Everyone has fantasized about it, usually while scrubbing a floor or cleaning a toilet. Well, Frances Gabe did something about it: she invented the self-cleaning house, the one the future has been promising us for years. (This 2007 Weird America Interview/Tour mocks her, but it's the only video of the house I could find.) Just imagine: You put your dirty dishes back in the cabinets which double as dishwashers; the closets are laundry machines. Every room has wash, rinse, and dry buttons. [more inside]
If you live in a sufficiently old city in the U.S.,Canada, or the UK you've probably seen these set into concrete sidewalks or the panels of cast iron steps. Termed vault lights in the U.S., pavement lights in the UK, and sidewalk prisms in Canada, the glass insets were originally clear and intended to produce daylighting in subterranean spaces. The ethereal purple color results from the glass's manganese content being exposed to ultraviolet light over time. Many vault lights or sidewalk prisms are in poor condition, but some are being repaired.
George Falconer is a creation of Christopher Isherwood. George's house, as selected by Dan Bishop, is a creation of John Lautner. The house is for sale.
Competition Competition 2010, at Architizer is an entirely new kind of architectural award that chooses its winner from the un-rewarded competition entries of 2009.
Nakatomi Space: On Die Hard, walking through walls, and the Israeli Army.
The Villa Vals, from Christian Muller Architects, is an innovative (and totally cool) house dug into the side of a Swiss alp. More pictures from Iwan Baan.
Brilliant short series of documentaries each dealing with an architect and their signature creations. (each approx. 30 minutes) Frank Lloyd Wright Johnson Wax Building :: Walter Gropius The Dessau Bauhaus :: Alvaro Siza The Siza School :: Renzo Piano Centre Georges Pompidou :: Santiago Calatrava Satolas TGV :: Felix Duban School of the Beaux Arts :: Peter Zumthor The Thermae of Stone :: Emanuele Rocco La Galleria Umberto :: Otto Wagner The Vienna Savings Bank
If you're planning a visit to Stockholm, Munich, Bilbao, Shanghai, Dubai, Tokyo, Prague, Moscow, Toronto, and/or Barcelona, don't miss the chance to check out some of these amazing subway stations.
"I don't distinguish the difference between work and play," says Liz Diller. "My husband and I are very obsessed with our work, and it's contiguous with our personal lives." Liz Diller and Ric Scofidio aren't only some of the most visible architects of contemporary urban public space; they're also married to each other. Perhaps the most high profile couple in a profession that seems to be particularly conducive to this kind of working marriage, Diller and Scofidio (and, now, their partner/tie-breaker Charles Renfro) have in recent years collaborated on projects including heavy-use public structures like the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston (review), and Alice Tully Hall (review) and the High Line park (review) in New York, as well as more whimsical projects like the Blur building for Swiss Expo 2002 at Lake Neuchatel, and Arbores Laetae ("Joyful Trees") at the 2008 Liverpool Biennial. The architects talk to FLYP magazine about their marriage and to Charlie Rose about their work.
Whole Tree Architecture - if you'd like a house built by pioneering architect Roald Gundersen, your first step might be to hike in your nearby woods to choose some young, wind-bent, and diseased "Charlie Brown" trees. Small diameter round trees have 150% the strength of milled lumber and twice the strength of steel in tension. Besides structural and environmental advantages, whole trees make for some beautiful and naturally sculptured environments. [more inside]
Architect Jakob Tigges plans to erect a 1,000 meter tall artificial mountain in the middle of Berlin. [more inside]
Re-inhabited Circle Ks - an exhibit of identical storefronts abandoned by a national chain of convenience stores and re-purposed by new businesses. [more inside]
“Oh, it’s all bullshit. The high design? That has nothing to do with reality. That’s just architectural self-indulgence.” The greening of architecture is quite a contentious subject. Because of a renewed emphasis on traditional home-building methods, The Green Home of the Future is in many respects not dissimilar from The Green Home of Yesterday. A tornado in Greensburg, Kansas provided the impetus for a vote to decide on what green methods would define the movement in that small town. The competition's results stymied many architects' conceptions of what "green" should mean. But in New Orleans, larger-scale destruction by Hurricane Katrina has provided a unique opportunity for proponents of distinct conceptions of green innovation to bring their ideas to life. Opinions among residents are mixed.
Why Yankee Stadium sucks: "Its design is profoundly un-American. Baseball has traditionally played a unifying role. The ballpark is where people of different classes and races and religions actually mingled. The box seats, where the swells sat, weren't physically separated from the proles. The new stadium is like an architectural system of class apartheid."
Influential landscape architect Lawrence Halprin has died at the age of 93. "He was the single most influential landscape architect of the postwar years," said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. "He redefined the profession's role in cities." Noted projects include The Sea Ranch a 5,000-acre residential development on the coast of Sonoma county in northern California; Ghirardelli Square, the first major adaptive re-use project in the United States, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C; and a new trail from which to experience Yosemite Falls. [more inside]
Want to see Trajan's Column, Michelangelo’s David (with or without fig leaf), and Notre Dame all in one room? (Well, two rooms.) The Victoria and Albert’s “Cast Courts” are an amazing example of Victorian plaster casting, allowing those who couldn't afford the Grand Tour a chance to see great works of art and architecture.
Wonderful documentary on the art inspired chain of Best retail stores designed by Site architectural firm in the '70s and early '80s. 1::2::3::4
The Gardens will put in place a pervasive garden ambience and quality living environment from which Singapore's downtown will rise, and steer Singapore to the forefront of the world's leading global cities. (via)
"A jaw-dropping feat of architecture has risen in the Italian city of Nola, just a stone’s throw away from the cataclysmic Mt. Vesuvius. Designed by Renzo Piano, Vulcano Buono is an epic cone-shaped commercial center crowned with a gorgeous sloping green roof. Piano’s 'good volcano' contributes a vital new space to the southern edge of the Nola commercial district, which is the most most important freight terminal complex in southern and central Italy."
"All of which is a long way of saying that, to construct a new church of anatomical horror and to do so out of stone, as Al-Mehdari seems to be suggesting, is a fascinating idea. " - Body Baroque
Architecture through the cinematographic lens. The visual fusion between the third and the seventh arts.
The "Third&Seventh" project is "A full-CG animated piece that tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects are already-built spaces." In other words, Alex Roman has created a series of CG images and short films, based on real places (like this short film that depicts Louis Kahn's library at Phillips Exeter Academy), with a remarkable level of realism and beauty. (via)
While newly released images of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have brought "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks" back into the public eye just before their anniversary, it was his skyscraper-hating lieutenant Mohamed Atta who had trained to be an architect before becoming an airborne suicide terrorist. Slate's Daniel Brook goes on a three-part expedition in search of Atta's architectural education, from despised tourist projects in Cairo's dilapidated Islamic Quarter to utopian urban planning for an idealized "Islamic-Oriental City" like Aleppo. [more inside]
Graphic Concrete is a process with which textures, patterns, typography, images, or works of art can be "printed" on concrete surfaces, with subtle and dramatic results. Invented by Finnish designer and architect Samuli Naamanka, Graphic Concrete is being used in projects all over the globe.
Ride a Bike through an Architectural Drawing: no, really.
Eichler homes! Most Eichlers are located in northern California, but you can find a few developments in the southland. People restore and renovate their Eichlers, write magazine articles about them, and take lots of photos of them. Even Mr. Incredible owned an Eichler. But owning an Eichler is not for everyone. Want to buy an Eichler? Join the Eichler Network or tour an open house.
With the economic downturn and a steady downward trend in family sizes, the end of the McMansion could be at hand. Some people are living in and building tiny houses (previously) to decrease their impact on the environment, while others can't afford more (or wish to own something small instead of paying off something big). Sergio Santos saw his small budget and limited space as a challenge (gallery), maximizing his 77 square foot space as a bedroom, office, and mini-kitchen. Claire Wolf lists the four pieces of living small: building, gadgeting, decorating, and coping. If these spaces are too small for you, Dan Maginn suggest 900 square feet for a 2 bed, 2 bath house, and outlines how to design your own small home (his tips: think "events" more than "rooms," and don't forget the cupboards and water heater closet).
Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery. "The masterpieces of Minoan art are not what they seem... The truth is that these famous icons are largely modern. As any sharp-eyed visitor to the Heraklion museum can spot, what survives of the original paintings amounts in most cases to no more than a few square inches. The rest is more or less imaginative reconstruction, commissioned in the first half of the twentieth century by Sir Arthur Evans, the British excavator of the palace of Knossos (and the man who coined the term 'Minoan' for this prehistoric Cretan civilization, after the mythical King Minos who is said to have held the throne there). As a general rule of thumb, the more famous the image now is, the less of it is actually ancient."
For the last two years, Flickr user HK Man has been collecting old photos of Hong Kong, finding the exact spots at which they were taken, and taking them again. The result, from his first photo of Victoria Harbor to a more recent one of Nathan Road, comprises a chronicle of Hong Kong's unrestrained vertical development over the past few decades. In a similar vein, Gwulo is a community site for "for everyone that is interested in old Hong Kong" and includes photos, mysteries, and discussions -- such as this one about old Kai Tak Airport. [more inside]
Historic Bridges of the U.S. This is the most complete database of historic bridges I've seen. The front page is blog style that seems to have an emphasis on preservation, and which links to a database that is actively being updated & expanded. You can search by state or by county, and look at each bridge's individual page, including a wealth of stats, and a high-res photo, when available. [more inside]
When you think of Hinduism, you probably don't think of suburban Lilburn, Georgia, yet it is home to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, at over 30,000 square feet the largest Hindu temple in the world outside of India. The beautiful temple was assembled from 34,000 pieces of Turkish limestone, Indian pink sandstone, and Italian Carrara marble hand-carved by some 1500 craftsmen in India, then shipped to Georgia, where about 900 volunteers put in over a million man-hours to bring the architects' vision to fruition (YT), at a cost of about US$19m. [more inside]
Concept proposals for Seattle's Space Needle. More sketches and images, from the University of Washington's image database. Erecting The Needle, a four-part series about the Space Needle's construction: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, with a picture of the rarely-seen gas-flame beacon in action. And this morning, the Space Needle was briefly for sale!
Pattern in Islamic Art - thousands of high quality, free pictures of various motifs, patterns and architectural elements of mosques and other structures from Asia to West Africa. [more inside]
Peter Morville is widely recognized as a father of the information architecture field, and he serves as an advocate for the critical roles that search and findability play in defining web user experience. His recent project titled Search Patterns, is a sandbox for collecting search examples, patterns, and anti-patterns; for example spime search, the ability to query objects in motion and find things in the real world. Morville is also on the editorial board of the new Journal of Information Architecture.
Urban exploration has been featured here once or twice before, but Jim Griffioen's site photo-documenting his discoveries in and around Detroit deserves a look. Griffioen was recently interviewed [direct mp3 link] on the American Public Media radio program The Story. [more inside]
Tetragram for Enlargement is an architectural video installation by Apparati Effimeri that decorates, distorts, and eventually explodes the fortress Rocca Malatestiana. [Italian] [more inside]
Champions of Reversible Destiny, architects Arakawa + Gins believe that people die because they're too comfortable. Having lost their life savings through Bernie Madoff, their bewildering East Hampton Bioscleave house - and, presumably, immortality - can now be yours for only $4million. [via the always awesome It's lovely! I'll take it!]
A website has been launched to preserve the history of Danvers State Insane Asylum. The Asylum, which opened in 1878 in Danvers, MA (site of the Salem Witch Trials) and closed in 1992, was featured in the horror movie Session 9, and may have been the inspiration for HP Lovecraft's Arkham Asylum. Its Kirkbride Wings, which once held the institution's living quarters, now house a 400+ unit apartment complex. [more inside]
The Architects' Journal (home of British architecture) has recently listed their top 10 architectural features of Star Wars. The article cites the Sandcrawler of Tatooine (possibly inspired by the Hôtel du lac in Tunisia, and in turn may have influenced Casa da Música [virtual tour, requires Quicktime] ), gave Bright Tree Village an honorary rating of BREEAM Excellent (top marks for environment-friendliness and sustainability), then embrace the Ecumenopolis that is Coruscant. This is not the first discussion of the architectural styles of the Star Wars universe. George Lucas once said "I'm basically a Victorian person," referring to his love of "all kinds of old things," including sort of Art Deco or Art Moderne-type. The retro-futuristic styles of Star Wars has gone on to inspire others.
Slavoj Žižek recently gave five talks under the title Masterclass - Notes Towards a Definition of Communist Culture. It sez 'ere, "The master class analyses phenomena of modern thought and culture with the intention to discern elements of possible Communist culture. It moves at two levels: first, it interprets some cultural phenomena (from today’s architecture to classic literary works like Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Heloise) as failures to imagine or enact a Communist culture; second, it explores attempts at imagining how a Communist culture could look, from Wagner’s Ring to Kafka’s and Beckett’s short stories and contemporary science fiction novels." Audio of Zizek's talks and subsequent discussion is now online: Part I Utopias; Part II Architecture as Ideology; Part III Wagner’s Ring as a Communist narrative; Part IV Populism and Democracy; Part V Environment, Identity and Multiculturalism. Those who like to watch the beard in motion will find links to video of some of the talks posted here.
After more than 30 years of competions and planning and eight years of construction, the New Acropolis Museum officially opens today. The museum, designed by Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi, provides a dramatic new home for the many historic treasures of the Acropolis, including the marbles of the Parthenon frieze. [more inside]
Controversy has erupted in Britain after it emerged that Prince Charles used his personal influence with Qatari royalty to sack modernist architect Richard Rogers from a development in London. Charles has been an outspoken critic of modern architecture and advocate of neo-traditionalist styles, and even created a model village to showcase his ideas about "proper" architecture. Charles' preferred replacement for Rogers is Quinlan Terry, known for his neo-classicist leanings. [more inside]
The first stage of New York City's High Line redesign was opened to the public yesterday, and reviews are generally favorable. The city's newest park (whose concept is similar to Paris’s Promenade Plantée,) transforms an abandoned, above-ground, elevated freight train track into a nine block "lofty expanse of walking and green spaces that stretches 60 feet wide in some spots". It also provides visitors with a unique look at some of the city's architecture and layout. (Previously on MeFi) [more inside]
Dr. Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia University, New York, has created a superb online collection of resources, all about India and South Asia, its art, history, literature, architecture and culture. Her Indian Routes section (the Index page) is a particularly rich resource. Her vast, colorful and informative site also has many great images. Check out her "scrapbook pages" on the Princes l the Ghaznavids l British Rule l Women's Spaces l Perspectives on Hinduism. [more inside]