‘Hacked’ Offices: The Future of Workplace Design?

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What does the workplace of the future look like? Shawn Gehle, of Gensler, explains in this TEDx Talk that with over 10 billion square feet of existing office space in North America, we may not even need to envision new buildings. Rather, by “hacking” existing buildings, architects can transform them into something completely new. For more on Gensler’s “hacker” philosophy, read our article here.

TEDx: Designing for the Internet of Things / Rodolphe el‐Khoury

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Filmed at TEDxToronto in September 2013, this talk by architect, educator and theorist 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.

TEDx: Brian Healy Proposes to Reactivate Boston’s Harbor with Floating Communities

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Responding to rising sea level predictions and elevated threats of coasting flooding, Perkins + Will design principle has proposed a replicable, floating residential community for Boston’s harbor: Floatyard. In this TEDx, Healy argues that not only would this radical proposal protect coastal housing investments, it could reengage Charlestown’s industrial harbor. In addition to this, Floatyard’s architecture would incorporate solar energy and rainwater harvesting on its roof, as well as capitalize tidal energy from the mooring columns which anchor it.

TEDxTokyo: Emergency Shelters Made from Paper / Shigeru Ban

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Disappointed that most architecture is built for the privileged, rather than society, has dedicated much of his career to building affordable, livable and safe for post-disaster areas. As described by TED: 

Long before sustainability became a buzzword, architect Shigeru Ban had begun his experiments with ecologically-sound building materials such as cardboard tubes and paper. His remarkable structures are often intended as temporary housing, designed to help the dispossessed in disaster-struck nations such as Haiti, Rwanda, or Japan. Yet equally often the buildings remain a beloved part of the landscape long after they have served their intended purpose.

TEDx: How to solve traffic jams / Jonas Eliasson

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, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of (KTH), takes a stab at one of the largest problems in big cities: traffic congestion.  In this TEDx, Eliasson discusses techniques that urban planners and policy makers can use to help mediate the problems caused by rush hour commutes by car.  Contrary to most other suggestions we see, Eliasson’s solution does not involve any plans to widen sidewalks, encourage public transportation and create bike lanes; rather, this suggestion is more policy oriented.

TEDxRamallah: Simply Look Inside You, Never at Others / Suad Amiry

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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…

TEDx: Who will run the world for the next 100 years? / Desmond Wheatley

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 . And, with less than 1% of the world’s fresh available for use, desalination is becoming an increasingly plausible solution. The only problem now is that energy is expensive. But, once 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 ? Desmond Wheatley can. 

TEDx: Metal that breathes / Doris Kim Sung

Biology student turn architect, Doris Kim Sung has dedicated her studies to the infinite possibilities of thermobimetals, smart that respond dynamically to temperature change. As tested with DO|SU Studio Architecture’s recent installation “Bloom”, whose surface is completely fabricated with thermobimetal, these smart materials are capable of relieving our dependence on energy-inefficient mechanical systems with their self-shading and self-ventilating properties.

Imagine a building skin capable of maintaining thermal comfort in an environmentally responsible and cost effective way by responsively mimicking the characteristics of human skin.

TEDx: Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city / Kent Larson

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 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.

TEDx: Fracture-Critical Design / Tom Fisher

Thomas Fisher, Professor in the School of Architecture and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, discusses the subject matter of his most recent book, Designing To Avoid Disaster: The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design.

Fisher believes we have been engaged in a “Ponzi scheme” with our planet, as fracture-critical design has lead to a number of recent catastrophic events in our infrastructure, politics and economy. The I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, New Orleans’ flooding, the BP oil spill, Port au Prince’s destruction by earthquake, Fukushima nuclear plant’s devastation by tsunami, the Wall Street investment bank failures, and the foreclosure epidemic are all examples of fragile systems that were created by this failed system. The solution? Integrating resiliency back into our lives. Watch the video to learn more.

via TEDxUMN

Largest Rooftop Farm Coming to Brooklyn, NY

© BrightFarms

BrightFarms CEO, Paul Lightfoot is obsessed with efficiency.  Spending most of his career improving market supply chains he has now turned his attention to the market supply chains of America’s produce.  BrightFarms is an innovative and straight forward program whose goal is to eliminate the wasted energy expended on travel times between the farm and the shelf, to provide more nutritious and safer produce that is grown for the table and not for the endurance of days and weeks of transport, and to create a local market where consumers know their farmers and where the food is coming from and who is responsible for growing it.  Littlefoot describes the blatant problems with the food industry today – efficiently factory farming and preserving produce that moves from one and end of the country to the other and inefficiently providing nutritious and tasty produce.

The challenge is to create a model that ensures quality while keeping costs down and BrightFarms appears to have found a strategy that works: hydroponic rooftop gardening near supermarket distribution centers or local markets.  The newly renamed Federal Plaza #2, soon to be known as Liberty View Industrial Plaza to be developed by Salmar Properties, in Brooklyn, NY is set to be the world’s largest rooftop garden which will reportedly grow “1 million pounds of local produce per year, including tomatoes, lettuces and herbs”.  Find out how it works after the break!

Oceanic Living: Floating City Apps / Koen Olthuis

’s Dutch practice, Waterstudio, has been preparing for the environmental impacts on architecture for ten years now – building a practice on the assumption that a new solution for inhabitation is on the water.  Having lived in Amsterdam, Olthuis has intimate experience with the battle against water that people have posed for themselves.  In an interview with Jill Fehrenbacher for Inhabitat, Olthuis describes how Amsterdam was settled, what it means to have a city built upon water and the maintenance required.  Olthuis’ desire to colonize the oceans is not new, but his techniques, which he touches upon in this TEDx Talk in Warwick, focus on a refined and innovative way of approaching this strategy that is progressive in that it requires far less maintenance.

TEDx: How to Build a Better Block / Jason Roberts

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In this TEDx Talk,  – known as the “The Bike Guy” in his Oak Cliff community outside of Dallas, Texas – gives his audience a how-to guide in improving a community one block at a time as part of a project called “The Better Block“.  The project did not start off as an organization with vast goals and strong following; instead it started off with Roberts’ interest and desire to develop his community into one that had a legacy apart from the highways and overpasses that dominate the landscape.  Inspired by the rich history and existing street life of European cities with their historic buildings and monuments, plazas, and vistas; Roberts started small and eventually built a foundation and organization that is now nationally recognized and used as a tool to develop cities across the country.

Read on for more after the break.

SOM announces Urgent “Call to Vision” for the Great Lakes

Courtesy of SOM

Today the world celebrates its most precious resource: water. Countries world-wide suffer from water shortages so extreme that they cannot produce enough food to support their basic needs. In an effort to protect the World’s largest source of surface fresh water, the City Design Practice of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is gaining international support in their pro bono pursuit to create a 100-year vision that will environmentally protect and economically revitalize the entire U.S. and Great Lakes region, a vision known as The Great Lakes Century.

“The availability and quality of fresh water to sustain a radically urbanizing world is unquestionably a core issue of our time and requires holistic environmental thinking at an unprecedented scale,” said Philip Enquist, SOM partner in charge of worldwide.

Continue reading for more information on this important cause.

TEDxPhilly: Why Skyscrapers are Overrated / Inga Saffron


Inga Saffron, the architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, challenges cities to look beyond their “skyscraper fantasies and dreams of increased tourism”, suggesting they work to improve and build amenities that will make urban areas better places to live for the existing dwellers. She believes public spaces should be the priority and that cities should focus on upgrading transit systems, adding bike lanes to all major roadways, increasing walkability, creating and maintaining great parks and public plazas. Cities need a range of densities, this would allow for greater flexibility.

has written about urban design issues for more than a decade. As an architecture critic, she has reviewed many of the most memorable new projects of the era, however her primary interest is centered on the less-heralded places that people encounter in their daily lives. As a 2011-12 Leob Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Saffron is exploring how cities can retain their district identities in a globalized, interconnected world, while remaining viable places to work and live.

Reference: TEDx, DI

TEDx: Hedonistic Sustainability / Bjarke Ingels

In this video Bjarke Ingels shares his enlightened view on Hedonistic sustainability, challenging the misconception that one must give up a portion of their comfortable lifestyle in order to live sustainability. Ingels counteracts that delusion with examples that illustrate the possibilities of sustainable buildings and increasing life quality. He encourages architects to embrace their expanded roles of becoming “designers of ecosystems” by creating a world where our presence is not seen as detrimental to our environment through the integration of our “consumption patterns and leftovers” into our natural world. Ingels is optimistic as he shares Hollywood’s copy of BIG’s Denmark Pavilion for the Shanghai 2010 Expo in Iron Man 2. Ingels states, “If Hollywood starts ripping off sustainable architecture to portray science fiction it could be a sign we are moving towards Hedonistic sustainability.”

Reference: TEDxEast

TEDx: Why does everyone hate modern architecture? / David Chipperfield

In this Tedx talk, David Chipperfield of David Chipperfield Architects was invited to discuss the distrust that people feel about architecture, from a practitioners point of view, with the seductively titled talk: Why does everyone hate modern architecture?  Chipperfield asks us to consider architecture of the everyday – buildings that are being built on a daily basis, not the notable and expensive projects that are the exception.  In looking at today’s architecture, he laments over what he perceives to be, an unsuccessful way in which the majority of buildings are designed.

More on the video after the break.

Video: Innovative architect to ensure a sustainable future / Mark Raymond

After studying at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, Mark Raymond returned to Trinidad in 1993 to focus on a range of architectural, and planning projects throughout the Caribbean. You may have seen him lecturing at the Caribbean School of Architecture in Kingston, Jamaica, UNPHU in Santo Domingo, London Metropolitan University and Yale University. In this video, he discusses innovation architectural, urban and landscape design and how they may ensure a sustainable future.

Reference: TEDx, Design Intelligence