Google Launches New Virtual Experience that Takes You Inside Alvar Aalto’s Works

Courtesy of Foundation

The Alvar Aalto Foundation has begun a collaborative project with Google to make Aalto buildings even more accessible to the public. Using ’s revolutionary Street View navigation tool, along with its virtual Cultural Institute, the project offers a look inside some of Aalto’s most iconic works of architecture. Learn more about this initiative and see the virtual journey for yourself after the break.

SketchUp 2014 Incorporates BIM Capabilities

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Trimble Buildings Group have recently released SketchUp 2014, the latest version of its 3D modelling platform for architects, engineers, design and construction professionals. With “more than 30 million unique activations in the past year”, is claimed to be the most widely used 3D modeling software in the world today. The latest incarnation of the simple tool features a new 3D Warehouse and some interesting integrations into the world of Building Information Modelling (BIM).

The Pros & Cons of Living With Google

Google’s New Campus / . Image Courtesy of

“Some days it feels like Google is taking over the world.” In an article for The Verge Sean Hollister investigates how Google now represents one tenth of Mountain View, the city which hosts the company’s Californian headquarters. Having one of the world’s largest tech companies on their doorstep is a cause of concern for residents, some of whom are now referring to their home as Googleville. Having just bought the lease for a former military airport some city council members are seeing the expansionist move as a step too far – read the article in full here.

VIDEO: A Mobile Phone That Maps Your World

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Johnny Lee, a project leader in the Advanced and Projects group at Google, wants our phones to experience the world more like we do: “we are physical beings that live in a 3D world, yet mobile devices today assume that the physical world ends at the boundaries of the screen”, he says – which is why his team has been working on Project Tango, a mobile phone which uses movement and depth sensors to build a 3D model of the space around it.

Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, Google is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.

LEGO®, Chrome Launch Virtual LEGO Game (Prepare for Procrastination)

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Architects and ® Bricks. For many, it was love at first sight.However, playing with at the office – fun as it may be – is not exactly something you can justify doing (at least not everyday).

Well, no more. For your procrastination pleasure, Chrome and LEGO® have paired up and created “Build With Chrome,” a game that lets you play with LEGO online. Good-bye productivity.

Learn more about “Build With Chrome,” after the break..

Why Workspaces are Obsessed with the Open Plan

NBBJ’s tri-sphere biodome planned for Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters. Image Courtesy of NBBJ

In a brilliant article for Der Spiegel, “The New Monuments to Digital Domination,” writer Thomas Schulz not only rounds up our reigning tech giants’ oddly-shaped – from Apple’s “spaceship” to Amazon’s “biodomes” - but also pinpoints what they have in common: horizontality. And why? Because an “open creative playground” without boundaries (like floors or walls) is “the perfect ideas factory: the ideal spatial environment for optimally productive digital workers who continuously churn out world-changing innovations.” And while this means that privacy has gone out these workspaces’ proverbial windows, Schulz isn’t too surprised – after all, “people have no right to a private life in the digital age.” Check out this must-read article here.

GOOGLE MADRID HQ / Jump Studios

© Daniel Malhão

Architects: Jump Studios
Location: Madrid, Spain
Architect In Charge:
Managing Director: Simon Jordan
Creative Director: Shaun Fernandes
Project Architect / Lisbon Office Head: Laszlo Varga
Year: 2013
Photographs: Daniel Malhão

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 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…

ArchDaily’s Google Glass Experiment

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When Google Glass launched, we wondered how this wearable augmented reality device could add a whole other dimension to the consumption of architectural publications, by bringing the experience of space, matter, and light to our screens.

In our field, the experience is very important, and it is a dimension that hasn’t been able to be reproduced in its entirety through traditional media (plans, 2D or even 3D models). Attempts to make immersive panoramas or to embrace video have expanded the potential for representation, but not in a significant way. And this is why travel is a vital asset for the architect.

Imagine finally experiencing the approach to the Parthenon like Le Corbusier did almost a century ago. Imagine a tour broadcast by the architects of a project themselves, with the possibility for instant reader feedback in order to discuss a particular moment inside the building. 

Google is about to release a new version of their device, and we had the chance to use it while walking around the PUC Design School by Sebastian Irarrazaval. Here’s a short video of what we recorded with the device; just imagine how this very same video would be when overlays the physical, built world you’re experiencing with virtual information from around the web. 

And stay tuned for more videos!! 

Secret Google Project Could Transform Construction Industry

Google’s HQ, the Googleplex, in Moutain View, California. Google X is a secret facility run by Google located about a half mile from here. Image Courtesy of ArchDaily Instagram Feed (@archdaily)

Google’s secret development department, Google X (responsible for Google’s very cool, although non-core initiatives, such as Google Glass and driverless cars) is reportedly working on a new that could transform the construction industry – as well as itself. It goes by the name of “Genie.”

According to Globes, a report from Genie’s development team, addressed to Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, describes the invention as a cloud-based collaboration platform with “planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools.”

The report also emphasized Genie’s potential to transform the conservative construction industry, one of the most profitable and the most wasteful, by making it more efficient and environmentally friendly at the level of design, construction, and maintenance. The report suggests the invention could save 30-50% in construction costs and 30-50% of the time spent between planning and market; moreover, it could generate $120 billion a year.

Google Timelapse Reveals Effects of Rapid Urbanization

This satellite image of Bolivia shows dramatic deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Courtesy of Google.

NASA, in cooperation with TIME and Google, has unveiled startling timelapse images of Earth from orbit collected by ’s Landsat program since 1984. This program, created not for spycraft but for monitoring the way in which humans are rapidly altering the surface of the planet, consists of eight satellites that have collected millions of pictures in the course of two generations. When sifted through, cleaned up and stitched together, these pictures come together to create a high-definition slideshow that reveals some of the drastic changes our planet is undergoing – most notably through widespread urbanization.

Punniest Title of the Week: “Google Street Views Gets An EIFFEL”

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And this week’s “punniest” title award goes to Fast Company (there was no contest, really). Beside the pun, of course, the article itself is pretty cool, outlining how Street View has followed-up on their latest intrepid capture of the Burj Khalifa with the 1889 classic: the . Read the article here and check out the fun video above!

How Virtual Public Squares Are Changing the Nature of Political Protest

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“Most social movements become social moments when they appear in a public square,” says Seyla Benhabib, a professor of Political Science at Yale University, in the video above. “These are informal spaces of deliberation and communication.”

Occupy Wall Street, which took over New York‘s Zuccotti Park, is just one example of this phenomenon. As we’ve reported, the social movements that spread through Turkey like wildfire took physical form in Istanbul’s historic Taksim Square and Gezi Park. Only a few days ago, protests took similar shape in the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, as citizens protested a raise in bus fares as well as many other social issues. There are countless other examples throughout history of people utilizing public space as a vehicle for self expression and social change, but what’s different about today’s social movements is that they also occupy cyberspace – heavily.   

A few days ago, Google+ released the short video above about these digital spaces, what they call the “virtual public square”. Of course, the physical places that people use to express themselves are certainly no less important; however, it is interesting to consider the vital role social media and virtual communication now play in the unraveling of political events. 

More after the break.

Can Architecture Make Us More Creative? Part II: Work Environments

Google’s New Campus designed by NBBJ (courtesy of nbbj)

Jane Jacobs revered the West Village. It was a bustling neighborhood enlivened by its social, spatial, and functional diversity. It had different building types and functions, which meant that people were always in places for different purposes; it had short blocks, which have the greatest variety of foot traffic. It had plenty of old buildings with low rent which “permit individualized and creative uses;” and, most importantly, it had all different kinds of people. As a result, West Villagers could establish casual and informal relationships with people that they might not have had the opportunity to otherwise.

Without these necessary characteristics, Jacobs felt “there is no public acquaintanceship, no foundation of public trust, no cross-connections with the necessary people – and no practice or ease in applying the most ordinary techniques of city public life at lowly levels.”

By simply changing a few words, it’s not hard to imagine Jacobs’ writing describing instead of cities. Buildings are different internal spaces, like individual or gathering spaces; desks are homes; sidewalks are hallways or circulation space; etc.

If the office is a small microcosmic city, then suburbia is the cubicle-strewn office, and Google might be the West Village. And ‘people analytics,’ the statistical and spatial analysis of interpersonal interaction, is the office’s urban planning.

To find out what creative work environments can learn from the composition of cities, keep reading after the break…

ArchDaily partners with Google for Google Nose BETA

High Line Park smells wet / Photo by Marcin Wichary / http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/

Just to be clear.. this was after all our April Fools ;)

We know a good idea when we see it. That’s why as soon as we heard about Google Nose we decided to call our friends at Google and work something out between us. Google has the power to bring you the scent of food, animals, and all sort of things. But what about buildings? That’s where we come in.

You won’t have to travel to Sydney to smell the Opera House. Or fly thousands of miles to Pisa to catch the smell of “leaning”. Starting today, you will be able to smell every building in the world from your computer. So far, we’ve been trying with the following:

High Line Park on a rainy day (smells like wetness)
- Any of our AD Classics (smell old)
Kumutoto Toilets (smells like crustaceans… what were you thinking?)
Burj Khalifa (smells like gold)
Barbie Shanghai Store (smells like cotton candy)

We only have one problem. There are probably dozens… or even hundreds of buildings worldwide! So we do need your help. Prepare your noses and get out there. Smell those buildings and share your scents with us in the comments. We will do our best to replicate the smells and share them with the world.

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Google Collaborates with NBBJ to Expand California Headquarters

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One thing Google has become known for is their spectacular work environments. From playful employee lounges to environmentally sensitive design, the multifaceted internet giant has successfully transformed hundreds of existing spaces from around the globe into casual work environments that spawn innovation, optimizes efficiency, and boasts employee satisfaction. Much like many other California-based corporations, Google has been toying with the idea of building their own office space from scratch. Well, this dream will soon be realized, as the company has teamed up with Seattle-based NBBJ to expand their current, 65-building “Googleplex” in Mountain View, California. By 2015, Google plans to construct a 1.1-million-square-foot complex known as “Bay View” on a neighboring 42-acre site.

More on Bay View after the break…

Google Glass and Architecture

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Last year, Google founder Sergey Brin demoed Google Glass a new technology from the big G that puts an augmented reality display in front of your eye. The device is scheduled for early release to developers and creatives (in order to get feedback before the $1,500 product finds its way to the general public) in just a few weeks, but it has already been highly acclaimed by the media (including Best Inventions of the Year 2012 by Time).

On this video released by Google you can understand what all the hype is about. The 0.5″ display supported by a thin aluminium frame is placed in front of your right eye and thanks to its camera it serves as a two way interface with the Internet. As you can see on the video, natural language instructions (“Glass, take photo”, “Glass, record video”, “Glass, How long is the Brooklyn bridge?”) let you easily control the device and not only check emails or send messages, but also to display maps, definitions, and to share photos and videos in real time. In this aspect, the device opens a big door for .

In our field, the experience is very important, and it is a dimension that hasn’t been able to be reproduced in its entirety through traditional media (plans, 2D or even 3D photos). Attempts to make immersive panoramas or the efforts of architecture photographers to embrace videos have extended the representation, but not in a significative way. And this is why travel is an important thing for the architect.

Imagine a tour broadcasted by the architects of the project, with the possibility of instant reader feedback to discuss a particular moment inside the building. Imagine finally experiencing the approach to the Parthenon like Le Corbusier did almost a century ago.

In this aspect, will change the way we understand architecture media.

USGBC Announces Grant from Google to Accelerate the Advancement of Green Materials

Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building has commenced in San Francisco with an interesting announcement from the main stage. has granted $3 million to the U.S. Green Building Council () in an effort to transform the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments.

“Healthy, non-toxic building materials are a critical component in green building,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Fostering awareness of the materials we put into our buildings is of paramount importance, since many materials can link to a host of environmental and health issues. Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4. This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions.”

More after the break…