Tag Archives | Architecture
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:
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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.
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.
Imagine visiting a foreign continent and knowing every street, every tree like the back of your hand. 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:
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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.
The 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:
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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.
The 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:
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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.
Five 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:
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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.
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.
Framing sites of mass tourism in our viewfinders, we create photographic souvenirs that are integral to the touristic experience. These products, coined “photograph-trophies” by Susan Sontag, separate our leisurely pleasures from the real everyday experiences of work and life.
Artist Corinne Vionnet begins with the most recognizable of images and creates something unearthly and unsettling — from Flickr and personal blogs, she culls thousands of tourists’ snapshots of a well-known landmark (such as the Taj Majal, below) and overlaps them into single composite, revealing the collective “tourists’ gaze” produced by the absurd behavior of millions of people endlessly taking the same photograph over and over. Via My Modern Met:
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Throughout the history of Western Civilization, libraries have been the repositories of nations’ accumulated knowledge and the epicenters of their culture. Central libraries, more than being big buildings containing books, are important landmarks designed with impressive architecture and filled with symbolic art. The Los Angeles Central Library is certainly no exception. An in-depth look at the art found at the Library is quite a revealing one: It describes the occult philosophy of those in power. We will look at the Central Library’s history and the hidden meaning of its architecture.
Built in 1926, the Central Library is an important landmark of downtown Los Angeles. It is the central piece of one of the largest publicly funded library systems in the world, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). Most touristic pamphlets describe the building’s design to be inspired by ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture.