Morphing: Mathematical Transformations In Architecture

Courtesy of Laurence King

Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another. As digital tools are becoming increasingly complex, this book seeks to use mathematics “as a means to demystify the inner computational workings of digital tools” by proposing a framework to convey mathematical transformations as tools.

“Winter Stations” Bring Warmth to Toronto’s Frozen Beaches

Snowcone. Image © Remi Carreiro

Five finalists have emerged from the 196 submissions of Toronto’s first international design competition. Drawing proposals from 36 countries around the world, the competition challenged entrants to transform the lifeguard stations on Toronto’s east beaches into public art pieces for the winter. The finalists’ designs were constructed in mid-February and will be displayed until March 20, 2015.

Take a look at the completed installations, after the break. 

Enter the Mesmerizing World of Rainbow Coloured Maps with “Crayon the Grids”

New York City. Image Courtesy of Stephen Von Worley

A new series of maps by California-based artist-scientist Stephen Von Worley give colour coding an entirely new meaning. With his latest algorithm-generated project, “Crayon the Grids,” Von Worley has taken maps of ten major metropolitan areas and coloured them based on geographical orientation of the urban grid. Each street is assigned a colour specific to its orientation, varying in hue and weight depending on its cardinal direction and length. The result is a dizzying technicolor of urban planning, creating completely new demarcations for some of the world’s most recognizable .

Enter the chromatic world of coloured city grids after the break

A Practical Study in the Discipline of Architectural Modelmaking

Courtesy of Laurence King Publishers

Why do we make models? From sketch maquettes and detail tests to diagrammatic and presentation models, the discipline of physically crafting ideas to scale is fundamental to the architect’s design process. For architect and educator Nick Dunn, architectural models ultimately ”enable the designer to investigate, revise and further refine ideas in increasing detail until such a point that the project’s design is sufficiently consolidated to be constructed.” In Dunn’s second edition of his practical guide and homage to the architectural model, the significance and versatility of this medium is expertly visualised and analysed in a collection of images, explanations, and case studies.

Is The Design Museum Dying?

Oct Museum (Shenzhen) / Studio Pei-Zhu. Image Courtesy of Studio Pei-Zhu

In an article for the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote asks “what are design museums actually for?” Noting that we are living through a “boom time” for the typology, Heathcote argues that when we are overwhelmed by design in our day to day lives, what will fill these spaces? ’s Victoria & Albert Museum sprouted from the legacy of the 1850 Great Exhibition, where the concept of a design museum originated, as an attempt to “display the fruits of Britain’s industrial revolution.” Ironically in the very same museum in 2013, curator Kieran Long acquired a print of the world’s first 3D printed gun for the permanent collection. Will the ubiquity of ‘design’ soon negate the need for dedicated spaces? Read Heathcote’s conclusions in full here.

Zaha Hadid on Russian Artist Kazimir Malevich

Zaha Hadid RA, The Peak Blue Slabs, 1982-83. Image © Zaha Hadid / Royal Academy of Arts

In an article for London’s Royal Academy of Arts Magazine entitled Plane Sailing, Zaha Hadid discusses the influence of Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich on her own work. In Hadid’s early work, such as The Peak Blue Slabs (1982/83), the visual connections to Malevich’s strict, regular shapes and lines are evident.

PlanGrid Launches Educational Offering

Courtesy of

PlanGrid, touted as “the fastest blueprint viewer” available, is one of the most mature apps for viewing, amending and discussing construction drawings on a collaborative cloud-based platform. This week they launched PlanGrid for Education, allowing students full and uninhibited access to every feature of the app free of charge. According to the company, they currently have “40,000 blueprints being uploaded to PlanGrid daily and over 9 million blueprints stored digitally”, making the platform one of the fastest growing in its market.

Happy Birthday Charles Eames

Ray and Charles Eames. Image Courtesy of Eames Office

Today Charles Eames – the taller half of modernism’s greatest power couple, Charles & Ray Eames - would have turned 107. Although perhaps best known for their furniture (particularly the Eames Lounge & Shell Chairs), the couple is well known in architectural circles for the home they designed in 1945 and subsequently lived in: the Eames House (or Case Study House No. 8, as it was part of the Arts & Architecture magazine’s “Case Study” program).

In honor of Charles Eames’ birthday, we’ve rounded up some fantastic videos: produced by the Eames themselves, HOUSE (a tour of their home) and Powers of Ten (their 1977 exploration of the universe’s magnitudes), this 1956 clip of the pair’s first TV appearance, a video of the construction of the Shell Chair and, at the Vitra Campus, the Eames Loungethe TED Talk delivered by the pair’s grandson, and the trailer to The Architect & The Painter (the must-watch documentary on the pair’s lives). See all the videos after the break!

The Draftery: Dispelling the Belief That Architectural Drawing is Dead

Fig. 03. Image Courtesy of The Draftery

The Draftery, a printed platform to “discuss the role of architectural drawing today”, brings together a fascinating collection of images and words in a publication on three distinct platforms. Figures, Captions and Archive facilitate a multi-disciplinary conversation about how drawings are made and their role in the built environment. Now approaching their third anniversary, how far have they come and where is the project headed?

January 2013 saw the re-launch of The Draftery and the total reconstruction of the project. Their crisp now have a strong editorial thread which compliments the carefully curated collections of architectural drawings. Seeking to “demonstrate that drawing, more than mere representation, is a method of acting in the world”, good drawings provide a moment of visual solice in a fast paced profession. 

Architects: Leave Fashion to the Experts

Zaha Hadid has recently launched a new line of swimwear for Viviona. Image Courtesy of Viviona

Le Corbusier donned signature glasses; Frank Gehry designed footwear; early twentieth-century architect Adolf Loos even wrote “Why A Man Should Be Well-Dressed.” Now Zaha Hadid is making her way into swimwear. But are the nuances of fashion too much for architects to dip their feet into? Read the full article at the Telegraph.

VIDEO: Raising the Bar in Desk Design

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It seems to be part of the architect’s daily life: hunching over drawing or model making, uncomfortably crouching to try get that perfect shot through your 1:100 model. Javier Cuñado, designer at Actiu, has tackled these perennial problems with Mobility, a desk that ascends or descends according to your needs. Available in an architect’s range of colours – black, white or with an aluminium finish – this stylish desk is an investment your back will thank you for. Learn more in the video above and check out images after the break.

The Gravity Stool by Jólan van der Wiel, magnetic innovation

Young dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel has been announced as the winner of the Contest for young designers at the imm cologne fair.

Using a magnetic plastic compounds, magnets and simple gravity, Jólan gives birth to the Gravity Stool, an expressive piece of furniture that is like a frozen moment of physics exposing the forces in action. You can see the full process on the above video by Miranda Stet.

The Gravity Stool thanks its unique shape to the cooperation between magnetic fields and the power of gravity.

Janet Echelman’s Largest Aerial Sculpture To Premiere in Vancouver

© Ema Peter / Studio Echelman

American Artist Janet Echelman is to premiere her latest, and largest, sculpture in Vancouver. Widely known for her artistic ability to reshape urban airspace, Echelman’s sophisticated mixture of ancient craft and modern technology has led to collaborations with aeronautical and mechanical engineers, architects, lighting designers, landscape architects, and fabricators to “transform urban environments world wide with her net sculptures.” Using a light weight fibre to elevate her monumental “breathing” forms above the streets of urban centres, Echelman’s new sculpture will be of a size and scale never before attempted.

Peter Marino and Marc Jacobs Chat about Design, Architecture, and Fashion

visionaries Tom Ford, Gianfranco Ferre, and Gianni Versace all began their design education in architecture. In the words of Coco Chanel, “fashion is architecture.” It was likely with this in mind that the Architecture Foundation hosted it’s annual John Edwards Lecture. The event, which was held at the Tate Modern’s Starr Auditorium, was a discussion between designer Marc Jacobs and architect Peter Marino, who have frequently collaborated together on retail design.

The conversation, led by Penny Martin (editor of The Gentlewoman) covered a range of topics but focused especially on the intersection of the two participants’ fields – fields whose borders seem to be dissolving more and more every year (also see Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid’s foray into shoe design or the 3D printed dress that wowed the world earlier this year).

Kickstarter Campaign: The Blindspot Initiative

The Blinspot Initiative: “Beyond competition, towards collaboration”. Image Courtesy of Blindspot Initiative

Like many in , the Blindspot Initiative has grown tired of ”the exclusive, winner takes all mentality of competitions.” Instead, they value collaboration and open access to ideas, and so are renting a studio in East LA for an exhibition that will display the work of 10 fringe (blindspot) designers, “presenting work on a neutral ground to encourage conversations and practice which lives outside the conventions of typical outputs and practices.” Visit their kickstarter project to learn more and contribute to their cause (and check out their video, after the break).

App Review: ‘Concept’ – An Idea Calculator

Interface on iOS. Image Courtesy of Fast + Epp

Getting instantaneous, accurate structural dimensions in the early stages of the design process, or even when exploring the feasibility of a project, can often be challenging. In response to this, -based structural engineering firm Fast + Epp have developed a new mobile application called Concept, a depth calculator which uses typical span-to-depth ratios for common steel, concrete and wood members to give you a quick overview of what dimensions a certain structural idea will require. In addition to this, the also includes project photos to give users an idea of how certain materials will be expressed in built form.

Gensler, LOT-EK to Design Google’s Showroom of Floating Shipping Containers

© James Martin/CNET

UPDATE: The SF Gate reports that the architects of the Google Barge have now been revealed to be San Francisco-based firm Gensler and New York-based LOT-EK, a firm with experience adapting shipping containers for retail design. 

A mysterious construction project in the San Francisco Bay has been making waves for the past couple of weeks. Moored off Treasure Island, locals apparently refer to it as ‘the secret project’ – and, until now, that’s about as much as was known about it.

Despite months of rumors and complete radio silence from Google, spokespeople have finally released a statement on the project, stating: “Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

While it’s a shame about the dinosaur, Google’s expansion into technology retail is possibly even more intriguing, as it’s entirely new turf for the company: retail design.

More info and an artist’s rendering of what the barge could look like, after the break…

Kickstarter: DIY Concrete House Ring

Courtesy of Linda Bennett, via archi-ninja

Dream of one day making your own home? Well, here’s a fun mini alternative in the meantime. The “DIY House Ring” is a high quality silver and ring that lets users experience the process of ‘making’. The ring itself is made from a DIY compact kit, and comes in two familiar architectural silhouettes – gable roof or saltbox roof – and in either light or dark . The project was developed by Linda Bennett, author of “10 Things They Don’t Teach You in Architecture School” and “Searching for a Job in Architecture? 10 Things You Need to Know…” via her blog, archi-ninjaCheck out the project’s debut on kickstarter (which offers fantastic perks for backers) for more information.