Concrete Canvas Shelter

A solution to temporary soft skin shelters that are generally used following a natural disaster, the Concrete Canvas shelter can provide a more permanent structure that is both a fire proof and sterile environment.  This ‘building in a bag’ consists of concrete cloth material that is prefabricated onto an inflatable plastic interior anchored by steel doors on either end.   Follow the break to watch a video describing the process.


Postage Stamp Architecture

TNT Post, the Dutch postal company has collaborated with the Netherlands Architecture Institute to develop a new line of postage stamps that feature both monumental works and experimental projects.  More about the postage stamps, from previous NAI director Aaron Betsky following the break.


The Indicator: Non-Architectural Background


According to Architecture I have what you might call a Past. I never thought I did, but there you go. I do. What I mean precisely is that at one time I had a life that did not revolve around architecture. I’m one of those suspicious Non-Architectural Background types—or a person from the realm of the Non-Architectural Background.

Architecture has found ways to accommodate people like me, but at times it is still an uncomfortable accommodation. Architecture likes to view itself as cosmopolitan, cultured, and intellectual, but when it comes face to face with individuals who have educations and experiences of non-architectural sorts it doesn’t always know what to do with us.

More after the break. (more…)

Abandoned Homes Haunt Spain’s Banks

© Lourdes Segade for The New York Times

About an hour car ride outside of Madrid, , is a tiny rural village that just a few years ago had high hopes for an abundant housing market. is now an example of the economic crisis that has affected the growth of cities. With an excess of 250 row houses, of which only 50 are settled, bad debt has caused these new homes to fall into disrepair with concrete chipping off the buildings, stolen piping, radiators and doors and ghostly empty streets.

Read on for more information after the break. (more…)

Transitional Shelter Design Study in Haiti by MICA

© Laurel Cummings

In March of 2011, a design-build class from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) received a grant in support of their efforts to design a shelter for disaster relief. The money from the grant was used to travel to to see conditions on the ground, 14 months after the earthquake that reportedly amassed some 230,000 fatalities.

The goal of the trip was to investigate the myriads of different shelter construction projects still ongoing as Haiti transitions from the emergency tents and tarpaulins that still populate the landscape, into temporary housing for the foreseeable future until permanent housing can be provided through rebuilding.

One of the more ambitious and impressionable projects we came across was the UberShelter.


The Indicator: In Praise of Clutter

Worry about what was never said / 2011 / acrylic on canvas / 22" × 28"

In 1933, the eminent, genre-bending Japanese novelist, Junichiro Tanizaki, composed a landmark essay on aesthetics entitled, In Praise of Shadows. It is more stream of consciousness than formal essay, part epic poem, part cultural theory. It revealed something different about the obvious; something deeper about the overlooked qualities of space and light. It led us by the hand back into the value of darkness.

Wendy Heldmann’s paintings also explore the obvious and seemingly unimportant, leading us into the abandoned, post-production, end-of-term architecture studio. This world is heaped with the artifacts of architectural exploration: scraps of paper, foamcore, laser-cut acrylic sheets, cardboard coffee containers, plastic bottles still partially filled with colorful liquids, dusty respirators, demolished models, battered, smudged monitors, chairs overturned onto tool trolleys, the spidery arms of darkened desk lamps. All of this becomes worth looking over again.

More after the break. (more…)

Call for Ideas: projectChristchurch

The Catholic Cathedral - © NZPA / David Wethey

Kyle Lewis, an architecture student at CPIT in Christchurch, NZ, shared with us a call for design to help rebuilt Christchurch after last February’s . Here’s the message:

As you may know, an earthquake has destroyed most of the Christchurch City Centre and many of the surrounding suburbs. We want to rebuild with a plan for a sustainable future but we need help getting there. Put simply: We need advice, experience, know-how, and designs on the best ways to implement sustainable change. We have the energy of the people and support of the government with $15 billion earmarked for the rebuild. But we lack visions for how a sustainable city will look and function. We know solutions exist and invite the contributions and experience of designers from around the world. A socially, economically and environmentally sustainable city is not beyond our capacity. Can you help us get there?

It is my hope that collaborations between local and global communities will have the power to enact change. We are using Reddit as our central meeting place. Reddit is an online community that has gained notoriety for its ability to solve real-world problems. Can our local community and the reddit community work together to design solutions? Can we tap the greater global wisdom to address our community’s needs? Specifically we are asking for proposals. These can be submitted to our page on reddit: or emailed directly to (

Water Towers of Ireland


The now empty and abandoned water towers presented here are part of a selection of photographs gathered by James Young, a final year architecture student, as part of a research project. With the help of the MacCarthy Memorial Scholarship from the School of Architecture at UCD, he has compiled a list of about 200 towers, with nearly thirty visited and photographed. Like other architectural building types that have been abandoned, what can architects do with water towers such as these? If no longer in use, what can be done to take advantage of these stand along structures? Let us know what you think. More images after the break. (more…)

Royal Wedding Carriage / Reza Esmaeeli

Courtesy of Reza Esmaeeli

Millions are following in this precise moment one of the most important weddings of the last few years. Officially, Prince William and Kate Middleton are now husband and wife. Watching the , I think many of you said: “What is that ugly old-fashioned Royal Carriage they are in? I think they need a new one”. Reza Esmaeeli, an architect and designer currently working at Zaha Hadid Architects in , apparently thought so, and decided to design a new Royal Wedding Carriage that he shared with us! More images and architect’s description after the break. (more…)

The Indicator: Thank God for Mental Illness

Installation by EVOL via

Besides being the title of a Brian Jonestown Massacre album, “Thank God for Mental Illness” also represents one dimension to the ethos of contemporary architecture, a discipline often prone to psychological extremes in the pursuit of great, paradigm-breaking buildings. But, is this really necessary? Do we need to be self-destructive and extreme to pursue our dreams?

Now that it is common knowledge that many architects are crazy or dysfunctional “geniuses” I think it’s time to reconsider this paradigm and to possibly overturn it. This image has become so romanticized that it has crossed the line of cliché. When something becomes a paradigm, is canonized, or institutionalized, it needs to be challenged.

More after the break. (more…)

Abandoned Theatres

New Orleans, Louisiana

Documented here are abandoned theatres found throughout the . From small towns to large cities, these buildings were once places that housed a source of entertainment for their community. Why then would such places be abandoned and not even considered for renovation? Before the iPod, the television or even the Internet were around, theatres were major social gathering spots, so how could places such as these become so empty and lack any vitality? More images after the break. (more…)

The Indicator: The Next Architecture, Part 7


An article in this week’s Economist about Italian business clusters—that is, where businesses in the same industry form geographic clusters—offered some interesting observations. First, that traditional business models cannot survive global competition. A strategy to deal with global competition includes innovation and building brands. In short, diversification.

This led to a question: how does one approach diversifying architecture firms so that they, too, will be more able to weather economic vicissitudes? For that, let’s turn to Paul Nakazawa. Of course, there is the more “traditional” model of diversification: “many architects have several different kinds of SEPARATE businesses, which serves to diversify dependency on one source of revenue. The time-honored diversification scheme is teaching and practice — we all know lots of people who do that gig.”

More after the break. (more…)

Tallest LEGO Tower

YouTube Preview Image

will be the first South American country to host the Summer Olympics which will be held in 2016, but first the country set their sites on building the world’s tallest LEGO tower, a record previously held by Chile.  The community of constructed their 500,000 piece LEGO tower last weekend which rose to a height of 102 feet-three inches.  School groups, families both kids and adults, joined in the team effort assembling the independent LEGO bricks that were stacked on top of each other eventually using a crane.

The Indicator: The Book by It’s Cover: 2

This week I’d like to introduce you to some books I’ve come across while traveling the city. This first one is CLIP STAMP FOLD, an encyclopedic compendium of radical little architecture mags from the sixties and seventies. More than just clip stamp fold these were also draw cut paste scribble slash ink. This brick of a book is a portable archive and you don’t have to wear latex gloves to handle. These small, independent publications curated the contemporary and collected what may have been the disposable present. The challenged the orthodox historicism of architecture with a hippy slant. I would have stolen some images for you, but alas it was wrapped in protective hygienic cellophane.

More after the break. (more…)

Farm in Tokyo / ON design partners


Architects: ON design partners
Location: , Japan
Project area: 21 sqm
Project year: 2010
Photographs: ON design partners


Video: A Dome In Peka Peka / Fritz Eisenhofer

Gaby Lingke shared with us a short documentary about architect Fritz Eisenhofer, who designed and built a futuristic earth-sheltered dome in Peka Peka, Aotearoa, . Architect’s description and a plan of the dome after the break. (more…)

The Indicator: The Next Architecture, Part 6

Corey Helford Gallery, image courtesy E4 Architects

An informal poll of recent M.Arch graduates resulted in a very interesting statistic: approximately ½ are either unemployed, working for free, or “working for themselves” though many of these new “firms” have yet to win contracts or projects. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, this statistic mirrors the national unemployment rate in the profession. For those who are fortunate enough to gain paying projects, residential remodels seem to dominate.

More after the break. (more…)

Dawntown Seaplane Competition Proposal / NC-Office

view of entry

Receiving an honorable mention for their entry for the Dawntown Seaplane competition in Miami, , NC-Office’s proposal, titled ‘Large Roof’, is a solution to when an artificial geographic condition demands an intuitive architectural response. When seen from above – either as one approaches by air or from the large cruise liners – the project is experienced as a large mass. As one enters the structure the project transforms into an ephemeral space. More images and architects’ description after the break. (more…)