Friday, 15 November 2013

Powers of Ten

Perhaps one of the more interesting info graphics commission for Charles and Ray Eames. This short 1977 documentary explores the idea of scale - human scale to big and then to small.

Machine Music

Retro TV but interestingly contemporary take on the transition between analogue and digital. It is still Tomorrow's World - although estimates are that in 2013 less than 2% of stored information in the world is still analogue (vinyl record, magnetic tape, published books, photographic negatives and prints) compared to 1,200 exabytes (1000 to the power of 6 bytes) of information.

Reference: Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor and Cukier, Kenneth (2013) Big Data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work and think (John Murray, London).

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Misawa, Zero Energy Prefabricated House

The world's first pre-fabricated zero energy house was assembled in 1998 in Kanagawa, Japan. This is a measure of the technological innovation in a country where roughly one out of every seven new houses is a prefabricated home (Wilford & Ramos 2009 p45). There are several detailed reports (one of the best by the International Energy Agency) of the technologies used. More interesting is the extended use of modern methods of manufacturing; for the benefits of quality control, speed and minimization of disruption to residents; within the retrofitting / hybrid market (Zimmermann 2012).

References:  International Energy Action (undated) A Zero Energy House (a low energy house with PV system) 
in Kanagawa, Japan (IEA, Birmingham). Wilford, Chris and Ramos, Marylis (2009) Zero Carbon Compendium: Who's doing what in housing worldwide (NHBC Foundation, Amersham). Zimmermann, Mark (2012) Prefabricated Systems for Low Energy Renovation of Residential Buildings: ECBCS Annex 50 (AECOM, St Albans).

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Middlehaven Custom-Build Prospectus Launch

The launch of the Urban Pioneers prospectus for Middlehaven, Middlesbrough has been announced for next week. This is linked to the first set of potential self-build or community-build development plots below. Part of the new round of HCA sponsored custom-build opportunities.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Dunston Rocket

In memory of architecture in a childhood advert, with Geordie accents set against the Dunston Rocket at the end of the advert - which at that time was the largest building in the North East.

Greedy Lying Bastards

At a time when the IPCC has reported again, the evidence against climate-change deniers is stronger than ever. The economic bias and hypocrisy in their case makes an interesting documentary and another reason to get angry.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Wiki House gets built

The concept of the wiki house continues to develop. Here a working 'kit of parts' are now available for download and for contributing to in the Sketchup Warehouse. Sketchup have just linked the working model to a CRC machine to start the above construction at the World Maker Faire.

The Architecture of Ink

Surprising new edition of Mister X and mini series out - surprising that is, based on some earlier comments from the creator Dean Motter. His work is becoming increasingly grounded in academic theory to be included in a forthcoming publication by Columbia University on the Architecture of Ink. Perhaps it is time to update some of the urban design theory and thinking around comics, graphic novels and imagined cities?

Bamboo Bike

Amazed at the potential applications for bamboo but also the design and sensibilities of this cool; but very expensive; bike. Yet self-build options are available here.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ian Dury without the Blockheads

Before joining up with Stiff Records, Ian Dury undertook some accomplished illustrative work now on show at the Royal College of Art. Supported by Kickstarter funding and worth every crowd-sourced investment.

Monday, 17 June 2013

We can make the Angel Fly

New work by Anton Hecht with so much effort put into the editing and production, you just have to admire it for committment as well as the nice idea behind it all.

Friday, 31 May 2013

The Congress for Cultural Freedom

From 1950 onwards, the CIA secretly funded 'The Congress for Cultural Freedom" and had a significance on the direction (and costs and values) for modern and abstract art. The historical details are now available on the official CIA website, although I discovered this second hand from work by comic artist Jeffrey Lewis. As an organisation, it reminded me of the power and unusual activities of authentic boards, such as the Andy Warhol Authentication Board who (at lest up until 2012) made decisions about the "presence of the artist" (Thompson 2008 p83) rather than the more simplistic 'real' or 'fake' choice , and the work of Pest Control (reviewed by Ellisworth-Jones 2012 when he went about following the money behind Banksy) ironically proving a fake £10 (or not' fake' but another version of quantitative easing?) as proof of authenticity of work by Banksy. Yet another collection of  organisations pushing their own cultural hegemony and placing value on the things that they value. Politics and art eh!!

References: Thompson, Don (2008) The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses (Aurum, London).  Ellisworth-Jones, Will (2012) Banksy: The Man behind the Wall (Aurum, London).

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Pecos Passive Benedictine Monastery

Interesting example of passive solar heating using water barrels as part of the strategy for heat storage / thermal mass. Dating from 1975, it provides an interesting south facing facade as feature. Dated pictures - yes, but principles clearly important even for building in a northern European climate.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Roy Lichtenstein's Architectural Clichés

Been reading a critique, purchased simply due to the subtitle, about the work of Lichtenstein. There are some interesting references to "... a little know series of thirty Entablature paintings in the seventies. ... (based on) overlooked neoclassical details"(Sooke 2013 p39) ... a form of testing architectural clichés and the meaning, if any, given to the use of detailing. A bit of a development of the better know architectural work of the Temple of Apollo from 1964 and illustrating the loss of meaning into abstract forms.

Reference: Sooke, Alastair (2013) Roy Lichtenstein: How Modern Art was Saved by Donald Duck (Penguin, London).

Monday, 25 March 2013

Simulation City

New version of SimCity. It is a significant development in urban simulation when gaming is more impressive than most professional urban design and planning ICT tools at the city scale. Agent based and dynamic means there is much more to it that the graphic interface. It is still a significant reduction on the real world, but with so many factors being considered, there has to be some value for real planning options, and research projects.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Carbon Modelling Workshop(s)

Running a couple of carbon modelling workshops next week in Middlesbrough, Leicester and Newcastle. Drop a line if you are interested in coming along or just in finding out more about what architects, planners and urban designers are doing with carbon at the moment.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Nathan Sawaya's Lego Architecture

Artist and / or Lego modeler Nathan Sawaya has created some inspiring architectural models to scale from a set of CAD drawings. This is proper grown up building with a design classic material and anyone should be proud to have this in their boardroom, although you might have to ask a few questions about the actual architecture.