Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tunnel House

Isn’t it great how creativity kicks in when times running out. Take for example this incredible and beautiful installation by artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck a few months before this house was to be demolished…. I’m guessing they saw any opportunity to do something freaking crazy cool to a space that was going to be destroyed and turned this old house into a trippy wooden warp zone! More pics after the jump.(including whats at the end of the tunnel)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Natural inspiration

An innovative office building in Kochi wins an international award for urban offices built with natural material

Some names are difficult to live up to. Inspiration, an architecture and environment design firm that operates out of a suburb of Kochi in Kerala, has managed to do so by building an innovative office for itself using bamboo as the primary material.

The three-year-old building is as accomplished a work of architecture as you can get, given that the construction system is innovative and not easy to execute. More to the point, it is inspiring. Perhaps the only office building in urban India to be built largely of bamboo, it is systematically engineered—no romantic experiment.

Clustered around an artificial pond that harvests rainwater, the office is also a delight to inhabit, with its integration of relaxed natural systems and elements into the professional routine of a modern office.

It also seems in keeping with the general nature of things here that Jaigopal G. and Latha Raman, the two low-profile principals of the firm, were surprised when they won the top award in the ‘Urban Office’ category at the Hawaii-based 2007 International Bamboo Building Design Competition. After all, it is not every day that such an achievement, rooted in local ethos, is followed by apt global recognition.

From some angles, the Inspiration office appears to float on water, echoing the spirit of Japanese and Chinese pavilions that are set in gardens with meandering water bodies.

The design—a series of two-storeyed buildings and pavilions connected by open passages—follows the logic of its unusual construction system. To begin with, it has been broken up into a series of small blocks housing specific functions—architecture studio, management office, conference room and others. From inside and outside, each block reveals the elegant grid of slender reinforced concrete posts and beams that hold up the floor above and its roof. This grid is filled-in with prefabricated bamboo panels that resemble screens from the outside, but have a conventional plastered-and-painted finish on the inside. The building appears to float because the posts are held aloft over the water level on concrete pedestals, allowing the pond to continue under the floor.

“It is often back-breaking work,” says Jaigopal with a smile, about the process of building with the new system. The fact that the office building was effectively a prototyping project, meant that Inspiration had to build its own design without any contractors to delegate the job to. Every step of the construction process threw up new problems, starting with sourcing the right kind of bamboo.

It helped that Inspiration has always built its own designs. Jaigopal began practising in the mid-1980s, using the cost-effective and energy-efficient brick-based building techniques of Laurie Baker. Raman was part of Jaigopal’s team of architects and engineers that worked with Baker’s unconventional approach to design and construction.
These techniques, says Jaigopal, are now the conventional palette for Inspiration’s practice, and it is only the new construction system employed in the office building that really gives him and Raman the high of a new challenge.

The real breakthrough for Inspiration is as much technological (and ecological) as it is aesthetic. As in the best architecture, all of these go together here. The building is experienced as being ‘light’, similar to a pavilion, both from inside and outside. At the same time, the interior spaces and the exterior ‘natural’ space intermesh closely. Both qualities emerge from the structural system and also directly reflect the agenda of treading lightly upon the earth—that the design is rooted in.

In the process, an original, logical and meaningful grammar has been developed that expresses eco-sensitive construction through a multi-sensory habitational experience. Along the way, the design is also open to scrutiny.

The ‘natural’ exterior space is, for instance, an artificial creation—the pond holds rain water for recharging groundwater and for reuse, and the bamboo grove was not always there.
The connect between the shaded pond and the ever-changing light conditions—caught magnificently in the deepening red of the polished cement floor of the covered but unenclosed deck—is a refreshing experience.

For Inspiration, the gamble of trying out a new eco-sensitive technology for its own office appears to be paying off. Among current clients committed to adopting this technology are a couple of resorts, as well as a few independent houses. Most promising, however, is a five-storeyed office for an information technology company that Inspiration has to build within next year near Thiruvananthapuram. Software ‘parks’ may then live up to this nomenclature.

from India Wall Street Journal. Read full article here

Friday, May 04, 2007

Leers Weinzapfel Architects: Women of the Year

Andrea Leers and Jane Weinzapfel are gutsy pioneers in the still-male-dominated world of architecture, as bold as Kate Hepburn’s Tess in the classic film “Woman of the Year.” But they’re no mere celluloid heroines. In the 25 years since they founded Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Architects (LWA), they’ve (literally) built a stellar reputation for jobs as diverse as community centers and courthouses.

LWA has earned kudos by turning gritty projects other firms didn’t care to take on — such as power plants and maintenance facilities — into design statements they would do well to aspire to. “Initially we took them on because we had no choice,” says LWA partner Josiah Stevenson.
“They were ‘Mission Impossible’-type challenges — a way to get our foot in the door. Now we do $80 million courthouses, but we still do smaller, harder-to-achieve projects, too.”
The Love for Mac took me to their Apple Profiles. check out here
BTW SAT Women: "Do You Have it in You? "

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I assume you notice how women dress?

1. ‘di stasio’ pavilion at the 2nd architecture biennial beijing, 2006

2. the virtual pavilion was australia’s unofficial ‘presence’ in the 2004 architecture biennial in venice

3. australian virtual pavillion, 2004, back view

4. australian virtual pavillion, 2004, interior

5. the man behind - tom kovac

Click here to read the design-boom interview

Friday, April 27, 2007

Abu Dhabi's 'Illogical' Crossing Slowly Takes Shape

The flowing profiles of Abu Dhabi island’s iconic third bridge to the mainland are slowly emerging as engineers struggle with the “almost unbuildable” structure.

Like illuminated ribbons, twin decks of the 845-meter-long Sheikh Zayed crossing will sweep through waves of supporting structural boxes and curve in two planes to create one of the world’s most radical highway bridges. Though dramatic, the bridge is “structurally illogical,” says Mike King, project manager with structural designer/supervisor High-Point Rendel, London. Design took four times longer than the allocated nine months.

Read the story here

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dubai's Rotating City

As if man made islands, underwater hotels, and the largest building, hotel, and amusement park weren't enough, now Dubai has approved construction on a rotating city by High Rise Real Estate. Everything in the city -- villas, apartments, restaurants, hotels, and wedding halls -- will all be able to rotate independantly. Tired of catching your neighbor granny doing yoga naked? Turn your house 45 degrees to the left and find someone more attractive to spy on.

The first 10 floors of the high rise apartment buildings will be fixed and contain 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments, along with a number of retails shops on the ground floor. Floors 11 through 14 will be rotating penthouses. The top floor is a split level rotating villa. The villa which occupies 6000 sq. ft. of space has its own private garden, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, and gym. If rotating your home isn't enough, the top floor villa will have a car lift that takes your ride straight up to the villa!

Here are some shots of the villas that will be sprinkled throughout the property.

And even floating villas that are basically the Jetsons equivalent to a houseboat.

from wired magazine

What was Thom Mayne's inspiration?

I'm crossposting this from one of my other blogs, Planetizen Interchange, which is an urban planning thing. Because I think it has appeal in this world, too.

The new San Francisco Federal Building, designed by Morphosis 'starchitect' Thom Mayne, opened earlier this year.

And I knew it looked familiar. Today I finally figured it out.

The building:

And what must have been the inspiration:

from wired magazine

Monday, April 23, 2007

SOM’s Pearl River Tower

The storied design firm has set its sights on redefining one of its bread-and-butter project types, the corporate headquarters, into a model of high-tech sustainability.

Continue Reading the case study here