Tag Archives | Architecture

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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Aerotropolis: Will The Cities Of The Future Be Giant Airports?

aerotropolis3dThe Utopianist discusses one (slightly hellish) idea of what the city of the future may look like — the ‘aerotropolis’, in which the airport is at the city’s geographic and economic core, and daily life increasingly resembles being inside an endlessly sprawling airport:

It’s a city that’s built around an airport, the bigger the better, with factories and/or traders, both dependent on air freight, close by, followed by a ring of malls and hotels, followed by a ring of residential neighborhoods. The airport isn’t an annoyance, located as far out of the way as possible, but the city’s heart, its raison d’être.

While the vision of a city based around an airport may seem novel, there are such aerotropolises already in existence, like Ecuador’s capital, Quito. We already have a few cities in the United States that roughly adhere to this model — Memphis, our nation’s major FedEx hub, and Seattle, the home of Boeing.

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What Happens When A City Tears Down Its Highway?

2030625405_dd165e29fcFive years ago, Seoul, South Korea demolished the Cheonggyecheon Freeway, an elevated highway running through downtown, in a move critics called “crazy”. The results have been nothing short of beautiful. Is there a lesson for other cities? Via Grist:

What he and his colleagues accomplished — tearing down a busy, elevated freeway, re-daylighting the river that had been buried beneath it, and creating a spectacular downtown green space, all in under two and a half years — is nothing short of amazing, not because it actually worked (there was plenty of evidence from other cities to suggest that it could), but because they were able to get public support for it. It’s the stuff urban planners dream about — not to mention a timeline for a major freeway project that would make Seattle drool.

By the early 20th century, as Seoul was burgeoning into the megacity of 10 million it is today, the river was bordered by a slum and used as a dumping ground, resulting in an eyesore of polluted water.

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Britain’s Stylishly Mod Secret Underground City

How To Be A Retronaut has an arresting set of images of Burlington, the 35-acre “Cold War City” lying twelve stories beneath Wiltshire, England. Built during the 1950s, it was to be home to the prime minister and a few thousand others in the event of nuclear apocalypse. With record players, rotary phones, and Singer sewing machines folding out from enclosures in the walls, it makes the prospect of a post-disaster future seems quite charming:

It was equipped with the second largest telephone exchange in Britain and a BBC studio from where the prime minister could make broadcasts to what remained of the nation. 100,000 lamps that lit its streets and guided the way to a pub modeled on the Red Lion in Whitehall. The bunker’s very existence was meant to be top secret until it was decommissioned in 2004.

Cold-War-City-222

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