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, Vancouver-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 app also includes project photos to give users an idea of how certain materials will be expressed in built form.
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…
Dream of one day making your own home? Well, here’s a fun mini alternative in the meantime. The “DIY Concrete House Ring” is a high quality silver and concrete 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 concrete. 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-ninja. Check out the project’s debut on kickstarter (which offers fantastic perks for backers) for more information.
Although university is meant to be a place of educational exploration, paths, particularly for architects and designers, tend to be extremely prescribed. In “Notes from the Dean,” originally published in Metropolis Magazine, Executive Dean Joel Towers describes how the Parsons New School for Design is pioneering a new design program that is more reflective of modern design approaches: “The world has changed; the role of design has changed. And the way that designers are taught to engage with the world must change, too.”
Every generation is presented with challenges specific to its time and place. We live in a world changing in ways that were unimaginable at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when design education first began to take shape. Technology (aided and abetted by design), advances in scientific knowledge, and shifts in social and cultural norms shaped design in the twentieth century. Our problems today involve more complex and interconnected systems—climate, cities, resources, networks, flows—and call for a new paradigm. Design in the twenty-first century is of critical importance in both addressing these challenges and transforming them into opportunities to remake the world around us. To do so, design education must change.
Design schools have traditionally adhered to a model that builds programs based on a foundation year, a well-defined and contained introduction to the basics of material, form, and color. And while that foundation is an important cornerstone of design education, it leaves little room for the more exploratory methods of cross-disciplinary and technology-based learning, and for understanding and applying design in the context of the larger world. That old model needs to evolve to reflect design’s enhanced role as a catalyst for innovation and creativity.
Amsterdam’s famous canal district celebrated its 400th birthday this year. And though the district has grown and evolved throughout the centuries, now, more than ever before, this UNESCO World Heritage site is struggling with how to ensure the past doesn’t hold a vice-like grip on its future.
For Jarrik Ouburg, an Amsterdam architect, the problem was more specific: in such a historic district, how do you keep urban transformations from slowing to a stop? This question eventually led him to his ongoing project, “Tussen-ruimte.” Tussen-ruimte (Dutch for ‘between space’) installs pieces of contemporary art and architecture in the hidden alleys and courtyards that have formed over years of building in the canal district.
A year ago, Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz quit their jobs to build a cabin in the West Virginia mountains. Today, that gamble seems to have paid off: their cabin sits in the exact spot where they first discussed building it. However, while the interior of the cabin is like almost any other, a mix of old wooden furniture and more modern decorations, the front facade - is anything but.
The west-facing facade is made entirely of window pieces, stitched together; Olson and Horwitz wanted to be able to capture every inch of the sunset, without having to limit their view to the confines of a single window.
See more images and a video of this house made of windows, after the break…
(Almost) everything you need to know about 20th century design has been synthesized into 6 brightly-colored, easily-digestible videos (all narrated by the sweet Scottish tones of one Ewan MacGregor).
From the Gothic Revival to Post-Modernism, this series of shorts from The Open University’s OpenLearn website just touches the surface of these design movements; however, they act as a great introduction for the un-design-initiated (indeed, The Open University sees them as an intro to their free course on Design Thinking) or, for design-aficionados, a fun refresher.
We’re particular to the video on the Bauhaus (after all, we also tackled the movement in a brilliant infographic) and the Modernist video (after the break) – but you can find all 6 at OpenLearn. Enjoy!
“What do we mean by education?” “What is design?” “Can design be taught?”
These were some of the questions a small group of innovative pioneers – huddled in the attic of Le Corbusier’s Sanskar Kendra museum – asked themselves when they set about creating what would become the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India’s first design school. The year was 1962, and not only were there no designers in the country, the profession of design, for Indians, simply did not exist.
One of these pioneers – who would head the industrial design department, help formulate the school’s curriculum, and train its faculty members – was Kumar Vyas. Born in 1929, Vyas remained at NID for three decades, and continues to work from his office on the campus he helped create. His numerous articles and books were essential to establishing India’s current design-rich environment; two years ago, he received the prestigious Sir Misha Black Medal for Excellence in Design Education.
Vyas’ experience designing a design education is not only a fascinating journey, but also a source of inspiration – if architecture education took Vyas’ lessons to heart, and re-examined itself from square one, how would it be different? Read Victoria Lautman’s interview with Vyas after the break, and tell us what you think in the comments below.
In recent years there has been a lot of talk in the United States about our aging population, mostly in terms of social security funds and medicare. We have asked how we should deal with the impending problem that our elderly will outnumber the population that will serve as their caretakers. While speculations for a solution have generally settled within the realm of the economy, urban planners and architects are asking a different set of questions and looking for solutions regarding how we design. It is important to note, that while most of the discussion has been framed about the aging “baby-boomer” generation, Jack Rowe – speaking at the symposium for Designing Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging Population in Washington, DC - pointed out that this concern is a conservative estimate of the bigger problem in our “demographic transformation”. In fact, the trend is far more expansive; medical advancements and a longer life expectancy mean that for the next few generations each aging population is expected to outlive its parents and will exceed the population of its children. This makes the issue at hand a more over-arching concern, or as Rowe later states, an issue that all members of society must face.
This is why we must think about architecture and urban planning in terms of adaptability for the aging, as we have already starting thinking about it in terms of handicapped accessibility.
More after the break…
Lundgren Monuments in association with Vital 5 Productions is proud to present The Architect and the Urn – a west coast exploration of the cremation urn as architectural object, June 3 – July 18, 2010. Twenty-five architects from Seattle to Los Angeles approach the design and concept of housing human ash in this complex and conceptually rich exhibition.
Americans have an unhealthy relationship with death and remembrance. Death care has become a multi-billion dollar industry almost devoid of artists, designers and architects. Instead it is clogged with mass produced plastic urns and heavy, uninspired blocks of imported granite. With the choice of cremation on the rise, more and more of our departed friends and family are returning to us in the form of ash. In the design savvy culture that we live in, it is amazing how few interesting choices exist for us to address this transformed matter. The Architect and the Urn exhibition is assembled to approach this social trend and help fortify the ideas and forms that define our very last residence.
Curated by Greg Lundgren, The Architect and the Urn is on exhibition at the Lundgren Monuments boutique located at 1011 Boren Avenue, Seattle WA 98104. You can see the complete poster after the break.
Landscapes of Quarantine features new works by a multi-disciplinary group of eighteen artists, designers, and architects, each of whom was inspired by one or more of the physical, biological, ethical, architectural, social, political, temporal, and even astronomical dimensions of quarantine.
Landscapes of Quarantine began with an eight-week independent design studio directed by Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley of Future Plural. Each Tuesday evening, from October to December 2009, a multi-disciplinary group of studio participants met to discuss the spatial implications of quarantine and develop their own creative response: the resulting work forms the core of the Landscapes of Quarantine exhibition.