September 21, 2009
August 21, 2009
we recently featured the work of kevin cyr, here is another project of his titled ‘camper cart’.
the pop up camper is affixed to a shopping cart which can be pushed to a chosen location
and opened to serve as a functioning habitat for an urban camper. the project investigates
habitats and housing, recycling and ecology; exploration and mobility.
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!)
May 8, 2009
|European Parliament votes for `zero carbon` building rule
Environmental Expert (press release), Spain
All new homes, shops and offices built in the European Union could have to meet tough ‘zero carbon‘ building standards from 2019 after the European Parliament voted to strengthen rules designed to ensure buildings generate renewable energy onsite. …
Europe sets 2019 deadline for zero-energy new buildings Energy Efficiency News
all 211 news articles
To avoid dangerous climate change, we must burn no more than 25% of remaining fossil fuel reserves, two comprehensive new studies show
Smart meters will let you monitor gas and electricity use
A revolution in the way you think about and use energy in your home is about to get underway, the Energy Retail Association says.
from Green Options by Timothy B. Hurst
Technological advancements in wind energy efficiency have generally come incrementally and usually made via a process of increasingly large wind turbine blades. Put simply, the model has been: longer blades = more output per turbine.
But that pattern of incremental improvements may be a thing of the past if Leviathan Energy has anything to say about it. Leviathan Energy has completed initial testing on their Wind Energizer unit and is reporting gains in wind turbine output in the ballpark of 30% — and as much as 150% at lower wind speeds.
The principle theory at work is that by placing passive objects around a wind farm it will change the circulation around a large wind turbine. The advancement is not in the turbine itself, but rather in the area around it, as such, units can be adapted to any wind turbine from any manufacturer.
“This is a disruptive technology,” Leviathan Energy CEO Dr. Daniel Farb told me via telephone from Israel last week. “We are changing the environment of the wind turbine; this is a very different approach.”
from Gizmodo Australia
Poor Mr. Polar Bear. When he’s not jumping from melting ice chunk to ice chunk trying desperately not to drown, he’s avoiding the floating Russian nuclear power stations and their potential toxic waste.
from CTBUH Global News
|April 30, BrisbaneBrisbane could see more than 1000 new 20-storey apartment towers dotted across the skyline in the next 20 years. While understanding some residents may be concerned at dramatic changes, Property Council state executive director Steve Greenwood agrees with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman that Brisbane city needs to “go up if we can’t go out”…more|
from InfraNet Lab by neeraj
[Luxury cruises by Airship Ventures Zeppelin NT over San Francisco]
As energy costs rise and resources continue to deplete, seemingly defunct technologies tend to resurface. Airships are one such innovation, garnering more attention in recent years after decades of dormancy. Airships are ‘lighter than air’ structures that remain aloft with a lifting gas, such as helium. Propelled in a similar fashion to boats – using rudders and propellers, airships are presently used for advertising, tourism and aerial observation. New innovative research, however, is improving the speed and maneuverability of airships, making them a competitive means of transport in a fuel starved economy.
[Strato Cruiser Concept design by Tino Schaedler and Michael J Brown]
Jetfuel currently accounts for twelve percent of the CO2 emissions in the United States. With increases in air travel, once ‘impractical’ alternatives such as biofuels and airships are becoming viable solutions to lower fossil fuel consumption. The Spirit of Dubai, an airship primarily used for advertising, boasts that it uses less fuel in a week than a Boeing 767 consumes by traveling from gate to runway. The low fuel consumption has incited explorations into the cargo transporting ability of airships, particularly when speed is not vital. Airships are also useful for ‘hovering’ – sparking design interests from surveillance and observation to an ‘internet airship’ that can provide wireless access to mobile computer users.
[Lockheed Martin\’s solar powered HAA]
Recently, Lockheed Martin was contracted by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Air Force to construct a prototype airship that would be solar powered. Termed the HAATM (High Altitude Airship), the airship is an unmanned structure that is located high above the jetstream (where the airs are calm) to provide surveillance and weather monitoring. The large surface areas of airships (which greatly increases their drag) provide an ideal site for solar farming – harnessing energy while transporting goods and people.
[Aeros\’ Aeroscraft ML866]
[Aeros\’ Aeroscraft ML866 – size comparison]
The Russian company, Ros AeroSystems is developing a high altitude airship that can carry 1200 kg – effectively transforming the routes that cargo is distributed. With an average daily power consumption of 100-230 kW, the ‘Berkut’ is equipped with solar cells to reduce energy consumption and increase endurance.
The American company Aeros has developed an ‘aeroscraft’ that can cruise at speeds of 200km/hr. An aeroscraft is a partially buoyant airship that also has gas cells that allows it to control lift while in the air or on the ground. Further, the 64m aeroscraft is being examined and tested to carry loads up to 60 tons. While unable to seat large number of passengers (currently seating only 20), the aeroscraft ML866 comes equipped with mobile program – conference rooms, libraries, hotel rooms, etc., effectively absorbing the grey goo of airport urbanism within the transport vessel itself.
[Manned Cloud, a flying hotel proposed by French designer Jean-Marie Massaud]
While airship travel is appealing, there are still some challenges to overcome before air cruises become universal. First, is the reliance on helium. While helium is the second most abundant element in the observable Universe, it is quite rare on Earth. Although hydrogen gas is more buoyant than helium, it does not have the non-flammable characteristics of helium. Secondly, the load capacity of airships needs to increase to make these viable for mass transport. Currently, they are ‘luxurious’ only because they have more space than load capacity. By increasing their passenger and cargo capacity, they can attract a larger-than-luxury consumer base. The last obstacle to overcome would be traveler’s patience. Perhaps being in an island on top of the world will be worth the week long trip to Europe.
from CTBUH Global News
|April 30, MelbourneMelbourne could house an extra million people within existing boundaries by accelerating multi-level development on main tram and bus routes, according to an ambitious plan before the State Government. A draft report, obtained by The Age, proposes a radical rethink of the urban planning system in a bid to overcome persistent obstacles to higher-density housing development…more|
|Office block to be carbon neutral
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
Grocon chief executive Daniel Grollo said the Pixel Building went a step further than “carbon zero” projects by guaranteeing all carbon used in the construction of the $6 million, four-storey office block would be offset over the life of the building, ..
|Less than 25 per cent understand zero–carbon challenge, says report
Architects’ Journal, UK – Christopher Sell
The consultation, which aims to find a practical definition of zero carbon, was launched by the Communities and Local Government consultation in December 2008, following calls from industry that existing definitions ofzero carbon were unworkable for …
Zero Carbon Hub releases report on zero carbon definition Building Sustainable Design
Zero carbon homes report released PlanningResource (subscription)
all 4 news articles
What do you do when that family snapshot of your child playing on a golden beach is ruined by the ugly car park to the right of the picture? Crop it out. Unfortunately, statistical pictures are also heavily cropped to alter the stories they tell, says Michael Blastland in his regular column
3XN has recently completed construction of the Saxo Bank Headquarters in Copenhagen – a ‘young dynamic internet bank’ that was founded in 1992 and focuses on online-trading.
The architectural design is based on Saxo’s cutting-edge profile and branding. The lines of the building design define a sharp balance between reliability and dynamic expressiveness in dialogue with the local plan. The building is shaped like two blocks with the end walls pointing towards the canal, joined together by facades that are withdrawn from the end walls. The facades are shaped like double curved glass that wave like a piece of textile.
While most clients only deal with the bank through the interwebs, the bank decided that the image and physical presence of the new headquarters was of great importance – based partially on ‘a strong conviction that architecture and design affect each staff member’s performance and awareness of the company’. The interior is therefore open and transparent, emphasizing a sense of community. The plan centers around a large atrium space – with a large spiraling staircase corkscrewing up the height of the building.
::Thanks to Lise for contacting AMNP about this project::
from Green Options by Sean Sullivan
Now we’re cooking.
Operation of a new Spanish solar thermal plant just kicked into high gear, taking the title as the world’s largest commercial tower-type collector.
from FAIL Blog: Pictures and Videos of Owned, Pwnd and Fail Moments by pizzaburger
from DVICE by AdamFrucci
This is the Genesy Floorlamp, designed for Artemide by legendary designer Zaha Hadid. It’s huge and awesome and you can’t afford it.
Apparently, it was inspired by trees and their roots and canopies. I can sort of see that, but to be fair, there’s no touch dimmers on trees. Nor are there two types of lightbulbs. But hey, it’s close enough.
from “embodied energy” – Google NewsPreservationists, developer square off over Century Plaza Hotel
Los Angeles Times, CA – Ken Hively
Moe maintains that the building contains a great deal of “embodied energy,” the energy required to manufacture the materials, transport them to the site and assemble them into a building. He has recently been speaking to groups nationwide about this …
from Green Options by Nick Chambers
Norwegian Finance Minister, Kristin Halvorsen, and her Socialist Left Party have put forth a plan that would disallow the sale of new cars that run solely on gasoline after 2015.
Under the plan new cars such as hybrids, that run partially on gas, would still be allowed to be sold in the country, but any cars that only use gas as their power source would be illegal. Cars already on the road would be unaffected.
from Green Options by Kay Sexton
In a double first for the FBI, a domestic terrorist has been included on the international most-wanted list, and he’s an environmental activist too.
The man in question is Daniel Andreas San Diego who’s 31 years old and describes himself as an animal rights extremist. The crime that got him onto the list is the planting of nail bombs in San Francisco in 2003. It’s alleged that San Diego was involved in the campaign that targeted researchers involved in animal testing.
San Diego also has links to SHAC: Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, and in January, in the UK, lengthy prison sentences were given to seven members of the organisation after an investigation over several years by Kent police.
from Green Options by SolveClimate
California regulators tonight approved the world’s first low-carbon fuel standard, a bold set of performance-based fuel rules that are being closely watched in more than a dozen other states and countries, as well as in Washington.
Many of the program’s details are still in flux, to be worked out by the Air Resources Board before the standard takes effect in 2012.
The goal was clear, though: achieve a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020. Fully implemented, California’s LCFS is expected to cut those emissions by 15 million metric tons a year.
“The big picture is we want to incentivize the use of electricity for vehicles. … We want to incentivize innovation,” said Air Resources Board member Daniel Sperling.
from CTBUH Global News
|April 20, BostonSince it was planted in the landfill of Boston’s Back Bay district in the 1970s, I.M. Pei and Henry N. Cobb’s John Hancock Tower (1976) has been an emblem of spectacular but problematic commercial architecture. Excavation for the tower cracked the masonry of H.H. Richardson’s neighbouring Trinity Church, faulty curtain walls rained glass onto surrounding streets, and the building swayed excessively. In 2009, it’s a ready symbol of today’s vertiginous commercial real estate market…more|
from CTBUH Global News
|April 21, CaliforniaiCrete, based in Beverly Hills, California, has developed a proprietary algorithm for designing concrete mixes that it says can reduce portland cement content by 10%–40% without compromising strength. Cement production is energy-intensive; in a concrete mix with 12% cement, the cement is responsible for 92% of the embodied energy of the mix. In addition, extra cement usually increases early strength gain but can compromise long-term durability and cause other problems…more|
Our ninja KLAUS, from the GSD, has hit us up with the latest from his site KLAUS: Cartooning the GSD and Other Issues – taking Koolhaas to task on the concept of the ’starchitect’, in hilarious fashion.
They’re like New Yorker cartoons, but for architects – and without having to deal with the pretentious-ass New Yorker. Plus, you’ve got to love KLAUS’ old-school French/Belgian comic style – reminds me of comics I read when I was a kid.
|Renovate, Don’t Demolish
The Post-Standard – Syracuse.com, NY
Each of the structures on the Near Westside, no matter how neglected, represents embodied energy. Most were constructed of excellent materials (such as old-growth wood), and the craftsmanship in the intricately detailed woodwork, fireplaces and …