Tropolism Films: A Scanner Darkly and The Lake House

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Filmed space typically serves as a backdrop to a character driven narrative. Yet every now and then it becomes a pivotal element that lures us into its grasps---sometimes in the most unlikely of scenarios--and if Keanu is our guide, sit back, drink the Kool-Aid, and slice the Velveeta.

(Some times, we just have to yield and submit. As much as I hate to admit it: there’s just something about a Keanu Reeves movie. His two recent films, A Scanner Darkly and The Lake House proudly exhibit his mastery of an incessant naiveté and bewilderment.)

See the rest of the review by clicking Continue Reading…

The Abandoned Pods

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As a comparison to the faux pods being drooled over over by New York's real estate mavens, we draw to your attention super-cool actual pods, now abandoned, on the outskirts of Taipei. As our friends at Tranism note, "if this existed somewhere in United States and were to be redeveloped, it would probably a cost an arm and leg to live in". We'd buy one, even if they were in the Hamptons.

Eyes On The Street Totally Not Looking At The Right Stuff

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Lisa at Polis is probably the only sharp-eyed eye on the street in the East Village, because the folks in the all-glass, all-undulating (allundulating?) Sculpture for Living totally missed someone spray painting the newly restored Astor Place cube. At least when the losers with drugs put graffiti on the cube, it was with chalk.

This is not a wholesale disregard for street art and graffiti. In fact, we adore graffiti. Just not on nice sculptures or good buildings.

Kanyon Krazy

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Tropolism means addicted to density. Our publisher's site, Coolhunting, has caught the bug too and posted about Kanyon, a Kompletely Krazy development in Istanbul. We were guessing either the middle of the New Mexico desert or the United Arab Emirates before we read the text.

What interests us about this project is that its description fits any number of megavelopments around the world: Roppongi Hills or The Time Warner Building, for example. Yet the project strays far from the typical envelope of vaguely-modern and safe architecture of these examples, and instead leaps directly into space-station fantasy urbanism. While its connections to the rest of the urban fabric don't appear very fluid (in fact, it appears pretty secluded), the mega-building would sit well with anything dreamt up by OMA or John Portman.

NOLA Competition Open To Voting!

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Global Green (and the ever-present Brad Pitt) sponsored a competition to promote sustainable design in the rebuilding of New Orleans, and the six finalists selected are now posted. The competition finalists are open to voting; we encourage you to vote and be heard, particularly because all of the entries mix modern design, sustainable design, and vernacular practicality without resorting to overt historicist pastiche. They didn't invite any of the New Urbanistas to the jury.

Our favorites were split between the submission by Metrostudio (no URL) in New Orleans, pictured above, and an entry by Workshop APD. Click Continue Reading for more images and observations...

Tomas Scaraceno: Air-Port-City

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Continuing this week's theme of artists who build 'scapes, our friends at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery point us to their current exhibition of Tomas Scaraceno, Air-Port-City.

While the online slideshow is devoted exclusively to pieces from the slideshow in the gallery's back room, the main space is devoted to three sculptures, two of which we found fascinating. Click continue reading for more.

Frank Gehry Adds To West Chelsea Skins

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We seem to remember telling you how much we love lists. Another addition to the List Of Interesting Curtain Wall Experiments In West Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City is the InterActiveCorp building Frank Gehry designed for Barry Diller's company, between 18th and 19th Streets on the West Side Highway.

The building continues Gehry's technical innovations in panelized buildings where each panel has a unique shape. However the building carries the innovation to a level that surpasses even the American Center in Paris, where each block of limestone carried a unique curvature, or to an extent the curved brick at Case Western. The IAC building's panels are curved glass curtain wall units; has he done this before?

Click Continue Reading for more observations and a picture show...

John Powers: Sci-Fi Wahabi

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When we were wee students in graduate school, we found a prepoderance of fellow students who should have been at Sci-Arc who did nothing but designs that triggered our deepest childhood fantasy of landscapes like the surface of the Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope. They were unable to describe their work as a pure exercise in facile form-making; instead tortuous and unsatisfying descriptions ensued. Tortuous and unsatisfying jury comments were a result. (Of course, this was Tschumi's Columbia University, the jury comments didn't regularly border on the profound anyway). But a part of me always hoped they would just leave architecture and create their planetscapes anyway, and we would all play and live with them anyway.

The artist John Powers is not a former fellow student, but he could have been. Our favorite scapes are Sci-Fi Wahabi #1, pictured above, and the delusional Sol Le Witt-like Voluntaries #23a. They ignite our imagination the way toys did long ago, and architectural models did not-so-long-ago. Our invitation is for him to create something larger and perhaps walkable. Something we can be inside, and explore with our bodies.

Via Future Feeder, of course.

StreetsBlog

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Over the holiday a friend pointed us to the interesting StreetsBlog, a production of the Open Planning Project (itself a great locus of open-planning processes and public effect via the internet).

Our favorite entry so far: a piece on the Defeat of the Mt. Hood Freeway, a proposed freeway in Portland, Oregon, planned by NYC's very own Robert Moses.

BLUE: So Totally Ouch

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Our coverage of The Case Study In Average continues: BLUE has been photoblogged by Test Of Will. One word: ouch. Or thud, take your pick. Tropolism means taking your pick.

Curbed rounds out the morning by linking to the rest of the current talk.

Pod Living, The Old School

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In Manhattan's overheated and soon-to-be-totally-over celebrity real estate moment, apparently all that is required to sell some apartments is the inclusion of a few pieces of unique furniture in the renderings. Greg Allen writes a brilliant comparison of old skool pod living and the overhyped and underdesigned Jade by Jagger. Nuf said.

Magical Urbanism

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We've recently been taken by Magical Urbanism, a weblog by fellow Ohioan Mike Ernst. It focuses on in-depth writing about urban and planning issues in specific cities, while still maintaining the majesty and surreal imagination of a blog like BLDGBLOG. The site is named after Mike Davis' book of the same name, and is a preparation for a big trip Mr. Ernst is going to take in the fall of 2006.

It also has a gorgeous design, which a sharp-eyed reader points out is one of WordPress's standard designs.

Freedom Tower 3.1, Beta

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David Childs announced a Freedom Tower "update" today. The update: a few new renderings, and a material choice for the exterior: prismatic glass covering the concrete bunker that is really surrounding the "Freedom" Tower's base. Glass covering concrete, transparency disguising bombproof, will the irony never cease? We here at Tropolism classify this as "no news is good news". We think.

The part of the design that seems to be unremarked upon, but is in the forefront of all the renderings, is the hideous public plaza on the exterior. First of all, the entry to the tower appears to be a couple dozen steps above the sidewalk on West Street. What are those bleacher-like concrete jersey barriers rammed up against the pretty glass prism camouflage? Will security really let you sit there? The one think that I think would be obviously improved upon over the World Trade Center's design would be the end of bland, stepped, program-free plazas.

Continue reading my captions for the released renderings after the jump...

Rural Studio Develops $20,000 House

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Rural Studio is at it again. Journalist Oliver Schwaner-Albright tips us off to an article he wrote for the FT weekend edition. The studio is designing a prototype for a house that will be built for $20,000, including labor and materials, so that they can take advantage of a federal loan for the rural poor. The idea is to build decent housing that a person living on public assistance could actually own -- a $20,000 mortgage is met with $64 monthly payments. Brilliant.