Sunday, 30 January 2011

Tree Ring House

Just a nice little project from Japan. To me this just looks like a town house built into the woods ... where a three storey development isn't that common. This could just as easily fit into an urban plot where there is existing woodland cover. Nice touches to hide the height of the building as a whole and the individual floors by the use of external cladding tree rings. Semi basement and a pediment viewing roof all add to the nice delivery of a very simple concept.

Friday, 28 January 2011


Recent publication by Natural England highlighting that some of the rarest species in the Country are located in the North East. Attractive to have a place in the name … Lindisfarne helleborine – Epipactis sancta 
Lindisfarne SSSI, Northumberland 
Originally thought to be dune helleborine until genetic testing revealed it was sufficiently different to be ranked separately. Only found on Holy Island, where its 300 plants make it a rarer species in the world than the panda, this endemic orchid can grow to 2ft tall and has up to 30 flowers. Teesdale rock-rose - Helianthemum canum subsp. Laevigatum 
Teesdale sandwort - Minuartia stricta 
Upper Teesdale SSSI, Co. Durham 
These Arctic-alpine flowers have grown in the dale since the last glaciation 12,000 years ago and are not found anywhere else in Britain. Threatened by rising temperatures and competition from lower-level species, these upland specialists will rely more and more on the protection of SSSI status and appropriate habitat management in the future. Natural England [January 2011] Protecting England’s natural treasures: Sites of Special Scientific Interest [Natural England, Sheffield]. Available to download.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Thomas Hooper

So, having a look at the fine art of Thomas Hooper and thinking how similar his views are to those of public art .. . in that tattooing cannot be sold on, it has no resale value and so the underlying business model is different from other fine arts as well as the motivation of the commissioner / subject ... unless of course, you put your designs on paper as well ...

... now, anyone interested in tattooing the city with some permanent reminder of its' mortality? Anyone?

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Sowerby Glass

A nice record of a north east factory that created pressed glass objects and explored slag glass.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Sinclair C5

I'm not really sure if this counts as a design classic, but the Sinclair C5 has some great concepts around the electric power and the low cost / affordable requirements. It also looks very similar to the Tron bikes in the approach to 1985 styling.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

When carpentry becomes building ...

... it might look a little like this ... there are some lovely traditional joinery details internal and external that make this project, by architect Peter Zumthor, a little bit special. Spot the dovetail joints.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Clutter: The stuff that surrounds us

Fascinating selections of interior spaces that when fused together begins to show interesting contrast between approaches to personalisation for creative spaces, work spaces, normal spaces and dictators spaces. Can you spot the difference? Images show interiors of artist Lucio Auri, fashion designer Leah McSweeney ... where their interiors become personal art galleries ...

... the set and prop designers Snakeskin Jacket demonstrating a sort of split personality between the owners made real and physical in the domestic spaces and the stairs of artist Julie Verhoeven ...

... and some 'normal' cluttered spaces ...

... compared to the organised collections of Slobodan Milosevic and Imelda Marcos.

References: Gavin, Francesca [2009] Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists and Innovators [Lawrence King, London]. Naylor, Trevor and Mdelik, Niki [2007] Living normally: Where life comes before style [Thames & Hudson, London]. York, Peter [2005] Dictators' Homes [Atlantic Books, London].

Friday, 7 January 2011

Transportation Fonts

... created by Margaret Calvert originally for all the signage for a French new town [Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines but never used for that purpose] which is why it looks a little, but not too, French. Calvert also jointly designed the famous ...
... font that is used on all major road signage in the UK since the 1950s. Not exactly sure how these linked travel and transportation fonts can be used yet, but I am pretty sure it should have something to do with street art in Newcastle. Reference: Garfield, Simon [2010] Just My Type: A book about fonts [Profile Books, London].

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cognitive mapping

Lynch analysis without anyone knowing at the hand drawn map association ... with some examples being more spatial art combined with exercise. Pixilated output from grid based cities with a little help from gps ...

... and organic shapes from old Europe. Although my favourite from Steinburg below is well known.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Public Art Venn Diagrams

The forgotten element within any debate on public art is to fully understand what we mean when we say ‘public’. We can avoid any circular arguments over the meaning or philosophy of art and still totally redefine the concept of public art by clarifying our position on and definition of ‘public’. There is clearly a continuum where all art is considered public in the same way as the falling tree in the forest or Schrödinger's cat in the box, where the work becomes reality through the act of viewing and so without the work becoming evident toFont size the public it has no presence. Another extreme is when the work is part of the artist’s self expression or personal therapy where they care little over the perpetuation and distribution of the work as it is only the act of creating the work that has value and meaning. Yet, some of us just wonder if the truth may lie somewhere between the all or nothing positions.In short, do you need permission from the local authority to provide ‘public’ works of art or in our current era of big society liberalism, is the only true public realm, those areas which remain uncensored and retain free access? ‘Non-commissioned’ work or ‘community sourced’ work in the right place with the right audience is more public than works within areas of private ownership.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Koshirakura Workshop

Fantastic approach to traditional building skills and crafts with contemporary architecture and technology at the Koshirakura landscape workshop. This demonstrates the type of fusion of ideas and methods that makes places special. The image above shows the dynamic nature of the unfolding shed.

Eric de Mare

Attracted by the subject of multi storey fishermen sheds and the industrial architecture of Eric de Mare photography. Referred to as the inspiration for several new housing developments, sometimes precedent and ideas are ad hoc and retro?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Pitmen Painters

Just completed the Pitman Painters and attracted by the idea of art as an event in which we take part rather than the growing trend of commodification [described by Thompson 2008] of art that is making me think that public art is defined as much by the underlying business model, or lack of, as much as the involvement of the public or the public as the intended audience. For reference; Hall, Lee [2008] The Pitman Painters [Faber and Faber, London]. Thompson, Don [2008] The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art [Aurum Press, London].

Plumen Lightbulb

We like the potential for this plumen bulb to fit into reused retro bakelite fixtures combining low energy with design quality - call it retro fusion.