Video: +FARM

This summer design/build program for architecture students aims to get their hands dirty with both design and construction experience. Relocating from their studio home at Direct Design Institute students and professorers participated in a one week building work shop at the Five Sisters Farm in Perrysville, New York. Funded by Kickstarter (today is the last day to donate!) +FARM provides students with the opportunity to learn about “direct design” by observation and the physical act of making a movable Chicken Coop and restoring an old farm house to be later used as an artist colony and hunter’s house.

A new vision for London’s Tube Map

© Mark Noad

A new vision of the  map for London’s Tube has been posted to depict a more geographically accurate representation of the underground train system.  Navigate through the map for yourself here:  http://www.london-tubemap.com/.

The original map was designed by Harry Beck; he compromised geographical accuracy for a rationalized system of connection, transfers and passages on a map that in 1931 only depicted 7 train lines.  While those principles remain in use today, the underground subway system has doubled in size.  The increased complexity of the system increased has amplified these inaccuracies and has received a lot of criticism for its diagrammatic quality and lack of correlation with London’s street level.

This updated map attempts to keep some of the principles of clarity that Beck designed as part of the original map, such as fixed line angles – in this case 30 and 60 degrees instead of the original 45.  But the map attempts to establish a relationship between relative distances through the train and on the street, so that users can identify which routes are faster for walking or hopping on the Tube.

For more on the discussion what means, sparked by the new vision for London’s Tube Map, follow this link: London Tube Map Sparks Debate: “Design” and the Multi-screen World.

Eagle Nest Hut Proposal / Piero Ceratti

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Architect Piero Ceratti shared with us his concept , titled ‘Eagle Nest Hut’, for a mountain hut/shelter powered by wind turbines. This alpine hut can be installed in very extreme sites while minimizing the point of contact with the rocky ground. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)

Snellen Eye Chart Reinvented for Designers

© Joel Pirela

Joel Pirela of Miami based studio Blue Ant Studio has ingeniously reinterpreted the traditional ophthalmology exam to suit the refined tastes of designers. More after the break. (more…)

Slide to the Train Station with the Transfer Accelerator by HIK Ontwerpers

Courtesy of

HIK Ontwerpers capitalized on the opportunity to provide a unique and playful experience for commuters in their hometown of .  Part of a complete renovation of the Overvecht railway station the transfer accelerator, the official name given to the slide by ProRail the railway maintenance company, provides a fun and unforgettable way of getting to where you are going.  The slide was installed as the final piece of the station renovation and opened earlier this month.

A video and additional photographs of the transfer accelerator following the break.

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Classic Architectural Icons Reinterpreted in Lego

Atmos Studio © Peter Guenzel

Do you remember playing with Lego as a child? Recently the firms Atmos Studio, Make, Foster + Partners, AOC, Adjaye Associates, FAT and DSDHA took some time out from designing real buildings to create their own interpretation of some of the world’s most notable architectural icons in the form of Lego for an Icon Eye initiative.

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The Indicator: Modus Extremis

Architecture sans tourists. Photo by Guy Horton

I am constantly amazed by the extremes architects go to to realize their “vision” or to impress or even merely serve a client. Clients demand so much and architects seem to willingly bend to insane schedules that tax their people to the maximum. In the age of extreme everything, architecture is extreme working.

Of course sometimes good things can emerge from the pressures of compressing schedules. There are synergistic flows that can magically occur when people are working under the pressure of an impending deadline. Granted, sometimes pressure is a good thing that allows creativity to emerge. (more…)

The Indicator: Terra Vague

Sustainable Cenotaph for Isaac Newton – Boullée, 1784. Courtesy Star Strategies+Architecture as cited in The Architect’s Newspaper, AN Blog

Sustainability and Form have dominated architectural discourse, trapping the discipline between utopian play-acting—promising what it cannot deliver—and computerized “gaming” of extremism.”

– Mark Jarzombek, “ECO-Pop” in Cornell Journal of Architecture 8:RE, January 2011.

In what he calls ECO-POP, Mark Jarzombek, associate dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT (i.e. someone with credentials), draws attention to how sustainability is deployed as an ideology and visual trope more than as a repertoire of achievable, well-thought-out strategies. This is my unabashedly biased interpretation of his manifesto-like article—in fact, let’s just call it a manifesto. (more…)

Manhattanhenge

Courtesy of Flickr CC License / kinerific

Manhattanhenge, is the term used to describe a biannual occurrence in when the sun aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan’s main grid. Adopted in 1811 the famous street grid of Manhattan, the Commissioners’ Plan, was the original plan for the streets in which the grid plan is offset at 29.0 degrees from true east-west. Twice a year photographers gather to witness this urban solar phenomenon, when the sun sets perfectly between the skyscraper corridors and illuminates the north-south facades of the streets. Tripods and pedestrians filled the crosswalks this past Wednesday to catch a glimpse of this moment.

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Architecture 3D Illustrations

© Víctor Enrich

Víctor Enrich recently shared with us his architecture 3D illustrations and visualizations.  Over the years he has experimented with a variety of mediums resulting in these 3D creations.  A full description of his work and further illustrations following the break.

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Geopolitical Borders Competition / Adrian Lahoud and Samuel Szwarcbord

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Adrian Lahoud and Samuel Szwarcbord shared with us their honorable mention entry for the recent Geopolitical Borders Competition organized by Think Space and judged by Teddy Cruz. This project is about two lines, one existing and one proposed. The first line is invisible. It runs horizontally from east to west across the Mediterranean Sea. Like the contour lines on a weather forecast, it bends and twists according to the vast differentials of pressure between North and South. From the perspective of the African continent, Europe holds a minimal promise of opportunity that cannot be found at home. From the point of view of Europe, North Africa represents a local pool of labor power, ready to be dipped into at will, a steady reserve of energy (increasingly solar) and kilometers of unspoiled coast ready for development. Like any bad relationship, the asymmetry is secured through structural violence. This violence must be flexible enough to accommodate the contradictions and dynamics of both parties. Changing domestic imperatives, economic demands and legal requirements form plastic limits through which the stability of the line must be coordinated.

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Kim Jong-il looking at architectural model

In this undated photo released by Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service in Tokyo Wednesday, April 14, 2010, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, third left, looks at a model as he visits the newly-built E-Library at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)

Via Kim Jong-il looking at things.

The Indicator: Made in China

19th Century Confectionary factory, via www.bbc.co.uk

“Made in China.” For so many in Western nations, this phrase conjures up a plethora of horrific images. There is the Human Rights argument: low wages, inhumane working conditions, and so forth. Then there is the issue of quality, as in, there is none.

First let’s talk about human rights in terms of manufacturing. The favored discourse is that Chinese factories exploit their employees and hence the resultant quality of the goods is far inferior. Sensational stories that support this conclusion always seem to cross international lines. Moreover, there are basic protestations of Human Rights’ violations and then the specter of Tibet is raised.

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The Indicator: Learning from IBM

Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC), via IBM.com

The Economist has some really interesting articles on doing business. The latest are on the 100th anniversary of IBM and another which measures the success of multinational business vs. philanthropy in changing society for the better. IBM came out the winner in the latter one. Not, however, because it is a multinational corporation but because of the way it does business. IBM treats its employees well which directly shapes its influence on the larger, now global, community. Moreover, while many think of IBM as a “tech” company and its stock is often listed as such, IBM actually categorizes itself as a service company.

There are five major strategies that have ensured IBM’s ability to withstand the vicissitudes of a dynamic business sector, three of which directly apply to architecture firms. First, IBM puts its customers first and foremost. They do this by using a significant number of their employees to foster and maintain client relationships. That makes it more difficult for other companies to poach their customers. Why? Because those other companies don’t think developing and keeping clients happy is a good use of their resources, i.e. employees. IBM knows better. Clients trust them precisely because of their long relationship. So when clients need something, they turn to IBM. That means a steady client-base of loyal customers who in turn recommend IBM to their clients and friends. (more…)

The Indicator: It’s Personal

My old firm, the one I got laid off from almost exactly two years ago, has had another round of layoffs. I’ve lost count how many that is (over ten I think), but since it included several principles, I’m guessing that this is either a death knell or time for a major restructuring of that office.

And that got me thinking about my own situation. Again. Because if there’s one thing that triggers intense feelings when you’re unemployed, especially when it’s been a really long time, it’s hearing other people at your old firm have suffered the same sad fate. (more…)

The Indicator: Death of a Critic

When a major architecture critic heads for the exit, does anyone care? One would suspect most architects would hold the door open and wave him on through. Critics, after all, can be quite nasty and one’s life work look like so much poop.

So, it depends. When Herbert Muschamp died in 2007 the collective tissue boxes of the architectural profession were emptied as architects of all stripes, especially those he championed, shed rivers of tears. Mr. Muschamp, it seems, was a critic of consequence. People listened to him. What then of his protégé, Nicolai Ouroussoff? (Hereafter, simplified to N.O.) Will be N.O. missed?

More after the break. (more…)

Leviathan-Monumenta

© Franck Bohbot

Photographer Franck Bohbot recently shared his photos of Anish Kapoor’s Leviathan-Monumenta with ArchDaily. Organized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, MONUMENTA annually invites an internationally renowned artist to transform the 13,5000 sqm of the Grand Palais Nave with an artwork especially created for the event. Leviathan-Monumenta will be on display until June 23rd.

Follow the break for additional photographs.

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The Indicator: The Next Architecture, Part 8: Inevitability

As the economy staggers through the pre-dawn streets of a slow and agonizing “recovery” – some economists including Robert Reich argue we are not in a recovery – it is important to remember what has been learned.

As far as architecture is concerned, the lessons learned were the same ones as in prior recessions. Maybe this time architects will not suffer from amnesia or lapse into denial when billings tick up once again. It is easy to forget how difficult things have been. People tend to just want to move on and not dwell on the past. Psychologically, people seem to just want the economy to be in a recovery – even if there is evidence to support that it is not necessarily at that stage yet. Recession this, recession that. Everybody is tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of writing about it! But it is still a reality that affects the ranks of our chosen profession. No one has been immune. Professionals at all levels of experience, whether licensed or un-licensed, domestic or international, healthcare or commercial have been impacted.

More after the break. (more…)