New techniques mean that wood can now be used for much taller buildings - "Wood has many attractions as a construction material, apart from its aesthetic qualities. A wooden building is about a quarter of the weight of an equivalent reinforced-concrete structure, which means foundations can be smaller. Timber is a sustainable material and a natural 'sink' for CO2... Using wood could reduce their carbon footprint by 60-75%, according to some studies. There are two main concerns about using wood to build high. The first is whether wood is strong enough... the second worry: fire."
"I’m always shocked when critics of the mid-20th Century architectural style known as Michigan Modern decry that period as a silly time of tail fins on cars, uncomfortable furniture, and shiny, kitschy buildings. Shocked, because I think Michigan Modern, properly understood, remains our greatest architectural expression." [more inside]
The magnificent, insane castles of Ludwig II of Bavaria are slowly decaying. (Come for the architecture, stay for the orgies and proposed bank robberies.) As the article notes, "Ludwig kept hundreds of upholsterers, wood carvers and gilders busy, along with engineers and Siemens technicians." He spent himself into debt for the sake of his castles, many of which were designed after inspirations from Wagner, and some of which may have been built specifically for Wagner performances. [more inside]
Brutalism Is Back [The New York Times] “But now, like the chevron mustache, Brutalism [wiki] is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness. For an aesthetic once praised for its “ruthless logic” and “bloody-mindedness” — in the much-quoted phrasing of critic Reyner Banham — it is a surprising turn of events.” [more inside]
The prevailing attitude [in China] is chabuduo, or ‘close enough’. It’s a phrase you’ll hear with grating regularity, one that speaks to a job 70 per cent done, a plan sketched out but never completed, a gauge unchecked or a socket put in the wrong size. Chabuduo is the corrosive opposite of the impulse towards craftmanship...it implies that to put any more time or effort into a piece of work would be the act of a fool. China is the land of the cut corner, of ‘good enough for government work’.
A century in the making, and now completed by Britain’s David Adjaye, the Smithsonian’s gleeful, gleaming upturned pagoda more than holds its own against the sombre Goliaths of America’s monument heartland.Preparations are in full swing for a historic opening on 24th September 2016 when America's first president of African heritage will ring an equally historic bell. Related.
The Australian mosque. On Australia's contribution to Islamic architecture.
The Museum of Modern Art has digitized a HUGE amount of material from past exhibitions. The history goes all the way back to the founding of MOMA in 1929. Exhibition catalogs are available for download as pdfs!
Understanding the Sublime architecture of Bloodborne situates the setting of From Software's PS4 game in art history, drawing on everyone from Michelangelo to Michael Graves to the Mannerists.
Discrimination by Design: The Many Ways Design Decisions Treat People Unequally. by Lena Groeger [Pro Publica] “Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. It would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ll focus on the more tangible and visual design that humans interact with every day.” [Previously.] [Previously.] [more inside]
[more inside]"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence." Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionThis is our point of entry today: to take old chestnuts and try to crack them to see what pops out. Our subject is Disneyland. Our topic: charm.
Wandering New York is a blog where amateur photographer Joseph Raskin posts new photos of various New York City neighborhoods every night.
Worst of the McMansions If you love to hate the ugly houses that became ubiquitous before the bubble burst (1980s-2009) you've come to the right place. Highlights include: McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad?, and this brief opinionated history of the garage.
"Power and Architecture" is the name of the Calvert 22 Foundation's "season on utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world." Included in the "curated digital content" being published as part of the season is "Restricted Areas," a series by Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko, who photographs "abandoned buildings of almost inhuman complexity.” [more inside]
Photographer Ritayan Mukherjee documents Kolkata's deteriorating historical mansions in the neighborhoods of Shovabazar, Bagbazar, and old Chitpur, once home to the Bengali economic and culture elite, and the stage for the city's intellectual renaissance of the 19th and early 20th century.
Design for the One Percent by Alex Cocotas [Jacobin Mag] Contemporary architecture is more interested in mega projects for elites than improving ordinary people’s lives. [more inside]
David Neat is a model maker and teacher. Of David Neat, Makezine says "This modest blog may be the Holy Grail of model-making sites."
Japanese YouTube user HMS2 creates meticulous handmade dollhouse miniatures: DIY Fake Food, DIY Dollhouse Items. There are also hundreds of kit-making videos, from food replicas to complete villages. Yes, there are Re-Ment unboxings! And oh yeah, he also built a ninja mansion for his hamster. h/t [Alert: Ninja mansion link has auto-hamster music.]
Buildings used to be designed less as big blocks and more as complex shapes, even shaped like letters, to minimize the distance to an exterior wall and maximize natural light and ventilation. In fact, in 1773, Johann David Steingruber (Google auto-translation) published Architectonisches Alphabet, or Architectural Alphabet (Archive.org), providing an alphabet (more or less) worth of floor plans. It's in German, so you'll probably skip ahead and start with A. Of course, you can still find plenty of letter-shaped buildings (and write geo-greetings), thanks to the ubiquity of aerial photography.
La Fábrica is a former Barcelona concrete factory that was partly torn down, converted into an architecture firm, with an adjoining private residence, and inspired a neighbouring block of flats.
The Evolution of the Petrol/Gas/Filling/Service Station Gas stations might be boring or even ugly places, but for the most part, you can’t avoid stopping by one on a long trip. However, they have been so many more beyond the basic design of columns, roof and shop over their history. The following 60+1 filling stations encompass almost a century of architectural progression, showcasing some of the best Art Deco, Bauhaus, futurist, brutalist, minimalist, modernist, Googie building designs of the motorist history. Enjoy the ride!
Hostile architecture, also known as defensive architecture, exists on a spectrum. At one end are the overt design features that are obvious to anyone walking by—like spikes and fences. At the other end, says Petty, are the design elements in which “the hostile function is often embedded under a socially palatable function.”
Quick: imagine a colorful San Francisco Victorian. The way it looks in your mind's eye probably has something to do with Buckter's decades of steady influence.
Misplaced.Design Eleven New York City landmarks have been misplaced, their current location unknown. Photographs of unclear origin appear to show them scattered across the globe – on sand dunes, mud flats, “lunar” plains, and rocky beaches. Nobody knows exactly what happened or why
Uncube has ended. A Berlin-based digital architecture magazine that began in 2012 has concluded with issue #43, Athens. Known for its unconventional reportage and groundbreaking design, monthly themes ran the gamut from the desert to Iceland to outer space to, well, death. [more inside]
Musicologist Mylène Pardoen has researched and recreated the ambient 18th-century sounds of Le Grand Châtelet quarter in Paris. Historians used artwork, surviving machinery and tools to record and bring together 70 different soundscapes, including a recreation of the Notre Dame water pump using an 18th-century water mill whose sound was adapted for the size of the Notre Dame pump. The pump in question brought up water from the Seine for Parisian consumption. [more inside]
Dating Historic Images A key to using clues in photos to narrow down the date of construction for historic vernacular architecture, from University of Vermont's Landscape Change digital image project. [more inside]
Groundbreaking visionary of contemporary spatial design, Dame Zaha Hadid has passed away. The British designer had a heart attack while in hospital in Miami, where she was being treated for bronchitis. One of the most sought-after architects in the world, Iraqi-born London-based Hadid was first woman to be awarded the prestigious RIBA gold medal in her own right, and the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize.
Atlas Obscura brings us a photo-essay of seven places in Europe where humans exhibit an adventurous spirit, ingenuity, and engineering chops.
Medina Wasl is a small, prototypical Iraqi desert town with a market, a mosque, and the occasional car bomb. It's just down the road from Ertabat Shar, a small, prototypical Afghan mountain town with a market, a mosque, and the occasional truck bomb. They are the simulated battlefields[main link] of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in the Mojave desert. They offer tours. [more inside]
Photographer Mehrdad Rasoulifard is taking viewers on a visual journey through the history of ancient (and modern!) Iranian architecture and design. He captures the structural and artistic intricacies of iran’s most significant places of worship and cultural complexes, including the tessellated and tiled ceilings of historic mosques. [via designboom]
Architectures is a youtube playlist of 53 short (1/2 hour) architectural videos of buildings around the world, mainly Europe.
'The Story Behind The Most Creative Job Application We've Ever Seen' Étienne Duval is a thirty year old architect who wants to work with Bjarke Ingels at B.I.G. ... 'To catch a big fish you need a big hook! I began this application like an architectural project, by finding the key criteria and playing with it. A cover letter is an ego trip, so I thought about this hip hop video clips and told myself "why wouldn't I do the same?" A short interview with Etienne Duval at ArchDaily
Though prefab houses have started to increase in popularity, the concept is certainly not a new one. Sears & Roebuck, through it's Modern Home program, sold mail order homes for over thirty years at the start of the 20th century. And though Sears was the most popular home seller at this time, other companies such as Aladdin in Bay City, Michigan also made their mark. Central Michigan University has an online archive of these home catalogs for those curious. And these Flickr albums include not only Aladdin catalogs, but also Sears Home catalogs and many others for your perusal. Finally, if you think that you might live in a Sears home or you've seen one in your neighborhood, here are a few tips for successfully spotting them (Previous Prefab Posts).
Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin has been documenting the Los Angeles urban landscape for over a decade. His latest project, The Los Angeles Recordings, examines the physical structure of neighborhoods and how they are molded and reconfigured by outside elements (demographics, gentrification, the passage of time.) “The Los Angeles Recordings is a project I’ve been working on in some way, shape, or form for over a decade. Very soon after getting into photography, I recognized the medium as a way I could show others the city as I viewed it. LA’s people, landscape, and topography exist in a state of constant change that is, in my opinion, rarely portrayed from street level." [h/t] [more inside]
Megalithic Robotics is a recent class at MIT that resulted in a very interesting object: a 2000-pound megalith that can be moved with a fingertip.
A 3D printed habitat for four Mars explorers from Clouds Architecture Office. Awarded first place in NASA's Centennial Challenge Mars Habitat Competition.
Dear Architects: Sound Matters. Put your headphones on. Why Architects Need to Use their Ears [more inside]
Modernist gingerbread houses | More | Ginger Bauhaus | Architectural 3-D ginger cookie | The history of using gingerbread at Christmas with recipes.
Eugene Tssui designed the “Fish House” – based on the tardigrade, a segmented marine microanimal – for his parents in Berkeley, California. But that’s not the only interesting thing about him. . . . [more inside]
The four-bedroom/nine-bath house at 631 Parra Grande Lane in Montecito has been sold. Built on ten acres in 1906, El Fureidis--originally called Gillespie Estate or Gillespie Palace--is one of five homes designed by American architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue. If you're not familiar with El Fureidis and its long and dignified history, here's a tour, and a video of an infamous owner's wedding.
The Radical Sandcastles of Matt Kaliner, aka Sandcastle Matt: How To Build Sandcastles The Sandcastle Matt Way [more inside]
New York City's mail chutes are lovely, ingenious and almost entirely ignored. But what happens if mail gets stuck?
A journey through the architecture and urban landscape of Chicago – from industrial zones to Mid-Century suburbs and all points between. [more inside]
Atop the twin spires of the Andromeda and Milky Way Galaxies the eerie call-and-response of bagpipe players echoed across the valley. I watched four siblings race one another up to the top of the Multiverse's spire as their mother, standing at the base, tried to maneuver a cell phone around the fifth child strapped to her chest.-The Duke, the Landscape Architect and the World's Most Ambitious Attempt to Bring the Cosmos to Earth by Alina Simone is an article about the Crawick Multiverse in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and its designer, landscape architect Charles Jencks. The garden is designed to represent modern cosmological theories.