. – Protect yourself from stupid rules, use the Euro Condom!
My ninjas, PLEASE! This is definitely a story that should make you smile – and brighten up your day if you’re here in the rainy North-East. I mean – there’s even an illustrated step-by-step condom-like set of instructions….brilliant.
Now that Oprah has turned her spotlight on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that great mass of garbage floating in the ocean has finally caught the public eye. An upcoming ocean garbage expedition to the patch, dubbed Project Kaisei, should draw even more attention when it launches this summer. Project Kaisei’s aim is to explore the feasibility of collecting and recycling the garbage patch, which mainly consists of plastics, into diesel fuel. How feasible is it? A modest derelict fishing net recycling program in Hawaii provides some tantalizing clues.
One of the many benefits of being in London this week is that I get to stop by the Building Centre, one of my favorite urban galleries and architectural exhibition spaces, to check out their new show London Yields: Urban Agriculture.
While imagining what it might be like to eat extremely local food, grown right there in your city – a line of 96th Street Honey, for instance, or, in light of Times Square’s recent (but unfortunately temporary) pedestrianization, perhaps a Times Square Tomato (why not agriculturalize parts of Times Square?) – we also need to ask how we might make such a vision come true.
How can a city like London be at least partially turned over to food production – so that London Fields might produce southeast England’s newest yields of meat, fruit, and vegetables?
I have to admit that urban agri-utopianism is easily one of the most seductive visions of the 21st century city that I’ve yet seen – from farming new medicinal plants on the rooftops of schools to hybridizing sci-fi flowers on vast and heavily perfumed highway-farms stretching across one borough to another – and it’s hard not to get excited when thinking about such things.
|May 25, Dubai
The cranes atop the Burj Dubai will be dismantled by August 2009, according to a senior Emaar executive.”The project is expected to open by the end of the year,” said Greg Sang, Project Director at Emaar Properties. “But we are still looking at all of the programming elements. After lowering all the cranes in August, we still have to finish all the fitouts, As of now, the basic core and shell is all finished in Burj Dubai. But every floor is at a different stage of being completed.”…more
|May 25, South Africa
Zonk’izizwe (meaning ‘all nations’) Town Center transforms one of the last remaining vacant sites in its location, into a one-of-a-kind mixed-use destination. Situated midway between Johannesburg (the economic hub of Africa) and Pretoria (the capital of South Africa), it will be developed as a new town centre, connecting these two populous and fast- growing cities…more
May 8, 2009
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?
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.
“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!)