Tag Archives | Architecture

Living in Little Boxes

Little HouseFor years, it has been reported that standard homesizes (with the US being the glaring exception) are shrinking. How small is too small? And what is the relationship between liveable space, architecture, community, and sustainability? In this article from the Independent, RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) “slams” the (non) architectural standards of suburban house building.

Architects have criticised the “shameful shoe-box homes” being built in Britain today, saying many are too small for family life. Research by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) found the floor area of the average new three-bedroom home in the UK is 88 sq m, some 8 sq m short of the recommended space.

One-bedroom properties, at an average of 46 sq m, are 4 sq m smaller than the recommended size, the Case For Space study found. This is the equivalent of a single bed, a bedside table and a dressing table with a stool, the report said.

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IKEA: The Architecture Of Consumer Confusion

Via Information Aesthetics:
Normally architects organize space to make the experience as efficient as possible. At IKEA though, however, the (almost 'urban') designers deliberately set out to confuse people. See this phenomenon analyzed [with] various (heat)maps, 3D reconstructions and other illustrations, in a talk (the IKEA case in starts at the 24:30 mark), by Alan Penn (University College London). The presentation focuses on how architects use space to sell things, by demonstrating how space creates patterns of movement, bringing people into contact with goods. It starts off with how spatial quality influences spatial behavior, which is then applied on urban environments, retail and shopping spaces in general.
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The Architecture of Control

Presidio ModeloArchitecture and design made specifically to control and easily subdue populations is nothing new; architects and urban planners have long recognised the inherent ability of design to affect mood, temperament, and even the physical and social properties of people. Prison design is one such exercise that directly engages the dialogue between space and social control. Via Web Urbanist :

Should architecture be used as a punishment in itself, made as harsh and cruel as possible in a bid to make inmates sorry for what they’ve done, or should it uplift and rehabilitate them, showing them that there’s more to the world than a life of crime?

While some architects boycott prison design altogether so as not to participate in what is often seen as a corrupt and immoral system, others produce (often controversial) designs that revolutionize prisoners’ relationships with their environment, each other and the world at large – for better or worse.

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Dawn Of The Dead Malls

Abandoned_Mall_by_MadMasquerade

The landscape of our post-recession country is littered with the carcasses of abandoned malls — fallen, ghostly temples of twentieth-century consumerism and suburbia. In an interesting two-year-old piece, Design Observer wonders what to do with them. Utopian schemes from wild-eyed planners abound:

Dead malls, according to Deadmalls.com, are malls whose vacancy rate has reached the tipping point; whose consumer traffic is alarmingly low; are “dated or deteriorating”; or all of the above. A May 2009 article in The Wall Street Journal, “Recession Turns Malls into Ghost Towns,” predicts that the dead-mall bodycount “will swell to more than 100 by the end of this year.” Dead malls are a sign of the times, victims of the economic plague years.

The multitiered, fully enclosed mall (as opposed to the strip mall) has been the Vatican of shiny, happy consumerism since it staked its claim on the crabgrass frontier — and the public mind — in postwar America.

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WikiHouse: Design And Print Out A Home

wikihouse WikiHouse is an open source construction set from London architectural firm 00:/. Design a home, “print it out” with a CNC cutter, and assemble, without needing any training or power tools, even. TreeHugger explains:

Four years ago, I wrote:

Imagine ordering a custom house, connecting lightweight, manageable pieces without a crane, living in a house where the framing is furniture quality and you don’t even want to cover it with drywall. This is truly the future.

That future gets closer every day, and the future will be open sourced with WikiHouse.

You download the plans and cut them out on a CNC router, then bolt them together into a frame, which are set at 2 feet on centre. when you bolt on the exterior panels you have a rigid structure.

Anyone will be able to simply go into Google Sketchup, combine and adapt components, then hit “Make this house” and send instructions to the CNC router.

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How Shopping Malls Make You Buy

Hungry Beast offers a three-minute primer on how architecture and design elements in shopping malls have been tested and tweaked to create "scripted disorientation" and manipulate and channel our behavior. Most of us have heard of some of the consumption-encouraging tricks used within individual stores, but not necessarily those occurring on a larger level in the surrounding structures and environs. Someday businesses will perfect a method for getting us to shop for just as long as they wish us to:
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How To Build The Great Pyramid

Photo using Dassault Systemes

Photo using Dassault Systemes

Many myths of how the Great Pyramid of Giza was built include help from extraterrestrial visitors, elaborate ramps and crane machines. Still is remains a mystery. French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin has used a 3D modeling software to explain his theory that suggests “that a ramp was indeed used to raise the blocks to the top, and that the ramp still exists—inside the pyramid!” Bob Brier writes in Archeology:

Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains. An estimated 2 million stone blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons went into its construction. When completed, the 481-foot-tall pyramid was the world’s tallest structure, a record it held for more than 3,800 years, when England’s Lincoln Cathedral surpassed it by a mere 44 feet.

We know who built the Great Pyramid: the pharaoh Khufu, who ruled Egypt about 2547-2524 B.C. And we know who supervised its construction: Khufu’s brother, Hemienu.

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In Support Of Octagon Houses

Break free from the tyranny of the square! The pleasingly odd Octagon House Inventory is “a permanent record of locations and histories of all known octagon houses (nearly 1000) built in the U.S. and Canada between 1848 and 1920″ with photos, descriptions, blueprints, and newspaper clippings (although many of the links are dead).  Here’s hoping that octo-houses, which offer panoptic views and the ability to be clustered in all sorts of formations, will someday return to their rightful place in the architectural vanguard.

octo

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Replicant Cities: Identical Places On Different Continents

Imagine visiting a foreign continent and knowing every street, every tree like the back of your hand.25258635 Duplicate copies of unique, gorgeous cities seems like both the inverse and logical continuation of the 1950s idea of identical, planned tract-home suburbs. BLDG BLOG writes:

First there was the replica of Lyons, France, being built in Dubai; it would be a replicant city “of about 700 acres, roughly the size of the Latin Quarter of Paris,” and it would “contain squares, restaurants, cafes and museums.”

Now, though, we learn that a Chinese firm has been “secretly” copying an entire UNESCO-listed village in Austria, called Hallstatt. Residents of the original town are “scandalized,” Der Spiegel reports, by these “plans to replicate the village—including its famous lake—in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.”

After all, in addition to the uncanny experience of seeing your buildings, streets, sidewalks, and even trees repeated on the other side of the world, “creating an exact duplicate of a city may not be legal, according to Hans-Jörg Kaiser from Icomos Austria, the national board for monument preservation under UNESCO.

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Anti-Obesity Housing Opens In New York City

housingThe apartment complex in the Bronx is designed to help curb the residents’ obesity, with features such as “inviting” stairways. But, how does one make stairways inviting to people disinclined to use them, other than with, say, cups of soft serve awaiting on each landing? Blisstree writes:

Can the building you live in help you lose weight? That’s the idea behind NYC’s new “anti-obesity” apartment complex, an eight-story Bronx building called “The Melody” that was unveiled last week. The building was put up by a private development company, not the city, but units are only available to families making under $90,000 per year. It has a gym on the first floor, exercise equipment for adults and children out back, and “inviting” stairways to encourage residents to avoid elevators. Motivational slogans and signs hang on the walls.

I don’t think this will do much in the way of combating obesity — the kind of person who chooses to buy a condo in a fitness-friendly complex is probably someone who’s already concerned with diet and exercise.

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