8/31/2011

Tower of the day: Meta-Tower in France by Karim Hassayoune and Aude Morgenthaler

You may have already seen this project proposed by French architects Karim Hassayoune and Aude Morgenthaler. They submitted this design proposal for the eVolo (once again) 2010 Skyscraper Competition. I find their idea of real-time multi-layered tower or Meta-Tower interesting to consider it as the tower of the day. This tower acts as a vertically 'collage' of parameters as seen below.
Meta-Tower in France © Karim Hassayoune and Aude Morgenthaler

The starting point is based on three questions: How many high-rise buildings become obsolete, sometimes even before they're finished, just because they're in dissonance with the needs of the moment?

Can we keep building always higher and faster without loosing touch with real-life needs and expectations?

Is formal complexity alone a pertinent answer to address the evergrowing complexity of the chaotic events that shape our world?
Meta-Tower © Karim Hassayoune and Aude Morgenthaler

This vertical multi-layered building is conceived as an open structure that "represents a specific moment in time while testing new architectural problems and solutions", the architects say. As one can see, time plays an important role in this project; the tower grows almost in real-time, the architects add.
Meta-Tower in France © Karim Hassayoune and Aude Morgenthaler

This participative tower — insofar as the Meta-Tower in France is open to all participants from architects to decisioners — stacks data such as demography, societal, political, natural, climatical, to name a few.
The question is not to ask is if it is buildable or unbuildable. The Meta-Tower in France must be considered as a new paradigm, that is "a tower that grows and evolves through time stratum by stratum, at a sound pace, designed by everyone for everyone."

Source: eVolo

8/30/2011

Two ways of rethinking the Opera House by Hend Almatrouk and Paul Preissner Architects

Two agencies propose to reinvent the character of opera house: Hend Almatrouk and Paul Preissner Architects. The characteristics to these two proposals are an exploration of parametric design, sustainable technologies and algorithms to consider the building through various external and internal data: programmatic, site, environment, etc.
Symbiotic Opera House, Vienna, © Hend Almatrouk

With its Symbiotic Opera HouseHend Almatrouk envisions to transform the notion of a designed space into that of a designed intent. A simple module becomes a new opera and concert hall for the city of Vienna.
Symbiotic Opera House © Hend Almatrouk

The aesthetic of this exuberant opera house, such as a biotic organism, is expressed by the articulation of the envelope, the surface, the structure of the building and its landscape, an english garden transformed by the growth of the building.
Symbiotic Opera House © Hend Almatrouk

A matrix of biotic cells that mutes according to its specific situation is created to allow for a mutation to, then, generate the interior spaces.

By comparison, the Busan Opera House proposal, designed by Paul Preissner Architects, rethinks the opera house in another way. If this opera house combines parametric design, algorithms, new technologies with internal and external data, its aesthetics expression differs with that of Hend Almatrouk's Symbiotic Opera House: less exuberant, less "voluptuous".
Busan Opera House © Paul Preissner Architects

Yet the Busan Opera House is quite expressive in comparison with its surroundings. As an elegant ovni implanted in the city of Busan, it seems to emerge suddenly from its site while forming a harmony with adjacent buildings. The Busan Opera House starts with three main ideas:

  1. to provide a strong urban statement in newly forming cultural district;
  2. to develop a clear visual strategy for the identity of the Opera which is simultaneously familiar and never-before seen;
  3. to create a unique building for the center of the cultural district with a contemporary architectural approach shaped to optimize active and passive energy use.
Busan Opera House, Busan © Paul Preissner Architects

The Busan Opera House proposal is defined by the combination of the shape of the building, the rational programmatic organization, and a curated graphic pattern (stripes) made.
Busan Opera House — Plan Level Roof © Paul Preissner Architects

The volume is clad with a combination of translucent and opaque glasses.
Busan Opera House — Section © Paul Preissner Architects

The second level is cantelevered five meters above the entrance level to facilitate the access to the building.
Busan Opera House — Patterns studies © Paul Preissner Architects

Two bridges connect the building to the city: the first one is dedicated to pedestrians and the second for rapid mobilities (cars, etc.).
Busan Opera House — Interior spaces © Paul Preissner Architects

The volume houses restaurant, conventions spaces, a major public lobby for the opera located inside one of the glass stripes.
Busan Opera House — Elevation © Paul Preissner Architects

Source: eVolo

8/26/2011

Lecture: The Nightmare of Participation by Markus Miessen

Who: Markus Miessen, architect
Where?: University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, US, Gin D. Wong, FAIA Conference Center, Harris Hall 101
When?: Wednesday, August 31 '11- Wednesday, August 31 '11
Time: 6:00 pm


Markus Miessen is an architect and writer. In 2002, he set up Studio Miessen, a collaborative agency for spatial practice and cultural inquiry, and in 2007, he co-founded the London and Berlin-based architectural practice office. In various collaborations, his publications include: The Nightmare of Participation (Sternberg Press, 2010), Institution Building: Artists, Curators, Architects in the Struggle for Institutional Space (Sternberg Press, 2009), East Coast Europe (Sternberg Press, 2008), The Violence of Participation (Sternberg Press, 2007), With/Without: Spatial Products, Practices, and Politics in the Middle East (Bidoun, 2007), Did Someone Say Participate? (MIT Press, 2006) and Spaces of Uncertainty (Müller + Busmann, 2002). His work has been published and exhibited widely at the Lyon, Venice, Performa (NY), Manifesta (Murcia), Gwangju, and Shenzhen Biennials. He has taught at the Architectural Association, London (2004-08), the Berlage Institute, Rotterdam (2009-10), and as visiting professor for architecture and curatorial practice at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe (2010-12). In 2008, he founded the Winter School Middle East (Dubai/Kuwait). In Fall 20011 he will launch a new professorship for Critical Spatial Practice at the Städelschule in Frankfurt.
Lectures are free and open to the public. They are located in the Gin D. Wong, FAIA Conference Center, Harris Hall, on the University Park campus. No reservations are required. Parking is available on campus at Gate 1 off Exposition Blvd.


For more information: Here.

Video of the day: Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Metropolis II is an installation by artist Chris Burden. This will be open at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) this fall. This is an intense and a complex kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks.
Metropolis II, Image © Chris Burden, Photography © E. Koyama, Courtesy
Gagosian Gallery. Originally appeared on lacma

Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. "The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city", Chris Burden said, "It wasn't about making a scale model!"






Source: Phaidon, Lacma

8/25/2011

Quote of the day: Reinier de Graaf (OMA) on Climate Change affecting developing world (but not only…)

The most intense urban growth is now taking place in some of the world's most depraved parts.

This quote is part of Reinier de Graaf's op-ed titled Tackling climate change still a luxury in developing world published in CNN that I warmly recommend to read (and of course it is already part of a brew…).

Europan_X by Baptiste Marconnet

A project that I just discovered is that of French architect Baptiste Marconnet titled The Europan_X.
The Europan_X examines the ways of extending the urban fabric beyond the coastline. The Europan_X consists of an assemblage of intertwining bands.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet

Car and tramway paths overlap to create a unified passageway that is linked to the existing rail network. The goal is to create a connection with the rest of the city.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet

These band are clad with double skin layers which function is to shelter the faux balconies, and maximize insulation levels of the lower parts of the building.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet

The skin is cellular in structure to support the floor slabs. Its structural and load-bearing features enable the formation of large common spaces within the building's volume.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet

Programmatically, the facilities are distributed uniformly along the length of the structure, with sporadic interruptions in form of large public areas.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet

The public row, closer to the city, is designed to serve as a mediator and a link between the new structure and the city. The private row is closer to the water so that it provides best views of the surroundings and a more intimate environment for the inhabitants.
Europan_X © Baptiste Marconnet


Source: eVolo

News: Bavli Towers, Tel Aviv unveiled by Gal Nauer Architects

Gal Nauer Architects (GNA) announced today its architectural design for the Bavli Towers, a new quality residential development of magnificent design in Tel-Aviv's Bavli neighborhood. Spanning approximately 27 acres, the complex will be comprised of six visually stunning 44-story towers and feature the latest innovations in architecture, interior design and green technology.

Bavli Towers, Tel Aviv, Israel, Gal Nauer Architects


The Bavli Towers will contain a total 880 condominium residences ranging from 1,100 to 5,000 square feet and are situated on an exquisite landscaped plateau, which naturally blends with Ha'Yarkon Park, known as Tel Aviv's "Central Park." The unique design of the structures makes the Bavli Towers one of, if not the most, architecturally and technologically advanced developments in Tel-Aviv.

Construction is on schedule to begin in the summer of 2011 and completion of the first high-rise tower is anticipated for 2013.

"Designing these 44-story towers, which have all of the qualities of a private home, a strong connection to the neighborhood and a true sense of community, represents the next generation of architecture and a new standard of modern luxury living," said Gal Nauer, founder and president of Gal Nauer Architects. "We are delighted to have designed this premier residential development for the real estate group of Diur, Amtash and Elad-Israel Group."

The complex, which is in the process of achieving LEED certification, will be surrounded by an environmentally friendly, green perimeter that allows underground-only access for vehicles. The perimeter and other green qualities will create a private, serene lifestyle for residents, who will enjoy luxurious amenities including an outdoor swimming pool with an extensive landscaped area, a state-of-the-art gym, residents' lobby lounge and panoramic city views in each condominium unit. In addition, major transportation, neighborhood shops, cafes and public community areas are all within walking distance.

"As one of the Largest green initiatives for Tel-Aviv and the 21st century, the Bavli Towers will attract a diverse population seeking an urban lifestyle in an environmentally forward-looking community," added Ms. Nauer.

Bavli is a neighborhood of Tel-Aviv that was founded in 1957 and developed rapidly over the next several decades. Due to its proximity to the city center and an influx of development in recent years, Bavli has turned into a flourishing upscale community thriving with couples and growing families living within the area.

8/24/2011

City Sessions: Four Questions on Tactics, Urbanism, and Practices


The IfUD has partnered with Leagues and Legions (LGNLGN) to host the online discussion CITY SESSIONS: Four Questions on Tactics, Urbanism, and Practice.
Tactical Urbanism uses the city as a site of experimentation, deploying popup parks, vacant retail reuse, or unsanctioned street furniture as way to reprogram the urban realm. The practice traditionally takes an activist position in relationship to environmental, political, cultural and economic factors. However, as the practice is increasingly being absorbed into mainstream thinking on cities, it is critical that we look closely at both the underlying assumptions and resulting effects.
LGNLGN and IfUD are asking critics, practictioners, academics, community organizers, and the general public to weigh in on one of four questions dealing with issues of tactical urbanism. Each question will tackle a particular theme: the public, professional practice, evaluation, and failure. The City Session Questions will post online in the three weeks leading up to Urban Design Week (September 15-20) and culminate in a live discussion of the crowdsourced responses on September 18.

If you want to join the discussion, click Here.

Video of the day: The Shareable Future of Cities a lecture by Alex Steffen (TED Talks)

A sharing video I found thanks to architect Daniel Ayala Serrano founder of Recolectores Urbanos via Twitter. This lecture is Alex Steffen's The Shareable Future of Cities. Enjoy…


Credit Alex Steffen, TED

How can Cities help save the Future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things (…)

8/23/2011

News: Morris Adjmi Architects approved by Landmarks Preservation Commission for Design of 837 Washington Street

Morris Adjmi Architects announces to have received approval from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for its design of 837 Washington Street in the Meatpacking Districk.

Located just of the High Line and across from the Standard Hotel, the six-story office and retail building at 837 Washington Street will feature a four-story glass and steel addition built atop an existing two-story 1938 Moderne style warehouse. The project is being developed by Taconic Investment Partners and Square Mile Capital.

"We are pleased with the Landmarks Preservation Commission's approval of our design for 837 Washington Street, which we believe fits in with the fabric of the neighborhood while also helping forge a new architectural identity for the Meatpacking District,' states Morris Adjmi, Founder and Principal of Morris Adjmi Architects.
837 Washington Street, New York City, USA © Morris Adjmi Architects

The building will feature a metal and glass window wall set within a twisting framework of dark grey steel beams that rotate slightly around a taller  brick core, echoing the way the streets come together in the neighborhood.

"The dynamic, twisting shape of the addition is generated by the site's unique location, marking the position where the angular street grid of the Meatpacking District interlocks with the more regular urban grid of upper Manhattan," explains Jess Walker, a Partner at Morris Adjmi Architects.

The two-story existing building, while maintaining its historic streetfront presence, serves as a spring point for the new structure, which torques up to continue the momentum generated by the adjacent turn of Washington Street. The addition, while minimally visible from historic Gansevoort Market Historic District to the east, rises to face the High Line and views of the Hudson River beyond.

The steel frame of the addition also reflects the industrial history of the neighborhood and the High Line, while in counterpoint, the brick core and restored existing building blend with the historic warehouses found throughout the Meatpacking District. Integrated planting beds along the edge of the building's floor slabs help mediate rainwater runoff and provide a link to the creeping perennials and grasses atop the High Line.
837 Washington Street © Morris Adjmi Architects






Photography: Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities

A series of images that reveals contradiction of Mexican surburbia (congestion, urban sprawl, lack of serious planning, etc.)
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented City © Alejandro Cartagena

I just found this project titled Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented City on twitter. This is a series of pictures by Alejandro Cartagena. This project is divided into five parts exploring Mexican suburbia which illustrates the "current mexican suburban sprawl with a focus on the metropolitan area Monterrey (also known as Mam)".
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities © Alejandro Cartagena

These pictures here are from the first part of the project. They put in light "the impmented neo-liberal economic strategies made by the Mexican government since 2001 that have pushed urban growth out of the regulation of the metropolitan urban plan", Alejandro Cartagena writes.
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities © Alejandro Cartagena

As a result, contradicting policies led to more than 300,000 new houses around the nine cities of the mam all built by construction firms".
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities © Alejandro Cartagena

Yet, the most surprising point is the "ecological impact and the increasing distance being formed between the well-urbanized city and these new fragmented cities in the peripheries". These are few among a large number of misfortunes that the residents are facing, Alejandro Cartagena adds.
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities © Alejandro Cartagena

As he points out, these images reveal a "new chaotic ambient to which Mexico is growing into."
Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities © Alejandro Cartagena

More about Suburbia Mexicana: Fragmented Cities photo series: Here.

Who is he?
Alejandro Cartagena, born in 1977 in Dominican Republic, lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. He is an artist, teacher and promoter of photography. His projects are primarly docmuentary based, and employ landscape and protraiture as a means to examine social, urban and environmental issues in Latin America. His work also engages with a larger history of photography by reinterpreting or rethinking the ways in which poignant issues have been addressed or represented in the past. This has widened his works' aesthetic and conceptual approach and added layers of meaning to his complex interpretations of our society.
Cartagena's work has been exhibited and published internationally, and is in several public and private collections in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States. He is the recipient of several major national grants, numerous honorable mentions and acquisition prizes in Mexico and abroad. In 2009 Cartagena won the critical mass book award, and was named one of pdn's 30 emerging photographers. In 2009 Cartagena was also a finalist for the aperture portfolio prize, selected as an '"international discovery", at the Houston Fotofest, a key hot shot finalist, and a featured artist at the Lishui International Photography Festival in Lishui China (with a solo exhibition of Suburbia Mexicana).
He is currently teaching in the faculty of visual arts of the University of Nuevo Leon as he continues his photographic projects about the Latin American landscape and its people.
He is represented by Circuit Gallery in Toronto.

8/22/2011

Injured Cities Urban Afterlives Conference

What enduring wounds does catastrophe leave on urban life, and how can they be mobilized and transformed in the aftermath of injury to enable the imagination of new modes of social life and to thwart impending forms of social death?
This conference, convened on the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, aims to explore the effects of catastrophe on cities and their inhabitants, to analyze the politics of shock and terror states use in response to their vulnerability, and to imagine more life-affirming modes of redress and re-invention.
New York City provides a significant and indeed singularly relevant locus for this event. A city of immigrants, many of whom have ties to other cities that have suffered catastrophe, New York's intellectuals and cultural produces, as well as its ordinary citizens, have a unique contribution to offer to the many urgent projects of reimagining cities around the world today.
The focal point of the conference will be the September 11, 2011 Oral History Narrative and Memory project of Columbia's Oral History Research Office, an oral history archive of 600 life stories of diverse New York City communities. The collection documents the multiple ways that "difference" — in the form of geography, cultural memory, ethnic identity, class, gender, generation, religious and political affiliation — affects how individuals are subject to and assign meaning to historical catastrophe, both immediately after the event and in the months and years following.
The conference will begin with a morning panel that lays the groundwork for the discusions we hope to stimulate throughout the two days. Panel One, "Injured Cities/ Threshold Catastrophes" will address the temporality of urban catastrophe, looking both at the populations that are most vulnerable and most deeply affected by injury — those on the threshold of catastrophe, to borrow a term from Israeli theorist Ariella Azoula — and at 'wounded cities' in the aftermath. Panelists are urban sociologist Saskia Sassen, cultural theorist Ariella Azoulay and cultural geographer Karen Till.
Injured Cities: Urban Afterlives seeks to initiate a new collective memory of the events of 9/11, 2001, that arises from the local and urban, but also the global experiences of those most directly — and differently — affected. The first afternoon will focus on a series of dialogues organized by Mary Marshall Clark (Director of the Columbia University Oral History Research Office) that stage an encounter between oral history narrators who will testify to the crucial ways in which "difference" became a threat to the construction of a national collective memory of 9/11 — a threat that endanged the national consensur that quickly formed for global retaliation. As a creative extension of the discussions of the opening day, the conference organizer and planning to host an evening performance of Testimony to the Ruins by the acclaimed Colombian theather group Mapa Teatro at Miller Theater.
Day Two of the conference will be organized around three interdisciplinary and international panels of noted artists, architects, scholars, journalists, and practitioners. Panel Four, "Citizens, Imigrants, Aliens in the Aftermath," will think through the politics of belonging and unbelonging that result in the wake of catastrophic events, as well as the demographic injuries that fracture cities with potentially catastrophic effects. Panel Five, "Spatializing Afterlife" will engage the expressive cultural forms through which urban artists, planners, activits and policy-makers have engaged catastrophe, and how they have responded to their enduring wounds through the spatio-physical re-visioning of injured cities. The final panel "Art and Archive After Catastrophe" will focus on artistic responses to urban catastrophe, and the creative modalities that transform them into acts of redress and renewal.

Who?: Nina Bernstein, Teddy Cruz, Ann Jones, Dinh Q. Lê, Shirin Neshat, Walid Ra'ad, Rebecca Solnit, Clive van den Berg, Eyal Weizman and several narrators from the 9/11 Oral History projects; moderators Gerry Albarelli, Carol Becker, Tina Campt, Saidiya Hartman, Anne McClintock, Rosalind Morris, Diana Taylor, and Mabel Wilson; and conference co-Organizers Tina Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Jean Howard, Lorie Novak, and Laura Wexler.
When?: October 14-15 2011
Where?: Columbia University, Miller Theatre and Wood Auditorium
Where to get more information?: Here.

8/19/2011

Friday Brew: What the others said…

While one of Asian cities' challenge is to become more and more compact, while its urban population is growing fast, a question to ask is that of treatment of streets. Asian streets are unique.
Cities with over 10 million inhabitants. Originally appeared on BBC
> This image of the earth at night shows where the population of the world is crowding together into major urban areas.
By the middle of the 20th Century this urbanisation had led to a new phenomenon: the megacity —
 an urban area with over 10 million inhabitants.

These streets have a variety of societal functions — even though each city has its personal use of streets —, Asian Urbanist notes: business space, gathering space for families and friends, to name a few. Major activities along the street are window-shopping, eating, park going and other recreational activities favored by Asian urbanites. Yet land issues — lack of land, constrained spaces, to name a few — leading to a minimum area for living spaces transform the street into an extension of interior spaces. The question that Asian Urbanist asks — a question that must be considered as fundamental for a better quality of life of Asian cities — is "how compact and how dense can we go while maintaining not only the quality of our streets and public spaces but also the quality of life of the residents. Urban designers and architects are facing a mounting challenge to create high quality living and working environment within tight space constraints."
At a larger scale, while compact cities are becoming the key to high quality urban spaces, it raises questions. Let's choose one: urban population growth. How to deal with urban population growth while the objective is to become more compact? Which leads to the following question that Nicolas Ladouce asks: "Are our cities ready for the Compact City model?" Cities require a realistic planning, as the same Nicolas Ladouce adds, to provide all the needs that will improve living conditions, reduce insecurity, increase jobs stock — let's dream — lead to a better energy efficiency, etc.. Some cities are struggling to cope with their growing population, increasing insecurity and insufficient housing, in a nutshell. The lack of clear vision and the ability to foresee and plan for realistic growth is what has hindered the ability of these cities to adapt. Realistic figures are required to help define priorities and prevent incoherent piece-meal development. If some observers are a bit skeptic about compact city, most of them call for compact cities. Compact cities appear to be the environmental solution since they are urban but nonsprawling form; they reduce pollution and consumption of resources. It is true that, as cities gather more than 75% of world's population — in the U.S. 83% of the population live in cities —, it is no wonder that growth as well as economic activity impact both population and environtment. For Kaid Benfield, the key to a better living condition in cities and high quality of urban infrastructures is that cities must have great neighborhoods and complete streets, with walkability and well-functioning public transit, with clean parks and rivers, with air that is safe to breathe and water that is safe to drink.
Can Compact cities really be a solution? Some cities, in particular in Latin America and India — which delight in a recent great dynamism — are facing with congestion, housing shortages, pollution and lack of urban planning. These megacities are poorly planned and unsafe, The Economist reports. Consequently, one can wonder if compact city model can be a key to developed and developing megacities.
Apart from overpopulation, another issue important to be mentioned is that of rising sea levels. Bangkok is one of these megacities that will face this issue by 2050 according to a UN study. As Bangkok is becoming more and more crowded, the city suffers from both air pollution and sea level rise. Bangkok is characterized by its topography. It is surrounded by polluted water fields due to its recent economic growth. S+PBA recently propose a city that adapts to these environmental, economic, social and demographic constraints. This city will be based on waterworld-like plan. Called Wetropolis, it is announced to allow residents of Bangkok to live with natural flooding instead of resisting it while creating a homeostasis that detoxifies the region's polluted waters. Vegetation is composed of a forest of indegenous mangroves, which the government is already trying to implement in Bangkok. Mangroves naturally filter water, and they also supply fresh oxygen and natural cooling. As the watr is filtered, shrimp farming can flourish in a sustainable manner. The community of Wetropolis will live above the water fields in a network of interconnected homes, walkways, and roads, with curvaceous lines that emulate the rippling water.
Wetropolis, Bangkok © S+PBA
Sad but unfortunately true: Rio's favela dwellers will be displaced in the rush to be ready for The World Cup and Olympics, Sam Green reports in The Independent. Of course the authorities intentionally avoid collective negotiating: "This is done to fragment resistance. They negotiate family by family, so one family agrees to sell up, their home is demolished immediately and the value of the property next to it is lowered. Thus people are set against each other." This confirms what it is reported above: lack of housing, overpopulation, lack of planning…, of Latin American cities…

8/16/2011

Video of the day: Live Singapore by MIT SENSEable City Lab

Live Singapore is a project led by MIT SENSEable City Lab. Live Singapore uses real-time data recorded by myriad communications devices, microcontrollers and sensors to analyze the pulse of the city, telling residents how they can reach their homes fastest, reduce their neighborhood's energy consumption and find a taxi when a rainstorm hits.



Credit: MIT SENSEable City Lab

via Scientific America

8/15/2011

The Online Magazine of the day: TiP (Think in Practice) Issue #2

Balmond Studio just launched the second issue of TiP for [Think in Practice]. Here is an abstract of the conversation between Toyo Ito and Cecil Balmond about the 'Home-for-All' project, an open exhibition.

Cecil Balmond: What is your position on the moral duties of the Architect today?
Toyo Ito: As seen in the case of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the modernist ideal of technology's omnipitence has collapsed. We should there fore clearly define the new architectural philosophy that is based on the relationship with nature.

More: here. Last but not least, you can subscribe to TiP. It's free.

8/11/2011

Drylands Design: An Open Ideas Competition for Retrofitting the American West

Water scarcity is both the history and the future of the American West. Re-thinking water use, particularly in the face of climate change, will be central to the region's survival. The work exceeds the grasp of a single discipline, and touches all dimensions of the way people live and work. Sustaining the US West in the face of water scarcity and hydrologic variability brought on by climage change will require strategic architectures, infrastructures, and urbanisms that promote adaptation and resilience. Drylands Design seeks innovation in architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, regional planning, and infrastructure design that addresses water supply, water quality, water access, water treatment, and the water/energy nexus. Drylands Design seeks integrative proposals from multidisciplinary design teams that anticipate science and policy perspectives as necessary dimensions of intelligent design response, and exploit beauty as an instrument of resilience and adaptation.
The purpose of Drylands Design is to generate a portfolio of long term design strategies for the arid and semi-arid west's water-scarce future. Proposals must recognize and address:

The Water-Energy Nexus
The relationship between water, energy use, and heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions is intertwined and self-limiting; uncoupling water's capture, treatment, distribution, and use from energy-intensive delivery systems is critical to a new western drylands design.

Scarcity + Variability
The twin effects of climate change on the American west's hydrologic cycle are expected to be scarcity (prolonged drought periods and diminished snowpack) and variability (increased intensity of flood events). Design for variability will replace engineering for stationarity.

Localized Resources
Rain water, storm water and single-use municipal supplies, currently treated as waste or flood, hazard, form the largest "undeveloped" sector of western water. Conventing local liabilities to assets will offset dependence on carbon-intensive imports.

Social Equity
Recognizing that no built environment achieves true vitality without social equity, Drylands Design seeks proposals that actively benefit low-and middle-income communities, urban and rural. More specifically, Drylands Design seeks proposals that promote an active and participatory civic engagement by citizen-users.

Thus, Drylands Design seeks responsive, variable, localized, and low-carbon alternatives to energy-intensive, 20th-century centralized water engineering solutions. Drylands Design seeks a portfolio of strategies for the west that actively remediate the environmental sterility, economic monocultures, and cultural lethargy induced by the West's dependence on an obsolete engineering paradigm. Drylands Design seeks proposals that tactically promote a place-specific built environment of both ecological and cultural vitality.

For more information (site, global context, registration, fees…): Here.

8/10/2011

First Call: 20th International Urban Planners Exhibition — Premier Exhibition in Nis

The urban Planners Exhibition is a traditional annual manifestation of Serbian Town Planners Association, which is the review of the most important actual work in the field of spatial and urban planning, designing and realizations. After premier exposition in Nis, the Exhibition will be presented in other cities in Serbian and abroad.
Eligible Participants of The 20th Urban Planners Exhibition are the members of The Urban Planners Association of Serbia, institutions and individuals from Republic of Serbia, Republic of Montenegro and Republic Srpska. The invitations for participation in The 20th Urban Planners Exhibition will be also sent to correspondent professional unions and urban planning associations abroad.

Character and content of The 20th Urban Planners Exhibition
The 20th Urban Planners Exhibition will be organized with works in the following categories:

  1. Spatial Plans
  2. General Urban Plans
  3. Plans of General Arrangements
  4. Regulation and Detail Urban Plans
  5. Urban Projects and Realizations
  6. Competitions
  7. Urban Studies and Researches
  8. Environmental Protection through Studies and Plans
  9. Information and Technologies Applications
  10. Publications
  11. Students' works
Propositions for participation on The 20th Salon of Urbanism
Works that were not exhibited before are allowed to be submitted. Application should contain graphic illustration of the work and textual data of the work and author including short description of the work (for the catalogue).
Deadline for the application of the works (form and illustration) is 03th October 2011, and all works must be delivered till 24th October 2011.
Selection commission starts on the 26nd October 2011, and will conclude the list of works that participate at the Exhibition and that will be present in the catalogue on 27rd October 2011.
Jury will be in session on 6th November 2011. Jury will take into consideration only those works that meet the conditions and that were recognized by the Selection Commission as valid.
Total number of works that will be performed is not limited, but the number of student works should not exceed 10 percent of all works that will take part at the Exhibition (to be limited by Selection commission)

Contact Svetlana Jakovljevic for detailed information (registration, preparation of the works for the exhibition, awards…)

Email Interview: Jasmax who received the second prize for the Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020

We continue our discussion with the winners of the Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 held under the auspices of TAB Tallinn Architecture Biennale.

Below is the interview I did with Jasmax, who received the Second prize, about their design proposal The Urban Lobby. Jasmax is composed of Kenneth Li, Mark Craven and Fraser Moor.


from: Why do you think a hybrid condition between street, square, and park may be more efficient for a city like Tallinn?
to: We believe that part of what a more liveable and efficient city is about is that different modes and speeds of movement should be the derivative of what the space should be. A hybrid condition between street, square, and park allows the flexibility to priorities pedestrian, cyclist, tram patrons, vehicles to simultaneously enjoy the space that they are navigating through. Especially for cyclists and pedestrians, they should be able to enjoy their journey, whilst allowing them to pause and rest, look around, allowing our design elements to promote unforeseen activities, and provide the feeling of a 'sense of place.'

from: When I read the text that accompanies your design proposal, it seems that movements and nodes act as efficient tools to reorganise Tallin urban space. They appear to be central in your proposal. Can you tell us more?
to: We saw that the chosen site intersects the existing city grid along its length. Rather than ignoring these intersections (nodes) we saw them as reception areas for the city, where the public can congrate and invigorate the immediate context. They also act as crucial collection and redistributed points along the entire length of the site for humans to easily flow to their desired location. At each node selected program is either amplified over diminished based on its immediate context, the result is they enhance and produce a more successful urban fabric. Movement along the length of the site, between each node, is executed through three key program arrangements. Each length caters for the varying number of volumes in each program that move along the site, the result is the positioning of the program (public pedestrian and cycling movement, vehicle movement, tram movement, public park space, and private buildings) changes in relation to each other.
The Urban Lobby — Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 design proposal © Jasmax


from: How does The Urban Lobby resolve this current oppisition between programs (common in cities) — foot versus cycling versus vehicles (cars, tram, bus… — to allow for a more open, flexible and high-quality urban space?
to: The urban lobby resolves this current oppisition by breaking up the large site into manageable smaller scale lengths that key into their immediate contect. Joining these length together is made with the nodes. The result is these hybrid lengths minimize conflicts between program and maximizes synergies. The result is long-term cost savings, improved performance and life cycle, reduced environmental impact, and increased returns on municipal investments.

From: Why does "Lobby" mean in The Urban Lobby? I understand it more as closed to the paradigm of "relationship"…
to: Traditionally, a lobby to a building is apoint of collection and redistribution, we find this usually an interesting place which promotes informal interaction. If we apply this idea at an urban scale, te intersections of movement in a city only allows for redistribution and not collection. Our design aims to redesign intersections a places for collection too. By injecting programmes into these 'lobbies', it produces a hybrid urban fabric, they become interesting places to be.
The Urban Lobby — Tallin Vision Competition Street 2020 design proposal © Jasmax


from: Thank you Jasmax

8/09/2011

Infographic of the day: Asia to dominate 21st century megacities

The BBC posted today an interesting infographic revealing the rise of the Asian megacity.
Here is what BBC wrote:
Mass urbanisation, the increasing concentration of populations into towns and cities, is one of the defining characteristics of the middle of the 20th Century the two biggest economies, the USA and Japan, had created a new urban phenomenon: the megacity. By 2025, seven of the world's top ten megacities will be in Asia. 
Cities with over 10 million inhabitants. Infographic originally appeared on BBC
> This image of the earth at night shows where the population of the world is crowding together into major urban areas. By the middle of the 20th Century this urbanisation had led to a new phenomenon: the megacity — an urban area with over 10 million inhabitants (BBC).
Source: BBC

St. Petersburg's New Holland Island by WORKac

WORKac will redesign St. Petersburg's New Holland Island, a 8-hectare triangle shaped island that served as a naval prison, lumberyard, a radio station, and military barracks. This area is bordered by two canals and a river in the heart of St Petersburg, Russia, within 20-minutes walk of the Hermitage and the city's other major cultural sites.
New Holland Island will be treated as microscosm of wider St. Petersburg, a "city within the city", WORKac said. It will propose public spaces and programs, including performing arts, new technologies, education, markets, and a hotel.

The following video gives us an interesting outline of the New Holland Island's design:


New Holland Island Competition Film - WorkAC from Eric Lane on Vimeo.

Source: archdaily

8/08/2011

The Map of the day: London Riots Map

I've just discovered this map, precisely London Riots map, via twitter. It's an application. You can check out here.
Originally appeared on London Riots Map


Video of the day: Immaterials: Light Painting WIFI

I just discovered this project: Immaterials: Light Painting WIFI film via The Architecture ReportImmaterials: Light Painting WIFI film is produced by Timo Arnall, Jorn Knutsen, Einar Sneve Martinussen.

Arnall, Knutsen, and Martinussen explore intangible phenomena that have implications for design and effect how both products and cities are experienced. What interests me is that this film shows, as Arnall, Knutsen, and Martinussen wrote, how 'the network's behaviour depends on where it is located and how the city around it is built'. In other words, WIFI Networks are another tool, if not "layer", of/for cities. Built forms and urban landscape "can make WIFI seem spatially unpredictable." Nonetheless if WIFI networks are highly local, ubiquitous, informal and fragmented, they "make up a highly evolved, yet largely inaccessible urban infrastructure that is mainly created by its users".



Immaterials: Light painting WiFi from Timo on Vimeo.

Video courtesy Timo Arnall, Jorn Knutsen, Einar Sneve Martinussen

Source: YOUrban and The Architectural Report

8/06/2011

The Interview of the day: Warren Techentin Architecture winners of the Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020

Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 just unveiled the winners. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 was addressed to young architects and architecture students. The street as part of a fluently, connected, compatible and diverse urban landscape was the subject to this computation. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 announced to have received competition entries from Japan, Bangladesh, USA, Poland, Turkey, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, New-Zealand, to quote a few. Tallinn Vision Competition Street 2020 was held under the auspices of TAB Tallinn Architecture Biennale.

Warren Techentin Architecture (namely WTARCH, also called "Peer-to-Peer") received the first prize for his design proposal titled Peer-to-Peer Urbanism. WTARCH is composed of Warren Techentin, Brent Nishimoto, Christina Hwang, Andrew Kim, Ahad Basravi, Carrie Smith and Aaron Yip.


I emailed WTARCH for a short interview about his design proposal. Warren Techentin gently answered to these questions. To the first question concerning their design proposal Peer-to-Peer Urbanism:
For us, the term "Peer-to-Peer Urbansim" was inspired by the burgeoning information economy located in Tallinn, Estonia epitomized by Skype: one of the most profound 'gists' the world has been given in the last decade. The notion of peer-to-peer basically descrobes a distributed system of sharing amongst participants — without centralized control per se — who together help shape, organize, and use the content of what is to shared. If there ideas were applied to urbanism, this would have important consequences to the urban environment and how neighboroods and communities form. In the case of our Street for Tallinn, our users are locals, tourists, students, and information economy workers who each will have a stake in the choreography of the street — the mix of programs desired, the number of activities and their distribution, the 'uses' of spaces and the street, and perhaps even the speed, amount, and flow of traffic. We have intentionally juxtaposed a wide range of spatial scales from the large to the small to allow a diversity of programmatic infiltration. We have taken cues from the so-called open-source planning movement to help develop mechanisms and establish protocols to allow greater diversity and choice than what would otherwise be available so users can help define and shape the content and development of the collective environment around them. To aid this, our street embeds a number of sensors which provide data about everything from air quality to the number of fruit vendors on any particular day — to generate a network of feedback about the people and events going on around them.
Peer-To-Peer Urbanism © WTARCH

I then asked to go back over the concept of 'user interface'. According to me, this paradigm envisions street as a strategic and relational tool rather than a common space for circulation:
Yes you are right, the term 'User interface' does in fact seek to design and use the street beyond the mere circulatory purposes it has increasingly become relegated to today. 'User interface' is a term directly borrowed from digital paradigms and ultimately describes the system of interaction between users and the software or machines they interace with. In the context of a street, the calculus necessary for the design of a street to satisfy the specific parameters it will accommodate such as traffic flow, drainage, or parking requirements does not inherently maje for a better street experience in and of itself. It merely accommodates flows. The best streets brind people and activities together and make strong relational connections amongst these people, spaces, landscape, recreation, and activities. Our proposal includes an number of operational features which preform as proto — social condensers — scaled architecture and landscape interventions helping to craft direct participation in the environment.
Peer-to-Peer Urbanism © WTARCH


8/05/2011

Video of The day: Bicycles and sustainability in the city

Architecture and Design posted several days ago an article including a video titled Bicyles and sustainability in the City. This documentary created by a crowd-funded initiative called Genre De Vie explores social effects and the place of the bicycle in the modern city.

According to the organizers: "In the past few years a growing number of cities worldwide have been (re)discovering the use of the bicycle. Sustainability plays a large role in the motivation behing the revival of the bicycle and takes on different challenges, placing itself in a new and relevant social position. The question then remains whether or not the revitalisation and new positioning of the bicycle could contribute to the livability of society."


Genre de Vie from Photo Booth Works on Vimeo.

More: here.


8/04/2011

Bus Terminal, San Francisco, USA, by Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang

Once again, I like pattern-based skins, namely these skins' ornamentations that are determined by patterning. In the present project, Mathematics play an essential role. Parametric design and Voronoi patterns are significant parts of this project of a new bus terminal near San Francisco's Bay Bridge.
San Francisco's Bus Terminal © Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang

This design proposal by Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang, both at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc) explores various topics such as scripting, parametric design, and sustainable technologies. For Lu and Yang, these elements must be considered as design tool to create form through the analysis of environmental, urban, and economic data.
San Francisco's Bus Terminal © Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang

As one notices, Voronoi diagrams are in wide use in architecture. This skin is an example of Voronoi pattern-based envelope like that of Tim Wiscombe/Emergent's Civic Sports Center and 2013 National Games Arena. Here Voronoi cells impinged upon people's behaviors through the bus terminal space such as people coming to the bus station from different directions at various points in time to generate cells that determine the form of the envelope's patterns.
San Francisco's Bus Terminal © Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang

This leads to a sustainable tree-like structure with a honeycomb-like envelope opening to the sky. This efficient-energy design attracts solar energy, as Bin Lu and Joongsik Yang say.

Source: eVolo Magazine

Video of the day: Japan starts hard work of rebuilding

A video link showing that Japan starts hard work of rebuilding. It is hosted by The Financial Times. According to reporter Mure Dickie, a Finantial TimesTokyo bureau chief, locals and businesses refuse to be defeated. Yet, rebuilding in safer areas will be expensive and complex. Click on the link to watch the video.


Source: The Financial Times

Video of the day: WasteLandscape by Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard

When art, architecture and environmental activism coexist to lead to a beautiful 500-square-meter installation titled WasteLandscape. This is designed by two French designers Elise Morin and Clémence Eliard. WasteLandscape an undulating landscape of CDs consisting of about 65,000 unsold and collected CDs.

According to these designers, "It's well known that CDs are condemned to gradually disappear from our daily life and will later participate in the construction of immense open-air, floating or buried toxic waste reception centers,' Eliard and Morin explain.
The aim of this installation is to raise awareness about environmental problems through culture and modes of production.

WASTE LANDSCAPE - Centquatre 104 - 21-07 // 11-09-2011 from elise morin on Vimeo.


WasteLandscape can be seen at 104 (Cent-Quatre), Paris, France, until September 21.

Source Frame Magazine

8/03/2011

Quote of the Day: the use of the automobile in urban space can…

The quote of the day is that of Joe Peach (This Big City) quoting Mario Polése:
The use of the automobile in urban space can result in increased distance between social groups, as well as in reducing points of contact…

Wednesday Brew: to-read list: urbanism (mostly)

How urban lighting can improve quality of life? This is the question that Denise B. Fong poses in her essay Transforming our Cities from Day to Night; from Places for Cars to Places for People. According to Denise B. Fong, livable cities are places for people in both the day and night. When citizens become involved and suggest their input, urban spaces can transform. A neighborhood in Copenhagen asked their community for input on improving their space. The two things requested were public art and lighting. The city installed lighting which lit street names but didn't cause glare into people's bedroom windows, added "pocket parks" which have their own unique light fixtures that don't appear anywhere else in the city, and cobblestones sidewalks interspersed with blue LED backlit tiles.

After a long discussion with a friend, we conclude that this infographic: Why China is Kicking Our Ass in Clean Tech is a good illustration of competition between cities to become the most sustainable city… sigh…

There is no need to repeat that Cities' most important challenge is climate change, cutting emissions of CO2, population growth, expanding cities, among a few. There is rush to implement plans to respond to these challenge. A target: transportation. Here is one suggestion that urban planners and policymakers can consider: Electric transports. Whatever it is new or not, it may bring first solutions to replace energy-consuming transport in megacities. This is what Asian Urbanist suggested in an interesting article Electromobility Key in Megacities, an article available on Sustainable Cities Collective. According to Asian Urbanist, future high-density compact megacities, will require shorter travel distance which will be favorable to deploy personal EVs. (…) EVs potential lies in the ability to effeciently use renewable energy sources to power our daily trips. Electric motors on average can convert 75% of chemical energy in batteries to power the wheels while current engines can only convert 20% of the energy stored in gasoline. Provided the electricity comes from renewable sources, there is no emission of pollutants from EVs.

Mitch McEwen wrote an interesting op-ed titled Detroit: the Death of Manhattanism for Domus. Apparently Detroit illustrates the emergence of a new kind of global city. I have never been there. Apart from this, McEwen's op-ed reminds me a Interboro Partners' project published in the latest Actar Verb Boogazine issue Crisis. This project titled was Improve your Lots! The New Suburbanism, in case you forgot, revealing a growing interest of architects and urban planners for this city of Detroit. McEwen's article is part of his exhibition titled "Detroit: A Brooklyn Case Study" that opened in Los Angeles in January 2011. Yet Detroit seems to be embarrassed with this growing interest. Very funny…

A modest yet beautiful eco-friendly emergency pediatric clinic built in Darfur. As architect Raul Pantaleo and surgeon and founder of Emergency NGO Gino Strada wrote, this NGO children's hospital functions as a large "thermal machine" designed to adapt to extreme environmental conditions. A combination of traditional and modern techniques — like these woven bamboo shade-screens and the roof of the lowered brick tile vaults according to the technique called jagharsh (from harsch meaning "arch" in Arabic) which is protected from direct sunlight by a false roof in metal creating a ventilated air chamber — have been used to design a building in symbiosis with Darfur's architecture. One aspect, this combination of tradition and modernity aside, is this inspiration of traditional Iranian systems of natural ventilation for the air recycling. This system is called bagdir. These systems are combined with a mechanical system that uses industrial-type water coolers, architect Raul Pantaleo said. Very interesting project and congratulations… Raul Pantaleo and Gino Strada's op-ed titled Emergency Pediatric Clinic Darfur is available on Domus Web as well as in their July issue.
Emergency Pediatric Clinic Darfur © Tamassociati for the Emergency NGO
The simplicity of the construction is in complete harmony with local traditional building systems, Pantaleo says.
The roof of the lowered brick tile vaults (the traditional jagharsch) is protected from direct sunlight by a false
roof in metal which creates a ventilated air chamber.
Image originally appeared on Domus Web.

An excellent review titled How to Design Better Cities With Urban Interventions and Computer Code? I found on Volume Magazine on the Cognitive Cities Salon in Amsterdam. This review is written by Martijn de Waal and is originally published on The Mobile City. I have a particular for Edwin Gardner's lecture The Algorithmic City — a techno-utopian scenario. This is Gardner's ongoing research work on the algorithmic city posing the following questions: What happens to urban planning when adding algorithms to the urban planning process? How to use algorithmis to make planning and urban design a more generative, adaptive process, that works in the interest of citizens rather than that of project developers or investors? Gardners developed three levels in which algorithms could play a role, de Waal reports: 1. Building Code; 2. Algorithmic Masterplanning and; Algorithmic zoning. I would like to know more…

If you have a strong interest on biological urbanism, or to say simply the growing relationship between biology and urbanism, here is an interesting paper found on Inhabitat titled Biologists Studying NYC's Interesting Impact on Urban Wildlife Evolution. This paper is written by Will Giron. These biologists study the biological changes and evolutionary patterns of the city's plants and animals, ranging anywhere from mice and fish to bugs and bacteria. Apparently plants and animals have mutated in response to the pressures of the city. One example, bacteria in hospitals, like this Klebsiella Pneumoniae, known to cause pneumonia and other life threatening infections, has become resistant to antibiotics, Giron reports. But these aside, despite pollution, and others such as urban pressures, through Urban Evolution, one easily see that cities have a natural environment far more diverse then originally thought.

Arup continues to propose his solutions to shift into smart megacities with his Urban Life: The Smart Solution for Cities. You can read this report in pdf format available on Arup's website.

Another pdf format file that I would like to share is Future Cities published on Raconteur with among others Vicky Richardson's text "Far From The Madding Crowd", Siemens' "Our Green City Future", A discussion between Reinier de Graaf, Gordon Gill and Herbert Wright titled "Facing up to the Environmental Challenge", etc.

The Polic Blog posted a recorded presentation by Erik Swyngedouw, a professor of geography at the University of Manchester School of Environment and Development, on "Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis."Erik Swyngedouw calls for open institutional channels for enacting dissent, fostering a democratic politics based on equal opportunity for all in shaping the decisions that affect our lives. He envisions the city as "insurgent polis" — a new agora where democratic politics can take place, where anyone can make a case for changing the existing framework. A very good recorded presentation and a good lecture.

Let's follow with this question of the articulation of political and cities, with this brilliant essay Post-political Attitudes on immigration, Utopias, and the Space Between Us written by Ethel Baraona Pohl and César Reyes (dpr-barcelona). Both Baraona Pohl and Reyes were guest-writters for The Funambulist. They call for post-political attitudes on immigration, utopias, and the spaces between people. According to them, architects, planners' creativeness should be oriented to address real challenges faced by humankind as a result of their economic and geopolitical relationships. Finishing with this interrogation-cum-remark "given that a world with no borders is still far away from our mental framework, why not get involved in provide solutions for this huge "mobile nation" of 191 millions of inhabitants? A giant mobile mirror reminding that all of us are also immigrants, passing through this life." How to do with instead of against The Other.

Apparently urban bees are much more adaptive that we expected. Those from Chicago profit from the city's abundant and mostly pesticide-free flowers so that they may have a leg up on country bees because of a longer nectar flow, with people planting flowers that bloom from spring to fall, and organic gardening practices, according to Carla K. Johnson of Associated Press.

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