Olafur's studio has started to make stuff that are something like products that people can buy. The first one, a skateboard for Mekanism, starts out as a good idea, with its ripply reflective awesomeness, but with its limited run of 90, each costing 3,000 Euros, and Mekanism not returning our inquiries into purchasing them, it's hard to believe that anyone would actually be able to acquire one, much less use it actually skateboarding you might scratch this precious precious artwork.
Part two seems to be Starbrick, a new product developed for lighting maker Zumtobel. The concept is cool: one of Olafur's Studio's geometric constructions is lit with cutting edge LEDs to create something bizarre enough to be unique and worthy of Olafur's name being put on it, but not so crazy that it couldn't sit above the dining room table. The brick is modular, as are all of Olafur's ever-expanding geometric creations, and the exciting thing for me will be playing with that modularity, and seeing how big and bizarre we can get.
Writing Architecture is my favorite category. For most of us architecture exists in words, either through conversation or through the written words. These days the latter pretty much exist here, on the world wide internet. Two fresh takes I'm taken with are as follows.
1. Trays. The students at Harvard's Graduate School of Design have taken a very loose approach befitting a student body. It's explorative, and worth a daily visit, because there's so much there. It's also light: you don't need to get the Derrida Reference Book to get through it. It's like a cross between DTWBYWL and, well, Tropolism.
2. Triple Canopy. Triple isn't new, but what I love about them is they get in-depth and stay in-depth. They're like a cross between Pin-Up and a theoretical journal, which is nothing short of a sweet spot in my book. This one is less browsable, as in you'll need some time to read the articles, but they're all worth it.
LEED isn't resting: they've just launched a Pilot Credit Library. As you may know LEED's system allows for a limited number of innovative credits to be applied toward a building's rating. These innovative credits establish their own criteria, and then are approved or rejected by the USGBC. The credits are then put in a database online for other architects to research and maybe replicate.
With the Pilot Credit Library, LEED is taking this to the next level. They are formalizing the innovative credits so they are easier to find. And, more radically, they are crowdsourcing the criteria. It's a Wikipedia approach that may entirely negate the need for versioning their credit system: the credits simply keep getting revised by the LEED members and the USGBC review process. It's brilliant, simple, and will make upgrades more responsive to technology and what users are interested in. That last part is key: if people are really serious about energy efficiency, then they can think up some revolutionary awesome credit, use it as a Pilot Credit, and get it approved so that others can take the same route, without having to do all the research. It's a chance for designers who want to push LEED in a particular direction to take action. Have at it, folks.
This is what we're talking about when we say Sustainable Housing, people. Not just technology but hooking up the right technology to the right uses, in service of creating new communities and connections. The Eltonia is a New York City housing project that has the city's first roof-mounted wind turbines, is a 100% smoke-free environment, is New York State's first LEED Platinum building that is affordable housing, and is going to house the first ever study of green building on respiratory illness. Talk about taking LEED for a test drive!
From the press release: "South Bronx has some of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the five New York City boroughs. The Mt. Sinai study, which has already started with future tenants, will investigate the effect LEED standard green buildings have on respiratory health."
Rights Of Way: A New Politics of Movement in New York City?
As you know we generally don't announce events here on the Tropolism. However our trusty radio scanner came through with a discussion that is being led by David Smiley up at Barnard, and anyone who knows David knows his conversations are always productive.
So it's with pleasure that I invite you to Barnard College on November 12, 2009, at 6:30pm, on the 4th floor of Barnard Hall, to Rights of Way: A New Politics of Movement in New York City? The discussion will explore the possibility of an urbanism after that of the automobile-dominated city. In short, they are declaring the era of the auto over. Which is nothing short of a radical conversation, even in this era of Lawn Chairs In Times Square. Run or bike or MTA it up there.
Albania in the 20th Century produced 750,000 concrete bunkers, to defend the tiny country against the onslaught of the invasive Capitalist villains of the West. But ha ha we never invaded! Leaving behind a bunker for almost everyone everywhere in this tiny country. Who doesn't want one of those? Except no one knows what to do with them, and no one really owns them, and they're everywhere.
Fortunately the concrete mushrooms are solid concrete and steel, making them so durable that it is not feasible to demolish them. Or alter them except to build them out. It is this territory that two Albanian graduate students at Politecnico di Milano are exploring in their blog and developing documentary Concrete Mushrooms. The potential of this project comes to life in the trailer for the documentary, which includes several Albanians talking about how they have reused one of the mushrooms littering the landscape. We'll be keeping tabs on this one.
Thank the Recession! The High Line's upper section, the portion above 30th Street that curls around the Hudson Yards, might be saved after all. The City of New York is stepping in to acquire this section, the same step they took in 2005 which allowed the lower half to be turned into the park it's become today.
The best part of this news is that this part of the High Line is as interesting and unique as the lower half is. While the lower half cuts through old loft buildings downtown, and gives one a great bird's-eye tour of upper West Village and Chelsea, the upper section is quite different. It has a small spur that sits smack in the middle of the intersection of 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, and the rest rolls to the south and west sides of the Hudson Yards, running parallel to the West Side Highway and the Hudson River Park on its last bit. It is the one place the High Line touches the ground, too. In short, it offers a doubling of the diversity of unique experiences that the lower half gave us. If the architects for the job need any ideas, they might check out this one!
Kudos to Friends of the High Line for pulling this off. These folks never rest, and they've produced some amazing results.
Coming to the completion of my firm's own first holiday home, I am creating a series of some of the homes that inspire me.
Holiday homes are the place where clients want to play a little. There's less pressure on domestic bliss and more freedom to explore messy ways of living. And there is almost always an automatic conversation about how the interior of the house works with the land, with nature. Of course, the larger conversation for us all is WHY AREN'T ALL HOUSES CASUAL AND ABOUT CONTEMPLATION OF THE LAND. I'll leave that for another time. For now just enjoy Christensen & Co Architects holiday home in Asserbo, Denmark. The simple shape, canted roof/ceiling, clapboard ceiling, deep overhang, and big deck. We don't claim to be original.