Friday, March 29, 2013

Giant Mesh Wall = Air Filter ?

"The best way to deal with smog is to make less of it, but it's too late to just do that. And when it comes to cleaning up your already polluted air, mesh structures like this one in Mexico City are a stylish way to filter a whole city's worth of air.
This porous wall currently being constructed around a Mexico City hospital, designed by the Berlin firm Elegant Embellishments, tackles the smog problem in two separate ways. First, and most obvious, is its design. As Elegant Embellishments' co-founder Allison Dring told Co.Exist, the wall's many oddly shaped holes actually slow down wind and create turbulence to churn as much air as possible through the enoromous filter.

Then, of course, there's the real de-pollution workhorse: a coating of titanium dioxide. When the coating comes in contact with smog, it breaks down the pollutants into simpler, harmless parts like calcium nitrate, carbon dioxide, and water. And all without breaking down the coating at all, leaving it fully intact to desmog every new breeze that sweeps in.

It's not nearly as desirable as a good preventative solution, but structures like this could be the future of dealing with the smog that's already out there and—let's face it—the smog that will continue to be generated for years to come. And the stark, distinctive style of giant filters like these are a way better futuristic development than scenes that look like they're straight out of Blade Runner. [Co.Exist]"

-Eric Limer of Gizmodo

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Architecture with Physique

Szotyńscy & Zaleski Architekci

 Let's recall the unusual architectural constructs created by photo manipulation expert Michael Jantzen and think you know better than to believe that such wacky, funhouse-like structures actually exist in this world, but think again. Krzywy Domek, translated as Crooked House, is a shopping center in Sopot, Poland that curves and slants with realistic approaches! There's no photo editing tools used to depict this unconventionally structured edifice.

The multipurpose building boasts a unique look that was inspired by the fairy tale illustrations of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg. Like Jantzen's imagined works, this venue has a cartoonish appeal. It looks like an animated house, bouncing in place to a jolly tune. There's a jovial liveliness to the place that seems very inviting. How could a family not be drawn to the welcoming Crooked House?

The Krzywy Domek was built in 2004. It is approximately 4,000 square meters in size and is part of the Rezydent shopping center.

It was designed by Szotyńscy & Zaleski who were inspired by the fairytale illustrations and drawings of Jan Marcin Szancer and Per Dahlberg. It can be entered from either Monte Cassino or Morska Streets.

For more information see links below:

Friday, March 15, 2013

What is Modernisim to you?

Here is an article written by Build LLC regarding what they think Modernism means:

Modernism isn't a "Style"

The other day, we were optimistically checking out a new internet-based home design site — one of the many portfolio-based websites that seem to be populating the web browsing experience lately. We get approached by a variety of these sites and it usually takes a bit of poking around to determine if the time and energy of adding our project photos is worth the investment. Like many of these architectural idea sites, the homepage was crowded with a discord of interior shots that irritate our design sensibilities and make us reach for the bourbon. Scrolling through the site, our eyes gradually became slits, as if to limit the amount of visual noise attacking the brain. Down near the very bottom of the page was the site’s navigation: a hodgepodge of architectural “styles” that more closely resembled the inventory of a grandparent’s attic than a categorical record of design. Within this jumble of terms, tucked just in between “Mediterranean” and “Rustic” was the diamond in the rough we so often seek. Our Raison d’être and life philosophy, all boiled down to one little word: Modern. Regardless of the particular website, it always feels a bit cheap to see Modern in mingled in with terms like “Tropical” and “Country.”
But the real trouble is this: modern isn’t a style, it’s a way of thinking and being. You can’t just slap modern onto the walls after you’ve already framed the house. A modern design involves everything about the house and the lifestyle within. This includes how the house engages the land, where the windows are located, the relationship between rooms, the shadow lines produced by the roof eaves, and so on. A modern design is just as much about how you live as what the house looks like. It’s as much about waking up to light-filled rooms and fresh air as it is about sleek lines and floor to ceiling windows.

By creating a list of supposedly interchangeable styles for people to swap out at whim, these websites treat design like wallpaper; as if once the house is framed and drywall is up, it’s simply a matter of choosing between “French Country” and “Tuscan” for the finishes. This method of design dilutes the significance of architecture and leads homeowners to end results that function poorly.
Taking a stance on this issue is less a defense of modernism specifically, but more about the mission of purposeful design. Like modernism, many design movements throughout history have a meaningful design philosophy at their root. The American Arts and Crafts movement (also known as the Craftsman style) is an extension of the late 19th century lifestyle. The celebrated nine light windows of the time weren’t developed because people liked a lot of break lines in their windows, but because producing large sheets of glass was difficult and expensive at the time. In other words, the aesthetic had a reason for being. Similarly, houses with double-tiered porches popular in the American South-East (sometimes referred to as the Victorian style) developed out of a necessity to shade the interiors from the hot afternoon sun. The design is an extension of what the house is doing and how the inhabitants are living.
The proliferation of architectural ideas on the internet is a good thing. We love the convenience and speed at which ideas can be accessed and shared in the digital information age. But these ideas (whether promoted by websites, magazines, or people) need to go deeper than surface treatments. They need to treat design and architecture like the functional, three-dimensional objects that they are. This notion of approaching architectural ideas like peel-n-stick styles is breaking an important relationship between what design is doing and what design looks like. Design websites that encourage people to click through an assortment of random and unrelated styles are misleading; these sites miss the boat of what design is actually about. The aesthetic of one’s home is not exclusive of the way in which a person lives. True design doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
Good design is directly linked to reason. Good design, be it modern or otherwise, is a direct extension of how people live, work, and play.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Root Bridges

In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built - they're grown.
The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. This tree produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves.

Cherrapunji is credited with being the wettest place on earth, and The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area's many rivers. Now, whenever and wherever the need arises, they simply grow their bridges.

In order to make a rubber tree's roots grow in the right direction - say, over a river - the Khasis use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems.
The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time, a sturdy, living bridge is produced.

The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they're extraordinarily strong - strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time.

Because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time - and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji may be well over five hundred years old.

One special root bridge, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, is actually two bridges stacked one over the other and has come to be known as the "Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge."

Click on any image for a larger view

All the credit for this blog goes to Atlas Obscura's Wonderful Post on living root bridges.
Many thanks to Thomas
Video from: Travel and... Action! Thanks Barbara, Jose and Gines