Filmed at TEDxToronto in September 2013, this talk by architect, educator and theorist Rodolphe el‐Khoury is based on the inevitable “internet of things.” As TEDxToronto described, “More than ever before, the line between the digital and real worlds is increasingly blurred. Historically, computers and devices have functioned as a separate layer within our lives… In this world, our homes, workplaces, and the objects within them will all be digitally connected, intelligent, and responsive.” It is only a matter of time.
CyArk, a non-for-profit 3D laser scanning organization, is scanning the world’s greatest monuments, hoping to preserve over 500 cultural heritage sites around the globe, The Independent reports. The portable laser system creates such a detailed, digital blueprint of structures and ruins that each building can then be reproduced in 3D, with a margin of error of only two millimeters. So far, the statues of Easter Island, the Tower of London, Mount Rushmore, the Tower of Pisa have been preserved. Check out more about the technology in Ben Kacyra’s TED Talk.
Janette Sadik-Khan demonstrates how paint, lawn chairs and a bit of imagination can quickly transform city streets, creating immediate public and commercial vitality. Sadik-Khan, listed as one of Business Insider’s “50 Women Who Are Changing the World,” is responsible for re-purposing 26 acres of dense New York City car lanes into pedestrian-friendly space. “More people on foot is better for business,” she says. Despite commanding a two billion dollar budget, her economical approach as commissioner of NYC’s Department of Transportation are testaments to her design sensitivity, relying on rapid-testing and regular iteration to expand the city’s public domain.
“The modern architect is designing for the deaf.” Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer makes a valid point.  The topic of sound is practically non-existent in modern architectural discourse. Why? We, as architects, think in terms of form and space; we balance scientific understanding and artistic vision. The problem is, we have a tendency to give ample thought to objects rather than processes and systems. Essentially, our field is ocular-centric by nature. So how do we start to “see” sound? And more importantly, how do we use it to promote health, safety and well-being?
TED has commissioned architect David Rockwell to mastermind a temporary, pop-up theater inside the Vancouver Convention Centre, designed specifically to “create an even more powerful connection between speaker and audience — and to allow the audience itself to immerse themselves more deeply in the talk.”
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Rockwell, who designed the interior of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and the viewing platform at Ground Zero (on which he gave the TED Talk above), expresses his enthusiasm for the project, saying: “I have spoken [at TED] and have had that experience of: your talk is influenced by how you feel in the room. The environment affects how the talk evolves.”
The theater will house 1200 attendees in tiered seating areas that curve around the stage. The layout will be entirely flexible, allowing audience members to choose from multiple seating/standing options — from leaning on rails to traditional theater seats, sofas, or floor seating.
Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, architect Michael Green says build it out of wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it’s not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it’s necessary.
Read more about Green’s ‘Case for Tall Buildings’ here and share your comments below.
In this talk at TED 2013, WikiHouse co-founder Alastair Parvin elaborates on some of the ideas which he presented in 2012. WikiHouse is his project to create an open-source library of houses which can be downloaded, manufactured with a CNC machine and assembled in a day – an idea which he hopes will democratize the production of housing and the city as a whole – as he puts it, “In a way it should be kind of obvious that in the 21st century maybe cities could be developed by citizens”.
Inspiration is a funny thing: when you need it is nowhere to be seen, and just when you’re not expecting it, it can blindside you in the least convenient of places. Here’s ten inspirational TED talks for architects (in no particular order) from people with broad and unique views on architecture. Some might enlighten, educate or even enrage you – at the very least they should get those creative juices flowing a little better.
Take-in these ten TED talks after the break…
Are you an architect, architecture critic, historian of architecture or otherwise involved with architecture and design? Have you always wanted to give a TED Talk? Can you recap 30 years of architecture?
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of TED, the 2014 conference will include several talks that look back on three decades of advances in a handful of fields. Until June 30, 2013, we are seeking proposals for an 18-minute, multimedia presentation that will take the TED audience through the most important developments in the past 30 years of architecture and suggest where the field is going – or needs to go – in the future.
More details after the break…
Charles and Ray Eames, the husband and wife duo, left an indelible mark on furniture design and modern architecture. Their work has been highly regarded for its invention and regard for the principles of modernism. This TEDx Talk, delivered by their grandson Eames Demetrios, humanizes these idolized designers – bringing family, and their early struggles as designers to the forefront of the conversation.With a collection of rarely seen footage, the TEDx Talk reveals Charles and Ray’s relationship and life prior to designing the famous Eames Chair.
More after the break, including a vintage video interview with the Eames.
Alastair Parvin, co-founder of WikiHouse gave his TED Talk last week (one of the many architecturally relevant talks at TED 2013). Although the video of his latest talk is not yet available, to whet your appetite we present you with his speech from last year at TED@London. In it he explains the conditions of architectural and material culture that led to the foundation of WikiHouse, an open source database of house designs that can be manufactured with a CNC cutter and assembled in a day.
Parvin says: “If design’s great project in the 20th century was actually the democratization of consumption… I believe design’s great project in the 21st century is the democratization of production.” Last year, the WikiHouse project was one winner of TED’s City 2.0 Awards.
In this TEDxRamallah, Palestinian Architect Saud Amiry – who works in architectural restoration on Palestinian buildings – discusses her journey as someone finding a path for herself. Although she speaks about her nationality and her family’s refugee history, her focus is on learning how to find the things that are fulfilling in one’s life in the face of challenges. Her sense of humor and passion is inspiring. Not only is she an architect working in a field for which she has a passion, she has also stumbled upon the role of an author, having written “Sharon and my Mother–in-Law: Ramallah Diaries”, which is an account of living under Israeli occupation. Even in the dire political circumstances of of her refugee status, Amiry finds humor under tragic circumstances.
More about Amiry after the break…
Who will run the world for the next 100 years? Envision Solar President and CEO Desmond Wheatley argues that it will be whoever has abundant sources of power. That is constructive power, rather than destructive power, which is essential to run the information and technology industries that our world is entirely dependent on. Additionally, Wheatley states that energy equals water. And, with less than 1% of the world’s fresh water available for use, desalination is becoming an increasingly plausible solution. The only problem now is that energy is expensive. But, once cities have the will to switch over to renewables, that will no longer be an issue. Could you imagine San Diego as an net exporter of water? Desmond Wheatley can.
With industrialization came unchecked suburbia and car-centric lifestyles. But now, in the rapidly approaching age of the super city, our current standards of living will not suffice. According to MIT Research Scientist Kent Larson, 21st century cities will account for 90% of global population growth, 80% of all global CO2, and 75% of all global energy use.
Understanding that the global population faces serious issues of overcrowding, affordability and overall quality of life, Larson presents new technologies that intend to make future cities function like the small village of the past. Folding cars and quick-change apartments with robotic walls are just a some of the fascinating innovations he and his colleagues are currently developing.
In architecture we talk about space and form. We talk about experience and meaning. All of these qualities are inextricably the sensory experience of light, touch, smell and sound. Sound expert Julian Treasure asks architects to consider designing for our ears, citing that the quality of the acoustics of a space affect us physiologically, socially, psychologically and behaviorally.
More after the break.
One day, Andrew Blum‘s internet stopped working. He called a repair man, who told him that, quite simply, a squirrel had chewed on his internet.
Blum was perplexed. The internet is a nebulous, untouchable “cloud” – isn’t it? Or, as Blum puts it in his TEDTalk: “The Internet is a transcendent idea. It’s a set of protocols that has changed everything from shopping to dating to revolutions. It was unequivocally not something a squirrel could chew on. But that in fact seemed to be the case. [...] And then I got this image in my head of what would happen if you yanked the wire from the wall and if you started to follow it. Where would it go? Was the Internet actually a place that you could visit? Could I go there?”
The question prompted Blum to explore the physical wires, cables, and boxes that make up the internet – an adventure he chronicles in his book Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet. A big part of that journey was visiting Data Centers, those power-guzzling monstrosities where all your Data (and we mean all your data) goes to live.